Joe Salmon, 15 September 2023, Tags:
As ever, This blog is just my own personal thoughts, and shouldn’t be taken as representative of the views of the Green Group or other Green Councillors and is just what comes off the top of my head at the time of writing.
Shorter one today as I’m knocking this out on the train. Today I’m off to Blackpool for a stag do for the weekend and haven’t chanced bringing my council laptop with me. This has all my notes on this weeks full council, so instead of writing about that I’ve just had a brief look at my public to do and have updated with some colours on the kind suggestion of Aaron on Twitter. I’ve done red for stalled, purple for not started, orange for in progress and green for completed. Aside from that however I’ve not managed to update the content as I've not got access to my council emails to check I've actually sent things rather than just written up a draft reply and not yet hit send, plus making changes is a right hassle with this crap connection. In brief I’ve put in my request to reduce my paid hours at work to put in more time as a local councillor and focus more on my political goals. Beyond that I've fired off the required emails to chase and what not on various objective that have hit a deadline, but I've not updated the fields yet. We've got a longer face to face Green Group meeting where we can discuss some of the more long term goals we've got as a group rather than the constant reactive planning we're doing at the moment. The local Green Party's AGM is also coming up and I'm please at the number of new volunteers who've come forward to pick up roles, if you're a member check your email for the details and list of officer roles and JDs we're looking to fill.
While I haven’t got my full update on full council Sara brought a fantastic motion to the meeting on knife crime which I was proud to second. Details on the motion can be found here. https://bcp.greenparty.org.uk/news/green-groups-motion-to-tackle-knife-crime-and-serious-violence-unanimously-passed-by-bcp-council/
I was planning on re-watching Everything everywhere all at once on my journey up, but I’m absolutely shattered after my 6 year old woke up last night ill. Now I’m on the train going away for a weekend of fun leaving Kate to deal with the fallout of that I am having pangs of guilt that I have become the husband from the BBCs ‘Motherland’ sitcom. Anyhow I think I’m going to sleep in a second rather than watch the film as was my plan, I was reminded of the film though when talking about what we need to do on climate change with some of the other councillors after full council when we went for a quick drink in town after the meeting. That’s because everything everywhere all at once isn’t just a great film, it’s what the council has to do, what civilisation has to do and what we all must do to tackle climate change. In some respects this situation has been caused by decades of inaction by politicians, however in some respects it’s simply inevitable given the radical nature of the change required.
A metaphor I trot out far too often is that of the invention of the car with respect to the horse and cart. Imagine trying to pitch the idea of the automobile to the owner of a factory designed manufacturing carts. You’d explain the wonderful benefits of the combustion engine, the complex mechanisms of gears, brakes and steering, and almost none of it would go in. Instead if you were lucky they’d maybe latch on to the first thing you said that they considered a good idea. “Oh that all sounds very good, but a bit to unrealistic” they’d say “but I tell you what this idea for some brakes sounds good, we can include those in our new model of cart”. Before trialling the idea and realising they weren’t needed as the horse and cart didn’t get up to sufficient speed and dropping the whole thing. If you were unlucky they’d latch on to the first thing that wouldn’t work with the existing horse and cart thing and you’d be fielding questions like “Well how does the horse know what way the steering wheel is telling it to go, sounds like you’re going to need reins still and they’re totally missing from your plans”. While the horse and cart and automobile are both inventions that transport goods and people that have wheels, beyond that they have almost nothing in common when it comes to the design principles involved. You can’t take a cart and slowly convert it into a car step by step bit by bit and expect to still have a working transportation device every step of the way. Instead you have to change the whole thing from a horse and cart to a car all at once.
On the subject of cars and climate change it is our dependence on the car that poses one of the biggest problems. The electric car is no solution here, and the petrol lobby has spent billions on making sure we’re all aware of the issues with electric car batteries, their production etc. They also do nothing to address the congestion and if anything make accidents far more likely with their near silent running. Plus it is easy to forget they run on electricity and don’t just glide along powered entirely by their owners smugness (Full disclosure we bought a PHEV a few years ago, since I’ve stopped being vegan it’s been nice to have another topic to utterly bore people I meet at parties with).
If you’ve read this blog for a while (thank you) you’ll know I’m frustrated at how little impact I’m able to have as a councillor. One area where I think I can make the most immediate change is on the board of BDC. I had my first meeting at the start of September, and a clear issue is the current parking SPD.
This document is based on the assumption the car is the only practical way to travel in our town, and sadly that assumption is for the most part correct. Most people travel to far to cycle to work, or simply cannot do this and get their kids to and from school as well, and public transport isn’t reliable enough for work. This means tons of space is eaten up by parking in the town centre, and sustainable developments and change can’t happen.
Overall the problem is in solving the problems created by this document we cannot simply write what a new sensible parking SPD would look like in a well organised town as we don’t have a well organised town. Every council meeting I’ve ever attended by bus I’ve been late. If I finish work at 5pm in Moordown then try to get to the town centre for 6pm by bus I am doomed to failure. If someone wishes to arrive regularly at work on time by 9am and they use the bus they must set aside at least double the time if they were to travel by car, although interestingly given the congestion it’s often quicker to cycle fairly long distances.
This is what we need to do when tackling climate change. As I outlined in last week's blog on ULEZ, just insisting people ditch their cars when not giving them a viable alternative won’t work. We need to do everything everywhere all at once. We need to pedestrianise urban centres, improve the frequency of bus services, introduce LTNs, build more schools, hospitals and houses while transforming our farming industry and power grid and supply. None of these things can happen without the others.
Right, that’s far too disjointed, signal keeps dropping out and I’m worried I’ll spend the rest of the journey trying to get this posted online and end up asleep by 6pm in the corner of some pub while the rest of the gang are having fun so I’m going to call it quits here. Next weeks post will be a much more thorough update of the public to do list, and a full report on full council and my thoughts on what next for the council (so much hope seeing XR outside, and the sensible suggestion of plant based catering for the council).
Thanks again as ever for reading