Introduction and Win-Wins

Joined up policies, working together

Recently the world’s leading climate scientists gave their starkest warning yet – that we have just 12 years to make the changes we need to reduce emissions and prevent catastrophic climate change.

We can do it – Green councillors lead the way

When many governments are failing us, cities around the world are leading the way in tackling this challenge, often prompted by Green Party councillors. San Francisco currently recycles, re-uses or composts over 80% of its waste and is still improving. In Amsterdam and Copenhagen 30-40% of journeys are by bike, whilst excellent electric public transport is also the norm. Closer to home,iIn Huddersfield, Kirklees Council has installed solar panels on over 2,000 Council properties, saving residents hundreds of pounds every year on energy bills.

We are calling on the Council to join many other cities in the UK and around the world and declare a ‘Climate Emergency’ with an action plan to make us carbon neutral by 2030.

As a small group the Greens are limited in the number of motions we can put to Council. Even so, over the last 4 years we have successfully passed policy on the following:

  • Opposing fracking in York
  • Traffic congestion and air quality (3 motions/amends)
  • International trade deals and the local economy (TTIP)
  • Reducing food poverty in York
  • Divesting from fossil fuels
  • Dealing with cuts to public health services
  • Improving mental health provision
  • Reducing the number of single-use disposable cups used in York
  • Protecting green spaces

Our vision for York – good for climate, good for residents

Our vision is to make York a leading city in tackling climate change and protecting our environment – not just with paper strategies but with practical actions that reduce emissions and also benefit York residents in their day to day lives.

There are many opportunities for “win-win” policies that help to tackle other problems such as low incomes, poverty and inequality at the same time.

Win-win 1: Lower energy use, warmer homes

Over 10% of York residents live in fuel poverty (unable to afford energy bills), rising to 17% in some parts of the city.

We will:

  • Require all new development under Council control (including York Central) to meet Passivhaus or zero carbon standards, providing warm, well-ventilated, affordable to live in homes with very low energy bills;
  • Urgently produce Supplementary Planning Guidance and create a ‘Sustainable Development Fund’ to ensure zero carbon standards on all new developments;
  • Set up a Council Energy Company and invest in insulation and renewables programmes to improve council and private sector housing (including grants to landlords in return for high standards of property maintenance and management).

High quality homes

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Win-win 2: Better air quality, better neighbourhoods, healthier streets

Bad air quality in York affects people’s health and undermines the attractiveness of our city. Most of it is caused by traffic. Green councillors have put air quality at the top of the political agenda, but we need more action.

Fossgate

Our transport policies will:

  • Prioritise traffic free or low traffic streets in the city centre and residential areas
  • Invest in facilities for people with disabilities, pedestrians and cyclists
  • Promote excellent, clean public transport.

City centre retailers, shoppers and visitors will benefit from a modern, traffic free city centre. Local neighbourhoods will benefit from a less traffic dominated environment, encouraging people to get out and about, be physically active and meet each other. People who most need to travel by private car or van, eg. for work, will benefit from less congestion. And asthma sufferers and others will be able to breathe.

Win-win 3: Reducing waste, helping people on low incomes

The Green Party refuses to accept wages so low that people cannot afford the basics of life. This is why we campaign for a Real Living Wage and lead the way in our policies for a Universal Basic Income. But whilst Government fails to deliver, reducing waste and encouraging re-use and repair can be one way of helping people on lower incomes (and everyone else) to make the most of what we have, whilst reducing litter and fly-tipping, waste to landfill or incineration and climate emissions.

We will:

  • Support York Food Poverty Alliance, Vulnerable York and the network of local food poverty initiatives using reclaimed food from supermarkets to provide ‘Pay As You Feel’ food.
  • Begin feasibility studies for new re-use facilities at or close to the Hazel Court depot. Modelled on the principle of the nearby Community Furniture Store and Devon County Council’s Re-Use Shops, this will provide an outlet for unwanted household items of all kinds to be refurbished and made available for purchase at low prices.
  • Create a fund to support the development of a network of repair initiatives around the city including repair cafes, small businesses and social enterprises.

Rosie Baker waste food kitchen

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Win-win 3: Mental health and green spaces

Mental ill-health is a growing issue in York and nationally, with shocking levels of mental health problems amongst our children and young people. Green councillors have campaigned consistently for better, more coordinated and accessible services for all those who need support right now. Longer term our policies for education, children and young people, active local communities and the protection and improvement of green spaces can all play a big part in preventing and reducing mental ill health (as well as improving air quality and absorbing pollution).

Micklegate parklet

We will:

  • Urgently develop planning and asset management policies to protect green spaces and pocket parks in the city centre and urban areas;
  • Invest in a Green Spaces Fund to provide more consistent funding for community involvement in local green spaces everywhere;
  • Ensure that all Council departments implement policies that are consistent with enabling residents to get closer to nature and in contact with each other – looking after our local environment whilst helping to reduce loneliness and social isolation.
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