The mission of Dover and Deal Green Party is to tackle locally the interlinked crises of climate and ecological emergency and cost-of-living. With a 40 degree heat wave experienced in the UK in July 2022, the climate emergency is not a party political slogan. It is reality.
Things are worse than when we initiated three Town council Climate Emergency declarations in June and July 2019, and when Dover District Council (DDC) passed a climate emergency declaration in Jan 2020. Many parties now ‘talk the talk’ on the climate emergency.
In April 2023, before the May elections, executive officers of our Green Party met and agreed that no new Green Party DDC councillor would prop up a minority Conservative group at DDC.
We are delighted to see Cllr Kevin Mills become the Labour leader of DDC, very ably backed up by Cllr Jamie Pout as deputy Labour leader. They are both people whom we’ve learned to trust. We will be presenting to them the masses of evidence that shows how together, in partnership with town councils, and with civil society, DDC can walk the walk much more effectively 2023-2027 to make the whole district zero carbon, to make all homes energy-saving homes, before the ‘long grass’ date of 2050.This is what many residents in our Dover district, concerned about climate, nature and the cost-of-living, say they want. We note that Conservatives in central government have betrayed the hopes of many, enabling profiteering energy corporates to make things much worse, increasing poverty, attacking nature and wildlife.
Green success in local elections
May 2023 saw our Green Party councillor groups elected onto three of the town councils, three councillors to Dover, three to Walmer and four to Deal. Many thanks to voters for your trust. These are town councils where Green councillors had served 2019-2023.
In Dover and Deal Town Councils 2019-2023 it was often very difficult to get the Labour leadership of those town councils to respect suggestions that our councillors made on help for residents with low carbon options and to meet the commitments made in 2019. This culminated at Deal Town’s full council meeting on 28 February 2023 (Agenda Item 7, Attachment 4 refers*) when Labour Cllr Sue Beer (deputy chair), made a recommendation to disband the Environment Committee, a controlling move designed to stop elected councillors of different parties working together. This recommendation was voted down.
Green policy gains
In Walmer Town Council, 2019-2023, a small Green group, of sometimes two, sometimes three, was able to work constructively with the Independent leadership to get a number of services (secure cycle hub at Walmer Station, thermal camera service, off-street EV chargers) put in place.
In May 2023, voters put a different set of councillors on to Dover, Walmer and Deal town councils. They have given No overall control (NOC) for any party on any town council except for Sandwich where Sandwich Matters Independents swept the board.
Who’s in charge?
At Dover Town council, Labour are the largest minority with 7 of 17 seats. At Walmer Town Council Conservatives are the largest minority with 5 of 15 seats. At Deal Town Council, Labour are the largest minority group with 7 of 15 seats. Green minority groups have had to make difficult, least-worst, decisions about who to vote for, in order to protect the mission of helping residents cut energy bills, and to protect the natural world.
This has resulted in Cllr Sue Jones (Lab) being elected to lead Dover Town Council as mayor (deputy: Cllr Ed Biggs (Lab)); Cllr Trevor Bond (Con) being elected to lead Walmer Town Council (deputy: Cllr Lou Ludwig (Ind)), and Cllr Oliver Richardson (Con) being elected to lead Deal Town Council (deputy: Cllr Les Craggs (Lab)).).
The No overall control (NOC) situation could well be to the advantage of residents as issues are less likely to be blocked or decided according to tribal political loyalties, and more likely to be decided on merit with each group needing to appeal to others to get their recommendations passed.
“Dover and Deal Green Party councillors look forward to working constructively with councillors of all parties and none, with the many volunteers and community groups, and organisations, who share with us the determination to protect our communities and our natural carbon-capturing environment in very tough times. We applaud all involved in the new cross party Green, LibDem and Labour administration at Folkestone and Hythe District Council, who have a clear plan to improve democracy in order to tackle the crises.”Christine Oliver, parliamentary spokesperson for Dover and Deal Green Party.
Statement agreed by executive officers and councillors of Dover & Deal Green Party Friday 26 May 2023.
*Deal TC Agenda 28 Feb 2023: Re Environment Committee Recommendation: That Deal TC disbands the climate committee from May 2023 and that climate change becomes the direct responsibility of the Full Council.
Editor’s note: Opinions expressed in this press release from Dover and Deal Green Party are not necessarily those of the editorial team at Kent & Surrey Bylines.