THE FIRST ever Green councillor on Tavistock Town Council has already made his mark on the issue of solar power.

Cllr Neil Martin, 58, is breaking the typical status of the council as overall politically independent. He stood as a Green candidate and was chosen in the SE ward during the nationwide May local council votes.

He is certainly green professionally, as an employee of the Tamar Energy Community (TEC) which gives advice to residents from all walks of life on how to become more energy efficient and save money at the same time. And is also green in his private life, with car-free weekends — using bikes and buses and walking. He also shops locally. He tries to buy products with plastic-free packaging or uses refill options when possible and recycles items and clothes and supports charity shops. He also grows food on an allotment and makes compost.

Cllr Martin is now getting to know the character and needs of his ward and how the council is run as a ‘green’ member with no experience of local politics: ‘I’m surrounded by very experienced councillors and I think the right approach is to wise up on all the issues and how each committee works and how the council works as a whole.

‘So, I attended the budget and policy committee even though I’m not a member of that committee. Non-members are allowed to attend and can contribute to debates and ideas, but aren’t allowed to vote. So, I was very interested to hear, as a Green member, about the idea of Cllr Ewings for solar panels on the Molly Owen Centre. She said she’s been talking about solar panels for years, but nothing has happened yet. The council says EPCs or energy performance certificates, are needed and the details of those has not been clarified by the Government. However, I and Cllr Mann asked if the council could do it in a simpler way, with straightforward assessments like a homeowner goes through when a company works out if it’s viable to have a solar panel on their roof.

‘The council agreed this should be minuted and looked at. So, that’s a small example. But could be potentially of significance as a sustainable measure and is something I could use my professional knowledge in advising on and Green Party credentials to achieve.’

Cllr Martin used to work in the food technology industry on ready-made food.

He moved to Tavistock with his wife Annabel and left the food industry to work for the TEC part-time so he could have more time with his children who are old enough now for him to have taken up his council role.

His priorities include helping alleviate the lack of affordable homes in Tavistock and supporting Ursula Mann’s idea of a community land trust to provide what type of housing locals want.