Local Election Manifesto 2021
With Greens standing all across Cornwall, from Bude to Penryn and from Saltash to St. Ives, Cornwall Green Party is running on a platform of:
- Democratically accountable planning and an end to destructive ‘development’.
- A joined-up approach to health and wellbeing.
- Public transport that’s regular, affordable and reliable.
- Housing policies that address local needs.
- A Green recovery that supports local businesses and jobs.
- Protecting climate, nature and biodiversity.
Our joined-up policies all support a Green Vision for Cornwall that turns the climate and ecological emergency into a new lease of life. Greens are not about business as usual – if we want Cornwall to make real progress towards a fairer and more sustainable future, we urgently need Greens in the rooms where decisions are made that can make this happen.
Democratically accountable planning and an end to destructive ‘development’
A lot of Cornwall’s planning problems are the fault of central government. But there is much more that Cornwall Council could do to engage local communities in the decisions that affect them. Too many planning decisions benefit the big developers much more than local people. Deals are made behind closed doors or outsourced to the Council’s various commercial arms, which are not democratically accountable.
Often, a lack of transparency and tick-box consultation results in destructive ‘development’ that damages Cornwall’s environment and communities.
Green councillors would work to ensure that:
- Planning decisions are made fully transparent, rather than being stitched up with developers behind closed doors.
- Cornwall Council firmly resists any development that fails to meet strict environmental and carbon reduction criteria.
- A Local Environment Improvement Plan is developed alongside the Nature Recovery. Strategy to help guide planning decisions – including those on land use – and ensure that these enhance rather than damage the local environment.
- Easily readable summaries of specialist technical reports are provided.
- More time is given for public engagement at planning meetings, especially on major developments.
Cornwall Green Party supports the devolution of power away from Westminster, so that decisions that affect local communities are democratically made as closely as possible to the people in these communities. As part of this, we support:
- A referendum for people in Cornwall to decide whether a democratically elected Cornish Assembly should be created to exercise control over such devolved powers.
A joined-up approach to health and wellbeing
For Greens, the health and wellbeing of local people are at the heart of all our policies.
The pandemic has brought home how vital it is for health services to be planned and delivered as closely as possible to the local people who need them. Despite being under-resourced, locally based public health teams have been far more effective at contact tracing than the massively expensive, remotely based operation run by Serco and other private contractors.
Greens councillors will:
- Fight to make sure that local, community-based GP clinics and other health services remain publicly run and accessible to all.
- Work to promote social prescribing that connects people to projects such as community gardens and that has been proved highly effective in tackling drivers of ill-health such as physical inactivity and loneliness.
- Take action to end the fuel poverty and cold homes that are major causes of ill health in Cornwall.
- Make cycling and walking safer and more attractive, and reduce pollution in our towns.
- Press for a Cornwall Council mental health champion to advocate on behalf of the rising number of people with mental health problems.
Public transport that’s regular, affordable and reliable
Private cars clog up our roads, damaging the air quality in many communities, releasing vast amounts of greenhouse gases and particulates, and making many roads dangerous for cyclists and pedestrians. It should be easy and affordable to travel without a car, but It can take 1½ hrs to get from Newquay to Truro by bus, for example. Many rural areas are completely isolated or have services that are so infrequent that they are not practical for many residents.
Cornwall Council has more decision-making power over transport than almost any other local authority. One of the key deliverables under the Cornwall devolution deal is to “improve public transport and provide a seamless integrated public transport network for Cornwall”. But little progress has been made on this.
Green councillors will work to achieve:
- Major investment to make bus services more regular and affordable.
- A joined-up system offering integrated timetables and ticketing between different bus and train companies (private and tendered).
- Demand-responsive transport for rural communities, using smaller vehicles.
- A 20mph speed limit in all residential zones throughout Cornwall to make roads safer for pedestrians and cyclists.
- Room on buses for bikes so that cyclists can ride to and from their final destination.
- Cycle lanes prioritised for commuter routes, not just leisure.
- A big campaign to encourage people to make more use of public transport, including ‘car free’ days on which local bus and train transport is free across Cornwall.
Housing policies that address local needs
New housing developments are springing up across Cornwall, mostly on greenfield land, but are doing little or nothing to tackle the crisis in affordable housing. Many new houses are built to be sold as second homes, or are priced way out of the reach of local people. In many communities, rents have risen far beyond the reach of many local families.
And while second homes and holiday homes proliferate – often taking advantage of tax loopholes that mean their owners avoid paying either Council Tax or business rates – much of Cornwall’s social and private rental housing stock is substandard and highly energy-inefficient, with Cornwall having some of the highest rates of fuel poverty and cold homes in the country.
Green councillors would press for:
- A double rate of Council Tax on all second homes and holiday lets, with the money raised invested into affordable zero-carbon housing for local people.
- More collaboration between Cornwall Council, community land trusts and housing. associations to help communities create genuinely affordable, sustainable housing that meets local need.
- A major programme of retrofitting social and rental housing to help people stay warm and cut their energy bills – and to help create good jobs in Cornwall while cutting greenhouse gas emissions.
- A Council-supported renters’ union to help control abuses by private landlords.
- Cornwall Council to join other councils in lobbying for the power to introduce rent controls and affordable housing criteria that are linked to a realistic assessment of local affordability.
A Green recovery that supports local businesses and jobs
Businesses in Cornwall have been hit hard by the Covid crisis, which has highlighted the extent to which our local economy depends on tourism – an imbalance that has made many jobs here especially vulnerable. Now we have a chance to build back in a way that supports our local economy and makes it more resilient – to build back Green.
We need to prioritise spending and investment in ways that create sustainable local businesses and jobs.
Green councillors would press for:
- All Council procurement to be from Cornwall where possible, keeping more money within the local economy. Where local supply does not exist, this should be a focus for new local business development.
- A ‘tourist tax’ – a small levy charged on accommodation booked by Cornwall’s 4.5 million visitors. per year, with the money raised invested into creating sustainable businesses and jobs.
- Training to create Green jobs in the industries that are key for a just transition to a zero-carbon economy: in retrofitting homes, renewable energy, electric transportation and regenerative horticulture/agriculture.
- Priority to be given to collaborative, cooperative ventures – keeping ownership in Cornwall and giving local people a real stake in the businesses they work for.
- Cornwall Council to use local expertise rather than externally based consultants wherever possible.
Protecting climate, nature and biodiversity
The impacts of the climate and ecological emergency are already hitting Cornwall. Declaring a climate emergency was an important first step, but Cornwall Council cannot claim to be addressing this emergency until it stops taking decisions that lead to increased carbon emissions and the destruction of our natural environment.
Cornwall Green Party is calling for:
- All Cornwall Council decision-making to be underpinned by the urgent need for a fair transition to carbon neutrality and regeneration of nature.
- An adaptation strategy for Cornwall, to help our communities prepare for and be resilient to the effects of climate change.
- Wellbeing as a measure of progress – for Cornwall to become a place where people and nature can thrive.
- 100% Renewable Cornwall – support for a Cornwall-wide community energy strategy to ensure Cornwall supplies 100% of its own electricity, and for this to be tied to community benefit.
- Enhancement of the ‘biodiversity net gain’ criterion for all new developments to include greater net gain and remove the ability of developers to offset losses elsewhere.
- An end to the use of glyphosate herbicide by town councils.
- Protection, regeneration and rewilding of green spaces to increase nature's abundance and wildlife, provide natural flood defences and rebalance the carbon cycle.