Green Party councillors have submitted a raft of proposals to the full meeting of Sheffield City Council in February, including:
- Calling for the Climate Emergency to become a priority for the Housing Service
- Supporting older and disabled tenants with keeping gardens clear
- Supporting a change to the way the council is run so that all councillors take on responsibility for decision-making
- Calling for more support for small businesses, independents and not-for-profits, like those on Chapel Walk
- Calls to abolish business rates in favour of a land value tax
- more tree-planting and re-wilding; and preserving Open Spaces like Owlthorpe Fields, the General Cemetery and the Ponderosa
- making the most of government grants for parks
- calling for more green space in the city centre
- ending the routine use of glyphosate
Cllr Douglas Johnson said,
“It’s one year since the council formally declared there was a “Climate Emergency” but it doesn’t include climate change as a priority for its housing service.
That’s a big omission and wipes out any suggestion that the council is serious about climate change. Domestic heating is one of the big issues for CO2 emissions and another is the huge amount of carbon released in traditional construction.
It’s absolutely critical for the service-wide plan to have climate change as a priority as it takes time to face up to the serious challenge ahead of us.
Our range of other proposals will offer protection to older and disabled tenants from new charges for gardening. We want to support local businesses that face constant problems with business rates. We want to see real action on preserving and maintaining open spaces that are so much under threat at present.”
The amendments come after Green councillors submitted a motion calling for a cross-party Climate Emergency Committee and more green jobs.
Cllr Alison Teal added,
“Our Green Group motion urges the Council to act on the Climate Emergency, which we declared a year ago, yet no changes have been made. Our amendments show we want to work with the residents of Sheffield and we want to bring not just our own ideas into reality but theirs too. We need a more co-operative, less tribal structure in Council, which is why we support the need to change to a committee system.
“Too much power in the hands of one councillor leaves most people in Sheffield without representation.”
- The council meeting agenda is at http://democracy.sheffield.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?MId=7339#AI20864
- The amendment from Green Party councillors are:
Housing Revenue Account – item 5
Amendment proposed by Cllr Douglas Johnson and seconded by Cllr Alison Teal
Approve with the following modifications, the recommendations made by Cabinet:
- Notes that, despite recognising the impact that housing can have in addressing the climate change emergency, no such proposals feature in the selected priorities and, therefore, requests the Administration to prepare an urgent plan of action for the Housing Service to reduce carbon emissions.
- In respect of garage rents, will substitute “2.7%” with “3.7%” and will commit the increase in revenue to offset the new cost of the paid-for gardening scheme for older and disabled tenants.
Governance – Item 6
Motion proposed by Cllr Douglas Johnson and seconded by Cllr Angela Argenzio
To Propose the full council resolves to adopt the recommendations set out in the report with the modification of paragraph 3.3 in that Full Council should be the body that takes the strategic decisions with substantial implications for the city and its communities.
Business Rates – Item 7
Amendment proposed by Cllr Paul Turpin and seconded by Cllr Martin Phipps
Inserts the following after (k) and before (l), relettering accordingly,
l) Notes that business rates reliefs are set by Government and this Council cannot claim credit for granting mandatory awards;
m) believes that far too many small businesses, independents and not-for-profits in Sheffield experience real difficulties in obtaining even the mandatory reliefs they are entitled to;
n) Regrets the lack of support offered to independent businesses on Chapel Walk facing poor trading conditions for years under the scaffolding;
o) Notes that businesses currently pay for business rates instead of the land owners, who have enough money to own the land;
p) Calls for the outdated and unfair system of business rates to be scrapped and replaced by a land value tax on the owners of land and buildings rather than the occupiers;
Inserts in the original motion’s paragraph (l), after the words “reform the rates system” the words, “by replacing it with a land value tax,”
Parks – Item 8
Amendment proposed by Cllr Alison Teal and seconded by Cllr Paul Turpin
Delete (e) and replace with –
(e) with an ambitious programme of planting we could become the greenest city. Sheffield has rural land within its boundary which provides opportunities to achieve net zero carbon targets, through rewilding and planting the right species of trees. In urban areas we must preserve our existing green spaces and increase green coverage in every ward.
(f) believes that reassessing some decisions to fulfil the council’s ambition to be the greenest city could help, such as:
- retaining Owlthorpe Fields as a greenfield site
- not building a car park in Sheffield General Cemetery or breaking its historic perimeter;
- ensuring officers always bid for Government grants for pocket parks, so opportunities like Duchess Road Open Space in the deprived Highfields part of City Ward are not missed;
- streamlining and encouraging the access to grants from members of the public wanting to create pocket parks and community gardens in their communities
- ensuring safeguards against damage to green spaces so that situations like Fire in the Park Festival event at the Ponderosa will not deprive local residents of its full use;
- gradually increasing the number of meadows and where appropriate ‘rewilding’ land which is currently grass requiring regular maintenance, in order to increase biodiversity and reduce costs and use of chemical pollutants;
- Providing more green spaces in the city centre, with it being the most polluted area in Sheffield, including the original plan for a park on the historic site of Sheffield Castle
- committing to stopping the routine use of toxic chemicals, including glyphosate
“People and Power” – item 9
Amendment proposed by Cllr Douglas Johnson and seconded by Cllr Angela Argenzio
Add at end,
(m) and therefore supports a change to the committee system of governance.
Climate Emergency – Item 10
Amendment proposed by Cllr Peter Garbutt and seconded by Cllr Alison Teal
Add at end,
(f) notes the increasing public concern about the Climate Emergency and acknowledges the hard work of the community groups lobbying the Council and demanding we respond urgently to the crisis we are facing.