Elections 2021: Green party unveils Suffolk election pledges
- Credit: Archant
In the last of our series this week covering the manifestos of the four main political parties, the Green group unveils its election pledges for Suffolk.
Environmental issues underpin all areas of the Greens' manifesto for the Suffolk County Council polls on May 6.
Uniquely for 2021, the pledges from all parties consider the recovery from Covid-19 in areas such as public health, education and the economy.
However, day-to-day county council issues such as waste disposal, fire services, social care and the environment remain just as important as ever.
The Greens currently have three county councillors for the areas of Upper Gipping, Beccles and Cosford. They sit with the Liberal Democrats and Independents at Suffolk County Council to form a second opposition group.
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The party hopes to bolster those numbers this May, particularly after making gains at Mid Suffolk and East Suffolk councils in May 2019.
With Covid-19 having brought the work of Public Health Suffolk at the county council into sharp focus, the Greens have outlined their pledges for health and care.
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The manifesto said: "The Green Party believes that local authorities and communities are far better at dealing with health and other crises than national governments and their favoured contractors.
"A Green administration would seek approval for major projects and policies from the director of public health and encourage the department to play a more independent and proactive role than it currently does, by seeking its advice on how policy changes might improve public health.
"After the pandemic, a Green administration would also prioritise mental health, particularly for children in schools, with a review of what measures would improve child mental health and support for open-air schooling such as that provided by forest schools."
With the economy also suffering during the pandemic, the Green vision is a "focus on rebuilding local economies in Suffolk through encouraging more journeys on foot and by bike and by public transport, and fewer by car."
Other key manifesto points include:
- Reallocating road space in towns for cycle lanes
- Aiming for car journeys to reduce by at least 25% by 2030
- Reviewing speed limits to make it easier for town centre 20mph zones and reducing winding country lanes from national speed limits
- Bring road maintenance projects back in house, instead of outsourcing
- Scrap the cabinet system and return to committees
- Invest in new public open spaces
- Invest in a smart grid
- Reverse the council's school transport policy, so pupils from the same village and siblings from the same family do not end up at different schools
- Rewarding and encouraging local businesses to phase out single-use plastics
- Investigate a facility to generate power from organic waste
The Suffolk manifesto was launched on the same day as the Green Party nationally outlined its local election campaign, based on a vision for a "greener, more caring future".
National party co-leader Jonathan Bartley said: "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.”
Who isn't standing?
This year’s polls have seen some significant names opting not to stand for re-election across each of the political groups.
For the Greens, the current leader of the Liberal Democrat, Green and Independent group, Elfrede Brambley-Crawshaw, has confirmed she is not contesting a seat.
That decision was made in order to spend more time with her family. However, she will still be a voice for the party in her role continuing as a Green Beccles councillor at East Suffolk Council.
Councillors Andrew Stringer and Robert Lindsay are set to contest their seats once again.
At each full council meeting, each of the three political groupings get the opportunity to put forward a motion.
The defining moment of the Greens' last four years was the instrumental motion brought forward in March 2019 for the authority to declare a climate emergency.
That motion secured cross-party support, with just one councillor voting against and one abstaining.
The motion pledges for the council to become carbon-neutral by 2030, and crucially ensure environmental considerations underpin future policy and decision-making in the same way financial considerations do.
Other authorities in Suffolk followed suit - so that one vote has had an instrumental effect on future policies, regardless of which party is in power.