Photo: John, Fi, me, Gwen, Sarah and Martin launching 10:10 which Fi got the district Council signed up to
Simon Pickering, ecologist working for a national renewable energy company, who was a Green councillor between 1991 and 2001 and highly respected as one of the most effective councillors is standing in Slade. Catherine Farrell, who has worked for Gloucestershire First and given advice on economic strategies is standing in Nailsworth with Norman Kay who has been Mayor of the Town - both are hugely active in local activities. Meanwhile in Valley ward Molly Scott Cato, a Green economist is standing - again someone who has been involved in lots of community activities.
Anyway to those leaving....Green Group leader on Stroud District Council Fi Macmillan has stood down in Nailsworth to spend more time with her children - it is a big commitment and if you do this job properly can mean three or four nights of the week ion meetings plus daytime meetings...anyhow it was not an easy decision for Fi - she is quoted in the press saying: "The great privilege has been to see parts of community life that would otherwise have remained hidden to me. Thank you to everyone who has supported my work."
Green Party Councillor Sarah Lunnon has also announced they she will be stepping down from Stroud District Council at the May’s local elections to concentrate on her work on Gloucestershire County Council. She said: “It is with a strange reluctance that I have decided not to stand again for Stroud District Council. Being a district councillor has been in turns frustrating, informative and occasionally humbling. I have been inspired by the commitment of the people I have come across: to bring bees to Stroud, to get children cycling to school, to revitalise their open green spaces. The bureaucracy and helpful advice received has now and again reduced me tears, and the generosity of people has been welcomed. I remain as Gloucestershire's Green county councillor and intend to concentrate on county issues. Thank you Valley ward; Stroud District Council I shall miss you.”
In the press release it says: "Cllr Lunnon's Green Party colleagues praised her for her work on road safety and on flood defences for Slad Road. Cllr Lunnon was heavily involved in water management issues and remains a member of the Slad Brook Action Group and the Stroud Valleys Water Forum. She also worked closely with the Summer Crescent Residents Association." I'm quoted saying: "Sarah has been a fantastic district councillor with a clear view of what is needed to make life better for the people she represents. We will miss her on the district council, but it is great to know she is there representing us all on the county council." Sarah's intelligence, humour and passion will be sorely missed at the District.
Lastly Cllr Gwen Belcher, 74, a lifelong Quaker, has four children and is a devoted grandmother, retires after 15 years of service as a district and town councillor. John Marjoram who has known Gwen for 44 years is quoted in the press release saying: “She's very warm; she's been a great support through my life in Stroud. You could always rely on Gwen to help. People say we're like an old married couple as we're always arguing on the street!
Meanwhile Gloucestershire Green Party Coordinator Carol Kambites said: “She's incredible. Two things strike me about her: one is her spirit and her enthusiasm, and the other is her determination to represent the people who elect her. She has such diligence. Gwen has a record of service stretching back decades: she set up a mother-and-baby home in the 1970s that accommodated six single mothers. It stayed open until the mid-1990s."
Politically, she joined the Green Party in 1985. She served as a district councillor for 15 years and as a town councillor for Slade ward for 10 years. She's also worked for Oxfam and campaigned for Amnesty. Gwen was particularly proud last year of seeing the fruition of a campaign to provide short-term housing for homeless young people, which culminated in the opening of the” Season House”, which she described as "a dream that came true".
Cllr Marjoram added: “Gwen’s strengths are that she's a very people person. She’s been very strong on social and council housing issues on the council. She does a lot of case work and follows up disputes between neighbours and tries to sort things out. Gwen's philosophy is not to be confrontational as a councillor and to work constructively with others to improve the well-being of local people.”
Cllr Belcher, is quoted giving advice for her successor: "By walking everywhere locally, I regularly meet the people I represent. I also travel on local buses, which are a perfect venue for impromptu surgeries – I recommend them! I am delighted that Simon Pickering is standing in my place. When he was on the council with me, he was an excellent councillor, particularly on council housing matters."