Friends of the Earth are not a political party and are completely neutral when it comes to elections, but we do try to influence the policies that are adopted by all the parties. Recently we published a list of policies that we would like to see implemented locally to make Birmingham a greener city.
We sent these policy recommendations to the leaders of the parties standing for election. Their responses are summarised below. None of the parties we contacted agreed to pledge to any of the policies we suggested, however most responded to our communications, with varying degrees of enthusiasm. You can use these responses for comparison when making your election choices.
Cllr Mike Whitby – Leader of Birmingham City Council and Leader of the Conservative Group in Birmingham
Cllr Whitby said: ‘Clearly our mantra is to create a cleaner, greener and safer City in Birmingham and we tailor our policies to realise these aspirations.’
He suggested that Cllr Huxtable’s Strategic Directorship would address our concerns more specifically, and asked him to consider the points we raised. We are yet to hear from Cllr Huxtable.
Cllr Paul Tilsley – Deputy Leader of Birmingham City Council and Leader of the Birmingham Liberal Democrats
Cllr Tilsley responded to each of our top ten points individually.
With regards to our recommendations to become a ‘no incineration’ city, Cllr Tilsley pointed to the Council’s contract with Veolia which runs until 2020 and essentially means that Veolia own the waste. No mention of possibilities after 2020 however…
Cllr Tilsley said they they are already committed to creating jobs by re-using or recycling more waste items and working with social enterprises under the Green Deal.
He agreed that street bins should have sections for recyclable items (but maintained that they still need general waste section as well, which we agree with) and our ambitions for increasing the number of journeys made by bicycle in the city. He said that he could ‘use influence with BCC representative in Centro’ to create the bus system for the 21st century we suggested.
With regards to energy conservation and production, Cllr Tilsley said that making energy conservation a major priority, as we suggested, was ‘already done’, pointing to the ‘already reduced Central Administrative Buildings (CAB Programme) from 65 down to 9’ and the ‘new flagship offices at Woodcock Street to Bream standards.’ In response to our recommendation to expand the Birmingham Energy savers scheme, he said that it was already a success, and agreed.
He agreed that local procurement should be a major part of the council’s strategy to create jobs and drive sustainable practices amongst local companies, pointing to FinditinBrum.com as en example of this already in practise.
Finally he said that having access to spaces for growing food was ‘important’ and green infrastructure was ‘very important’.
Phil Simpson, Co ordinator, Birmingham Green Party
Mr Simpson responded with: ‘Thank you for the thoughtful and inspiring list of policies your members have drawn up. Whilst they may be different nuances in one or two of them I am more than happy to share these as our joint aspirations.’
He said he would ensure that the 40 Green Party candidates across the city would be informed of our policies recommendations.
Cllr Albert Bore, Leader of the Labour Group of Birmingham City Council
Cllr Bore said that sustainability and making Birmingham a green, smart and safe city was ‘very high up on our agenda. ‘Should we be successful in our aim to win back control of Birmingham City Council next week,’ he continued, ‘it is my intention to create a new Cabinet position specifically to tackle these vital issues.’ He said he had spoken to the Birmingham Post about aspects of this aim, and sent us the relevant article.
Encouragingly, Cllr Bore said he would welcome the opportunity to discuss with us how they can drive forward the green agenda in partnership with others in Birmingham.
He also sent us a a paper outlining Labour’s strategic thinking for the new Cabinet Member, some of the main points from which are outlined below.
The Cabinet Member for a green, smart and safe city would help make Birmingham an exemplar city, providing strategic leadership on the green agenda which includes objectives such as:
- Retrofitting of public and private buildings with energy saving measures
- The identification of locations for new district heating schemes
- An increase in energy and resource efficiency through smart initiatives/ technologies, including maximising the use of waste to generate energy
- The development of green jobs
- Support for the development and introduction of low carbon transport
- The reduction of CO2 emissions in Birmingham by 60% by 2026
The Cabinet Member would set up immediately a Green City Commission with membership drawn from the business community, academic institutions and the third sector. This would replace other partnership arrangements in which the City Council participates and will be the City Council’s vehicle for developing Birmingham as a sustainable, green city.
Peter Hughes, Chairman of UKIP Birmingham Edgbaston, Northfield and Selly Oak
We have not received a response from UKIP.