Hounslow Council 'Half Hearted' On Climate Emergency

Conservative councillors accuse Labour of failing to take enough in-house recycling measures


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Hounslow Council has proved to be more 'words than action' when tackling the climate emergency, the
Conservative Group on the council declared today (Wednesday, January 29th).

The Conservative Group, the nine councillors representing the three Chiswick wards and newly elected councillor Kuldeep Tak representing Feltham North ward, had tabled a motion to be debated at last night’s borough council meeting but pulled it off the agenda after the Labour group published amendments that would leave the council lagging behind.

The motion, to be proposed by Councillor Gabriella Giles, Conservative Group spokesman on environment, (pictured above), called on Labour to lead by example, creating a culture shift within the council that would then encourage residents and business ratepayers to do similarly, with the ultimate aim that everyone living or working in Hounslow would develop netzero lifestyles.

The motion called on the council to pledge that from 27th February (the date of the next public engagement event of the council’s climate emergency action plan) it would no longer use, in any of its premises, any single use plastics that cannot be recycled here in Hounslow. The group also wanted a commitment from the council that, from the date of the council meeting (28th January), it would no longer produce any publicity or promotional materials that cannot be recycled in Hounslow.

“We understand that the climate emergency action plan has focused primarily on becoming carbon neutral, but the council also has to realise that there are small everyday decisions that everyone can make to become a more sustainable society,” Cllr Gabriella Giles said.

“The council has produced who knows how many button badges promoting the Borough of Culture bid. They aren’t currently being recycled here. It’s been handing out silicone wristbands to promote its services; they aren’t recycled here. And much as we enjoyed receiving Christmas cards from fellow councillors, large numbers of cards had glitter on them which makes them unsuitable for recycling in full.”

Cllr Gabriella Giles continued. “The level of awareness within Hounslow House of the importance of making sustainable day-to-day decisions is embarrassingly low,” she said. “Our motion was about the importance of individual actions and the fact that small changes made
consistently by many can have a huge impact,” she continued.

“Instead, Labour decided to try to take the moral high ground, prioritising fossil fuel usage while acting irresponsibly individually. If I had spoken, I’d have raised the fact that the council isn’t even taking fossil fuel usage seriously. It is still installing gas boilers in its new homes. Why hasn’t it switched to electric systems?”

“This is a ‘do as I say, not as I do council,” said Cllr Gabriella Giles. “There was nothing contentious or difficult about our motion. It was common sense. It proved too specific for Labour which showed its true colours by watering down our motion and tabling a weak and weasely-worded version we could not have supported. The council should be leading by example, not just talking the talk.”

We have asked Hounslow Council for comment.

A draft version of the borough's Climate Emergency Action Plan was unanimously approved by Cabinet on 21 January and Eunomia Research and Consultancy Ltd were engaged to review the council’s current work in reducing its carbon emissions to net zero by 2030.

The Council's draft Climate Emergency Action Plan outlines seven key programmes for reducing council direct carbon emissions.

These are:

Energy efficiency
Renewable energy
Electrify vehicle fleet
Reducing employee transport
Waste management
Culture change and governance
Sustainable investment and funding

Hounslow Council will shortly be launching an 8-week public consultation on the draft Climate Emergency Action Plan from early February 2020, aiming to seek feedback from residents and stakeholders on whether the council has developed the right programmes and identified suitable actions.

Further information on the consultation will be made available on the council’s website in due course.

January 30, 2020

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