Jul 20

Green World Obituary: Denise Michell 1952-2020

Denise – as Mayor of Glastonbury – with Michael Eavis and Charles Hazlewood during the Last Bank Standing ‘Jerusalem’ Flash Mob in 2016.

Councillor Jon Cousins, Green Mayor of Glastonbury, pays tribute to Denise Michell, Archdruidess, Elder Ovate and Bard, ‘Fairy Queen’, and twice Green Mayor of Glastonbury.

First published in ‘Green World’ magazine – Wednesday, 24th June 2020.

Denise Michell 11th August 1952 – 22nd June 2020

Denise Michell (née Price) was born on 11th August 1952, and spent her early years in Barkingside, Redbridge.

She came to live in Glastonbury in 1997 and was an Archdruidess of the Glastonbury Order of Druids from 1998 to 2007 – subsequently becoming a founding member, Elder Ovate and Bard of the Gorsedh Ynys Witrin, Glastonbury’s Bardic College.

In April 2007, Denise married the celebrated author John Michell (1933–2009) at a ceremony held in Glastonbury’s St Benedict’s Church. It was a long courtship – they had first met 34 years earlier, when she was 21 and he was 40.

Partly in response to the government’s proposal that Hinkley Point C in Somerset would be one of the eight newly commissioned Nuclear Power Stations, Denise joined Glastonbury’s Green Party branch in 2010, and became an active campaigner encouraging local people to register to vote.

As Archdruidess, her profile helped to build support, and the local branch experienced a ‘Green Surge’ in 2010/11, which resulted in four Greens being elected to Glastonbury Town Council in May 2011 – Denise being one of the ‘Green Four’.

During their first term, Glastonbury’s Green Councillors implemented a Glastonbury ‘Green’ Charter for the Environment, installed solar panels onto the roof of the Town Hall, declared Glastonbury a Frack Free Council, and resolved to oppose the building of Hinkley C Nuclear Power Station.

Denise as Mayor Glastonbury (2nd left) with, L-R: Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb, Molly Scott Cato, Cllrs Jon Cousins and Emma George (second and third Green Mayors of Glastonbury respectively).

As Glastonbury’s Green surge continued, reflected by the national surge in membership from late 2014 onwards (turning Greens into the third largest party in England and Wales), Denise was re-elected in 2015 to become the 316th (and first ‘Green’) Worshipful Mayor of Glastonbury. Her first Mayoral resolution was to join the international anti-nuclear movement ‘Mayors For Peace’, a membership that all succeeding Mayors of Glastonbury have maintained.

As a councillor, Denise was a champion of Glastonbury’s ‘Beltane’ May Day festivities and the town’s annual Frost Fayre. Indeed, when she was first elected, she discovered that the 2011 Frost Fayre was in danger of being cancelled – and decided to take on the coordination of the event, helping to turn the Frost Fayre into a huge success, which has gone from strength to strength – so well attended and popular in 2019 that hundreds of would-be visitors were not even able to enter the town.

In their second term, Glastonbury Greens expanded to seven elected councillors, and took minority control of the town council. During this time, they banned the use of glyphosate on all public land – moving to a non-toxic weed control system, became the first council in Somerset to be ‘single-use plastic free’, and the first to declare a Climate Emergency – pledging to make council operations carbon-neutral by 2030.

In 2019, being returned as a town councillor for a third term (as part of nine Green town councillors – a majority!), Denise joined the small company of people who have been twice elected Mayor of Glastonbury.

During her second Mayoralty, she oversaw Glastonbury becoming the second ‘Earth Protector Town’ in the World – calling for an Amendment to The Rome Statute to include a Law against Ecocide.

When asked recently what it was like to be a councillor, Denise replied: “Working within the community I listen closely to what people would like to see happen in our town now and in the future, and – as a councillor – I can help bring change for the benefit of everyone in our community.”

Glastonbury’s ‘Green Four’ with Caroline Lucas at Hinkley Point in 2012 L-R: Jon Cousins, Caroline Lucas, Alyson Black, Denise, and Ian Forster.

Denise passed away in the early hours of Monday 22nd June 2020. News of her death was announced by her children Zig, Zoe, Rowan and Leah on social media: “It is with broken hearts that we must share with you that our mum has completed her journey here on Earth and is now on her way to join the ancestors in the stars. Thank you to each and every one of you who has been a part of our mum’s life adventures. We ask that you light a candle, say a prayer and send her on her way with love. Love and light. May there be peace in the sacred grove.”

Personally, I am devastated by the passing of my dear friend. Denny was an incredible person, who loved Glastonbury to the core of her being and did so much for our community. She will be greatly missed. On behalf of Glastonbury Council and the local Green Party, I send my deepest condolences to her family.

Click here to view the obituary in ‘Green World’.

Nov 19

General Election Announcement for the Wells Constituency

With the general election approaching, the local Green Parties with members living in the Wells constituency were asked by the national party to stand aside our constituency candidate. This part of a series of electoral arrangements known as Unite to Remain which involves The Green Party, Liberal Democrats, and Plaid Cymru aiming to encourage as many remain constituency victories as possible.

Wells is a Lib Dem target seat. In exchange, they are standing aside in nine key Green target constituencies.

Having balloted members in the Wells constituency last week, the Green Party will not be fielding a candidate in Wells.

Deals such as this also provoke controversy and unhappiness, as the recent news coverage has highlighted. But while our electoral system remains unreformed, these sorts of deals represent the best chance the Green Party has at gaining further representation in Parliament. Given the political crisis and climate emergency, this has never been more crucial.

May 19

Molly is re-elected!

The Green Party is celebrating a spectacular election result that has seen the number of MEPs in England double, rising from three to seven!

The first Brussels Green Party representatives were elected in the Eastern, North West, West Midlands, and Yorkshire and Humber regions.  Greens seats were retained in London, the South East, and here in the South West, where Molly Scott Cato was re-elected.

Nationally, our votes topped 2 million and we finished fourth in the total vote above the Conservative Party, the first time the Greens have beaten the Tories in a national election...

Green co-leader, Sian Berry, said: “Following on from our spectacular local election results where we more than doubled our representation, tonight’s result is proof of the size and power of the Green Wave that is sweeping across the country.  Our message of ‘yes to Europe, no to climate change’ clearly resonated strongly with voters, many of whom will have been casting their vote for our party for the first time.  We topped the poll in Bristol, Norwich, and Brighton and Hove, and scored brilliant seconds in Sheffield, Cambridge, and Oxford.”

In Mendip, we came third – beating both Conservatives and Labour – taking a staggering 22.8% (302,364) of the vote!

May 19

European Parliamentary Elections, Thursday 23rd May 2019

Help re-elect Molly Scott Cato as Green MEP for the South West

Molly has been clear on Brexit and has campaigned across the region for a People’s Vote and to stop the Brexit chaos.

Molly has been strong on climate, campaigning for rapid investment in renewables, working on sustainable finance law, and helping shaping a Green New Deal.

Molly is an economist who has challenged rising inequality and fought tax avoidance by large companies and the ultra-wealthy.

As well as Molly, we have five other outstanding candidates on the Green list: Cleo Lake, Carla Denyer, Tom Scott, Martin Dimery, and Karen La Borde.

Why is this election so crucial?
This European Parliament election on 23rd May is the most important in our history.  As we teeter on the brink of a catastrophic Brexit it offers us a vital opportunity to show that the will of the people has changed.  Molly is the most clearly Remain MEP in the South West.  A strong vote for Molly and the Green Party will help increase pressure for a People’s Vote; and we can use the European Elections as a proxy referendum.

Just as importantly, you can help make sure that EU policies develop in a way that’s good for the environment, good for the climate, and good for people’s quality of life.

Jul 16

MEP Molly Scott Cato visits Glastonbury

South West MEP Molly Scott Cato visited Glastonbury recently to catch up with the town’s Green Mayor and Green Deputy Mayor, Cllrs Jon Cousins and Emma George.  It was a great photo-opportunity, and – obviously – a chance to discuss the impact of the Brexit vote, and Molly’s ideas about where she believes we need to go next.

Molly Scott Cato with Glastonbury’s Mayor, Jon Cousins and Deputy Mayor, Emma George.

Molly Scott Cato with Glastonbury’s Mayor, Jon Cousins and Deputy Mayor, Emma George.

Molly’s statement:

Many people are feeling a profound sense of sadness at the prospect of the UK, or England and Wales at least, leaving the EU.  I share this feeling and remain convinced that our future would be much safer and more prosperous inside the European Union.  This is not the result that Greens wanted; many activists and Green Party members worked tirelessly for many months to campaign for the UK to remain in the EU.  Personally, I worked as hard as I know how, travelling the region, making the arguments and listening to people on both sides.

People are understandably searching for reassurance and the referendum result has prompted a plethora of reactions and ideas about what we should do now.  Many people feel that the referendum was won on a false prospectus, and was a vote against something that had been turned into a bogeyman and with no alternative on offer.  I agree with this.

I was also profoundly shocked by the tactics of intimidation that were used during the campaign, and the inability of people to listen to views they did not share.  Being able to do so is the basis of democracy and I feel our most important task now is to stand together to defend democracy and the standards of public debate that we have traditionally enjoyed.  We must stand with communities across the UK to fight racism, xenophobia and discrimination; stronger communities can help heal the divisions caused by the referendum campaign.

I believe that the calls for an immediate rerun of the referendum would be undemocratic and add strength to the argument of those who say their voice is not heard.  However, this voice was only one of opposition, with no clear sense of what the alternative to EU membership might be.  I therefore believe that it would be valid to allow a second vote in the future, when it is clear what the alternative to EU membership would look like.

Although many of the debates during the referendum campaign were focused on European issues, underlying it was a power grab by senior politicians seeking to move our country radically to the right.  Since people from both right and left voted to leave the EU and there are a wide range of views about how we should proceed post-Brexit, the result has no weight in terms of what happens at Westminster.  Also, because the Prime Minister has resigned and Brexit will bring huge political upheaval, including the possible breakup of the United Kingdom, people should have a chance to have their say on the sort of country we want to build together.  This means that in my view an early general election before the end of year is inevitable.

Greens will be campaigning hard for democratic reform in the UK and for changing our outmoded electoral system to one that is truly representative.  We will explore possibilities for electoral alliances and pacts where we can agree on a progressive programme and commitment to proportional representation. 

I thank those of you who worked so hard to preserve our place in the Union that we value so much and I appreciate the very many messages of support and solidarity that you have sent.  These are dark days but by showing each other compassion and by standing together strongly in support of a revitalised democracy we can find a way to build a stronger and more peaceful country.”

To link to Molly’s website, click HERE

May 16

South West Greener In

On 23 June, the UK goes to the polls to make a big decision: whether or not to remain a member of the European Union.

Greens believe that we must work together to address our greatest challenges, such as limiting climate change, stopping international tax avoidance and securing our future peace and security. It is essential that we make the case for the environment in this referendum campaign – as the establishment parties will not make it, because they are in hock to their corporate and wealthy individual funders.

We need your help so that the Green Party can make the responsible case for the UK remaining a constructive part of a Greener Europe, and to help us elect more great Green Councillors across the South West, like those featured in this short film.

Please donate what you can. here:

Any surplus funds raised and not used for the Greener In referendum campaign will be split equally between the South West's 2019 European Parliamentary election campaign fund and Green Party South West's day-to-day budget for supporting Green Party activity in the South West.

Feb 16

#VOTEPAUL2016 – St. Mary’s By-election update

The Glastonbury St. Mary’s By-election will take place on Thursday, 11th February.  The Polling Station is at Glastonbury Town Hall; it will be open from 7 am to 10 pm.

Your Green Candidate is Paul Lund; the prospective eighth Glastonbury Green Town Councillor – his election giving the Greens a working majority; ensuring that we can continue to improve the way Glastonbury is governed; to make Glastonbury a strong participatory democracy, with more community involvement and engagement.

Paul Lund and Green Party leader Natalie Bennett. Photo by Jason Bryant

Paul Lund and Green Party leader Natalie Bennett. Photo by Jason Bryant

Green canvassing is well underway, with local party members drumming up support across the ward. Door knocking is a key part of the process, as we are keen to listen to resident’s concerns, ideas, and thoughts about the future.

One of the things that residents have been telling our canvassers is how they’re particularly impressed that Paul is the only local standing for election – living as he does in the St. Mary’s Ward, on Glastonbury’s Redlands Estate – and, as a result, they know Paul is familiar with many of the important issues that they feel strongly about.

Local Green Party members canvassing in St. Mary’s for the by-election on the 11th February. Left to Right: Tor Webster, Chris Walford, Oliver Dowding, Cllr Emma George, Green Candidate Paul Lund, Penny Collins, and Cllr Alyson Black

Local Green Party members canvassing in St. Mary’s for the by-election on the 11th February. Left to Right: Tor Webster, Chris Walford, Oliver Dowding, Cllr Emma George, Green Candidate Paul Lund, Penny Collins, and Cllr Alyson Black

Paul’s background is as a social entrepreneur and environmentalist; he is the founding director of The Sustainable Environment Company CIC. He is also a seasoned radio producer, and the director of the Glastonbury Festival Sound Archive.

A green activist and campaigner, Paul is an energetic member of our community, and – over the years – he has been involved as a volunteer in many of the Town Council’s projects.

Paul shows Natalie Bennett Glastonbury’s Environmental Charter in Glastonbury Town Hall. Photo by Ewan Jones

Paul shows Natalie Bennett Glastonbury’s Environmental Charter in Glastonbury Town Hall. Photo by Ewan Jones

In 2012, Paul was responsible for the creation of the Council’s pioneering ‘Charter for the Environment’.

In 2015, he played a major role in the successful campaign to revive Glastonbury’s Fairtrade Town status.

He is a key member of the Council’s Promoting Glastonbury Committee, and earlier this year made history by becoming the first non-councillor to hold the office of Deputy-chair for a Town Council Committee.

And if that wasn’t enough, Paul is currently developing Glastonbury’s new Tourism Strategy…

Paul with Green MEP Molly Scott Cato and Natalie Bennett

Paul with Green MEP Molly Scott Cato and Natalie Bennett

All these things he does in a voluntary capacity; for the love of Glastonbury – no wonder our South West MEP Molly Scott Cato said: “Paul is just what Glastonbury needs!

That is why we have chosen Paul Lund as the Green candidate for this crucial by-election.

Glastonbury is of national interest; and the Green Party leader, Natalie Bennett came to our town to officially announce Paul’s selection – saying, “I have great pleasure in introducing Paul Lund; we have a fantastic Green councillor group here in Glastonbury – let’s strengthen it”.

With your support, we can; let’s Vote For Real Change! #VOTEPAUL2016

Vote For Real Change

Some important information concerning Polling Day, 11th February 2016

On Polling Day, the last time a re-issue of spoilt or lost postal vote can happen is at 5 pm;
The deadline for emergency proxy applications is at 5 pm;
Last time to alter the Register of Electors (the ‘Electoral Roll’), due to clerical error or court appeal is at 9 pm.

Promoted by Jon Cousins, West Mendip Green Party on behalf of Paul Lund both at 3 Hood Close, Redlands, Glastonbury, Somerset. BA6 8ES

Jan 16

Green Party Leader announces Glastonbury by-election candidate

Left to Right: Molly Scott Cato MEP, Paul Lund Green Candidate for the St. Mary's by-election, and Natalie Bennett Green Party leader.

Left to Right: Molly Scott Cato MEP, Paul Lund, Green Candidate for the St. Mary's by-election, and Natalie Bennett, Green Party leader.

Natalie Bennett, Green Party Leader, stopped off in Glastonbury before Christmas, on her way to the Paris climate talks, to formally announce Paul Lund as the Green candidate for Glastonbury St Mary’s by-election on February 11th 2016. 

Natalie said “I have great pleasure in introducing Paul Lund; we have a fantastic Green councillor group here in Glastonbury – let’s strengthen it”.

Dr Molly Scott Cato, South West Green MEP, who was visiting Glastonbury with Natalie, also heralded Paul’s selection saying “Paul is just what Glastonbury needs”.

The Greens have been gathering pace in this area over the last few years and are keen to consolidate their position on Glastonbury town council.