Councillor J Mutton presented the Pre-Budget Report for the financial year 2020-21 in November 2019. The proposals it makes are currently the subject of a public consultation. This article gives an overview of the Report and the Consultation and reflects on their implications in the light of the current climate crisis.
The Report says that Council’s overall future strategy is set out in the “One Coventry Council Plan”. This was produced in 2016, before the climate became a topic of serious international debate. The Plan has not been revised since then. Neither the Plan nor the Report make any mention of climate. Instead they focuses on the same key priorities they had in 2016:
- improving the lives of the most vulnerable people in the city
- attracting businesses and jobs to the city
- opening opportunities for young people.
The city council does not seem to realise that the lives of everyone, including the most vulnerable, are going to be detrimentally affected by global warming. It does not seem to recognise that businesses which provide technology to fight climate change are a growing sector of the economy. It does not seem to acknowledge that young people can find many opportunities, both in work and their own lives, to take action on climate change and encourage others to follow their example.
The Budget Consultation wants to hear views on:
- War Memorial Park Charging for Parking
- Bus Lane/Gate Enforcement – installing cameras at 3 currently unenforced bus gates/lanes and enforce their use through issuing Penalty Charge Notices
- Street Lighting – Options to switch street lights off on some routes at certain times
- Residents Parking Charging – Review of residents parking charges/zones
Of these, only the street lighting proposal seems to have any effect on reducing the city’s use of energy and so reducing its carbon footprint.
They ask the question
In view of the difficult financial situation, what do you think the Council could do differently to reduce costs and save money in the future?
In order to answer this, the public needs to know what the council is already doing to reduce its carbon footprint and reduce costs. CovCAN have already produced several articles on this topic, including https://covcan.uk/what-is-coventry-city-council-doing-to-reduce-carbon-emissions/. The Council website needs to provide similar information.
They finally ask
Do you have any other comments you would like to make?
This will give citizens the opportunity to emphasise that the city needs to take account of climate change as an integral part of everything they do, including producing budgets. There are many things the council could do to both reduce costs and help save the planet. For example it could improve the insulation and reduce the level of heating in the Council House and ensure that lights are turned off after every meeting. It could stop offering plastic cups with its water dispensers and ask people to bring their own water containers.
In general the council is