Almost a year after the York Green Party Councillors urged the City of York Council to declare a ‘Climate Emergency’ and commit to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030, they’re preparing to vote on a forward-thinking Council Budget that promises more investment in Green transport systems; low-carbon affordable housing; climate resilience; and support for local communities.
As increasing numbers of York residents choose to make the switch to hybrid and full-electric vehicles, the Council is committing £265,000 to improving the City’s electric car-charging point network. A one-off sum of £200,000 will be used to refresh York’s Local Transport Plan, which hasn’t been updated in nearly 10 years. The new plan will necessarily consider how we can enhance our sustainable transport systems, work towards eliminating non-essential traffic within the City walls by 2023; and ultimately improve our City’s air quality and climate resilience in light of the pressing nature of the Climate Emergency.
Speaking on his Executive Portfolio for Transport in January, Green Party Councillor Andy D’Agorne said that “this authority will be pushing forward clean air and traffic reduction measures, rolling out residents’ parking to protect our residential streets from commuters taking the cheapest option, but also enhancing facilities for walking and cycling and bus travel. So yes, we propose a small increase in car parking charges (but not residents’ parking charges). However, we will shortly have an all-electric or low emission park and ride service, a public park replacing a 1960’s standard car park next to one of our most iconic landmarks at Clifford’s Tower, and a wide consultation with residents and businesses about how to achieve a largely car free city centre by 2023.”
The budget also includes over £600,00 investment in upgrading and developing the city’s electric vehicle charging point network.
Green Party Councillor Denise Craghill has been similarly proactive in her work as Executive Member for Housing and Safer Neighbourhoods. Over the next 5 years the local authority intends to build more than 600 new homes, with a minimum 40% of these deemed ‘affordable’. All new sites in this programme will be 100% certified Passivhaus, emphasising our commitment to tackling climate change. An additional £1,000,000 will be added over the next four years to the £1 million investment in the July budget to support the Council’s programme to retrofit the City’s Council Housing stock to higher levels of energy efficiency; helping to reduce carbon emissions and energy costs to residents. The housing budget also includes additional investment in the maintenance and refurbishment of council homes, a new apprenticeship scheme and extra capacity to regenerate council estates.
The Budget additionally includes funding of over £1,000,000 to create a new waste and street environment service. This service aims to better support local communities with a neighbourhood focus, including increased collection rates, a one-time free replacement for recycling boxes per property, and new sustainable waste collection vehicles.
Further highlighting the council’s commitment to tackling the Climate Emergency, the Council’s Climate Change portfolio has grown by £500,000. This includes £150,000 dedicated towards the “Climate Change Delivery Programme”, for the creation of a team with specialist expertise to coordinate, develop, and implement the Council’s plan to deliver carbon-zero by 2030.
Finally, with the aim of reducing carbon in the atmosphere and improving our resilience to flooding, the Council has additionally committed £3 million over the next 5 years towards the purchase of land for tree-planting as part of the “Northern Forest” initiative which aims to plant 50 million trees across the North of England. Plans so far include the creation a new woodland within the City of York council area along with the possibility of purchasing land upstream to help tackle flooding in York at the same time. There is an additional £50k in the revenue budget to provide capacity to deliver the programme.
These commitments to climate action come at a particularly poignant time as floodwater levels in York remain dangerously high, with many people pointing the finger at climate change. Council officers and councillors continue to offer their support to locals affected by the flooding at this time.
Cllr Denise Craghill said ‘It is very striking that we are bringing forward this budget at a time when the river Ouse is around one of its highest levels ever due to the increasing frequency of severe weather events caused by climate change. It is crucial that we come together as a city and take action on Climate Change. As well as protecting core council services including social care, highways and libraries this budget supports £121m of investment in delivering highly sustainable new homes, investment in developing our approach to retrofitting our existing housing, the capacity to work with York residents on a new sustainable transport plan for York and investment in tree planting, waste services and electric vehicle charging infrastructure. Crucially it will also give us the capacity to develop and maintain a city wide action plan.’
The City of York Council’s Budget Meeting will take place the evening of the 27th February at 18:30 at The Citadel, Gillygate, York, YO31 7EA. Residents and interested parties are encouraged to attend the meeting or watch it via the Council’s live webcast.
A full agenda, reports pack, and proposed amendments for the Council Budget Meeting on the 27th February 2020 can be found on the City of York Council Website: https://democracy.york.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=331&MId=11122&Ver=4