The four-strong Green Group at Gloucestershire County Council has secured amendments to the County Council’s budget for 2023/24 worth £400,000 this week. These amendments build on the Group’s success last year, and include a range of projects that will help the council meet its environmental commitments, support our communities and protect our natural landscape.
Thanks to the Green Party councillors, an electric bike (e-bike) hire scheme is to be rolled out in locations across the county. The £150,000 scheme is expected to allow residents to trial e-bike ownership over a number of months, following a model successfully deployed in other councils around the country, with the option to purchase the bike at a discount after the hire period. Studies have shown that those who trial an e-bike are significantly more likely to want one for the longer term, and to cycle more in the future.
E-bikes are particularly suited to more rural and hilly areas, such as Stroud district, or those where there aren’t suitable, safe, separated cycling options, giving confidence and increased pedal power to those who need it and a cheap way to get around at a time when many are struggling with rising costs.
Secure bike storage will also begin to be made available thanks to the Greens, with a £90,000 budget for lockable bike hangars for public use across the county successfully passed. It is well established that people are more likely to travel by bike with the reassurance of having somewhere safe to store their cycling equipment. These new facilities will further support the commitment recently made by the Gloucestershire councils to increase active travel three-fold by 2030.
Restoring our rivers
The outcomes of a recent County Council Restoring Our Rivers Working Group will now be properly resourced thanks to the Green Group, which has successfully argued that a budget of £100,000 should be assigned to it. Widespread national coverage of the poor state of river water quality and biodiversity led to the establishment of this important project on the state of the county’s water courses, and its recommendations can now be pursued thanks to this new funding.
Rights of Way
And finally, the county’s Rights of Way officers will see their budgets significantly increased in the coming year, with an amendment worth £60,000, being topped up by a Labour amendment of £40,000, bringing the total to £100,000 to better support the routine maintenance of our network of footpaths and other rights of way. Walking is a good way to maintain fitness, doesn’t cost anything and helps to reduce carbon and traffic.
These latest wins build on Green Party success at the County Council in 2022, when £165,000 of Green amendments were successfully passed. Amounts secured that year included the funding for a recycling ‘tip shop’, which is now in development, and the recruitment of a biodiversity officer for the county, who is now in post and beginning his task to make better use of county land for ecological gain.
Cllr Chloe Turner (Green Party, Minchinhampton) said:
“Gloucestershire County Council is waking up to the urgency of the climate and ecological crises, but the pace of change is still not fast enough. I am so pleased we have been able to contribute these further improvements to the Council’s budget, part of our commitment to a fairer, greener, happier Gloucestershire.”
Green Group Leader Cllr Cate Cody (Tewkesbury Division) said:
“We are really pleased to have gained even further budget wins in our second year. Actively promoting cycling and walking whilst conserving our lovely county are high priorities for Greens and we’re also thrilled to be able to help tackle filthy river pollution, which is highly topical and very important to our constituents. We know much of what needs doing, now we have some financial support to help carry out some action.”
Editor’s note: Sue Fenton writes for the Stroud District Green Party. West England Bylines is not party political and welcomes articles from across the political spectrum.