Maybe it was the very hot summer of 2022 that got us thinking about sending the Zero Hour open letter to our MP, Mark Garnier, asking him to support the CE Bill. To do this we needed to collect lots of signatures from people, businesses, faith groups and other organisations in the Wyre Forest Constituency.
We used a variety of ways to get signatures. The electronic link could be sent to friends and family, and circulated to the members of various ‘green’ organisations within the constituency. A local business directory was invaluable in finding the email addresses of local companies. Zero Hour provided assistance in helping us use social media to collect signatures. The traditional town centre stall was also used although it did depend on the weather.
The number of signatures steadily increased but by July this year the rate of gaining new signatures became very slow. The Second Reading of the CE Bill is in November so we decided to arrange a ‘hand-in’ of the open letter to Mark Garnier. After several phone calls to our MPs personal secretary, we settled on Sunday 17th September, Sunday morning outside Bewdley Museum. We continued collecting signatures and passed the 500-signature target by the end of August.
Before the petition hand-in, we sent out a press release to local newspapers, radio and television. Initially, there was little response, but a reminder was sent out and a reporter emailed us to ask if we realised the 17th was a Sunday!
Zero Hour supplied posters, placards, leaflets and badges for use in the hand-in. We printed out the open letter with all the signatures and transferred it to a folder that had a front page which had printed information giving the who, what and when of the Open Letter.
Finally, we handed over the letter, ensuring we got all the important photographs. We finished by enjoying coffee and cakes at the museum cafe while Mark chatted about his pet project, energy from space. Our efforts with the press release did produce one positive result: a front-page article with a photograph in the Express and Star. It was also widely publicised on local social media.
In Wyre Forest, we are now thinking about the next steps, but what we know is that local pressure is mounting for MP, Mark Garnier and other Conservative candidates to back the CE Bill as the Conservative party conference begins this week and an election looms. Many people, including signatories in Wyre Forest, will be asking, which election candidate will show leadership on nature and climate?
Phil Oliver & Roger Meade.