Surrey Greens call for £177m pension investments to be moved from fossil fuels

Green Party Councillor Jonathan Essex has called upon Surrey County Council’s Pension Fund to change the way it does its business.

Cllr Essex, who attended the latest meeting of the Fund this week, highlighted the financial case for considering a more sustainable investment strategy

He made the case that divesting from investments in fossil fuels and re-investing this better elsewhere can improve the performance of the pension fund. Currently, £177m which represents 6.3% of Surrey’s £2.8bn pension fund, is invested in fossil fuels.

Cllr Essex said:

“The pension fund’s duty should be to do the right thing and invest, and not create an artificial choice between the two.

“I was disappointed that the committee was not prepared to listen to evidence from investment experts as to the risks of not switching its £176m investment in fossil fuels and the benefits of more sustainable alternatives.

“The pension fund has a duty to invest wisely but Surrey should and can invest ethically too. Surrey Greens believe that we need to take the lead in a more joined up approach in meeting the needs of pensioners now, and in the long term, in a way that is both financially prudent and ethically sound.”

Waltham Forest Pension Fund shows the way

On 22 September 2016, Waltham Forest Pension Fund (worth £735 million) voted unanimously to “exclude fossil fuels from its strategy over the next five years”.

Chair of the Pension Fund Committee, Councillor Simon Miller, said: “Waltham Forest Pension Fund is proud to commit to divesting from fossil fuels. Not only does this mean that the fund will not be invested in stranded assets, but will be actively investing in cleaner, greener investments to the benefit of our community, borough, and environment.”

 

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Surrey Pension Fund urged to divest from fossil fuels

On Friday 23 September, Green Cllr Jonathan Essex is raising questions at a meeting of the Surrey Pension Fund Committee about their continued investment in climate-wrecking fossil fuels [1]. Surrey pension fund members and Divest Surrey campaigners will be there to show support for calls to divest from fossil fuels.

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Why we’re standing up for the Green Belt

Reigate & Banstead Borough Council is consulting on new development management policies that include potentially allowing up to 1,400 new homes to be built in the Green Belt.

You can view the Council’s proposals and submit your comments online – or visit an exhibition to see the plans and meet planning officers. Details of both are on this page

East Surrey Green Party is holding a public meeting to discuss the proposals. All are welcome.

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Council Motion: Surrey needs to listen to residents and repair divisions

Jonathan Essex, County Councillor for Redhill East, will move a Motion at the Surrey County Council meeting on 12 July, inviting the Council to respond to the challenges posed by the result of the recent EU referendum.

The text of the Motion is as follows:

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Green Councillor joins Opposition Forum at County Hall

Liberal Democrat and Green County Councillors have formed a Combined Group, the Surrey Opposition Forum, on Surrey County Council to provide a more effective opposition to the Conservatives at County Hall.

Jonathan Essex, Green County Councillor for Redhill East, said, “The new Opposition Forum will enable us to more effectively scrutinise and challenge the Council’s Conservative leadership. It doesn’t commit Liberal Democrat and Green councillors to vote the same way but it does mean we can work together to better hold our very one-sided Tory Council to account.”

Liberal Democrat County Councillor Hazel Watson said, “I am delighted that we will be working closely with Jonathan Essex from the Green Party to provide a more effective opposition which can challenge the administration for the benefit of Surrey residents.”

 

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New Green Councillor elected in Redhill

Steve McKenna croppedSteve McKenna was elected as Councillor for Redhill East in last week’s local elections.

Steve joins Jonathan Essex as one of two Greens on Reigate & Banstead Borough Council.

You can read more about Steve here.

Thank you to everyone who supported the Green candidates – and all those who voted Green.

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Introducing Steve McKenna, candidate for Redhill East

Steve McKenna is standing for election as Councillor in Redhill East on 5 May 2016. [Read about our other candidates here]

Steve McKenna croppedSteve is a Chartered Surveyor and Town Planner. He has 30 years’ experience working for public and private sector organisations, and has managed many major urban regeneration programmes. He currently works for a charity that acquires and manages open spaces for public benefit.

As a member of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors’ (RICS) World Environment and Resources Board, Steve has worked on RICS’ responses to Government policy initiatives including leading RICS’ work on issues concerning the extraction and use of rare earth metals.

Steve says, “I want to represent Redhill East to help protect and enhance the character of our town and green spaces, and to represent all residents.

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Climate Local: which way will Conservative councillors vote?

Tonight Reigate and Banstead Borough Council will vote on a recommendation by the Executive NOT to sign up to the ‘Climate Local’ initiative.

Climate Local is an initiative run by the Local Government Association and the Environment Agency to encourage and support local Councils to take action on climate change [1].

I introduced a Motion suggesting that Reigate and Banstead join up at a recent Council meeting and it was seconded by Cllr Kay, the Council’s Deputy Leader.

As Surrey County Council had recently agreed to sign up to Climate Local, I was hopeful that our local Council would too.

However the Council’s Executive (ten Conservative Councillors) have decided not to do so – and will be asking the full Council to ratify this at tonight’s Council meeting.

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Earlswood Lakes: how was decision to allow boating made?

Many residents have contacted us about their concerns over recent developments at Earlswood Lakes.

The Council is awarding new contracts for catering at the Lakes, including the reintroduction of boating on the top lake.

Boating was stopped years ago and since then the lake has been managed for wildlife.  It is part of a Local Nature Reserve and Site of Nature Conservation Interest and boating is prohibited by bylaw.

The decision to reintroduce boating was made by the Council’s Property and Regeneration Department, without consulting the public, wildlife groups, the Earlswood Common Management Steering Group or local Councillors.

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Reigate and Banstead can choose to invest to make our services better and living here more affordable

This is the speech I made in response to Reigate & Banstead Borough Council’s budget proposal at last night’s Council meeting. (Please see the footnotes for references and further information.)

I will start by thanking officers for their work preparing this financially sound budget. Yet our strong financial position includes money not yet used, which could deliver more for our residents.

We should ensure that our budget delivers our promises to residents. Over three years ago we promised to make our recycling better for all1. But only one third of those in flats have our new service2 – although this was promised again in last year’s budget. At the current roll-out rate this will take another six years. Extra staff are needed in our recycling team to speed this up – and not just to make it happen but to help stop the wrong waste contaminating our recycling, which is currently costing our council hundreds of thousands each year. Read More »

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