Shrewsbury and Atcham Green Party and South Shropshire Green Party have issued their joint local election manifesto.
The Green Party has launched its local election campaign with a pledge to build a Green Recovery in every community across the country. Ahead of the local elections on 6 May, the Greens are looking to build on their record results in 2019, which saw the party more than double their number of councillors with over 100 at every level of government in the West Midlands.
This year, the party is looking to win even more seats and has pledged that each and every councillor will continue the hard work of those currently elected in bringing about a Green Recovery from the coronavirus pandemic which will tackle climate change and reduce inequality.
Green Party co-leader Jonathan Bartley said ahead of the launch: “At the last local elections the Green Party doubled our number of councillors, which has proved absolutely vital over the last year as they have been the ones leading their communities and working hard to bring about a Green Recovery in their area.
“Greens make change. Whether it be motions to create thousands of jobs in retrofitting homes in Norwich, or the Green-led Brighton and Hove Council passing a motion with £26 million of climate action in it, we know what it takes to make sure we all recover from this pandemic in a way that offers a better future for everybody.
“After the long, dark winter of Covid we want to make sure that we bring spring into all our council chambers with new hope for a greener, more caring future. This year it is more vital than ever that Greens are elected so that we can fight for a fairer, Greener future for all.”
While the Greens have welcomed others’ support for its Green New Deal, Greens across the country would go further, faster to transform the UK’s housing to make all homes warmer and more energy-efficient, revolutionise our transport and rapidly roll out renewable energy across the country. Hundreds of thousands of low carbon jobs would be created to carry out this work.
Bartley said: “The government is categorically failing to invest sufficiently in the Green sector. It is Green councillors and activists on the ground, working with local communities up and down the country, who are picking up the slack and doing what they can to ensure a green recovery for all. It’s vital that local councils have climate in mind as we build the economy back after Covid. More Green councillors means a stronger commitment in all our council chambers to the climate action that we all know is urgently needed – and to the good, green jobs that this will create.”
Locally, the Shropshire Green Party has launched a new website covering all three constituencies in the county. The Shrewsbury & Atcham Green Party and South Shropshire Green Party have issued a joint manifesto entitled “Want Better? Vote Green!”
Under Conservative leadership Shropshire Council continues to make huge blunders based on out-of-date thinking. The North West 'Relief' Road; the purchase of Shrewsbury's Shopping Centres; a Local Plan which will result in over-development; designation of part of the A5 into a motorway; plans to take away Shrewsbury's bus station - all are taking our county backwards, not forwards.
Opportunities to do better are constantly missed. Shropshire misses out on Government funding for buses and cycle ways because its reputation is poor, and it fails to invest in the capacity to plan ahead. The current leaders continue to pursue failing, out of date models for economic growth that leaves too many with falling living standards and relies on an unwinnable competition with other areas for ‘inward investment’.
An example of flawed old style decision making is the Oswestry Business Park – with hotels in a location we don’t need serviced by a £5m cycle bridge that doesn’t comply with the national standards adopted by Shropshire Council only a few months ago. This could have instead been developed with local partners as an eco-centre attracting high quality jobs and developing local firms and skills.
Key services are neglected. We’ve all noticed potholes and streetlights, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg of cuts to children centres, youth services, and community resources like libraries – with more to come, including, it is strongly rumoured, charges for green waste collection.
We need new thinking
Elected Greens would make sure the Council acts for the benefit of the whole county – rather than funnelling resources into Shrewsbury, as evidenced by the North West Road plan.
In a post-pandemic world, Shropshire Green Councillors will pursue a Green Recovery, using the Council’s procurement and partnership influence to develop local jobs and skills in making how we live fairer and carbon zero.
Green councillors will commit to re-invest in family and youth support. Elected Greens will work in partnership with the police and voluntary agencies to ensure a fundamental review of how we tackle the causes of domestic abuse and other issues which are resulting in an increasing number of children entering the care system. Plus, we want a drive to improve how issues of discrimination are tackled so that Shropshire is a welcoming place for all its residents.
Green councillors will fight for better transport, so people have options beside a car to get around. We will prioritise reliable and affordable buses across Shropshire, default 20mph where people live and shop, and improving options for walking and cycling in our market towns and villages. We will halt plans for the North West Relief Road, releasing funds and staff time to plan for better alternatives.
We will start the work desperately needed to improve our homes, starting with 23,000 households that are in ‘fuel poverty’. Following the lead of Green Councillors elsewhere we will develop a home improvement strategy that will bring jobs and skills and allow our homes to be affordably warm without relying on fossil fuels.
We will revise the ‘Local Plan’ to ensure new homes are where they are really needed, are appropriate for the county’s needs including affordability based on local incomes, are built to the highest standards, and are in easy reach of public transport.
The pandemic shows how our physical and emotional health depends on the natural world. As a rural county, Shropshire should be leading on nature recovery, but is behind even Conservative councils like Dorset when it comes to making the most of the countryside, despite many farmers wanting to protect our natural assets better. We will develop a strategy to address the ecological emergency widely recognised as a threat as big as that of the climate emergency.
We need better local democracy
Greens know how to co-operate with others, even when we disagree. Across the UK, Green councillors have forged alliances with others to lead their councils in a new way. For example, Julian Dean, our currently sole Green councillor on Shropshire Council, recently proposed and won better transport planning by working cross-party.
Elected Greens in Shropshire will work for a new era of consultation and partnership with Town Councils and local people to harness the whole potential of the County in a one team approach.
The current ‘winner takes all’ structure at Shropshire Council makes for poor governance where even those in charge of running ‘checks and balances’ come from the leading party. We will change that, to make Shropshire Council much more accountable, and better value for money.
- Review the Local Plan before it’s too late.
- A new approach to transport.
- A homes strategy to eradicate fuel poverty, create jobs, and make our homes fit for the future and the needs of Shropshire’s communities.
- A new economic strategy for a Green Recovery and new measures of success, like improved health and wellbeing, reduced inequality, and better educational outcomes.
- A rural recovery strategy.
- A new approach to decision making to stop Shropshire being a ‘one-party state’.
Our approach will make it easier for all voices to be heard so people can have meaningful influence over the decisions that affect them and their communities. Working in this way will help secure better outcomes for Shropshire’s residents, including future generations.