Last night I joined with my fellow Greenwich councillors in voting for the Council to declare a Climate Emergency. And in a rare occurance at the Town Hall, the Conservative Group actually won a vote, passing our our amendment which will significantly strengthen the Council’s actions – and gives us further opportunities to help shape them, through a new Greenwich Carbon Neutral Plan.
For background, the motion on last night’s agenda declaring a Climate Emergency was brought forward by the Cabinet Member for Air Quality, Cllr Denise Scott-McDonald – and follows more than 90 such motions passed by other local authorities in recent months. To Denise’s credit, she brought forward a substantive motion that went beyond just words to actions (as I said last night, declaring a Climate Emergency sounds pretty good, but there’s always a risk with this kind of thing of simply virtue signalling – a trap she very much avoided).
Tonight Greenwich Councillors will vote on the Council’s Budget for 2019/20 – and together with my Opposition Conservative colleagues I’ve spent the past few weeks in the Town Hall developing our alternative proposals.
You can read our alternative plan, which we are putting to a vote at tonight’s Full Council meeting, here.
Back office efficiency savings – belatedly
We welcome some aspects of Labour’s Budget proposal – in particular, Labour councillors’ belated acceptance that back office efficiency savings are possible. For years and years we have been making the case that, at a time of financial constraint on all councils, Greenwich needs to do more to make efficiencies away from the front line, in back office functions. We are pleased that the Labour leadership has finally accepted the need to do this – although the delay has been extremely costly to the taxpayer.
Like other councillors in Greenwich, I’ve spent a lot of time over the last year knocking on doors. In fact, I’ve spent most of the seven years I’ve been involved in Greenwich politics doing this, pretty continuously and across the borough, in the course of six election campaigns in that time.
The results of last Thursday’s local election are in, and despite Labour’s plan to win all 51 seats on Greenwich Council this year, we held all nine Conservative seats at the Town Hall – actually winning one more seat than at the last full set of local elections four years ago.
Today Greenwich Conservatives have launched A strong, independent voice for you –our manifesto for the 2018 Greenwich Council elections. Most local election manifestos set out what a political party would do if it took over the running of the council after the election. This one doesn’t do that.
Tonight is the first Full Council meeting at the Town Hall since July – and it seems that Labour and Conservative councillors alike have missed the cut and thrust of the Council Chamber over the summer, with no less than six motions for debate on the agenda.
Followers of Greenwich politics (and there are a few) will know the score when it comes to these motions – some can be useful in airing an issue, some just occasionally manage to get something done, and some are utterly pointless.
There’s a mixture of all three varieties on display tonight!
I invited Chris Grayling, the Transport Secretary, to Eltham yesterday to talk about the Department for Transport’s ongoing consultation on the future of the South Eastern rail franchise. You can read the interview that Chris gave yesterday to the Greenwich Mercury online here.
As an Eltham councillor and Leader of the Conservatives at the Town Hall, I have strongly opposed any suggestion that Bexleyheath line trains should go to Cannon Street only. The answer to South East London’s transport problems is more connectivity, not less – and I have been making the case to Ministers for Charing Cross and Victoria services to be maintained.
This week I submitted the Conservative Council Group’s formal response to the consultation, which has been extended until 30th June to give commuters more time to share their views.
In our meeting yesterday and in his interview with the Mercury, Chris Grayling was very clear – his priority as Transport Secretary is improving services and crucially, delivering longer trains – and when it comes to the issue of the terminals served from our local stations, he is not going to make any change that doesn’t have the support of commuters.Continue reading Southeastern commuters have suffered for far too long
I was pleased to attend the inauguration of the new Mayor of Greenwich, Councillor Peter Brooks, at the Chapel of the Old Royal Naval College last night – and to celebrate the work of our outgoing Mayor, Councillor Olu Babatola, who has worked his socks of for our borough over the past year. My colleague Councillor Geoff Brighty, our Group Whip, helped sign the new Mayor into office on the Opposition’s behalf.
The event last night was of course overshadowed by the devastating news from Manchester this week – and the Leader of Greenwich Council, Denise Hyland, spoke movingly in sympathy and solidarity with the city of Manchester in her address. She did the borough proud in her words, which were very powerful.
Like other candidates of all parties across the country, I suspended my campaign on Tuesday until this afternoon, when local campaigning is resuming across the country.
One of the very best parts of my role as Leader of the Opposition on the council, and now as our Parliamentary Candidate, is meeting the many community, residents and faith groups that work so hard for local people right across our area.
That’s why I was pleased to meet with representatives of Greenwich Citizens last night at OneSpace community centre in Kidbrooke, to learn more about their work across our borough. We discussed a wide range of issues such as the potential of Community Land Trusts in tackling the challenge of affordable housing, local healthcare provision and my work to promote the Living Wage in our borough.
After a rain-soaked afternoon campaigning across Eltham yesterday, I’ll be out with the team all day knocking on doors today – and hoping for better weather!