County council leader Steve Count delivers letter to Wisbech Town Council following climate change comments

PUBLISHED: 17:30 10 March 2020 | UPDATED: 17:30 10 March 2020

Councillors discussed Cambridgeshire county council's climate change strategy. Left to right: Steve Tierney, Wisbech Town Council, Steve Count, Leader of Cambridgeshire County Council and Samantha Hoy, Leader of Wisbech Town Council. Picture: Archant/FILE

Councillors discussed Cambridgeshire county council's climate change strategy. Left to right: Steve Tierney, Wisbech Town Council, Steve Count, Leader of Cambridgeshire County Council and Samantha Hoy, Leader of Wisbech Town Council. Picture: Archant/FILE

Archant/FILE

County council leader Steve Count has delivered a gentle ticking off to Wisbech Town Council over their stance on climate change.

In an open letter to town council leader Samantha Hoy - who is also a district and county councillor - he offers a lengthy list of what Cambridgeshire County Council is doing.

Last week we reported how the town council, had suggested the county council should concentrate on delivering core services rather than produce a climate change and environment strategy.

Town councillor Steve Tierney, also a Conservative district and county councillor, had 'expressed the opinion that the county council is not in a position to change or influence the climate change 'agenda'.'

According to meeting minutes, Cllr Tierney said he would 'rather see that the county council focus its energies and resources upon the delivery of its core services'.

'Such as maintaining highway infrastructure, providing support for the ageing population and delivering services which are able to improve the lives of families and children - rather than producing a Climate Change and Environment Strategy.'

The debate has prompted a response from Cllr Count who says the town council poses a valid question after reading our coverage.

He said: 'Having read the concerns from Wisbech Town Council, I believe they pose a valid question that I feel needs a response outside of the discussion on our climate and environment strategy.

'If understood correctly, there is a perception that somehow CCC isn't fulfilling some of its day to day activities e.g. fixing potholes, because it is being distracted by delivering a new Climate Change and Environment Strategy.

'I must take personal responsibility as I realise, I have probably not done a good enough job so far, of explaining the positive economic benefits that our environmental decisions and actions are having, regardless of anyone's views on climate change and carbon reduction.'

Cllr Count went on to make a list of the current environmental actions being undertaken by the county council.

These include:

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-Our Solar Energy Farm in Soham is at present returning £300k surplus a year, which finances the delivery of some of our essential services - over 25 years the surplus will total £10m.

-Our five proposed energy projects, selling green electricity and battery storage services, together will return almost £3million a year in revenue to support front line services.

-The planned environmental improvements to our new Alconbury Civic Hub reduces our annual maintenance costs from £1.2m for Shire Hall to just £500k a year.

-The £15m fund we created to move our 69 offices off fossil fuels, will create an overall saving, not just on our oil and gas bills - but avoiding further future annual carbon costs of £82,410 a year

He added: 'All of this net income, or money we save by reducing our costs, is vital to support the budgets we need to maintain services to vulnerable adults and children and provide essential infrastructure improvements like maintaining our roads as our population grows.

'In further indirect examples, our environmental projects are also saving money for others.'

More additions from Cllr Count include:

-We've helped 55 Cambridgeshire schools reduce energy bills by £750,000 each year - so they can spend more of their hard pressed budgets on educating our children.

-The Swaffham Prior heating scheme will help local people reduce their own energy bills.

He added: 'I am proud of the way the Conservative controlled county council continues to be effective and efficient in the expenditure of local Taxpayers money.

'I can assure you that without the measures above, we would have had less finance to deliver our essential services. So we would have had to either cut services or raise taxes.

'By taking action now we are saving money now- and quite frankly we can't afford not to do this as we seek to deliver our services without constantly asking Cambridgeshire people to pay more.

'In addressing this issue I realise that I have to do much more to make the economic benefits clearer to the people of Cambridgeshire, as well as the positive environmental impacts contained in the strategy.

'So I will ensure that as part of the county council's permanent offer to engage with all parts of society, moving forwards it is essential that both elements are covered.'

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