Worcester City Council - Green Policies Agreed

18 May 2016

Last night (Tuesday 17th May) talks broke down on a three party power sharing agreement. Two of the three parties involved agreed, but Labour walked away. The Council must have leadership and the Green Party ultimately then had to choose which side to back.

The Green Party decided to back a Labour administration because of the greater overlap in policies between the two parties. The arrangement is for 1 year and is a confidence and supply agreement. This means that the Green Party will be voting on a case by case basis.

The council is facing an uncertain future as central funding is being reduced and it needs to increase revenues.

The new Labour administration has agreed to implement a combination of Green Party policies that will raise some funding via installing, where possible, solar panels on council owned buildings and land, and will take steps to introduce more housing above city centre shops. We have also agreed to set-up a cross party working group to work with football club to bring them home to Worcester. For a full list of the agreed terms of our agreement for supporting the current leadership see below:

Priorities for Green Party Support of Worcester City Council

Climate change and energy

  • Have a yearly carbon budget that targets carbon reductions, to be approved by full council at same time as the financial budget.
  • Include transition to a low carbon economy as a priority for economic development.
  • Carry out a survey of potential council owned sites for installation of solar panels and assess their financial feasibility by November 2016. Goal is to have first phase of panels installed by May 2017.
  • Create an energy strategy designed to reduce energy use and make money through renewable energy.
  • The council will take the lead in bundling residents’ energy needs to get a good deal on 100% renewable electricity. Feasibility and initial pilots in place by end December 2016.
  • Work with the Housing Associations to further implement energy-saving measures in all social housing.

Biodiversity

  • Review, update and implement the Biodiversity Action Plan (including provision of park rangers)
  • Ban the use of weed-killer glyphosate on council-owned land

Outsourcing and local sourcing

  • Block the out-sourcing of ‘Cleaner and Greener’. No further outsourcing without the chance and time to improve costs and productivity. No outsourcing to companies that do not pay the Living Wage (as defined by The Living Wage Foundation http://www.livingwage.org.uk/what-living-wage) and have zero-hour contracts.
  • Conduct a study into the implications of and opportunities for sourcing goods and services locally. Display the percentage of locally sourced goods and services within the city magazine Worcester Life and annual targets set by the cabinet. Significant purchasing decisions will use LM3 method as one of the criteria, which measures the effect on the local economy as well as the actual contract price. (Other councils in the UK have used LM3 – see http://www.local.gov.uk/c/document_library/get_file?uuid=384de7a5-83d0-4e63-8d17-59ebdba82432&groupId=10180 for instance.)

Housing

  • Tighten up housing enforcement and clamp down on rogue landlords
  • A representative from the Passivhaus Trust will be invited to a seminar with officers and members. The council will seek to form a partnership with a developer (e.g. Fortis Living) to build 20 Passivhaus homes on council-owned land as an exemplar. Council will take part in the Empty Homes Loan Fund to help owners of empty properties bring them into affordable housing use. (Nearly 60 councils are currently taking part – see www.emptyhomes.com)
  • The council will implement ‘Living over the Shop’:
    • Work with and lobby central government to introduce the carrot and stick measures that will make this type of work easier in the future.
    • To introduce / strengthen city centre mandatory planning guidelines for all new and refurbished developments to consider the potential to include residential use within the development. Planning applications that include residential living space above city centre shops and offices to be considered favourably.
    • The council will make an assessment of the overall potential to increase the amount of Living Over The Shop to increase housing whilst at the same time increase council tax remittances

Encouraging people's participation in democracy

Establish a cross-party working group to investigate why people do not vote in local elections and then make recommendations to improve voter turnout.

Football ground

The Green Party does not favour the football ground being sited at Perdiswell. A cross-party group of councillors (one from each party Labour, Conservative and Green), chaired by Worcester City Council Chief Executive will work with officers and representatives of the club management and the supporters trust to identify alternative sites and select the best site for Worcester. The council will make a sum of money available to Worcester City Football Club to help them create a new planning application for the chosen site.

Congestion and air pollution

  • Monitor street-level air pollution and report levels on the council website, possibly with other key performance indicators.
  • Enforce the Lowesmoor low-congestion zone.
  • Increase the number of bike racks in the city – especially near Foregate station.

Council employees’ pension funds

Pension funds will not be invested in fossil fuels.

Quarterly meetings between the Green Party and the Council leadership will be held to check on the progress of the above proposals.

 






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Green Party Meetings

Come along to our monthly meeting to discuss our plans for Worcester and Worcestershire. Our next meeting starts at 7.30pm on Wednesday 24th January in the upstairs room at The Cricketers on Angel Street. It would be great to see some new people.

For more information, contact Louis via email or telephone 01905 359 509.