Climate change: a central theme of the Winchester City Council elections
EXTINCTION Winchester Rebellion asked each of the major parties where they stand on local issues they deem crucial to addressing the climate crisis and which are under the control of city council.
Phil Joyce of the group said: “Unless we take unprecedented action right now, we are heading into a world where we will regularly see extreme flooding, devastating droughts and large-scale crop failures. May 6 is our chance to vote for politicians who will make climate change a priority. ”
The group called on each party to commit to the following measures: a new bus hub, the phasing out of parking in the city center, more measures for walking and cycling, zero carbon houses, support renewable energies, the objection to new roads and aviation, being carbon neutral by 2030 and finally a citizens’ assembly to give residents a voice on climate change.
The Conservatives only backed two of the eight climate pledges. They pledged to create a new downtown bus hub and support new renewable energy in the neighborhood.
Unlike other parties, the Conservatives have not ruled out support for carbon-intensive projects like building roads and expanding the airport, said Caroline Horrill, leader of the Conservative group in Winchester: “[The] The group supports the objectives of neutrality alongside the desire to maintain strong and sustainable economic growth and prosperity in the neighborhood. ”
The party did not support promises of parking, walking and cycling and, instead, Cllr Horrill referred to her support for the Winchester movement’s strategy. However, this defines the general direction of transport within Winchester rather than including specific commitments such as the closure of Hyde Street and the removal of parking spaces in the city center.
Cllr Horrill said she sees renewables “as part of the climate change agenda”. She underlined the importance of their integration into the local landscape.
Unlike other parties, the Conservatives are sticking to 2050 as the target date for carbon neutrality and also believe that adequate mechanisms are already in place to allow residents to have their voices heard on climate change.
Phil Joyce of XR commented, “While it’s encouraging that the Conservatives are supporting a bus hub and also supporting new renewables, their failure to commit to any of the other pledges is deeply concerning. These promises are the bare minimum required to have an impact on climate change locally and the Conservatives are falling short. ”
Winchester Labor supported seven of the eight climate pledges.
Patrick Davies of Winchester Labor said the party supported a goal of carbon neutrality by 2030 “provided low-income families are financially supported to replace gas boilers.”
Along with the Conservatives, Patrick said, “I support renewable energy applications but with a design code, to encourage public support in sensitive rural areas in our district.
The workers are concerned about the removal of a suitable bus station and believe that the surface parking lots in the central area should be used for social housing.
The local Labor Party has opposed recent plans to expand Southampton Airport. Patrick found it “astonishing” that the leader of the National Liberal Democratic Party supported the expansion.
They also believe that a citizens’ assembly “would provide a representative sample of our local community that is more representative than the current unfair voting system.”
Phil of XR said: “It’s great to see the local Labor Party recognize the scale of the crisis and are ready to make such bold commitments.
The Winchester Green Party also supported the eight climate pledges.
Max Priesemann, of the party, said: “The science is clear, the faster we transform our economy to become carbon neutral, the better. Within the limits of the council’s competence, we are committed to carbon neutrality before 2030. We want to offer people better alternatives, that is to say to make public transport more practical and more affordable, to reduce the need to travel , insulate homes and reduce waste. ”
Regarding parking, Max pointed out that more than half of all greenhouse gas emissions in the neighborhood come from road transport, so it is essential that alternative means of transport are encouraged where possible. Parking of cars in the old city walls should be discouraged, while ensuring that sufficient parking spaces are available for deliveries and people with disabilities. The closure of the Saint-Pierre car park would allow the construction of essential social housing.
The party also believes that the Citizens’ Climate Assembly could give the council some direction on how to plan next steps on the road to carbon neutrality and keep the public on board with the transition to a sustainable economy for the well-being of all of us.
Finally, at the bus station, Max said: “The alternative of roadside bus stops makes it more difficult to change buses and therefore would discourage the use of buses. Winchester needs a bus exchange station where one can change between local and long distance buses, ideally close to the train station. A bus station is essential for recharging electric buses. ”
Phil from XR commented, “It’s no big surprise that the Green Party has backed all of our commitments, but what struck us was their deep understanding and commitment to tackling this crisis.”
The Liberal Democrats have backed six of the eight climate promises.
This party is committed to being carbon neutral by 2030. But to achieve that goal, it believes it needs Hampshire County Council to advance its goal to 2030 as well.
On measures to encourage walking and cycling, Cllr Lucille Thompson spoke about the recent weekend pedestrianization of The Square, she said: “It’s a fantastic space, and with the cafes outside, it has a continental feel. Councilor Tod has spent a lot of time negotiating with local residents and businesses to get it right. ”
Lucille also commented on the council’s decision to close Hyde Street, saying, “You will have seen the backlash we had with the Hyde Street closure, and it’s just a small road closure. You have to take people with you. These changes must be made gradually ”,
The Liberal Democrats support the principle of a citizens’ assembly on climate change. Lucille said, “To achieve real change, a citizens’ assembly should be larger than the district. Due to budgetary pressures, Winchester City Council would not be able to put it in place right away ”.
XR asked the Liberal Democrat leader if he would oppose carbon-intensive projects, such as airport expansion and road construction. Lucille added: “We opposed the decision to expand Southampton airport.”
Regarding the reduction in car parking in the city center, Lucille said, “We will easily lose over 250 parking spaces. The Saint-Pierre parking lot is for development and at some point the Gladstone Street parking lot will be redeveloped. However, you cannot say that no one is allowed to park in the city center. ”
Regarding the creation of a new bus hub, the party wants to introduce bus stops on the street instead.
Phil of XR commented, “It’s good to see strong support for climate commitments from the Liberal Democrats. However, the absence of a new bus hub is of great concern, testifying to the contempt of bus users and ultimately having an impact on our transition to sustainable transport. It is also concerning that we recently saw a large board approved project that did not have a completed carbon footprint, although it is their policy to do so. That said, the party has backed bold downtown upgrades, such as North Walls and The Square. ”