Sat, 06 Oct 2018
THE co-leader of the Green Party slammed West Berkshire Council for charging residents to recycle their garden waste when he visited Newbury last week.
Jonathan Bartley was in town to meet Green Party colleagues and learn about community projects they have been involved in, ahead of the local elections in May 2019.
Mr Bartley went to John Rankin Junior School to see the two new zebra crossings (see page 7) before calling in at Wash Common Library during his visit last Wednesday.
He also saw stretches of Newbury’s railway line, along which Network Rail was responsible for felling large areas of woodland in June.
In an exclusive interview with the Newbury Weekly News, Mr Bartley criticised the district council’s introduction of the controversial £50 green bin charge, which came into force last month.
He said: “You’ve got to make it easy for people to recycle – that’s the principle. You’ve got to allow people that opportunity.
“Deep down, most people want to recycle and the idea of penalising someone for doing the right thing is frankly, bizarre.
“I appreciate that local authorities are feeling the pinch, but it doesn’t have to be that way and in the long run it’s counter-productive.
“If people are discouraged from using green bins, where will everything go? That then brings up landfill and incineration.”
Mr Bartley also reinforced his pledge to make the Greens ‘the third political party in Britain’ by aiming to have a green representative in every council chamber – which he believed would soon be achieved in the district.
The 46-year-old said: “Here in West Berkshire, even though they haven’t got that representation, I’m hoping the Greens will get that breakthrough in May.
“They’re acting like the official opposition already in terms of what they’re achieving.
“It seems like they’re getting stuff done – because in less urban areas, people ‘get it’.”
“We should be the party in the countryside, we’re the Green Party after all – this is our natural territory.”
In the first visit by a Green Party leader to the district in recent memory, Mr Bartley also defended his ‘job share’ with Sian Berry, who was elected as his co-leader last month.
Refuting claims that his party would do better by having a single figurehead, Mr Bartley said his two-year joint leadership he shared with Caroline Lucas – the Greens’ only MP – proved the party could “do things differently”.
“There were a lot of questions when we started off doing it two years ago whether a job share was even possible in politics and I think we’ve proved that it is,” said Mr Bartley.
On the same day that Jeremy Corbyn announced his commitment to net-zero target of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 at Labour’s party conference in Liverpool, Mr Bartley said green policies were increasingly dominating national debate.
But he believed Labour’s green ambition lacked any credibility while the party remained committed to the planned High Speed 2 rail scheme.
“It’s great that Labour are moving in that direction, but they have a fundamentally different outlook compared to the Green Party,” Mr Bartley said.
“We can’t have High Speed 2 destroying 100 ancient woodlands up and down the country – and making climate change commitments.
“That money should be going into local transport structure to get people out of their cars and tackle air pollution.”