Council leader Jonathan Nunn challenges Northamptonshire Liberal Democrats' allegation of underspending on climate goals

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The leader said current funds are just the "tip of the iceberg" in meeting UK 100's green goals

West Northamptonshire Council Leader Jonathan Nunn has challenged allegations from the Liberal Democrats that the council has been underspending on climate goals.

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Yet the sum requested there was dwarfed by the whopping £900,000 proposed to be spent on environmental goals in response to what the group sees as a lackluster response to climate goals signed up to in December 2021 by joining the "UK 100".

Councillor Jonathan Nunn, leader of West Northamptonshire Council.Councillor Jonathan Nunn, leader of West Northamptonshire Council.
Councillor Jonathan Nunn, leader of West Northamptonshire Council.

Councillor Jonathan Harris, Liberal Democrat ward member for Brixworth, said: “The council redeclared a climate emergency last July and finally committed to make the UK 100 Net Zero pledge in December, and yet there is no substantial investment in the climate emergency let alone any action plan.

"We are proposing an investment of £900,000 and some restructuring at the council to really kick-start activity in this area. It’s a nonsense to call it an emergency, include it in the corporate plan as the number one issue and then spend little to nothing on it.”

However supporters of the council have argued that there is "significantly higher" investment into the cause than might first appear, suggesting that the latest round of funding is merely an addition to ongoing projects.

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It is this, as well as wider sustainability goals yet to be decided, that the council said will stand up to scrutiny in time.

Councillor Jonathan Nunn, leader of West Northamptonshire Council, said: “We have committed £100,000 in the budget to coordinate our approach to sustainability, but this is just the tip of the iceberg, as we already have some existing staff focusing on this, and it is an issue that needs everybody to be working on it, not just a small number of isolated, dedicated staff.

“We’re in the process of developing a West Northamptonshire-wide approach, aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals, which are a global call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that by 2030 we can achieve sustainability.

“We recently signed up to the UK 100 – the only network of highly ambitious UK local government leaders focused solely on climate change, clean energy and clean air policy – seeking to devise and implement ambitious and cost-effective plans for the transition to clean energy.

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“Every part of our work in the coming years, from making sure children and young people receive the best education and opportunities to caring for the elderly, will be part of our approach.

“So clearly our investment will be significantly higher than the sum outlined in our budget, which is intended to employ two dedicated members of staff to push this work forward.

“We’ll be launching our approach shortly, encouraging our partner organisations, residents and businesses to make pledges to play their part in making our area sustainable.”

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