Our team of Green Party candidates for the 2018 local elections in Cheltenham.
TARGET WARD - Jim Blackstock - St Peter's Ward
Jim was born and raised in the Forest of Dean, but has spent the last ten years abroad as a language teacher and project manager in the charity sector. He returned to Gloucestershire about three years ago and now works for a travel company that helps organise educational trips for schools. He’s passionate about rural issues and loves hiking, camping and working outdoors. He’s very keen to improve the green spaces in St Peter’s and is organising regular working parties which have resulted in council action. He’s also very concerned about the heavy traffic and poor air quality in the ward and is ready to take the council to task over this.
Sarah Field - All Saints Ward
As a secondary school teacher, I have witnessed many changes to education with each new political party and minister for education. One result in Cheltenham is that that parents increasingly find themselves in competition with others over school places and many of our town’s youngsters are now unable to attend their local school. Education should be at the heart of a community. I also see many students having to make the difficult choice of whether to go to university but all too often decisions are based on affordability.. The Green Party believes strongly in free university education where graduates, as they have always done, will pay back the cost of study through contribution to the tax system later in life.
When not teaching, I enjoy the outdoors. Cheltenham’s open spaces are beautiful but we need to promote much safer cycling and walking, not just to improve physical well-being but to drastically improve the air quality in Cheltenham. Additionally, our streets are clogged with cars parked by commuters who have little option but to drive. Co-ordinated bus services would enable journeys of all lengths to be more environmentally friendly.
Voting Green will ensure that the needs and wellbeing of our community is put first; vote for a just, equitable and sustained future for All Saints Ward.
Lorraine Mason - Charlton Kings Ward
I've lived in Cheltenham since 1978 and my two children went to state schools here. When they started school I trained as a landscape architect and worked for 10 years in the planning department at Gloucester City Council.
I now work freelance and spend a lot of time on various gardening and design projects, including perennial planting schemes for the council, volunteering in St Peter’s Park and my allotment at Ryeworth. I believe that green space is one of Cheltenham's most important assets and if elected would use my knowledge of landscape and planning processes to protect and enhance this precious resource.
I love living in Charlton Kings. Although part of Cheltenham, its distinct character sets it apart and and as your councillor I would fight to protect what makes it a special place to live.
I joined the Greens because they are the only political party to take climate change seriously and have practical plans to use the battle against global warming to help create a fairer world for everyone.
Adrian Becker - Lansdown Ward
I am 54 years old and have lived in Cheltenham for the last 14 years. I am originally from Bristol but moved to Cheltenham after a mid-life career change. I now work in Worcester and my weekly exposure to places outside Cheltenham helps me identify what is good about our town and what could be improved.
While Cheltenham has a large number of street trees, it has less public green space than many other towns of its size; this is especially true in Lansdown Ward. The remaining green spaces need to be valued and enhanced - not sold off for housing or other developments.
While much of the town centre is excellently maintained, many parts of Cheltenham are badly neglected, with streets rarely cleaned and in very poor repair. The two Councils - the District Council responsible for street cleaning and the County Council responsible for potholes and other defects - seem content to blame each other for the poor quality of our streets. Cheltenham needs some new voices on the Council to challenge the 'do the minimum' status quo and find new ways to ensure basic services such as street cleaning are provided for everyone - not just a few more visible streets. Vote Green on May 3rd for a greener and cleaner Cheltenham.
Peter Frings - Leckhampton
I moved to Cheltenham in the 1990s and founded a business, Brightsource, in 2002. It’s been one of the fastest growing businesses in Gloucestershire for 15 years, creating more than 120 local jobs in Cheltenham in that time. I stepped back from full-time work in 2017, and am now devoting more of my time to green issues. My priorities are sorting out Cheltenham's traffic and air pollution crisis, and enhancing Leckhampton's green spaces. I’ve lived in Leckhampton ward for the last 8 years, and will also be serving on the Leckhampton and Warden Hill Parish Council from May 2018.
Anne Knight-Elliot - Park Ward
I have lived in Cheltenham for about 30 years, moving to Tivoli in 1995. Both my children attended Bournside School and I have worked for many years in Gloucestershire as a teacher and Educational Psychologist. Now semi-retired, I am enjoying being able to give time to voluntary conservation work with the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust and also spending more time with my grandchildren and wider family.
I became a member of the Green Party because of my interest in the environment and the conservation and fair distribution of resources. Education is also one of my top priorities. The Green Party believes that a good education should be accessible to all young people, through the provision of local nurseries, schools and colleges as well as free university tuition.
Making positive changes at a global level can seem overwhelming, but taking small steps locally is manageable and also fosters a sense of community. Cheltenham Green Party believes in investing in Cheltenham’s allotments and ending the neglect of local green spaces. This will not only benefit the well-being of children and adults, but also wildlife. I should also like also our town to reflect a strong sense of care and belonging for all those living in Cheltenham by working alongside charities such as Shelter and working with housing associations to expand social housing availability.
David Clarke - St Mark's Ward
I have lived in Cheltenham since 2009 and moved to St Mark’s in 2012. I work as a university lecturer and my partner runs a small business.
I joined the Green Party because I could see that the main political parties were failing to get to grips with the environmental challenges that face us all, not only locally, but also nationally and internationally. The Green Party is also the only party that truly recognises the link between environmental issues, social justice and wellbeing. I have seen how local Greens make a difference in their communities and I want to do the same for St Mark’s.
I am particularly concerned at the state of our pavements. Attention has been paid to resurfacing roads in some areas and filling in some of the potholes for road traffic, but the issue of providing safe pavements so that we can encourage people to walk around their local area has been ignored. Encouraging more walking for short local journeys would also help us to address problems with parking, such as the increasingly dangerous situation around the shops on Tennyson Road.
A 20 mile per hour speed limit in residential streets would help us all to feel more comfortable walking and cycling and would help to tackle the air pollution that worries many of us.
We also need to keep the pressure up on the council to make sure that its private contractors replace trees that have to be felled for safety reasons. These trees contribute to a cleaner and more pleasant environment for everyone. We should not have to rely on local residents reminding contractors to replace trees that have been removed.
Tim Bonsor - Warden Hill
Hello. I'm a retired civil servant, married, and Cheltenham resident for over 30 years.
Since retiring, I have become qualified to teach English, and now work with refugees and asylum-seekers in Gloucester.
I joined the Green Party because I despaired at the way we are stripping the planet of its natural assets. The declining bee populations, poisoned by our pesticides, testify perfectly that nature works for us if we make a priority of protecting it. The story of humanity is a struggle against natural forces, but we need nature for our own survival. Globally that means the rainforests, but locally, think of Cheltenham’s beautiful fields and hillsides, parks and green spaces.
They are safe with me. Join us if you feel the same. Vote Green for a green Cheltenham.
Spencer Allman - Battledown
I was born in London in 1950. I was a teacher of English for 20 years - in London, Brighton, York, Milan, Stockholm and Helsinki. Since then I have been a freelance translator of Finnish and a researcher into experimental music.
I have lived in Cheltenham for 16 months, having moved here from Herefordshire. I joined the Green Party shortly after the result of the EU referendum, prompted by their support for the Remain campaign and continuing belief that membership of the EU makes our future more hopeful and secure. Having led a very international existence (my wife is Japanese), I support the Green Party’s fight against isolationism, their openness to other cultures, and determination to look forward rather than back to dubious past glories.
The planet is in peril and we need to do something about it. Our economic prosperity depends on the health of our environment. It is the ultimate source of everything we make and use - from food and materials, to the air we breathe. A thriving environment means a healthy future for us, our children and generations to come.
The green spaces in Cheltenham need to be preserved. We must fight against development in inappropriate places, such as on precious greenfield and AONB land in Battledown. There is a need, too, for improved public transport - we should be getting people out of their cars and onto buses that run according to comprehensive and reliable schedules.
Karen Wilson - Charlton Park
I've lived in Cheltenham since 2001 and always in the Charlton Park area. At the time I was in Gloucestershire Police Force, where I gained experience in a wide variety of community issues such as traffic, housing, health, education, environmental concerns, public order and obviously crime.
After that, I developed two businesses and currently educate as a “healthy eating” chef, teaching nutrition and cooking classes in the community with the aim of helping others make life changing improvements to their lifestyle and reduce symptoms of disease.
With this in mind, I am keen to nurture wholesome seasonal food sources from local growers and I also volunteer at Sandford Park’s Annecy Edible Garden. We are blessed with our very own wildlife haven of Cox’s Meadow and the protection of Cheltenham’s green spaces are vital to help clean the air in our town.
I joined the Green Party because we put the environment at the heart of everything we do. We passionately believe that combating climate change is the only way to create a thriving community in a clean world. As your councillor, this will be my priority for our beautiful town in the Cotswolds.
Drew Davie - College
I have only moved to Cheltenham fairly recently to a begin a new job in the NHS. Having lived previously in Bristol, I have seen how decisions by the Green Party in local government can really change an area.
With Brexit dominating national government for the time being, I really think the Green Party has a chance to make a positive difference to people’s lives on a local basis. I want to look at issues that offer a real benefit to people first, that in turn benefit the environment and will help future generations. For me this includes making walking and cycling to work a more viable option by dealing with difficult crossings such as that on Bath and Sandford road.
I also care deeply about the provision of rented housing in Cheltenham, and am interested to see what we can do locally to help ensure accommodation is habitable and fit for purpose. Adequately insulated and maintained homes would help people with energy costs and reduce the environmental burden of fuelling homes.
The Green Party can encourage positive change at every level of government, so vote for us for a better future.
Stephen Bear - Pittville
Stephen is 44 years old and has been resident in Pittville for the last two years. He has been a long-time supporter of the Green movement but has only recently become an active Green Party member, in response to the daily realities of social injustice and environmental complacency.
While every political party appears to express commitment to ease inequality and to protect human interests for the future, recent campaigns convinced Stephen that only the Green Party has the seriousness to listen to people’s concerns and become fully informed about the exploitative economic practices behind so many of the problems we are facing. He believes that the only effective way to bring about the enormous changes that are necessary is to bring people together in local community actions, to empower us to bring benefit, however small, to where it makes the biggest difference and to actively pursue a better future for everyone.
Stephen works as a pipe organ manufacturer and has great enthusiasm for the social and individual creativity involved in art, music and craft. ‘To be involved in a big project that requires lots of different skills and the input of different personalities is very rewarding. It is even better knowing that many more people will benefit and enjoy what we’ve made for many years to come’.
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