City Council announce plan to become self-sufficient in low carbon energy

As reported on Pits n Pots 2 weeks ago, Stoke-on-Trent a city self sufficient in low carbon energy?, Stoke-on-Trent City Council yesterday announced that they are one of just six authorities nationwide to make it to the second stage of the ‘Creative Councils’ programme, securing £150,000. The funding will help the council create a trail-blazing local authority power company which will help the city become self-sufficient in low carbon energy – a first under the 2011 Localism Act. Continue reading

Councils ”Shouldn’t Tackle Climate Change”

Councils in the UK should do “absolutely nothing” to tackle climate change unless a stringent global deal on reducing carbon emissions is reached through the United Nations, which includes developing as well as developed countries ““ according to Lord Lawson, writes Dean Carroll..

Insisting that such an agreement would be unlikely due to India and China’s need to rapidly increase economic growth ““ in order to bring tens of millions of citizens out of poverty ““ the chairman of the Global Warming Policy Foundation claimed that town halls were wasting resources by promoting renewable energy schemes and green initiatives.

“For now, energy is carbon based because it is cheaper than anything else and it makes no sense to decarbonise unless everybody is doing it; it’s lunacy to go it alone when China is building a new coal power station every week,”

he said, speaking at the LGA annual conference.

“It would cost the British economy £50bn a year up to 2050 to meet the requirements of the UK Climate Change Act. Local authorities should do absolutely nothing to tackle climate change. Your money could be put to far greater use.”

Lord Lawson said northern Europe would actually greatly benefit from continued warming and urged public servants to focus on adaptation rather than mitigation. He also highlighted Met Office figures showing that global temperatures had not risen at all in the last decade ““ although, he admitted they had gone up by 0.75 degrees over the last 150 years since the industrial revolution.

Countering his views, founding member of the Tyndall Centre professor Andrew Watkinson told delegates that 10 years was too short a period to identify weather trends and this explained the stabilisation in temperature.

“The climate science is sound and last winter was the second warmest globally despite the bad weather experienced here in the UK,”

said Watkinson, also a professional fellow of the University of East Anglia.

“We could see temperature rises in the future of between 1-4 degrees as a result of greenhouse gases ““ way beyond what humans on earth have experienced before, so local authorities have to take on the science and show leadership with new forms of energy as well as adaptation and mitigation measures.”

Watkinson revealed that some scholars thought the global population could shrink from six billion to one billion if the worst effects of climate change came to fruition and parts of the southern hemisphere became inhabitable.

But Lord Lawson rejected these claims insisting that more extreme warming periods had occurred during Medieval and Roman times and that sea levels were not rising rapidly anymore.

“There has certainly been skulduggery with the science; it’s totally one-sided ““ ignoring the benefits of global warming and exaggerating the downsides,” he added. “Climate change is like a new religion and there are some people who see it as a way to undermine capitalism.”

Audit Commission ready for change

Source: Public Servant Magazine.

Officials at the Audit Commission are already preparing for an alternative inspection system to the comprehensive area assessment (CAA) in case the Conservative Party wins power, Public Servant has learnt, writes Dean Carroll.

A Tory government would immediately abolish CAA as part of its pledge to decentralise power and create a “post-bureaucratic state”.

Commission managing director Gareth Davies told Public Servant that the regulator was “planning for any eventuality from the next general election”. He admitted that the Tories may dramatically change the way the commission evaluated public bodies, adding: “They may not agree that we need to inspect them in the way that we do now.”

But Davies said he expected the One Place website ““ the CAA online tool ““ to remain part of Tory plans because it had received a warm response from Conservative shadow ministers, who were given a demo of the portal. It may also chime well with Tory proposals for “Google Government”.

“Nobody who has seen the website has said ‘this is a waste of time,’” said Davies. “The information is now accessible on one website rather than buried in PDFs in various places.”

The new inspection regime has been criticised by the Local Government Association and members of the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives for allegedly redirecting the time of public servants away from frontline duties. Merging the work of six different inspectorates had also proved problematic. Independent consultants are now analysing CAA, and their findings will be published in March.

Davies told delegates at a Capita conference in London that unlike its predecessor (comprehensive performance assessment) CAA was focused on outcomes rather than processes ““ and that the reports were designed more with the public in mind as the audience rather than “local government insiders”.

“Some elected members have felt disengaged,” said Davies, adding: “We have also had a lot of feedback from chief executives saying that CAA hadn’t told them anything new about their council or partners. There is an exercise going on to learn the lessons of the first year. We will not have the same list of excuses for next year.”

Davies claimed that the threat of CAA red flags had forced some primary care trusts and police forces to up their game in terms of partnership working, while feedback about the delivery of national schemes in local areas also “challenged government”.

He added that a value for money area assessment could be included in 2010 inspections should Labour win power ““ as the Prime Minister had hinted at in his smarter government report.