Our Local Environment – It’s #Time2Care

Climate change is ubiquitous – it’s time we gave Hersham the power to tackle it.

Green spaces have become a lifeline for many during the pandemic – whether as a place for distanced socialising, some stress-relieving exercise, or an escape from the home-office. I’ve spent many hours speaking to Elmbridge residents on the phone during the lockdown – some of whom had not had a conversation with another person for months – and it is clear that more needs to be done to protect green spaces. Some residents spoke of not feeling safe in particular parks, whilst others mentioned local spaces that were no longer suitable for children due to litter associated with drug use. Still more expressed concern at the proposed development plans for the golf course. 

I’ve lived in Elmbridge all my life and am passionate about doing the best we can to protect its wonderful local character and support its community. It is vital that Hersham has a strong, active voice at both local and county levels so that individuals’ views are represented and new developments work for the residents. Working with local schools and businesses to create community initiatives and provide opportunities for young people can have prolific benefits for the wider community, building a village which everyone can enjoy and be proud of. From wildflower-planting to community litter-picking events and volunteer waste-collection schemes, I hope to create ways for residents of all ages to take part in direct actions, feel at home in their community, and see the positive impact of collaboration between individuals and an engaged local government.

Local action has global impact 

Climate change affects us all. From the car fume-filled air children breathe on the way to school, to the damage on local infrastructure. From worsening floods and increasingly unpredictable weather, all the way to increased food prices at the supermarket as land becomes drought-ridden and unproductive. From a local perspective, it can feel difficult to make a change. 

The Liberal Democrats have always sought to empower individuals, and this is precisely the action plan for Hersham to drive the change we deserve both in the village and beyond. With its current rate of ~6.2 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions a year, Surrey is set to use up its entire carbon budget* for the next 30 years before 2030. The county’s increasing population and energy consumption mean it’s likely we will hit this limit even sooner. 

So, what local action can we take?

Together, the Hersham community can create the changes we want to see: from cleaner air to homes that are more sustainable and cheaper to run. Already the Liberal Democrats on Elmbridge Borough Council have helped residents of nearby Walton and Weybridge to take direct action by providing new bins that recycle a wider array of materials and reduce landfill. A similar scheme in Hersham would make recycling easier and more accessible and encourage more people to reduce their carbon footprint – a win-win situation on all counts.

Transport is another area with huge scope for improvements that can be brought about by collaboration between an engaged community and a responsible local council. We can increase the uptake of electric vehicles through investing in more charging points and offering free parking schemes, in turn helping to reduce emissions and fuel bills. Likewise, safe roads and efficient public transport promote more cost-effective journeys by bike or bus. 

Concrete and other building materials are one of the biggest sources of CO2 emissions. Liberal Democrats throughout Elmbridge and Surrey campaign for competent contract management, ensuring that roads, potholes, and manhole covers are fixed and stay fixed, thereby reducing emissions as well as expense to residents. 

Time for change, time to care

Community is an upward-driving force – individuals with shared values coming together to create the home they need, and demanding better from those in charge. 

A vote for the Liberal Democrats is a step towards making these changes – for residents to preserve local democracy and enhance the places they call home. We can all make a difference for those we care about, and an engaged, representative local government is the ideal platform to help residents connect and unite to achieve this. 

Extinction is permanent. There is no Planet B. The best time to act is now. It’s time to care.

Chester Chandler is the candidate standing for Elmbridge Borough Council and Surrey County Council in the ward of Hersham. He has lived with his family in Elmbridge since 1994.

*based on Surrey’s population vs the International Panel on Climate Change’s global emissions budget until 2050