THROUGHOUT this week, the Oxford Mail will be speaking to candidates from the different political parties standing to win power on Oxfordshire County Council on May 6. Today, Pete Sudbury, the county's lone Green councillor, lays out the case for voting for his party.

Dr Sudbury said a more radical agenda was needed to tackle climate change than other parties were promising.

He said: "We need to prepare for climate change. We need to accelerate. Everyone talks about zero emissions by 2050 but the fact is we need to curb our emissions by 2030 and I don't think the county council has any idea how to do that."

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To get there, Dr Sudbury advocates for embedding climate change in all decision making.

'Thatcher supported green policies'

He spoke critically of the current Conservative leadership group on the council, and said: "I think the problem with the Conservatives is they genuinely want to tackle climate change but they think that means building more roads, building more houses, but planting more trees and recycling a lot.

"But it is 32 years since Margaret Thatcher told us we need to respond to climate change and environmental degradation is very different now."

The Green councillor called for action from the county which would mitigate the impact of climate change and help Oxfordshire's residents adapt.

He called for keeping a strict watch on emissions made by the council through its indirect actions, in buildings like new schools, and added plans to build major roads and housing developments should be rethought.

He also said new cycle routes and footpaths should be built into new housing estates where they are built, as well as more trees.

He said: "We need to think about how to deal with extreme weather for long periods of time.

"It is not just going to get more extreme, it is going to last for longer."

'Prepare for heatwaves'

While he said the council had done a lot of work to prepare for flooding, which affects Oxfordshire consistently each winter, he said urban tree planting should be considered as a means of dealing with extreme heat to drive down high temperatures as climate change sends the thermometer soaring in urban areas with lots of stone and concrete.

European cities like Paris and Barcelona have already used tree planting as a means of creating shade on busy streets.

The retired doctor and psychiatrist entered the world of local politics in late 2019, after a by-election for the Wallingford seat he now represents.

County Councillor Dr Pete Sudbury pushes for 20mph zones for public safety in the Wallingford town centre..28/02/2021.Picture by Ed Nix..

County Councillor Pete Sudbury. Picture by Ed Nix

Electoral Pact

He won his seat after the Liberal Democrats stood aside their candidate for Wallingford, and the two parties have a similar informal electoral pact for the full-blown local elections this year in several seats.

Dr Sudbury said: "The Greens are working with the Lib Dems in particular seats: we have agreed to step aside for the other. In my seat in Wallingford, the Lib Dems are not standing, they are supporting me. That is the way smaller parties win seats. It has stopped the progressive parties from splitting the vote, which doesn't benefit anyone."

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The Green councillor described this as 'grown up politics' with different parties willing to work together, and urged a similar approach once a new council had been elected, as it would help to draw on the 'wealth of knowledge' from all different political parties.

The Oxfordshire Greens do not have a full manifesto for the county council elections, and Dr Sudbury said they were campaigning on local issues over countywide ones.

He said: "This is a diverse place and a single approach doesn't work for everyone. Green Party politics is focussed on people. It builds from the bottom up."

Because of this approach without a central authority, the Wallingford councillor said it would allow different areas to take their own approaches to tackling climate change.

In his own area for example, he has been calling for Wallingford railway station to be reopened, alongside the town council.

He added: "The key difference between voting for a Green and electing one of the major parties is if you elect a Conservative or to some extent with Labour, when your councillor goes to the county council, they will be told by their party leader how to vote, whether it is to your area's benefit or not. The Green Party doesn't have that party whip."

"I am always voting for the people who voted for me."