Wednesday, 30 October 2019

Press Release - Greens select Andrew Cooper to contest Huddersfield Constituency

Huddersfield Greens have selected experienced Green Party Councillor Andrew Cooper to contest the Huddersfield seat in the December General Election.

Andrew has been elected and re-elected to the Newsome Ward of Kirklees six times and  has notched up over 20 years service on the Council. He has taken up hundreds of local issues and concerns in his years as a Councillor and was responsible for making the Kirklees Warm Zone scheme free to all householders ensuring thousands of homes in Huddersfield were warmer and easier to heat. He now has a role providing advice and assistance to over 300 Green Party Councillors around the country.

At the national level Andrew is the Green Party’s Energy Spokesperson and has influenced the UN global climate talks by getting more recognition for the importance of the work of Local and Regional Authorities in addressing Climate Change.

On being selected Andrew said,

“Huddersfield is crying out for change. We need a fresh start for our town that provides a voice that is independent of the old parties that have failed us all for far too long. I’ve lived worked and represented people in Huddersfield for many years. It’s a town I love and it would be a huge honour to represent Huddersfield in Parliament, to be a voice that is dealing with peoples everyday problems but also looking at ways to address the climate crisis we all face.”

“I’m looking forward to the campaign. I want to see as many people as I possibly can over the coming weeks and to show people that there is a way we can aspire to a politics that is better than the one we have all endured for so long.”

Thursday, 17 October 2019

One does not simply 'Declare a Climate Emergency' - Kirklees Council Meeting Report 16/10/19

One does not simply declare a climate emergency. That became obvious, with stark clarity at last night's Kirklees Full Council meeting.

I had resubmitted a motion that the Green Group had submitted to the last Full Council. This motion called for West Yorkshire Combined Authority to withdraw £100 million of support for the expansion of Leeds Bradford Airport. This motion despite my best efforts had fallen off the end of the agenda at the last meeting. This time in an effort to get it debated I withdrew a long standing Green motion that was nearer the beginning of the agenda and asked the Council to allow us to have the Leeds Bradford Airport motion heard in its place. This was rejected by Labour. When we got to near the end of the Council meeting there was a call from Labour, under Council rules to have their motion on Universal Credit voted on without debate. Quickly I asked for the same for our motion on Leeds Bradford Airport. We backed Labour to ensure their motion was put before the Council but then Labour, (with one or two honorable exceptions) voted against our motion being put. They really didn't want to discuss or vote on the motion at all.

Anticipating that this would happen, earlier in the meeting, I had submitted a question to the Deputy Leader of the Council, Councillor Peter McBride which said,

"Will you be calling for West Yorkshire Combined Authority to withdraw the £100 million of support it is providing for the expansion of Leeds Bradford Airport in light of the Climate Emergency that we and they have declared?"

His simple, unadorned, one word answer was "No". I pushed him in my supplementary question for a more serious answer to my question, to which he answered saying that the funding was for some sort of Park and Ride scheme and he effectively said it was nothing to do with airport expansion. There was clearly an illogical disconnect in his mind between developing extra transport capacity to Leeds Bradford Airport and its expansion.

Councillor McBride was also in the hot seat that evening to talk about progress under his Cabinet Portfolio. He mentioned that the Council would be promoting high energy efficiency standards in new housing. I welcomed this but then highlighted the 'performance gap' issue where housing, built supposedly in accordance with current building regulations, were using twice as much energy in operation as expected. So much as he might believe he was promoting high efficiency buildings that might not actually be the case in practice. As in previous meetings I then suggested the Council adopt 'Passivhaus' standards for new buildings which have a quality assurance system which ensures that buildings actually perform as expected and use around 75% less energy than a building built to current Building Regulation standards. I and Councillor Marchington from the Lib Dems highlighted other Councils that had successfully applied Passivhaus standards in new housing including the Sterling Prize winning 100 house scheme in Norwich. Councillor McBride then repeated a number of misunderstandings and myths around Passivhaus costs and the supposed complexity of living in a Passivhaus. This pretty much indicated that this wasn't a route he was going to go down.

We had considered Passivhaus in detail in the Climate Emergency Working Group where a lot of these issues that Cllr McBride raised were dealt with through evidence provided by an  Observer on the Working Group, Chris Herring from the Passivhaus Trust . Hopefully some positive recommendations on the subject will appear in the Final Report. We will see.

What struck me is that even if the Final Report from the Climate Emergency Working Group is as radical and inspiring as I hope it is then it has the hurdle to overcome of the Labour Cabinet. After  last nights performance I doubt the Council will do anything other than a very mediocre response to the very real Climate Emergency we face. Unfortunately mediocre doesn't cut it.