What have Green Councillors ever done for us?

5 December 2016

Green councillors are a catalyst for changing minds and seeding ideas

Firsts - Green solutions are cheaper and better for people

Glastonbury Greens managed to implement what is thought to be the country's first ban on chemical herbicides (for use on council owned areas). They introduced Foamstream, an eco-friendly herbicide as a replacement.

Thanks to seven years of effort by Green Gloucestershire County Councillor Sarah Lunnon, (below) Stroud District is running the first catchment-wide natural flood prevention scheme in the country. The scheme uses tree trunks to dam streams instead of expensive engineered concrete embankments. Sarah worked with residents, gaining political support and negotiating with government agencies to achieve what is now recognised as a pilot project for whole country in how to construct and deploy such measures (also known as Rural Sustainable Drainage).

Under the Green/Labour coalition running Stroud it became the first carbon neutral council. The CO2 saved by investments in renewables is greater than the total emissions from the District Council – thought to be a World first.

Ending the use of toxic herbicide

In Brighton and Hove, Greens obtained an agreement with the ruling Labour council to end the use of Glyphosate – the weedkiller thought to cause cancer.

Edinburgh Greens have called for alternatives to the use of glyphosate by the city.

The three Green councillors on Lewes District council have persuaded the council to trial a pesticide free alternative and are running a campaign to push for a ban.

Cutting car dependency

Mid Suffolk District councilllor Rachel Eburne battled for six years to get super fast broadband for residents of her Suffolk village Haughley Green where many residents had internet services equivalent to dial up. The move importantly reduces car dependency for residents of villages by allowing them to work and shop from home.

Edinburgh Greens consistently backed schemes which improve walking and cycling in the city - and developed the first "towpath code" for the Union Canal.

Standing up for residents against the developer's bulldozers

Lambeth Greens joined residents of a sheltered housing block campaigning against the Labour-led council's plan to demolish it and sell the site to developers. As a result of the actions in Green councillor Scott Ainslie's ward, Labour shelved demolition plans for that block and other sheltered units in the borough.

The success of Lambeth Greens' sheltered housing campaign led to residents of other council-owned housing estates facing the bulldozer asking for Lambeth Green Party's help. Cllr Ainslie forced the council to publicly scrutinise its decision to demolish Cressingham Gardens - a large estate in Lambeth. This bought the residents time to build a legal case to seek and win a judicial review. Residents have overwhelmingly voted for a retro-fitted refurb and to stay in their homes. Labour, who nearly lost an important by-election to the Greens, appear to have backtracked on demolition plans.

Safer streets for people

York Greens secured the first 'trial' 20mph residential street in York that ultimately led to a citywide scheme. They also secured a 20mph limit outside two local schools in spite of it being on a trunk road.

Stroud Greens have implemented area-wide 20mph limits across much of the town and further afield as well as introducing innovative traffic calming measures. In the London Borough of Lambeth, the Labour-led council introduced a borough-wide 20mph limit after years of Green campaining.

Norwich Greens got scrutiny sommittee to take an “access walk” through the City Centre, highlighting barriers for disabled people. In November 2016 a motion was passed unanimously agreeing to create an Access Charter for Norwich, involving disabled people early in the design stages of street-scene changes.

Greens in Lambeth managed to get a notoriously dangerous and busy junction close to a school made safer and a three year campaign. A new cycle lane, cycle mirrors, better pedestrian crossing were all introduced. Green activist Christine Holt is a leading light in the "Safer A23" campaign and has brought a long-awaited pedestrian crossing at another notorious junction on that road in the borough a step closer.

Putting green space and public access above developer profit

Vicky Pearson, parish councillor in Lincolnshire has been put in charge of a four year development plan for council-owned green spaces in the four villages the council covers. Subject to public consultation, she aims to include an open-water collection area with hand pumps for allotment holders, a sensory garden with wind and water wheels, a community orchard and an intensively farmed field being turned into horse grazing to generate more income for the council.

Before he was elected a councillor, Paul Woodhead at Cannock Chase Green Party launched a petition which gained over 11,000 signatures to stop the council selling off green spaces. This forced a debate at Full Council which resulted in a unanimous decision not to sell. Several community groups are now involved in the shaping of green spaces in their localities.

In the town of Frome, Somerset, Mendip District Council wanted to sell off an island of green space with a school on one side and houses on the other three. The three Green councillors led by Shane Collins persuaded the council to change its mind, instead leasing it back to the community for kids to play and parents to meet after school.

In Birkenhead, a Green Party campaign supported by Councillor Pat Cleary successfully defeated new road building plans in historic Hamilton Square.

Other Green campaigns in Birkenhead have blocked plans to close public rights of way and build a new drive through fast food restaurant in the town.

York Greens led a community campaign that saved a popular riverbank area from being fenced off for private yacht moorings

Green councillors in York saved two community buildings for continued community use when threatened with closure (Melbourne Centre and Clements Hall).

Greens prevented the planned installation of ticket barriers at York train station which would have closed off a public walkway.

York Greens organised a summer community fair to promote volunteering in the local area

Lancaster City Council created its first new allotment site for many years following a Green Party initiative. Cinder Lane allotments opened in 2014.

Working with local residents, Lambeth Green councillor Scott Ainslie managed to secure one of two potential sites belonging to Network rail to create a community garden. The residents in winter 2016 were setting up a Charitable Incorporated Organisation and looking to secure some seed funding to launch in spring 2017.

Wildflower stepping stones

Lewes Green councillors set up a group with the aim of creating wildflower stepping stones across the town linking it to the rare chalk grassland downland that it is nestled in. Local people have nominated patches that they would like to see filled with wildflowers. The District Council has agreed to include some of these in their estates management contract for next year.

Stroud Greens introduced a policy of sowing wildflowers on grass verges to create habitat for bees, which created an attractive entrance to Stroud on all major roads and cut the cost of verge maintenance.

Ending dependence on polluting fossil fuel

Sheffield Green councillor Brian Webster persuaded fellow members of the board of the South Yorkshire Pensions Authority to agree to seek to reduce exposure to fossil fuel in its investment portfolio. The fund agreed to commission a carbon audit of the portfolios every two years. Greens on Sheffield City Council also persuaded the Labour-controlled council to agree to promise never to invest in fossil fuels.

Bristol councillor Martin Fodor’s motion supporting fossil fuel divestment of Avon Pension Fund was voted through Full Council, after being diluted by a Labour amendment (but divestment hasn’t happened yet because Bristol City Council is only one part of Avon Pension Fund).

The three Green councillors on Aintree Parish Council, on Merseyside, got a resolution passed by their parish that told Sefton Borough Council that the parish "wishes to state its clear opposition to fracking and its belief that promotion of and investment in renewable energy sources would bring a safer and more sustainable alternative."

Lancashire County Councillor Gina Dowding is encouraging the county’s £5bn pension fund to take into account ethical as well as financial factors and has persuaded it to sign up to the United Nations Charter Principles for Responsible Investment.

Kirklees's three Green Cllrs managed to get approved a groundbreaking provision that said any applications to drill for hydrocarbons (including fracking) in their district, would have to demonstrate as part of their planning application how they would have ‘net zero impact on climate change’. The justification for this policy is based on Government pronouncements supporting the Paris Climate Agreement.

Liverpool Greens managed to get a motion passed in November 2015 by which the city council agreed that the Mayor would write to the fund manager of Merseyside Pension Fund asking for a full and comprehensive review of the £350 million of fossil fuel investments in the fund and what it is doing to address the risks of these investments.

In what could become a pioneering move for councils across the UK, Aberdeenshire Council agreed in March 2016 to give its carbon cutting budget the same status as its financial budget. The proposal, which won unanimous support from all political parties on the council, will ensure both budgets are set at the same full council meeting. It was driven by Green councillor Martin Ford and his independent colleague Paul Johnston.

Saving money with clean renewable investments

In 2014 the Sheffield Greens proposed a fully costed scheme to install solar panels on council housing which would have created 250 jobs in the solar sector. The Labour-controlled council voted it down but then in 2015 introduced their own smaller scheme – without the 250 jobs - a year later. But no solar panels had been installed more than a year later.

Lancaster Greens negotiated for solar panels on council buildings which generates £55k a year.

Green Lancaster City cabinet member for climate change Cllr Tim Hamilton-Cox has also set in motion plans for a wildlife-friendly solar farm at Middleton that could net the Council £4m profit over 20 years.

In Norwich, Green councillors involved residents in a planning application for an industrial scale biomass plant, exposed the dubious claims and helped generate a public outcry that helped stop the annual burning of 25,000 tons of straw close to the city centre. They then proposed a solar alternative for the site and have helped develop Norwich Community Solar, now in the process of registering as a co-op with 3 potential sites hoping to install.

Norfolk Green county councillors proposed that as part of the major refurbishment of County Hall renewable energy should be included. As a result of a question in 2011, in 2015 the council installed 225 Solar panels on the south wing roof of county hall, generating electricity and reducing the Council’s energy bills.

Better bus services

Buses in Sheffield now run on Boxing Day and New Year’s Day, thanks to the minority Greens.

Green councillors in York set up a grassroots non-party political campaign to defend local bus services against cuts.

Lancaster Greens successfully campaigned with residents’ groups to keep evening and weekend buses to the Marsh and Ridge estates.

Support for community policing

Faced with cuts in full time police officer numbers, the minority group of Sheffield Green councillors proposed a budget for 10 extra Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs). Labour’s police commissioner has since then agreed to protect PCSO numbers.

Standing up for fairness for residents

Labour controlled Sheffield proposed a big council tax rise for the for the 30,000 lowest-income families in the city. Greens insisted the council should first end subsidies for people owning empty homes. The Greens demands for more help for poorer families were finally granted by the Labour council in 2015.

After two trips to Whitehall to speak to both the House of Lords and House of Commons committees over the HS2 rail line going through his Solihull ward, Chris Williams (pictured above) defeated Department for Transport barristers who said no extra noise protection was needed. The hearing found Chris was right and four metre high noise barriers will now be provided along the line in Chelmsley Wood.

In Reading, Green councillors won approval for their Living Wage motion which meant Reading won accreditation as a Living Wage town. The Green councillors are maintaining pressure for new council contracts to pay a Living Wage. Lewes Greens did the same. Worcester and Lancaster Greens helped introduce a Living Wage for all council employees.

Green councillors argued successfully that Lancaster City Council continues to offer council tax support, keeping a burden from the district's poorest residents.

Norwich Green councillors have helped several residents get their housing benefits re-instated after administrative errors arising from changes in circumstances.

Lambeth Green Party activists backed their Green councillor Scott Ainslie (pictured) in April 2015 in occupying a property in the borough where council tenants where being evicted to make way for sales to private developers. Shortly after, the harassing eviction notices from the council ceased and as of December 2016 the family are still there.

Looking after the vulnerable

Bristol's Mayor announced 25 more beds for the homeless of the city, the week after a Green Party motion and lobbying from Green councillor Ani Stafford-Townsend.

Bristol Greens proposed the ‘social care precept’ in February 2015 and it was successfully voted through Budget Council meeting, raising £3.5million for the people with the greatest need

Bristol Green councillors in May 2016 successfully lobbied the Labour Mayor to include tackling inequality and climate change as their condition for supporting a proposed "devolution" deal which would create a new West of England authority made up of Bristol and two surrounding local authorities. They also have concerns about lack of public involvement.

Edinburgh Greens forced the city council to adopt a "no evictions" policy for tenants affected by the bedroom tax.

In Solihull, which has one of the highest rates of homelessness in England, Cllr Chris Williams secured better temporary accommodation for homeless families, who used to be kept in dilapidated B&Bs. Now, no one stays in a B&B and all have a decent home while their homelessness case is assessed and permanent accommodation is found. As a result of his efforts, the Council is now pursuing the Gold Standard for homelessness.

Victory for ethical advertising policy - January 2014: Camden Council confirmed in a reply to a written question by Green councillor Sian Berry that they will introduce an ethical policy for new advertising spaces aimed at raising money for the council. Payday loan companies will be prohibited from advertising on council sites, among other restrictions

In November 2016 Lambeth Council finally bowed to pressure from the Green Party to stop sending bailiffs to the poorest families in the borough who had fallen into arrears on council tax payments. As a result, collection rates increased from 80% to 93% and court and bailiff costs have been saved. Green councillor Scott Ainslie first raised the issue with the council in January 2015.

Affordable Homes

Lewes councillor Johnny Denis suggested to the District Council in 2014 that they should set up an asset management company owned by the council but a separate legal entity. This allows the council to build and manage homes for affordable and social rents that are not subject to right-to-buy, nor highest value asset sell-off. In winter 2016 the council is voting to set up such a company.

Fighting unsustainable Developments

Our sole Green on North Somerset Council managed to get the Council to refuse one large unsustainable housing estate on green field land in his ward. The developer's appeal was dismissed on grounds of sustainability and damage to the environment. Cllr Tom Leimdorfer also managed to get another scheme reduced from 54 to 38 dwellings and part of the land may be managed by the local Wildlife Action Group to enhance local wildlife.

Tackling Fuel Poverty

Reading's Green councillors in 2016 won agreement from the council to investigate whether to implement a collective energy switching scheme which would see the council partner with an energy company and offer householders cheaper bills if they switched. Similar schemes elsewhere have been shown to reach people who have never switched before, saving fuel bills for the poorest.

Clean Air

In November 2016 Bristol Green councillors won unanimous support for proposal for a Clean Air Zone covering a part of the city known to exceed safe pollution levels. The motion also called for a Clean Air Zone for the whole city once legislation enabled it. In the meantime the city council agreed to work with bus and taxi companies to cut emissions city-wide and to promote electric cars and car sharing.

Bristol Green councillors joined residents campaigning against a proposed polluting biodiesel generator in a city centre site (Lawrence Hill). In September 2016 permission was refused.

Green councillors in January 2016 helped obtain over £400,000 funding to clean up 24 of Norwich’s dirtiest diesel buses. This followed a sustained campaign by Norwich Green Party councillors to improve air pollution levels in the city.

Air pollution monitors were switched back on in the London borough of Lambeth after Greens there, including our the sole Green councillor, exposed the fact that the Labour-led Council came off the London Air Quality programme. The Greens got the council to approve a Green motion to make exhaust emissions from hybrid-buses compliant with the latest European standards. They also won funding for new air pollution monitors in the borough.

Boosting the local economy over interests of big business

Stroud Green councillor Simon Pickering in 2016 steered the creation of a one-off £100k investment fund to increase local food production through the relevant council committee, overcoming initial opposition from some Conservative and Labour councillors. Simon said: "Now we are well on the way to helping 18 small businesses and organisations to increase local food production, creating 45 jobs, over 200 volunteering opportunities and directly or indirectly safeguarding a further 600 jobs. This will bring a further six acres land into food production." One grant is being used to develop a new local food brand “Cotswold Choice”.

The five Edinburgh Green city councillors championed a Green "City Region Deal" for a future city economy which is low carbon, sustainable and backs local business.

Lancaster Green councillors were instrumental in keeping open the outdoor market in the centre of town.

Concerned by the lack of independent greengrocers and a source of fresh vegetables, Edinburgh Greens led the way on setting up the city's first community-owned greengrocer, Dig-In in Bruntsfield

Edinburgh Greens also proposed and consistently backed an energy services company (ESCO).

Norwich Greens got Norwich City Council to adopt Sexual Entertainment Venue regulations in 2014. In 2016 they are trying to get the council to implement its own regulations to prevent the spread of lap-dancing clubs.

Soon after Lesley Grahame was elected Norwich City councillor in 2010 she received a voicemail asking her to re-open a sports hall that the council had closed with a view to selling as development land. She campaigned to get the hall re-opened by a community group. It's up and running since 2012 and in December 2016 was about to sign a 20 year lease, which will give it access to large funding streams to enable its vision of going solar and increasing its offer disabled sportspeople.

Democracy and transparency

Worcester Green Cllrs Louis Stephen and Neil Laurenson teamed up with Conservative councillors in November 2016 to scrap the cabinet system and bring in a more democratic committee system. Greens hold the balance of power between 17 Conservative and 16 Labour councillors. The choice was essentially to leave Labour running the cabinet as a minority, have the committee system or have an all-party cabinet, which was Labour's proposal.

Edinburgh's five Greens have also persuaded the council to devolve decisions on local council spending to local communities - known as participatory budgeting - where local people decide who gets the money: in Leith, in South West Edinburgh, in Inverleith and in South Central neighbourhoods.

Edinburgh Greens opened up the council by calling for the introduction of webcasting of council meetings and chairing a committee that receives petitions from the public.

Norwich City and Norfolk County Green councillors successfully lobbied for the Greater Norwich Development Partnership to hold its board meetings in public.

In 2014, Norfolk's four Green county councillors, by holding the balance of power between Conservative, Labour and UKIP, won agreement to scrap the county council's cabinet system (which allowed ten councillors of one party to make all the decisions) and replaced it with a cross-party committee system.

Cllr Paul Woodhead of Cannock Chase District Council successfully lifted the lid in autumn 2016 on a secret decision by his Labour-led council to try to privatise burials and cremations. After protests to the council solicitor, he managed to get confidentiality lifted on the council's discussions on this public matter so that the public became aware.

Recycling and promoting the circular economy

In 2016 Stroud Greens were instrumental in introducing a new food waste recycling scheme for households. In the first two weeks, 60 per cent more food waste than expected was collected. The waste food goes to an anaerobic digester (below) which turns it into methane for use in the national gas main while and the digestate is used for fertilizer on farmland.

In September 2016 Liverpool Green councillors won full council approval for their motion calling on the Mayor and council to develop a strategy to move from a linear economy (take, make and dispose) to a circular one. A circular economy is one that 1. Maximises the use of resources. 2. Minimises waste and pollution. 3. Encourages the production of longer lasting products 4. Uses renewable forms of energy production.

Community right to build

Stroud Greens, who co-administer the council, won the first 'Community Right to Build' order in the country was recently approved for the town of Nailsworth, allowing a local Community land Trust to build 10 new affordable houses for rent which will not be subject to right to buy.


Worcester's two Greens devised a city plan with the other parties which highlights the need to enhance the City’s biodiversity and to source renewable energy. A biodiversity working group has been formed. They also secured a ban on the use of snares, which cause unneccessary pain to animals, on Council-owned land.

Supporting and protecting kids

Edinburgh Greens championed a “Playing Out” project to allow street play for children

They also proposed extra investment for school repairs and improvements and first called for inquiry into the public/private schools building scandal.

Edinburgh Greens exposed the scandal of horsemeat in school food and pushed for higher quality school food, using local, healthy and organic produce.

In January 2016, thanks to a motion from Green councillors, Liverpool became the second city in the UK (after Bristol) to adopt One Tree Per Child policy which encourages every child in the city to plant at least a single tree. The motion also pledged the council to finding continuing support for Forest Schools and outdoor education in the city.

Saving children's centres for the community

David Williams, a Green councillor on Oxfordshire County Council won council agreement not to charge rent to community organisations that are having to take over children's centres as council funding is withdrawn.

Compassion for refugees

Green Party Councillors drafted a successful motion that Stroud District should welcome and prepare for its share of refugees, working with communities and organisations to ensure a welcome (through fundraising and other practical support) that is truly a community undertaking. As of December 2016 three of the five families expected to arrive in Stroud are already here and settled in.

Three Syrian refugee families are settling into new homes in Hertfordshire a year after Green councillor Simon Grover jolted St Albans council into doing something. The three familes are living in housing that was offered to the Council by a housing association and are being supported by the Refugee Council, amongst others. They have come direct from Syrian camps and were identified by the UN as being in particular need. His initiative was inspired by an earlier move by Green councillors in Malvern Hills.

Greens on Lewes Town Council (they have half the seats) implemented a "Lewes Welcomes Refugees" policy.

Adopting a canal

Town Councillor Janet Alty has arranged for her town, Royal Leamington Spa. to adopt a 3km legnth of the canal.

Promoting community art

Working with a local mural artist Leamington town councillor Janet Alty helped him to make arrangements with four local companies who were willing to have mural art painted by a large team of artists from all over UK.

Greens on Lancaster City Council have worked hard to ensure continued funding for voluntary and arts organisations, including a new £11k small grants pot.

Installing a BMX track

Working with a local champion BMX cyclist, Leamington councillor Janet Alty arranged for him to work with Warwick District Council Officers to install a BMX track in a local park.

Neighbourhood Planning

Greens believe in putting the community first and decisions being made at the closest possible level to where they are carried out. Many Green town and parish councillors are heavily involved in helping draw up neighbourhood plans for their communities. Janet Alty was elected Chair of the Neighbourhood Plan Committee for Leamington Town Council, Eflrede Brambley-Crawshaw is chairing the Neighbourhood Plan committee on Beccles Town Council, Suffolk. Eamonn O'Nolan did chair the equivalent committee on Woodbridge Town Council, Suffolk, until the Conservative-controlled council scrapped the plan while he was on holiday.

Bringing empty homes back into use

In 2015, Sheffield Greens proposed a detailed plan which would more bring empty and abandoned houses back into use as rented homes and increase council revenue. These plans have now been adopted by Labour, as have Greens’ calls for more resources to enforce private rented standards of housing.

Edinburgh Greens secured commitment from the council for a dedicated Empty Homes Officer for city.

Snow Wardens

York Greens helped to establish a network of volunteer Snow wardens across the city.

Protecting libraries

In 2016 Green councillors on Brighton and Hove council succeeded in persuading other opposition councillors to vote with them to block the Labour administration's plan to close and sell Hove’s Carnegie library, by identifying flaws and exaggerations in the financial plan. Since then, the council has reversed its decision to close the library.

In November 2014, Green Camden Councillor Sian Berry's motion for an emergency community fund to support community organisations, including libraries and community centres was supported by all Camden Councillors, and a £1 million fund was introduced into new budget proposals.

Tom Leimdorfer, sole Green in North Somerset unitary council, chaired the working group to save Congresbury Library in his village. A pioneering partnership model was developed which allowed the Council to save on staffing, but kept the library going and even extended the service with special activities. Now (December 2016) the Council needs to make further cuts, but the involvement of the Parish Council and volunteers will enable the Council to keep the library fully open but transfer management to the Parish Council.

In October 2015 Lambeth's Labour cabinet agreed to close five libraries in the borough, gifting three to a gym company. Greens began a campaign with residents and staff to save them by transferring ownership to a staff-owned mutual. As of 2016 the libraries are still open and the campaign is still going.

Rainbow Alliance - changing the culture

Stroud Greens entered a five-year power sharing deal with Labour on their District Council between 2011 and 2016. This was renewed after 2016 elections. One of the conditions of the deal was to move to a committee system with key decision-making meetings to be in the evening. After the five years, the council's annual independent survey revealed the highest ever resident and business approval rating of the council services since records began 14 years ago. Stroud Greens have encouraged Conservative ("opposition") councillors into cross-party meetings with officers to discuss difficult decisions, ending previous habits of closed-door decisions by a single-party cabal followed by confrontational "show" meetings.

Stroud Green councillors played a key role in ensuring the district was the first in Gloucestershire to complete its "local plan", which means it has some protection from speculative green field developments. The plan "has Green policies that are as strong as we could make them to comply with NPPF and get through an enquiry, including promoting renewable energy, self-build, and innovative ways to protect important habitats."

Sports Camps

Paul Martin, Green parish councillor for a village called Wales in the principle authority area of Rotherham, suggested in 2013 that his parish finance some sports coaching for youngsters. A week-long sports camp that year extended to two weeks in 2014. In 2016 the parish signed a contract with sports fund raising charity Active Regen and now puts on five weeks of sports camps for between 50 and 70 children each week, along with ongoing weekly low-intensity sporting activities for elderly members of our community. Said Paul: "I would never have believed we could deliver all this when I first made this suggestion three years ago."

Support for dementia

Green councillors in Lewes won unanimous backing for the town to become "dementia friendly"

There are bi-monthly Dementia Friends sessions open to the public run by two Green councillors, who are also providing dementia information sessions to various groups and clubs in the town.

Five Town Councillors including the current Mayor are now Dementia Friends plus two council officers.

In March 2016 the then Green Mayor Susan Murray hosted a reception for Dementia Friendly Lewes which brought together many interested parties.

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