Thursday, June 26, 2008

Emissions Policy Leaves Councillors Fuming

On Tuesday night I sat on the Scrutiny & Overview Committee that looked at a proposal to bring emissions-based parking charges to Sutton. I wrote about this when Richmond introduced a similar scheme in 2006. Fortunately after more than two hours, the committee saw sense and killed off any thoughts about such a plan.

It has been calculated that 1.69% of Richmond's total CO2 emissions come from cars with a parking permit yet they are unduly penalised. Here, residents in Cheam, Belmont, St Helier and Wallington could pollute as much as they wanted to. Similarly anyone in a controlled parking zone with off-street parking would not be affected. Amazingly, as the controlled hours are during the day, anyone who drives their car to work every day would be free to do so with no penalty as they would not need a permit. The only ones who would have to pay would be people whose cars were parked up, not emitting a single cough of CO2. A back of the envelope calculation showed that only 3.5% of cars in Sutton would have to pay this cost on the back of everyone's pollution.

Everyone at the committee takes the responsibility of reducing emissions seriously but this smacked of doing something because we need to be seen to act rather than an effective move. We were not allowed to question Colin Hall, the Lead Councillor who commissioned the report. Members of the committee were perplexed when Cllr Roger Roberts, the chairman of the committee took it upon himself to explain to officers what the recommendation of the committee should be without letting members have their say. Despite widespread antipathy to the fundamental idea of such charging, he proposed that the Council Officer went away and spent more time redrafting the report. Fortunately, he was slapped down as was the report.

It wasn't quite the end of the fun as the Chairman managed to push through two discussion papers without allowing any discussion. The Council is undergoing a corporate assessment at the moment which is much like an OFSTED inspection in a school when assessors look at absolutely everything and appear everywhere. The chief assessor sat in on this meeting. We are currently a four star rated Council. Last night I could see one of those stars tiptoeing its way to the door.

4 comments:

cllr david pickles said...

What co2 emissions? It's all ballcocks.

The planet has been warming and cooling naturally for 10,000 years or more. Anyone who jumps on the "global warming" bandwagon is only doing it for their own ends.

As far as that goes you can leave me out of it. You can fool some of the people some of the time, but not all of the people all of the time. If any local tories want to jump on this bandwagon then good luck to them. Most of my constituents think it's a load of crap.

RFK said...

David,

I think the point here is that the Council are yet again going for headlines without actually doing anything. This would be yet another silly charge which makes the Council look greener than they really are. If I was a Councillor, I would want to be heavily involved in this debate as I would want to prevent the cost of living in Sutton increasing even more!

Regarding the broader issue of Global Warming you mention above, I think the balance of people are pro-green taxes, BUT want them offset against other taxes. So overall, if you live green, you pay less tax. Labour's tactic has been to introduce green taxes in addition to other taxes. Green taxes should not be an excuse for high taxation.

cllr david pickles said...

rfk - I have no idea who you are, but you do talk sense, and I must say you are one of the rare breed on these threads that are not insulting to me - so I thank you for that. Cameron's take on "green taxes" I find interesting, because they have said that their green taxes will be offset somewhere else, but what I find frustrating is the fact that the Tories, in the guise of George Osborne have already stated that they will follow Labour's spending plans for the first 2 years of a new parliament, and then they would "share the proceeds of growth between public spending and tax cuts". Given that public spending is effectively out of control, I cannot see the Tories being able to cut taxes in the next parliament even if they do win the election in 2010.

RFK said...

David,

Thank you, I think the amicable debates that get going on here are far more interesting :)

George Osborne's promise is very similar to the one made by New Labour before 1997. As you know, it's all part of a strategy to reassure people that the Conservatives won’t take risks with the economy. Although I too would like to see hard working people paying less tax, I see why economic stability comes first.