A Green administration would set two overarching priorities - improving the health and well being of Suffolk citizens and meeting the zero carbon by 2030 target. The two will complement and reinforce each other.
A Green administration would prioritise public transport, walking and cycling and reducing car dependency over building new roads and infrastructure for driving.
Suffolk has fallen way behind neighbouring counties in planning for and funding sustainable transport. We would ensure that the county council had sufficient staff to bid for cycle, bus and pedestrian funding as and when it becomes available.
We would reallocate road space in our towns to safe, segregated cycling lanes and space for walking to encourage more people to leave their cars at home. In order to meet the council's goal of zero carbon by 2030 we would set a goal of reducing car dependency in the county so that car journeys as a whole are reduced by 25% by the year 2030 as recommended by the Suffolk Climate Partnership.
To facilitate this we would hire a zero emissions transport officer to
Buses - We would invest the £0.5m needed to enable people to use their concessionary bus passes on community transport and demand responsive transport, which was removed from most of Suffolk in 2019. We would hire a zero emission transport officer, to complete the following projects:
A Green council would scrap the cabinet system and return to a committee-based system which allows members of all political parties to contribute to decision making, rather than a select band of people who all share the same narrow political viewpoint. A Green council would democratise what is now the public sector leader’s board, to include councillors from all political groups elected in county and district councils on a proportionate basis, not just the leaders of political parties that already hold control in their district or borough. It would also make all meetings public, not just alternate ones.
A Green administration would focus on rebuilding local economies in Suffolk through encouraging more journeys on foot and by bike and by public transport, and fewer by car. We would invest in creating public open space which will serve biodiversity and neighbourhoods, reallocating space from parking and cars. We would invest in training for local people for the skills they will need in a circular, renewable economy. We would focus attention on skills that will be in demand in a zero carbon world, which will ensure jobs are sustainable and available to local people. Such skills would include retrofitting homes, including installing heat pumps, and working for the growth industries of renewables and renewable electricity storage.
Greens would end the county's current relentless focus on building new roads and new houses in the name of “growth” and instead focus on improvements to communities on a smaller scale, encouraging smaller, independent businesses that put more back into the local economy and pollute less. When granting Covid recovery money a Green administration would favour businesses that are prepared to commit to meeting the county’s zero carbon goals in their own operations, over businesses that will actively add to greenhouse gas emissions.
Greens would invest in a smart grid for Suffolk with an aim to make it 100% renewable by 2030, generating genuinely sustainable, skilled local jobs. Greens would end the council's support in principle for a new nuclear power station at Sizewell, ensuring that our energy supply is clean and will not leave a toxic legacy lasting thousands of years.
The danger of the proposed new Freeport East tax haven zone around Felixstowe is that it will displace jobs rather than create them. New businesses that move there to enjoy tax and other breaks would compete on an unfair basis with existing, generally smaller scale Suffolk business that decide not to move but that actually generate more local jobs and put more back into local economy than the larger players. A Green administration would end the unconditional support for a Freeport tax haven zone around Felixstowe.
Suffolk council recently unanimously approved a Green Party led motion calling for biodiversity to be accounted for in every decision it takes. Nevertheless the county has been slow to act on this and in recent years has run down funding for vital services that give us the expert data and knowledge we need to make those decisions. A Green administration would reinstate funding for the Suffolk Biodiversity Information Service and promote and highlight its work and fund it to renew mapping exercises last undertaken some time ago. This includes the groundbreaking hedgerow survey conducted by volunteers across the county more than ten years ago. This existing data urgently needs digitalising and made more easily available to communities and parish councils.
The contract the county council has with the operator of the Blakenham incinerator means that the county is locked into provided a certain amount of non recyclable waste to feed the plant every year. Burning waste increases the county’s emissions and encourages the production of more waste. For this reason a Green administration would seek an early end to the incinerator contract and focus instead on efforts to reduce the amount of rubbish consumed. We would investigate the use of biodigestion to generate power from organic waste. Despite agreeing to phase out single use plastics, the county council has done very little to discourage its use by organisations and businesses across the county. A green administration would put genuine focus on encouraging a phasing out of plastic use across the county, by rewarding and encouraging local businesses that do so, through a Plastic Free Suffolk campaign.
We aim to divest the £3bn Suffolk County council pension fund from fossil fuels within two years. This would both comply with the county’s zero carbon goal and remove the risk of pension members being exposed to stranded assets that are likely to become worthless.
There should be clearer monitoring of schools’ performance with funding and support applied to those that need to improve. All schools should be supported to be at least "good" as judged by school inspectors and we would encourage all to be maintained by the local authority.
A Green administration would reverse as far as possible the disastrous new school travel policy which has split villages, with children from one village being sent in two different directions with two different buses for secondary schools. School buses should be funded to a child’s known catchment school, where the child can expect admission, not to a new concept of “nearest” school.
It is great news that the county’s Public Health Department has finally taken complete control of test and trace from central government and its expensive private contractors. A Green administration would have insisted from day one that our own Public Health department take control of test and trace rather than allow government to pay contractors to do it.
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.
For example, for advice on the public health impact of years of failing to deal with traffic congestion and air pollution in the dozen or so known areas in Suffolk where toxic air pollution has for years breached EU limits. We would also seek its input on the public health impact of traffic accident injuries and what to do about it. Green support for buses and public transport and for building local communities through protecting and enhancing public space is an effective measure to reduce rural isolation and loneliness and improving mental 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.
Green councillors helped draw up as part of a cross party panel the current programme of capital investment to expand Special Educational Need provision within Suffolk both with new special needs schools and new facilities within existing schools. A Green administration would put more effort into promoting and publicising transport training for children with special needs to allow them to use public transport with confidence.
Meetings & Events
Next meeting Thursday 18th March 7.15 for 7.30pm on Zoom virtual meeting, featuring a visit by Party leader Jonathan Bartley
If you wish to receive an invite, please email john [a] suffolkgreenparty.org.uk
While the present crisis and lockdown persist, Mid Suffolk Green Party will be holding virtual meetings. Green News will be available by email, so if you wish to receive this, please send your email and postal addresses to john [a] suffolkgreenparty.org.uk
- Mid Suffolk meetings generally held at Cafe 52, Crowe Street, Stowmarket, Suffolk, IP14 1DL
- Meetings occasionally held in Woolpit, Eye, Walsham le Willows, Stowupland, Needham Market and other villages.
All Members and well-wishers welcome.