Council Elections: What do the main parties say about the environment?

The election of Councillors to the London Borough of Wandsworth will take place on May 5. While it would be virtually impossible to talk to every Council candidate about what their attitude is to environmental issues and priorities, Wandsworth Friends of the Earth asked each of the main political groups (Conservatives, Greens, Labour & Liberal Democrats)* to let us have a short statement about how they see their candidates promoting the environment in the Borough.

We have so far received statements from the Greens, Labour and Liberal Democrats** and publish them here. While Friends of the Earth is a nonpolitical organisation, we believe that electors should be aware of the importance Council Candidates place on such issues as global warming and the ecological crisis.

Two years ago Wandsworth Borough Council declared a Climate and Ecological Emergency, but in spite of the establishment of the Wandsworth Environment and Sustainability Strategy (the WESS), the Council has not really been seen to be putting in place measures that truly reflect the urgency of the crisis.

Electors should be in a position to challenge Council Candidates on these issues and the statements included here offer a starting point.

[*parties listed in alphabetical order]

[** the Conservative party were contacted as noted above, but we have not yet received a response]

Here are the statements:

Green Party:

 WANDSWORTH GREEN PARTY’S ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY

The Green Party puts environmental policies at the centre of its campaigns.  Not only do we seek reverse climate change, a particularly important issue in Wandsworth where most of the borough is built on the Thames floodplain, but we strive to enhance our local environment, by protecting local open spaces, and pushing for increased planting and better maintenance of street trees.  We need a fuller understanding of our local flora and fauna so that we can better protect it.  We need more regular ecological surveys, and more biological recording, where appropriate involving citizen scientists.

We aim to get our streets and pavement safer and pleasanter for pedestrians and cyclists and discourage short distance car journeys.  With this in mind we are keen to re-establish local shops so that people don’t need to travel to town centres to buy essential goods.

When the environment suffers it is inevitable that the poorest members of our communities suffer (the rich can, at present at least, move to relatively unspoiled areas).  We have a vision of children throughout Wandsworth enjoying clean air and playing in leafy, safe streets, and we believe that we can attain this. 

Labour Party:

 WANDSWORTH LABOUR PARTY’S ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY

Labour will urgently address the climate emergency; we will put the environment at the heart of everything we do.

The Conservative council has the 6th worst recycling record in the UK. We’ll fix this, introduce food waste collection, get tough on flytipping, reduce air pollution and treasure our green spaces.

  1. Labour will help you keep Wandsworth clean

Labour guarantees to keep your weekly refuse collection and will introduce more bins, more collections and more street cleaning, where needed.

  • Roll out food waste collection across the borough
  • Monthly bulk waste skips to help residents get rid of their big items
  • Guarantee weekly collections and provide more bins and more collections where needed
  • More cameras to catch fly-tippers
  • Promote a plastic free Wandsworth
  1. Labour will fight to reduce air pollution 
  • Make walking and cycling so much easier and safer; pleasant pavements and safe joined up cycle routes across the borough  
  • Tougher enforcement on cars and vans running their engines when stopped
  • Cleaner transport: work closely with TfL to
  • Low or zero emission Council vehicles
  • Get started on Wandsworth One Way System, after decades of Conservative delay to reduce the traffic jams and pollution.
  • Make it so much easier for people to walk and cycle: transform the junction at Putney Bridge 
  1. Labour will ensure Wandsworth Council is net zero by 2030 
  • All our vehicles and buildings will be carbon neutral
  • We will support our residents, schools, voluntary organisations and businesses to reduce emissions
  • We will have a net zero pension investment portfolio.

Labour will listen to residents  

  • We will consult with residents to make the decisions we need to make, together.
  • We will make sure our councillors and officers are out in the communities they serve, listening to residents.
  • We will hold Citizen’s Assemblies to hear residents’ views on the issues they care about
  1. Labour will treasure the green space we all need and love
  • More pocket parks and community gardens
  • Plant more trees and flowers,
  • Protect our trees and biodiversity
  • No more racing cars in Battersea Park, we’d rather have a Park Run which everyone can enjoy
  1. Labour will show leadership

If we win the election in May, we will set up Wandsworth Sustainability Partnership with public sector partners including Roehampton University, St George’s Hospital, South Thames College, local community groups, businesses, schools and residents- all working together towards a net zero Wandsworth

There is so much more we could be doing here in Wandsworth; if Labour wins, we will do

Liberal Democrats Party

 WANDSWORTH LIBERAL DEMOCRATIC PARTY’S ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY

Wandsworth can and must play its part in tackling the global challenges of the climate emergency and air pollution at a local level. 

The Council has declared a Climate Emergency, but it has yet to match this ambition with the bold and urgent action needed. Wandsworth performed badly on the Healthy Streets Scorecard (scoring only 5 out of 10), consistently falls in the bottom 10 Councils in England on recycling, has a backlog of 2,000 bike hangars to deliver, ranks badly compared to other boroughs when it comes to green spaces and is home to some of the capital’s worst pollution hotspots.

In our 2022 Local Election Manifesto we have outlined a number of policies to address these challenges. We will: 

  1. Promote a school street at every school (or alternative measures where that isn’t viable);
  2. Support active transport by protecting cycle lanes and pushing for the huge backlog on bike hangars to be addressed;
  3. Improve facilities for pedestrians by greening our streets with more street planting and parklets and by improving green walks (like the Capital Ring Walk);
  4. Champion a Citizens Assembly on Clean Air to gather ideas from local people and involve residents actively in setting priorities for the Council;
  5. Campaign to make local tube stations and mainline stations step-free so everyone can use cleaner, greener public transport
  6. Push the Council to put in place a flood prevention plan and flood warden scheme because ‘once in a generation’ flooding is now a regular occurrence;
  7. Fight for diesel vehicles and wood-burning stoves to be phased out;
  8. Make sure buses have priority and lobby London’s Mayor to fast-track cleaner buses;
  9. Improve and expand recycling through food waste bins, information campaigns and better recycling facilities in flats and estates; and
  10. Back the creation of a new Clean Air & Climate Cabinet member to make these issues a priority.

END

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