New group to deal with climate change issues established in Calderdale

A new partnership has been set up to help meet the challenges of climate change.

Calderdale Council’s Cabinet agreed to dissolve its own climate change working party and set up a new partnership which will help shape the borough’s responses to a changing environment.

Business, the voluntary and community sector and young people will all be offered places on the partnership, and ruling group and opposition councillors will continue to play a leading role.

Cabinet member for Climate Change and Resilience, Coun Scott Patient (Lab, Luddenden Foot) said the remit needed to be widened to harness talent and contributions, including from environmental activists, and ensure it was fit for purpose.

A view of Halifax from Beacon Hill

The challenges cannot by the council alone and needed to be tackled by the community together, said Coun Patient.

The council declared a climate emergency in January 2019 with the working party established to provide leadership moving towards a net zero carbon target by 2038 with significant progress to be made by 2030.

The new partnership will continue the working party’s developing a Climate Action Plan.

“It’s not the council’s action plan, it’s Calderdale’s action plan, so it makes sense to take a step back from the council being seen as the answer to all climate issues,” he said.

Coun Jenny Lynn (Lab, Park), Cabinet member for Public Services and Communities, said there had been good engagement on climate issues from partner groups including businesses and Together Housing.

Coun Steven Leigh (Con, Ryburn) expressed concern to Cabinet members about non-council representatives having voting rights, as they were unelected but partnership proposals might involve spending council – the public’s – money.

All stakeholders should be consulted but voting rights were a different issue and he hoped a codicil could be attached to the Cabinet’s decision to examine this more closely.

Coun Jane Scullion (Lab, Luddenden foot), Cabinet member for Regeneration and Strategy, said she did not think the recommendations took away from the council its abilities and responsibilities to make the final decisions.

The partnership set-up reflected Government levelling-up giving more power to communities, she said.

Coun Patient said flexibility was built in when it could be seen what was working and what was not.

The council’s Head of Legal, Ian Hughes, told councillors it remained a Cabinet-adopted partnership and of itself could not take any decisions which would actually bind the council.

It is intended the partnership will be chaired by the Cabinet member for Climate Change and Resilience – Coun Patient – and the partnership, who will elect a Deputy Chair, will consist of the following, some of whom will have votes and others being non-voting.

Calderdale will have six councillors who have voting rights, three from the ruling administration’s group and three from opposition groups, two members of Calderdale Youth Council, who will have voting rights, two business sector representatives, who will have voting rights, two voluntary and community sector representatives, who would have voting rights, two additional voluntary sector representatives, who would not have voting rights, an NHS representative from Calderdale Cares Partnership Board, who would have voting rights, and local housing representation from a representative from Together Housing, who would have voting right.

Finally, the council’s Director of Public Health, Deborah Harkins, who is also the council’s lead officer for Climate Change, would also have a place on the new partnership board but without voting rights.