Avoiding the rocks: steering a climate emergency by newspaper headlines is a dangerous course that can undermine the overall strategy.

“How dare you. You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words”

Greta Thunberg at the UN Summit in New York

Bearing in mind that we need actions more than words to fight climate change, I’m surprised to see this story on the Redditch climate emergency:

https://redditchstandard.co.uk/news/borough-council-last-in-climate-table-despite-saying-its-ahead-on-green-issues/

It says:

REDDITCH Borough Council, which is aiming to position itself as ‘ahead of the curve’ on green issues has finished towards in the bottom of a league table of climate friendly local authorities.

Drawn up by the pressure group Friends of the Earth, each council was assessed in different categories including renewable energy, public transport, lift-sharing, energy efficiency at home, waste recycling, and tree cover to find an overall winner.

We in the Conservative administration of Redditch Borough Council have never been sent any table by Friends of the Earth, but we have seen a Green Party one that actually ranks Redditch quite well:
https://westmidlands.greenparty.org.uk/council-climate-league-table/

CouncilScore (out of 11)Position
Worcester71st
Malvern Hills62nd
Cannock Chase5Joint 3rd
Redditch5Joint 3rd

Also, in the Friends of the Earth methodology there is a fault in calculating tree coverage, which they themselves admit:

Tree cover – this was calculated using GIS mapping to overlay local authority areas over the National Forest Inventory , and from that calculating woodland in each local authority area. The NFI is known to under-report tree cover in urban areas, so Friends of the Earth is carrying out further research to provide a more accurate estimate, which we will publish later this year.  

With around 4m trees in Redditch, we have a very high level of tree cover, but it’s not properly reflected in this table – so yet again Redditch is not getting the proper recognition it deserves.

The Council’s climate change panel has been tasked with setting a target date for carbon zero as part of a Climate Action Plan – which is something Friends of the Earth are calling for, so I do not accept the newspaper’s characterisation that we have “failed” to set a date when actually we are working to come up with a date that’s ambitious and realistic, and we are carrying out what Friends of the Earth has asked us to do.

I personally hope that date is well ahead of 2050, and I even hope we can beat 2030, which the work of the panel will be able to establish rather than plucking a date out of thin air to pander to media headlines. 

There is a real danger that councils will start to operate their climate emergencies based on headlines and perception, rather than doing things that are effective but perhaps not as glamorous. We cannot steal yet more childhoods by warm words and newspaper headlines. The time for action is now – and Redditch Borough Council is embarked on evidence-led action that will make a difference, not aiming for what will win a quick headline.

Finally, I don’t buy that “21 places from the bottom” counts as ‘near bottom’ – bottom 5 would be ‘near bottom’ – if anything we are actually mid-table, which is still not good enough, but let’s not make out we’re ‘near bottom’ when actually we’re not.

I’m publishing the details of the 13 good causes across Redditch that I’m supporting as part of the Councillor Grant Scheme

In accordance with the Councillor Community Grant Scheme Policy, I have decided to support a number of good causes across Church Hill and wider Redditch.

As someone who believes in strong public scrutiny, I have also decided to publish the details of the organisations I support on behalf of you, the taxpayers of Redditch.

This is your money, which the council decides to invest in local community good causes on your behalf. It’s important for you to know what causes are being supported, and by which Councillors.

It is up to each Councillor to decide how much information they want to provide above and beyond the basic information published on the council’s website.

It is up to you, the voters, to hold Councillors to account for their decisions at the ballot box.

I fully support the Councillor Community Grant Scheme – it’s a great way to get much-needed funds down to the grassroots level of society where it can really make a difference. One of the projects I recently supported was able to provide a summer holiday youth club for children with autism.

If you would like to see which organisations I am supporting and how much I am planning to donate please click here to see the dedicated page on my website.

My Response to Redditch Standard Editor’s Comment on RBC Climate Change Panel

Response to Editor’s Comment, Page 8, 27/09/2019

In response to this week’s Editor’s Comment, I just wanted to explain a couple of things and let residents judge for themselves in possession of both sides of the debate, not just the one.

Actually, by having our Climate Change Panel in private we can have *more* public engagement and participation in its work not less. As a private panel, it has the power to set its own topics and invite key members of the public to come and present and/or give evidence. This means the opportunity for interested people to come and persuade the powers that be is *greater* than it could be in a public meeting.

A public meeting only allows the public to come and ask a question. Questions are usually time-limited and at the discretion of the chair. That’s because the public are there to observe and scrutinise the work of elected officials in a public meeting so they can hold them to account at an election time, whereas in a private meeting they can be elevated to contributors and give their evidence and submissions in what the modern world refers to as a safe space. It’s an important distinction. 

As for the target – the reason why this has been sent to the panel to determine is due to those of us in the Conservative administration having a belief that we can actually set the target to be sooner than 2030, so we want the panel to determine if this is feasible or not. We want them to come back with an answer based on evidence, not political expediency. We know other councils have opted for 2030 or 2050 in response to public pressure, but how do any of us know that actually they could not have done it by 2025 or 2032 or 2038 or sooner? 

I don’t deny that the public mood on this topic has helped us get our skates on. But the local media and local campaigners seem to forget that my colleagues and I are on the same page, we are on board with this and we share that public mood too. We are, after all, representatives of the people.

What’s more, we turn up to the meetings. It’s all well and good to make a big noise about ‘public’ versus ‘private’ but the council has held TWO public meetings on this topic now and there were no Green campaigners or environmental activists in either of these meetings. As I’ve said before, it’s all well and good amassing a crowd outside Town Hall, but you’ve also got to engage in the committee rooms where the decisions are made.

Also in the Letters Page this week…

Redditch set to benefit massively from up to £25m from new Towns Fund

Her Majesty’s Government today announced that 100 places across England have been invited to submit a business case to access up to £25m each from the £3.6bn Towns Fund established by our Conservative government.

There’s more to politics than Brexit, and Redditch really needs this boost – so it was fantastic news to hear this morning that Redditch is one of the towns that will get something from this fund.

Continue reading “Redditch set to benefit massively from up to £25m from new Towns Fund”

Have your say on the updated Redditch Borough Council tenancy agreement

The Redditch Borough Council tenancy agreement is changing.

Have a look & tell the council your views, by 16th September 2019.

  • New updated clearer style
  • All your rights and responsibilities
  • Useful contacts
  • And much more

See ‘Housing Tenancy Conditions and Agreement’ at www.redditchbc.gov.uk/consultations

The 21 Conservative rebels who have had the whip removed – and how their constituencies voted on Brexit

SurnameForenameConstituencyConstituency VotedMP Voted
BebbGutoAberconwyLeaveRemain
GrieveDominicBeaconsfieldRemainRemain
GyimahSamEast SurreyLeaveRemain
SandbachAntoinetteEddisburyLeaveRemain
MiltonAnneGuildfordRemainRemain
SoamesNicholasMid SussexRemainRemain
BenyonRichardNewburyRemainRemain
BurtAlistairNorth East BedfordshireLeaveRemain
StewartRoryPenrith & The BorderLeaveRemain
GreeningJustinePutneyRemainRemain
NokesCarolineRomsey & Southampton NorthRemainRemain
HammondStephenRunnymede & WeybridgeRemainRemain
ClarkeKennethRushcliffeRemainRemain
GaukeDavidSouth West HertfordshireRemainRemain
JamesMargotStourbridgeLeaveRemain
Clark GregTunbridge WellsRemainRemain
VaizeyEdWantageRemainRemain
HarringtonRichardWatfordLeaveRemain
LetwinOliverWest DorsetLeaveRemain
HammondPhilipWimbledonRemainRemain
BrineSteveWinchesterRemainRemain

8 of the 21 rebels were out of step with their constituencies.

Spotted an error? Email mike@mikerouse.uk

August update on Anti-social Behaviour issues in Church Hill

I am unable to attend tomorrow’s PACT meeting at St. Andrew’s Church at 7.00pm, so I wanted to do a quick written update for local residents on the work I have been doing to tackle anti-social behaviour in Church Hill. To be precise, I’m referring to the kind of anti-social behaviour that involves groups of young people behaving in dangerous, intimidating and sometimes illegal ways.

During and after a recent Friday night local Councillor surgery session I encountered one of the groups directly, along with Cllr Juliet Brunner who joins me at the sessions from a County Council perspective. I become very concerned about the behaviour of the group and what they were up to that a call to the police became necessary.

In the days that followed I met with police and council officers and a number of actions have been taken, including the cutting back of some bushes and trees that were being used as hiding places to carry out illegal activities. It was shocking to say the least that some of the people associated with these activities were clearly below the age of 15 or 16.

Fast-forward to more recently and this time I encounter a group of young people, and one young person in particular, who was riding his bicycle up and down the bus road across the Tanhouse Lane junction, right up to the bus and right in front of it doing wheelies. At one point the bus had to slam on its brakes to avoid hitting the young person, who couldn’t have been more than 17 years old or so. Another call was made to the police.

At both incidents I very obviously called the police, right in front of the groups. I am not a small bloke and I won’t allow these kids to intimidate me. However, on both occasions neither of the groups were in the slightest bit bothered that I had called the police. They were not afraid the police would come, and they just carried on doing what they were doing. Eventually, as the calls to the police went on they realised I really did call the police so they casually drifted away. It felt more like they were reluctantly moving on more to avoid the awkwardness of the situation than any fear of being in trouble with the police.

Therein lies the problem, folks. These young people – who come from all over Redditch to hang out in Church Hill, by the way – are seemingly fearless and operate with a sense of impunity. They do whatever they want, whenever they want and they don’t respond to adults telling them otherwise.

Well, we shall see about that.

Over the coming days, weeks and months I will be working with my colleagues on the Borough Council, my colleagues at the County Council – especially Juliet Brunner who set up the Matchborough Task Force after similar issues were encountered there – and also with West Mercia Police to see what further options we have to explore.

I will work with our MP, Rachel Maclean, to continue to lobby government and in particular the Home Secretary, Priti Patel, to ensure that our police are getting the resources they clearly need to help local communities like ours.

I will not be partisan in this work and I will reach across the political aisle for support in dealing with this problem – I hope my political opponents will also approach this in a bipartisan way also.

Finally, I urge you all to keep calling 101, or if the situation requires it, 999. By reporting problems and incidents we can start to create a better intelligence picture, allowing police to respond better and more proactively, but also so the Borough Council and County Council can direct resources appropriately.

Redditch Borough Council issued with “Section 24” financial warning

Redditch Borough Council has been issued with a “Section 24 notice” by the Borough’s auditors. The Redditch Standard has the story.

Continue reading “Redditch Borough Council issued with “Section 24” financial warning”

Ongoing Action Being Taken to Combat Anti-Social and Drug Behaviour in Church Hill – Share your experiences

Anti-social behaviour is something that comes up a lot in my surgeries and local neighbourhood meetings. It ranges from anti-social parking to more sinister acts, which are sometimes actually just plain criminality.

Continue reading “Ongoing Action Being Taken to Combat Anti-Social and Drug Behaviour in Church Hill – Share your experiences”

Have your say on the Conservative Party Leadership election

Boris Johnson vs Jeremy Hunt

As a Councillor for the Conservative Party, I will have a vote in the upcoming leadership elections. As these are important elections that will decide on who the next Prime Minister will be for all of us I have decided to consult with local residents to see who they would like to see become our next Prime Minister.

Continue reading “Have your say on the Conservative Party Leadership election”