Last week, Greens met community campaigners, academics and councillors of all parties to discuss our city’s response to the climate crisis.
We are demanding bold action on climate change now. From tackling toxic air pollution to ending fuel poverty and boosting renewable energy, the goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2030 will benefit both people and planet and we need to move quickly to prevent a climate crisis.
What’s clear is that our local response to big issues such as climate change also require bold solutions and genuine investment.
Yet despite warm words about the environment, the Conservative government has offered little more than hot air.
Councils wanting to rise to the challenges ahead are still being denied the resources needed.
The Conservative government earlier this month announced investment in local council budgets.
Look deeper – and despite their claims that “austerity” is over, local councils are struggling to absorb almost 10 years of relentless cuts which has created horrific consequences, with rough sleeping and food banks rapidly increasing.
All the while, councils like ours still have the responsibility for the essentials – like building schools, council houses, maintaining roads.
A government-run loan body, called the Public Works Loan Board (PWLB), has been critical to this, allowing councils to fund major regeneration projects.
Our council has used these loans to buy things like new street lighting and to fund new council housing.
The cost of borrowing has been kept low – until now.
A few weeks ago, the government announced a rise in the PWLB loan rate of one percentage point.
While this may sound innocuous, the reality is that this is a huge cut behind closed doors.
Sudden changes to the amount that councils are required to pay back can mean a huge change in finances – overnight.
Worse still, this change could mean strategic projects are delayed – or scaled back.
Greens want to see genuine investment for our council services. We will fight to expose the cuts hitting our communities. Throughout tough times, Greens are on the side of our city.
Councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty is the convenor of the Greens on Brighton and Hove City Council.
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