Conservatives forced to make promises for earlier community engagement but fail to back the funding of a Citizens’ Assembly on Climate Change

A Horsham Liberal Democrats’ amendment seeking to increase funding for the development of a district-wide action plan on climate change, was rejected by Horsham Conservatives.

The amendment proposed a budget of £160,000, increasing the proposal by Conservatives to spend only £70,000 on the process, as Liberal Democrats argued the proposed amount was not enough for the process to guarantee extensive stakeholder engagement at every stage of the process.

Upon introducing the amendment, Cllr Jon Olson, Forest, said:

“The request for budget before us now, is not good enough. It lacks bold ambition to address this dominating issue. It lacks proper funding to get this right – we may not have a second chance. And most importantly, it lacks the involvement of our residents and the community from the outset.”

Emphasising we must involve residents in the whole process, Cllr Martin Boffey, Leader Lib Dem Group, added:

“We as a Council can’t do this alone. We know what the problems are; it’s about finding the solutions together with residents. Let’s get it right the first time, it will be cheaper in the long run.”

While Conservative Cabinet Member for the Environment, Cllr James Wright, could not explain why his promises during debate for early residents’ and stakeholder involvement were absent from the reported remit of a ‘Climate Change Panel’, Conservative Leader, Cllr Jonathan Chowen was forced to step-in and provide additional verbal assurances to the Council.

Three years into the current administration, the Conservatives’ plans for how to proceed on this critical issue are in disarray and they are clearly making it up as they go along.  Nevertheless, they used their majority to force the recommendation and originally budgeted amount through unchanged.

After the meeting Cllr Olson commented:

“While we welcome the commitments made during the debate, Conservatives refused to put the money where their mouth is. It is unclear how they can widen the scope of the process as reported without adding additional funding.

“As a group not afraid to consult and engage with our constituents, Liberal Democrats will continue to seek their involvement, encouraging them to demand to be heard throughout the process of addressing climate change as a community.”

Lib Dems will continue to encourage residents to contact their Councillors to demand involvement in the process and push the council for more action and less words.

You can still add your name to our petition for a Citizens' Assembly on Climate Change, showing your support for extensive stakeholder engagement at every stage of the process to develop a district-wide action plan on climate change.

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