We anticipate cuts in council budgets as a consequence of the government's stated intention to reduce the budget deficit - £6.2bn savings for 2010-2011 announced by the coalition government. The pressures on the Council to include making staff redundant as part of the savings necessary to meet the strictures imposed on local government spending will be considerable.
Despite this, Brent Green Party calls upon the newly elected Council to protect those council posts designated for the task of implementing the Brent Council's Climate Change strategy.
On climate change, although an extremely telling case can be made for giving it very high priority - to ensure the calamitous consequences of pursuing 'business as usual' are substantially mitigated in the decades to come - the temptation to put off immediate action until the economy is on the mend must be strong indeed.
Delay for such reason would be a gross false economy. The prime function of the Council must surely be to serve the best interests, immediate, medium-term and long-term, of the people of Brent. Brent residents will, unavoidably, be facing serious threats to their standard of living as unemployment increases and the costs of essentials increase as the nation's economy is brought more into line with what we can afford - and in accord with the economic strategies adopted by most other countries.
The people of Brent will need every bit of help and advice they can get to help them through this period of tough economic adjustment. On the one hand, they will need substantial guidance on how to make sensible economies and investments so as to avoid unacceptable hardship and on the other, they, and particularly the business sector, will need guidance and encouragement in exploiting the opportunities that the adjustments to our economy will be throwing up.
One of the main adjustments required in how we run our affairs will be in the energy sector. By pursuing energy saving in homes, offices and how we travel we will save money and reduce our carbon foot-print: we will be better able to weather the current economic downturn and make our due contribution to reducing the threat of calamitous climate change to ourselves and the world at large.
But this win-win strategy will not develop with anything like the desired speed without vigourous leadership and encouragement from an appointed task-force employed directly under the Council and responsible to them. To have such a unit in place with professional staff that facilitates the linking-up of Brent residents and businesses needing to know how to achieve the substantial energy savings open to them in the form of better insulation, more efficient heating systems and better energy control systems with expert technical advisers, builders, engineers and energy-based businesses (particularly those based in Brent) will lead to the saving of hundreds of millions of pounds across Brent and act as a major stimulus of jobs. A clear illustration of a Green economy in practice.
Cut out such a unit from Brent Council's services and a saving of a few hundred thousand pounds over the course of the economic retrenchment might be made: the lost opportunity for saving across all sectors within Brent that will arise from this 'penny pinching' could well be 1000 times greater, spread as it will be across all the people living and working in Brent. Any claim that the new Council takes climate change seriously would not have any credibility.
Cameron addressed these issues shortly before the general election when he made it clear that he expected businesses, communities, families and individuals to rise to the challenge of climate change - essentially by cutting our carbonemissions, with the active involvement of government.
Either Brent can wait for Central government to request that the council begins to make its contribution to making Brent more energy-efficient across the board. Or it can ensure it is already moving forward when the request is made.
Brian Orr, Chair, Brent Green Party
Illustration credit: Viscount insulation.