Two valid questions on notice have been received for a response at this meeting.
1. Question to the Elected Mayor by Councillor J M Allan
Could the Elected Mayor or her Cabinet member provide an update on the progress being made on the Climate Emergency Action Plan? It is now over twelve months since full council agreed to the proposal below and could be advised when local ward councillors will be invited to participate and make contributions to the work. Could the response also provide the names of the Climate Emergency Board members?
1. notes the significant progress made to date by the Authority in reducing carbon dioxide emissions.
2. agrees that the Authority:
a. declares a climate emergency.
b. seeks to halve the Authority’s and the Borough’s carbon footprint by 2023, four years ahead of the current target.
c. commits that itself and Borough will be carbon neutral by 2050 in line with the national target; and
3. notes that Cabinet will receive an update report within six months.
4. requests the Elected Mayor to instruct the Head of Environment, Housing and Leisure, in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Environment and Transport to:
a. publish an annual report on the Authority’s website that details performance against carbon reduction targets; ITEM 6 Climate Emergency Declaration
b. includes young people in the development, delivery, and review of actions, ensuring that they have a voice in shaping the future.
c. work with partners across the Borough and region to deliver this new goal through all relevant strategies and plans.
d. call on Central Government to provide powers and resources to reduce carbon emissions;
e. ensure that all strategic decisions, budgets, and approaches to planning decisions are in line with this climate emergency declaration; and
f. ensure that the Authority Senior Leadership Team embed carbon reduction work across the Authority and take responsibility for reducing, as rapidly as possible, the carbon emissions resulting from the Authority’s activities.
Councillor C Johnson responded on behalf of the Elected Mayor as follows:
Thank you for your question regarding the Climate Emergency Action Plan and for highlighting your enthusiasm, to contribute to its successful delivery.
In July 2019, the Council declared a Climate Emergency, setting a target to reduce the carbon footprint of the Authority and the Borough by 50% by 2023, and to become carbon neutral by 2050.
Despite the significant and far reaching challenges that coronavirus has placed upon the Authority, its officers and our community, I am pleased to be able to report that the Climate Emergency Board has continued to meet to oversee the development and production of our Climate Emergency Action Plan.
And Cabinet has been appraised of progress on a regular basis since the Declaration.
The Board is co- chaired by myself and the Head of Environment, Housing and Leisure and membership is a team of lead officers having responsibility for the following workstreams: -
Phil Scott Co-Chair
John Sparkes Housing Workstream
Suzanne Duncan Organisational Development Workstream
Colin MacDonald Waste Workstream
James Moore Communications Workstream
Barbara Patterson Catering Workstream
Samantha Dand Internal Fleet Workstream
Wayne Stark Built Assets Workstream
Paul Nelson Borough-wide Workstream
Nicholas Bryan Borough-wide Workstream (Transport)
Michael Keenlyside Energy Generation Workstream
Abi Tang Youth Council Representative
Good progress is being made in each of the work streams and we are bringing forward business cases on them in the coming months. To give you a flavour:
And we have responded to a series of Government policy consultations over the summer period associated with lowering carbon emissions
I would also emphasise that in all this activity, the Board continues to fully engage with our young elected representatives to shape our plans, including our Climate Emergency Action Plan, our work around waste, recycling and reducing single use plastics.
As we further develop the Action Plan, we will of course be seeking input from key stakeholders at a community level providing an ideal opportunity for direct input from Ward Members. I’m also working with the Chair of the Environment Committee, Councillor Brian Burdis to see how we can feed into his committee and how councillors can feed in.
As I’m sure you will already know, there was a key opportunity at this year’s State of the Area event to once again engage on Climate Emergency issues with stakeholders, including Ward Members, discussing the Climate Change impacts on health, travel and transport.
As you would expect, our approach to engagement activity, which includes listening to Ward Members, continues to inform and refine our policy development.
Councillor Allan asked the following supplementary question:
What plans are there for speeding up the work on North Tyneside’s policies particularly within the Local Plan and planning conditions? A great many decisions for new developments use a cost factor and building standards as reason for not introducing new products to reduce the impact on the climate.
Surely we could adopt policies that will become strong influences in building design, both domestic and commercial, with very little effort by North Tyneside Council. An example of planning conditions could be that commercial showrooms could be restricted to having their lights on throughout the night thus reducing the carbon footprint and saving power costs for the owners.
Councillor Johnson responded as follows:
As I’m sure you’re aware I’m not responsible for planning. However, I do believe that any planning conditions should obviously be made by the Planning Committee and not by Cabinet. I do agree we can bring forward more planning documents to try and reduce our carbon footprint and that is certainly part of the housing workstream which is being led by John Sparkes and we’ll be hopefully progressing that soon. We’ll try to bring things forward. As I mentioned in my public questions we’re also working with North of Tyne Combined Authority to bring forward more sustainable housing and more carbon neutral housing. So yes we are doing more and we have plans in place.
2. Question to the Elected Mayor by Councillor A Newman
I want to take this opportunity to Praise the Elected Mayor and the Cabinet’s decision to provide free school meals to children during the half term holiday using funds from the Council’s Poverty Intervention fund.
Can the Mayor confirm that the Poverty Intervention fund was set up before the pandemic with no additional support from the Conservative Government?
And can you tell me who on this Council supported its creation?
Councillor B Pickard responded on behalf of the Elected Mayor as follows:
I can confirm that the Poverty Intervention Fund decision was taken by the Mayor and Cabinet before the start of the pandemic. It was included as part of the Authority’s budget for 2020/21. It was part of the draft budget proposals agreed by the Cabinet on 3 February 2020. The £1m funding came from the use of the Strategic Reserve without any additional support from the Conservative Government.
We considered it necessary to take action to support residents in the Borough who are experiencing poverty and financial hardship due to the increased detrimental impact of universal credit and other government welfare reforms.
Poverty and financial hardship has clearly been further intensified by this pandemic. As a result of our commitment we were already in a position to tackle holiday hunger and help out our hard-hit families and our older residents.
Councillor Newman asked the following supplementary question:
I, like many councillors, have been overwhelmed by the incredible generosity of individuals, charities and businesses in North Tyneside. Will the Mayor join me in commending the people, charities and businesses for their overwhelming support for the children affected by food poverty during the half term holidays?
Councillor Pickard responded as follows:
I’m pleased to endorse that comment. It was actually raised by a Labour Councillor that we should use local delivery and local charities to help us. That was a very good idea that came forward and we’ve been impressed by the amount of effort people have put in during the Autumn school holidays to make sure all those who needed a meal got them.
I would once again reiterate that we couldn’t do this without the help and support of our voluntary organisations but also by individuals who are going out of their way to help in this present climate.