Environmental groups across Brent angered at Brent Council’s decision to cut key Environment posts will be holding a protest outside Brent Town Hall in on Monday 12th July. They have requested speaking rights at the Council Executive meeting to voice their concerns.
Brent Campaign against Climate Change made up of environmental, trade union, political and community groups across the Borough are infuriated that Brent Council have cut two posts in Environment and Culture, including a new Climate Change Officer post. The campaigners believe the post, which would have would oversee and deliver the Borough’s Climate Change strategy, should be exempt from the cuts which will otherwise seriously impede the Council’s work to deliver a sustainable agenda.
Brent’s Climate Change strategy  was launched at an event in Wembley in December last year. A strategy steering group was due to be set up comprising public services, businesses, voluntary sector and community group representatives, but this new post was the only paid one on the committee. The other places are entirely voluntary, non-expert and do not carry any authority. The steering group is yet to be set up and the officer post, due to be recruited last year, was put on hold due to a recruitment freeze across the Council this Spring, and has now been axed. This work is instead being designated to existing staff, which campaigners believe will compromise what can be achieved.
Ken Montague, Chair of Brent Campaign against Climate Change says, “Brent Council really need to get their heads round the seriousness and urgency of the problem facing us. Climate change is happening now and it won't wait till they've balanced their budgets. This is a short sighted decision which shows that Brent is not planning for the future."
"We should save the planet not the bankers. Brent Council must lead the way and not give way to Con Dem budget cuts. Brent Councillors don't have to answer to us. They will have to answer to their grandchildren."
Steffi Gray, of Brent Friends of the Earth (FoE), who is hoping to address the Council meeting says, “This is outrageous. Brent have spent forty thousand pounds of our council tax hiring consultants to come up with this strategy, but have now pulled the plug on any further money to actually deliver the scheme. What’s more they have made a big deal of signing up to the 10:10 campaign  to reduce emissions by 10% in 2010, but this target is actually LESS than the amount they agreed to previously."
“We want Brent Council to get serious about climate change, but we fear these cuts will put a sustainable agenda at risk. Given the urgency of climate change, this post should be a priority and be made exempt from the cuts.”
Shahrar Ali, Brent Green party spokesperson for planning and environment said, “We need to take urgent action on climate change mitigation locally. The Brent climate change strategy called for a full-time officer to work with other agencies and the public - today, not the day after tomorrow. Failure to recruit the post is environmentally irresponsible. We are calling for all newly elected councillors to see sense, for the sake of current and future generations."
Brent Council faces two hundred staff cuts in September, whilst Council tax has been frozen for the coming year. The decision to cut the posts was made without consultation with community groups who had previously been involved in shaping the Borough’s climate change strategy .
Members of Brent FoE, Brent Green Party, Brent Red-Green Forum, Brent and Harrow Socialist Workers Party, Brent Socialist Resistance, and Kensal to Kilburn Transition Town will be outside Brent Town Hall in Wembley at 7pm on Monday 12th July. The Council executive meeting starts at 7.15pm.
1. Brent Campaign against Climate Change is a non-profit making network and information exchange for participating environmental groups, trade union organisations, tenants’ and residents’ associations, and individual climate activists within the London Borough of Brent. It is the local group of the national Campaign against Climate Change. For more information see http://www.brentcacc.com/
2. Brent’s Climate Change strategy can be seen at http://www.brent.gov.uk/directorate.nsf/Climate%20change/LBB-12
4. In 2007 Brent agreed a cut in greenhouse gas emissions of 20% by 2011.
5. A Council staffing and structure review was agreed in March 2010, but internal consultation to review this ended on July 2nd. Groups including Brent FoE and Brent Green party were consulted in the strategy development.