“Young people are our future. We are leaving them a terrible mess to sort out. That’s not fair. We need to clear up as much as we can now, so their task will be easier” – Penny Remfry, Green Party candidate for Elected Mayor.
Climate change, environmental degradation and species loss, combined with the economic consequences of the pandemic and the undermining of our public services because of 10 years of austerity has left the future looking bleak for young people. They want a planet which is environmentally sustainable to live on and they want a fairer society, one in which everyone regardless of their background and identity has a voice and a chance to earn a good living.
The Green Party has the policies which can bring this about.
Penny explains: “We believe in participatory democracy, everyone having a say in the decisions which affect their lives. And we believe that we can only create an environmentally sustainable future if our society is also socially just, eliminating the extremes of wealth and poverty we see today.”
Here in North Tyneside, we have a fantastic generation of young people who are making their voices heard. They have become active around the climate issue through campaigns like the YouthStrike4Climate and the local North Tyneside Climate Strike group; and in schools they are demanding an end to discrimination against all marginalised groups, as well as wanting more support for their peers struggling with mental health issues.
Through her involvement with North Tyneside Women’s Voices, Penny has worked with the young people from the Youth Council and is constantly impressed by their willingness to address difficult issues, their ability to work together and their concern for their peers.
As candidate for Elected Mayor Penny is committed to making the borough cleaner and greener as our local contribution to reaching the UK’s net zero carbon target. This means using private cars less, making our public transport cheaper and more accessible and making walking and cycling safer and easier. It also means that we have to get rid of all our gas central heating in our homes and replace it with electricity, better insulation and solar panels. This will require a skilled workforce – new green jobs for the future. And we need to stop throwing away so much.
We need to find ways of reusing and repurposing our plastics and other materials which at present just get burnt through incineration or go to landfill. This will require research, new technology, imagination and new manufacturing methods – all opportunities for well paid jobs for young people.
Unfortunately we can’t change the electoral system at the local level, she says, but we can involve local people more in the decisions made by the council. As Elected Mayor Penny will ask Cabinet members and ward councillors to hold regular meetings with residents to listen to suggestions on how to make improvements and to get feedback on what the council is doing.
Penny says: “Transparency and accountability in decision-making is really important. If people feel that their views have no value when the council makes decisions which affect their lives, they lose interest in taking part. That is dangerous for democracy.”
Penny’s appeal to young people is: “take an interest in local politics, get involved, stand for election. That is the best way to bring about the changes you want to see. In the meantime, Vote Green!”
Picture Credit: North Tyneside Youth Strike for Climate