Southwark Liberal Democrats scored a major victory at the Council Assembly last Wednesday night by setting the agenda for the Council’s environment policy for the next decade.
Several Councils across the country have passed a motion declaring a Climate Emergency and committing themselves to doing more to act against climate change. The Liberal Democrat opposition tabled an amendment that committed Southwark Council to specific areas to secure and prioritise so that it meets its key targets.
These included committing Southwark Council to fully back the Rotherhithe – Canary Wharf pedestrian and cycle bridge, put pressure on TfL to reinstate the RV1 bus route in full, support local allotments such as those in Lamash Street, push developers harder on achieving carbon reduction targets. It also got the Council to investigate phasing out car leases for senior executives (a policy Labour opposed at the budget in February), and to start looking at emulating ‘smart cities’ in Denmark who are using Big Data to improve traffic management and with it air-quality.
It also commits the Council to recognise the importance of open spaces, not just as value in themselves but also as key components of tackling loneliness, especially among older people, as well as providing an appropriate place for younger people to meet and socialise.
The Labour motion was introduced after the Liberal Democrats proposed a very similar motion declaring a climate emergency, which was subsequently pulled for procedural reasons. The Liberal Democrat amendment to that motion meant that in the spirit of ‘Think Global, Act Local’, Southwark will now be committed to tangible steps to improve the local environment and deliver the wider well-being that will stem from them. The new ambitious target will be for Southwark to be carbon-neutral by 2030.
Cllr Graham Neale, Southwark Liberal Democrat councillor for St George’s ward and national Chair of Green Liberal Democrats successfully proposed the motion on Wednesday evening. He said:
‘We’ve been pushing Labour hard to improve Southwark’s environment policy for several years now. That’s why our manifesto made developing our green infrastructure – such as extending the bike-hire scheme, building the cycle and pedestrian bridge to Canary Wharf, building a tube station at Bricklayers arms and reinstating the zero-emission RV1 bus route – a key part of our successful election campaign last year.
It’s hugely disappointing that the local Labour MPs Neil Coyle and Harriet Harman have worked against this in a big way by backing the expansion of Heathrow. However, in the Council, we’ve shown that we’ve once again Liberal Democrats have set the agenda and we’re committed to making Southwark play its part in the fight against climate change and to become a model borough for green innovation.’