Councillors from the three main political parties in Lewes District would like to see the District Council meet more frequently to address local measures to tackle climate change.
Participating in a debate at the ‘There’s No Planet B’ event at Lewes Town Hall in June, Matthew Bird of Lewes District Green Party, Christine Brett of the Liberal Democrats and Nancy Bikson of the Conservative Party all supported a proposal for monthly full council meetings to take action on climate change. Currently just five or six full district council meetings are held each year.
Speaking during the debate on climate emergency, the three councillors outlined a range of actions they would like to see locally to help reduce the district’s carbon emissions. Christine Brett of the LibDems called for funding for solar power for those on low incomes, more electric car charging in public places and a clear action plan for the district to become carbon neutral. Alongside more support for renewable energy and electric car charging, Nancy Bikson of the Conservatives called for measures to empower individuals to reduce their impact on the environment.
For the Green Party, the priority was a measurable and co-ordinated climate change action plan that could be put out to consultation to get public engagement. Jane Carpenter of campaign group Extinction Rebellion Lewes, who also appeared on the panel, agreed with the need for public engagement, proposing a citizens’ assembly to allow residents to help determine what action should be taken.
‘There’s No Planet B’, hosted by Plastic Free Lewes, presented a day of talks, stalls and debate exploring practical solutions to climate change and environmental pollution.
In answer to audience questions on how climate initiatives in the district should be funded, Bird said: “There is funding – it exists. You can get 75% funding to put in electric vehicle charging points, for example. But I don’t think we seriously know what the issues are yet, how much they’re going to cost and what exactly needs to be funded – we need to know all that first of all.”
Nancy Bikson added: “Addressing climate change needs to be prioritised and if there’s no more money available, it needs to be taken out of something else, because this is more important.”
She added: “I would like to see the council prioritise this as the most important issue to be addressed in the next four years.”
Christine Brett agreed, saying: “I would like to see the [district] council declare a full climate emergency now and draw up and implement an action plan as a matter of urgency. All councillors need to be united in this.”
Jane Carpenter of Extinction Rebellion Lewes concluded: “The most important priority now for the council is to tell the truth about the climate emergency and why we need to act immediately.”