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

Published on: 13 Mar, 2023
Updated on: 13 Mar, 2023

From: Catherine Young

GGG borough councillor for Clandon & Horsley

In response to: R4GV Have Resisted Climate Change Plan’ says Lib Dem Councillor

We need to set the record straight on the Climate Change agenda at GBC.

As a GGG councillor, I have been on the Climate Change Board for nearly four years, long before Cllr Potter became involved.

It is simply not right to try and explain the delay in the plan coming forward by blaming Covid. The responsibility sits fairly with the original lead councillor for Climate Change, who wasn’t even telling his own group what he was up to… or not, as the case may be.

The lack of officer support following the loss of two key officers clearly did not help matters, but there was a determination and willingness from other members of the Climate Change Board to drive things forward – offers not taken up.

At full council meetings, Joint Executive Board meetings and the Climate Change Board itself, GGG councillors in particular, as well as fellow councillors from R4GV and The Green Party, demonstrated a clear desire to put in place a plan that would lead to action, calling repeatedly for progress reports, at regular intervals, to all involved.

The ‘reticence’ mentioned by Cllr Potter was that the plan might not be going far enough in terms of what we need to achieve, and that whilst there are plenty of actions (thanks to a very determined new council officer) there are no specific targets or measures of success.

If I had been the one to put forward the motion of a Climate Emergency four years ago, I would have been attending the Climate Change Board, asking for progress reports, challenging the new Climate Change policies in the Development Management Polices, shortly up for adoption, and crucially, engaging with our community.

At my insistence, our parish clerks have recently been updated on GBC’s Climate Change plans and the support available to them, and I have been working with Ben McCallan (chair, Zero Carbon Guildford) to support SCC’s Community Engagement Programme.

Finally, back in November 2021, I was especially proud that due to my suggestion, a fourth Corporate Priority was added to the Environmental Theme of GBC’s Corporate Plan (2021 – 2025), namely that GBC should make every effort to protect and enhance our biodiversity and natural environment, being held accountable for delivering net gains and protecting our natural habitats, a very important part of the Climate and Biodiversity emergency. These were clear signs to me of being fully engaged with the Climate Emergency.

So, while I enjoy working with George Potter on the Climate Change Board and have always contributed and given him my full support, I won’t stand for such tosh!

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Responses to Letter: We Need to Set the Record Straight on Climate Change Action at GBC

  1. David Roberts Reply

    March 13, 2023 at 6:12 pm

    “Tosh” from Cllr Potter? Surely not!

  2. Jules Cranwell Reply

    March 14, 2023 at 7:30 am

    As far as I can see, GGG is the only party truly committed to addressing climate change. The Lib Dems in general, and Cllr Potter in particular, have done nothing to address climate change. Conversely, they have been apologists for the despised Tory Local Plan, and have continued to insist it cannot be reviewed and fixed.

    The Local Plan is the single largest threat to our environment and climate.

    It’s time for the Lib Dems to wake up and smell the coffee – produce, or get off the pot.

  3. John Rigg Reply

    March 14, 2023 at 11:42 am

    Having listened to the interview of George Potter, read Hugh Coakley’s articles and the responses, I can only say it is very disappointing that Cllr Potter has confused scrutiny, constructive challenge and improvement with “resistance”.

    As responsible councillors, R4GV are concerned that the action plan should not be just empty words. That’s why R4GV members of the Executive worked to improve the council plan, not resist it.

    R4GV’s commitment to tackling climate change has been demonstrated in numerous ways. To name a few:

    • Unanimous support for the declaration in 2019 and the action plan as adopted by the executive last week.
    • R4GV Cllr Deborah Seabrook has worked on the Climate Change Board since it started. It was on her insistence that all council reports now have to consider climate change, in the same way as we consider the financial implications of any new proposal.
    • R4GV Cllr Maddy Redpath initiated the annual car-free days which promote sustainability and a new approach.
    • R4GV councillors worked tirelessly on the Development Management Policies (part 2 of the Local Plan) to ensure they contained the most robust policies to mitigate and adapt to climate change and enhance bio-diversity.’ The same approach is being applied to the town centre Masterplan proposals  ‘Shaping Guildford’s Future’.

    John Rigg is a R4GV borough councillor for Holy Trinity

  4. Roland Dunster Reply

    March 14, 2023 at 4:45 pm

    Not only an excellent and informative letter from Catherine Young, but judging from her penultimate paragraph, so very heartening that Guildford has a councillor who truly understands the importance of protecting and enhancing our biodiversity and natural environment, and accountability for the delivery of net gains and protecting our natural habitats.

    • Ben Paton Reply

      March 15, 2023 at 10:59 am

      Well said. The business of government should be evidence-based, rational and practical.
      ‘Activists’ who make big promises that are superficially attractive (think of the Liz Truss experiment) are a disaster.

  5. George Potter Reply

    March 15, 2023 at 11:33 am

    I would like to refer readers to my response to Cllr Young, which has been published as a letter here:

    George Potter is the Lib Dem borough councillor for Burpham

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