Surrey commits to improve road verges for wildlife, thanks to Green motion

Surrey County Council has committed to reviewing its use of glyphosate, a controversial weedkiller that has been blamed for causing cancer, following a motion tabled by Green councillor Jonathan Essex. The motion also introduces moves towards a wildlife-friendly verge cutting regime, to protect wildflowers and invertebrates. The motion was passed with 63 votes in favour and 3 abstentions.

“I’m delighted that Surrey County Council has pledged to protect our wildlife and the health of its residents by taking a positive approach to verge and public space maintenance,” said Cllr Essex. “It’s very welcome that Surrey is seriously considering stopping use of this toxic weedkiller.”

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Surrey agrees Climate Emergency Motion – but needs to reach net-zero sooner

Today Surrey County Council voted in favour of a Climate Emergency  Motion, with the aim of going carbon neutral by 2050.

Green Cllr Jonathan Essex said: “After trying to get Surrey to move forward on its climate commitments earlier this year, we’ve finally got some progress with a Climate Emergency Motion being passed.

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Surrey Climate Commission launched today

Redhill Green Councillor Jonathan Essex spoke at the launch of the Surrey Climate Commission today, alongside some of the county’s leading climate experts.

Watch highlights from the launch on this short (three-minute) video

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How can Councils best improve issues around Social Housing?

This week, the Surrey Mirror asked local politicians to comment on the question: How can Councils best improve issues around Social Housing? Jonathan Essex, Green Councillor for Earlswood & Whitebushes, responded:

Housing policy and funding are in a right mess. House prices in Surrey are unaffordable for most people, and there is a desperate shortage of socially rented homes.

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Are healthier lifestyles less achievable for families on a lower income?

This week, the Surrey Mirror asked local politicians to comment on the question: Are healthier lifestyles less achievable for families on a lower income?  Sue Fenton, newly-elected Councillor for Earlswood & Whitebushes, responded:

Former Work & Pensions Secretary Ian Duncan Smith famously claimed he could live on £53 benefits a week, despite shortly after trying to charge taxpayers £39 for just one breakfast. Many guides exist to living frugally, but can the poorest children not just survive, but reach their potential in modern Britain?

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Council tax rises – and Conservative cuts

This week, the Surrey Mirror asked local politicians to comment on the question: Has the rise in council taxes affected residents in our area?  This is my response:

Simply put – yes. Council taxes for Surrey County Council, local councils and police funding have all increased, hitting the poorest hardest. Taxes for the largest Surrey mansion are just three times higher than for the smallest flat. Instead, Greens would replace council tax with land value tax – a much fairer representation of wealth.

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Support for young people during exam season

This week, the Surrey Mirror asked local politicians: What additional support can be offered to young people during exam season? Here’s my response.

Recent curriculum changes mean students are now sitting more exams than ever, beginning at age six. Children, teachers and counselling services like Childline report that exam stress is mounting rapidly, and nearly 80% of school leaders warn that anxiety and panic attacks have increased as a consequence.

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Election news: Greens win six seats on Reigate & Banstead Council

Five of the six Green Councillors: L-R Steve McKenna, Hal Brown, Sue Sinden, Ruth Ritter and Jonathan Essex

We’re celebrating big wins in this week’s local elections.

We now have six councillors on Reigate & Banstead Council, where the whole council was re-elected following boundary changes.

We won all three seats in Earlswood & Whitebushes, where we previously held one. The ward is now represented by Hal Brown, Ruth Ritter and Sue Fenton.

And we won all three seats in Redhill East, where Sue Sinden joins Jonathan Essex and Steve McKenna on the Council.

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Is the local election system fair?

Today the Surrey Mirror is publishing opinions on the voting system. Here’s mine:

Our first-past-the-post electoral system still favours the main parties.

But so many people I talk with on the doorstep say they are fed up with the main parties. They want their voices to be heard at all levels of politics.

Proportional representation – an electoral system where every vote counts – could transform our politics.

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Social care and council tax

This week, the Surrey Mirror asked for opinions on the question: ‘A percentage of the council tax increase has been ear-marked for Social Care, is it enough?’ This is my response.

It’s not enough and it’s the wrong approach.

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