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North Devon Green Party

About your Local Party:

We meet centrally (in Barnstaple) once a month (1st Wednesday) for formal meetings, with irregular ‘extra’ meetings as and when (e.g. sub-groups for leaflets, strategy, campaigning etc).

Three years ago, our Party engineered an amicable ‘schism’, splitting into two to represent the two separate parliamentary constituencies (North Devon, and Torridge and West Devon).

We currently have 120 active/’paid-up’ members, of whom I’d hazard 10% are reliably ‘active’. However, their subscriptions (‘capitations’ – they join nationally but a % comes back to us) are warmly received.

We also have a database of about 350 supporters, with whom we maintain contact but who rarely react/respond. But at least they remain informed and, presumably, ‘on-side’.

Despite the (relative!) distances, we are a pretty connected region, thanks mostly to the ease of contact brought by the web and social media. As such, we maintain strong on-line connections with myriad local and national activist organisations.

Do you have any elected representatives?

Yes.  Since 2015 (the last round of parish and District elections), we have gained two Cllrs on Ilfracombe Town Council (Frank and Netti Pearson); three Cllrs on Braunton Parish Council (Brad Bunyard, Gwen de Groot & Liz Webb); one Cllr on Barnstaple Town Council (Matt Chamings); one Cllr on Fremington Parish Council (Lou Goodger) and one Cllr on Georgeham Parish Council (Mike Harrison).

Prior to 2015, we only had two Cllrs in position.

Not through lack of trying, we still do not have any Cllrs on what we term ‘principal authorities’, at District or County level. We’d love to get to know the difficulties you face in the US in getting elected representation.

About your Locality 

The best means of gleaning basic info about our region is Wikipedia – so please click on the hyperlink to North Devon here.

Some basics: approaching 100,000 people live here, nearly all ethnically ‘white’. Politically reactionary, right-wing. The populist/nationalist United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) is (was!) strong here. Power rests with the Tories, although the Liberal Democrats are traditionally strong here too, in contrast to the Labour Party, which doesn’t have much influence or support here at all, other than by ‘inertia’. A popular destination for retirement, mainly due to the fantastic countryside and stunning tourist destinations – fabulous beaches (Saunton, Croyde, Putsborough, Woolacombe – check them out)), great surf, picturesque quaint ‘typically English’ villages (take a look at Clovelly!), a rugged coastline, awesome coastal path (hundreds of miles of it), Exmoor itself - unspoilt/magical - a World Heritage site (Braunton Burrows), Lundy Island (‘to die for’!) – and, as they say, LOTS MORE!

Barnstaple is the main town, approx. 30,000 and growing (where I was born and have lived and worked here most of my life) – twinned with Barnstable, Massachusetts. Other larger communities are Braunton, Ilfracombe, Combe Martin, Lynton & Lynmouth, South Molton.

There is a railway that connects us to the wider world – the ‘Tarka Line’ from Exeter to Barnstaple is something special, although tragically, the lines from Barnstaple onto Bideford and Ilfracombe were closed back in the 50s. Very short sighted. Upside being, the track along the Taw and Torridge confluence/estuary has been converted into a cycle path – and walking/biking along there is an utter delight for all ages. Some years ago, the ‘Link’ road (A361) connecting us to the motorway system was upgraded, which renders getting to us a lot easier. Both a blessing and a curse!

North Devon is essentially a rural, agrarian landscape and its economy is based upon agriculture and tourism. There is only a small industrial/manufacturing base, mainly small factories with a limited work-force. The largest employers are the local Hospital and the two secondary schools.

About your Campaign activities

Our major campaign at the moment is ‘Save Our Hospital Services’ (SOHS – Save our National Health Service). Several of our most inspirational activists have lead this campaign locally and county-wide since its inception several years ago. I don’t think North Devon has ever mounted such a successful grass-roots cross-party campaign before and I’m proud of its success, its credibility and its mushrooming support.

Prior to that, we lead a 6-year campaign to defeat the massed NIMBY-ranks of the climate-change deniers and head-in-the-sand non-representatives (aka local councils and Councillors) to ensure that 22 wind turbines could be erected just outside Barnstaple. A sweet victory against all odds. Emboldened by that, we took on the same dark forces to win again with 9 more turbines just outside South Molton. This compensated for the defeat over our opposition to build a £42 million down-stream transport bridge across our amazing River Taw, the third fastest tidal flow in the world and a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

Just because ‘Fracking’ is not (yet) threatening our immediate environment, we tend to support anti-fracking campaigns elsewhere in the UK, concentrating instead on more locally relevant issues, such as renewable energy, the badger-cull, unsustainable agricultural practices, clean seas and beaches, plastic pollution, unnecessary developments (especially on green-field sites), homelessness, child poverty (which, sad to say, is a real issue here) and the erosion of two of the jewels in our UK crown (no, NOT the Royal Family!) – the NHS and State Education.

About your Communications mediums

We really try to keep up with the developments via the Internet of social media communications. Here are a few links:

There are many other North Devon-based Facebook sites to which we have an affiliation – links to more of these can be found on our main website.


How will you feedback to your local party members about your twinning activity?

We send out an electronic monthly info-sheet (Gre’engage) to all members and supporters and there are also regular updates from the regional party. I have alerted all 43 South West Green Party groups to this initiative to establish links with US GPs and have specifically mentioned this opportunity in the last two monthly newsletters to our North Devon followers. As such, that is what Lucie and I would intend to do: maintain a regular monthly feature or report-back, in the hope/expectation that readers will become more involved, and, wow, more responsive!

Is your town/city twinned with anywhere?  E.g civic/local authority twinning:

Yes.  There is already a civic twinning with Barnstable, Massachusetts; also with Stadt Uelzen in northern Germany (near Hanover), Susa in Italy and Trouville in northern France. There are plans to twin with a community in Scandinavia: Harstad.


Communication with you Twinning Party

E-mail, Skype, Twitter and Facebook are the mediums we are most confident with. This has clearly already commenced!


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