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Use your votes - to help Save the Planet!

Updated: May 23

<<2024 is a bumper year to use our democratic power to shape the future. Our four webpages cover climate issues, key dates and our options for who to vote for. Do scroll down - they're updated all the time. And keep us in touch (contact@climateactionnewcastle.co) with new developments, queries and info. >>


As well as this summary "Use Your Vote" page, check out:

  • Local Council Election follow-up: details here

  • Mayoral Election follow-up: details here

  • General Election 4 July: details here.


ALL-IMPORTANT DATES TO ENSURE YOU WILL HAVE A VOTE ON 4 July

  • Deadline to register to vote: Tuesday 18 June

  • Deadline to apply for a postal vote: 5pm Wed 19 June

  • Deadline to apply for a proxy vote: 5pm Wed 26 June

  • TIMES WHEN YOU CAN VOTE ON ELECTION DAY: 7am to 10pm


WHY FOLLOW-UPS TO OUR LOCAL and MAYORAL ELECTIONS MATTER!

Our local authorities, including Newcastle Council, announced in April 2019 that we are in a climate emergency. Their climate plans aim to reduce the council’s carbon emissions to carbon neutral by 2030 - but the independently assessed Climate Scorecards suggest progress is far too slow (see detailed scores below). And scientists and the UN underlined at COP28 that global efforts so far are unlikely to achieve the Paris Agreement goal of keeping temperature rises below 1.5 degrees.

We also have Mayoral elections for an enlarged authority covering North and South of the Tyne - its budget will be £6 billion. Local newspaper report on background here, and this blog explains why transport and the regional economy are crucial issues. You can see details of candidates to be our next Mayor, below. Our local, Mayoral and national representatives have to act more quickly to switch to a sustainable future for us all. More info here.


THIS GUIDE HELPS YOU TO HAVE A VOICE:

  • Sign up to be a "Climate Voter": info here on Greenpeace campaign.

  • Contact your local candidates - the final list is available after close of nominations on 4pm Friday 5 April 2024, but you can contact many of them before then. Ways to get in touch are listed below.

  • Quiz the candidates - see our suggested questions below (and send us your ideas to add to them!

  • Make your vote count!


Mayoral Elections: YOUR CANDIDATES:

  • Conservative Party: info here on Guy Renner-Thompson

  • Green Party: info here on Andrew Gray

  • Independent candidate: info here on Jamie Driscoll

  • Labour Party: info here on Kim McGuiness

  • Liberal Democrats: info here on Dr Aidan King

  • Reform Party: info here on Paul Donaghy


Local Elections: HOW TO FIND OUT WHO YOUR CANDIDATES ARE:

  • Election literature: many households receive information on candidates through newsletters delivered to the house

  • This link will help trace information about candidates in your part of our local area: the candidates nominated, their party, contact details etc will be added after the deadline for nominations: https://candidates.democracyclub.org.uk/help/about NB not all candidates enter their personal contact info.

  • Some candidates may take part in local hustings – let us know if you attend any and whether you asked about climate change (and what the answers were!)


INFO TO FIND OUT YOUR CANDIDATES' VIEWS ON CLIMATE BREAKDOWN ISSUES

Below is a list of supporter ideas for questions to put to candidates. To share more ideas, use "Lets' Chat" (right) or the message form (below)


  • Clean air and public transport – "Air quality is especially poor close to schools and major roads, affecting vulnerable people (particularly children), but bus usage continues to fall. What will you do to boost use of public transport, reduce use of cars and improve air quality?"

  • Protecting our green spaces – "The council has given the go-ahead to housing that threatens wildlife and plants in several precious green spaces. Why do council plans not target housing developments away from those areas?"

  • Rising energy prices and fuel poverty – "How will the council help people who need the most assistance to reduce their energy consumption, and reduce the impact of climate change on the most vulnerable?"

  • Fossil fuel investment: our taxes are used by the local council's pension scheme to invest more than £340m a year in oil, gas and coal (Tyne & Wear Pension Fund is used by six local councils and more than 300 local employers)

  • Ask councillors who are standing again to sign the 2024 divestment pledge:

“If elected, I will do all I can to ensure the council pension fund ends investment in fossil fuels within the next five years and invests in a just transition to a zero-carbon economy.”

Please provide them this link to complete the required form. There's excellent info on this webpage about the pledge.

Please forward any responses you receive (positive or negative) to divest.TW@assembly.org.uk so that we and the Divest Tyne & Wear campaign group can publicise the results of your lobbying. We want as many voters as possible to see who has supported the pledge and who has not.

Background info about your council can be seen in a 2022 local election survey of council policies by campaign group Divest Tyne & Wear: link to homepage here (then please selected "Projects" dropdown). Since then, Gateshead Council and North Tyneside Council have written to Tyne & Wear Pension Fund with challenges to its current fossil fuel investments.


HOW OUR LOCAL COUNCILS HAVE ACTED (OR NOT!) ON FOSSIL FUEL INVESTMENT

Tell your candidates: Act on fossil fuel investment by Tyne & Wear Pension Fund

  • Please tell your council and Mayoral candidates that you don't want your money to fuel climate breakdown and harm our futures. Call on them to tell Tyne & Wear Pension to reduce and remove its fossil fuel investment.

  • This money comes from our pockets - from local council tax payments and pension contributions. The forthcoming elections are a rare chance for local people to hold decision makers to account.

  • The Tyne & Wear Pension Fund has one of the biggest investments in fossil fuels of all UK council schemes, and invests above the average.

A year ago, for the UK Day of Action on Divestment, the Divest Tyne & Wear campaign delivered Letters to the Leaders of six local authorities that run the scheme. This is how they've responded - we hope this will help you when deciding what to request from your candidates and how you will vote.

  • Gateshead (Labour-run): led the way, with the first challenge to Tyne & Wear PF over its investment plans (supported by Lib Dems who seconded the motion)

  • North Tyneside (Labour-run): also took a stand and requested change

  • Newcastle (Labour-run): dialogue with Leader, and pension fund representative has regularly queried and challenged specific investments and approaches

  • Sunderland (Labour-run): positive responses, close interest in the issues

  • Northumberland (Conservative-run): dialogue with Leader and others, taken up small number of practical issues about public involvement with pension fund, ruling Conservative group opted to abstain (not oppose or support) a motion to request pension fund divestment 

  • South Tyneside (Labour-run): no responses of any kind - Leader has not replied to letters, has not engaged in discussion about future welfare of local residents or workforce and the link between fossil fuel investment and accelerating climate breakdown. Of its six representatives, only one - David Herbert (Green Party) - has regularly queried details of the fossil fuel investment.

  • In addition, of local councils not involved in running the pension scheme, Hexham Council has called for divestment - it would be great if other local councils could be urged to do the same.

The Divest Tyne & Wear campaign is happy to provide more info to supporters who wish to raise any of these points with candidates ahead of the 2 May elections. This campaign website has more info, including the sums contributed by each council to Tyne & Wear Pension Fund.


CLIMATE SCORECARDS

Overall Climate Score for six local councils. This annual assessment is based on scores for separate sections (e.g. Waste, Transport). Covers 1st January 2019 to 31st March 2023

  • Newcastle City Council: 37% - details here

  • Sunderland City Council: 31% - details here

  • North Tyneside Council: 27% - details here

  • Gateshead Council: 29% - details here

  • South Tyneside: 26% - details here

(Northumberland County Council: 26% - details here. As this council is not single tier, it is based on a slightly different scoring system than the previous five councils)

More info here. Free training on how to use the Scorecard is available. Climate Action Newcastle plans to develop our use of this, with a public accountability event later in 2024.


ANY QUESTIONS ABOUT MAKING SURE YOU CAN USE YOUR VOTE?

Remember: 2024 is the SECOND time we voters will be asked for ID cards. More info here.


NEWCASTLE: phone: 0191 278 7878, email: elections@newcastle.gov.uk, webpage: here

GATESHEAD: phone: 0191 433 7001, email: electoralregistration@gateshead.gov.uk, webpage: here

NORTH TYNESIDE: phone: 0191 643 4270, email: elections@northtyneside.gov.uk, webpage: here SOUTH TYNESIDE: phone: 0191 424 7230, email: elections@southtyneside.gov.uk, webpage: here SUNDERLAND: phone: 0191 520 5550, email: elections@sunderland.gov.uk, webpage: here

NORTHUMBERLAND: Elections Office - phone: 01670 624811 email: Elections@northumberland.gov.uk webpage: https://www.northumberland.gov.uk/elections.aspx


TIMES WHEN YOU CAN VOTE ON ELECTION DAY

Times to vote at polling station: 7am to 10pm


AND AFTER ALL YOUR EFFORTS TO GIVE CLIMATE ISSUES A VOICE BEFORE THE ELECTIONS, AND MAKE YOUR VOTE COUNT, PLEASE DON'T STOP LOBBYING AFTER THE ELECTIONS HAVE BEEN AND GONE!

It's still valuable to ask your Local Councillors to sign the Councillor Divestment Pledge - find out their views well in advance of the next election! The UK Divest campaigning group is happy to help you track down your councillor and send the message. https://www.divest.org.uk/act-now/


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Francesca Maguire
Francesca Maguire
May 01, 2022

A list of local polling stations can be found here! https://www.newcastle.gov.uk/services/local-elections-may-2022-0#ps

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