The gloves were on for Your Waverley’s new Rainbow administration​ as it Declares A Climate Emergency.

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A Special Council Meeting last night was definitely of the lively variety – as members of the new Rainbow Alliance went head-to-head with a rather dog eared bunch of Tories intent on diluting the motion to Declare A Climate Emergency.

Suffice to say a meeting to get the Full Council behind its bid was unlikely to be an easy call for Your Waverley’s new boys on the block. Particularly as half a dozen councillors declared they were formerly employed in the oil industry and had their pensions to prove it. However, despite the fireworks, the Alliance stood firm and won the day.

Why? Because for a new administration to be taking the lead on such an important issue in its honeymoon period, was courageous. As it was not put forward by the old guard – it was therefore ripe for a good drubbing. Nothing like a climate debate to get the juices flowing.

Some Tories claimed the Newbies had not gone far enough – others claimed – they had gone too far. Some argued the document which seeks officers to come forward with an Action Plan in six months was “unrealistic” and was “undeliverable.” Some couldn’t quite make their minds up why they should support what Cllr Steve Williams described as a document that addresses the most serious issue the world faces.

Watched in the gallery by students from Broadwater School, warmly welcomed by Godalming Cllr Williams,  as he hammered home the urgency for action as the earth warms at an alarming rate with dire consequences, particularly for the young and future generations.

“We cannot beat nature.”

Waverley like others around the globe must face up to the dire consequences of global warming, face its responsibilities.  Think globally and act locally by aiming to become carbon neutral by 2030. A situation that would force everyone to adjust their lifestyles.

For some Tories declaring an immediate Climate Emergency was premature. Without enough detail of how it could be achieved and the costs involved. For others, it didn’t go far enough, and with more thought, an earlier date than 2030 could be achieved. 

The gloves came off as a tribe of tetchy Tories put up an amendment to scupper the plan, which they claimed they “supported in principle,” for further consideration. But,  it was pointed out by a host of newbies, that a Climate Emergency was just that… AN EMERGENCY… and the work had already begun.

What the young people in the gallery thought of the slanging match as the debate progressed is anyone’s guess. But suffice to say, it was only the Mayor Mary Foryszewski who always manages to make light of any situation, who continued smiling as she awaited an opportunity after the meeting to flog off her mugs at a tenner a time – for her chosen charity.

Deputy Leader Paul Follows said he was “proud” that the new administration had bought this document forward, It should not be delayed and other towns and parishes had already adopted theirs. This was not about gesture politics, as that adopted by Surrey County Council – ouch! An organisation that declared a Climate Emergency one week whilst supporting oil and gas extraction only last week and could soon approve exploration in the borough of Waverley at Dunsfold!

Thanks to The Potty One, whose parachute jump from Farnham into Tilford must have increased her carbon footprint by at least 50%,  stressed her group supported ANY climate emergency measures. But was slightly concerned that the cart was being put before the horse!

It was left to Tory Cllr Seaborne – who had earlier declared his oil industry connection – to explain what she meant. It was all about achievability and realistic dates. “We have no idea how much it will cost, and the impact this will have on Waverley’s residents and businesses, and its services – a study must come first – and then a Climate Emergency declared.

The WW couldn’t understand why Elstead’s Aunty Else-y didn’t mention that 1/5th of Waverley’s population was elderly – therefore contributed more wind into the atmosphere? Matched only by her own, as she said she wanted “very clear assurances” that the borough’s voluntary sector wouldn’t be adversely affected by the decisions to be taken.  Perish the thought that it might affect the elderly – what about future generations that may not enjoy old age, Aunty?

Suffice to say after an enormous amount of hot air spiraling around the chamber, sufficient to power Godalming’s street lighting,  a recorded vote against a Tory Group amendment to the motion to Declare A Climate Emergencywas lost by 30 votes to 17 with two abstentions. (So almost half the TT’s couldn’t bring themselves to vote for their own amendment!?!

So Waverley Council then UNANIMOUSLY Declared A Climate Emergency, despite councillors, including Cllr Mulliner, Seaborne, and Co waxing lyrically against! With 49 votes For.

Another bonkers Tory amendment produced like a rabbit out of a hat by Cllr Robert Knowless- to hold all council meetings during the day to save on light, heat, and transport, was defeated by 31 votes to 18 with Tory Cllr Townsend voting with and congratulated by,  the Rainbow Coalition.

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If you can bear it – you can watch the proceedings here. Don’t ask us why but it starts at 1 hour 12.02.

7 thoughts on “The gloves were on for Your Waverley’s new Rainbow administration​ as it Declares A Climate Emergency.”

  1. WW – you must have dropped off at some point……..I think you will find you have got your votes a bit muddled.

    The main Tory Group amendment (‘yes, there is an emergency but let’s spend six months trying to work out whether we can afford to do anything’) was voted on at 60 minutes into the meeting and Liz Townsend voted with her party. The numbers were 17 for, 30 against and 2 abstentions. I think Nick Palmer, the Labour ex MP now on the Exec, nailed it for me when he said that in his experience an indeterminate time frame was appropriate for interesting problems but not for an emergency.

    Then up pops Councillor Knowles to take ownership of an orphan clause on a single piece of paper which had been distributed around the chamber with no prior indication of where it had come from. As you said, the clause suggested daytime only meetings and was clearly aimed at trying to embarrass the Rainbow Coalition into immediately having to vote down a “carbon saving” measure. It would also have meant the average age of the Executive increased by about 20 years at a stroke as only those with no day jobs could have been on it. My note says 10 Tories voted for that, 7 abstained (including Liz) and there were 32 against. So presumably it wasn’t whipped.

    Then the fun continued on to the main motion which the Tories suggested should be taken in two parts. Mary F allowed the split vote so Council unanimously agreed there is a climate emergency but the Tory line was to abstain on the other Coalitions clauses including the aim to become carbon neutral by 2030. However Liz Townsend voted for the meat of the Coalition main motion. That’s what she got congratulated for. Presumably she will get a serious ticking off but she voted as a matter of conscience because she really does believe there is an emergency and she is passionate about the environment. I doubt that they will kick her out (Milton style) because that just increases the coalition majority.

    I think the Tory behaviour not to accept defeat of their amendment gracefully and then back the Coalition main motion was disgraceful. I just hope they aren’t going to play a political game and refuse to co-operate with the ongoing work which now needs to be done but given their behaviour last night that is my concern.

  2. Judging by your account of the proceedings you were in the chamber somewhere? Because if you had been listening to the webcase you would have lost the will to live! The webcast was silent on several occasions and then spun and stopped. If we misheard the voting – then we apologise because microphones were not switched off, the rustling of papers and noises off as members held conversations among themselves, switched two members of our team over to the coffee machine for a big dose of caffeine.

    After writing the post late last night – we have day jobs by the way – we looked more closely at the webcast with cool heads- and you are asolutely right Cllr Townsend was wholly suppportive of the motion, and expressed her reservations, which hopefully the coalition and the officers will take on board? All very sensible suggestions. Her passion was obvious. At one point we feared for her blood pressure! She is an accomplished speaker which is more than can be said for her leader and lets hope Cllr Williams will make use of her expertise and knowledge of the subject? – After all the council works in all our interests?

    Why would anyone even consider kicking out Cllr Townsend? She is an asset to her group and the council. Her arguments are reasoned and her dedication for the borough, and her patch in particular, are a credit to her. We particularly enjoyed her comments over the loss of the Godalming Green Belt, when she rammed it home to everyone that Farnham and the eastern villages were under seige by developers and its countryside was under attack.

    As for the Mumpty’s motion, about holding meetings in the day time and ruling out working people for evermore – that was surely aimed at Paul Follows – who at 33 is providing the enthusiasm and leadership which has been lacking at Waverley for years. Jealousy will get Knowless-nowhere.

    Thank you again for your explanation? Want a job?

  3. For the partnership this was one of those sessions that mattered because as you quite rightly said – the climate motion was something the Conservatives never did (and I believe would never have done) and the strategy document end up being a de-facto confidence vote in the ability of the partnership to deliver the votes we thought it had.

    I know John and I have both spent a lot of time talking to our respective groups this week – we both believe that positive engagement with other members is better than any kind of whip system.

    If the Conservatives had written a real, positive amendment that improved our document then they would have sent it to be long in advance (because I have always made it clear to them we wouldn’t dismiss constructive amendments out of hand). Tabling it before the session to me indicates to me (when you know you don’t have the numbers) that it’s a gesture. It was also clearly aimed at dilution of the overall point of the motion. We saw this before at Surrey.

    Anyway long story short all the the amendments failed (including that gem from Robert Knowles). Other than it being a patent attack on anyone who isn’t retired being in the chamber it was also utterly inconsistent with the previous hour where they had been arguing prudence to the point of inaction to suddenly put up one entirely random ‘action’. Voted down even by many conservatives- I don’t think Cllr Peter Martin was keen on the idea of choosing between Surrey and Waverley meetings. It’s almost as if it wasn’t thought through? Perhaps he didn’t even run that by his leadership? It wasn’t seconded by Julia or Peter but by Simon Dear (of Haslemere) if I recall correctly.

    The mayor then allowed a split vote on the recommendations. I asked her not to (it was made clear prior to the meeting that was not what the administration wanted) and I asked for a vote. I was denied by the mayor. I asked her not to because it was clear the conservatives wanted to be able to say they had voted for the emergency (and then not vote for the actions required). The only people in the room in support of a split vote were Julia and Peter.

    Some consequences from the evening are:

    1. The alliance has proved it can mobilise its numbers effectively and pass what it needs to and repel amendments.

    2. We will be expediting the restoration of electronic voting for full council and planning committees AND the recorded and published vote components.

    3. I have drafted a mayoral override standing order so that clearly partisan or politically motivated decisions can be challenged properly. This was something we were looking at in the future anyway as there is too much discretion and prerogative in the constitution. This week has bumped that up the list!

  4. If we could put up the Ode to Joy here we would. At last open and transparent Government is arriving on a fast train to the borough of Waverley.

    If only we could see more openness and transparency in the planning system. Easy to access information – some real enforcement of unathorised development, and an easily accessible planning portal – though we are becoming more used to it. Perahps proper voting statistics, so the voting fodder know how the people we elect actually vote.

    As for the new Mayor – well what can we say, nice dress, probably nice shoes and nice mugs but…really, playing games when you are in such a powerful, important and non-political civic role?

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