At last night's South Gloucestershire Council meeting, the Liberal Democrat Group proposed giving the Climate Emergency a greater priority as South Gloucestershire recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Liberal Democrat group proposed using the £120k allocated to support Downend, Chipping Sodbury and Filton High Streets to help those areas “build back greener” following the pandemic and asked that such investment should prioritise supporting initiatives that will reduce businesses’ energy costs and carbon emissions, and the provision of Electric Vehicle charging points.
Proposing the amendment, Councillor Claire Young, Liberal Democrat Leader of the Opposition on South Gloucestershire Council said:
“We fully support long-overdue investment in Chipping Sodbury, Downend and Filton High Streets. We know how hard they have been hit by the pandemic.
“We believe this funding should be used to build back greener in our High Streets. As we support the recovery of our local communities, we want to give the people and businesses of South Gloucestershire a clear route map to zero carbon, setting out house by house and business by business how they can contribute to and benefit from this, and providing electric vehicle charging points.
“We think that our vision of building back greener will make our high streets more attractive and show that tackling the climate emergency really does underly everything this council does.”
Councillor Louise Harris, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for the Climate Emergency, said:
“The administration talks a good talk on the Climate Emergency, and we welcome some of the work they have done, but time and again we hear that projects have been unavoidably delayed.
“The point of the Climate Emergency is that it is an emergency and that requires action now, we can’t afford to wait a year or two.
“We believe the Council needs to do more to stop its Climate Emergency work being a desk-based exercise and start to see significant action on the ground.”
Speaking after the debate, Councillor Young said:
“I am disappointed, but not surprised, that the administration once again dismissed out of hand any proposals that weren’t their own. We need to see a significant change in the Council’s attitude to combating the Climate Emergency if we are to make good on our commitment to see South Gloucestershire achieve net-zero by 2030."
The Liberal Democrat amendments also supported the authority working towards becoming a Real Living Wage employer and ensuring future long-term investments take into account their environmental impact.
Liberal Democrat Budget Amendment 2021
Real Living Wage
Noting the inclusion in the Council Plan, adopted by the administration less than 6 months ago, of “closing the inequality gap” as a priority, this Council regrets that this budget does not include provision for South Gloucestershire Council to become a Real Living Wage Foundation Accredited Living Wage Employer.
The Council commits to lobbying the Treasury and Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, as well as South Gloucestershire’s local MPs to secure funding for all local authorities to be able to pay all their employees the Real Living Wage.
Climate Emergency 1 - Environmental Investment
Noting the declaration of a Climate Emergency by South Gloucestershire Council in 2019 and the more recent declaration of an Ecological Emergency, the Council commits to developing and implementing an environmental investment policy for future treasury investments which will take account of the ethical and environmental impact of prospective investments.
Climate Emergency 2 – Environmental exemplar High Streets
(assuming the passage of the Conservative Group amendment)
Amend recommendation o to read:
Approve the release of £120,000 from the Service Investment and Opportunities Reserve (£7k), the Residual HRA Balance Reserve (£13k) and Brexit Preparedness Grant held in the Carry Forward Reserve (£100k) to further scale up investment for initiatives to support the future of High Streets, including in Downend, Filton and Chipping Sodbury – with a focus on making these environmental exemplar High Streets. Particular priority should be given to supporting initiatives that will reduce businesses’ energy costs & carbon emissions and funding officer time in 2012/22 to work on bringing forward Electric Vehicle charging points in these areas, following the completion of the study currently being undertaken.
Image credit: Ivan Radic