Welcome to the June edition of our newsletter.
We hope you enjoy it!
Dorset councillors Jon, Brian, Clare and Kelvin chewing over strategy.
Brian writes: "Having 20 mph speed limits in residential areas is a sensible and popular policy. But Dorset is lagging behind other places. Dorset Council's Highways Board is now looking at the policy, and I'm the one Green Councillor in the room.
This is a great campaigning issue for the Green Party, and campaigning is well supported by the National 20's Plenty Campaign. It's a great way to get Greens on the map locally, and if you like the idea of running a campaign in your town or village please get in touch either with me (firstname.lastname@example.org) or with the Dorset Coordinator for 20's Plenty, Dilys Gartside (email@example.com)."
Kelvin lifts the lid on the political obstacles to addressing climate change locally.
He calls for Dorset MPs to support the Climate and Ecology Bill going through parliament to address climate change and the ecological emergency.
In an interview with Dorset Eye, Kelvin also points to a lack of ambition in Dorset Council's Climate and Ecological Emergency Strategy and urges the Council to take political leadership.
Clare says "In the 2019 Dorset Council elections, Greens stood in 19 wards. We won all 4 of our target seats and finished a strong second in several wards despite no all-out campaign to win.
At our May meeting, we held our first discussion about where to target in 2024. Of course we want to hold our existing seats but, resources permitting, we’d also like to target some more. To do this,
So! Would you be willing to consider standing for election with the aim of becoming a Dorset Councillor? Enthusiasm is the most important attribute but, if you also live in an area where we poll well, even better! If you’d like to learn more about what the role entails, or could help us deliver newsletters in target seats, please feel to contact me in the first instance.
Leader of the Green Group on Dorset Council
Parish Councillor Carol Byrom (on the right of the photo) and Members of Cheselbourne Climate Action Group were in action over the May Bank Holiday weekend planting wildflowers to attract pollinators on the verge on the corner of Drakes Lane.
Carol says, "We are very grateful to all those who donated plants and bulbs and to those who helped with the planting. We planted several native species including primrose, bluebells, garlic mustard and comfrey."
Belinda says "In Lyme Regis, the Car Club trial will start with an electric car as soon as the town council fast-chargers are installed. I'm also liaising with neighbouring councils to get electric bike rental hubs considered.
I'm working on a community engagement project to trial the Royal College of Art's innovative toolkit to enable residents to create visions of their Net Zero future places.
I'm helping the Development Trust working with Dorset Community Energy to set up a renewable Community Energy scheme.
The Reuse, Recycle Beach Toys box is now a reality and in use on the seafront.
And the 'Happy to Chat' benches I requested will be labelled with signs sponsored by the Rotary Club."
Councillor Jon Orrell recently helped residents on Wesley Street to keep their green improvements to their street.
Residents on Wesley Street in Weymouth were upset recently when the council asked them to remove pots of flowers they had put outside their homes. The council said they would need public liability insurance but residents argued that it was unaffordable. The flower pots were popular with residents as a conversation opener, a bit of greenery, good for wildlife and made the place look nicer.
Jon is also part of a local charity called Transition Town Weymouth and Portland. This charity has helped plant community orchards and also establish various growing spaces in Portland and in various schools. So at a public meeting last week of concerned residents the solution of joining TTWP for free and benefitting from their public liability insurance for planting schemes was warmly received. The planters can stay with space for emergency vehicles agreed.
Jon said "The Wesley street greening with plants and flowers is to be encouraged and promoted. It takes back a street blighted by vehicles and makes it friendly for bees, residents and cyclists."
As one of only two Green Weymouth Town Councillors it has been necessary to work with Councillors of all colours in order to get things done. Having successfully enabled the declaration of a Climate & Ecological Emergency we are now beginning to make the changes necessary to respond to the Emergency. The first Council-erected solar panels should be in place later this year; a biodiversity strategy is close to full council adoption; changes are being introduced to Parks and Open Spaces which will not only improve biodiversity but save the Council money and reduce CO2 emissions; a climate education plan is being formulated; and we are attempting to improve the environmental impact of litter and waste on the sea front.
By speaking out honestly and uncompromisingly in Committees we have been able to influence and educate other Councillors. For example councillors are now very aware that firing off fireworks over the bay has environmental impacts which should not be ignored!
We work hard on the Council, but the rewards are many in the form of voting to make good things happen; even when on the losing side there is the satisfaction that the case has been made and the hope that it will lead to other councillors thinking differently next time.
In this era of Climate Emergency it can feel overwhelming as to what are the best actions to take. But as a GP member of a Council you are not alone, you can be sure that other GP Councillors are making the case for some sanity in our world in their towns and villages throughout the country too. Prepare to stand for election!!
The Green Party had very successful local elections in May 2021 gaining over 90 councillors in England and Wales bringing our total to around 442 on 141 councils.
There were no elections this year for Dorset Council, the next ones being in 2024.
Our candidate for the Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner, Claire Seymour, came in third place on first preferences ahead of both Labour and the Lib Dems - a great result which bodes well for her in 2024 and for the Green Party more generally in Dorset.
There were also some town council by-elections and in Lyme Regis our candidate, Vicki Elcoate, came second - only 11 votes behind the independent who won and ahead of the Lib Dems.
In Weymouth, Claudia Webb, our Green candidate in the Wyke Regis town council by-election, came in third place with Labour taking the seat. Wyke is a relatively new area for us but is part of the larger Rodwell and Wyke Dorset Council area so we hope to increase our support there.
Notable results around the country:
In Suffolk we gained 6 seats bringing our total to 9 councillors on the 75 seat council.
In Sheffield, we increased our seats from 8 to 13 on the 84 seat council, unseating the Labour leader and bringing the council under no overall control. In the area covered by the Sheffield Central constituency, we won 42.5% of votes.
In Bristol, Greens made 13 gains, more than doubling our number of councillors to 24 and making us the joint largest party on the council with Labour. Greens won nearly 50% of the votes across the Bristol West constituency making it a likely target at the next general election.
Tidal power is being deployed around the world. This year the government has the opportunity to support this new technology and support British businesses if it makes changes to the subsidy scheme.
Potential beneficiaries would be a 15MW scheme off the Isle of Wight and a 30MW scheme off the coast of Portland.
This September, if lockdown permits, homes across West Dorset will open to showcase ways of living greener. Some of these involve technical approaches, with heat pumps, solar panels and ventilation systems; or electric cars and charging points. Others are low tech – for example, reducing waste, collecting rainwater, home-made double glazing, or growing vegetables. Green Party members are invited to join the event by opening their homes - the dates are September 25 and 26, and October 2 and 3, depending on where you are.
The event is being co-ordinated by Dorset Climate Action Network and involves Turn Lyme Green, Transition Town Bridport, Green Martinstown and other communities who want to join in.
Dorset Climate Action Network is calling for new hosts who are willing to talk about their journey to sustainable living: "If you have taken steps to lower your carbon footprint, and are willing to share your experience with others, please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your house does not have to be perfect or highly sophisticated, as long as you can inspire others to cut their resource use. Similarly if you know someone who might be interested we are happy to talk to them".
Because of the uncertainties of the pandemic, booking will be tentative and subject to cancellation if the hosts do not feel it is safe or restrictions tighten. Online tours might be possible to make sure the success of past events in inspiring others to take up some of these ideas continues. This is the website from the 2019 event: http://bridport.greenopenhomes.net/west-dorset-greener-homes-78
Discover how Citizen Science contributes observations of the natural world to the scientific community in this filmed talk and live discussion with Professor Jennifer Preece. Learn how volunteers - both children and adults - make valuable contributions to science and the protection of the planet.
The talk will be followed by a panel discussion with Helen Stiles (Editor of Dorset Magazine), Tracey West (Founder & CEO of the charity Word Tree), and Jake Causton (Sustainability Coordinator for Falmouth University, Cornwall), with Jennifer joining online.
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