To receive and answer any questions from the public.
(Questions must be received in writing by Democratic Services no later than noon on Tuesday 26 February 2019)
From: Sheila Peacock – Basingstoke Transition Network
Basingstoke Transition Network asks Councillor Hayley Eachus, as portfolio holder for the environment, how the Council will deliver its commitments on climate change without funding for a full-time equivalent Climate Change Officer. At present the post is part-time because it was held by two job-sharers, one of whom has left and not been replaced.
The 2018 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change states baldly that global warming must be kept below 1.5 deg C above present levels to avoid the most harmful effects, and that political action at all levels is needed. The Government’s Clean Growth Strategy (April 2018) says the country needs to de-carbonise its economy; but that needs to work to local level. The Council has already signed the Climate Local Commitment; but real reductions in CO2 output need lifestyle change. This is where the Climate Change Officer comes in. 2017 Council policy on Climate Change, Pledge 2, says "The Council will support and encourage residents, community groups and businesses to reduce their carbon emissions across the Borough", so there is work in Green Week, home energy efficiency, low-carbon planning for the new housing estates, transport strategy, and fulfilling commitments in the Local Plan. Also, in waste and recycling, incinerating plastic is adding fossil-fuel CO2 to the atmosphere, so the Climate Change Officer should help increase recycling rates and reduce wasteful use of plastic, and work to attract recycling businesses to the town’s industrial estates, making recycling cheaper for the Council.
For all these reasons we believe that the Climate Change Officer role should be expanded and ask why it has not been made up to a whole FTE (or more) in the 2019 budget. How will the Council show significant commitment to reducing climate change while making a 50% cut in the Climate Change Officer post?
Answer – Cabinet Member for Regulatory Services and the Environment
The council is absolutely committed to continuing with the delivery of the climate change strategy.
As part of the work to develop Horizon 2050, local residents told us how important it is to them to collectively focus efforts on environmental sustainability, improving air quality and investing in renewable energy sources, green spaces and green infrastructure.
We recognise the importance of this area of work but also that it is a cross-cutting theme across the organisation, rather than the responsibility of any single post. There are a wide range of internal services engaged in delivery, who are each leading on their contribution to the strategy, including the efficiency of council owned assets, considering options to reduce emissions and improve air quality, developing community based initiatives such as LED Light installation and initiatives to increase cycling and improve access. In addition, the waste contract places specific requirements on the contractor to help increase recycling within the borough. We have a whole waste team of officers that also work alongside me in relation to recycling.
We are currently pulling together information on initiatives which have successfully decreased carbon emissions and increased efficiency to help inform our approach going forward, which will clarify resource requirements and identify opportunities for alternative/self-funding. At our upcoming meeting, we welcome the opportunity to discuss effective approaches which will further benefit the community and help towards the council’s aims for a sustainable borough. Because we welcome that opportunity, I understand we have a meeting with you on Tuesday which was set up by Martin Heath.
Supplementary Question - Sheila Peacock – Basingstoke Transition Network
Thank you, I wonder specifically how the initiatives you have mentioned might apply to the Manydown estate. There seems an opportunity there to make a particularly important impact with the opportunity for a garden suburb that encapsulates a progressive attitude to reducing and mitigating climate change.
Supplementary Answer - Cabinet Member for Regulatory Services and the Environment
I think I have made it clear that green is cross cutting across all the areas of the council. Manydown is a massive project and there is a huge team of officers working on it and along with my other Cabinet colleagues we are all aware of the importance of green and sustainability running through that. I work with my Cabinet colleagues who deal with Manydown in that respect and I also meet with the officers regularly so we are all aware of the opportunities and will work to ensure we can make it as green and sustainable as possible.