Greens make unusual bid for climate emergency cabinet position at Conservative council
PUBLISHED: 05:30 02 June 2020 | UPDATED: 08:19 02 June 2020
The leaders of Suffolk council are being urged to create a climate emergency role at cabinet level so the issue can be addressed with greater “energy and conviction”.
Suffolk County Council declared a climate emergency in spring 2019, and pledged to be carbon neutral by 2030.
Now, the county council’s Liberal Democrat, Green and Independent group has called on the authority’s Conservative administration to create a climate emergency cabinet role, with the group’s environment spokeswoman Elfrede Brambley-Crawshaw even offering to do it without remuneration.
MORE: Suffolk County Council declares climate emergency
She said: “The reaction to Covid-19 has shown what an emergency response to a critical situation looks like, with our national government making swift decisions and radical national policy change. “At a local level we have all been part of a fast-paced reaction, focused on changing our behaviour and supporting people who are vulnerable in the pandemic.
“To avert climate catastrophe, we need to respond to the climate emergency with the same kind of energy and conviction.
“Suffolk County Council does not have a dedicated cabinet member for the climate emergency, and I am concerned that this means the emergency is not getting the urgent and focused attention it requires.
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“I have therefore asked the leader of the council to urgently appoint a cabinet member for the climate emergency.
“I am fully aware that the council is facing financial constraints and may not be able to fund another cabinet position, so I am offering up my time and expertise to the Leader and would happily take on the role myself for free.”
However, the authority’s constitution says that in order to grant another cabinet member position – even an unpaid one, Conservative council leader Matthew Hicks would have to remove an existing cabinet member or lose two deputy cabinet member positions.
He said that would “seriously weaken the county council’s ability to work on any emergency and, importantly, post Covid-19 recovery.”
He added: “I feel the model we have now works very well. I believe that every member of cabinet plays a role on this vital issue, rather than just one. Richard Rout [environment cabinet member] is, of course, the lead but this is an area where every cabinet member needs to look at their directorate and work together, with colleagues and partners, for speedy outcomes.
“Our reaction to Covid-19 has shown what an effective emergency response to a critical situation looks like and that we at SCC have been part of that fast paced reaction, focused on changing our behaviour and supporting people who are vulnerable during this pandemic.
“As a cabinet, we have all worked together, taking collective responsibility for the emergency. In fact, every directorate has been impacted by the pandemic and, therefore, all of us in cabinet have had a role to play. This pandemic has shown how much can be achieved by working together, with partners across the county, in imaginative and innovative ways.”
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