Green councillor achievements

The Coordinator of the Association of Green Councillors outlines some of the recent successes of Green Councillors up and down the country

Banning chemical herbicides

Glastonbury Town Council – where Greens hold thought to be the first in the UK to implement a ban on chemical herbicides in its publicly-owned spaces. It has introduced Foamstream, an eco-friendly thermal weed-control system, as a replacement. Brighton and Hove Greens also secured an agreement with the Labour administration to end the use of glyphosate, a weedkiller thought to cause cancer. 

Implementing 20mph zones

Reading’s three Green councillors in 2016 finally saw their near-10-year campaign for a large 20 mile per hour (mph) zone in the east of the city implemented. York Greens secured the first ‘trial’ 20mph residential street in York that ultimately led to a citywide scheme. 

Protecting green spaces

In the town of Frome in Somerset, Mendip District Council Green councillors led by Shane Collins persuaded the administration to change its mind over selling green space next to a school to developers. Instead, the council is leasing it back to the community as a space where kids can play and parents meet after school. 

In Birkenhead, a Green Party campaign (pictured) supported by Councillor Pat Cleary successfully defeated new road building plans in historic Hamilton Square. 

Promoting divestment

Sheffield Green councillor Brian Webster persuaded fellow members of the board of the South Yorkshire Pensions Authority to seek to reduce exposure to fossil fuel in its investment portfolio, a potential first step to an active investment policy. Meanwhile, Lancashire County Councillor Gina Dowding (pictured) has persuaded the county’s £5-billion pension fund to sign up to the United Nations’ Principles for Responsible Investment. 

Protecting the poorest citizens

In November 2016, Lambeth Council finally bowed to pressure from the Green Party to stop the inhumane and wasteful practice of sending bailiffs to the poorest households in the borough who had fallen into arrears on council tax payments. As a result, collection rates increased from 80 per cent to 93 per cent, and court and bailiff costs have been saved. Lambeth’s lone Green councillor Scott Ainslie first raised the issue with the council in January 2015. 

Investing in clean energy

Lancaster Greens negotiated for solar panels on council buildings which now generate £55,000 a year. Green Lancaster City cabinet member for climate change Cllr Tim Hamilton-Cox has set in motion plans for a wildlife-friendly solar farm that could net the council £4 million in profit over 20 years. In Norwich, Green councillors helped stop planning permission being given to a straw burner close to the city centre and instead proposed the site for the new community solar power scheme they helped develop. 

Mitigating HS2

After trips to Whitehall to speak to both the House of Lords and House of Commons committees over the High Speed 2 rail line going through his Solihull ward, Cllr Chris Williams secured a promise of four metre-high noise barriers along the line for residents of his ward. 

Addressing adult social care funding

Bristol Greens proposed the ‘social care precept’, a two per cent increase in council tax to cover the shortfall in adult social care funding, in February 2015, and it was successfully voted through council, raising £3.5 million for the people with the greatest need. 

Promoting democratic reform

Worcester’s two Green councillors, Louis Stephen and Neil Laurenson, teamed up with Conservative colleagues in November 2016 to scrap the cabinet system and bring in a more democratic committee system. 

Increasing local food production

In Stroud, Green councillors in 2016 steered the creation of a £100,000 investment fund to increase local food production. The fund will help 18 small businesses and organisations increase local food production, creating 45 jobs and safeguarding a further 600. It will also bring six acres of land into food production.  

Creating wildflower areas

Lewes Green councillors set up a group that aims to create wildflower stepping stones across the town linking it to the rare chalk grass downland that surrounds it. Local people have nominated patches that they would like to see filled with wildflowers, some of which will be taken under management by the council next year.