A report by the Chairman of the Member Working Group Councillor Anne Dorrian
Councillor Anne Dorrian Chairman of the Member Working Group presented the report to the committee and reminded members that the review arose following the two original Motions on Notice tabled at Full Council on the 15 July 2019: Full Council voting on a procedural motion. Stating that her initial reaction to the decision had not been too positive, Councillor Dorrian advised that she was now most confident that the piece of work being undertaken would enhance the working of the Council into the future.
Providing an overview of the group, Councillor Dorrian confirmed it was convened of five elected members including the portfolio holder; eight members of the Council’s staff with the agreement of the Chief Executive and one member of the public Mrs Victoria Haw. Councillor Dorrian further expressed her gratitude to the Officers of the Council who had provided ongoing support to the group.
Addressing the report tabled Councillor Dorrian referred members to point 2.7 therein and confirmed that investigations into comparative Council’s undertaking similar work had identified nothing to support any depth of review: Boston’s review was significantly stronger with greater detail.
External representation had been received and members were invited to attend the next meeting of the working group on the 12 November 2019. The NFU along with representatives from Beeswax were confirmed to attend and make representation, with another two businesses also potentially attending.
Two members of staff had each attended events. The Council’s Housing Solutions Manager had attended the “Ashdean” Local Authority Climate Change Toolkit launch in October 2019 and had reported back positively on how it identified promoting the core local benefits to residents.
A Planning Officer had visited an event by Western Power about the Transition to a Zero Carbon Economy.
Addressing the rise in electrically powered vehicles, members were advised that in 2013 there had been 37,000 vehicle charging points across the Country. An estimated 3 million were required by 2030 proving the year on year growth of electric vehicles.
Concluding Councillor Dorrian confirmed that looking forward the final recommendations of the group would be agreed for tabling at the January 2020 meeting of the committee. Whilst the recommendations had not been agreed they would most likely be formed around the areas identified within point 3.5 of the report. Furthermore Councillor Dorrian reassured the committee that the group would continue to lobby for additional resources and the outcomes from the review would be incorporated within the Council’s Corporate Strategy and Transformation Programme.
The Chairman opened the meeting for deliberation which included the following:
A member questioned why there was no mention of public transport within the review, voicing concerns on the buses currently operating through Boston which generated significant dust, noise and air pollution. The member asked if so many buses were actually required, as many appeared to run with only a few customers on them. The member further suggested that Boston should implement a ‘Car Free Day’, where the population who worked within the town, walked or cycled for a day and left their cars at home.
Councillor Dorrian acknowledged the comments in respect of public transport in Boston and supported the idea of a ‘Car Free Day’ stating that the Council should take a leadership role and signpost people. Committee were further advised that following on from the review, consideration of a Citizens Assembly would be looked into as there did appear to be a role for one. Committee were also advised that there was a website where it was possible to sign up for car sharing in your local area and having noticed the amount of officers who drove to work, Councillor Dorrian suggested that the Council could consider offering incentives for staff who car shared to work.
Responding to the comments about residents cycling more and leaving cars behind, a member advised that in her role of working at a local school, she was very aware of the attempts to encourage children and parents to cycle. The main problem that arose was the parents’ fear of their children riding on the very busy roads in the town. Whilst parents were happy for children to ride along the pathways, they would not let them on the roads, in particular some of the main arterial roads within the town which served a number of the schools.
A member asked if when lobbying the Government for resources, the group also lobby for all urban public transport to be electrified to help local authorities to rid their towns of fumes and reduce carbon emissions significantly.
The Chief Executive addressed the meeting at this point and stated that the Council had two issues to address: one was how it would become carbon neutral – what could we do and how could we achieve it, and the second to lead an champion others in achieving similar aims. Furthermore he noted that the Council would support lobbying on cycle networks.
The Portfolio Holder then advised that the work of the group could influence the Boston Transport Strategy including clarifying and identifying cycle routes.
Concluding the Chairman thanked Councillor Dorrian for the detailed presentation and stated that as a member of the working group herself, she had realised from the review that the Council had already undertaken a number of steps to reduce its carbon footprint.
RECOMMENDED: Members agreed to refer the update to Full Council.