Following our Declaration of a Climate Emergency on 10 July 2019, we will be drafting a Climate Action Plan to set out how we intend to make the London Borough of Merton carbon neutral by 2050. To advise on the development of the Climate Action Plan and communicate ideas and feedback from the wider Merton Community, we have formed a Climate Emergency Working Group.


The purpose of the Climate Emergency Working Group

Made up of around 15 individuals, the Working Group will act as a conduit for the residents, businesses and services of the London Borough of Merton. Working Group Members will gather evidence and ideas which will contribute to the formation of the Action Plan. They will work constructively to identify priority actions and provide high quality comments on the proposed Action Plan for Cabinet.


Working group members

The Working Group is formed of a range of individuals who  are offering their time, experience and specific knowledge of climate change issues to make up a diverse panel. 

Below are a set of qualities, experience and skills that we looked for in our individual Working Group members.

  • An understanding of the Merton community;
  • Relevant skills and experience they can bring from other projects or their own organisation. These include knowledge of climate issues, expertise in buildings, transport, energy, green spaces or investments;
  • An ability to think strategically and creatively.
  • Commitment to working collaboratively and inclusively without a conflict of interest; and
  • Access to and commitment to engage with the wider Merton community, including residents, businesses, services or academic contacts.

We are pleased to present our Climate Emergency Working Group members below. 

Alice Rayner - Alice is a social scientist with expertise in research methods and behavioural insights. Alice is passionate about the psychology behind environmental behaviours, and understanding why people and businesses act in the ways that they do. She has volunteered for local sustainability causes and is personally on a journey towards living as low-impact as possible, while raising her new daughter.

Benedict Woodward - Benedict works as a Recycling Advisor for First Mile, making it easy for businesses to recycle and achieve their sustainability goals. Benedict is a passionate advocate for real climate action and tangible solutions.

Cecily Church – Cecily is the Sustainability Officer at a housing association, which combines frontline work for fuel-poor residents with strategic input into large-scale changes to stock. Having lived in the borough for the last two years, and as a Community Champion for Sustainable Merton, Cecily has been involved in a range of local sustainability-related activities.

Daniel Holden - Daniel is a Councillor for Hillside ward and vice-chair of the Council's Sustainable Communities Overview and Scrutiny Panel, which often covers topics relating to the environment. Daniel has long championed the anti-idling cause to help improve air quality within Merton, and which led the Council to enact anti-idling legislation locally in 2018 with further enforcement to follow. Daniel has not owned or driven a car for 11 years now and uses environmentally friendly air-source heat pumps to provide heating and hot water to his home.

Jenifer Gould - Jenifer is a Councillor for the Cannon Hill ward with a long term interest in climate change and the natural environment. Jenifer has a background in Project Administration and has been an organic gardener for 30 years.

Franki Appleton - Franki lives in Mitcham and volunteers as the Co-Coordinator of Merton Friends of the Earth, supporting campaign projects to protect pollinators, double UK tree cover, and promote sustainable living. She works for an international charity where she specialises in advocacy and public affairs.

Katie Meech - Katie has worked as a sustainability consultant and communications professional in the private sector for almost 20 years. Katie works with global headquarters of international companies, guiding executive management and boards on sustainability strategy, implementation and measurement.

Kelly Gunnell - Kelly is an environmental scientist and urban ecologist. She has experience working in consultancy, conservation and research. She is currently undertaking a PhD at King's College London (Geography) examining the role of natural infrastructure in mitigating flooding upstream of cities under climate change. Kelly lives in Wimbledon and is mum to two young boys and Jozi, the dog.

Lily Marcel - Lily is a lawyer with a particular interest in sustainable investment. She is a Merton resident and enjoys spending time in its green spaces with her young daughter.

Mehmood Naqshbandi - Mehmood works for the IT solutions and services company CGI UK Ltd as an Enterprise Architect, designing IT-based organisation-wide technical change, mainly to UK central government clients. Mehmood was deeply involved in the 'alternative' movements that fostered environmental awareness and social change in the late 1970s, motivated to return to environmental campaigning and action through an acute awareness of just how dire the situation has become. Mehmood hopes that his professional understanding of major organisational change can be applied within the scope of the working group, as well as finding synergy with similar activities that his somewhat enlightened employer is keen to address.

Nick Golson - Nick currently manages community project Deen City Farm and Riding School, and has worked on city farms for the past seven years. Before that he studied food production and farming at the Royal Agricultural University, career changing from field archaeology.

Pippa Maslin - Pippa Maslin has been a secondary school teacher and a university tutor. She now works for a local Deaf and Disabled People's Organisation, Merton Centre for Independent Living, and belongs to Merton Green Party.

Richard Hackforth-Jones – Richard works for a digital consultancy and has been within the future of transportation for the last 4 years. Richard's area is connected, autonomous, shared and electric vehicles and he is certified by the European Energy Centre as an Electric Vehicle specialist. Through his work Richard has been helping some of the UK's largest firms, including utilities, fuel retailers and automotive companies, adjust to a changing landscape of personal transportation. Richard lives in Wimbledon and is a season ticket holder at AFC Wimbledon. Richard is very proud to be helping the borough in their quest to zero emissions and is looking forward to working on ways to decarbonise the way people and goods move through the borough.

Rose - Rose is a young Merton resident, who is passionate about the environment and climate change. As well as being involved in the working group, she has worked on the Merton Youth Parliament climate change campaign.

Toby Costin - Toby has 17 years' experience in the energy market. He is a director of two renewable energy businesses and Company Secretary for CREW Energy, SW London's community energy group. Toby has delivered over 1 MWp of solar PV on social housing.  He has managed installs of LED lighting, building management systems, heat pumps, next generation insulation and heat transfer solutions. Toby is a certified Energy Champion, allowing him to offer energy savings and fuel switching advice. His ambition is to demonstrate to politicians, business leaders and the wider public that renewables and energy efficiency make economic sense, as well as being the right thing to do.

Tom Walsh – As the founder of Sustainable Merton, a local environmental charity, Tom has worked with residents and groups in Merton for the past 12 years discussing climate change and all its aspects. Tom has worked with 15 Merton schools showing young residents where their food comes from and in many cases showing them how to grow their own.


Member commitments

The Working Group members will be working on a volunteer basis. The Working Group will aim to meet 4 times over the course of 6 months from September to February. The first Working Group meeting was held on Tuesday 24 September 2019.


Climate Emergency Working Group meetings

Meeting 1 – 24 September 2019

Meeting 2 – 6 November 2019 

Meeting 3 – 4 December 2019

Meeting 4 – 22 January 2020

Meeting 5 – 23 April 2020

Informal Meeting – 23 March 2020