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County Council  Meeting ‘Moved’ by Climate Change Protest Singers

Published on: 23 May, 2019
Updated on: 23 May, 2019

By Rebecca Curley

local democracy reporter

Flowers and The Police hit song, “Every Breath You Take”, filled the public gallery at Surrey County Hall as protesters interrupted a meeting.

County councillors were forced to move to another room as about 35 members of Extinction Rebellion Surrey stood singing in protest against the lack of action by the council on tackling climate change.

The chairman, Cllr Tony Samuels, adjourned the full council meeting on Tuesday (May 21) after a member of the group interrupted debates before the activists started singing.

They had been protesting outside as councillors arrived, handing flowers and letters to members asking them to “act now”. Some  councillors wore the flowers.

The group from all over Surrey held flowers as the meeting started, but were forced to leave by council security when they interrupted the meeting. They were singing the line “I’ll be watching you” repeatedly as they walked out.

Extinction Surrey were asking the council to do three things: to declare a climate emergency; to divest its pension fund from the fossil fuel industry; and to refuse drilling licences for oil companies in the county.

Council leader Tim Oliver told councillors before the singing that he is setting up a working group to develop an environmental charter to include climate change issues.

He said: “As a county council we are clear as to our responsibility to our environment. This group will also review the causes of traffic congestion which we know has a significant impact on air quality.

“I’m sure they will want to engage extensively with external organisations as they draw up a deliverable charter. Let’s see what we can do together to make a positive impact in this area.”

After the meeting, activist Chris Neill, from Godalming, said: “We were pleased that many of the councillors engaged with us outside the chamber and spoke positively, recognising Surrey County Council needs to do much more to address climate breakdown.

“But it’s clear they are not acting with the urgency required. We really don’t want to disrupt meetings but we have to do what’s necessary to draw attention to this very serious situation”

Claire Matthes, a mother from Haslemere and a protester, said: “It goes against my personality to disrupt formal meetings but the times demand it.”

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test 2 Responses to County Council  Meeting ‘Moved’ by Climate Change Protest Singers

  1. Jules Cranwell Reply

    May 23, 2019 at 10:34 pm

    SCC will not do the environment any favours by supporting ‘Garden Villages’ as they recently did for GBC’s application for such at Wisley. The letter of support and passed off as SCC’s but was found to have been written by the agents of the property developers.

    The county council needs to work with GBC to reject the Local Plan, cancel plans to take villages out of the green belt and to build large towns on green belt sites.

    It cannot be clearer that building such communities in the countryside and resulting in up to 50,000 new cars commuting into and through Guildford can never be sustainable.

  2. Stuart Barnes Reply

    May 24, 2019 at 8:33 am

    How pathetic. Are there no grown ups left?

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