This is the newsletter of February 2021. The next one will be out at the end of June.
Welcome to the latest edition of our newsletter.
On every council where we have representation we are in the minority.
However, as Greens we take principled stances guided by the Party’s philosophical basis and, as a result, are making a real difference. .
Although we might not win the argument every time, opposition councillors’ views and opinions are being shifted by the conviction – and dare I say logic – of our arguments.
Dorset Green Party is currently a victim of its own success.
In May 2019, we doubled our representation on councils where we previously had representation and got Green Party councillors elected for the first time.
As Green Party councillors we are so aware of all the work to be done and tend to throw ourselves into Council work!
In order to make a difference we need support from as many members as possible, across Dorset.
Please consider standing as a candidate in your own area (by-elections this May!) or offering to help run the Party (still some posts unfilled - see below) or registering to help develop a Green Party presence in your area.
Chair, Dorset Green Party,
A quick reminder that Dorset Green Party has its own Zoom account.
This is partly to enable members in the different towns of Dorset to get together to work on their own local issues and to provide a platform for future elections.
So if you need to organise a local group meeting, please remember to make use of our account.
Contact us and our Zoom manager, Derek Fawell, will set up a meeting which won’t be restricted to 40 minutes!
Most Parish Councils are non-political and so we are aware that Green Party members may well be on a Parish Council having stood as an independent.
It would be really helpful to know if you are in this position, so that we can co-ordinate and help with responses to the Climate & Ecological Emergency.
So please let us know.
Some Parish Councils do not have a full quota of councillors. Check out your local council and stand for co-option. Then you can get them to declare a Climate and Ecological Emergency!
By Councillor Kelvin Clayton (Bridport)
A Parish Council has just made the national news, but for all the wrong reasons.
A recording of an online meeting of Handforth’s Planning and Environment Committee, showing some disgraceful behaviour by a number of councillors, has gone viral on social media.
If you have been thinking of standing for your local town or parish council, but, on seeing this, have been put off, please think again.
As a Dorset Councillor I attend the four parish councils that lie within my ward, and can guarantee that the Handforth example is a rarity.
Whilst parish councils are, in theory at least, non-political, they could, and often do, make a real contribution to their community and the Green agenda.
Town and parish councils are statutory consultees on all planning applications in their area.
If all parishes started to return similar comments, for example by not supporting any greenfield development on climate grounds or demanding every new development to have the highest energy efficiency, I think that this would eventually have a positive effect on the planning officers who make about 95% of our planning decisions. And this could happen if more of us stood for election.
I have been sitting on both Dorset Council’s Western and Southern Area Planning Committee and Bridport Town Council’s Planning Committee since the last local elections.
In that time I have become convinced that planning is probably the most important area of a council’s work with regards to the mitigation of climate change. But, as a councillor, I feel my hands are tied by out-of-date national guidelines and overly cautious planning officers who are nervous of legal challenges to their decisions.
Very few planning decisions are clear cut. Most require the balancing of competing requirements. Perhaps more pressure from towns and parishes would tip this balance in favour of a future climate that continued to support human life.
If you want to make a direct impact on your local area, then consider standing as a candidate - by-elections this May!
Contact us at email@example.com for support and guidance on how to do so.
The Green Party is making a real difference - come and get involved.
If you have a particular skill or interest that you want to put to good use, please get in touch.
We also have the following roles which need filling:
EVENTS ORGANISER - can you help put on events for us? We need someone to manage events, whether virtual or in person, that help in achieving our goals as a local party.
MEDIA EDITOR - if you’re a wordsmith, then this role is for you! We need someone to take charge of writing and styling our communications.
NEWSLETTER EDITOR - do you think you could improve our Newsletter? Yes this one! Well, why not become the Editor?
SOCIAL MEDIA EDITORS - if you’re into your social media, then we would love to have you get involved in ours too! Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, Insta or anything else, if you have time to put into helping to run our accounts, then come and get involved.
CAMPAIGNS ADMIN - this role needs someone to support the Campaigns Manager with project management and admin, as well as liaising with other Party officials responsible for local campaigns.
All of the roles involve working closely with the wider team, so if you fancy getting involved rest assured you will have lots of support!
If you would like to take on a role, or if you have any questions, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can tell you more.
Our next live online event will be given by Dorset Green Party’s Pete West, in which he will highlight what is happening with Energy Local Bridport.
Pete will be giving a talk and answering questions on the innovative project developed by Dorset Community Energy.
The project, which is now very likely to be operational in March 2020, will be the first example in England of householders being able to directly purchase locally generated renewable electricity through the existing grid at lower cost than standard grid electricity prices.
There is further background information on the Dorset Community Energy website
Spaces are limited to 100 people for this event. Please save your spot by booking at Energy Local Bridport - Action Network
The social get-together has been postponed because of problems with the licence. So instead we are planning to have a zoom meeting to meet the prospective candidate for the Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner elections. Details available soon.
Come and join our first social get-together online!
Grab a beer, a glass of wine or a nice brew and join us for a film and a natter.
On Monday March 15th at 7.30pm, we’ll be watching the first part of "This Good Earth", a film made in Dorset about how Dorset people are responding to local and global problems through their use of the land.
One of the film’s stars is our very own Councillor Kelvin Clayton! So not to be missed!
Part 1 lasts about 30 minutes and is about "Soil", to be followed on other dates by "Land" and "Food".
After the film we will have a chat prompted by the content - or whatever people want to chat about.
A great chance to (virtually) meet other Dorset GP members!
Watch a trailer and sign up at Green Party Social Evening
Cllr Bawden helps organise Lyme Community Support, providing invaluable help during the Covid crisis.
Lyme Regis town councillor and Green, Belinda Bawden, is one of the co-founders of Dorset Climate Action Network, which is engaging climate activists across the county.
The Network focused initially on co-ordinating a collective response on behalf of community groups representing more than 3,500 members to Dorset Council's public consultation on their Climate and Ecological Strategy.
It urges Dorset Council to adopt a 2030 Net Zero Carbon target for its own carbon emissions and 2040 for its partners who can help deliver the scale of carbon reduction needed.
Cllr Bawden said: “the proposed timetable from Dorset Council grossly under-estimates the true emergency facing the world. Dorset Council needs to act far more rapidly than it had planned to cut greenhouse gases and stop the loss of wildlife in the county”.
Dorset CAN will now focus on the consultations on Dorset Council's Local Plan and Brighton, Christchurch and Poole Council's Climate and Ecological Strategy while sharing examples of successful local projects. If you’d like to get involved please contact email@example.com.
Cllr Bawden is part of a trial of a new Carbon Footprinting Toolkit which could be a huge boost to town and parish councils and community groups struggling to start their climate action planning.
The data will provide a useful guide towards the areas where community action could have the greatest impact in reducing carbon emissions.
In Weymouth, Cllr Clare Sutton is looking forward to restarting activities for children and families with the Chapelhay Community Playgarden group which she set up with local residents fifteen years ago and still chairs.
The playground is at the heart of one of five areas in Dorset where child poverty stands at over 40%, all of which are in Weymouth and Portland.
Clare represents Rodwell and Wyke on Dorset Council and is the Green Group’s lead for Children’s and Adults’ services.
She has been campaigning for a better deal for Weymouth and Portland, which has the third lowest Social Mobility in the whole country, since she was elected in 2015.
Over the years, Clare, who grew up in the local area, and others, have held a huge range of events and activities include arts and crafts, gardening, ’apple days’ and multi-cultural events - all on hold because of the pandemic.
Cllr Clare Sutton receives a donation for the Chapelhay Community Playgarden from Father Andrew Gough
“The kids are brilliant - they just enjoy it so much. This issue of deprivation motivates me more as a councillor than anything else”, Clare told Father Andrew Gough of Holy Trinity Church in Weymouth which has just given a grant to support the group’s activities.
Clare said, “We’re so grateful for the funding, especially at this very difficult time. It’s a vote for the future. Things are going to get better and we’re so looking forward to getting back out there.”
Since 2016, Weymouth and Portland has gone from having 3 full-time Youth Centres, 5 part-time Youth Clubs and the Waves Advice and Information Centre to now having only 1 full-time Youth Centre and 1 part-time Youth Club. Clare is the Green Group's lead on Children's and Adults’ Services on Dorset Council and has persuaded colleagues to:
- prioritise provision on Portland, where there are no youth clubs currently operating
- invest in Youth Workers working alongside volunteers to support existing clubs and establish new ones.
In 2019 Green Party Councillors Jon Orrell and Graham Lambert successfully promoted a Climate and Ecological Emergency motion.
This is now one of the key objectives of Weymouth Town Council.
The strategy to deal with this Emergency has been to commission a Carbon Footprint Report on all council activities and to set up a “Green & Clean” Working Party to develop proposals in response to the climate emergency.
The report from the Carbon Trust has now been published and contained a shock!
Half of Weymouth Town Council carbon emissions come from dealing with the waste, either left or put in litter and recycling bins, by Weymouth’s visitors to the beach!
This is going to be very difficult to deal with in our quest for net-zero by 2030, to say the least. We have already established partnerships with litter groups and Dorset Waste and Dorset Council to try to work on this.
We have also initiated a review into how the Parks & Open Spaces sector of the council can adjust working practices in order to take into account the climate emergency..
This includes a programme to move the flower nursery – thus saving money on rent – whilst removing the need for the biomass boiler and so saving 10 tonnes of carbon dioxide every year!