CovCAN First Meeting
The first meeting of CovCAN was held in Coventry Council House on 7 June 2019.
Amanda Eccles, Coventry Momentum Climate Change Champion
Andrew Ashe, Coventry Momentum, active in Bankrupt Climate Change campaign, wants to start a Coventry-focussed campaign
Anne Patterson, Coventry Green Party www.facebook.com/CoventryGreenParty, Coventry Friends of the Earth www.facebook.com/groups/522537987955030/about/, Fossil Free Coventry www.facebook.com/CoventryFossilFree/
David Chapman, Environmental Sustainability Team, University of Warwick
Professor David Mond, maths professor who runs interdisciplinary course on climate change at University of Warwick
Emma Mold, Coventry Momentum and Whoberley Labour Ward member
Garren Reddy, father and supporter of Samren, Rugby
Hannah Thein, IT Services, University of Warwick
Councillor Kevin Maton, Cabinet Member for Education and Skills, Coventry City Council
Lloyd Pettiford, Nottingham Greenpeace coordinator.
Philip Brown, CovCAN, covcan.uk
Rachel Gering-Hasthorpe, Extinction Rebellion
Rachel Ward, Five Acre Community Farm committee, angry about climate change and lack of action.
Councillor Richard Brown, Cheylesmore Ward, Chair of the Scrutiny Co-ordination Committee, Coventry City Council
Robyn McSharry, Student Finham Park School
Councillor Rupinder Singh, Lower Stoke Ward, Chair Finance and Corporate Services Scrutiny Board, Coventry City Council
Samantha Reddy, mother and supporter of Samren
Samren Reddy, elected Rugby member of UK Youth Parliament, student climate campaigner
Sarah Pagan, Business Development Manager & Partner Engagement, Coventry & Warwickshire Growth Hub, cwgrowthhub.co.uk
Tom Maidment, Fossil Free Coventry, https://www.facebook.com/pg/CoventryFossilFree/posts/
Tom Moffat, Coventry Labour Party
India Foster, University of Warwick
Tony McNally, Climate Change Solutions
Kenath Wong, Coventry University
Bob Arnott, Coventry octogenarian
Declaring a Climate Emergency
Cllr Maton said he recognised that declaring an emergency would help to focus minds and raise public awareness, but he thought forming a strategy was a longer term process.
Cllr Brown understood people wanted to ask for a climate emergency be declared but he asked what that would achieve.
Samren Reddy said that after the declaration, be the top priority for the council should be to take actions to reduce carbon emissions.
Cllr Brown questioned whether it would be more important than children’s services or caring for the elderly.
Attendees at the meeting were divided on this.
Cllr Singh said he understood that declaring an emergency might change people’s attitudes but if you are going to take money away from children or the elderly you would need evidence that the new thing the money was spent on would have a positive effect. For example he was demanding that the parameters for procurement policy by the council should include green benefits. Those are the kind of things that will have an impact on carbon emissions. People should not think councillors do not care about climate change. They think about it all the time.
The majority of the council’s budget is spent on children’s services and care for elderly. Because of austerity that budget is so tight that taking any money out of these services would probably result in serious harm or death.
Emma said that if this is an emergency then action needs to be taken now. That is the whole point of calling it an emergency. There isn’t time to keep consulting rather than acting.
Council Debate 18 June
Next meeting of Coventry City Council at 14:00 in the Council Chamber on 18 June will have a climate change motion as a main talking point. It will be a public meeting and will also be streamed live at
Although that page is currently showing an error.
After the event it should be available at
Wording of Motion
The motion will be published on Tuesday 11 June, probably at https://edemocracy.coventry.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=130&MId=11931
It will probably not mention declaring a climate emergency.
Lobbying Councillors to change the motion
We need to wait until the motion is published. If we do not like the wording of the motion we must ask our councillors to change the motion. Cllr Maton said “if there was a well-argued case as to why declaring a climate emergency is important then it could be included in the motion”. After we have seen the motion, he invited us to write two or three paragraphs to their own councillors (and send a copy to him) with their alternative wording for the motion and explaining why declaring a climate emergency is important and could make a lot of difference.
He will ensure the list of suggestions is make known to other councillors. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org
To find the councillors for a given postcode visit http://www.coventry.gov.uk/councillors/search
Suggested wordings for motion
There is an template for a climate emergency motion at https://www.campaigncc.org/node/1887
For suggestions about what the motion should cover see https://climateemergency.uk/blog/campaign-guide-for-a-climate-emergency-declaration/
How to agree the wording we want
It was suggested we use the email group address to discuss what wording we want. You must be a member of CovCAN to send email to the group. Join the group at https://covcan.uk/join-covcan/
The group email address is email@example.com
To allow members to edit the template there is now a closed Facebook group at
This has a copy of the template that members can edit.
Which councillors should we be contacting?
Cllr Maton recommended contacting the councillors for the ward you live in (see above for how to identify them).
He would copy every member of the cabinet.
See the appendix for a list.
Demonstration before Council Meeting?
It was suggested people might want to demonstrate before the meeting on 18 June.
Rachel Gering-Hasthorpe suggested people might want to lie down on the pavement.
Need posters prepared.
Need a press strategy.
This could be discussed at the Fossil Free Coventry meeting 18:00 Mon 10-6-19. See Forthcoming meetings below.
Creating a Petition
The meeting agreed that if the council does not pass a motion we like we will have to start a petition to force the full council to debate declaring a climate emergency. We would need 15,000 signatures to ensure this happens.
Motion Proposed by Two Councillors
Note that two councillors can propose and second a motion which would have to be discussed by the council.
Council’s Financial Situation
Cllr Brown said the government will have cut £655 million from the council between 2010 and 2020. He said the council’s annual budget is £234 million. The city’s priority is to protect adult social care and children’s services. Each of these take about ⅓ of this budget. This year income and expenditure are roughly balanced but there will be a £20 million deficit next year. Over the next few months some hard decisions are going to have to be made about what it will have to stop doing. This is against the fact that homelessness is rising and costing the council more every year.
Note added after meeting by Philip Brown
The council’s far from transparent draft statement of accounts for 2018-19 shows revenue expenditure of £727 million and revenue grants of £398 million.
If the council wants the public to understand the dire financial situation the council finds itself in, I think it needs to present figures in a way that can be understood by the average person.
The three councillors all said that most councillors are deeply committed to fight climate change, but that the lack of finance limits what they can do. Also they cannot just implement everything that every pressure group asks them, such as the students who were on strike for climate.
Finance available for Climate Change
The council’s total budget for strategic social and environmental development is £39k, which pays for about one member of staff. So essentially the climate change policy has to be implemented without any budget. In a way this is a good thing because the council will have to rely on other organisations. But it can also make it even more complex because different bodies have different agendas, some of which are politically motivated.
Comment by Samren Reddy
When you consider all the effects of climate change, which include increased immigration due to climate change, lower food security and less water supply, these will cost far more than if we cut back a little in some expenditure now and spend the money avoiding carbon emissions.
Note by Philip Brown
The council has set a priority to look after old people. Climate change is leading to longer heat waves. Warwickshire County Councillor Les Caborn, Portfolio Holder for Health and Wellbeing, said in 2018: “During hot spells vulnerable groups, such as the older people, feel the severe effects of heat more than others and it’s long been recognised that death rates rise in heat waves.”
What could be done that would not cost any money?
Garren Reddy asked this question. Philip Brown said that we would discuss this in the second half of the meeting. [The plan was to explore how CovCAN could help the city reduce its carbon footprint by engaging the people. But there was no time during the meeting to discuss this.]
Greater freedom for Capital than for Revenue expenditure
The council has greater freedom for raising and spending money on capital investment, such as roads and infrastructure, than it does for revenue expenditure such as child’s service and adult social care. It is therefore open to ideas for what could be done
Aspects of City’s Work
The Coventry City Council Cabinet Member for City Services, which includes recycling, is Councillor Patricia Heatherton. Cllr Maton said she was “outraged” by the fact that there is no recycling facilities within the Council House, and would be very keen to listen to anyone with ideas for improvement.
Your Rubbish App
David Chapman mentioned the app “Your Rubbish” developed by Coventry University which helps people remember to put their bins out, find out which bins to put out and whether you they can recycle certain items. He said the city was not promoting it through social media although it is available on their website at http://www.coventry.gov.uk/info/69/rubbish_and_recycling/446/reuse_and_recycle/4 .
Schools and other educational buildings generally do not have low energy lighting or smart lighting that automatically switches off because schools find it hard to find the money to pay for it even though there would be subsidies if they could.
[Note, Carbon Trust says UK schools could reduce energy costs by around £44 million per year which would prevent 625,000 tonnes of CO2 from entering the atmosphere by improving energy efficiency.
See https://educationbusinessuk.net/features/shining-light-energy-schools ]
David Chapman asked whether it is worth bringing large businesses in the city together to create a Savings Fund to help finance these changes.
Cllr Maton said part of the problem is that most secondary schools are academies and therefore private businesses.
Publicity on CovCAN Website
One aim of CovCAN is to let people know what Coventry has done and is still doing to reduce its carbon footprint. For example Cllr Singh mentioned the planned light railway.
Coventry City Council has five of these which which keep a check on the decisions and how they are made. See http://www.coventry.gov.uk/info/131/meetings/222/scrutiny
Cllr Singh is Chair Finance and Corporate Services Scrutiny Board.
Cllr Brown is the Chair of the Scrutiny Co-ordination Committee which sits above the boards.
Climate change will come to this committee, probably in July. These are public meetings and Cllr Brown would welcome more public engagement.
Two meetings are scheduled. For details see https://edemocracy.coventry.gov.uk/ieListMeetings.aspx?CommitteeId=151
School Heads Partnerships
Cllr Maton said that the council will begin to implement striking student’s idea of eco-teams in schools through the three school partnerships (primary, secondary and special) consisting of head teachers. Currently they focus on delivering education and do not have time to think strategically about how it is delivered. Pressure from students will help to engage them with this question.
Cllr Brown said CovCAN should try to influence school governors.
There is a governor’s conference next week that Cllr Maton will probably go to.
It might be too late to do anything for this conference.
See also the City Council School Governor Support Service page at http://www.coventry.gov.uk/governorsupportservice
There is no information on a Coventry school governor’s conference.
Perhaps also see the National Governance Association
He wants to get in touch with as many schools as possible to support his efforts to promote climate change. He is also happy to deliver presentations in schools. Please get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org
Questions and Suggestions for Council
Disinvestment of Pension Funds in Fossil Fuels
Taking pension fund investments out of fossil fuel industries and investing in local green businesses would bring jobs to the region. This would not cost the council anything but would help the fight against climate change.
Cllrs Singh and Brown said yes, they would take that forward. Send details to email@example.com
What powers does the council have?
Can it mandate tree planting, exclude lorries from certain areas, make recycling obligatory?
The council does have powers. Friends of the Earth lists 33 powers that local authorities can take.
But Cllr Maton said the council has to convince people the council is not being overly draconian. It has to work with communities to move forward together.
Can the council make the roads less dangerous for cyclists and so get people out of their cars?
Cllr Brown said he is a cyclist and cycling reduces carbon emissions and child obesity while it improves air quality, physical and mental health. Coventry is compact and flat and suits cycling.
The council has done a few things over the past few years but to really make the roads safe for cyclists and change the culture of driving it will take significant amounts of money.
Problems are wider than just climate change
The problem is not just climate change. Air quality and other aspects of the environment are being damaged by causes other than carbon emissions. Solutions could be congestion charge or rerouting traffic.
Technology is changing, for example electric vehicles, driverless vehicles and many others, so the council needs forecasts of how society will change so it does not put expensive solutions in place that will become redundant in few years. Any capital investment needs to have a long-term effect.
Aren’t councillors more concerned with getting elected in the next few years rather than thinking about the long-term problems that climate change will cause?
Cllr Brown said no, he is concerned for his grandchildren which is why he was at this meeting on a Friday night, to learn what people want the council to do first. He cares deeply and it frustrated him that he cannot do more.
Listen to information from Fossil Free Coventry
Would councillors be willing to listen to information about climate change that Fossil Free Coventry has compiled from government sources?
Councillors would be interested in any figures that apply to Coventry regarding energy usage and future trends.
David Chapman asked what can be done now to show people that something is happening.
The Sustainability Team was cut some time ago so there is nobody to promote the positive side of what is being done.
Driving children to school
Walter Milner asked if the council could encourage parents not to drive children to school. This would help reduce pollution, remove parking problem and help with reducing obesity of children. Walking buses are one way to replace cars.
Cllr Maton said schools are already doing this as much as they can. The council could do more about fining parents who park on the restricted parking area outside schools, but they are planning to do more. Parents do not like it and they say that public transport is not adequate. This is another subject that needs engagement and conversation.
Cllr Brown said that teachers have been threatened when they have asked parents not to park near the school. Sending children out to ask parents not to park has risks regarding safeguarding.
City of Culture
Cllr Brown said this is a chance in a lifetime. CovCAN and other activists should be aiming to work with them. He wants Coventry to be seen as a green city that is doing things to help save the environment. It should be a fundamental part of City of Culture. CovCAN needs to lobby them. He has been appointed onto the Trust Board.
He is the Strategic Lead for UK City of Culture, European City of Sport and Commonwealth Games at Coventry City Council. Several people said he was not responsive to green ideas.
The Preston Model
Preston is in a similar situation to Coventry: post-industrial with a larger city nearby. It uses procurement policies based around environment and sustainability.
Other things the council could do
Could it buy local produce and so reduce greenhouse gas emissions?
See Local Government Association advice to councils on how preparing for a changing climate can help achieve wider local priorities at https://www.local.gov.uk/sites/default/files/documents/councillor-briefing-pack–750.pdf
Garren Reddy suggested the council look at the carbon footprint and supply chain of construction companies, which often make large profits. The council could look to use local suppliers and the workers within the council itself.
Future Climate Change Strategy
The council will be publishing this next year.
For information on the previous strategy, Coventry Climate Change Strategy for 2020, see
Climate Change has Wide-Ranging Implications
One of the difficulties about formulating a climate change policy is that it covers many different interlinked aspects of the council’s work such as schools, transport, employment and job creation, green energy, 5G (5th generation mobile networks) and how that links in with reducing energy consumption, so creating a new policy is very complex.
Keys for success
A successful strategy will require improve collaboration. In addition, once formulated the strategy will need to be communicated to the public because they will have an important role to play to make it work.
Climate Change Youth Board
Cllr Maton said he was looking at following the example of Manchester to create a Climate Change Youth Board that would ensure young people “have a direct route to seeing what is going into Coventry’s Climate Change Policy Document”.
Note that Manchester Climate Change Board, of which the Youth Board is just one part, is more than just a consultative body. It is responsible for overseeing and championing the delivery of Manchester’s Climate Change Strategy for 2017-50. Manchester Climate Change Board ensures that Manchester develops and successfully implements a city climate change strategy that is consistent with the Paris Agreement and Manchester’s aim to play its full part in limiting the impacts of climate change, locally and globally. And to ensure that this strategy is built on the views of city stakeholders and the latest science.
Six members of the board form the Climate Change Youth Board.
For more information see https://covcan.uk/manchester-climate-change-board/
Council Engagement with Public
Councillors said the council needs to consult with the wider public and organisations on what the council’s priorities should be. This will take time. So students should not be disheartened that none of their requests were accepted.
Suggestions from the Public
Cllr Singh said that he receives emails with suggestions all the time about what else the council could do.
Philip Brown said that at present there is no way of bringing these ideas together and prioritising them.
CovCAN was one way they could engage the public, both through meetings and the website. They could make their suggestions to the website and others could vote to help councillors understand what people want.
Switch from demanding action to suggesting ways we can help
Walter Milner suggested that CovCAN should be helping the council by offering and helping them implement creative solutions to problems.
Promoting Coventry’s Successes
One of the aims of CovCAN should be to promote the good things the council are already doing. For example at the meeting with Cllr Duggins there was an inspirational presentation by Colin Knight, Director Transportation and Highways, and Shamala Evans. He would contact Mr Knight to talk about recording an interview and gather more information that can be added to the website.
Council support for CovCAN
Philip Brown suggested the council could add the council’s logo to the CovCAN website to show their involvement.
Reaching out to Businesses
The council should be talking to businesses to see how they can contribute to schemes such as promoting cycling and helping schools convert to low carbon energy.
Council Scrutiny Co-ordination Committee
See Cllr Brown’s comments above about increasing public engagement.
This is a non-party-political group (originating from of Labour Party members but open to anyone) who are currently planning a weekend Climate Change Conference in November. It will consist of a fair, workshops and panel of experts.
Their next meeting is 19:30 on 13th June upstairs at the Maudslay Pub, Allesley Old Road
Contact is Chris Jones firstname.lastname@example.org
Save the Planet from Plastic Pollution
Gabrielle Back, President Coventry Rotary Breakfast Club and World Green Ambassador is working on a plastics project which has been going on for a year and has involved schools and community groups. She will organise an exhibition ‘cut down on plastics in aid of the environment’ collage and exhibition of children’s work on raising awareness of plastic pollution which will be officially launched by the Lord Mayor of Coventry at 10:30 on June 28th in Holy Trinity Church, Broadgate, Coventry.
She can send invitations to anyone that might like to attend.
Contact her at email@example.com
Forthcoming Climate Change Events & Meetings
Fossil Free Coventry
18:00 Mon 10-6-19 Fossil Free Coventry meeting in Room ABG20 of the Alan Berry Building at Coventry University. If anyone gets lost they can call 07503651758.
Coventry Council Motion Published
Tue 11-6-19 Publication of text of motion on climate change to be discussed in the Council meeting on 18-6-19
Constituency Labour Party Meeting
19:30 Wed 12-6-19 Will discuss climate change. 19:30 – 21:00, The Humber, Humber Rd, Coventry CV3 1BA.
Party members and supporters welcome.
13-6-19 19:30 upstairs at the Maudslay Pub, Allesley Old Road
Planning a weekend Climate Change Conference in November.
Chris Jones firstname.lastname@example.org
Demonstration before Council Meeting
13:00 ? Tue 18-6-19 Outside Council House
Coventry City Council Meeting
14:00 Tue 18-6-19 Will have a motion on climate change.
Council Chamber, Coventry Council House
Council Scrutiny Co-ordination Committee
10:00 19-6-19 Might not discuss climate change. Agenda will be published at
Extinction Rebellion Event
19:30 27-6-19 Friends Meeting House, Hill St, Coventry CV1 4AN
First meeting of Coventry and Warwickshire Extinction Rebellion on
Please like and follow our new Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Extinction-Rebellion-Coventry-and-Warwickshire
The email address for the Extinction Rebellion group is: email@example.com
For those who would like more information about what XR is: https://rebellion.earth/the-truth/about-us/
Save the Planet from Plastic Pollution
10:30 on June 28th in Holy Trinity Church, Broadgate, Coventry.
Launch of exhibition of children’s work launched by the Lord Mayor of Coventry.
19:00 – 20:30 Friday 12 July 2019
Coventry Council House (to be confirmed)
Council Scrutiny Co-ordination Committee
10:00 17 July
Will probably discuss climate change. Agenda will be published at
Green Week 2020
2 – 8 March. David Chapman is helping to organise. Wants as many as possible to be engaged and active. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
People at the meeting generally agreed they will
- Write to their councillors if they want the climate emergency motion changed
- Attend the Council Debate on 18 June
Future of CovCAN
There was not much time to discuss this.
Philip Brown’s original aims
- To have a website that is a gateway into local events and activities and information about climate change.
- Help school eco-teams exchange ideas and coordinate efforts.
- Let activists and network add news or articles. Email them to email@example.com
- Help the city reduce its carbon footprint by engaging citizens and families in simple activities that would also save them money.
Ideas arising during meeting:
- To be a network of other networks
- Enable citizens, activists and councillors to contribute their ideas on what could be done.
- Allow citizens to vote on the these ideas to help councillors understand public sentiment.
- Promote behaviour change inside and outside the council to reduce carbon footprint.
- Promote behaviour change in businesses.
- Harness public interest in climate change to explain what they can do and support them through the change.
- Contact business and groups such as Cov & Warwickshire LEP, Chamber of Commerce, Federation of Small Businesses, City of Culture
- Check out Friends of the Earth’s 33 suggestions (see above)
- Organise events outside city centre to engage the public and communities
- Encourage people to get out of their cars
- Should run campaigns provided not party political
- Encourage schools to support students who want to take action
- Influence school governors
- Perhaps meet with Communications team of Coventry City Council
Philip Brown suggested we form a Steering Committee to do things like draft constitution, think about finance etc. If you want to join please write to firstname.lastname@example.org
Coventry Friends of the Earth
Message received from Anne Patterson.
The situation with Coventry Friends of the Earth is that it was an active group but became moribund a few years ago, 3 years ago there was a revival of the group and I ended up taking on the Co-ordinator role. We managed to do stalls at a couple of events and had several meetings but unfortunately interest dwindled and I was not able to continue as Co-ordinator due to also being an officer of a political party in my role as Co-ordinator of the local Green Party. The last meeting was only attended by me & the outgoing regional Co-ordinator so it was really not viable to continue as an active group. I have continued to manage the Coventry Friends of the Earth Facebook group as a networking site and I am still on the Friends of the Earth email list so do get information some of which can feed into other campaigning activity locally.
Questions Asked After the Meeting
After the meeting, Walter Milner and Rachel Ward asked Philip Brown some questions which there was not time to ask at the meeting. Here they are with the answers from Philip Brown.
What kind of thing is CovCAN? What is the focus, young people or lobbying?
It is whatever its members want it to be. We need a Steering Group to make these kinds of decisions. Let me know if you want to join.
Does it have a constitution, or standing orders, or memo of association, or mission statement, or similar?
Not yet. That’s a job for the Steering Committee.
Who are the members of CovCAN?
Those who ticked the box on the registration form or filed in the application form on the website.
Do all the members know everything it does?
Yes, via the members’ private email group.
There might be times when we do not want certain people to know what we are doing.
In that case they would not be put onto the website or in the newsletter, which are for public consumption.
How is it financed? Who pays for the website? Who paid for the banner?
Philip Brown is currently paying for these things.
Does it have a bank account? Is it audited?
Is CovCAN part of this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climate_Action_Network?
19:00 – 20:45
Friday 12 July
Coventry Council House
The Leader, Councillor George Duggins, email@example.com
The Deputy Leader, Councillor Abdul Salam Khan, firstname.lastname@example.org
Cabinet Member for Strategic Finance and Resources, Councillor John Mutton, email@example.com
Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, Councillor Patricia Seaman, firstname.lastname@example.org
Cabinet Member for Education and Skills, Councillor Kevin Maton, email@example.com
Cabinet Member for Jobs and Regeneration, Cllr Jim O’Boyle, jim.o’firstname.lastname@example.org
Cabinet Member for City Services, Councillor Patricia Heatherton, email@example.com
Cabinet Member for Adult Services, Councillor Mal Mutton, firstname.lastname@example.org
Cabinet Member for Public Health and Sport, Councillor Kamran Caan, email@example.com
Cabinet Member for Housing and Communities, Councillor Tariq Khan, firstname.lastname@example.org