Shropshire’s new Green Party group has tabled a series of motions for Thursday’s council session that it hopes will put Shropshire Council back on track to meet its net zero targets.
A motion by Green group leader Councillor Julian Dean will call on Shropshire Council to set out an ambitious retrofitting strategy to make all social housing in the county carbon neutral, improving housing quality, reducing energy bills and tackling climate-damaging emissions. The proposed county-wide retrofit programme is expected to produce hundreds of local jobs.
Says Councillor Dean: ‘We desperately need a government funded programme to make our homes “zero carbon ready”. In the meantime, councils can take the lead, as shown by Green-led councils elsewhere. Partnerships and some imaginative thinking about budgets could get the ‘retrofit’ industry going locally, improving our homes, reducing people’s bills and creating hundreds of quality local jobs for local people.’
A motion by Councillor Julia Evans will highlight the need for a National Climate Action Task Force that will bring together local councils and central government to tackle climate change. At present there is no mechanism for making sure government funds and policies are in line with what councils could deliver to achieve the target of net zero.
Says Councillor Evans: “The local response to the pandemic shows how councils can lead and work with others in an emergency. But government needs to create the right framework for this. Unfortunately they didn’t do that for the pandemic, and they haven’t yet done that for the climate emergency. Instead, the funds and policies councils have to work with are completely inadequate. That is why we are calling for a task force to be set up this year, in time for the international COP26 conference on climate change this November in Glasgow”.
Finally, a motion by Councillor Duncan Kerr will call for a new Waste Reduction Strategy in order to tackle the amount of waste produced in the county.
Says Councillor Kerr: “Tackling waste will reduce our carbon emissions and will also help to protect the wider environment. Recycling is good, but much better is to reduce waste in the first place. Shropshire is doing OK on recycling, but it is doing badly on tackling the amount of waste produced. That is why we are calling for a strategy to get to grips with this. Whether it’s food waste or plastic, councils can help households and businesses reduce their waste, while a new blue wheelie bin could actually have the opposite effect."
Meanwhile, the Green group has reacted to the council’s ‘Investment in Highways’ report, which is to be considered for approval on Thursday. If approved the report will mean an extra £8m will be invested in Shropshire’s roads this year with £120m added to the council’s highways budget over the next four years.
Says Councillor Dean: ‘The plan to borrow up to £120m for a pothole programme is alarming. It is a huge increase on the £40m figure promised by the Conservatives in the election – a figure that was clearly plucked out of a hat. The plan says nothing about the existing highways contract with Kier, which is widely regarded as providing very poor value.
‘A borrowing programme of this scale will make it much harder to fund projects for anything else, from looked after children to decarbonising transport. It looks like poor financial management to use capital borrowing to fund a maintenance programme. Meanwhile money could be released by cancelling the disastrous North West ‘Relief’ Road scheme to allow better maintenance of existing roads.'