With news of how District Councillors are supporting local voluntary initiatives and what’s being done to tackle the Climate Emergency, Geoffrey Sell provides an insight on Uttlesford affairs in August.
I hope you enjoyed the Platinum Jubilee celebrations. Like many of you I have never known another monarch. In a sense we are all Elizabethan. We are extremely fortunate in that for 70 years we have had in The Queen a Head of State who has shown such dedication and selflessness.
Supporting Our Community
Thanks go to the Parish Council for organising the lighting of the beacon and the jubilee picnic. Stansted’s district councillors Melvin Caton, Alan Dean, Ayub Khan and myself all contributed £1,000 each towards the cost of the celebrations. The New Homes Bonus scheme gives District Councillors £2000 per annum to spend on good causes in their wards. Over the last year I have helped to fund several organisations:
- Residents of Walpole Meadows: defibrillator
- Stansted Millers: windmill fete
- Uttlesford Citizens Advice: service provision
- Stansted Link: production costs of the magazine
Environmental issues have become an increasing concern. More and more of us have become aware of the fragility of our planet. Sir David Attenborough has warned that “we are at a crossroads”. The decisions we take now will have lasting impacts. Pre-Covid, I visited SE Asia on several occasions. I became acutely conscious of this fragility and the harm we are doing to our environment. Whether it was coming out of a hotel in Hyderabad, India and having to hold my nose because of the smell coming from the polluted river. Or being informed in Malaysia it was just as well you were not here last week, we had really bad smog. This was caused by deforestation in neighbouring Indonesia.
So what has Uttlesford done about climate change? In 2019 we declared a climate emergency. Councillors pledged to take local action to contribute to prevent a climate and ecological catastrophe through the development of practices and policies, with an aim to achieve net-zero carbon status by 2030 and to protect and enhance bio-diversity in the district.
At the last Scrutiny Committee we received a progress report. Although some progress has been made much needs to be done. It was disappointing that out of the £1,000,000 budget allocated for climate change only £80,500 has been committed or spent. The Leader of the Council admitted that insufficient officer resources had been allocated. It was also disappointing to learn that our recycling figure stands at 47.9% This rates us at 105th in the council recycling table.
The highest rated council in Essex is Rochford in 8th position with a rate of 61,8 %. Maldon on 8th at 58.9% Colchester in 21st at 56.7%. On a positive note the council has launched a new Environmental Services newsletter. The first edition of the ‘Reduce, Reuse, Recycle’ newsletter included information on changes to bin collections as well as details about recycling and food waste. Sign up to receive future editions of the newsletter at www.uttlesford.gov.uk/keep-me-posted
Annual Council Meeting
The meeting saw the formation of a new political group the Liberal Democrat and Green Alliance. All the Stansted councillors together with Cllr Janice Loughlin who represents the adjoining Stort Valley ward have joined this group. The other members are two Green councillors from Saffron Walden and one from Takeley. The formation of the group means that we are the official opposition to the Residents for Uttlesford administration. It is also a recognition that the two groups in the last year have been working closely together. The leader of the group is Cllr Melvin Caton.