Sheffield’s Labour Council Blasts Government’s “weak, vague and feeble” Sustainability Plan and commits itself to real action

 

 

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*** IMMEDIATE RELEASE ***

Sheffield’s Labour Council Blasts Government’s “weak, vague and feeble” Sustainability Plan and commits itself to real action

12 January

Commenting on the launch of the Government’s new 25 Year Sustainability Strategy, Cabinet Member for Transport and Sustainability, Councillor Jack Scott said:

“Just like the Tory government itself, these announcements are weak, vague and feeble. This is a huge missed opportunity to create the greener and more sustainable Britain that we all need. The plan has been slammed by dozens of environmental groups. Michael Gove’s refusal to listen to experts is costing us all dearly.

“It’s ridiculous to have a plan spanning 25 years. A 25 month plan is needed, with real action, vision and tough laws to make it a reality. The lack of timely action is especially concerning in light of the Tories’ turbo-charged Brexit, which will stop the UK having the benefit of the many environmental protections, targets and regulations that help to keep us safe.

“Most concerning of all is the lack of real action. There are no new laws planned and many of these announcements, such as on air quality or climate change, are simply repeating and repackaging previous announcements. We absolutely need to increase recycling rates, but this shouldn’t extend to rehashing government statements and then pretending they are new. Britain deserves a government that will nurture and cherish our green and beautiful island, not this threadbare bodge job.

“The Labour Council in Sheffield takes this issue seriously, even if the government doesn’t. So I’m pleased that next month the Council’s Cabinet will consider a “Green City Strategy”, with the concrete action we need to forge a cleaner, greener and brighter future for our great city.”

Many environmental groups have also criticised the Government’s announcements:

Greenpeace UK’s Executive Director John Sauven said:

“If Theresa May wants to persuade people this is more than just husky-hugging, she needs to put some joined-up thinking at the heart of her strategy. You can’t claim to care about climate change and our countryside and then back fracking, or care about the next generation and then let air pollution harm our kids’ health.

“The environment is now a mainstream concern in this country, with millions of people caring deeply about it. Theresa May has a unique opportunity to rise to the challenge and make Britain a global leader in environmental protection. She should not waste it.”

Chief Executive of Friends of the Earth, Craig Bennett said:

“A long-term vision for protecting our environment is essential, but the Government can’t keep turning a blind eye to the urgent action needed now to protect our health and planet from toxic air and climate-wrecking pollution.

It’s time to stop tinkering at the margins and get to the heart of the problems – especially the nation’s fossil fuels addiction. Ministers must pull the plug on coal, gas and oil, end its support for fracking and develop the UK’s huge renewable power potential.

25 years is a long way off – particularly for a government that might not last 25 weeks. We need action now.”
– ENDS –

For further information please contact:
Email: sheffield.labourcouncillors@outlook.com
Tel: 07968 676 022

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New 20 Miles Per Hour Zone in Sheffield City Centre

Sheffield City Council will introduce a 20mph speed limit in the city centre following strong public backing to the recent consultation.

 

Sheffield drivers to face 20mph city centre speed limit from Sheffield Live on Vimeo.

A 20mph speed will now be rolled out before the end of the year on hundreds of streets in Sheffield city centre in a bid to make roads safer, better for pedestrians and cyclists and to improve air quality. The consultation sought public feedback on Council plans to provide a new speeding zone on more than 300 roads in the middle of the city, encompassing nearly every street apart from a few major thoroughfares such as Arundel Gate, Derek Dooley Way and Sheaf Street.

The Council is also making plans for additional improvements to tackle congestion on the inner ring-road.

Over the recent months the city centre has witnessed an increasing number of traffic accidents and this is something the Council clearly wanted to address. It is hoped that reducing the speed of traffic in residential areas will, in the long term, reduce the number and severity of accidents. This should also reduce the fear that accidents will take place, thereby, likely to lead to more sustainable modes of travel such as cycling being adopted – resulting in a more cohesive environment overall.

Since Labour were elected to run Sheffield City Council in 2011 a series of measures have been undertaken to achieve their aim of establishing 20mph as the maximum speed for residential areas throughout Sheffield. The restriction has already been introduced with great success in areas such as Darnall, Gleadless Valley, Heeley and Stannington and now the city centre is to follow.

Labour Councillor for City Ward, Moya O’Rourke, was elected in 2015 and after many conversations with local residents it became apparent that there was an overwhelming majority who backed the plans: “Since my election I made a promise to the ward that I would make our city centre roads safer and more environmentally friendly – and I have been pushing for 20 mph zones in the centre to do just that.

“I’m delighted that so many residents in my ward contributed to the council’s public consultation. There is no way this policy would have got off the ground if there wasn’t such a strong will to make it happen by Labour councillors. It’s quite odd that the Sheffield’s Green Party are always trying to claim credit for the policy as, quite frankly, their involvement and relevance to this has been zero”.

Councillor Jack Scott, Cabinet Member for Transport and Infrastructure at Sheffield City Council, said:

“Anyone who’s been in our city centre recently will have seen that it is growing rapidly and for the better, with cranes, new shops and new developments. It needs to be a place where safety and sustainable travel are actively supported and encouraged.

“I’m pleased that the consultation was received so positively. This Labour Council is absolutely determined to improve road safety throughout the city and 20mph zones play a big role in this. Not only do speeds reduce in these areas, there’s a reduction in the severity of the accidents and an improvement in air quality”.

Councillor Scott also acknowledged that some submissions to the consultation questioned the effect of the speeding zones on air pollution.

In response Councillor Scott said: “I am aware of concerns that travelling at 20mph could negatively affect air quality. However, the evidence actually shows that at a constant lower speed a driver will use less fuel, and safer roads should mean more people taking up walking and cycling instead. I am absolutely committed to improving safety on our roads and taking real action to improve Sheffield’s air quality. Pleasingly, this measure should help in both of these respects in City Ward”.

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Speech to Full Council: A Vision for Better Transport in Sheffield with Labour

*** Below is a copy of my remarks to the recent Full Council meeting, where I led Labour’s call for proper investment in Northern transport and infrastructure. Check against delivery ***
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Once again, the Tory government is letting the people of Sheffield down and taking us for a ride. 

The cancellation of electrification means passengers in Sheffield will be denied the faster, greener, more reliable train journeys we were promised. The London-centric Tories do not act in the interests of the whole UK. They have put their own survival ahead of everything else, finding £1 billion for a deal with the DUP, and it’s communities like ours in South Yorkshire that are paying the price.

The Tories are trying to pull the wool over people’s eyes by claiming that diesel bi-mode trains will deliver the same benefits as electrification, despite saying for years that failure to electrify the network will cause 20% more CO2, worsen air quality, lessen capacity and make services slower and less reliable AND more costly to maintain. The Tory spin isn’t fooling anyone.

It is absurd that it takes longer to travel by train from Liverpool to Hull than from London to Paris, yet the government spend £1500 more per head in London than the North.

But rather than addressing these disparities, the Conservatives are abandoning the North.

We need a different government, with a different vision. So not only will Labour deliver the promised electrification, Labour will nationalise franchises as they expire, Labour will invest £10bn to build a new Crossrail for the North and expand the rail network in order to drive economic growth and rebalance our economy for the many not the few.

I’d like to finish on a slightly more positive note and talk about HS2 and HS3. I’m pleased to see the Liberal Democrats are grudgingly welcoming the progress Labour has secured for city centre location, despite Nick Clegg’s view that it should be in Meadowhall. Many people said that a city-centre location would never happen, never be agreed and never be in the plan. They were all proved wrong.

This administration is focused, determined and succeeding in delivering HS2 in the best possible place for Sheffield and South Yorkshire. This is the result of the strong, determined leadership of our Leader Julie Dore, me and Labour.

Finally, Lord Mayor, this isn’t just about being Sheffield. Investment in transport is essential to rebalancing the economy and boosting growth and creating opportunities for all.

So Sheffield has the Council that it needs but Britain doesn’t have the government that it deserves. The sooner this dishonourable, discredited and dysfunctional government is put out of its misery – the better. Thank you very much.

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Sheffield Hallam Hustings 2017

I stood in for the brilliant Jared O’Mara at one of the hustings in Sheffield Hallam.

It was an important opportunity to hold Nick Clegg to account for his votes and actions.

 

As almost every visitor to this site will be aware, Jared went on to beat Nick Clegg and become Labour’s first ever MP in Sheffield Hallam. I know he will do an amazing job.

I hope this video is of interest.

 

Air Quality Interview – Sheffield Live Video

Council condemns government plan on vehicle pollution from Sheffield Live on Vimeo.

Air Quality Interview – BBC Radio Sheffield

I was interviewed by Radio Sheffield on the government’s shabby, shoddy, weak and wobbly announcements on Air Quality.

You can listen to the interview below.