Local elections, local priorities

Up and down England and Wales, thousands of council seats, as well as some mayoral posts, are up for grabs this May. Green World asked some of the candidates in key areas what issues they will be campaigning on – both before and after the elections

Will Patterson, Greater Manchester Metro Mayor candidate 

In the Greater Manchester election, Greens are focused on doing devolution differently. The future of Greater Manchester’s green spaces is at the heart of the election campaign for all the parties – the consultation on the combined authority’s Greater Manchester Spatial Framework closed in January, and residents remain outraged about the proposals to sacrifice large tracts of green belt land for big-ticket, high-value housing. 

So, our campaign focuses on three issues. Firstly, climate and the environment, defending our green spaces and protecting communities from the climate chaos that Greater Manchester saw in the 2015 Boxing Day floods. Secondly, tackling inequality, in particular the lack of focus on the real housing needs of the city region: social, affordable and supported homes are all in short supply. And third, democracy: I’m campaigning to open up the combined authority through the introduction of citizens’ forums, and with calls for a directly-elected Greater Manchester Assembly to replace the closed-door devolution of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority. 

 

 

Powys, by Pippa Pemberton, Wales Green Party candidate for Caersws ward 

We are suffering from a swathe of austerity-related service cuts in Powys. We get cut twice – first by Westminster, and then by the Welsh Government, which has cut Powys’s budgets more than any other council in Wales, year after year after year. Our rural services cost more to deliver, spread out across a county that covers a quarter of the land area of Wales, but the council has less and less money in the budget to keep our populations safe, healthy and educated. 

Road safety is one of the key issues in our campaign targeting the rural seat of Caersws. Ysgol Carno, a Welsh language primary school, has a 40mph road directly outside it. And we have an extremely dangerous narrow historic bridge in Caersws (pictured), where lorries share a single lane with pedestrians and cyclists. The bridge splits the village from the recreation ground, home of the famous Caersws football team, and at least one school child has to cross twice a day to get to the school bus. 

We desperately need new Green voices on Powys Council, to find new and innovative ways of delivering cost-effective services that support the needs of all our residents, and to challenge the lazy thinking that has left the council reeling from one disastrous service cut to another. 

 

Vale of Glamorgan, by Anthony Slaughter, Wales Green Party candidate for the St Augustine’s ward 

Road safety and air pollution are both important issues to local residents, and the local Green Party campaign is strongly focused on ‘Safer Streets and Cleaner Air’. 

Key to this campaign is a push for 20mph speed limits on all residential roads in the town. I was a leading organiser of a very popular ‘20’s Plenty for Penarth’ campaign several years ago and have been meeting with groups of residents who are very keen to see this policy adopted by the local authority.

Air pollution is another serious problem locally with the main road entrance to Penarth suffering serious congestion throughout the day, and the surrounding area has been designated an Air Quality Management Area. Local Greens are calling for cleaner, less polluting public transport as part of the solution to this problem. 

 

Durham, by Sarah Thin, Green Party candidate for Neville’s Cross electoral division in the Durham County Council 

Key to our campaign is the development of the Durham Future City Plan, which will set out an alternative vision for the future development in Durham city according to residents’ needs and desires, rather than profits of housing developers that have tended to dictate planning policy in Durham in recent years. Unregulated conversion of family homes to houses in multiple occupancy for students has left ghost streets over the summer months, created many issues relating to refuse collection and noise, and has skewed the local economy and provision of services. 

Poor planning and traffic management have also led to high levels of air pollution in parts of the city that now pose a severe threat to residents’ health. An important part of our campaign has been raising awareness locally of the serious health impacts that this can have.

 

Our plan will put forward a positive, sustainable alternative to the council’s failed strategy. 

 

Julie Howell, Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Mayor candidate 

The key issues for Cambs & Peterborough include the desperate need for additional social housing. This applies not only to people who want to live in and around our cities but to those who grew up in our villages but cannot afford to remain there unless social housing is built. 

However, we will not build housing at any cost and will be mindful to protect our green areas, their biodiversity and our natural heritage. We are also keen to break up the love affair between Cambs & Peterborough residents and their cars by making bus and rail services more feasible and desirable alternatives and cycling routes more accessible. 

 

Finally, we are concerned that the mayor will have far too much power and so we are calling for the establishment of a proportionally-representative assembly similar to the one in London that will hold the mayor to account. 

 

Darren Hall, West of England Metro Mayor candidate 

My first challenge is helping people understand what a ‘metro mayor’ is, and the second is to get them to vote! With a £1-billion remit that covers housing, transport, adult education and economic investment, it is an important opportunity for the Green Party to show how our vision and values can be turned into practical, positive action that will make a real difference to people’s lives. 

For example, building affordable homes to high environmental standards, powered by renewable energy, that all but eliminate residents’ power and heating bills will pave the way for other innovative policies to be adopted by the mainstream. Or creating smaller, more flexible public transport owned by social enterprises will offer communities the services they need. 

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, we must take the opportunity to incorporate bigger-picture issues such as climate change and biodiversity, offering compelling reasons to think, and act, longer term – something that UK politics desperately needs. 

 Go to www.metromayor.org.uk for more info.