A Surbiton Councillor who left the Liberal Democrats last year has joined the Green Party.

Councillor Sharron Sumner previously sat on Kingston Borough Council (KBC) as a Lib Dem but chose de-facto independence from the party in August 2018 after becoming disaffected by Lib Dem positions on climate change and social justice.

Speaking to the Surrey Comet Friday (Feburary 22), she cited a lack of urgency from the establishment parties to tackle climate change and pollution at both the regional and national levels as having influenced her decision,

Cllr Sumner said: "One of the reasons that I stepped away from the Lib Dems was the lack of quantitative policies in terms of air quality that were being put forward by the Council group.

"I grew up in the countryside and I've always been interested in environmental issues... I joined the Liberal Democrats in 2015 and I was quite surprised when they took over the Council by the lack of urgency in trying to address the climate crisis we are now facing.

Since August last year she found herself working in closer proximity with the Greens and other groups pursuing a more committed approach to addressing environmental concerns.

The decision, Cllr Sumner said, was formed over a longer period: "Whilst I was working alongside the Greens I realized that we had an awful lot in common and it seemed like a good way of trying to push forward and get the focus back on air quality in the Borough...they were a good group of people to work with, our objectives matched and it seemed like a very logical progression."

"Everything that I thought we wanted to achieve seemed to be put on the back burner and I don't think we have the luxury of time to try and get good policies in to try and help reduce air pollution within the Borough.

The former Lib Dem Councillor, who represents Alexandra Ward, cited the most recent report on air quality levels in the Borough from May 2018, which revealed that more than a dozen sites in the area reported concentrations of the harmful pollutant Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) produced by standard diesel and petrol vehicles.

Cllr Sumner said: "We have two streets in our Borough that twice the legal limits of Nitrogen Dioxide. That's Tolworth Roundabout in the ward which I represent and also Cromwell Road where the bus station is. Air pollution is responsible for over 9,000 deaths in London each year, it's something that really needs to be resolved and something I feel really passionate about."

The lack of urgency that influenced Cllr Sumner's decision to abandon the Lib Dems in favour of the Green Party is a perspective seemingly shared by an increasing number of people in the Borough, throughout the UK and beyond, as today's renewed Youth Climate Strike, where teachers and students across Europe walked out of school to demand action on climate change alluded to.

Cllr Sumner said she was "so impressed" with the schoolchildren who are joining the growing movement, whose figurehead is 16-year-old student activist Greta Thunberg from Sweden, and added that her desire to leave a better world for their generation, including her own family, swayed her to join the Greens as they were confronting the issue more directly.

Cllr Sumner said: "It's our children's futures that we're talking about. I'm a mother, a Surbiton mother, and myself and other parents are really concerned about what we're going to leave our children in terms of this climate catastrophe—what legacy will that leave our children? We need urgency, we need action, and to be honest the Greens are the only people that are pushing it forward in terms of urgency.