To boos and exclamations of shame from climate campaigners and schoolchildren in the public gallery, every single Labour Councillor on Chesterfield Borough Council voted against setting a target of making the Council carbon neutral by 2030 on Wednesday night.
Speaking during the debate Cllr Ed Fordham, who speaks for the Liberal Democrat's on Climate Change, pledged the support of his own group on declaring a climate emergency. He urged though that a target date be set in line with over 100 other Councils across the country, so that the resolutionwas not just 'hot air'. Cllr Fordham said "it was sad and sickening to see the party politics that Labour played on this crucial
issue and disappointing for our Borough and our young people."
Cllr Keith Falconer who moved the amendment for a target deadline of 2030, urged Labour councillors "To vote the way they had only 9 weeks ago at the County Council in Matlock". Keith said "I was shocked that Labour ordered its members to vote against their own words in Chesterfield tonight."
Cllr Barry Bingham who seconded the Lib Dem motion said "For three Labour Councillors who, like me, sit on both the Borough and the County Council, this meant that they voted one way in Matlock and the opposite way in Chesterfield."
Cllr Paul Holmes, Leader of the 17 strong Lib Dem Council Group, told Labour Cllrs they had opposed environmental measures before. "Back in 1991 I moved proposals for an Environmental Charter which Labour Cllrs rejected. One Labour Cllr, as reported in the Derbyshire Times in January 1991, called my words 'stupid and atrocious' -because I had proposed that the Council should recycle cans and plastics! Labour didn't take the Environment seriously nearly 30 years ago and they don't take it seriously now."
The text of the two Lib Dem amendments rejected by Labour Cllrs are below:
Proposed: Cllr Keith Falconer
Seconded: Cllr Barry Bingham
(C) delete the words "on a realistic date" and insert "by 2030" after the words Chesterfield to be carbon neutral and delete "March 2020" and replace with words "within six months" If amended clause (c) would read: invites the working group to report back and make recommendations to Full Council for Chesterfield to be carbon neutral, by 2030 and to develop a costed action plan, within six months, setting out the required work to achieve this outcome;
Proposed: Cllr Ed Fordham
Seconded: Cllr Shirley Niblock
Amend (d) to be added to, to read:
Resolves to work with other local authorities and public, private and voluntary sector partners on carbon
reduction projects and that this might include:
i. To support the transition towards electric vehicles throughout Chesterfield and in particular in our car parks;
ii. To look for a step change in the vehicle fleet that services the Council, either directly or through contract, to ensure that as they are replaced they be electric, biogas or hybrid;
iii. For the Council and all of its offices and associated venues to become free of single-use plastic in all of its activities within 12 months;
iv. To begin a full review of all investments by the Borough and through associated pension and other bodies to divest of all fossil fuel investments by 2024;
v. For all new build Council houses to be built eco-friendly and carbon neutral including water capture, solar panels and heat retention;
vi. For the existing Borough Housing stock to be given options of eco measures on a rolling basis from the HRA that enable home provision of electric charging points, solar panels and water
capture, in order to limit fossil fuel use;
vii. To lead and co-ordinate a Borough-wide dialogue with all local and regional managers of supermarkets within the Borough to encourage and facilitate measures to include scrapping of singleuse
plastic packaging, persuading then to cease the offering of all plastic bags at supermarkets and enabling the provision of re-useable cardboard boxes and paper carrier bags for shoppers
in all stores. The aim should be to work with all local traders and commercial outlets in the community with the ambition of declaring the Borough plastic bag free by 2022;
viii. To identify and publicly promote Chesterfield as an eco-Borough with separate public rubbish disposal in all public spaces, with the encouragement of plastic re-use, removal of single use
plastic, removal of all non-biodegradable plastic bags within the Borough from all public and commercial outlets;
ix. To examine the document from Friends of the Earth - "33 actions local authorities can take on climate change" and to seek to secure progress urgently on those recommendations within the
power of the Borough Council.
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