LibLink: Time to restore York’s green city status

Liberal Democrats head to the beautiful city of York next March for Spring Conference.  Recently, our Council Group leader there set out a strong case for the Council to make the city the greenest in England.

Writing for local website YorkMix, Cllr Keith Aspden said:

I recently asked City of York Council to back an ambitious vision to make York the greenest city in the North of England. A city with the highest recycling rates amongst comparable councils. A city with a food waste recycling scheme in place.

A city which is seriously and ambitiously looking at renewable energy and sustainable food strategies.

This was a huge priority when the Liberal Democrats held  power in York:

In 2007 the Lib Dem-run City of York Council had begun an ambitious programme to lower council CO2 emissions by 25 per cent in five years.

By reducing the number of authority buildings from 17 to 2, encouraging a change in staff working practices, and installing new biomass heating systems in schools and libraries, the target was comprehensively met – and then exceeded.

Earlier this year, at the end of the programme, a 28 per cent reduction had been achieved.

This was not a one-off. Under the Lib Dems the recycling rate increased from 12 per cent to 43 per cent, “passivhaus” energy efficiency building standards were pioneered and a scheme to install solar panels on over 400 council homes was started.

Things have slipped a bit since then, sadly:

Unfortunately, over the last two years the issue has fallen off the political radar and a series of unpopular moves has halted progress. When the well-used Beckfield Lane Recycling Centre was closed and an unpopular green bin tax introduced, the usual refrain of “government cuts” was heard.

However, it has become increasingly apparent that while resources can be found to fund a new cabinet job, or attend an estate agents conference in Cannes, the money cannot be found for green initiatives.

Labour wouldn’t listen to Keith’s calls, though:

While other councils innovate and embrace the opportunities provided by the Government’s Green Deal, York is falling behind. The opportunity to save money through environmental initiatives, and halt the rise in landfill tax pay-outs is being missed.

It was for this reason that I attempted to get cross-party support for my policy motion. Unfortunately, the council’s byzantine guillotine procedure meant our motion was never debated, and was then summarily voted down by Labour’s majority.

Despite this setback, I hope progress can still be made and we can begin the work on restoring York to its rightful position as an innovative and green city – leading the way on environmental issues.

You can read the whole article here.

* Newshound: bringing you the best Lib Dem commentary in print, on air or online.

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