Christmas and a New Year are the time of year when our thoughts turn to our hopes and dreams for the future.
But what are your long term hopes and dreams for Harrogate, Knaresborough, Ripon or Boroughbridge? As we face the challenges of the energy crisis, a recession and significant impacts from the climate crisis, what does a good quality of life look like in Yorkshire? What are our hopes and dreams for the future of “God's Own County”?
North Yorkshire County Council are conducting a widespread consultation on the priorities for the new unitary authority, which will be coming into place on the 1st of April 2023. It called Let’s Talk and has three sections: Let’s Talk Local, Let’s Talk Devolution and Let’s Talk Money.
Here is the perfect opportunity for each of us to share those hopes and dreams and take one step closer to making them a reality. Speaking up now is vital for shaping the future direction of the new North Yorkshire Council.
However, in an online public consultations like this, it is not always easy to express your views on a cross-cutting theme like tackling climate change. How do you prioritise climate actions in a list of priorities which include social care and education?
The consultation questions don’t always allow for nuanced answers that let us explain for example, we would prioritise retrofitting social housing, so that residents on low incomes can cut energy bills and carbon emissions. Or press for investment in solar panels for schools so that less education budget is spent on electricity bills and more on teachers.
From pavements for pedestrians, to buses and bikes, the new unitary authority will control the highways network that can help or hinder the journey choices and carbon footprint. A joined up approach is needed, giving priority to the travellers that generate the least carbon dioxide emissions – that means putting pedestrians first, then shared or public transport.
With 93% of the Council’s budget spent on procuring services, there is a huge opportunity to influence multiple local companies by ensuring that all the Council procurement contracts include carbon reduction commitments from suppliers.
What expectations do we have of the County Council to build climate adaptation into the day-to-day practise of the services they provide? For instance, with 2600 excess deaths this summer in the UK heatwave, care homes should be prepared for more extreme weather to protect our elderly relatives.
The climate crisis is no far away problem that can be solved sometime in the future. Today’s decisions are making tomorrow’s Yorkshire. Want future do you want for your neighbourhood?
As our Advent calendars make us focus on our Christmas preparations, one act of kindness we can all make is to share our views on a better future and complete the Let’s Talk consultation.
To help Zero Carbon Harrogate have created a consultation guide with some possible responses. Go to www.zerocarbonharrogate.org.uk for more information or download the guide below.