7 October 2020
There is no one in BCP Council's new Conservative Cabinet with the words "Climate Change" in their job title, following changes the new administration has made to some of the top roles.
Following the declaration of Climate & Ecological Emergency at the very first Full Council meeting of BCP Council in summer 2019, the Unity Alliance administration which ran BCP Council until 1st October 2020 appointed a Portfolio Holder for the Environment & Climate Change, who oversaw the development of the Council's ambitious 153-point Climate & Ecological Emergency action plan.
The new Conservative Cabinet contains a Portfolio Holder for Transport & Sustainability, and a Portfolio Holder for Environment, Cleansing & Waste - but the words "Climate Change" are nowhere to be found in the list of portfolio titles.
Conservative Councillor Mike Greene, the new Portfolio Holder for Transport & Sustainability, replied to a query from Green Councillor Chris Rigby about this change: "Climate Change will come within my portfolio holder responsibilities as a Cabinet Member. Once the line-by-line categories are published it will be there loud and clear. It was my request to use the word 'Sustainability' rather than 'Climate Change' in my title as I feel it embraces a slightly wider array of priorities, albeit they are all interrelated."
Green Councillor Simon Bull commented on the move: "Climate change should be given top billing in a Cabinet portfolio title as it is after all, an emergency. As all but one Councillor agreed."
This apparent decentring of the Climate & Ecological Emergency by BCP's new Conservative top team is only likely to add to local fears for the future of local Climate & Ecological Emergency action.
Conservative Councillor Mark Anderson, the new Portfolio Holder for Environment, Cleansing & Waste, who is also ward councillor for Queen's Park in Bournemouth, has previously come to the attention of green-minded local residents for his public opposition to the suggestion that the Council-owned Queen's Park Golf Course could be rewilded and the space given back to all local people, as has already happened with a number of other former municipal golf courses around the country.
Simon Bull has previously commented about the change of control of BCP Council, the UK's twelfth largest local authority: "If the Conservative opposition couldn’t even get behind a simple change to the conurbation through the Experimental Traffic Regulation Orders [even though these were a Conservative Government initiative], which saw roads pedestrianised and opened up for cyclists, scooter users and motorised vehicle users, how can we possibly trust them to deliver on the wide-ranging changes needed here to meet our climate commitments? I don’t have high hopes for many of the other projects identified in the Climate and Ecological action plan that will be necessary to avert the worst impacts of the twin crisis."