Agenda item

Public Questions or Statements

Anyone who would like to ask a question or make a statement at the meeting should email notice of their wish to do so, including the full text of what they intend to say, to as soon as possible, and by midday on Monday 6 June 2022 at the latest.  Speakers are each asked not to exceed 3 minutes’ speaking time and to read out only the statement/question of which they have submitted notice, without adding to or altering it.  No person may submit more than one question or statement.  No more than one question may be asked, or statement made, on behalf of one organisation.  The overall time available for public questions or statements is 30 minutes.


If you are asking a question or making a statement at this meeting but do not wish to be recorded, please inform the Chairman who will instruct those taking a recording to cease whilst you speak.


Two notices had been received from members of the public of questions or statements for this meeting.  The notices had been submitted by:-


·         Mr Dunn, resident of Harrogate who had raised the following question, which was presented, in his absence, by Ruth Gladstone (Principal Democratic Services Officer):-


“Whilst ‘touring’, on foot, Killinghall parish, I stumbled across a remote North Yorkshire County Council depot and had various concerns about the way it was operating.  I have shared my concerns with the County Council’s Democratic and Scrutiny Manager but won’t elaborate on them here because this is a public meeting.  However, I would like to ask that a suitable team or councillor for this area visit the site and office to check on the suitability for staff, property and vehicles, to ensure staff well being and insurance compliance.”


A response to the question was read out by Ruth Gladstone on behalf of officers in the County Council’s Business and Environmental Services Directorate.  The response was: “In light of the concerns raised by Mr Dunn, Integrated Passenger Transport will request a visit from the property team to advise us on the suitability of the office accommodation and the facilities for the staff who work on site.  We will also look at the arrangements that are in place for parking the vehicles.” 


A Member suggested that County Councillor Michael Harrison (local Member for the Killinghall, Hampsthwaite and Saltergate Division) who had sent apologies for absence for this meeting, might wish to visit the depot and update Members.


·         Mr Tim Larner of Zero Carbon Harrogate who made the following statement:-


“I am delighted to have the opportunity to address this new Committee at its inaugural meeting.


My name is Tim Larner, and I am deputising for the Chair of Zero Carbon Harrogate, Jemima Parker, who is disappointed not to be able to attend this morning because of a prior work commitment.  She is very keen to build a strong working partnership with you in the years ahead.  We hope that this is just the start of a conversation about how best to tackle the growing climate crisis.  My role, within Zero Carbon Harrogate, is to lead on planning issues and I understand that planning is likely to become a key issue for you in your work in the coming years.


This morning I’d like to set out how we would like to work with the Council in general, and this Committee in particular.  As well as working with you, we will continue to be actively involved in the North Yorkshire Climate Coalition and seek to address the concerns of the whole Council.  Councillors and their new set of officers need to be properly equipped to respond appropriately to the climate crisis – with the right expertise, policies, resources and local action plans.   The recent report of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change emphasised the need for urgent action, particularly over the period up to 2030, if we are to avoid irreversible climate change.  Tipping points are not far away.  Local government re-organisation cannot be allowed get in the way of continued action.  We must see it as an opportunity to ramp up existing efforts, rather than a time to reflect and take stock.


We propose two priority actions. As part of our questionnaire of all candidates in the recent election, which many of you were kind enough to complete, we asked about the need for Councillors and senior officers to be offered Carbon Literacy training.   We were heartened by your response and suggest that you press for that training to be put in place by the County Council as a matter of urgency.  This will empower you to make climate-aware decisions across your wide range of responsibilities.


Secondly, we would urge you to bring together the Carbon Reduction work relating to your area in the Borough and County Councils.  We cannot afford any pause in projects currently underway, as we approach the birth of the new unitary authority.  Work programmes need to accelerate.  Staffing and financial resources must be put in place in the coming months as you prepare for April 2023.  Our suggestion is that you commission a joint report from the officers for your next meeting setting out the full range of current actions and mapping out future local directions of travel.  Zero Carbon Harrogate stands ready to make a strong and positive contribution to your work.


Thank you for listening so attentively to this statement.”


The Chairman thanked Mr Larner for his statement and commented that climate change was such an important issue that action could not be delayed.


Ruth Gladstone (Principal Democratic Services Officer) referred to Mr Larner’s priority action point regarding carbon literacy training and advised that the County Council’s Climate Change Officer had advised that two options were due to be presented at the Members’ Seminar concerning climate change on 6 July 2022.  The two options were: (i) a bespoke climate change awareness model which had been created for all York and North Yorkshire local authority employees and was of about 90 minutes’ duration, and (ii) full carbon literacy training which was a one day on-line course.


County Councillors John Mann and Paul Haslam highlighted that the County Council had made a great deal of progress since 2017 regarding climate change, referred to information on the website where some of the work was published, and explained some of the actions already taken.


Members suggested that:-


·                The Committee should guard against “reinventing the wheel” but instead should look at what the County Council had already done and how that could be improved.


·                The Committee should engage, not only Zero Carbon Harrogate, but all carbon aware groups eg Harrogate District Climate Change Coalition.


·                The County Council’s Carbon Reduction Plan should be reviewed more frequently than once a year so that Members could help officers to treat climate change more seriously and put greater focus on climate change, and integrate it within all the Council’s responsibilities.


·                Climate change training should be updated and undertaken frequently.


·                The data pack (page 47 of the papers for this meeting) showed that the total carbon footprint in the Harrogate and Knaresborough constituency area, at 9,578 kg per person, was higher than in Yorkshire and the Humber (7,301 kg per person) and for England as a whole (8,133 kg per person).  This Committee should look into that data to identify the particular circumstances which were leading to that situation.


·                The issue of climate change should be included in all reports asking for a decision to be made.


Resolved –


That the issue of climate change be included on the Committee’s Work Programme as an item for discussion at the meeting on 15 September 2022.