|RESPONSE TO CONSERVATIVES’ POINTS OF VIEW LETTER
(Published in the Gazette on 10/02/11)
I was delighted by the response in the Gazette from Bridgend Conservative Association Chairman, Wayne Buffett Warlow, to my call for more constructive politics in Bridgend. Delyth Miller and I were also pleased to accept his invitation to the launch of their local Environment Action Day. It was, perhaps, a disappointingly low key affair, but it did give us the opportunity to sit down with colleagues from both parties (including WAG candidates from both parties) and convivially discuss issues of mutual concern. I think we were all pleased to find numerous areas of mutual interest and areas where we should be happy to support each other.
For example, the Conservative campaign is keen to see the promotion of a wider range of renewable energy sources, believing that there is too much emphasis on wind energy. We have been promoting this for a long time – and we were happy to share ideas on how this can be pursued. We all recognised the immense untapped potential for all sorts of renewable energy in South Wales.
I was also pleased to see a recognition of the reality that flooding is inevitably going to be an issue of growing concern. I was delighted to see the term ‘Blue Belt’ land on their literature. Similar to ‘Green Belt’, it means very tight planning constraints, but in this case on areas of high flood risk. This needs some further ‘joined up thinking’ as current national government policy, embodied in the Sustainable Communities Plan, actually encourages new development on flood plains – but hopefully we can ensure that this does not happen around Bridgend.
I hope this will be a start of ongoing constructive dialogue between all parties locally. We will always have ideological differences, but we all live in the same environment and have the same things at stake. As a minority party, we know we are a long way away from holding the reigns of power. We need constructive dialogue to help steer the powers that be, and I was pleased to hear positive comments from Conservatives about how much the Green Party has achieved in this respect. Our role is to support steps in the right direction and to hold the other parties to account for pledges that they make, not just in terms of environmental issues, but in all policy areas.
We have seen that broken promises are the biggest cause of problems in our politics (as the Lib Dems know with regards to tuition fees). Words and promises are cheap and ‘greenwashing’ as a publicity stunt is all too common with big companies and some politicians. The most encouraging thing from this meeting of Greens and Conservatives was the sentiment that it should all be about getting things done – before it is too late for all of us! Let it be.