Wed, 03 Jul 2019
THATCHAM Town Council has declared a climate emergency and has committed itself to lead by example in making the town more sustainable.
Councillors voted to explore how the council can support and promote a wider programme of activities to help the town become more sustainable, with the ambition of achieving carbon neutrality by 2030.
The motion also seeks to identify the existing carbon footprint of the town council, identify actions that can reduce the council’s CO2 footprint and set measurable indicators and targets of the carbon footprint of council operations.
The declaration was proposed by the leader of the Liberal Democrat-led town council, David Lister (Thatcham West) at a meeting on Monday.
He said that the climate emergency “had significant implications on many aspects of our daily life, many of which a council has a position to influence”.
He added: “It includes how we use transportation, how we heat our houses, how we generate our electricity, how our industry and businesses transform.
“The council can’t address all these issues, but it is essential that we support our community in making this transition and lead by example.”
But hesitation came from Steve Ardagh-Walter (Con, Thatcham Colthrop and Crookham), who said that while he was “hugely supportive” of the declaration, there were issues he felt needed clarifying.
“It’s very difficult to get to a true underlying base line point in terms of carbon usage,” he said.
“What should and should not be counted? Should officers or council members travel by car?
“We can spend a long, long time coming to a pragmatic long-term measure.”
Mr Ardagh-Walter suggested that the council focus more on communicating and supporting the message of a climate emergency with residents.
Mr Lister replied that a working party would be set up to quantify the details, but that he felt the town council needed to show leadership to residents and businesses.
“They need to come with us, they need to see real leadership,” he said. “This might require us to get on our bikes, quite literally.”
“This is an emergency and that’s the key word. We have to take this seriously.”
Support came from Richard Foster (Lib Dem, Thatcham Colthrop and Crookham) who said: “Some of us have been concerned by this issue for many years, but it only seems to be now that it seems to be gripping the interest of the nation, and thank goodness it’s doing that.
“It’s incumbent on us as a council to show that leadership in our community.
“At the moment I think it’s fair to say we don’t know what we have to do.
“I think the sensible thing is to set up a working party and work on a plan and come back and work to it.”
Owen Jeffery (Lib Dem, Thatcham Central) added: “I think it’s desperately important that we take the whole matter of climate change very, very seriously.
“This is an emergency that’s facing every person that lives on this globe.
“This is for our little town and community of Thatcham.
“We can’t control global warming across the whole of the world, but we can do our own bit in this community to give a very practical example.
“We can get into the nitty gritty of what we can do in Thatcham to do our part in reducing global warming.”
Opposition leader at West Berkshire Council Lee Dillon (Lib Dem, Thatcham North East) said: “This is not a vote for people who can vote now or in 10 years time, this is a vote for those who aren’t even born yet.”
Councillors unanimously passed the motion.
Thatcham’s declaration follows on from its Lib Dem-run neighbouring Newbury Town Council, which also recently declared aclimate emergency.
Green councillor Paul Field (Thatcham Central) and Jeff Brooks (Lib Dem, Thatcham West) sent apologies for absence.