Following a vote of no-confidence in the leader of the Conservative administration, in July of 2017, Councillors adopted a more inclusive and adventurous strategy with a ‘rainbow’ cabinet formed of independent green and labour party members.
The Green presence on the Council has been positively remarkable and transformative. Punching well above their weight, Green Councillors very much act as the conscience of the Council, reminding members of the need to protect the natural world, to support young and old, vulnerable, and struggling, through the rapidly changing circumstances we find ourselves in.
Green councillors across the country are building a good reputation for their hard-work in caring for people and place and Forest of Dean councillors are no exception.
Fortunately, we do not have to guess what a Greener Council might look like – since green councillors were elected, they have shown us just a little of what things could be like.
The Green Party has seven hard working District Councillors making a real difference in the Forest of Dean, both in their wards and district wide.
Beki Hoyland (Bakeney and Bream division)
Beki Hoyland moved to the Forest of Dean in the early ninties. In 1994 she started Dean Community Compost in Newnham, collecting kitchen and garden waste, before the days this was done by councils; composting it, selling it back to local gardeners and using it to grow veg on a small scale. As part of the team that started the Community Composting Network she worked on a national level to promote composting as a way of dealing with core issues around climate change.
Working closely with the incredible Biodynamic Garden at Oaklands Park she started and ran a veg box scheme of 100 boxes a week delivering to Newnham, Blakeney, and up through Yorkley to Bream and Littledean alongside the composting project.
Since 2009 she worked as a gardener and became the gardening teacher at Wynstones School in Gloucester, working with the Steiner curriculum and the school to develop a wide, practical land based experience, gaining experience of working with children of all ages in an outdoor setting.
In 2010 Beki was a core part of the team that started Blakeney Hill Growers, a community small holding, growing veg, milking goats, tending bees, ducks, chickens and a beautiful hillside meadow. She is still an active member and sees it as a positive creative way to strengthen and develop the local community providing the opportunity for everyone to connect with the land.
As for many people life has moved on since the start of the pandemic and Beki is now working on a project funded through Rewild by Thirty Percy teaching gardening in three local Primary Schools and is excited about bringing practical outdoor learning to more children as well as hoping to effect positive change and build resilience in her local community by working with the Green Party and being a Green Councillor at County level.
Cllr Chris McFarling (St Briavels) joint deputy leader and cabinet member for the climate emergency and planning
Chris is currently Joint Deputy Leader of Forest of Dean District Council.
Chris proposed the motion to Council in December 2018, winning unanimous support from cross party members to declare a Climate Emergency.
He has been in office as a hard-working local parish councillor, and school governor for Redbrook and St Briavels Primary schools for nearly 10 years.
A passionate campaigning figure and leader he has lived and worked in the Forest of Dean for nearly 20 years now. Chris lives with his family on St Briavels common, working as a part-time handyman. Throughout his life he has volunteered for charities for the homeless and in nature conservation.
His commitment to the Green movement began whilst working as a naturalist guide in Ecuador, though he also worked with the BBC Natural History Unit for 7 years. Chris co-founded the Galapagos Conservation Trust in the UK to help protect the enchanted islands Charles Darwin visited in 1835.
Locally, Chris has fought for years against quarry extension in the Dean, particularly at Stowe Hill, Clearwell, where planning permission was unfortunately granted in 2020 to extend the quarry if the status of the Slade Brook SSSI was not compromised.
Chris continues to fight against the expansion of Clearwell Farm’s intensive poultry rearing business on grounds that it is harming the protected bat roosts and ancient woodland that adjoin the site.
He was a fervent supporter of the Hands Off Our Forest (HOOF) campaign and is now championing the Hands off Lydney & the Dilke (HOLD) campaign in the face of plans to build one single hospital in the Cinderford area.
In 2015 he was elected as the first ever green councillor on the Forest of Dean District Council. In July 2017, he was asked to serve on the new ‘rainbow’ cabinet to hold the environment, wildlife, heritage and culture portfolios. He exercised strategic oversight of environmental health, waste and recycling services.
Chris was elected as a District Councillor in the St. Briavels ward in May 2019, taking 81% of the vote against his conservative opponent. He was asked to serve on the new cabinet as member for planning policy, performance & shared working, and climate emergency. Chris says: "I am committed to tackling inequality and improving the chances for everyone to flourish, and in particular our young people. We have to open up opportunities on two fronts at once: working locally on issues such as jobs, education and services, and at the same time, fighting global threats to everyone's future such as climate change, pandemics and plastic pollution of our oceans."
Chris has a genuine love for the Forest district, considers carefully all ways in which he can improve people's lives and the place we live in, and fosters partnerships to work together to tackle common problems collectively. No wonder he stood as a parliamentary candidate in the general election of December 2019, winning an encouraging 9.1% of the vote (the 7th highest % for a Green candidate nationally). He is keen to stand again should the opportunity arise to lead the Forest to a healthier, happier and more prosperous future.
See the positive things that Sid and Chris McFarling have been doing on the Council here.
Cllr Andy Moore (Pillowell) member of scrutiny committee
Andy is a member of the Green Party in the Forest of Dean.
Cllr Nicky Packer (Newnham) member of the planning and scrutiny committees
Nicky is a vocal critic of the Cinderford Northern Quarter development and one of her ambitions in becoming a councillor is to influence forward planning policy in the district to take more account of wildlife. She is delighted to serve the vibrant communities in the Newnham ward.
Nicky Packer was born in Wiltshire, then moved to London to college and then to work. She was delighted to be able to move to Gloucestershire, the county of her father's birth, in 1999. She has lived in Ruspidge since 2009.
Working as an architectural technician has given Nicky a wide experience of the planning system. While living in London, she successfully challenged development plans. This led to the creation of a community wildlife park and the creation of a wildlife corridor and community footpath.
Nicky has often challenged inappropriate developments in the Forest of Dean.
Cllr Sid Phelps (Lydbrook & Ruardean) cabinet member for the environment, culture and heritage including waste, AONBs and flooding
Forest of Dean District Council Cabinet Member for Environment, Wildlife, Heritage and Culture (also inc Waste and Recycling and AONB Designation).
As District Councillor for Lydbrook, Sid has raised issues that are important to his ward — sucessfully pushing for the opening of the footpath across Black Bridge, the introduction of beavers to alleviate the flood risk to Lydbrook, questioning the lack of affordable housing provision in new housing developments and Road Safety at Worrall Hill.
Since being elected in a by-election in February 2017, Sid has certainly left his mark on the FoDDC. A motion on Transparency & Openness has resulted in just that, with the default position being all meetings being open to the public unless there is a good reason not to. Also Council meetings are now live-streamed. Further motions on Affordable Housing, Viability Assessments (used for developers to default on obligations) and Empty Homes – shows that the Greens are as passionately concerned about people and society as they are about the environment.
Sid was born in a military hospital in West Germany and settled in the family homestead at Worrall Hill as an infant where he was raised. He left the Forest in the early 1980s to go to university and came home in 2012 after raising a family and having a successful career in environmental regulation and pollution control.
Sid had 4 years experience as an Oxford City Councillor before being elected to the Forest of Dean District council in a by-election in February 2017. Since then, he has certainly made his mark on issues affecting Lydbrook and the wider district. Sid is looking forward to further greening the district council especially on issues of Social Justice and trying to mitigate against the almost inevitable fallout from Climate Chaos.
See the positive things that Sid and Chris McFarling have been doing on the current Council here.
Mark Topping (Lydney West and Aylburton) member of the licensing committee
“The climate emergency is what has led me to step up my involvement with the Green Party. It’s more important than ever that we have a strong voice if we’re going to be effective in standing up for the planet.”
With his daughter, Saskia, he helped get School Strike protests going at the cross in Lydney.
He is working with Aylburton Parish Council and the Forest of Dean District Council to switch to managing grassland in a way that has the maximum benefit for wildlife.
Mark is ward councillor for Lydney West & Aylburton. He lives with his wife and children in Aylburton.
Dave Wheeler (Newland and Sling) Chair of the planning committee
Dave has lived in Redbrook for over 40 years. For over 25 years he has worked in the social housing sector and is currently employed as part of the homelessness team in a neighbouring local authority.
Dave has been a Newland Parish Councillor for 35 years. David is an active member of Redbrook Together, believing that communities can best help themselves by creating community energy. Working as a homelessness officer, he sees first hand how we are failing the most vulnerable in our society. ‘I passionately believe that everyone has a right to equality of opportunity in employment; education; housing and health care.’
We also have eleven Parish and Town Councillors working to make a difference in the Forest:
We have a team of volunteer officers and committee members who run the local party and co-ordinate our activities.
Rachel Pardoe - Treasurer
The Green Party is not funded by big business, nor is it funded by the Unions. All of our money comes from our membership, direct debits, voluntary tithe from our District Councillors and one-off donations from supporters.
Andy Wright - Press Officer
Andy is our link with the press locally and ensures that our many activities and succeses are publicly communicated.
Contact Andy at firstname.lastname@example.org
Jackie Dale - Party Co-ordinator
Jackie Dale has lived in Yorkley for four years but has lived in the Forest of Dean all of her life other than a short spell in Cornwall. She works for the NHS as a Bereavement and Medical Examiner's Officer and previously worked as a registered nurse for the NHS specialising in renal medicine and for a charity in Cornwall specialising in drugs and alcohol detox and rehabilitation.
Since living in Yorkley she has helped to set up the Yorkley Newsletter, has joined the local gardening group, and regularly helps out at the Mend and Repair café. She loves the Forest of Dean, its extraordinary diversity, and quirky character. She cares deeply about the welfare of the people who live here and the wonderful woods and wildlife that surround us. This is what motivated her to join the Green party.
You can contact our local co-ordinators via email@example.com
John Turville - Party Co-ordinator
I have owned property in the District for the last 30 years and have lived here for the last 15 years.
Farming has been my background business for most of my life. However, I have been fortunate to develop other business interests alongside which add to my experience and understanding. These have been in international production and trade but more currently are with commercial property development and operation and in consultancy services linked to renewable energy production and agriculture.
I have no intention of leaving the district and feel that now is the time to provide energy and support for local public and environmental gain by serving as a district councillor for the Ward of Hartpury and Redmarley. My interests are set in protecting the environment and preserving a future for our children’s children. Therefore, as a councillor I will exert any influence I can to prevent damage to, mitigate against and to enhance the ecosystem and its environment.
The future for our children and their children should be any opportunity for the district to develop and set as a national example. The district council have declared that we are facing a climate change emergency and I feel the council in acceptance will be able allow and support innovation to get us through the effects of climate change and create a future.
You can contact our local co-ordinators via firstname.lastname@example.org
Victoria Burton-Davey - Website and Social Media Coordinator
Victoria is a Green Party member,
artist and media consultant