Over my four years as a district councillor, I have done my best to represent Wiveliscombe and neighbouring parishes in my ward, to work with others and to be a positive Green voice on the Council.
Since 2018, I have helped with hundreds of local issues. I have spoken up at council meetings, read many reports and voted on their recommendations, sometimes proposing amendments. I have also sat on a number of working groups and delivery panels, and had monthly briefings on local climate change and ecological projects as the shadow portfolio holder.
The following are some highlights that have resulted from contributions I have made, often working with others.
- Provided information on Covid support in the ward.
- Installed the first public charging point for electric vehicles in Wiveliscombe, working with the Community Centre, Town Council and Brendon Energy. More council points have followed throughout the district, including in North Street car park.
- Given support for funding to Wiveliscombe Community Centre, Town Hall Trust, Wiveliscombe Area Partnership, Wivey Pool, a new skate park at the Recreation Ground and to village halls.
- Sought better progress on the local roll-out of full-fibre broadband and reported on new plans. I have met with Gigaclear, Connecting Devon and Somerset, and Airband, and organised a joint meeting for parish councils with Technological.
- Sought improvements to town centre weeding and street cleaning, as well as to open spaces in car parks, which has included over-growth being cut back and more growing of wild flowers.
- With a local steering group, supported town recovery projects with funding from Somerset West and Taunton Council. In particular, I helped arrange the painting of street furniture in The Square, updating of direction signs in Croft Way car park, and the cleaning of signs and removal of graffiti along the road into Wiveliscombe.
- Proposed and chaired the place-making project group, which has organised consultation and is finalising a plan to improve The Square and traffic management in Wiveliscombe town centre – see update.
SOMERSET WEST AND TAUNTON COUNCIL
- Proposed motions to declare climate and ecological emergencies, which have led to many new council policies and projects.
- Proposed a budget amendment which led to more funding for climate and ecological projects.
- Contributed to working groups on the Somerset climate emergency strategy and district action plans, which have been rated the best in the UK.
- Challenged the council’s commercial investment strategy being debated in confidential sessions, which led to public debates and investment details being published on the council website.
- Proposed and chaired a working group on retrofitting the council’s housing stock with insulation and zero carbon heating systems. Our report was passed by Scrutiny Committee (item minutes) and is currently proceeding on the democratic pathway to the Executive*.
- As a member of Somerset Waste Board, supported the successful roll-out of Recycle More and called for more re-use projects, which are to launched in the coming year.
- Selected as vice-chair of Community Scrutiny Committee and so involved in scrutiny agenda setting and chairing some meetings.
- At full council and committee meetings, I have voted to support many new projects and council initiatives, including: new development plans for the Firepool site in Taunton; the building of new council housing to a zero carbon design; accommodation and support for rough sleepers; pedestrianisation of East Street in Taunton; planning for new safe cycle routes; and many more.
* UPDATE (6/12/22): Following the retrofit working group report, which the Executive noted and asked officers to consider, a Low Carbon Retrofit Strategy and Delivery Plan for SWT’s council’s housing stock was prepared. After being considered by scrutiny committee and executive, it was adopted by full council and will be taken forward with the new Somerset Council. The retrofit strategy and plan are in line with a zero carbon future. The programme will proceed in stages, cost £135m over 28 years and sets the following targets:
- 2030 – All SWT homes to achieve EPC C or have an alternative investment option identified.
- 2040 – Aim to reduce heat demand on average from 135kWh/m2/yr to 50kWh/m2/yr through a ‘fabric first’ approach.
- 2050 – Replace fossil fuel in SWT homes with electric based heat and power at a pace to ensure affordable energy for tenants and in line with available funds. This does not prevent replacing fossil fuel with electric heat and power immediately where their heat demand is sufficiently low and funding is available.