Julian Dean is the only Green councillor on Shropshire County Council, where he has represented the Porthill ward since 2017. Green World spoke to him about his experiences of local Green politics.
How long have you been a member of the Green Party and why did you join?
I joined as part of the Green Wave in 2015. At the time it was the Green Party’s consistency on social justice issues that attracted me. I have to admit that I was nearly pulled towards Labour when Corbyn won. Now I have no doubts I made the right choice. The Corbyn project was fatally undermined by sectarian attitudes and ‘left populism’ which has opened the door to all sorts of nasties including conspiracy-theory nonsense and support for supposedly ‘anti-imperialist’ authoritarians around the world. We remain relatively free from this. Since 2015 the climate emergency has hit me like a train. We have championed the Green New Deal approach to this – combining our social justice commitment to our environmental one. I’m proud to be part of this.
Who is your Green hero?
Tom Hayek. He’s my local campaigns manager, and he got me elected as a councillor. His day job is about making a real difference to biodiversity and carbon sinks in the UK. He has fought to strengthen my local party. He comes from a completely different political background to me, which makes for a creative partnership.
What was the first campaign you were a part of?
My own councillor election in 2017.
What did you do before becoming a councillor?
Politically? I have history on the left from the 80s. I’ve now broken completely from my ‘Leninist’ background!
In life? Tried to bring up my son, worked in local government then teaching, worked at relationships with mixed success – but seem to have made progress – and played a load of music in different contexts.
What made you stand to be a Green councillor?
When I joined I knew I wanted to do something, so I applied and prepared to say my piece at a local hustings. Turned out it was just me...
What have been your biggest successes as councillor?
Residents probably identify me most with road safety campaigning, but so far little has changed, sadly (though there are now loads of ‘20’s Plenty’ stickers on the bins in my area), but things are in the pipeline.
I did make a difference for pedestrians with better care of pavements in extreme weather in Shrewsbury, and encouraging businesses to do their bit too. I’m fairly confident this will continue.
How have you been able to collaborate with other parties/councillors?
There has been one councillor each from Labour and the Lib Dems, and one Independent, who have always been up for a bit of collaboration. There was one friendly Tory, but he resigned from the Tory Party and the council when Boris Johnson took over!
Why do you think Green policies resonate in your ward?
Because at a local level it’s just obvious.
What support do you receive from the Association of Green Councillors and how useful has it been?
The AGC conferences have been a great opportunity to be involved with training and networking and sharing successes and failures. As a lone councillor it’s essential.
What are the aims of the Shrewsbury and North Shropshire Green Party over the next few years?
To make sure we have more than one Green councillor on Shropshire Council and Shrewsbury Town Council in 2021. To make sure we continue to be the clearest political vote for Green New Deal solutions to the climate emergency in Shropshire.
Julian Dean is Green Party councillor for Porthill on Shropshire County Council.