Fringe Box



Letter: I Don’t Disagree with Cllr Young But…

Published on: 14 Mar, 2023
Updated on: 14 Mar, 2023

From: George Potter

Lib Dem borough councillor for Burpham

In response to: We Need to Set the Record Straight on Climate Change Action at GBC

I’m afraid I do not see any contradiction between Cllr Young’s comments and my own.

I am immensely grateful to Cllr Young, and others, for their contributions to the Climate Change Board and have expressed that gratitude at every opportunity.

However, CCB members have not experienced the behind-the-scenes view I have had since becoming portfolio holder and, unfortunately, many councillors in the chamber, including R4GV, GGG and Labour, have consistently shown a disinterest in climate change and an unwillingness to support meaningful action to tackle it, despite the hard work of their party colleagues on the CCB.

If you want evidence of this then I highly recommend watching the livestream of the Joint EAB meeting where the climate change action plan was discussed.

What you cannot find evidence of, however, are the closed-door meetings and discussions of executive members, where some (but not all) of the same R4GV councillors who expressed public support for the climate change action plan were to be found trying to delay it or water it down.

For my part, I wished to join the CCB as soon as I joined the council, but unfortunately I had to wait for Cllr Cait Taylor to be the portfolio holder to be appointed to it, as Cllr Jan Harwood was previously quite insistent that there was enough Liberal Democrat representation on the Board already.

And, unfortunately, since CCB meetings are closed-door (although minutes have been published since 2020 at my request), I did not have the option of simply attending CCB meetings to sit in.

There is just one claim by Cllr Young that I will directly take issue with though: the climate change plan is defined by the measurable target of net zero by 2030.

If Cllr Young feels there should be other targets included in the plan then it would have been nice if she had said as much at one of the many meetings where the draft plan was discussed prior to its adoption.

Happily, however, the plan includes a schedule of frequent updates to the plan, and regular reporting on its implementation to full council, so hopefully Cllr Young will be able to specify at a future CCB meeting which additional targets she would like to see.

Finally, I will point out that one of the most significant pieces of work on climate change undertaken by the council was the development of the Climate Change and Sustainability planning policy, which has been incredibly highly ranked Climate Emergency UK, and which was developed under the watch of Cllr Jan Harwood and with considerable effort and focus on his part.

Whilst Cllr Harwood was undoubtedly in the wrong party, and should never have joined the Liberal Democrats in the first place, it would be disingenuous of anyone to deny that he did not make at least one significant contribution on climate change, and one which has been having a hugely positive impact on development within the borough.

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