Our policies will help create sustainable, thriving communities and a fairer society. They will improve the natural environment and mitigate the effects of climate change through considering these two crises in everything we do. We will listen to local communities throughout our decision-making.
Winning majority control of our council is far from being a realistic expectation for the moment, so our manifesto can’t be seen as a list of policies that we can simply set out and deliver. Rather they are directions in which we can push things by building cross-party consensus. We have shown how even small numbers of Green councillors on District councils can break red/blue deadlock and make significant difference to the attitude and direction of councils. We hope to break into the County Council on May 6th and begin to lead the same changes there.
Climate Change is at the centre of many of our policy sections. Generally, the following is required:
Declare Climate Emergency
The Conservative majority on the County Council opposed the Climate Emergency motion when brought in 2019. Through hostile amendments they watered it down leaving it toothless and pointless.This needs to come back to the table and Green councillors will work for this as the highest priority.
Adopt a Climate Action Plan
After declaring a Climate Emergency, the council must adopt and commit to a detailed Action Plan of the type proposed by the national coalition of climate action groups.
The Derbyshire Green Party are signed up to the Derbyshire Climate Coalition pledge: “If elected, I pledge to ensure that our council works with the community to rapidly implement a Climate Action Plan which strives to cut carbon emissions drastically by 2030, and that the climate and ecological emergency is a central consideration in all council actions.”
Mitigate Flooding and Drought
Regardless of what we do, we will have to live with increased severe weather events for the rest of our lifetimes. The Council should start mitigation actions now, before more loss of life occurs in Derbyshire.
Nature-based solutions are best. See this blog post by one of our District councillors for more details.
Economy & Business
We need a well-functioning local economy which provides local jobs, supports local businesses and encourages new, green ideas. Funding should be redirected from polluting activities such as road building to education, health and social care and decarbonising the economy. Derbyshire’s budget is around £500 million; how it is spent can make a real difference.We will press for openness in how public money is spent and where it is invested.
Focus on support to small business
90% of the businesses in Derbyshire Dales are small, with 9 or fewer employees. The Green Party believes in localism and our policies are designed to encourage and support small businesses.
We believe that too much emphasis is placed on big business, which often removes its profits from the area rather than spending them in other local businesses. Small business is a major source of innovation and a vital resource at a time of unprecedented change and is often run by people who care about their communities.
A Green Councillor would work to use local companies for Derbyshire’s own procurement wherever possible and keep more of our money in the area.
Deal with the current decline in the economy of the Dales
Our local economy was declining before coronavirus. We can’t allow our lives and wellbeing to be at the mercy of policies that are focused on, but failing to, boost GDP. See this blog post about the current economic situation in the Derbyshire Dales. We have a diverse economy and Derbyshire has been a centre of technical innovation since the industrial revolution.
The council position responsible for overseeing the economic strategy is called ‘Cabinet member for clean growth and regeneration’. The council needs to pay more than lip-service to the ‘clean’ part of this. Flooding, intensified by climate change, has already caused such harm to Derbyshire that climate change needs to be taken seriously from a local economic perspective, to say nothing of the larger reasons.
The County Council has a modest budget to put towards encouraging businesses to come to Derbyshire. We would push for this to be focused on sustainable industries and ensure that any support comes with requirements for environmental protection, use of renewable energy and creation of green jobs.
We want to be at the centre of the green revolution currently happening in agriculture and industry. We will focus our business support policies towards the businesses leading the way to a cleaner, greener economy.
Divestment from fossil fuel
The County pension funds are losing vast amounts of money through their investments in the declining fossil fuel sector. This is an urgent financial as well as environmental issue for the council. Our district councillors in High Peak have brought a motion to their borough council to divest. We need to do the same at County Council.
Improve broadband access
We have all found over the last year how vital a good internet connection can be. We will push to ensure the broadband rollout provides fast, reliable connections to all parts of our county.
Housing is generally the purview of District councils, but there are a nomber of ways in which the County Council has influence.
Affordable Homes and community appropriate development
County council strategic planning must account for the needs of our communities, e.g. local need for affordable homes and upgrading of local services to account for population influx. As the authority with responsibility for flooding they must mitigate the impact of areas of tarmac and building, and Greens would hold them to account on this.
No developments without adequate Pedestrian and Cycle access
County Council is responsible for the footpath & cycle links and crossings needed to make new developments safe for residents and prevent developments from being isolated blocks cut off from town. We believe you shouldn’t need a car to live a full life. As councillors we would work to ensure that new developments aren’t approved without adequate links, and that pedestrian and cycle links to existing residential areas are improved.
Insulation, energy efficiency and building standards
Green Party policy is to fund a programme of renovation to bring homes up to better insulation and energy efficiency standards. Much of this comes down to central government policy (funding) or District Council (planning approvals). However, County Council oversees many of its own buildings and developments, and we would push for these to be raised in standard. Insulation upgrade costs can pay back through reduced energy use and by reducing damp and rot and therefore maintenance costs in the long run, and improving the health and liveability of buildings for users.
The County Council has an important role in helping us stay healthy, and providing support for those who need it. Our experience through the Covid pandemic has shown the hard work and sacrifice from the caring professions, and how they are often insufficiently rewarded.
Promotion of Health and Prevention of Illness
A Green councillor would work to ensure that Council projects have a formal Health Impact Assessment undertaken.We will support the Council’s Public Health team in projects such as Active Derbyshire.
We need to learn lessons from Coronavirus. Some authorities performed far better than Derbyshire, as discussed here. Green councillors will push for the necessary investment and planning to ensure we are better prepared if there is another health crisis.
Elderly and social care
Derbyshire County Council administers publicly funded social care, both residential and in-home, which we partly pay for through council tax.
The Green Party opposes the increasing privatisation of care services and wants to provide more local places, focused on care which caters to individual needs. There are limited places available locally; for example people in Sudbury have been placed in Matlock, 26 miles away.
Green councillors will work to bring funded residential places to more parts of the county and supply more funding for in-home assistance.
We will work both within the Council and with NHS partners to promote the integration of health and social care.
We will push for more funding for social care to ensure social care staff are properly rewarded for their hard work and to fill staffing gaps.
We would work to strengthen Council oversight of private social care providers to ensure the highest quality of care.
Education and Young People
Children’s education should look after the whole child and help all children develop their talents.Learning new skills can improve people’s well-being at all stages of their life, as well as giving them new skills for employment, volunteering and enriching their lives.
Post-16 skills training and adult education
We will push for increased provision of Adult Education, for reskilling and for improving people’s social connections and well-being. Also for post-16 training in skills for the future for young people and anyone who needs to update their skills. There are currently skills gaps in many growth sectors such as green construction and renewable energy.
Improve funding to Children’s Centres which have suffered greatly under austerity and have left many of our most vulnerable children without help.
We would push for increased funding for nursery places. We expect this to pay back by enabling more parents to re-enter paid work.
Most people in the UK love nature, yet even in a rural place like Derbyshire, including in the Peak Park, it is declining rapidly. House building on green field sites, road building & quarrying all contribute to the decline of nature and reduce the green spaces which are essential for our well-being.
Development and protection
The Greens would strengthen protections given to the Green Belt, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Sites of Special Scientific Interest.Strategic planning is the responsibility of County Council. Green councillors would work to ensure that housing and other developments are appropriate to their locations and take account of their environmental impact.
Nature Based Solutions
This means helping natural processes to restore some of the damage we have caused to the environment. This includes appropriate tree-planting to lock up carbon & stabilise soils, and enhancement of biodiversity through protecting & expanding wild areas. See more here.
If elected we would promote the adoption of Natural Flood Management techniques, in our role as Lead Local Flood Authority, rather than immediately looking to put down more concrete. See this blog post by one of our District councillors for more details on natural flood management.
We would work to improve practices on the land managed by the highways department, such as hedges and verges, to enhance biodiversity and benefits to the community. Reduced mowing will lead to ‘wildflower verges’ and help create an interconnected network of habitats across Derbyshire.
We would work to end the practice of upland burning, which depletes biodiversity, degrades soils and intensifies downstream flooding.
Fair access for farmers to the CAP replacement, with a focus on sustainable activities.
It is uncertain what will replace the CAP funding for Derbyshire farmers after the end of the government’s transitional policy. Green councillors will work to ensure that access to this replacement is fair, and that it is directed to environmentally beneficial activities, and to smaller landowners, and tenants.We will work with farmers to assist transition to more sustainable, diverse and environmentally friendly forms of land use, with reduced focus on intensive farming.
We would invest in ecotourism and rewilding schemes to bring about habitat recovery. But we need to focus on doing this in ways which benefit those living here: keeping more money local, improving the quality of tourism jobs and funding tourism infrastructure, such as cycling and walking trails, for example by improving e-bike charging stations, accelerating the creation of the Derbyshire Active Transport network and increasing public transport provision across the county.
Follow the scientific evidence on bTb
The Green Party opposes badger culling because it is not the most effective method of controlling Bovine Tuberculosis (bTb).Non-cull strategies have led to bTb reductions in Wales and Scotland, while it is increasing in England where culling is carried out.Green councillors would push for a ban of culling on council-controlled land, and a promotion of vaccination and other scientifically supported actions. Please see this blog post for more detail.
Derbyshire transport policies need to respond much better to local needs, and the challenge of climate change. We need to reduce car use to make our communities safer and to reduce pollution in towns and rural areas, so we must have good alternatives to cars. To achieve this the Council must work with local communities, public transport providers, the Peak Park and other organisations.
Investment in pedestrian and cycle routes
Cycle routes can be good, but are limited. Investment is needed to link these into a joined-up network to allow safe cycling for pleasure and commuting, and to keep them maintained. Central government has claimed that funding is available and we would press the council to make full use of it.
Letting more people walk and cycle in safety will bring health benefits, attract tourism, and remove cars from the roads.
Increased support to bus services
Bus services in much of Derbyshire are insufficient, particularly between villages. For a fraction of the roads budget, subsidies to buses across Derbyshire could be significantly increased. This would make them more frequent, reliable and reach currently isolated places. Better buses would reduce the clogging of our roads and avoid some road projects.
We would take a proactive action on dangerous areas of road and not wait for several accidents or fatalities, as is currently Derbyshire’s policy.
20 is Plenty
The Greens back the ’20 is plenty’ campaign. 20mph speed limits will not only slow traffic, but also encourage some of it to stay on the major roads where it belongs. This is not something that would be imposed on communities; rather it is an initiative which allows residents groups to propose schemes. Green councillors will be keen to hear from and support residents wanting 20mph speed limits in their own neighbourhoods.
Accelerate rollout of EV charging points
Electric cars are coming, and again Derbyshire is being left behind. We need charging points.
We oppose the government’s vastly expensive roadbuilding programme, including the A38 expansion. We believe this money can be far better spent on public transport, active travel (cycling & walking). We have all recently discovered ways of working from home, which we believe should be supported (including through improved broadband) to help obviate the need for expensive and environmentally damaging commuter infrastructure.
With some reluctance we have concluded that there is a case for an Ashbourne bypass. Even with the traffic reductions we expect from our other policies, we don’t think that Ashbourne town centre can remain a through-route. We will pay close attention to this project if it occurs and look to mitigating its environmental impact. We also think too much focus is placed on the bypass as a ‘silver bullet’ solution and will push for the impelmentation of the other proposals brought by the town team.
Encourage microgeneration schemes, including solar and hydroelectric, while retaining strong oversight of projects to mitigate any negative effects of development.
Encourage electrification of heating and transport through heat pumps and charging points.
We would look favourably on community energy schemes where they are proposed and support them.
Police and Crime
Our police have been defunded through austerity policies so that there are not enough to cover our area and enforce the law. We will push to rectify this, in particular to recruit more officers specifically to tackle rural crime such as theft from farms, and wildlife crime such as illegal persecution of birds of prey. We also believe there is a need for more traffic police to enforce regulations such as speed limits and help make our roads safer.
We would push for more direct funding and also work with other organisations to provide more activities for young people, coupled with better public transport so they can travel to local towns and cities for recreation.
We will work to ensure better communication between local communities, police and other agencies such as education and health providers to intervene early and turn people away from crime.
Published and promoted by and on behalf of the Derbyshire Green Party, 77 Ling Road, Chesterfield, Derbyshire S40 3HU.