Members of Calderdale Council’s Climate Change Working Party met in virtual form on March 3, with the meeting beginning with a public question time.
Councillor Roger Taylor used to be a member of the working party as a Conservative but now sits as an Independent after a suspension was made permanent.
He said having made his request several days before the meeting, he was told there were technical reasons why he could not appear in person at the meeting to ask a question relating to an item later being discussed by the panel, on whether to request the council’s Cabinet to pressurise West Yorkshire Pension Fund to dis-invest in fossil fuel companies and switch some of its funds in alternatives such as green energy.
Councillor Taylor (Northowram and Shelf) says his question raised concerns about actions which he believed would interfere with people’s pension funds.
He wanted to know why members of the public were allowed to ask their questions in person while he as an elected member, albeit one who was not a committee member, was not.
“I want to know why all the others could ask by Zoom and mine was the only one read out.
“I find that cancel culture.
“I just think basically I was not allowed to go on Zoom because they didn’t want my opinion expressed at the meeting,” said Coun Taylor.
But the working party’s chair, the council’s Cabinet member for Climate Change and Resilience, Coun Scott Patient (Lab, Luddenden Foot) said Coun Taylor’s concerns about the fund were raised and voiced by councillors who were in the virtual meeting.
“He was a Conservative and there were three Conservative members on that panel who made challenges on that particular issue,” he said.
Coun Patient said numbers allowed access to the call was the chair’s prerogative and the members of the public were allowed on to ensure a wider breadth of questions was asked.
“We welcome views from councillors but it is well represented for councillors and I wanted everyone to have a chance,” he said.
The committee agreed to ask Cabinet to make the call to dis-invest from fossil fuel companies over a three year period or less in favour of greener finance to help tackle climate emergency issues.