Local Elections 2021 - Capturing the Green Vote
From GreenLibDems 2020 Vision Conference, 28th June 2020
Cllr Pippa Heylings
Cllr Tahir Maher
Cllr Jane Brophy
Transcription edited by Denise Watkins ... shortlink to this page = http://grn.lib.dm/a31dv6
Chair, Lucy Nethsingha: I'm the leader of the Liberal Democrats on Cambridgeshire County Council and have been involved in campaigning every year for about 20 years, I think. So I've done an awful lot of campaigning on Green issues and on other issues, but I'm looking forward to learning a lot today. Pippa, over to you.
GLD Chair, Keith Melton: Just a quick comment before Pippa starts. I think if we can all mute our microphones - there's always a bit of background noise that we can avoid by muting microphones.
Councillor Pippa Heylings: Just to understand, am I just saying who I am, a bit of background and we all go around, and then do our thing, or I just give some information now?
Chair, Lucy Nethsingha: I think maybe a little on who you are and background, and we'll all go around, and then we'll come back for your introduction.
Councillor Pippa Heylings: Okay, great. So I'm Pippa Heylings. I'm a bit of a newbie. I joined in 2018 - January/February - and I got involved with the Lib Dems and the local campaign, mainly looking at what was happening with land use around us. And then, just because of my professional work, I knew that, unless we got to the next level of government, it was crazy trying to think that we could manage to look after our own area without knowing what was coming down the line from district and county council in terms of planning and decision making. So that's what galvanized me into standing for the first time in politics, and I very quickly got involved with the Green Lib Dems.
Chair, Lucy Nethsingha: Fantastic, thank you Pippa. Tahir, would you like to tell us a little bit about where you're coming from?
Councillor Tahir Maher: I'm a Borough Councillor in Wokingham and also a town councillor. I was the Chair of the English Party last year, and I stood as a paper candidate actually, and won both seats which I was really happy with because, it was quite funny on the night when I won. Over the years, I've been standing as a paper candidate for a number of years and the newspapers had nicknamed me "Tahir who always comes second Maher", and so they were quite surprised when I actually won. But It's a disappointment that we didn't have elections this year because we're about four or five seats away from taking control in Wokingham, where until recently we only had six councillors out of 55, and now we're up to 16 with Labour and the Independent. We could have overall control hopefully next year.
One of the things when I was the Chair of the English Party, and also I'm very keen on and have been for a number of years - I feel that the biggest thing that faces us has been climate change for a number of years, and I've pushed this very hard up to last year. Before last year in May we had 1750 councillors in the country and one of the objectives I said as Chair was that we should by 2024 have four and a half thousand councillors. And I thought one of the best ways we were going to do this going forward is by taking on the Green agenda because 1) it is very important, but taking it on early and in a varied way so that we are actually not seen as almost like a substitute to the Green Party. We've done a lot more for Green than the Green Party has, and it's not really been recognized. I think that one of the biggest conversations we need to have going forward is about climate change, and there are a lot of councillors out there who basically, I feel, don't understand what Green politics is and Green climate changes in all these different areas. And one of the reasons I joined the Green Lib Dems is to help produce something for them so they have these policies or background information, so they can basically start to do something about this, and develop their own policies going forward, because I feel it's so important. And this is a message, it's an emotive message which really goes down well. It's a message we need to get out there to help us win more seats. Thank you.
Chair, Lucy Nethsingha: Brilliant. Thank you, Tahir. It's good to hear all of your ambitions for next year. That's great.
Jane would you like to just introduce yourself.
Councillor Jane Brophy: Hi. I've been a councillor in Trafford (which is part of Greater Manchester) for 20 years. Before I became a councillor, I was a Green Liberal Democrat, so being a Green Liberal Democrat occurred and is part of who I am and what I do. I approached being a local councillor with the eyes of somebody who's always been a Green Liberal Democrat.
I think what that means for me is that I always try and move things along - nudge people towards greater Green policies, so when it comes to something like climate change it's been something I've been banging on, probably for the last 30 years, about. Every opportunity that comes up I make sure people hear about climate change, and also trying to think creatively about the opportunities that we have as councillors. We've got opportunities with council motions where we put things forward and put forward our agenda. We've got the opportunity with questions where we ask questions in Full Council, but we've also got those opportunities within our committees that we sit on as well, again seeing things through a Green head and trying to raise those issues there. Even if we're on something like Health Committee or Planning Committee, there are still ways you can raise the Green agenda.
The other part of being a councillor which we can't avoid is you have to be elected in order to be able to do that, so part of the role is actually talking to the electorate and doing your case work and doing your ward work. And for that reason, I think I'm in a very different position to Pippa because Pippa is an executive member for environment in a council where the Liberal Democrats have control, so Pippa has the opportunity to put into practice our Green policies in a direct practical way. In my role, all I can do (because in Trafford we only have three Liberal Democrats out of the council of 63) - my role has to be more one of putting the points forward and communicating the ideas.
Because this session is about catching the Green vote, we also have in Trafford three Green councillors, and the three Green councillors were only elected two years ago. And initially I found a lot in common with those Green councillors because they're quite liberal Green councillors; they're not like some of the Green councillors that have been mentioned at the conference so far. They actually are liberals, so the two groups - the Greens and the Liberal Democrats - there's a group of six of us - we do actually work quite closely together in trying to get motions on the agenda, trying to push forward things like cycle lanes, and trying to push forward the climate change emergency; trying to push forward things like biodiversity and planning in a Green and environmental way. So that's just a summary of what it's like in Trafford.
Chair, Lucy Nethsingha: Thank you. Jane. That's great.
So if I come back to Pippa now. Are you happy to just do five minutes, or a bit longer if you'd like, on the sorts of green campaigning things that we've been doing in South Cambridgeshire.
Councillor Pippa Heylings: Yes so, taking the title of this session which is Capturing the Green Vote and thinking a little bit about what Jane said there, I moved from the Green party to the Lib Dems in 2018 because I saw in the Lib Dems their localism agenda, and then I looked at their environmental policies and saw that they were ready for governing now, whereas the Green Party was activism, and that's partly what I campaigned on - the fact that this was about knowing how to do things when you are in government, and luckily we were elected with a massive majority. We overturned the council and, as Jane has said, we've been lucky enough now to be able to work out what we can do in practice.
But coming back to the campaigning thing, I don't think this is about capturing the Green Party vote. What I've found is the Green vote goes across all sorts of party political interests and those who are not interested in politics and, even if you're in a council where you are governing - you are the leading party - you still have to be absolutely rooted and physically present around that Green vote, and that's where I found that, once you're voted in, you're the Lib Dem, whereas before I was kind of an activist. Okay now you're the Lib Dem, but it's the Green things that enabled us to still have a really broad base of support in the local area. And I want to mention just a couple of really different things.
The first is one that captures everybody's interest, and it came up yesterday in the session we had about the natural environment. As we're easing out of lockdown and people are flooding into our green spaces, we've seen how important they are, but we've also seen the issue of litter, and what I've seen activated again - everybody across all different sort of political leanings in our local communities - is the concern again about litter and keeping our spaces clean. What we did was, we did a session that looked at - it's not just litter in the sea and in the marine environment, which was what was really driving a lot of passionate interest in our community, it was, 'how is that linked to me here?' And there were a few voices saying, 'That's great but it's got nothing to do with us here in a village in Cambridgeshire, miles away from the sea'. So we did a film which was about marine plastics, and then I brought in a marine plastics expert and we got over 140 people signed up to come and watch the film, and then we got 50 people, many of whom I'd never really known in the local community before, come to hear an expert talk about - the title was, 'From the high street to the high seas'. So what I did was, I heard: Where was this interest? What were the questions? Who were the people who were saying, "Yeah, I'm not really getting this" and brought them in as well. And so, from that, there was then a big campaign piece that we did around impacting the marine and coastal environment by making sure that the work we were doing around litter, recycling and reducing landfill locally was relevant to David Attenborough and the Blue Planet big surge, and I think this is going to happen again.
That's another area where I think we need to be working, and most local communities have got some litter picking groups already set up, so it's supporting that again; but it was that 'high street to high seas' - bringing somebody in to really talk about. There are some brilliant graphics available which show you how it goes from, you know an urban area or a semi-rural area, miles away from the sea, and does get into our marine and coastal environment.
So that was one. The second was - I even got it from my local campaigning group where I was really pushing for how we look at local green space, and I see Jason Johnson's put a question there about local green space, and access to that local green space, and disabled access to that green space. And we're an area that's surrounded by Green Belt so everybody sort of feels 'the green' - it's lovely. Everybody feels that we're in a very green area. But I knew that there were developments planned and land speculation in all of that area and that, like this (snaps fingers), everybody could lose their rights to walk, to run, because it's all private land. But everyone felt they could walk their dog, they could run. It could be lost in seconds. What I did was got outside Tesco's and asked people to, on a big map, identify where they go to have a walk inside our village and around our village. And the reason I did this was because we have the most powerful tool ever nationally to save local green spaces and stop them from being developed, and it's called the Local Green Spaces Policy. And if you can get that past the inspectorate, no development can happen on those spaces. But what you have to do is provide a huge body of evidence that proves that they have community value, and they cannot have any kind of development (planning application) on them at the moment. So you've got to move quite quickly. What was amazing, we had grandparents, we had people saying, 'We're going there when we're sick to heal; we were able to take the first steps out of hospital in these areas'. Disabled people, and Jason, were talking about their ability to access these areas and didn't want to lose that access. We had young children talking about their Gruffalo walks. We had 200 lovely little stories which we then started to share in social media and build up this big thing which was then our evidence base for the Neighbourhood Plan - every local community can develop a Neighbourhood Plan, usually with their parish council - and we had the body of evidence which is both ecological and community value. What that enabled me to do is get out a petition on Lib Dem Nation Builder as well, so while we were doing that as a community we were then getting in lots and lots of names and addresses outside Tesco. I did four weeks with different people, getting all of those things in. But we also did the petition. We got the addresses into Nation Builder as well, and that has been the basis for a campaign, now ongoing for two years, that we keep going. And we already know how our Neighbourhood Plan, which has six local green spaces in it - it's the first one in the country that has this amount of local green space - even local green space in the Green Belt you're allowed to create to stop it being then developed upon. So that's a huge one, and it's been across all of the residents. They've seen this is a way to do it, and you can get it into planning and into policy.
And then the third one, when we are, and we were then, in power in council - as Jane said - you then have the motions, and the motions go to Full Council. And we've done these as cross-party motions because in the end, win or lose, these have got to stay in place. So we work to make sure these are cross-party, unanimous motions. That was on the zero-carbon strategy declaring a climate emergency, and we also declared a biodiversity emergency, and a motion to double nature and put that into our planning policy. Whatever you're doing with every development you have to make sure that at the same time there is no deficit and it's not even just neutral. You are doubling biodiversity and areas of rich wildlife at the same time. And we had a business plan, and the business plan is called "A Green to the core… and shows … funding is backing up what sometimes was being called virtue signalling, perhaps by the opposition. We've been able to show that it's not just policy, it's the investment at the same time which is going side by side. But each of those declarations, the climate declaration and the biodiversity declaration, had huge support again from residents and they can see that things happen. Because it was cross-party that means, even if you're not in control, this is pushing on an open door at the moment. There are very few councils - although I know Linda said that in Beverley they didn't manage to get it through - very few councils would not want to be behind a climate emergency. So what I say is we now need the declaration of a biodiversity emergency and adopt the Doubling Nature policy and campaign.
Chair, Lucy Nethsingha: Fantastic. That's really inspiring stuff, Pippa and I know you're doing that. It's amazing.
I'm going to come to Tahir next, and then Jane. So Tahir.
Councillor Tahir Maher: So, what are we doing about Green policy is in our local area? Can you just confirm that?
Chair, Lucy Nethsingha: Yes. I think the Green policies that are being implemented in your local area; how you're using that in your campaigning.
Councillor Tahir Maher: There are two things which when I became a councillor I noticed. We've got 16 councillors, so we were being very responsive and quite operational, tactical in our approach. We were responding to things that were happening. One of the things that I tried to do in our group was to take a more strategic approach so that, although there were initial things that came up which we would respond to like Heathrow and so forth, I wanted to get an overall picture which was more strategy-based, so that we would also ask questions on that, and work on those that would develop basically into an image of us where basically we consistently put out a message that we are in the position here, and in six months' time we are a bit further down the road, because we seem to have developed a conversation with everybody around us. We've been going out and developing a kind of a strategic approach really on a number of areas that we've looked at.
Specific things we've looked at is, we've had a lot of problems with flooding because effectively where I live, part of Early, is built on a flood plain, and the council wants to build a lot of houses there which we're trying to stop. In fact, they also recently tried to build 87 houses, so we tried to block that through Planning. Obviously pushing for zero carbon and all these kinds of things, things like Heathrow, cycling, litter picking. We also did quite a lot on our parks to try to get people to come into the parks. It's interesting that a lot of the ethnic minorities are not coming into the parks. We wanted to communicate what is available, because we've got quite a lot of nice little parks in Early and Wokingham - to get them to come out and enjoy with their families, not just to come out to play cricket or something, but to sit down and enjoy those. We've got involved in recording all of the trees, working with the local environmental groups, putting back dog bins which had been removed, and of course there was a lot of fly tipping. So all this in terms of what we were doing we put into a strategic document, and we wanted to work off that so that it takes us forward in some respect. In terms of communication, again I go back. I think it's about balancing the head and heart really. Climate change is quite emotive, and you need to get that message out in a way that is positive. You're doing something, and you're doing it with the community and for the community. You can back it with stats to show the impact of climate change, and really it's then also about your own personal story and what you're doing. I'm a litter picker in my own street, so people can see that I just don't talk about it on Facebook when we promote it but I'm actually going out there and picking litter. We also arrange that, and people come out with that, and we're very consistent with our message. It's really a question of building a gradual message along a theme, kind of a road map which works for us, and hopefully something that we will implement next year when we take control of the working group.
Chair, Lucy Nethsingha: Thank you, Tahir. That's really good stuff to hear about.
Jane, I know it's a bit different for you because you're definitely not in control, but I think you're right that there are loads of things that you can do on councils where you're the opposition, and making sure that you're asking all the right questions is a really important part of that. So go ahead and tell us what you've been up to.
Councillor Jane Brophy: I have been involved in all the things that Tahir mentioned as well. In terms of the things I can do as a council group of three out of 63 - maybe you could call it a group of six if you include the Green councillors as well - all the things that Tahir said in terms of communicating about climate change, the litter picking, the biodiversity, the trees, flooding - I've been involved in all these issues and the things Pippa's talked about as well. The difference, when you're not actually in control, is you are very much in that role of being the communicator. The title of this, going back to the local elections In 2021 and Capturing the Green Vote - I'm actually up for re-election in 2021 and, if we're talking about capturing the Green vote, what I would say is that when it comes to local elections most people are not that bothered about the exact 'colour' of the person they're electing in terms of the political colour, right - whether you're Green, whether you're Lib Dem, whether you're Tory. Some people are, but a lot of people aren't. It's more about: are you active, are you responsive, are you engaged in the community? A bit like Tahir was saying. He's seen himself around doing litter picking and communicating messages. So in terms of capturing the Green vote, the way it works in Trafford is we have a ward where you have three Green councillors, and quite honestly those three Green councillors could be Lib Dems. There's no reason why they're Green. The only reason is because they stood for election and they were the people that were seen to be active. In my ward, I could equally be a Green councillor. I'm not, I'm a Lib Dem and always have been but, as far as the electorate is concerned, I could just be one of the other Greens in Altringham. I just haven't gone the same pathway as them. I think, when it comes to capturing the Green vote, it's more about people having faith and confidence in you as a person locally.
I think for the Lib Dems to capture the Green vote, it's more about how we communicate our philosophy and our messages as Liberal Democrats. That's the most important thing. Being Green and being environmental for me is about leadership, because what we've lacked with the current government and with many of our councils that aren't Lib Dem and aren't Green is, we haven't had that local leadership. So, once you've got elected, then you can use your power as Pippa has described, and Tahir has described the plan for next time, then you can start working with people. But the important thing is to get that power, to get that influence, and then start implementing because, until you get to that point, you're not actually in control.
Chair, Lucy Nethsingha: Thank you, Jane. That's really helpful and I think you're absolutely right. So much of local government is about making sure that people trust us to deliver on the values that we say we stand up for, and I think that that is really important. One of the other things that I think we can do when we're campaigning on Green issues is just try and make sure that the electorate understand just how much power councils have to change things and to make it easier for us to get to a zero carbon Britain, because actually it's very easy, particularly at the moment. We think it's very difficult to change anything and that we have a terrible government in Westminster and nothing's going to get better for ages. Actually, there are elections next year and what happens in those council elections can make a real difference as to how quickly we can get to a zero carbon Britain. Councils have extraordinary amounts of power and influence over the way we live in the future, particularly through the planning system; the way in which we make demands on house builders and making sure that we have low carbon building, and we're designing houses for the future that are passive house standards; the way we're supporting people to move to a much greener, lower carbon lifestyle. There are huge numbers of things that councils can do. And I think it's very important that we help the electorate to understand just how much influence councils can have over that agenda. I think many people don't realize just how much control councils have over our direction of travel for the future, and this is really all about what's going to happen in the next 20-30 years. And that's what Local Plans are all about. So we have to make sure we're building this stuff into our Local Plans.
But the planning system and the influence that councils have over the way that works is quite opaque. I think it's very important that we talk about it, and we challenge the people who are currently in power on councils, which is what Jane is talking about. And we challenge people, like Pippa, who are already in power to make sure that they're doing the right thing. And it's not always easy. I think that's another thing that, when we're campaigning as Green councillors, it's important to recognize that some of the time, making sure that we're investing in a Green future is going to mean that we can't necessarily get investments in other things that we want to do. Because for example if you're looking at Local Plans and viability of housing estates, sometimes if you demand really high-quality Green infrastructure, you can't necessarily get quite so many affordable homes. And you have to make it clear that sometimes there's a trade-off. And that doesn't necessarily mean we always have to go one side or another. You have to look at those things. You have to look at where you're building so that people aren't car-dependent and that we're building communities that are not car-dependent. There's an absolutely vast amount of influence that councils have, and we need to make sure that we're getting that message across.
We've got quite a lot of questions so I'm going to go up to the first one. Here we go. I think the one from Jason which was about making sure that our green space is accessible for those with disabilities. I think Pippa touched on that already. I don't know whether Jane or Tahir want to come in on that one and talk about anything that you've been doing in your area?
Councillor Jane Brophy: Yes, I can definitely come in on that one because of my son, who's coming in to bring me a cup of tea and have a chat. Usually if he knows mom's live on the camera. he still wants to have a chat. He is a high functioning autistic so I've got quite a good understanding about that kind of disability, but also I've done things around pavements for other people, people with sight impairment. Where we put cones and where we place pavements especially for building works is really bad for people with sight impairments because quite often the pavement disappears. Again, it's wheelchair users and even people pushing prams or push chairs with children in - the way we design our pavements, especially when we're doing road works and stuff, is really bad for people with any kind of physical disability or who've got small children, and likewise people with mental health challenges, people who're living with autism, those kinds of things. Often, we take them for granted and I think a lot of the time it's about making sure all those factors are considered in the plans, because quite often we don't think about that.
Because, during lockdown, we've got this major road quite near where I live, and they converted one of the lanes into a cycling and pedestrian lane - it's one of the major arteries from South Manchester into Manchester City Centre, one of the main transport routes - and people were using that to cycle and walk, the big issue for most people was whether they were for or against the car, or the bicycle and the pedestrians. But then I had another email in from another resident saying, 'actually for me it's more about the way you've placed the cones. It's really bad because I've got a sight impairment and I'm really confused by what's going on'. So it's like, for most people it was, are you in favour of the car or are you in favour of the cycle? It fell into a very sort of dichotomous argument. For the person with the sight issues, it was more about, 'Well I might have been in favour of that but the fact that you put the cones in the wrong place so it doesn't help me navigate that system..' So it's about being able to consider things from lots of different angles. I think, there, the ward councillors come in very much. You can just make sure that consideration is addressed at each side of things, and I mean that's across the board, across education, across all issues, that we make sure people with disabilities are considered.
Chair, Lucy Nethsingha: Thank you, Jane. That's excellent. Tahir, I wonder if you'd like to pick up? Do answer on that one as well if you'd like to, but the next question that we've got is from Steve Bolton which is: Can we campaign locally without mentioning national policy, and what can the federal party do with their national policy to lay a Green foundation for local campaigning?
Councillor Tahir Maher: I actually think, from a Green perspective, the policies that we follow locally are very different from the national policies because they do tend to be quite specific, and they make a lot of difference to people's lives. For example, the footpaths. I have a resident who is blind but he was an engineer, so he knows everything about the footpaths and how they are laid out and the whole thing. He took me on a walk and he told me where the problems were and why, and how they built them, and they didn't build them right, which was quite interesting, and yet he's going blind over a period of time. These kinds of things, we can't do nationally. And when you accumulate - put a number of these kind of things together, like local flooding and stuff - really you're not going to get a direction from the national party on these issues. And I'm not sure that we want to. We are Liberal Democrats, you know. Small is beautiful, and all the rest of that, and we've got to be very specific to all the requirements for our residents.
I think we can do that, but we do need a commitment from the Federal Party on a Green agenda. We've done really well in the Green agenda. We had the Green Bank, and when we were in power we did more for Greens than the Green party has ever done, quite frankly. And so we do need that commitment from the FPC and from some of the good work that Ed did when he was in government. [I'm not pushing for anybody to be leader or anything, but I just wanted to say that.] We do need that direction so we can link from some of our local policies back to the national policies. But really, if I was out there developing a Green strategy, which I hope to do for our local parties in terms of the campaign, it would be based very much on local issues - a local strategy in terms of where we want to get to, what we want to do, what we want to be able to achieve, and how we can fund that and make the lives of our residents better. I think it works better that way, quite frankly.
Chair, Lucy Nethsingha: Great, thank you. Pippa, do you want to pick that one up, and then we'll go to another question which I'll come back to you for. So this is on national policy and the way it feeds into local campaigning.
Councillor Pippa Heylings: Yeah. I think, when you're doing the local campaigning, people don't really know the differences. They don't know the difference between district, county, national. They just have a sense of what's wrong and they want someone to be able to do something about that. And linking back to your point, Lucy - you know, I was standing for the first time. We were standing for three seats in our ward and we were saying we should have a clean sweep. And before that there were two Independents that had been running for quite a long time and a Tory councillor. Now those two local Independents were well respected, and they did huge amounts locally. What I brought in was the fact that they did huge amounts locally, and they could continue doing huge amounts locally because in fact they weren't doing anything which was relevant to district council impact; because they were doing lots around charitable stuff, around organizing local events, about bringing some fundraising in. What I said is, let's look at the things that you are really upset about, which was rampant speculative development, which were housing being built in places that they shouldn't be, about the lack of services that shouldn't be. These were all things that I said, and what we did was this lovely little graphic. These are the things that a district council decides, and these are the things that a county council decides. These are things you can do locally. So you've actually not had representation even though we've had great people. And that was the conversation I had on the doorstep: They're great. I love them. They're not doing... You've lost representation at a decision-making table.
So that's one side, and then, secondly, we're just going into the Local Plan. And even the Local Plan, Lucy, what we're finding out is that nobody comes along normally to the consultations that are there. We've just done the new first consultation for the new Local Plan and I love it because the quote is, 'This is the most important document that no one's ever heard of', and that's how we're campaigning on it. This is the most important document that no one's ever heard of, and why, what does this do, what does it determine? And the fact that you get locked in, if this is not in there and we're locking in, it's not just for the five years that a Local Plan determines things. It determines things that then have a lifetime. Again, even the local people don't know, so we're looking at ways that you campaign to bring in an understanding that if they want a voice these are the ways that they can have a voice. And I don't think there's a need between that local and national policy. It's just, what are you interested in and can we make that happen at the district or county council level around that one.
Chair, Lucy Nethsingha: Brilliant. I completely agree, although I think that what is really important is that the national policies and what our national politicians are saying, and our local policies and what local politicians are saying back each other up, because if you suddenly find that you're saying one thing locally, and then you're not getting the same messages coming across from the national party, then people simply don't believe you, and that's the problem.
Councillor Pippa Heylings: Can I come back on that. So, after the tuition scandal, I joined as well because I knew of the Lib Dems having worked internationally on climate change issues. I knew what we had done in coalition. And I just think there's so little talked about in terms of the huge wind renewable energy gains that were made across the country; about the kind of negotiations that happened at the climate change negotiations. So I knew of the Lib Dems when I wasn't a Lib Dem and knew what had been achieved, and the zero carbon homes is one of the big things that we brought in. What would have been the policy for zero carbon homes in 2012 which was then ditched by the Tories in 2015 and which they are now bringing forward (which is the Future Home Standard) which is 10 years later on, is even lower standards than what we were trying to do in 2012, and that's an absolute disgrace. So absolutely, I think we've got a lot, not just of what we would do if we were, we can prove what we did when we were.
Chair, Lucy Nethsingha: And I think that's really important, and I think we don't talk about it enough, actually. I think it's an area of campaigning that we need to do more on.
I'm going to move on to another question, and this question is from Brian. Brian, I've been told by Keith (this is my first time sharing so I'm learning) I've been told by Keith that you can ask the question yourself if you'd like to, so if you can put your blue hand up if you'd like to ask it yourself. Hooray, yes, excellent. And then I think Keith will give you the floor so that you can ask your question and then I'll come in. Yes we can hear you.
Brian Wernham - Stanwick..: My face seems to have gone - oh hello. We're in sunny Carlisle. We've actually had 30 degrees earlier this week and now we've just got stormy weather running down to 12. So there you go - a bit of global warming for you. Let's see if I can read my question. Right, so this stays within the room, I suppose, and those people watching the recording. There's a possibility we could do some sort of a deal with the Greens locally. Sometimes we do non-aggression pacts. Question is, should we do deals - non-aggression pacts - with other progressive parties? What form do these agreements typically take, especially the Greens? So what sort of agreements have we seen and how do they work?
Chair, Lucy Nethsingha : Okay, Jane - do you want to pick that up? I think it's a bit tricky.
Councillor Jane Brophy: Are we all Lib Dems here, or do we have some non-Lib Dems in our audience?
Chair, Lucy Nethsingha : Let's assume that there might be some.
Councillor Jane Brophy: Okay, so I work really closely with our three Green councillors but there is this awareness we are different political parties, and I think you need to have that boundary between you. So it's the same when you're getting elected. You can be quite competitive in terms of when there's elections, but when you're actually elected it's really important you work together in a collaborative kind of partnership-way for the greater good. So that's how we work in Trafford. Politically there are all sorts of reasons why it can make sense to have deals with the Green party. I think, depending on where you are, quite often the Greens and the Lib Dems have just got so much in common, and hearing how Pippa describes what's going on in Cambridge, definitely I would see that Pippa is somebody that could easily be either a Green or a Liberal Democrat in the Trafford where I live. I've come to understand that our three Green councillors are particularly on the liberal wing in Trafford, and I'm aware that there are other places in the country where Greens are much more on the socialist side, or much more on the authoritarian side, or more on the campaigning side. The Greens are very pragmatic, and I think sometimes when you have pacts and when you have deals and co-operations, whatever level you want to do that at - it could be just an agreement not to stand in certain wards, an agreement not to campaign in some wards; it could be a kind of actual joint manifesto; there are various levels you can go into - but these things will only work if there's a broad philosophical agreement about what you both want out of it. And I think sometimes people forget that, when you get these deals and you get these local arrangements, it's often not about the policies, it's more about what the historical relationship is between the two groups, and it's also about whether there is something in it for both parties.
So locally, I've had quite a lot of private and bigger meetings with the Greens. We looked at the possibility that the Greens didn't stand in my ward and we didn't stand in one of their wards. But when we actually drilled down to what the advantages for each side would be in terms of whether it would make any difference to the vote, we worked out actually the Lib Dem vote if we didn't stand wouldn't automatically transfer to the Greens, and it works the other way. So the people - if the Greens stood down in my ward, would their vote have come to me? It might not have done. it might have gone to the Labour party. In other words, when you come up with deals, you have to be really quite pragmatic and quite scientific in a way to work out what's the advantage for you, what's the advantage for us? Is there any reason for us to be coming together for this particular election? And that only works where there is that mutual agreement. I have heard places where there have been these deals with the Greens, and either the Greens have been disappointed with the Lib Dems or the Lib Dems have been disappointed with the Greens, because somehow the deal wasn't quite signed and sealed in the way that both parties thought. I think they can only work where there's mutual interest.
It's much more important for me as a politician that the right thing is done, and so whilst I'm loyal to the core as a Liberal Democrat, I'm also loyal to the core about the Green agenda. I will, on a personal level, stick my neck out for climate change, for biking, pedestrianization, for trees, for biodiversity. I will stick my neck out in a way that other people would say, 'Oh Jane, you're far too Green'. But the thing is, I've got 20 years of being a councillor and I've not lost an election, so I've come to the conclusion that it's my Lib Dem colleagues who, some have an issue with me sticking my neck out to be Green; it's not the voters, it's my colleagues saying 'No one's gonna want...' but actually that goes back to my original point. When it comes to the Green agenda, what we need is leadership. We need more Greta Thunbergs to stand up and say, look climate change is an emergency, we need to do something. We need more people to say, look we've just had Covid and it's been awful, it's been terrible; people have suffered but, hey, we've coped. Actually, we might need that resilience and that coping that we've had because climate change is going to be so, so much worse. The more important thing, above all else, is that we stick to our principles and we do the right thing. And actually which party we do that from is, for me - it's not the most important thing. It's doing the right thing.
Chair, Lucy Nethsingha : Thank you, Jane. That's fantastic. Tahir, do you want to have a go at this one next?
GLD Chair, Keith Melton: Just before he gets started, Lucy, can I just clarify that the title is Capturing the Green Vote and not Capturing the Green Party Vote. Somebody did mention that earlier on, so it isn't about pinching the votes from the Green Party - it's actually taking votes from the whole of the Green spectrum?
Chair, Lucy Nethsingha : Absolutely, thank you. Tahir.
Councillor Tahir Maher: Thank you, Brian, for a very mature question really. I actually don't have that much experience with non-aggression pacts with other parties. In our town, we have 21 out of 25 councillors who are Lib Dem. So we kind of control it, and there isn't much room for negotiations. We do listen to the two, especially the two Labour councillors, and they make good points, and we take those on board. In the Borough, the Tories are quite unusual. They don't really listen to a great deal of what we say. We do occasionally have a pact with them about various things. But it then comes out about how we communicate that. And if its anything good, they will always try to take the credit for it themselves very quickly. And certainly, when we try to negotiate, we've learned over a period of time with them and the Independent - because we don't have any Greens unfortunately, either at Town level or Borough level - that we agree a pact and it does tend to be on a piecemeal basis, to be honest with you, going forward. And then on that basis we do then agree about communications and how that gets released. So everybody gets the credit for it. So I don't really have that much experience, but listening to Jane, I think there's a huge amount of experience there, and a lot of good points that she made, so I'm going to leave it at that.
Thank you, Tahir. Pippa, should we come to you on this one? And then I'm going to be very brief. And then maybe we might move to Nick Sanford's question after that.
Councillor Pippa Heylings: Yeah, I think basically what Jane and Tahir said has answered the question a lot. I learned a lot in the general election campaign. What I learned is that Labour cannot make formal or informal deals without Party approval. So even when you think you are, you're not. You cannot trust that, no matter how good your relationship is, because it's in their Constitution. The Greens - they also would like it to be consulted and discussed, sort of strategically - what's happening with different seats, especially as when I was part of the Green Party we were completely eviscerated by doing progressive pacts. And what happened was, the Greens lost the seats everywhere. But what they do is, at national level, at least you consulted to look at the strategy but it's up to the local parties. That's the Green Party way.
You can have informal pacts and alliances with Green Party members. When I stood and moved from the Green Party to the Liberal Democrats, it was really hard. We had three; they'd only ever put up one member for our three-member ward, and this time they put up three together. And when we won all three Lib Dems, I then talked to the Green Party again. They said we just never thought that the Lib Dems would win the whole slate, and actually we're really sorry. So that's a really good result, and let's continue to work forward. And at the general election the Green Party stood aside for me as the parliamentary candidate, formally and officially, and publicly. And then we campaigned together. So, yeah, I just think it's more about not losing the votes. I think it's much more about conversations behind the scenes and agreeing to work on some things together. But actually, I think differentiation is really, really important. There's a reason why I left the Green Party and became part of the Liberal Democrats, and I would stand on that, and then I would have conversations with the Green Party behind the scenes or with Labour behind the scenes, but we are different, and that's why I joined.
Chair, Lucy Nethsingha: That's really so brilliant that you've joined, Pippa. We're so pleased. I think, just to carry on with the pact question very briefly, in so many elections locally, it's about targeting and it's about where you put your efforts, and those conversations - having conversations with some of your slightly more friendly, other parties about where they're putting their efforts and where you're putting your efforts, I think can be really constructive. But those are more informal conversations than any kind of formal pact, and I think that probably that sort of informal understanding is often more productive and useful, and it's about trusting relationships with people who you know, rather than about any kind of national or written down agreement, which is incredibly difficult to do and, as Jane said, you can't predict how people are going to respond to those kinds of pacts anyway. You can't promise people voters, it's not in your power to deliver those voters. Nick, I think you had something in the chat about your experience of this in Peterborough as well, so do feel free to mention that before you come on to your question?
Nick Sanford: Oh yeah, sure. I think what we found in Peterborough, because we do have a lot in common with with the Greens - we've tried having electoral pacts with them, but the trouble is then sometimes after the elections you get into arguments about where you didn't work hard in this ward and we didn't work hard in the other one. So what we found works best is to just have informal discussions about which seats we're targeting so that they target some seats and we target other seats.
But my question was actually relating back to something that Pippa mentioned earlier on, which is about the fact that we don't just have a climate emergency, we have a biodiversity emergency, and I was just wondering if the panel have got any views as to how we get the message across to people on the biodiversity emergency. Because what I come across quite often is there's a vociferous minority of people who say things like, we want everywhere sprayed with herbicide and we want the grass cut every week, and any tree that's dropping leaves on people's cars that they want removing, and, although these people are only a minority, i think that they're often the group of people that other councillors tend to hear. So how can we best go about countering those sorts of arguments?
Chair, Lucy Nethsingha: I think that's a really good question, Nick, and I think, again - I can see Jane nodding - I'm sure some of it's to do with leadership, and some of it's to do with how you manage the green spaces and the areas so people understand that, if it's been left, it hasn't just been left because nobody's bothered but it's been left deliberately because it's good for biodiversity and good for the bees and things. Pippa, do you want to pick this up since Nick mentioned you?
Councillor Pippa Heylings: Yes, and can I share my screen? Somebody asked for some sort of images and I've just got one that might be useful. Don't know, can I share? Maybe, I can. Yes, and Nick may have seen this. But it's how do you build an alliance around this? So one was, we did a lot of the work locally in our village about identifying the huge emotional affect that people have for their local green spaces, without them even having thought about it. Because people care more about what they're about to lose or what they could lose and what they already have. So what we did was we put into the imagination of everybody the fact that, unless we really did name, and give them names, and identify and talk about the values of them to each of us, we could lose those green spaces. So we brought that into the public debate, and we had everyone's little testimonials and stories which actually, even now, bring tears to my eyes. They're just amazing. And these are tiny spaces we're talking about. You can build that up obviously, but the alliance was then with all of the partners that are on the page here (image) which are the local nature partnership, all of the conservation organizations, the ecologists in the planning department of the council as well, who all came together in a series of workshops to come up with this idea of doubling nature. And it had the evidence behind it; it had a communication campaign, and we were able to take planners with us, and these are sometimes the biggest stumbling blocks actually, some of the officers who find it hard to bring - how do you bring this into what is normally a very dry and statutory process which puts biodiversity and environment at the very end? It's kind of, and therefore let's just check what kind of impact this may have on the environment, rather than right at the very beginning. And this is what this doubling nature does. It says we're going to put this at the very beginning of our planning system, higher up in terms of the hierarchy. I think it's coalition-building as well, in terms of campaigning from the local, but also making sure we've got all our - everything lined up so that our planning officers were then on board to then bring it into that council arrangement, and planning office can sometimes behind the scenes, we all know, it can create lots of blocks as well if they're not on board.
Chair, Lucy Nethsingha: Thank you, Pippa. Tahir, do you have any experiences for this in an urban area?
Councillor Tahir Maher: Hello, yes. Hello Nick. Thank you for that question. The question really, in a sense, it's about communication, getting your message across. And I come back to what I was saying earlier on. Really what this is all about, it is leading by our values, and one of our values, very much so, in this is going to be how we solve it in terms of the Green policies. Again, back to what I was saying, it's about having a strategy, about where we are, where we're going to go to, and then operationally working on that; having a really consistent message. So when we do things in biodiversity, we have a local group that looks after the trees, the flooding, all the litter, the parks; we have the various issues with the park, so all those different areas we are involved with, and we make a plan about how we're going to, then, say what are we going to do in this area, how much of this have we achieved, what's the benefit of that achievement, how it is benefiting people, and start to communicate that - even give our own or other people's personal stories without making them too emotive, to make it more real so that you've got a story behind that. But the key thing really is to lay your story out, identify a plan, go out there and do that, and show people the results of that gradually as it happens so that they can see the benefit; get them involved in things like the larger climate change issues. As a council you may not be able to, but certainly at a local level on biodiversity issues you can get local people, look at the residents in the wards involved so they get involved in it, and when they suddenly appear in terms of, not necessarily in the photographs if they don't want to, but in terms of the narrative, that you write about it in the Focuses and they're reading about it; they see that you were going to do something, you've done it, and you've done it with them, and you've got the results; and then you get a lot of people, word of mouth also that benefits you.
It is about communication, having a good communication strategy behind that. And I think the other thing that you always want to realize is you are never going to please everybody, and some will be deliberate, and some are just awkward, and you shouldn't let that deter you from where you really want to go. Thank you.
Chair, Lucy Nethsingha: Thank you, Tahir. Jane, do you want to pick this up, and then we might go to.. Can I just say before you start, Jane, after Jane, we might go to Timothy Lockington. So if Timothy's willing to ask his question in a minute, he could raise his hand. Thank you, Jane.
Councillor Jane Brophy: I switched my microphone on so, folks out there - can you hear me any better? Because I've done a technical thing and changed microphones. Okay, the feedback is better, yeah?
Chair, Lucy Nethsingha: Slightly, I think, yeah.
Councillor Jane Brophy: So I happen to know that Nick Sanford is an experienced councillor, and he asked his question with a great deal of experience behind it, and it's actually a really good and significant question about the biodiversity emergency. I think in the public imagination people are starting to understand and hear a bit more about the climate change emergency. I don't think we've quite got there yet with the public imagination in terms of the biodiversity emergency. I think the message is there, but people find it hard to relate to. They might understand from watching David Attenborough that, yes, we've got big species loss but they're not quite translating what this big species loss is in terms of how it affects them locally. For me, in terms of how you communicate that message, it's about picking up on things people do understand. And I agree with Tahir's answer by the way, and Pippa's answer, that when it comes to.. I mean I've had people come to me - I used to be the councillors' trees champion for when Nick Sanford worked for the Woodland Trust; I was very proud to have that label. I was very proud to put it out there on all my leaflets that I am the councillors' trees champion for the Liberal Democrats. At the time, I think there were only a few of us but now there are dozens. But what happened from that is, people would say I'm not going to vote for you because you're too much in favour of trees, and this tree I've got outside of my house is a real nuisance because it makes everywhere dark and leaves fall off it all the time; it ruins my front garden and the car is always dirty; I'm not going to vote for you because you're too pro trees and I'm like, okay I'll listen to you and then after listening to the person very carefully, sharing a lot of empathy as you have to do as a local councillor, you suddenly realize that they're never going to vote for you anyway because they're Tory, and they're so blue that they would never ever think of - it would be a terrible thing for them to not vote Tory so they're just kind of thinking of reasons why they're not going to vote for you, and being too pro trees is the reason they've latched on to. I've learned to ignore those people but do my best for them, get the trees officer to come and take a look at the tree and assess it for structural danger, and get it trimmed and all that, to try and meet them where they are and understand their point of view.
So that's one point, but when it comes to communicating about the biodiversity emergency, I think the way in is to go on things people do understand. And an issue we're experiencing in Trafford that's alive and real is we've got an issue along the River Mersey of Japanese knotweed. Now Japanese knotweed is, I'm sure people know, it's a plant that is quite invasive. It's very hard to get rid of. It destroys buildings. It ruins our biodiversity because it's so prolific so that, when I proposed the motion to stop using weed killers in Trafford along with my Green colleagues, we did this together, we said we're going to ban the use of weed killers, but we will allow it to be used on two plants: Japanese knotweed and the other one, the giant hogweed one that's equally dangerous.
People understand that, they get that there's this dangerous weed that comes along and spoils their gardens and is actually a risk to our buildings. So it's working with people where they are. They might not understand this big biodiversity loss thing, but they do understand that Japanese knotweed is dangerous, and it's also in an urban area as well. Quite often it's the work you do in schools, and it's understanding people care about birds, and they care about bees, and they care about their parks. I think it's about working on where people are, and then communicating to them that there is this bigger thing out there, and it's like Pippa's been saying as well. And to hear also that there is a lot of power that local authorities have to make this work in terms of the Local Plan, and what you can do to promote biodiversity, and as Tahir was saying it's about being able to communicate that effectively with the communities.
Chair, Lucy Nethsingha: I think we've got a lot to learn from the National Trust on this one as well. I think that one of the things is that people want their local area to look cared for, and you can have parks and open spaces where there are large areas that have got wildflowers and lots of old seed heads and things, but they want them to look as if there's one place where the wildflowers in the park are, and that's a sector, and then there's a bit where they can walk, and then there's another sector where we've left seed heads for the autumn. They want to know what those are for and to have them kind of marked out so that they can see that it's not just been neglected. It's actually being managed for biodiversity, and I think that people feel very differently about something that's being managed for biodiversity than something that just isn't being managed at all. And I think it's trying to get the public to understand that that's why we haven't cut the verges at the moment, that it's not that they will never be cut -we're just waiting for the right time to do it. Those messages are very important. and I think the public is getting there. One of the things that I'm finding very frustrating in Cambridge at the moment is how slow some of the other organizations are getting there. In one particular case around here, Cambridge University, who've just cut a whole load of wildflower meadows simply because it was on their schedule to do it, and there isn't any particular reason why they should, and we need to go back to them and say, look for heaven's sake, just leave it for another month or two. It's a fantastic natural resource, but it was on the schedule so it's just been mown, and we have to get out of that mindset. It's not just about what the council's doing; it's about what a lot of other people who are managing land are doing as well; and councils can have a really important leadership role doing that.
Did we get a hand from Timothy Lockington, Keith - I don't remember seeing one? Yes, Timothy's raised his hand, thank you. So I think Timothy's question is about litter. Do you want to take it off mute, Timothy - it seems to be still on mute. We'll give it a minute or two.
Councillor Jane Brophy: It might be he's not there?
Chair, Lucy Nethsingha: It might be. Okay, so Timothy's question was about - one of yesterday's participants said she collected litter and recycled it, and the question is about whether it's possible to recycle that much. And I actually think this is a really interesting question - how councils manage recycling.
Oh, It's Inga. Hello Inga.
How councils manage recycling is a really important part of talking to green voters, and I also think it's a very difficult thing for us to talk about as a party at the moment. There are a whole bunch of national issues related to that. One of the things that's about to come up in Cambridgeshire is about how we feel about incinerators and whether or not we ought to be sending off our recycling to Turkey where it may or may not be recycled or whether we should be doing it at home. So I think it's a huge area, that it's important for us to think about as local councillors and not an easy one. It's very easy to say of course we should be recycling everything. As far as I'm aware, it's not possible to recycle everything, and we need to think really hard about how we deal with our waste. Clearly reducing the amount of plastic is a top priority. I'm going to go to Jane first on this one. Jane, you're on mute.
Councillor Jane Brophy: The question is a broad question about recycling, and specifically, can you recycle chocolate and sweet wrappers. I think how much recycling has been a big political issue, historically, because it was a bit like people measured how Green their local authority was according to league tables of how much you recycle. In Greater Manchester we've got 10 boroughs, and they used to measure who was the most Green by who had the highest recycling rate. It used to be Stockport, and they're historically the most Green Lib-Dem one, but then Trafford who in the past had been run by the Tories kind of overtook. And then I think recycling is a question that is important, but it's also more than recycling. So for me, it's the four Rs. It's not just the recycling; it's thinking about the reduction in production in the first place because that will save a lot of energy; it's about the reuse of items. So in other words it's not just about recycling chocolate and sweet wrappings; it's about how can you reuse them. Maybe that'd be great for primary schools to use as a sort of collage, or maybe you can recycle them into objects of art or furniture. I've seen people make amazing things out of bottles. And so what we've got is the reduce, reuse, recycle, and there's a there's a fourth R as well. So somebody might help me out about. I think Pippa's talked about the fourth R.
Councillor Pippa Heylings: Re-fuse; first of all, refuse.
Councillor Jane Brophy: The first one is refuse. So for me recycling is only a quarter of the equation here. It fits in with three other things you can do that are as important as recycling. So as Pippa's just said, refusing. So maybe, in terms of when you get your shopping delivered - I'm having this debate at home at the moment. During lockdown, I was running the shopping side of things and we were having an organic company that delivered everything in cardboard boxes, and you could give back the cardboard boxes, and everything was recycled; nothing came in plastic. But it unfortunately was a little bit more expensive. So now my other half has taken over the shopping thing because we're having a switch over in roles. So he's going to work, going to get the click and collect, and then everything comes in 20 plastic bags. I'm like, well yeah it might be a bit cheaper but what about those 20 plastic bags. There's that kind of thing. Refusing to get the plastic bags in the first place, that was an option for me whilst I was controlling the shopping. So for me it's about refusing, it's also about reusing, and it's also about the other one which is recycling, and reducing use in the first place.
Chair, Lucy Nethsingha: Brilliant, thank you. Pippa? Oh, Inga, did you want to say something?
Inga Lockington: I should have linked it a bit more to the issue on Turkey which we saw, because the difficulty is, if we go and tell our residents about how good we are at recycling, and then they see all the things in Turkey - and I'm told a lot of the things they actually found in Turkey, we are told we can't recycle them. So you know, what's the point of pretending and sending it away? If our residents see things like that, it works against us.
Chair, Lucy Nethsingha: Yep, I agree. Pippa, do you want to come in.
Councillor Jane Brophy: Yes. I mean, I completely get where the lady, Mrs Lockington's coming from. I'm gonna defer to Pippa to have a go at answering that. Thanks, Inga.
Councillor Pippa Heylings: I think you're absolutely right. What we've been doing in terms of the local council is saying, what are our goals. And our goals are to reduce the amount that is in whatever bin you have, which is just the rubbish. So it's not just increasing the recycling, for us it's the black bin, so getting the rubbish down as much as possible. We've done a campaign where we're looking at a two-villages level to compete because you can actually trace the bin lorries from certain areas. They don't go by street; you can't do it, but you can do it by areas. And saying, over a period of time, can we together not just increase recycling but also get down the landfill, the waste? And what many people don't know is that councils are fined each month if there is contaminated waste in the recycling, and at the moment the greater Cambridge, which is South Cambs City, is being fined £10,000 a month for contaminated waste. Now that's a fraction of the huge business which it is, but that means we have to get people to understand, 1) this very complicated thing about what goes in which bin, and what's recyclable and what isn't, and at our local eco council we did this great thing. I went completely hoarse! We have a puppet, and she's called Janet Street Sorter, and she's all made out of recycling. And we've done little video YouTubes of her, and she's in the bedroom, and we say which of these things go into which bin from the bedroom, which from the bathroom, and she's now there, so anybody who has a question asks Janet Street Sorter from our local community page - what about this, what about this, which bins do they go in.
But all that shows is that there's huge confusion, and that's in an area where actually we've got one of the top recycling centres which means it can recycle as much as any other in the country can. So when we looked, I think we've got to go beyond this, and as Lucy mentioned to me, it really opened my mind to this, when we had to work out what we thought about an Energy from Waste incinerator that was going to be built. And so I really dug down, because there is a UK-wide campaign for UK without incinerators, and they've got a lot of information about emissions, about air quality, and about the fact that you have to use plastics and you have to use some of the residual waste to keep the whole thing going as part of the fuel. So it's not zero carbon, if we use them it's not zero carbon. But in their way - Denmark uses them - they're a good thing in terms of managing your waste. So first of all what I looked at is we've only got seven to eight years left of landfill in our area. Wow, seven to eight years left of landfill. So some people say, therefore it's going to be impossible to increase our reduction and recycling rates enough so that we don't have to have a new landfill site or an extended landfill site. We've got a massive problem because we are no longer able to send it out to other countries. So the next thing was, are incinerators the right way to do that? And what I looked at is, there's an amazing piece of research being done across the UK that said, if we got our national recycling rates up to 65 percent - only 65% across the country - we already have enough incinerators in the country to deal with all the residual waste. The problem is, we do it all locally. So I think here's a big campaign issue where we look at the fact that we shouldn't have companies popping up, and it's a company - it's a private sector initiative to apply for an Energy for Waste incinerator, but actually we should be looking across the board and saying, can we push up? We do need some, but how many do we need and where do we need them, because once you have them you've got to have residual waste enough to keep them going. Again, it's a perverse thing. It's not that we're against it in principle, but let's see if we can reduce our waste enough. Now, can I just share my screen once more?
Chair, Lucy Nethsingha: Fairly quickly, Pippa, because we're going to run out of time?
Councillor Pippa Heylings: This is, yes, we cannot recycle everything, but Terracycle has set up this website where you can apply to be a Terracycle point in your local area. And this is about the extended producer responsibility, which is making the producer take it back. So these Terracycle points came after the big campaign around crisp packets, where the crisp packets were sent through a postbox back to Walkers. So Walkers has been one of the ones who have set this up. You can apply - can you see here? This is corks, these are crisp packets, water filters, a dog pouch - you know, dog food pouches that are all mixed materials. These are now sent back to those manufacturers, and they're part of the scheme that is willing to pay the amount to take those back, and they're then responsible for recycling or doing whatever to keep them out of landfill. Locally, we've got three of these. This is a really good thing to get people involved in to drive the fact that there are some things that can't go through our recycling system.
Chair, Lucy Nethsingha: Brilliant, Pippa. That's really impressive. I'm learning so much stuff. It's fantastic. Tahir, we've only got five minutes. There were two other questions. I'm not sure we're going to get to them. If any of the panellists get a chance to reply to those by typing, that would be great. Tahir, just one of the questions is, which are the five best workable achievable Green policies? So, if you can cover that as well as recycling you'll be a star.
Councillor Tahir Maher: Okay. Yeah, just quickly on those, I don't want to cover the other areas that everybody has done very well, to be honest. For litter, the thing that annoyed me as a local councillor was that our bins were being taken away and there was litter all over the place. So we did run a campaign to get litter bins back on our streets so that our streets were clean. That's on a minor point but, in terms of Turkey, I mean this is where I think maybe the national party can come in, and some of the points that have been raised, especially by Pippa, about trying to reduce the recycling, of four component parts we describe, maybe this is something the federal party could do and lead in terms of how we can ensure this commitment from countries who take our litter and what they do with it. I think we had similar issues a long time ago with the nuclear waste with Japan, I think at one time, and they had to go back and get some degree of assurance, and maybe we can do the same here. I'm gonna leave it at that. I'm kind of rushing through.
The five Green policies: cars - I think one is car emissions, for me, are too high. I would like to see something done, more push for electric cars and more for bikes and things like this; nature centres and things like this, the green parks. They give a degree of quality of life for our residents and in our local environments; some of them are very badly polluted, not well looked after; flooding - I mean I have a lot of residents here - because the River Thames overflows into Early, and because they build lots of housing, the floodplain has been reduced and a lot of people get flooded, and it actually ruins their lives. You know, it takes a whole lifetime to build a home and it can take an hour for it to be ruined. So that really gets me, that we need to do more than that. Fourth, okay.
Chair, Lucy Nethsingha: I think we are about to run out of time. How much time do we have, Keith? Is it time to wrap up now because I know that you wanted to say something before the very end. I'm sorry not to have given Pippa and Jane more time to finish off.
GLD Chair, Keith Melton: Strictly speaking we have two minutes but I think we might just be able to go over a second or two. We are going to be able to go to the meeting hall as well so we might get moved over en bloc as it were to the meeting.
Chair, Lucy Nethsingha: Okay, thank you Keith. In that case, Tahir, if you do want to finish off and if Jane or Pippa want to have a couple of minutes. well one minute.
Councillor Tahir Maher: Let them go on. I've said three.
Chair, Lucy Nethsingha: Okay. I've put my answer up to the question in the box so, Jane, I don't know if you want to pick that one up or Pippa. but let's go to Jane first.
Councillor Jane Brophy: In answering that question, I'm kind of summing up as well. I wouldn't like just to limit ourselves to five political policies that we can implement at local level. I think Tahir covered many of them very well. Pippa, in her role in local councils, also covered so much in terms of what a Lib Dem council can do in the environmental policies, but what I do think we should do is link Green policies to everything. You can link it to health policy because health and well-being is all about being Green. It's absolutely fundamental on where you're Green so naturally well-being is a key part of what you do. You link it to education as well, another area that's really important for local authorities because, if we don't educate our children and if we don't look at lifelong learning of adults, then we're not going to get anywhere with saving the planet unless we have education. And the other key ones, really, that are critical are the two that have been mentioned as an emergency: the climate change emergency which leads to the flooding that Tahir mentioned and the loss of biodiversity. Those are the key ones for me.
Chair, Lucy Nethsingha: Brilliant. Thank you, Jane. Pippa?
Councillor Pippa Heylings: Yeah. I think I'll just mention three. One would be, we've declared the climate emergency; it's now about getting every council to say what will they do within the next five and the next ten years to drive down the emissions to be able to meet whatever target was in the climate emergency declaration. And then I think we need to declare the biodiversity emergency and double nature. That should be it. We should all be doubling nature because our global biodiversity target (that the UK has signed up to) which is similar to the climate targets - we're up to 2020, and we're about to fail on every single target, so we need to now say, let's double nature in the UK across every single council, and we can make that possible. And thirdly I'm going to share my screen once more. We'll come back to the litter one, and I just want to share, one moment. Here we go. (Puppet talking) "I know it's your wildest dream. So what goes where? Make-up containers like lipsticks, mascaras - which you can see I've used already today, go in the black.." I'll just leave you with Janet Street Sorter.
Chair, Lucy Nethsingha: Thank you, Pippa. That's wonderful. Thank you all so much - all of the panellists who have been fantastic, really superb. And thank you everyone for coming, and for all your excellent questions, and I'm going to hand over to Keith to finish.
GLD Chair, Keith Melton: Thank you, Lucy. That's been superb, and thank you to all of our speakers. I just wanted to pick up on two things before we disappear. First of all, one of the most telling things I think about this afternoon's session is, it just goes to show what you can do when you are in control of a council. So thanks Pippa for all of those examples, and we must make sure that we get into control of more councils next year. And to that end, there are two other things. Firstly, Tahir has been helping to put together a booklet - a pamphlet of collected leaflets which we are going to try and make available to all campaigners and council candidates for next year; and secondly one of the things that struck me very strongly today was that we should be concentrating with our party political broadcast on the national scale on the environmental issues that our local councillors can achieve when we get around to the campaigning for next year. But I don't want to hold us up any longer. I just want to thank Lucy, all of our speakers, and I'm going to hand back to Lloydie who's going to see us out of the room in good order, I hope. Thank you for operating in the back room.
Lloydie, James Lloyd: I thought you were going to say 'sing us out' for a moment there, Keith, and nobody wants that, I can assure you! Thank you to all the panelists, and also Lucy for some very adept sharing of the whole session. I was going to come back and ask, will we get to see Janet Street Sorter, but my wish has already been fulfilled. I think we need one of those puppets in Nottingham as well, and we might have to arrange for that. Please do show your appreciation in the chat for all of our panelists and for Keith and Lucy as well for holding that one together. You can type the word clap or the word applause or some little clapping hands if you're an emoji user. That is it from us for today. However the next session is tomorrow at seven pm. It's Women in Parliament, part of the face-to-face series that we're having, so please do log in and join us for that, and have a great Sunday in the meantime. Thank you.
GLD Chair, Keith Melton: We can go over to the meeting hall, I think.
Caron: Yes, there is a link in the chat room to the meeting hall, if you don't already have the link which is featured in your conference manual. Every time it says 'meeting hall' and is underlined, it's an active link to that particular zoom iteration. Do find that, but if you want to copy that to your clipboard so that you can go over to the meeting hall, I will close down this session and I will run digitally to the next space and open it up for you if we don't have a GLD account to do that for us. So thank you so much.
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