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Opinion: Surrey’s Green Party Councillors At All Levels Do Deliver Change

Published on: 26 Apr, 2021
Updated on: 29 Apr, 2021

The second of the Opinion pieces from the parties standing in the Surrey County Council election on May 6. You can see all of the party Opinion articles here.

By Sam Peters

Green Party candidate for Shere

The Green Party is not a single-issue party, focused only on protecting our environment and green belt.

In fact, Green Party councillors work on all issues at all levels, from social care to public transport, education to roads, climate change to litter and fly-tipping.

Sam Peters working at the Rosamund Community Garden near Pewley Down.

And there are other myths about us we intend to dispel, including that there’s no point voting for a Green Party candidate because we “can’t win” or won’t form a majority on the council.

In fact, we have councillors at all levels all across Surrey, and a quick look at just a fraction of what Green Party councillors have achieved is more than enough to demonstrate that when we’re elected, we can deliver the changes residents voted for.

Take Redhill East’s borough and county councillor Jonathan Essex, who has worked tirelessly at SCC for the past eight years.

Sam Peters on a litter pick at Newlands Corner.

Despite being the lone Green Party county councillor (at least until now, although we have fingers crossed), Jonathan has fought the Conservatives at every turn to ensure road and transport plans take climate and air pollution into account; that reuse and retrofitting are promoted over new builds; local contractors are used where possible and that public transport is championed over building yet more roads for yet more cars.

He has tabled emergency cycling and walking investment proposals; opposed austerity and cuts to public services; highlighted plans to build more incinerators in Surrey and argued for investment in local recycling jobs instead.

Or look at Waverley Borough Council, where Green Party councillors helped overturn the previously safe Conservative council and have already implemented major changes.

With Cllr Steve Williams ( Godalming Charterhouse) as lead for the Environment, the council have rapidly released a Climate Action Plan supported by a huge majority of residents, finally opening up the possibility of the Guildford-Godalming Greenway to enable safer, easier cycling between the towns.

Urged by Green Party activists, the council has also committed to becoming pesticide-free, saving residents money, protecting health and boosting biodiversity.

The story is nearly similar in Godalming Town Council, where we have four Green Party councillors. The council reduced carbon emissions by more than 20% in a single year, established a Carbon Reduction and Biodiversity fund and a Climate Forum, and opened a Library of Things to save residents money and reduce waste.

In Haslemere, Cllr Claire Matthes (Shottermill) recently launched Pathways Community Support service for local residents who need help with anything from Covid issues to applying for a job.

In Spelthorne, Green Party councillors fiercely opposed threats to the green belt, along with the hated incinerator, cuts to fire services, and more.

And they tackled Conservative hypocrisy, exposing the Conservative councillor who applied to develop green belt land he owned, despite calling for local residents to be “selfless” in protecting their countryside.

Lightwater’s Cllr Sharon Galliford’s motion led to Surrey Heath Borough Council approving a new climate plan.

And another Redhill East councillor, Steve McKenna, won a vital victory ensuring the aerodrome must be returned to valuable greenfield land rather than paved over for an unsuitable, unsustainable housing estate.

With the Green Party and the Liberal Democrats taking steps to avoid splitting the vote, where we offer candidates we can win.

So when Green Party councillors are elected, clearly our policies have demonstrated our determination and commitment to deliver the changes local residents voted for.

Whether it’s just one Green Party councillor or more, we will always be at the forefront, not just protecting the green belt from over-development, but also working tirelessly on the countless other issues so important for our communities.

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Responses to Opinion: Surrey’s Green Party Councillors At All Levels Do Deliver Change

  1. David Roberts Reply

    May 2, 2021 at 5:31 pm

    Mr Peters appears to be a ‘paper’ candidate, standing for two different positions (on Surrey and Guildford councils) just in case, by some remote fluke, he actually gets in.

    This speculative punt is aided and abetted by the Lib Dems – two national parties conspiring to contain the growing popularity of our local ones.

    The Greens’ local platform is almost entirely cribbed from the Guildford Greenbelt Group, whose vote they seem intent on splitting in order to let in the Tories. They say they are “not just focused on protecting the environment and green belt”, which are obviously too minor to worry about. A glance at their manifesto shows where their heart really lies, promising to redistribute our wealth for us and to unleash not just one but three different “Revolutions.” Definitely not “single-issue”, then.

    It’s hard to find any mention of our poor old Guildford countryside in this Leninist vision. On 13 April, the Greens’ only councillor in Guildford, who oddly appears to be director of a property development company, voted against a motion to begin the required review of the Local Plan with immediate effect.

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