Labour Peer Viscount Hanworth and Green MEP for Kingston Jean Lambert have sympathised with Kingston Council’s decision not to call a climate emergency, saying it would only exacerbate the council’s financial problems.
Speaking at Green Radio’s Great Green Debate in March, the panel was asked by Green Councillor Sharon Sumner whether they agreed with the decision.
Lambert said councils were understandably “really worried” about the potential financial implications of calling a climate emergency, as it would just put more pressure on the council to spend money it doesn’t have.
Viscount Hanworth said: “They are so strapped for cash now, they have very little room for manoeuvre. They should immediately be setting out to replace fleets of vehicles that are noxious and produce lots of bad air, but they don’t have the funds.”
“Something radical has got to happen to give power back to local decision makers. They should have the leverage but they are totally hamstrung,” he added.
In a sign of the financial pressure that the council is under, the new budget announced an overall council tax increase of 4.9 per cent for 2019-20 and said the council had to save a further £12.1 million to balance its books.