Council Watch October 2022

CA-WN watching West Northamptonshire Council for us all

It’s been good to see the WNC Sustainability team (@SustainableWN) out and about at public events in the last few weeks – including the Grow Green Together Conference where Leader of the Council Jonathon Nunn also spoke (see page 3 for our report on the conference). Councillor Nunn’s commitment to WNC’s net zero targets is real, but are all councillors equally concerned about the climate crisis, evidenced this year in exceptional and catastrophic weather events around the world? The fact that of 93 councillors only 3 (including Cllr Nunn) attended the conference, and 22 showed up for an internal training session on net zero vs carbon neutrality might indicate otherwise.

Do you know where your local councillors stand on the climate crisis? One thing we can all do as individuals is ask questions of those who represent us. You can check who your councillors are here and it is your right to ask them about their views on environmental issues. Please let us know what they say.

At the full council meeting on 29 September, a petition was presented by Lynn Micallef, supported by Pesticide Action Network UK, asking the council to stop using glyphosate weedkiller and become a ‘Pesticide Free Town’. WNC haven’t made a decision yet, so if you are concerned about use of chemicals designed to kill wild plants, aka ‘weeds’, and potentially harmful to other wildlife, you can still sign the petition

A report was presented at the same meeting about the support being offered by WNC during the current cost of living crisis. Immediate relief for residents struggling to meet daily living costs is sadly very necessary, however CA-WN urges the council to also pay attention to longer-term actions that will help make households more resilient to rising costs, and drive down greenhouse gas emissions. One obvious example is improving the energy efficiency of the area’s homes. The excellent whole house retrofit project carried out by Northampton Partnership Homes (see Issue 2 for more details) showed what can be done, but at present there is an absence of reliable independent information and practical support for homeowners and private tenants. This needs to be addressed urgently.

Finally, it is disappointing to see cutbacks in some bus services (eg Northampton to Daventry D3 reduced from hourly to every 90 minutes). This will force more people to use cars, therefore increasing traffic, air pollution and emissions. It is time to see more imaginative thinking around the transport agenda, including public transport and active travel. The Northampton Living Streets Group have launched an Autumn Active Travel Campaign encouraging residents to contact councillors asking for specific steps to be taken to make it easier and safer to walk and cycle. More information on their website