East Surrey Greens

East Surrey Greens

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There are elections for Reigate and Banstead Borough Council on 5th May 2022 and here are your Green Party candidates:

Earlswood and Whitebushes - Ruth Ritter
Ruth has lived in Earlswood for over 30 years and has represented Earlswood and Whitebushes as a Councillor since May 2019. A former foster carer, Ruth works part time in an NHS Primary Care setting and has been particularly involved in supporting community and Green projects locally. If re-elected Ruth will continue to advocate for local community initiatives, affordable housing and local green spaces.
Redhill East - Stephen McKenna
Stephen has served as a Green councillor in Redhill East since 2016. He is a professional town planner and chartered surveyor and has served on the planning committee for six years. Stephen has helped to secure gains for the local area, working with local people, including the Watercolour Community Centre currently under construction.
Horley East and Salfords - Victoria Chester
Victoria has lived in Horley for nearly 20 years. She works in social housing, managing projects to make homes more energy efficient. Victoria says: "Horley and Salfords are friendly, enterprising communities with so much potential. But we often feel overlooked, with our livelihoods and green spaces increasing threatened. And for many of us things are set to become even tougher. Now is your chance to bring about real change."
South Park and Woodhatch - Andrew Proudfoot
Andrew Proudfoot is a Biologist and Secondary School teacher who has lived in the area for 30 years. He says, "With a genuine focus on the environment, which recognises the global climate crisis and damage to wildlife, a Green Vote also delivers modern, well thought out community services for all". Andrew endorses the idea that Reigate Priory School moves into two new sites, one in Reigate and one in Woodhatch.
Banstead Village - Jenny Pope
I am proud to be representing the Green Party in Banstead. Having lived and worked here for the last 12 years, the residents deserve the opportunity to vote for a member of a different party.
Chipstead, Kingswood and Woodmansterne - Shasha Khan
Shasha is a Domestic Energy Assessor. He lives in Woodmansterne with his wife and two young daughters. He says, "I have a strong track record in representing our community. In 2014 I challenged a neighbouring Council in the High Courts for approving an application to build a health-damaging incinerator. Presently the Conservatives are sitting on a massive majority on the Council which is unhealthy for democratic accountability."
Hooley, Merstham and Netherne - Sam Dilliway-Davies
Sam is a project manager in the education and skills sector. He runs programmes for the government that help young people into work and training opportunities including apprenticeships and T Levels. He and wife Jenni live in Merstham where they enjoy being part of an active and supportive community.
Lower Kingswood, Tadworth and Walton - Roger Ponsford
Roger is a retired environmental consultant who has lived in Walton-on-the-Hill since 1971. Through his work primarily with construction-related companies he has seen how the design, construction and operation of buildings can be so much more sustainable. He would like to improve the balance of power within the council and be in a position to influence decisions so that more environmentally acceptable options are chosen.
Nork - Flip Bakker
Flip Bakker has lived in Nork since 1987 and brought up his family here. He has worked as a mechanical engineer, taught Physics, DT and Maths at Box Hill School, and runs a property maintenance business. He has served as a governor for two local schools. A keen allotmenteer, cyclist and walker, his interests include European languages & history.
Redhill West and Wray Common - Frank Percy
Frank Percy has lived in Redhill for 15 years. A former Design & Technology Technician at the Warwick School, he works as a musician, performing at several local popular venues. He says: "Voting Green can bring about some radical changes and huge benefits right here in our local community; it is certainly not a 'wasted' vote."
Reigate - Claire Thorpe
Claire has a background in conservation and now works in environmental communications. She grew up in Reigate and has recently moved back to the area after working away.She says "Without the option of the Green Party to vote for there is nobody championing the environment, wildlife and a more sustainable future for our area. It’s so important that we protect our green spaces and create a society that is healthier, fairer and kinder for everyone, and the only way to do that is voting Green."
Tattenham Corner and Preston - Alistair Morten
Alistair lives locally with his family and works in Further Education. As a Green Party member for over 25 years, he believes that only the Green Party is committed to creating communities that are vibrant, inclusive and sustainable.
Horley Central and South - Neville Kemp
Neville recently retired from a role in Higher Education as a Careers Adviser to students of the creative arts. Born in the borough, he attended the Reigate Grammar School when it was still state funded. Together with his wife, Deborah, Neville has taken an active part in the protest against the acidisation process oil-drilling at Horse Hill, near Horley.

Green call for Housing Retrofit pushed back by Reigate and Banstead Council

Last week, a full council meeting was held by Reigate and Banstead Borough Council which was due to debate the Green's call for the council to progress a housing energy efficiency retrofit strategy for the borough. So far, out of the 32,000 lower-income households that have been targeted for energy efficiency improvements by 2025 only 547 have been completed. The motion was proposed and seconded by Green councillors Joseph Booton and Jonathan Essex.

Housing in Surrey is currently responsible for 28% of direct greenhouse gas emissions. Energy efficiency improvements (often termed 'retrofit') of homes reduce household energy consumption and also carbon emissions - helping to save both cost of heating whilst helping us meet our climate targets. This effort therefore needs to be made a priority for the borough, not only to cut emissions but also to help tackle the challenge of rising energy prices, as councillor Joseph Booton explained in his statement at Reigate Town Hall: "Using less energy not only comes with climate benefits but will also help our residents in a climate of rising energy prices, which is pushing more and more people into fuel poverty each day".

Average home energy bills are forecast to increase to over £3000 by October 2022, with prices having already risen from the start of April 2022. Home energy efficiency improvements have a short timeframe for payback with benefits cutting residents' bills which will improve people's lives and finances, as well as creating jobs locally and helping to meet government's climate targets, which the government's advisors the Committee on Climate Change say requires us to retrofit at least 19 million homes across the UK by 2030.

However, there is currently 'a gaping hole in the support offered when it comes to energy reduction' both at a local and national level, as Green councillor Booton highlighted during the meeting. The Greens therefore proposed a programme of actions to create a plan to make this happen locally, including setting up a local retrofit task force in Reigate and Banstead. This taskforce would work closely with Surrey County Council to identify appropriate retrofit interventions as well as establish local training and delivery partnerships to provide home retrofitting through local institutions, such as Coast to Capital LEP, Raven Housing and East Surrey College.

The Greens also urged Reigate and Borough Council to sign up to the Great Homes Upgrade Campaign, which already enjoys the support of fellow councils such as Bristol, Cambridge, Newcastle and Glasgow, and, crucially, to write to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Chancellor Rishi Sunak and COP26 President Alok Sharma, to highlight the need for financial support for local councils to retrofit millions of homes by 2030, in order to stay on track with Government legal commitments. This is vital as although the government released its Energy Strategy on the same day as the motion, it provided no focus or funding on reducing the demand for energy in the short-term as highlighted by Green Party co-leader Adrian Ramsay, vital to address both the cost of living and climate crises - but also enable the UK to reduce dependence on Russian energy supplies without seeking to extract yet more oil and gas.

Disappointingly, the Mayor referred the motion to the Council Executive to consider (not likely before the end of June) rather than allowing councillors to debate and vote on the motion at the meeting. This interpretation of the council's constitution not only avoids much needed debate between representatives but also creates unnecessary delay for a pressing issue. This must not be a block on the local action needed to address the cost-of-living and climate crises together.

Written by Sasha Giles April 2022

Special Educational Needs Bailout for Surrey County Council

Surrey County Council is set to receive a £100 million special educational needs bailout after years of overspending and inadequate services. Green Councillor, Jonathan Essex, explains to Surrey Live why this should be considered a failure of outsourcing and what we can learn for the future:

see the article in Get Surrey here

Written by Sasha Giles April 2022

Greens propose budget amendment in Reigate and Banstead

At the Reigate and Banstead Borough Council meeting in February 2022, Green Councillors Paul Chandler and Jonathan Essex presented several amendments for the borough's annual budget. These were aimed to push the Council's stated strategic direction further to ensure a greener, more efficient and supportive Council budget under five primary objectives.

Firstly, the Green Councillors proposed expanding resourcing to help effectively deliver the Council's environmental sustainability strategy. These included additional posts within the sustainability team such as Sustainable Transport Projects Officer and Sustainable Energy Projects Officer. The amendment highlighted how these new positions could help initiate plans to decarbonise housing across Reigate and Banstead, with plans to fully retrofit all RBBC building assets by 2030, and help ensure a transition to a fully electric vehicle fleet, as stipulated in the Council's 2020 sustainability action plan.

The Green's budget amendment also committed to retaining the current capacity of the Community Development Team, rather than cutting their resources. The Community Development Team is vital in supporting the voluntary sector and the coordination of their services across the borough, and 'given the commitment to community involvement and the role played by volunteers in the pandemic, it is essential not to lose momentum' spoke councillor Paul Chandler. There were also calls to include sufficient funding in the budget to complete the recycling roll out for full recycling services, including food waste collections and separate recycling collection of paper, glass, plastic and metal from all properties in Reigate and Banstead, regardless of location or property type.

Another amendment proposed the addition of an Empty Homes and Fuel Poverty Officer. This role would have been instrumental in realising initiatives to identify empty property and increase social housing stock as well as providing support to households in fuel poverty. With energy costs having risen significantly since April, additional support will be necessary to help families improve home insulation and access hardship funding.

Finally, Green Councillors for Reigate and Banstead focused on enhancing green spaces, proposing a borough-wide strategy for enhancing the natural environment and biodiversity, with a programme of tree planting to achieve a net gain of trees, after subsequent losses from ash dieback and extreme weather. Town centres were also a focus, with proposed Street Improvement Managers who could identify opportunities for improvements across the borough's town centres and liaise with local stakeholders to create a holistic, long term plan for changes.

See the Budget amendment here

Written by Sasha Giles April 2022

Surrey County Council: Green Budget Amendment

In February 2022 Surrey County Council held a full Council meeting in order to debate the budget amendments put forward by The Green Group, proposed and seconded by county Councillors Jonathan Essex and Catherine Baart. The amendments covered four major areas, designed to provide an ambitious, fairer and greener budget for Surrey by tackling health inequality, improving public transport and taking the necessary steps to decarbonise both transport and homes across the county.

Whilst welcoming an extra £8m spending on mental health, Surrey still has a comparably low rate of public health spending per head. To address this shortfall The Green Group's budget amendment proposed a further increase to the Council's spending to strengthen both prevention and early intervention in public health services, addressing both child poverty and health inequality across Surrey.

To further support the national levelling up agenda as well as help achieve net-zero targets, the Greens also called on the Council to guarantee the first-year of funding for the Bus Back Better campaign to expand and transform bus networks across Surrey and achieve a significant shift to using public transport. Decarbonising transport was a focal point, with proposed funding for 'gap-analysis' and a citizen's climate forum to better understand infrastructure and investment needs to tackle this challenge effectively.

In response to the current energy crisis, the Green budget amendment also included additional funds for a housing retrofit study and delivery plan to improve energy efficiency across all Surrey homes and decarbonise heating at scale. This was considered vital not only to reduce emissions but also cut fuel bills as Councillor Jonathan Essex argued during the meeting: "This budget amendment calls on the Council to commission a small study to inform and drive forward a plan of how we deliver retrofit across all of Surrey's types of housing regardless of size, ownership and occupancy, but especially as more households enter into fuel poverty".

While the budget amendment put forward was not passed by the majority Conservative Surrey Country Council, it did enjoy almost unanimous support from the opposition parties and brought long-term issues and opportunities into public debate. In the same meeting the County Council announced plans to conduct a county-wide retrofit housing survey which will inform a housing strategy across Surrey.

Budget amendment can be seen here

Written by Sasha Giles April 2022

Climate Action Plans in Surrey: We need a Plan of Action

Councillor Booton recently came across a new online resource, the Council Climate Plan Scorecards, which has assessed Surrey County Council's Climate Action Plan (and its boroughs) and ranked it in relation to every other UK council's plans. The Scorecards can be seen at Council Climate Scorecards

Climate Action Plans are the official documents which lay out how our council intends to reach net zero carbon emissions by a specific date. Some councils' plans do extremely well in the various categories that Climate Emergency UK (a not-for-profit co-operative organisation) has used for scoring and others have been found to be lacking to a greater or lesser degree.

Surrey County Council has scored 48% (against a national average of 40%). This is a good start however these Scorecards are only looking at written plans, not actual action, so I hope the council can deliver what it has set out to do. Also, Surrey compares less favourably to neighbouring councils such as Kent County Council and Hampshire County Council who both scored 53%.

Somerset West and Taunton scored an impressive 92% and this shows that with political will and green-minded leadership, we can also achieve locally, similar levels of environmental responsibility.

The County report for Surrey calls out areas such as a lack of a designated key person responsible for the County's Climate Action Plan. In addition it is highlighted that there is also a lack of a plan on both how much funding will be required to implement the plan to achieve net zero and how such funding would need to be spent to achieve the plan. Essentially, we in Surrey have a plan but no plan of action.

At a more granular level, borough councils also have a strong influence on climate action, so these scorecards are very helpful in seeing which borough councils within Surrey are doing well and which ones need to 'up their game'. This piece of research by Climate Emergency UK is useful for us as residents to know what our councils are up to both at County and a Borough level. The Scorecards will also be useful for councils to look at and learn from other councils.

Boundary Review: Surrey Hills AONB

There is now a "once in a lifetime" opportunity to say whether the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) should be expanded including East of Redhill. The AONB covers a large area of Surrey, and since 1958 has helped maintain the landscape. Natural England is undertaking a review to extend the Surrey Hills AONB boundary. It is seeking evidence until 31st January 2022. The review includes several "Evaluation Areas" next to the current Surrey Hills AONB including East of Redhill and West of Reigate. Evaluation Area A11 extends west of Reigate include Reigate Heath. Evaluation Area E10 extends east of Redhill as far as Oxted. It includes the Greensand ridge which runs along the A25 and the Moors area of nature reserve between Redhill and Watercolour - part of the Holmesdale Biodiversity Opportunity Area (https://rb.gy/upeluw), a site proposed as a wild belt by the wildlife trusts (https://rb.gy/148gmx). It goes south as far as the Tonbridge - Nutfield -Redhill railway line Three areas east of Redhill have not been included in review area: the 'sheep field' and Copyhold sites north of the A25 and Hillsbrow site south of the A25 which is the highest point on the Greensand ridge and includes ancient woodland. These are areas not shaded on the map. These potential development sites are part of Redhill's landscape and have wildlife value. It is fine to submit evidence on the value of such sites outside the areas highlighted. And if this area is added to the AONB it should be better protected from development. Evidence should be submitted for location(s) based on some/all of the following criteria of natural beauty, defined as follows:

  • Landscape Quality: current physical state, landscape condition and its features;
  • Scenic Quality: how landscape appeals to the senses (not just how it looks);
  • Wildness and Tranquility: sense of place due to wildness and/or peacefulness;
  • Nature: the influence of plants, wildlife etc. on the beauty of the place;
  • Culture/History: links to traditions, people, artists, writers, historical events.
The strength of the evidence received will be assessed to see what is called "Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty" in future. For the form to submit see below (or https://rb.gy/8n0x51). This says what will and will not be accepted. E.g. an area being developed is not in itself for protection - it's all about a location's qualities, not what may happen in the future. Evidence can include photographs, published material, writings etc. Please send in evidence why an area is significant enough to include, and any issues that might be relevant. Submissions must be made by 31st January. Feel free to share information with us too - at steve@redhillgreens.org.uk. For more see surrey-hills-aonb-boundary-review.org/discover.  

Climate impact of second runway at Gatwick

The Green Party has warned a second runway at Gatwick would be a disaster for the climate and could result in an extra 1.5 million tonnes of carbon emitted each year,* ahead of a public consultation on the airport's expansion plans.

Councillors and members from the South East Green Party met with former Gatwick-based pilot Todd Smith as they launched their campaign against the plans on the eve of the consultation on 9 September.

Caroline Lucas, Green Party MP for Brighton Pavilion, said:

"Converting Gatwick's emergency runway to support even more flights is completely incompatible with the UK's climate targets. The Government should be looking to ways of driving down aviation demand, not facilitating it.

"More flights at Gatwick will cause more noise, pollution and road congestion and undermine what few efforts there are to put us on the path to net zero emissions."

Surrey Green Party Councillor Jonathan Essex has calculated that the planned expansion at Gatwick will increase emissions by more than 1.5 million tonnes of carbon a year. He said:

"Converting Gatwick's emergency runway to support even more flights would be a disaster for the climate. The fact that these plans have even been put forward implies that the government just reflects business interests rather than providing leadership on the climate.

"We need a Green New Deal plan to decarbonise every home and journey locally, not a further increase in the noise, pollution, congestion and pressures of Gatwick, whose climate impact already dwarfs that of its surrounding area."

Todd Smith, former Gatwick-based pilot and co-founder of environmental group Safe Landing, said:

*This is calculated by applying the increase in carbon emissions set out by the UK Department for Transport (DfT) for 2016 up to 2028 for the proposed second runway using Gatwick Airport Ltd (GAL) and Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) figures.

July Council Meeting

Cllr Joseph Booton reports on the July Council meeting. If you have a question you'd like raising at the next full Council meeting, or would just like to chat through some concerns you may have, please do get in touch with one of your friendly Green Party councillors. Their contact details are on this website.  

Jonathan Essex, Della Torra, Ruth Ritter and Joseph Booton, four of the seven Green councillors on Reigate & Banstead Borough Council July saw the convening of the full Borough Council of Reigate & Banstead. This provided an opportunity for the Green Party councillors of the Borough to demonstrate why so many residents look to them to provide real and meaningful change, as well as a main vocal opposition to the ruling party on the Council. Green Party councillors were successful in bringing two motions and a number of questions to the council. Both motions were passed unopposed and will be keenly monitored for their progress. Firstly, Green Party councillors Paul Chandler and Ruth Ritter implored the Council to add their voice to calls for a joint local and national government taskforce to plan action to reach net zero emissions. Cllr Chandler specifically called for "greater collaboration between local and national governments to respond to the challenges of climate change". The motion called for the Council to put this in writing in a letter to the Prime Minister as well as to the President of the upcoming COP26 conference and the Leadership Board of the Local Government Association. Our nation's environmental strategy needs to be more ambitious and delivered without delay. This motion ensures the resident's of our borough will be heard. Secondly, Green Party councillors Jonathan Essex and Della Torra highlighted the plight of over 10,000 residents of the Borough who are living in households that still do not have the long-promised kerbside recycling service that so many others within the Borough enjoy. The motion pushed the Council to expedite the recycling scheme roll out to all residents, including expanding communal bin stores for those in properties such as flats and implementing creative solutions for those who would be unable to accommodate the 'standard' recycling scheme offering. This motion was referred to the Council's ruling Executive on the basis that it would have a cost impact. This represents an acknowledgement for the first time from the Council that it needs to invest money to complete the recycling roll-out. We look forward to the Council now, finally, properly financing (starting this year) and rolling-out the full recycling service so all residents have access to the same recycling service, ensuring people are not left out because their household or situation doesn't 'fit' into the current scheme. In some cases this requires smaller bins or other creative alternatives and in other cases investing time, resources and what is required to change arrangements such as in blocks of flats where existing bin stores and bin arrangements are inadequate. Questions were also asked of the council by Green Party councillors Della Torra, Jonathan Essex, Joseph Booton, Sue Sinden, Paul Chandler and Ruth Ritter. The questions respectively covered the cutting of hedges and trees, nuclear non-proliferation and the 40th anniversary of the signing of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, engaging with residents on ideas and improvements for our Borough's green spaces, support for long-Covid sufferers, reducing demand for fossil fuel powered transport and calling for an urgent review of the long-overdue Earlswood Common Management Plan. Cllr Ritter asked the council "Given the strong public interest can you give assurance that the review of Redhill and Earlswood Commons Management plans are being given the urgency they deserve (particularly as the last Earlswood Common plan expired in 2013 and the golf course closed in March 2019) and that a date will soon be set for a public consultation?" This led to the Council confirming the management plan had indeed expired and still no date has been set for its review or for a public consultation. Your Green councillors will continue to monitor the situation and with a seat on the Earlswood Common Management steering group, we can ensure we get the public consultation and progress on this that is long overdue.  

Local Councillors

County division

Cllr Catherine Baart
email

Redhill

Cllr Jonathan Essex (local and county)
email

Cllr Steve McKenna
email

Cllr Sue Sinden
email

Earlswood and Whitebushes

Cllr Joseph Booton
email

Cllr Ruth Ritter
email

Cllr Della Torra
email

South Park and Woodhatch

Cllr Paul Chandler
email

Promoted by Paul Wright on behalf of East Surrey Green Party, both at 8 Carlton Green, Redhill, RH1 2DA.