24 November 2020
The first BCP Council meeting since the Conservative takeover has attracted questions from 27 members of the local public concerned about the future of local Climate & Ecological Emergency action.
The Conservative Cabinet is required to respond, as part of the process of the 24th November Full Council meeting. Normally public questions are transacted face-to-face during the meeting; however during pandemic-time video-only meetings they are instead answered in writing and will be published separately.
Alasdair Keddie, father of two and Co-Chair of BCP Green Party, submitted the following question:
"Last December, the council approved the action plan for addressing the Climate and Ecological Emergency. The declaration committed BCP Council to host a ‘citizens’ assembly’ to enable a representative and sortition-selected group of BCP residents to participate in deciding how the council should take action.
"The action plan commits the council to hold a public consultation on its contents and implement cross-party councillor working groups.
"Can the portfolio holder for Transport and Sustainability confirm the Cabinet’s commitment to public engagement and representation by confirming that they plan to go ahead with the citizens' assembly and public consultation on the action plan, as well as resuming the climate-focused member working groups?"
Many other questions address the same two themes of public involvement and councillor leadership, plus a third theme of the much-criticised decision by the new administration to delete the words "Climate Change" from the list of Cabinet post titles.
One member of the public added to her question: "4) Will you start treating the climate and ecological emergency like an emergency that needs urgent attention rather than it being an 'add on' to your remit?"
Another local resident added to her question submission: "I work with young people borough wide and they have no idea/ information on what is going on and that is completely upsetting as it is their future." Another wrote: "I am extremely concerned about the lack of action towards protecting our environment for future generations."
Meanwhile another member of the public asked simply: "How will the council rapidly transition the 3 towns to renewable energy sources?"
A couple of the other public questions focus on possible revival of offshore wind power plans for Poole Bay, which the new Conservative portfolio holder for Sustainability has already dismissed, in comments East Dorset Friends of the Earth said were "factually incorrect" and showing "outdated understanding".
On the surge of public questions, Alasdair Keddie commented: "Tonight's full council meeting will give us a real insight in to how serious the new administration is about the Climate Emergency. The number of questions to council on this subject shows just how important this is to BCP residents.
"Dropping Climate from cabinet portfolios was a worrying first move. Now is not the time to row back on BCP's climate commitments. The working groups must be reinstated and public engagement via citizens' assembly is critical."