The Green Group has called on Sheffield City Council to look for new opportunities for funding to upgrade public transport, improve the energy efficiency of homes and protect our natural environment.

Green Councillor Toby Mallinson who is a member of the Council’s Finance Committee said.

“The Council has many challenges and ambitions which cannot be met within the financial constraints we are given.

“We know that if the Government changes following a General Election that the Labour Party has decided to continue the Conservatives spending plans. Many are dismayed that there are no plans from them for a Wealth Tax. Green Party proposals to tax the wealthiest 1% more would raise £50 Billion for public services. We believe this would make us a fairer country, fit to fight the environmental challenges we face.

“There will be no cavalry coming over the horizon to save the day after the General Election. Many fear that it will be a seamless continuation of failed destructive austerity policies.

A workman making repairs to a house
Councils can set up companies that not only provide council services, but can do a range of other paid work, working flexibly and sustainably

“The Nature and Climate Emergencies are not going away, neither is the Council’s Commitment to have a Net Zero Carbon City by 2030. There are huge benefits that we can realise whilst achieving this goal. With targeted investment we can achieve warmer homes, affordable energy bills, secure sustainable local food production, cleaner air, safer streets, affordable and reliable public transport and a rich diverse natural environment.

“To address these huge challenges we need to generate new sources of funding to bring in the millions we need to upgrade our public transport, to insulate our homes, to generate renewable energy and to protect our city from the climate change impacts that are already happening and likely to get much worse.

“We need to hardwire resilience into our local economy. A city that generates a large proportion of its own energy, produces more of its own food and a city that can withstand extreme weather events is a city that will have a more secure future.

“In our amendment we are asking the Council to look beyond a one year budget. No more tinkering around the edges. We should set ourselves the task of identifying proven sources of income that can generate significant amounts and that will make our city ready for the future.

“All of the proposals we are asking the Council to consider have been successfully implemented in other parts of the country but never have they all been brought together in such an ambitious programme. This is a huge opportunity for us to show we are boldly taking opportunities that are available to us. That we are real leaders in local government.”

Hillsborough Green Councillor Christine Gilligan who seconded the Green Party amendment said,

“The proposals in our budget amendment could raise millions to tackle climate change, improve homes, generate clean local energy and will use the resources we have within the city to benefit the city

“We are proposing that the Council investigate developing a model of a directly-owned company (like Oxford Direct Services that is wholly owned by Oxford City Council) It could provide services to householders such as gardening, household repairs, heating system servicing and replacement and retrofit works. Providing services that local people need and value whilst and a useful income stream for the Council;

“Forest Heath District Council recoups nearly £400k per year in revenue from its Council owned solar farm. Other Councils have developed solar farm projects such as West Sussex County Council who have a 7.4 megawatt solar farm on a former landfill site. So why not Sheffield?

A field covered with solar panels angled to catch the sun
Solar farms like this one have been built and owned by councils to generate sustainable income

“At least 9 Councils have raised funding to support climate change related projects from the community by issuing municipal climate bonds These have successfully raised millions of pounds of investment for several councils from community sources at a lower rate of interest than the Public Works Loan Board. Why not Sheffield?

Nottingham has an Employer’s Workplace Parking Levy that provides substantial funding to support public transport, active travel and electric vehicle infrastructure.

“In Nottingham, the levy has raised more than £9 million each year, with the revenue used to fund tram infrastructure, a smart card scheme, electric buses and cycling facilities. It has also levered in 100s of millions of pounds of external investment.

“South Yorkshire Pensions Authority has over £8 Billion of funding and some of this could be used to invest in large-scale energy-saving and power-generation schemes. This will bring steady financial returns to both the lenders and the council and keep the South Yorkshire pound in South Yorkshire.”

You can read more about Oxford Direct Services on their site, and get more information about Municipal Climate Bonds on the Green Finance Institute page. See the East Anglian Daily Times for more on how Suffolk council’s solar farm out-performs on predicted electricity output.

Our website has more about the Employers Workplace Parking Levy and how the Corporate Opportunities Register was agreed by Sheffield City Council in June 2022 to encourage the Council to seek external sources of funding.