Green councillors are calling on Brighton and Hove City Council to do more for people living in cold homes and faced with high energy bills.
Proposals from the Green group are due to be considered at the annual Budget Council meeting at Hove Town Hall today (Thursday 22 February) when the spending plans will be decided for the coming year and the council tax will be set.
The Greens are urging the council to invest in solutions for warmer, decent homes for some of the city’s poorest residents.
The group’s budget amendments put aside money for the development of a “district heat network” and solar farm, both alternative local sources of clean, green and renewable energy that studies show help to reduce energy bills and cut the city’s carbon emissions.
A number of additional environmental initiatives, including food waste recycling and extra cycle parking, will also be put to the vote.
Greens have also found extrc money to protect the future of a council grant that supports disabled people with the costs of energy efficiency, the “Warm Safe Homes” scheme.
Kayla Ente, director of local energy group Brighton and Hove Energy Co-operative, said: “With all the new housing developments planned for our city, this is the opportunity to ensure that they include heat networks and solar power in their development plans.
“It’s really a no brainer. Heat networks, combined with solar power, will bring affordable heat and energy security to residents for the long term, going a long way towards delivering affordable housing by eliminating our reliance on fossil fuels.”
Green group convenor Councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty said: “Every winter we hear of an unacceptable number of deaths caused by cold conditions – people who too often have had to make the decision between heating and eating.
“The effects of a cold home on health and wellbeing impact on our already marginalised residents, such as the elderly, or those living with a disability.
“It’s not just the environment that suffers from our dependence on fossil fuels, but residents too, many of whom are in poverty after paying for their energy bills.
“The case for renewables is more than clear with some councils seeing their energy bills reduce by over £90,000 from an investment in solar.
“Nottingham City Council’s heat network supplies heating to almost 5,000 homes and has reduced the city’s carbon emissions by over 27,000 tonnes.”
Councillor Leo Littman, who speaks for the Green group on the council’s Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee, said: “The Labour council’s inertia has meant many important projects that would support our residents to manage climate change and rising bills have stalled.
“Green amendments have found the funds to kick-start these vital initiatives, such as food waste collection, plans for a solar farm and setting up heat networks to harness local energy sources.
“Our amendments offer a positive community investment instead of simply doling out more cuts. They would reduce bills for the council and residents while securing a win for our environment.”
To see the Green budget proposals, click here http://bit.ly/GPBudget18/.