A councillor has criticised a “lack of progress” on plans to tackle the climate emergency in Lichfield and Burntwood.
Cllr Steve Norman, leader of the Labour opposition group at Lichfield District Council, made his comments after an overview and scrutiny committee meeting this week.
The session was told no briefing paper was available on the issue, despite a previous request in July for it to be made available to the group.
Cllr Norman said Cllr Ashley Yeates, cabinet member responsible for climate change and recycling, needed to provide more detail on what steps were being taken.
“I proposed, and it was agreed, for a task group to be formed to look into the progress, or rather lack of progress.
“I was astonished that the Cabinet member seemed to be blaming an officer for the lack of the briefing paper that he was asked two months ago to provide, saying that they were on annual leave.
“As I understand it, they were only on annual leave this week but blaming an officer is really not on.
“Lichfield District Council’s target year for zero net carbon is 2050, while most district councils in Staffordshire have year 2030 so maybe that is why the council’s climate champion is not in a rush to save the planet?”Cllr Steve Norman, Lichfield District Council
Cllr Yeates told the meeting that while a briefing paper “hasn’t materialised”, steps were being taken to understand the scale of the work that needed to take place on the climate change emergency.
“A lot of councils have employed someone in house to lead on it, or they’ve had their officers go on training courses – we are going to do both of those things.
“We’re looking to employ someone on a two year contract to lead on this and we are having training for the heads of services.
“We’ve got to come up with an action plan and we’ve commissioned a company to do this.
“The action plan will be implemented over 10 years. I hope there’ll be a few things done a lot quicker than that, but you’re talking offices, vehicles and things like that – it’s a massive task.
“That’s why we’re bringing someone in to head it up, work with me and get these things happening.
“What I’m hoping is that within six months time I can come back with an action plan. Although we’re ahead of a lot of other councils, we are a little bit behind, but I think we’ll catch up very quickly.”Cllr Ashley Yeates, Lichfield District Council
“There is help closer to home”
Cllr Mike Wilcox, Conservative representative for Alrewas and Fradley, questioned whether support could be gained for other sources rather than external consultants.
“Through the Local Government Association there is a whole raft of areas and support available that we can look at.
“There is help closer to home rather than having to employ people to come and tell us this information.”Cllr Mike Wilcox, Lichfield District Council
But Cllr Yeates said that the complexity of the issue meant some bespoke answers were needed.
“We have had conversations with the Local Government Association, but every council is different.
“We wanted a team to come into Lichfield District Council to come up with solutions for us, as well as taking what we’ve seen elsewhere and being able to use those as well.
“We’ll be able to use a blanket approach and take information from everywhere we can because it is something new and is so far reaching.”Cllr Ashley Yeates, Lichfield District Council