Green Councillor Achievements

A green in the room makes all the difference. Across England and Wales, Green Councillors are making change for their communities. Here are some examples of what greens can achieve.

2023 was a good year for Green Councillors

Before January was even over, our Green councillors had made their mark on the communities they serve, including standing up for the rights of trans people and committing to measures to reduce transport pollution.

Newham councillor Nate Higgins’ motion on trans rights was unanimously supported by Newham councillors. It was only the second opposition motion to pass in over a decade – the first being a fair votes/votes at 16 motion which was also proposed by Nate back in June!

Bradford Council’s Matt Edwards, persuade Bradford Council to agree to take action to limit HGVs on rural and residential roads. Matt says” Particularly in Bierley and Woodlands there have been big issues with construction traffic using residential roads – or worse using places like Burnham Avenue as rest stops. Now developers will have to submit a “Construction Traffic Management Plans” BEFORE planning decisions are made. But it is ridiculous that developers didn’t have to do that already.” 

Holding the Council Leadership to Account

Even a small number of Greens in opposition play an important role in holding the Ruling Administration to account, as has been witnessed in Manchester, where the local press reported the Council’s first proper opposition for eight years at its October meeting.

Two motions, submitted jointly by Green and LibDem councillors, were passed, the first time in 8 years that opposition councillors have been able to submit motions.

The first committed the Council to petition MPs in Greater Manchester to extend Proportional Representation and the second, proposed by Ekua Bayunu, was for the Council to appoint a Lead Member to help communities in the city affected by the Windrush scandal. Although both motions were watered down by amendments from the ruling Labour Party, there is now a real opposition that will keep the Administration on its toes.  Leader of the Green Group, Astrid Johnson, said “We decided to work together on a motion which we can agree on. These motions represent a lot of Labour thinking but, because they are whipped, these voices are not heard. At least there’s now a conversation that’s not pre-agreed.”

Taking meaningful action to combat Climate Change

Having kick-started the wave of councils rushing to Declare a Climate Emergency over recent years, Green Councillors at all levels of local Government are making sure their councils now take meaningful action to achieve the carbon reduction targets they have promised and to mitigate against the already-changing climate.

In Peterborough, Councillor Nicola Day, led the Council to launch a major Peoples’ Assembly – style debate to involve local residents and community groups in helping it achieve its aim to be net-zero by 2030.

Green Environment Committee chair Cllr Nicola Day said: “We know we are living through a climate emergency, and without swift and significant action we will not be able to safeguard future generations. By carrying out the Peterborough Climate Debate we can make the major changes we need to make sure the city is playing its part in limiting global warming and preventing an environmental catastrophe.”

Meanwhile, on St. Neots Town Council, Green councillor Daniel Laycock, has persuaded the council to set up its first ever Environment Committee to help tackle the climate crisis in the town, and to support the Climate and Ecology Bill that is currently being debated in Parliament.

Providing more social housing

South Oxfordshire’s Greens have helped to deliver the first council-funded social housing in the district for more than 30 years. Cabinet member for Economic Development Robin Bennett led on a joint venture with the Henley Housing Trust to help fund three new low-carbon social houses in one of the most expensive parts of the country. The model, involving using developer funds to finance social housing, is now being rolled out in neighbouring Thame and Didcot. 

Protecting our Local Rivers & Waterways

Greens across England and Wales have been campaigning for measures to tackle water quality in our rivers and seas. This includes in Winchester, where Green Councillor Malcolm Wallace’s motion to improve protections on local rivers & waterways by taking account of the cumulative impact of pollution was successfully passed by the Council Malcolm said “Winchester district residents are deeply concerned about water quality. 

The build-up of sewage, agricultural waste and plastic is polluting the waters of many of our rivers and waterways.  Not a single river in our District has received a clean bill of health for chemical contamination and yet water companies appear to be dumping untreated or partially treated sewage in rivers on a regular basis.  It is beyond the authority of Winchester Council to resolve these issues in their entirety, however by enforcing a review of the potential for new developments to affect sewage outflow into watercourses, this motion will stop the problem from getting any worse.

Even one Green in the room can have an impact as Councillor Wallace has demonstrated. He added  “As the sole Green on Winchester Council, I worked with a Liberal Democrat and Conservative colleagues to finalise the motion – both groups suggested minor changes that were incorporated.  The motion was then unanimously approved.”

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