Green councillors frustrated by Conservative Administration refusal to act on climate, home designs and town boost.

14 March 2020

Green Group Leader Rachel Eburne said “This was an unambitious business-as-usual budget. We proposed futureproofing which is needed for the very different times ahead.”

The key proposal was to aim for all new housing to be zero carbon, both from developers and social housing. Supporting projects would make new council houses truly affordable with much lower energy bills, and the council should run a competition to design truly sustainable zero emissions Suffolk houses. This would provide help for local architects, small construction companies and self-builders, who would have free use of the resulting plans.

Stowmarket businesses would benefit from free parking after 3pm one day each week and vouchers to encourage community buses bringing people from surrounding villages. Additionally all car parks in Stowmarket, Needham and Eye as well as other Council Buildings, should be equipped with electric vehicle charging points.

All the actions proposed are already being carried out by other councils around the country.

Seconding the group of amendments, Liberal Democrat Group Leader John Field said “We need to provide a clear lead on sustainable housing”.

During the debate on the budget amendments proposed by the Green and LibDem groups, a series of Conservative councillors posed difficulties of detail, either too much or too little, or too expensive, as reasons to oppose, despite the £9.3million in reserves. Finance chief councillor John Whitehead said that they were already developing very similar ideas and that further work was needed to avoid duplication.

Councillor Eburne commented afterwards, “These niggling reservations were unreasonable because all the rejected ideas had been put forward, discussed with the Conservatives and refined over three months during the budget preparation period.  Nor should we be stockpiling taxpayers’ money.”

The council’s investment strategy will for the first time take account of climate change after Green councillors moved an amendment in the Audit Committee which has now been endorsed by the full council.

Public opposition to borrowing to buy commercial property outside the District was emphasised once again, and Councillor Andrew Stringer said: “The CIFCO Ltd investments represent an unnecessary risk to the council and its residents when the accounts show a surplus each year which exceeds the income from CIFCO.”

“The ideas in our amendments had the support of over half the voters last May. There is a democratic deficit in allowing a party supported by only four in ten voters to exert complete control through the casting vote of the Chair” concluded Councillor John Matthissen.

Regional News

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