To receive an update on the Sustainable Croydon agenda.
Following the presentation the Sub-Committee was given the opportunity to ask questions on the content of the report and the information provided during the presentation.
In response to a question on the feasibility of achieving carbon neutrality by 2030, the Cabinet Member said that it was hoped that it would be achieved before that date as it could be argued that this target date does not show enough urgency. Officers were confident that it could be achieved and the advice received was that this was a deliverable ambition.
It was asked how members of the citizen’s assembly would be sourced and the level of expertise they possessed, additionally concerns were raised on conflicts of interest in a project like this. Officers reassured Members that they were keen to get this right and the appropriate people would be appointed. The comments made on ensuring expertise and experience would be taken on board during selection process.
A Member commented on the level of time it had taken since the declaration of the Climate Emergency to the present time and questioned when actions plans and recommendations would be published. It was further commented that it was important that Extinction Rebellion be involved in the process due to extensive work they had carried out to raise awareness and being one of the drivers in ensuring this emergency was declared.
Officers advised that Extinction Rebellion would be involved and they looked forward to receiving their advice throughout the project. Members were told that since the declaration was made, research was being carried out on the delivery of a sustainable borough. This had included visits to other boroughs and sharing learning. The recruitment for the Citizen Assembly was now completed and was within the timeline for a final report to be presented to Cabinet in March 2020
It was highlighted that whilst there has been a relative delay since the declaration, the Council had continued to do all its work in areas such as air quality planning as it would be an armoury to tackling the climate crisis. Although there was a sense of urgency, it was important to ensure the right appointment of people in order to take advice from them as to how quickly things can be put in place and how to tackle difficult issues. The Council had also been working on broader set of actions such as recycling and managing waste. It was vital that all was being done to ensure that the targets and objective set were achievable.
Questions were raised on the cost for a Citizens Assembly as well as the Commission and whether this would be money well spent with real value to be realised. Officers responded that this was a fair challenge and confirmed there would be costs associated to the Citizens Assembly, but the Commission would only incur limited costs due to Members being voluntary. There would be much needed value added by both projects that would make a difference to achieving targets.
It was further questioned how success would be measured in the Council’s ambitious quest to be carbon neutral. The Cabinet Member recognised that although this was an ambitious target, it was deliverable and measurable. Many factors would be taken into consideration in measuring success as this was a growing and evolving borough.
At the conclusion of this item the Chair thanked the Cabinet Member and Officers for their attendance at the meeting and their engagement with the Committee and questions.
The Sub-Committee reached the following Conclusions:
· Careful attention needed to be given to the composition of members on the Citizens Assembly as well as the Commission to ensure there was appropriate representation of the diversity of the borough
· Officers should give consideration as to how to measure success in order to ensure that it was on target to meet commitments to be Carbon Neutral by 2030
· It was positive and reassuring that the Council had made a decision to involve and seek advice and expertise from Extinction Rebellion in its proceedings.
· The Council must exercise caution in managing the costs associated to the projects and ensure that all costs incurred were quantifiable to work that was being undertaken.
· Whilst it was recognised that the Council was trying to be thorough in its research and fact finding, consideration must be given to expediting progress as there had been considerable delay since the declaration was made to producing an action plan, which was still currently awaited.