The Forest of Dean Green Party would like to thank councillors Sid Phelps and Chris McFarling for their enduring commitment as members of the District Council’s cabinet over the past four years. Both worked hard to fulfil the demands of their Environment and Climate portfolios before being relieved of their posts. They were informed of this decision in an email from the Leader, Councillor Gwilliam, on Monday 19 September, the day of Her Majesty’s funeral.
The two cabinet members had been asked to distance themselves from comments made by Green Party colleagues, which were perceived as opposing cabinet policy on the Local Development Plan (LDP). This was not possible for Sid and Chris. Instead, they decided to support the principles and integrity of their Green Party colleagues and their continuing engagement in the wider consultation of the LDP in our Forest community.
The difference of opinion arose because Greens believe the latest LDP strategic option is not sustainable enough to meet the crucial 2030 carbon neutral targets agreed by the Council in December 2018. The new plan also omits the most economic and sustainable option, that is to create a new settlement.
Both our ex-cabinet councillors are adamant that addressing the climate emergency and protecting the environment is of critical importance. This overriding principle applies to the Local Plan. This year we have witnessed the highest temperatures ever recorded in the district. Heatwaves have exacerbated the drought and the toll on agriculture, water courses and wildlife loss is of utmost concern.
Sometimes making the right decision is difficult and unpopular and we should honour those like Chris and Sid who still have the courage and vision to imagine a truly sustainable future for our Forest of Dean.