A local councillor was arrested in London on Sunday (13 October) as part of the Extinction Rebellion protests.
Cllr Ben Foley, who is one of the Green Party representatives for Castle Ward, was taking part in a climate crisis demonstration outside New Scotland Yard at the weekend.
In a statement to the press, Cllr Foley expressed his frustration at local and central governments’ failure to grasp the enormity of the climate crisis.
He said, “I have signed petitions, I have taken part in utterly conventional symbolic protests.
“This planet, our house, the only house, is on fire. I have done all I can to call to action those who should be acting as a fire brigade, but still they are dithering.”
His arrest was caught on camera as part of a film made by Extinction Rebellion (see below). He is interviewed at 3:26 and the arrest is at 5:14.
Cllr Foley’s full statement to the press read:
‘I am a Green Party councillor on Bedford Borough Council.
‘I was arrested on 13 October 2019 where I was held, in pain, at Charing Cross Police Station, London, before being released after about four hours.
‘What exactly I was doing on 13 October 2019, and where, is for the authorities to prove. But I was doing it out of necessity.
‘I have stood for election multiple times (with success the most recent time).
‘But it is clear to me that our electoral system is deeply biased with the vested interests that have substantial sums of money, prepared to spend them to defend those vested interests through the political system.
‘Our political system is not one of equal democratic voice, but one where those who control large sums of money having by far the largest voices.
‘I have signed petitions, I have taken part in utterly conventional symbolic protests.
‘I have fought and continue to fight elections. I am now a Borough Councillor in Bedford. Bedford Borough, like Parliament, has accepted that we are in a “climate emergency”.
‘But neither the UK Government, nor the Borough Council executive are working to get the area they are responsible for to be carbon neutral significantly before 2050. That is decades too late.
‘The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change tells us that to have a reasonable chance of avoiding catastrophic climate breakdown, we have until 2030 (provided we in the meantime find ‘negative carbon technologies’ and deploy on a mass scale). Neither the UK Government, nor Bedford Borough Council are ACTING on the emergency.
‘This planet, our house, the only house, is on fire. I have done all I can to call to action those who should be acting as a fire brigade, but still they are dithering.’
Cllr Foley’s arrest follows that of Bedford’s Olympic gold medal winner, Etienne Stott, who was arrested earlier this year at another Extinction Rebellion protest
At the time, Etienne said: “I don’t think there is anything more meaningful that I could be doing in my life right now.”
The Bedford Indepdendent contacted Bedford Borough Council for a comment, but hadn’t received one by the time of publication.