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Council ‘refusing to set a deadline for a deadline’ on climate change

Southwark Council has drawn criticisms for not committing to a deadline for when they will clarify their climate action plan.

While the local authority has approved of proposals to further clarify its climate plan in a meeting on Wednesday last week, December 1, it did not specify when it would do so, inviting criticism from rivals.

A concern that dominated discussion in the meeting was the clarity of the council’s plan – with both Liberal Democrat councillors and XR Southwark stating it was crucial to be able to hold the council to account.

While the current climate action plan does include several identified targets, the Liberal Democrats argued it was not clear when the council was expecting to meet those targets.

This lack of clarification, they argue, prevents others from being able to assess how well they are doing in meeting their goals.

In the meeting, the Overview and Scrutiny Committee made recommendations to the council to make its targets clearer.

These recommendations were unanimously agreed upon by the council. However, Lib Dem Councillor Hamish McCallum’s request for an amendment to require the council to define their targets’ deadlines by May 2022 was voted down.

In the meeting, he frustratedly exclaimed: “You’re refusing to set a deadline for when you’re going to set a deadline.”

One Labour councillor responded: “I don’t want to commit to this amendment when I don’t know for sure that the council has the resources to do that by the time you’re suggesting.”

This sentiment was echoed by Cabinet Member for the Climate Emergency and Sustainable Development Helen Dennis, who said: “It’s a shame that the Lib Dems want to pull resource away from actually delivering on the action plan, which we know is what residents want us to focus on.

“While they are getting tied up in process, we are getting on with cutting carbon.”

When Southwark Council first unveiled their climate strategy in July 2021, 18 community groups asked for it to be rewritten. This strategy was itself unveiled two and a half years after Southwark Council declared a climate emergency.

Cllr Victor Chamberlain, Vice-Chair of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee, said: “This is a climate emergency, but Labour are keen to treat it as someone else’s problem for another day.

“Southwark Labour had a chance to rectify that, but decided to delay putting deadlines for a later day. Where is the urgency and aspiration from them in this climate emergency?”



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