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Southend-on-Sea Borough Council's Declaration of a Climate Change Emergency

October 9, 2019 5:32 PM
By Carole Mulroney, Southend-on-Sea Borough Council Cabinet Member for Environment and Planning, Liberal Democrat Group Leader & Councillor for Leigh Ward

The Declaration of a Climate Change Emergency is the first step in embedding the Council's green policy agenda going forward across all services.

It sets clear targets which we are confident the Council itself can reach by 2024/25, a full quarter of a century ahead of the Government's targets, and for the rest of the Borough by 2030.

I am really pleased that Cllr Cox in a recent Echo article indicated the opposition's support for the Motion and his public commitment to work with the administration and I made it clear at Scrutiny commitee that I expect all Councillors to buy into this and work together across party divides.

We will be encouraging staff to be innovative and come forward with ideas and we will be encouraging and looking at ways our contractors should put this agenda at the heart of their proposals.

We will continue with the excellent projects that have already started and we will learn from best practice and move decisively when we need to. There is a huge groundswell out there and we need to work with it and work together.

We need to embed this work in the whole gamut of council services - that means councillors as well as officers - they are our technicians we are the enablers.

So we have stepped up campaigns against plastic waste through the Plasticity project and our beach initiatives, we have taken decisive action in respect of our tree population and we are pressing on with electric vehicle installations and looking at air quality issues in a more focussed way. Other initiatives will come.

We will be producing an action plan well within the 12 month commitment drawing on the work already underway or programmed and adding further initiatives, seeking grant funding and budgeting where necessary.

We will have to be bold and to take difficult decisions and it will cost so that is why we will be lobbying Government through the Local Government Association (which is already lobbying) and with other councils for additional funding. Government has to lead this.

One of the biggest roles we as leaders in the community can perform is to encourage others by discussion, example and action and it is our intention that Southend becomes an exemplar in this field. We will be setting up a Climate Change Partnership and focussing heavily on young people whose future we hold in our gift and on those in the most need who sometimes find change and the costs that go with it difficult.

I want councillors of whatever political persuasion to be champions for our environment and their wards and rally their community groups, residents and businesses to action and lead their own initiatives within their wards.

These will form part of the action plan as a rolling programme, however local or small. So when you are doing something in your ward you need to talk about it and encourage others and most of all we need to stop trying to point score and deride ideas just because we didn't think of them. And that goes for all of us if we are to achieve the targets and fulfil our commitments in Southend 2050.

This is our future, but it is also our childrens' future. The very young are starting to understand this and their pressure on their parents to commit will be a huge influence.

We are being shamed by a child and we should all be listening.