In May 2019, voters in Wealden chose three new Green Councillors, who are working hard to represent their wards. Here they are celebrating on results day: on the left, Keith Obbard, who represents Withyham on Wealden District Council; centre, Patricia Patterson-Vanegas, representing Forest Row on Wealden District Council; right, Colin Stocks, representing Jarvis Brook on Crowborough Town Council.
Cllr Keith Obbard
Keith was born and bred in Sussex. His interests have always been sustainability and rural affairs, and he spent 25 years running the successful Cherry Gardens Farm with his wife and family, the fourth generation to do so.
Keith is now retired from full time work and alongside his role as District Councillor, he runs a local gardening business with his daughter. He is an active member of the local Beekeepers Association, and Community Speedwatch, and is a Parish Councillor for Withyham.
At the District Council's debate on declaring a Climate Emergency in July 2019, Keith spoke for the vital importance of including protection of biodiversity in all planning. He will continue to make this a key element of his work on the council, especially within the Cabinet Advisory Group on the environment, which he has been asked to join.
Cllr Patricia Patterson-Vanegas
Patricia's background is in Economics and Finance, and she came to the UK in 1994 to read for a doctorate in Social Policy. She is a founding member of Climate Forest Row, which supports the worldwide campaign for divestment from fossil fuels, and a member of the Forest Row Energy Co-operative.
On becoming a District Councillor in May 2019, Patricia proposed a motion to declare a Climate Emergency. Two months later, the Conservative-controlled cabinet proposed its own report and the full council voted to declare a Climate Emergency in Wealden on July 24 2019. Patricia has been asked to join the Cabinet Advisory Group that will drive the changes Wealden needs to make to reduce its greenhouse emissions to zero.
Patricia's priorities for Forest Row are to work collaboratively to reopen the recycling centre, support strategies to reduce traffic speed, improve affordable housing, and protect public spaces.
Cllr Colin Stocks
Colin lives and works in Jarvis Brook and has been an active member of the community for many years. He founded, and is secretary of the Jarvis Brook Community Association. He is Community Speedwatch coordinator in Jarvis Brook, and secretary of Crowborough Fairtrade, which encourages the town's residents to buy Fairtrade in local shops. He is former trustee of the Wealden Residents Action Group CIC, which successfully workd to have more social housing built in the area. He was re-elected Town Councillor in May, having previously served in that role from 2007 to 2011, and been deputy mayor in 2010-2011. At the Council's Annual Statutory Meeting, Colin was elected Chair of the Environment Committee. He is trustee and volunteer driver for Wealdlink, a shopping services that helps isolated residents in Wealden to get out of the house to do their shopping.
We like to be informal and avoid too much hierarchy, so we keep our committee small. Here we are:
Chair: Sarah Butler
Sarah has lived with her family and worked in Groombridge for almost 30 years; she runs a small communications consultancy specialising in the voluntary sector. After a lifetime of individual environmental actions, she joined the Green Party ten years ago, and has a strong interest in sustainable local food production, renewable energy, and social justice.
Treasurer: Simon Crammond
Simon has lived in Isfield since 2004. He is a founding member of Isfield Community Enterprise, and a supporter of the Bonfire Society. His particular interests are helping Wealden to improve its recycling rate, and ensuring new housing developments are sustainable, well-designed, don't harm the environment, and include affordable homes for local families.
Secretary: Pam Tysh
Pam lives near Nutley, and works locally as a support worker with adults with learning difficulties. A key priority for Pam is working to make sure Wealden responds to the climate emergency by rapidly reducing its greenhouse emissions to zero. She is also keen to see more social housing in Wealden, with rents based on local incomes rather than house prices, and more affordable housing development on brownfield sites.
Campaign Manager: Melissa Petty
Melissa lives in Uckfield with her husband and works as a Physiotherapist for the NHS. Her local priorities are: protecting natural spaces; improving access for all to leisure activities, to help physical and mental health; providing energy-efficient housing for all; ensuring all Wealden and East Sussex council decisions are made in the light of the climate emergency.
Our members and supporters come from right across Wealden. Some help us by donating funds, many come out and campaign with us at election times, and a lively group of us are active all the time, working on campaigns, supporting our communities, getting practical stuff done like delivering meals to isolated older people or getting pot holes fixed.
If you'd like to join us, we'd love to hear from you. We're friendly, informal, and enjoy doing good things together.
To get in touch with any of us, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or find us on Facebook at facebook.com/WealdenGreenParty
Photo of Extinction Rebellion action, above left (c) Philip Volkers 2019.