Agenda item

A Sustainable Croydon Update

Officer: Shifa Mustafa

Key decision: No

Decision:

The Leader of the Council delegated authority to the Cabinet to make the following decisions:

 

RESOLVED: To note the contents of the report ahead of a more detailed report coming to October 2019 Cabinet in response to the declaration of a Climate and Ecological Emergency at July 2019 Council.

Minutes:

The Leader of the Council introduced the report and explained that this was a hugely important area as Croydon Council had announced a climate emergency in June 2019, along with approximately 100 other local authorities. The Council was taking two significant steps: to introduce a Citizen’s Assembly to the Borough, to ensure the area was well represented and working with the Council to feed into the process; and to look at larger topics, such as infrastructure. Further reports would be presented to future Cabinet meetings. The Leader stated that there had been a climate change event held at Boxpark, Croydon, which had been powerfully led by the future generation.

 

The Headteacher of Norwood Grove Preschool, Ms. Joan Runcorn, addressed the Cabinet and explained that the school had been working hard to teach the students the importance of recycling. She noted a few of the changes the school had made to become sustainable; the children had begun growing fruit trees in the garden, recycled pens and pencils were used, and milk bottles had changed from plastic to glass.

 

A student of Norwood Grove Preschool, Delilah Duits, spoke to the Cabinet and explained that she had come to the meeting on her bicycle, as it was better for the environment, and stated that pollution was lethal. She noted that trees were crucial for us to breathe, adding that her great uncle in France had difficulties breathing due to pollution.

 

The Headteacher of Norwood Grove Preschool expressed how pleased the parents were of their child’s growing interest in pollution, recycling and cleaning parks. It was important that children were safe and she would like to work collaboratively with Croydon Council to continue the work within the school.

 

The Leader of the Council thanked Ms Runcorn and Ms Duits for speaking at the Cabinet meeting and noted the importance of the work they were doing.

 

The Cabinet Member for Families, Health & Social Care thanked the speakers for their fantastic work. She noted that improving eating habits would contribute to a sustainable society and the United Nations IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) encouraged eating less red meat to reduce climate change. There had been an increase of pescaratarians, vegetarians and vegans, especially with the younger generations. She added that everybody needed to take part in improving the environment, and she had planted 20 trees in her own garden so far.

 

The Acting Cabinet Member for Environment, Transport & Regeneration (Job Share) thanked the Cabinet Member for Families, Health & Social Care for her contribution and important work in linking up different services within the Council to align public health, including healthy living, with the environment. He noted that climate concern was an active concern, especially with the younger generation, and the Council was right to listen to the demands being made and to respond to them. Schools were an important contributor to the change as it was a topic important to the children, and both parents and teachers were advocates for this. The improvement of the air quality around schools was important and parents/carers were considering this as a factor when choosing which school to send their children to.

 

The Acting Cabinet Member for Environment, Transport & Regeneration (Job Share) stated that there was £250,000 available in the Green Fund for individuals, community groups and schools which would be launched in October 2019. Norwood Grove Preschool had started their community garden which grew fresh fruit and vegetables, and Ms Runcorn had helped shape the Croydon Green Fund and promoted it by speaking at the climate change event in Boxpark.

 

The Leader of the Council stated that there was a health and climate emergency and young people were supporting the action being taken and urging politicians to go further and at pace, which he strongly supported.

 

The Cabinet Member for Children, Young People & Learning supported the comments made by her colleagues and added that there was a need to focus on the human response to climate change, rather than statistics. Her son had recently been admitted to hospital with breathing difficulties, and this had reiterated why the work around climate change was so crucial. The Council needed to look at the problems across the world, highlighting the Bahamas and Amazon Rainforest, and to not just focus on the Borough. She concluded by recommending a book called Climate Justice by Mary Robinson, which outlined small changes that could be made in your personal life.

 

The Shadow Cabinet Member for Children, Families, Young People & Learning supported the aims outlined in the report and congratulated all the young people who had expressed their concerns to politicians. She echoed and agreed with the Cabinet Member for Families, Health & Social Care regarding healthy eating as it was a huge contributor to the environment, and noted that she had become a vegetarian and was exploring veganism. She added that there was a need for protection and attention of trees, parks and wooded areas.

 

The Cabinet Member for Clean Green Croydon noted that it was important to engage with young people and encourage small changes, such as using reusable cups as it was important to reduce the waste being created. He expressed concern for politicians in influential countries stating that climate change did not exist. He thanked Croydon constituents for their patience with the changes to bins and recycling and noted that it was a difficult decision to reduce the size of wheelie bins to encourage recycling; however, there had been a 48% rise of recycling rate and over 13,000 tonnes of waste had been diverted from landfill sites to recycling. The week commencing 23 September 2019 was National Recycling Week, and as the Chair of the South London Waste Partnership Joint Committee he had been part of the creation of a recycling video, which shows the journey of recycling in Croydon and the benefits. He would also be visiting local schools to discuss recycling during the week. Finally, he noted the importance of refillables and encouraging businesses to reduce their plastic waste.

 

The Leader of the Council delegated authority to the Cabinet to make the following decisions:

 

RESOLVED: To note the contents of the report ahead of a more detailed report coming to October 2019 Cabinet in response to the declaration of a Climate and Ecological Emergency at July 2019 Council.

Supporting documents: