Bedford welcomes its first Green Party councillors

Cllr Lucy Bywater

There were a number of ‘firsts’ in the recent local elections, including the selection of Bedford Borough’s first representatives from the Green Party.

Lucy Bywater and Ben Foley were elected in Castle Ward on Thursday 2 May, replacing David Fletcher (Con) and Luigi Reale (Lab).

Lucy would be the first to admit, it was a long time coming.

“I’ve described it as the longest job interview in history,” joked Lucy when the Bedford Independent met up with her a few days after they were announced as councillors.

“I’ve been a member of the Green Party for 15 years and have been campaigning on environmental issues in Bedford for around 12 years.

I helped set up the Rothsay Herb Garden many years ago as part of Zero Carbon Castle and have stood as the Green candidate twice before.

Recently, however, there’s definitely been a change of attitude among people we talk to on the doorstep.”

Environmental issues have been hitting the headlines recently and this has had an impact on the ballot box.

“Extinction Rebellion has highlighted that we can’t carry on as if it’s ‘business as usual’,” said Lucy.

“David Attenborough has also had a big effect on the national consciousness. For the Greens it was so heartening to see these issues in the mainstream media.”

Dave Hodgson, Bedford’s elected Mayor, declared a Climate Emergency at the Borough in March and following his re-election, has assembled a climate change committee to oversee the Council’s dedication to becoming carbon zero by 2030.

Read: Bedford Borough Council declares ‘climate emergency’

“We were really pleased to see the Mayor declare a Climate Emergency,” said Lucy.

“There’s a massive shift in the right direction at the Council, but it has to be ambitious enough.

“Although the Green Party now has representation, there are only two of us.

Despite that, we’re really positive about the impact we can have and we want to work with councillors across all parties – and listen to residents and experts – to make a difference.”

You can find out more about the Rothsay Herb Garden at their open day on Saturday 25 May (10am – 3pm). New volunteers are always welcome.