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Dragon Interview: ‘R4GV Have Resisted Climate Change Plan’ says Lib Dem Councillor

Published on: 11 Mar, 2023
Updated on: 11 Mar, 2023

By Hugh Coakley

The outspoken councillor, George Potter, said the Lib Dems “are the only party remotely interested in the climate change action plan” as he defended the council’s “ambitious” plan to achieve net zero carbon by 2030 in a controversial interview with The Guildford Dragon NEWS.

He said there had been a “real battle to get it [the plan] through, the amount of internal resistance has been huge” and “most of the resistance I have faced internally has been from R4GV”.

See the video interview with Cllr George Potter here…

Cllr Potter, the Lib Dem Surrey County councillor for Guildford East, borough councilor for Burpham and GBC lead for climate change, told The Dragon that climate change was a national challenge and “it will take a national response”.

He said the action plan was the first step in implementing what was needed for GBC and depended on the “political will” after the May council elections, support from central government, and technology developments.

The £59 million funding for the plan would come from GBC capital projects, government funding, borrowing against government environmental schemes and climate bonds set up for members of the public to invest in.

When pressed, he said he expected “at least £10 to £20 million or probably more” to come from GBC capital and possibly grant funding.

He said GBC were already investing £124 million on its housing stock including insulation and energy efficiencies.

On the 5MW solar power generation, he wanted GBC to be a “pioneer in this area” with solar canopies over GBC surface car parks, opportunities from collaboration with businesses and potentially to identify land with Surrey County Council for renewable energy from solar power.

But it is yet “all to be decided”.

He said he “really would like to be in place for the next four more years to make sure it was delivered”.

He denied as “complete nonsense” the accusation that the plan, approved nearly four years after the climate emergency declaration in 2019, was “electioneering”.

“We have been working on the plan for the last four years” with covid affecting progress. He said “nothing else was more important to the future of our community, our country or our world”.

And he claimed the Lib Dems were the only party over the past four years in the administration that were “remotely interested in the climate change action plan and prioritising it”.

He said it was a “shame” there was no media reporting of the Joint Executive Advisory Board which had discussed the climate plan prior to approval and that there was reticence from councillors from the other parties including Labour, GGG and R4GV.

See also: ‘Ambitious’ GBC Climate Change Plan Approved but £59m Cost Shows Scale of Challenge

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Responses to Dragon Interview: ‘R4GV Have Resisted Climate Change Plan’ says Lib Dem Councillor

  1. Colin Cross Reply

    March 13, 2023 at 5:36 pm

    The usual hyperbole that we have come to expect from Guildford’s answer to Liz Truss.

    For the sake of putting the records straight, I for one, almost always as a R4GV member and councillor, have been GBC’s representative on the Guildford Environmental Forum for the last four years and have helped grow it into a working relationship with Zero Carbon Guildford over that time.

    I even donated £2,000 from my grant funds to help Zero convert the empty retail outlet that is now a thriving hub of activity in the centre of the town.

    I know as a fact that R4GV councillors and members are hugely interested and involved with Climate Change and have been since the party’s inception.

    Colin Cross is a borough councillor for Lovelace and a county councillor for The Horsleys.

  2. Stuart Barnes Reply

    March 15, 2023 at 9:26 am

    Having read all this, my respect for R4GV has risen.

    If they can annoy the Liberals and cock a snook at the new religion of climate change/global warming as well, then they must have a lot of good in them.

  3. Paul Spooner Reply

    March 15, 2023 at 12:37 pm

    Whilst there clearly is an element of electioneering this is far too important an issue to bounce accusations around the council.

    I have been a member of the climate change board throughout the four years since moving into opposition and under Cllr Harwood’s chairmanship I thought real progress was achieved but officer changes and the Covid pandemic certainly slowed things down, and then the Lib Dem’s action in firing Cllr Harwood [Ind, Merrow] and replacing him with Cllr Potter [Lib Dem, Merrow – Cllr Cait Taylor (Lib Dem, Friary & St Nicols) was appointed between Cllrs Harwood and Potter] was not helpful and was due to politics.

    However, to Cllr Potter’s credit, he has driven the Action Plan from the front since he became chairman, albeit with his dictatorial style, although others may argue that is genuine passion.

    Recognition should be given to other members (cross-party) and in particular Cllr Young [GGG, Clandon & Horsley] greatly impressed me with her focus on moving the climate change issues forward and also the involvement of external stakeholders.

    When Cllr Potter finds it possible to recognise teamwork we will make progress in a constructive way, instead of the nonsense that other parties tried to stop or block “his” Action Plan. The plan is the responsibility of every member of the council and every citizen to try to progress, despite the financial challenges, in its delivery as soon as possible.

    I do not accept that only Lib Dems are interested in the future of our planet, that is absurd.

    Paul Spooner is leader of the Conservative Group at GBC

  4. Jules Cranwell Reply

    March 16, 2023 at 6:12 am

    Cllr Spooner’s concern for the planet might be easier to swallow, we’re if not for the fact that he was responsible for forcing through the Local Plan in the dying moments of his regime.

    This is the same Local Plan that has caused the wholesale destruction of parts of our environment.

    Does it really make sense for him to have a seat on the Climate Change Board?

  5. Ramsey Nagaty Reply

    March 16, 2023 at 9:33 am

    A balanced response from Cllr Spooner which is to be applauded.

    In an earlier response in The Dragon I raised the elephant in the room of Spectrum Leisure Centre which Cllr George Potter, at the time, had not mentioned.

    I did so at council meetings and pointed to the work in Holland and elsewhere in the innovative methods of utilising the heat generated when cooling the ice ring to heat the swimming pool.

    I note that elsewhere in the UK heat generated at IT cloud storage facilities is utilised. These new technologies need to be considered as we look to replace Spectrum, one of GBC’s biggest consumers of energy.

    Ramsey Nagaty is the leader of the Guildford Greenbelt Group at GBC

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