4 February 2020
Surrey’s Green Councillor, Jonathan Essex, has renewed calls to Surrey County Council to fund an urgent delivery plan to address the climate emergency. He criticised the budget for its lack of transparency – with millions in unspecified feasibility studies and pipeline projects.
Surrey councillors today (Tuesday February 4th) approved their budget for 2020-2021 and medium term financial strategy at their meeting on Tuesday February 4th.
Jonathan Essex, who voted against the budget, said: “the budget isn't at all clear about what money will be spent on. We are in a climate emergency but there are apparently limited funds allocated to deal with over the next year. While spending on roads is a priority, funding for more bus routes, is absent".
Council leader, Cllr Tim Oliver, subsequently clarified that additional bus routes are a priority – a welcome commitment – although without any detail on timings or extent.
“Funds to provide genuinely affordable homes are not allocated. Public health spending is being cut. Why are we prepared to spend millions more on roads, yet not a penny more than given on public health? There is too little too late in the budget to deal with the climate emergency, which has to be the guiding principle for everything we do as a local authority”.
The Greens have produced a detailed plan to provide at least 20 dedicated staff needed to address the climate emergency, but no funding for this is in the plan. Instead
Jonathan Essex said: “there is no mention of the promised £84m for greener futures (the council’s climate emergency plan) in the budget. Are there plans to spend more than a fraction of this next year? We have doubled our in-year reserves to over £40m. So why not spend £1 million of this on the new posts across the council to start mainstreaming actions on the climate emergency here in Surrey?”
The new officer team is one of three key recommendations in the Greens’ Climate Delivery Plan, along with tasking senior officers to reduce the carbon from every activity across all departments of the council, and developing a Climate Contract between Government, local authorities and private and public sector partners to secure the funds needed to deliver climate goals.
Details of Surrey Greens’ Climate Delivery Plan can be found here: