By coincidence, two motions have been filed for tonight’s full council meeting with both the controlling Conservative group and opposition Labour councillors filing separate motions to tackle the ‘climate change emergency’.
Jane Marsh, cabinet member and Conservative councillor for Brenchley & Horsmonden has proposed that TWBC ‘recognises the overwhelming weight of scientific evidence pointing to man-made climate change and the harmful impacts this is having on natural habitats and ecosystems, biodiversity and our lives in general’.
She goes on to say that the council should consider a raft of actions to reduce climate change ‘with an ambition to make the Council carbon neutral by 2030’.
Opposition councillors say they are ‘overjoyed’ at the motion proposed by the Conservative cabinet member for Culture, Leisure and Economic Development.
Luke Everitt, Labour Councillor for Southborough & High Brooms, says without knowing what the Conservatives were proposing he forwarded Labour’s own climate change motion, also committing the council to become carbon neutral by 2030.
“We both seemed to file motions independently, but when I found out what Cllr March had proposed we were overjoyed.”
He said that while many local authorities have proposed a carbon neutral deadline of 2030, Conservative councillors at Kent County Council amended a similar motion to put back the target until 2050, a move that was widely condemned across Kent, and caused protests outside county hall.
“Finally, this is a sign the Conservatives are taking this seriously,” Cllr Everitt said.
He added that the borough council had a duty to take the lead and ‘get its own house in order’ when it came to climate change.
He continued: “If we take the lead then businesses and residents in the borough will follow and the impact will get bigger and bigger. This issue needs leadership in the borough.”
Cllr Jane March agreed. She said: “I feel very strongly that as a Council we should be following the national example and legislating for zero carbon emissions.
“Saying we’ll be carbon neutral by 2030 is ambitious but achievable.
“I’m pleased that the Labour group in the Council want to work with us and now my original motion and Cllr Everitt’s motion have been combined.”
The Tunbridge Wells Alliance has also proposed a motion tonight to cancel the council’s £90million Calverley Square development, despite the chamber having agreed a pause on spending on the project until alternative solutions have been proposed.