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IN DEPTH: Maya de Souza on why Green is the way forward

PUBLISHED: 13:03 08 April 2010 | UPDATED: 16:53 07 September 2010

Maya de Souza

Maya de Souza

GROWING up in East Africa left Highgate Green councillor Maya de Souza with a lifelong passion for the environment and a burning desire to do something about climate change. Seeing the destructive effect of desertification on her surroundin

Susanna Wilkey

GROWING up in East Africa left Highgate Green councillor Maya de Souza with a lifelong passion for the environment and a burning desire to do something about climate change.

Seeing the destructive effect of desertification on her surroundings and the dramatic impact of climate change on the population's hunger left her in no doubt about the need for action.

She is one of Camden's three Green councillors and the only one to be seeking re-election in May - but hopes her party can double its numbers on the council and have more of an impact on policy.

Cllr de Souza said: "We feel we have done well in raising our profile across the borough in terms of getting people to recognise the role the Green party has which covers a wide platform of issues, not just climate change.

"We have worked in all sorts of things from Frank Barnes School to the London living wage for Camden employees.

"Over the past four years we have achieved getting the Green agenda up there in Camden. Other parties claim to be greener than we are but we would see that as an achievement - it means we have made an impact."

Cllr de Souza says what is important to the Greens is not only what is done but also how things are done.

"One of the best things about being a councillor is working with local people," she said. "That has been really inspiring and an awful lot of people here are extremely knowledgeable. It makes you realise that we have the huge potential to do things within our own communities."

Going forward Cllr de Souza would like to see the Green New Deal adopted in Camden and ethical investment adopted in the council's pension policy.

She said: "The new deal is not only about insulating homes it is also about creating jobs and skills - an integrated approach is very important and we want Camden to take the lead.

"The next four years will be about how we cope with cuts from central government. We have to look at whether it is worth freezing council tax because it is not always the best way to go."

Although she is proud her party has raised the environmental agenda, she is frustrated by a lack of leadership from the council's executive who fall at every hurdle.

She said: "Camden has not taken Green issues far enough yet. It is not simply a question of a target like 1010 but we need a plan of action. Serious decisions and plans need to be made by the executive and quickly.

"Camden has the potential to lead with way for local authorities in Britain but it needs to happen now. We need much more determination to tackle climate change and address these issues.

"The political leaders are the ones who know what the risks of not doing anything are. And 20 years down the line the public will not thank them if they have not acted."

Cllr de Souza is a qualified lawyer who is currently working at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

She is a former member of the Labour party but ditched them after the invasion of Iraq. She is really optimistic about the upcoming elections both in Camden and nationally where she believes her party can win three parliamentary seats - Brighton, Norwich and Lewisham.

She said: "We have high hopes for Camden and we will have candidates in every ward to give people the opportunity to vote Green.

"There is a strong undercurrent of support for the Green agenda and people need the opportunity to vote Green.


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