What have Oxford's Green Councillors ever done for me?
Oxford's Green Party councillors have an outstanding record of achievement over the last two decades, and have helped make our city one of the most progressive in the UK.
Despite being a relatively small group, their impact has been significant, and has changed the way that both the City and County councils do business.
A lot has been done but there is so much more to do - and a larger group of Green councilors will transform our city even further.
Amongst scores of significant city-wide achievements, Green councilors have:
- Used their successful City Council budget amendments to establish the Oxford Climate Change Action Plan, and to fund the award-winning City Council Climate Change Team. It was the Green Party budget in 2007 which secured funding for new City Council energy officers (£200,000) along with over £250,000 to reduce the City Council's carbon footprint. When the Greens held the balance of power in the City Council over £3 million in a range of green proposals was incorporated into the Council budgets over a four year period.
- Been the party consistently supporting the campaign to save Temple Cowley Pools. They have worked with local campaigners, helping with the massive petition to save the pools and on three occasions moved motions in Council to save the pools. These were voted down by Labour and Liberal Democrat councillors.
- Opposed privatisation in our city, unlike any of the three mainstream parties. Green councillors opposed the privatisation of council services such as tax and rent collection services, as well as the transfer of Leisure Service management to private providers.
- Opposed Labour's policy of selling off council housing. Greens have been the most consistent campaigners for more council housing as the real way to resolve the housing crisis. Other parties have continued to sell off council houses and put up rents.
- Initiated and ensured funding for the Natural Resources Impact Assessment for housing and commercial developments. Now every new development in Oxford must have an evaluation of its environmental impact whilst being built.
- Taken the lead in making Oxford a Fair Trade City, including ethical choices such as banning the use of hardwoods from abroad and seeking GM free status for Oxfordshire.
- Initiated Oxford City Council's switch to renewable electricity, ensuring a renewable energy supply for the city and setting an example to other large organisations such as Oxford University.
- Campaigned against City Academies and fought to keep local democratic control of our schools. It was Green councillors who exposed the underhand way in which the Tory County Council organised for Academy status without full consultation.
- Pushed for Low Emissions Zones in the city centre and at various points throughout the city where air pollution has reached dangerous proportions.
- Objected to the destruction of the wardens service in sheltered accommodation, and led the ‘ 7 Days for All' campaign to try to keep the professional wardens' visiting service for the elderly and those in need.
- Proposed that Council workers should be given a living wage (a minimum of £7.00 per hour) not simply a minimum wage, years before it was finally taken up as a principle by others.
- Secured new, successful benefits take-up campaigns. Greens also provided funding for claimant's advisors, who do so much to help families struggling to survive.
- Overturned restrictions to allow the building of the Central Mosque on Manzil Way, and extended the hours of the burial service to weekends to meet the needs of the Jewish and Muslim communities. Despite being a secular party, we recognise the right of everyone to practice their religion.
- Successfully demanded an increase in the proportion of affordable housing in new developments from zero to 50%.
- Pushed for a tough ‘Private Housing Landlord License Scheme' to ensure decent housing standards for tenants. Eventually after years of Green pressure in 2010 a basic scheme was introduced by the Council.
- Submitted an alternative to the City Council's Core Strategy planning document to government inspectors which sets up a clear alternative vision of how the city could develop over the next 25 years without a focus on mindless growth.
- Advocated protection of the Green Belt. In contrast, Lib Dem and Labour councilors seem eager to redraw the Green Belt and build on greenfield sites such as Pear Tree and West Barton.
- Pursued the bringing of empty buildings back into use, including funding for an Empty Properties Officer.
- Advocated more cycle paths around the city, establishing cycle racks right across Oxford and actively promoting cycling. It was the Greens who established the cycle racks on Broad Street as well as the cycle lane on Magdalen Street.
- Secured £1 million for the Cowley Road Traffic Scheme from the County Council, ensuring trees, benches and cycle parks were provided to improve the area. They can take credit for the reduction by 35% in the accident rate on Cowley Road since the introduction of the new layout.
- Supported people power. The Green Party has always been a localist party, believing that decisions should be made as close to the interested community as possible. For this reasons they were instrumental in setting up Area Committees and providing them with funds and powers over planning.