York’s Liberal Democrat councillors have called for cross-party action in the city to tackle climate change, after their efforts to secure commitments on issues such a tree planting and flood defences were blocked by Labour and Conservative councillors.
At a Full Council meeting on 20th July, Labour Executive Member for the Environment, Cllr Kate Ravilious, proposed a motion which attacked the Lib Dem / Green administration’s Climate Strategy which had been adopted last year with cross-party backing and support from partners such as the University of York and York Minster.
Cllr Ravilious’ motion did set out some commitments for action, but there were some omissions which Lib Dem Cllr Paula Widdowson sought to address through an amendment to the motion. This amendment called on the council’s Executive to commit to continuing the ambitious tree-planting programme put in place by the previous administration, namely a tree for each resident - 210,000 in the new community woodland and over 4,000 extra trees in urban areas. It also called for planned flood defence projects to be delivered to protect communities such as Fulford, and produce a Code of Practice to inform landowners, residents and farmers about what can and cannot be done with the council managed verges across the city.
However when it came to the vote, Labour and Conservative councillors blocked the Liberal Democrats’ attempt to have these commitments added to the motion.
Cllr Widdowson has reiterated her call for the new administration to work on a cross-party basis to tackle the important issue of climate change.
She said “It’s hugely disappointing that at a time when the impacts of man-made climate change are clear for all to see, the new Labour administration seems to be more focused on trying to rubbish the achievements of the previous administration, rather than working in partnership on this very important issue. It’s disappointing, but not surprising, that the Conservative councillors chose to follow suit.
“The aim of our amendment was to was further strengthen the motion in the key areas of tree planting, biodiversity and flooding. We are all too aware of the actions all of us need to take – not just the council - to cut carbon emissions and reduce energy running costs. There are huge opportunities to work constructively to ensure the creation of more Green jobs in renewable power and construction which will help to make the country more self-reliant.
“The ongoing devastating wildfires in the Mediterranean and the debates around the roll-out of ultra-low emission zones highlight the need for a grown-up approach on this issue. Sadly rather than drawing the city together, the first act of the new Labour administration was to seek to divide us.
“Despite this, my Lib Dem colleagues and I stand ready to work with the new administration on the delivery of the action plan set out in the Climate Strategy, which was approved last year with widespread support.”
The text of Cllr Ravilious’ motion, and Cllr Widdowson’s amendment, is available at https://democracy.york.gov.uk/documents/b38447/Agenda%20Supplement%202%20-%20revised%20list%20of%20Motions%20Amendments%20Recommendations%20Thursday%2020-Jul-2023%201.pdf?T=9