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Letter: Not All Lib Dems Have Supported Climate Change Action By GBC

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

From: Susan Parker

GGG borough councillor for Send

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

It should be noted that the council passed a GGG [Guildford Greenbelt Gropup] motion recognising the Climate Change crisis in the last council administration, in 2018.

It was proposed by my GGG colleague David Reeve, before George Potter was elected in 2019. David’s motion set up a climate change working group (on which I sat) which had great ambitions for ensuring that the second part of the Local Plan would reduce carbon emissions throughout the borough, not least by reducing the impact of emissions in new builds.

The working group continued into the post-2019 administration but was then seriously undermined under the Lib Dem leadership and under the lead councillor with the Climate Change portfolio, Jan Harwood, at that time a Lib Dem. He resisted every attempt to reduce emissions proposed.

In the subsequent four years, those early ambitions have been stifled, and ambitions to reduce carbon emissions within the borough have only been undermined by the administration; including all proposals to ensure that buildings were net zero emitters.

After his election, Cllr Potter was involved (he may have led the initiative) in a second motion recognising the climate change crisis.  But he should realise that the council did exist before he was elected and the council had already recognised the Crisis so his duplicate motion was just virtue signalling.

I’m not sure that Cllr Potter has done more than assert his ambition, and he’s certainly not done anything to prevent carbon emissions in the borough.

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Responses to Letter: Not All Lib Dems Have Supported Climate Change Action By GBC

  1. George Potter Reply

    March 11, 2023 at 8:54 pm

    Unfortunately, a great deal of what has been said by Cllr Susan Parker is utter nonsense. To rebut just a few key points:

    I am one of the least likely people to be a cheerleader for (former Liberal Democrat, former Conservative and current Independent) Cllr Jan Harwood, but to say he did nothing as climate change portfolio holder is absolutely false. To take just one example, the Climate Change SPD (a supplementary planning policy) developed on his watch has been directly responsible for reducing carbon emissions in new developments across the borough since it was adopted.

    As I recall, Susan Parker voted for its adoption so I would have hoped she’d have remembered it:

    Similarly, I have to ask Cllr Parker, if the climate emergency motion proposed in 2019 (which was the first place we set a net zero target date by the way) was “virtue-signalling” then why did she vote for it? And if she cares about climate change then why, for that matter, did she fail to vote for divesting from fossil fuels just three months ago?

    Just about the only factually correct thing Cllr Parker has said is that action on climate change did not start in May 2019.

    That is obviously the case, and I would particularly like to highlight the work of the cross-party Climate Change Board, created by the previous council, which was instrumental in the creation of the council’s new Climate Change Action Plan.

    GGG councillor, Catherine Young, has been a vital member of the board, so it has been bitterly disappointing to see how little interest her party colleagues have shown in supporting the very work which Cllr Young has helped accomplish.

    So Cllr Parker’s remarks really do demonstrate the truth of what I said in the interview. Many parties on the council offer warm words on the topic of climate change, but only one party has shown consistent support for action rather than words.

    In fact, over the past four years the only memorable contributions by Cllr Parker on the topic of climate change have been when she has demanded changes to planning policy (such as opposing all development which might involve any carbon emissions whatsoever during construction) which she knows are not legally possible. When others have then invariably pointed out that her demands are simply not possible Cllr Parker’s usual response has then been to accuse everyone else of being some sort of sell-out.

    Now that really is meaningless virtue-signaling. I’m sure it makes for good content for GGG election leaflets but in the real world grown-ups know that getting meaningful change means trying to get the best possible from the world as it actually is, rather than as we might wish it to be.

    It really is a shame that, despite years in the chamber, Cllr Parker still hasn’t learned that she could do far more good for our community if she turned her considerable energies towards pragmatic solutions rather than active obstruction disguised as holier-than-thou purism.

    George Potter is the lead GBC councillor for Climate Change and a Lib Dem councillor for Burpham

  2. Ben Paton Reply

    March 12, 2023 at 11:56 am

    Truth is the daughter of time.

    It appears that history is not the way Cllr Potter has written it.

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