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Opinion: Green Party Says ‘A Green in the Room Makes All the Difference’

Published on: 21 Apr, 2023
Updated on: 25 Apr, 2023

This week, The Dragon will be publishing an opinion piece from each of the parties with seats at Guildford Borough Council and who have candidates in the elections on May 4.

As always, our intention is to give our readers the best opportunity to hear the views and the ideas from the candidates and the parties.

Sam Peters, Green Party candidate for Stoke ward, writes:

We in Guildford & Waverley Green Party often say “a Green in the room can make all the difference”. We have proven that time and time again – particularly in Waverley, where Greens help run the council and lead on the environment portfolio.

Elected on a promise of taking action on transport issues, our environment, planning and social issues, Green councillors have stepped up and spearheaded huge changes since 2019.

Investment in public transport and making cycling and walking safer and more accessible has taken off in Godalming and the surrounding villages. Harmful pesticide use is down over 75 per cent. The council has built some of the first Passivhaus-standard social housing in the country and made it harder for developers to dodge commitments to affordable, sustainable housing.

Godalming Town Council, where Greens are the second-largest group, are supporting the Water Rangers to encourage all councils along the Wey to clean up this struggling waterway, which is in the top 25 per cent of most polluted rivers in the country.

Sam Peters, Green Party candidate in Shere at the SCC elections in May 2021.

But Guildford is lagging behind, bogged down by political in-fighting and lack of vision for our borough. Where Waverley’s climate change plan was ranked fifth nationwide by Climate Emergency UK, Guildford’s was ranked 88th – failing particularly on community engagement, which has been brought to the forefront by the recent North Street development saga.

Guildford’s climate plan is welcome, but could be far more ambitious – and without any money allocated to it, it is currently all talk and no action. Meanwhile, Guildford’s traffic remains a nightmare, with residential areas near the A3 sometimes registering the worst air pollution readings in the country.

Developers are eating into more green belt land while town centre spots lie derelict and local businesses struggle, the public feeling disengaged and ignored.

Guildford may not yet have experienced the ‘Green Wave’ which has seen Green councillor numbers soaring nationwide, but Green Party candidates and members are already taking this urgently needed action.

From water testing in the Wey and Tillingbourne with the Water Rangers to organising regular litterpicks and food aid drop-offs, helping set up the densest air pollution monitoring network in the country in Woking to participating in GBC’s Climate Change Board, trustee and volunteer roles at Zero Carbon Guildford or founding social enterprises to plant local community orchards, Greens are already at the heart of positive social and environmental change locally.

With three candidates for Guildford Borough Council (19 in total across Guildford and Waverley), we are under no illusions that there will be a Green Party council come May 5 – but when people elect Green councillors, they quickly see the changes they voted for.

We will hold our local council to account on transport and planning, on environmental and social issues, on river health and public services. We will be the voices in the room fighting for ambition and real action, rising above the political bickering to focus on doing what’s best for the borough’s residents. We will put our community and volunteer work into practice as councillors, with the ability to push for wider-reaching change above and beyond our current efforts.

Green Party councillors are not bound to vote on party lines, so we can always act in the best interests of residents.

Having Greens in the room will make sure local people can expect ambitious, resident-focused outcomes when our Local Plan is reviewed; when fixing our area’s many transport problems; when developers look to push Guildford’s skyline higher; when we find our air and water becoming ever more polluted; when public services are under threat.

Thank you to all local people who have been so supportive of our candidates so far – we look forward to putting our efforts into practice at Guildford Borough Council.

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Responses to Opinion: Green Party Says ‘A Green in the Room Makes All the Difference’

  1. Jonathan Anthony Reply

    April 22, 2023 at 11:00 am

    Greens are an absolute menace. Want to see what happens when they get anywhere near power? Look at the collapse of Germany.

    • Sam Peters Reply

      April 24, 2023 at 9:54 am

      Perhaps Jonathan Anthony should consider looking at the absolute state of the UK right now. Compare it to Germany if you like – completely irrelevant though it may be – but of course, regardless of your opinions about national politics in the UK or abroad, these are local elections.

      If you look at Waverley, or East Surrey, or Stroud, or anywhere else where Greens have a presence on local councils, you’ll see overwhelming positive changes even where Greens are only a minority on the council.

      From Kirklees, where Green-led community energy projects are saving residents (especially poorer residents) thousands on their energy bills to Lewes, where a Green councillor has just managed to kickstart the UK-first process of giving the River Ouse legal rights to protect it from sewage dumping and pollution, Greens are winning for local people socially, economically and environmentally.

      Sam Peters is a Green Party candidate for Stoke ward in the forthcoming GBC election.

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