City Budget: Labour ignore Climate Emergency and vote through 'most expensive car parking spaces in the City'

In Oxford Town Hall this evening, Labour whipped their Councillors to vote against the Green budget amendment which sought to deliver on the promises made by Council on 28th January 2019 when it declared a Climate Emergency.  The Green budget diverted funds from the planned £5.4m expansion of Oxford's Redbridge and Seacourt Park & Rides to invest the money to carbon reducing measures.

The rising cost of the Seacourt extension will create what the Greens are calling the most expensive tarmac in the City at a cost of over £6,000 per parking space. "This is twice the cost of covering the same area with solar panels" said Cllr Craig Simmons when presenting the Green budget. "This is undoubtedly the most expensive tarmac in the City, a waste of public funds and a denial of the Climate Emergency declared by the Council only last month."

 FMI 07739803047 Cllr Craig Simmons

Green measures included:

  • £2m to fund solar canopies over about 1,000 Park and Ride parking spaces (enough to power 500 average homes and saving more than £250,000 in energy bills each year).
  • £0.9m to massively expand the electric vehicle charging network in Oxford adding up to 360 additional charge points including free-to-use lockable charging points at taxi ranks to support the switch to zero emission vehicles.
  • £0.3m investment in the City’s car sharing scheme – adding 10 long distance electric vehicles
  • £0.5m to create a new freight consolidation centre at one of the Park & Ride sites to improve delivery times and reduce the number of large, polluting lorries entering the City.
  • £1.2m Climate Emergency Fund – to make funds available to further support the ideas above and/or address other priorities as they arise.
  • £50,000 to support a new ‘city of the future’ exhibit at the refurbished City Museum focused on climate change
  • £0.7m to extend the current loan to the Oxford Low Carbon Hub to enable them to invest in renewable energy systemsbeforethe Government’s high value Feed In Tariff ends. The funds have been accounted in such as way as to enable this money to be converted into a long-term investment (subject to further due diligence).   
  • £0.6m to improve the energy efficiency of Council-owned houses – doubling the current budget

Other measures include:

  • A new  part-time ‘carbon accountant’ officer post
  • A new full time ‘Climate Emergency’ officer post
  • Funds for a Citizen’s Assembly on the Climate Emergency
  • Funding for a four-year public education programme on climate change – based on the findings from the Citizen’s Assembly.

Note 1: Not only does the expansion of the Park and Rides make no sense environmentally, but the County have announced that they will be building a new 1000-space Park & Ride off the A40 (the first of several aimed at intercepting traffic coming into Oxford to relieve congestion on routes into the City). This, combined with the new rail line into Oxford, is expected to reduce the future demand for Park & Ride spaces.

Note 2: Only last week the Council announced another hike in the expect cost of completing Seacourt – taking the overall cost to £5m. Changes to Redbridge P&R are expected to cost £1.3m.

13th February 2019


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