Seven days – a week in the life of Keith Taylor

9 March 2012

After four months' work the Green MEP submits a report on air passenger rights, reflects on the international trade committee's visit to Japan and campaigns to reduce road speed limits


Into the Brussels office for an early meeting about air passenger rights. I'm the rapporteur for a report on this issue, looking particularly at travel for passengers who are disabled or have reduced mobility and at the arrangements for passengers when flights are delayed or cancelled. This morning is the first discussion with staff and advisors since we met with the shadow rapporteurs from other political groups to hear their views. It's great to have so much agreement on the importance of passengers' rights. My report calls for passengers to be guaranteed a refund and help if an airline goes bust. I'm also hoping that my suggestions, such as detailing the carbon emissions of your journey on a plane ticket and being able to change an online flight booking without extra charges, will still be in the report by the time it reaches parliament.


After four months of development, including meetings with passenger rights groups, airlines, travel companies, airports and disability rights groups I finally submit the air passenger rights report for translation. Fortunately I don't have to do that bit. In the transport committee I speak in the debate supporting the implementation of new low sulphur content marine fuel. In the evening I have dinner with farmers from south east England's National Farmers Union to discuss issues such as eggs from chickens in undersized cages, supermarket price domination, farmers' safety at work and Freedom Food pork. I find myself sat next to a farmer who is exporting live animals from Ramsgate in Kent, something I will be protesting against later in the week, so it makes for a lively exchange.


This morning's international trade committee hears a report on a recent visit that we made to Japan ahead of discussions about an EU-Japan free trade agreement. I used this opportunity to meet with anti-nuclear campaigners and to lobby the Japanese government about their continuation of their annual whale hunt under the guise of scientific research. That evening I take the train to London and then on to Southampton for three days' work in the constituency. I'll be in three counties in three days so that's not bad going.


In Southampton, I am the key note speaker at a conference for planners at the Environment Centre. I speak about the British government's proposed new planning rules, in particular on sustainable development. Earlier in the year my fellow British Green MEP, Jean Lambert, and I responded to the government's consultation, branding the proposals a "developers' charter".


Up at crack of dawn for pre-recorded radio interviews in advance of my speech the next day at a public meeting against live animal exports from Ramsgate. In Reading I meet with local Green councillors and community groups calling for improvements in air quality. After lunch at the Reading International Solidarity Centre I travel to Shinfield in Berkshire to campaign for safer roads. Currently traffic whizzes past the nursery school on the village's main road at 40mph. We stand with our 20mph signs while two press photographers get to work. Next I have a useful meeting with Wokingham Borough Council and the police to discuss improving road safety and reducing speeds in several villages.


I meet a local BBC TV crew before heading into a well-attended public meeting about live animal exports from Ramsgate port. I share the stage with Compassion in World Farming, the local Conservative MP and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Ramsgate is currently the only UK channel port shipping live animals destined for slaughter. I have worked closely with community groups and non-governmental organisations on this issue, as well as lobbying the European Commission and the British government. Back to my hometown, Brighton, in time for a super Thai meal with my son.


I visit my daughter and her partner to see my latest grandchild Jude, who is absolutely gorgeous. Aren't they all? He is three months, Lucia is four months and Lily is nearly five. I used to look after Lily one day a week and I wish I was able to spend more time with them all, but the job means a lot of travel. Brighton and Hove was looking good on this crisp, sunny autumn day. I am very lucky to have lived there, especially the 11 years I spent as a city councillor. This was a shorter stay than usual, as I have to leave on the evening Eurostar to Brussels - a fantastic service - to be back in my office bright and early on Monday morning.

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