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Lib Dem proposal for £1M climate emergency pot is shot down by council (Credit: Romsey Advertiser)

February 28, 2022 2:24 PM

A PROPOSAL to set aside one million pounds to be spent on projects addressing the climate emergency has not been supported by the borough council.

The Liberal Democrat group on Test Valley Borough Council (TVBC) put forward an amendment to the authority's 2022/23 budget, requesting that £1M be transferred from the New Homes Bonus reserve, and given its own budget line designated to the Climate Emergency Action Plan.

Speaking at the full council meeting on Friday (February 25), Cllr Celia Dowden, group leader, said that the New Homes Bonus reserve is forecast to consist of more than £11M, with £1M of that being "unexpected" government funding.

She said: "Councils can achieve and influence real action, on the ground. Council leadership is needed to achieve a Net Zero future. Show commitment to action, not just words."

The amendment was seconded by fellow Lib Dem Cllr Neil Gwynne, who added: "Setting aside a reasonable budget for these actions is not just sensible, it is necessary."

However, the amendment was not widely supported.

Cabinet member for community, leisure and tourism, Cllr David Drew, said: "I do not object to the concept, but what are the actions? This is just, as far as I can see, shuffling numbers around our balance sheet. What is the point in that?"

Cllr Nick Adams-King, deputy leader, echoed this, adding: "I cannot support it, not because I do not believe in the principle of it, but why one million?

"I think we should be far more ambitious than just putting cash aside. Just making a fund for the sake of a good headline is something I cannot accept."

Meanwhile, council leader Cllr Phil North accused the Lib Dem group of playing "party politics", saying: "I am slightly disappointed that the Liberal Democrats are trying to make amendments on the hoof, to score party political points, without discussing it with us.

"Why are we limiting it to one million? There is no point in putting an arbitrary amount on the budget sheet. We have got ambitious plans, and it might actually cost more than that."

"Why are we limiting it to one million? There is no point in putting an arbitrary amount on the budget sheet. We have got ambitious plans, and it might actually cost more than that."

Speaking to this newspaper after the meeting, Cllr Dowden said she was "frustrated".

"The climate emergency is one of the Liberal Democrats' absolute priorities and we are finding that we are having to do a lot of pushing to get targets and actions we believe we could be doing now" she said.

"TVBC need to show a commitment to Actions not just words."

https://www.romseyadvertiser.co.uk/news/19955045.lib-dem-proposal-1m-climate-emergency-pot-shot-council/ celia pic ()