Fringe Box



Capacity Crowd at Zero’s GBC Election Hustings on the Environment

Published on: 26 Apr, 2023
Updated on: 28 Apr, 2023

By Hugh Coakley

Only a few sparks flew in what was a generally a well-tempered debate at the environment-focussed hustings in Zero Carbon Guildford last night (April 25), held to give candidates for the GBC elections a chance to set out their climate credentials and policies.

Zero Carbon Guildford environmental hustings April 2023. From left, chair Kathy Atkinson, Maddy Redpath (R4GV), Ramsey Nagaty (GGG), Brian Creese (Guildford Labour Party), Richard Mills (Conservatives), Sam Peters (Green Party), George Potter (Liberal Democrats)

Tempers rose when voting records on the council pension fund were cited but otherwise, the six panelists from the parties represented on the council were largely in agreement on what GBC needed to do on the climate crisis and the need to act quickly.

The capacity event, with around 100 people in the audience, was organised by Zero Carbon Guildford and the Guildford Environmental Forum. A recording of the debate can be found on the Zero Carbon YouTube channel here.

Capacity crowd at the Zero Carbon Guildford environmental hustings April 2023.

The lively and engaged audience quizzed the prospective GBC councillors on climate change, air quality and pollution, nature recovery and biodiversity crisis, health and wellbeing, protected areas and harnessing community action.

Feedback from the audience after hearing the panelists was largely positive but it was clear people wanted the politicians to collaborate more if they were elected. One attendee said: “All parties are saying the right things but they need to get their acts together.”

Another said: “It was good to hear them but also desperately sad we are still in the same position. Why are we still talking about it? Why haven’t we already got our plans in action already.”

MC for the night was Kathy Atkinson, chair of the Surrey Hills AONB. She enforced a respectful debate without “political mudslinging”. She was applauded when she declared it would not be the “great North Street debate”.

The consensus emerged from the panel that climate change was a priority but also that not enough was being done urgently enough.

Atkinson summed up by saying: “We expect you to have courage and take this urgently. Please don’t forget why you went into politics. We need you to keep this right at the centre of what you are doing throughout your entire term.”

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