Ollie Sykes

Ollie SykesI’ve been a Green Party member for 15 years and a City Councillor for eight years, with much of that time in a senior role. My reasons for putting myself forward for Green candidate in the European elections stem from a passion for Europe as a progressive political entity and from my political experience as a Councillor.

I was born in Germany and have lived most of my life in the UK. My politics has been formed by an activist upbringing, an academic background in natural environmental sciences to MSc level, and travel. Between the late 1980s and 2000s I travelled in and learned from most of Europe, Pakistan, the US, Central America and west and southern Africa. I spent two years as a volunteer science teacher in Guinea-Bissau, teaching in Portuguese. I worked for 8 years on Angola towards the end of the proxy cold war and maintain involvement with organisations there working on rural climate change adaptation. I joined the Greens soon after moving to Brighton and Hove and campaigned in the 2005 general election (GE), the 2007 locals, 2010 GE when Caroline won, the 2011 locals and thereafter.

Brighton and Hove elected the first Green Council administration in 2011, to the background of Coalition austerity. It was a difficult time but also a time of notable achievements, possibly driven by a sense of urgency as Greens lack the sense of entitlement to power that other parties have. But we have an unequalled passion for change. So in our city we’ve achieved a lot, even in opposition. As Group Finance Lead I recently led our amendments to Labour’s 2019-20 Council budget, putting almost £13m back into services without creating additional cuts. I’m hugely motivated by what has been achieved by Greens locally and would love to put that experience to use at a European level.

The Green Party position on Europe has been clear and prescient. Greens’ longstanding messaging on the environment resonates widely. We now clearly need to fight for a better European Union that addresses governance concerns that may have contributed to elements of the current populist backlash. But we also need to fight for the European Union itself, as with all its flaws it represents a critical bulwark for progressive environmental and social policies. As a natural scientist I identify particularly closely with EU environmental Directives on water, protected species and habitats, waste and environmental impact assessment. I have seen how effective these regulatory frameworks can be; but also how dependent they are on adequately resourced member state enforcement agencies.

With the mainstream UK parties in tatters over Europe, this is a huge opportunity for Greens to gain more seats in the European Parliament to strengthen the critical Green voice. The profile I have developed locally will help build the Green vote. My tenure as a Councillor ends in May 2019 and after that I will be able to devote all my spare time to campaigning for the elections. I hope you can support me.

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