Author: Robert Aitken

Nottingham Labour Statement on further intervention

This morning we were notified by government that they are minded to appoint commissioners to oversee some parts of the City Council. The appointment of commissioners would be unjustified, and an attack on our local democracy. Under new leadership, Nottingham Labour have been making progress, being open about the difficulties we face and working hard to put things right. We have worked with the government appointed Improvement and Assurance Board to address all their concerns and they have reported positively to Government about our progress.

This work has resulted in the reduction in council debt, a transformation plan that will save the council £45m and improve services for Nottingham people. We have set a four year balanced budget, and have changed the culture and governance so that issues like the HRA are uncovered, shared transparently and sorted. The Council under the current leadership has made significant changes to the way it works, is open about the issues we face and is determined to get things right and this has been recognised by the Improvement and Assurance Board.

The Improvement and Assurance Board, headed by Sir Tony Redmond – the former Local Government Ombudsman – have described our progress positively to government and reported on our determination to succeed, so we are asking government what additional change they expect to achieve by bringing in people who know nothing of the City and our residents’ needs. Although we oppose the Governments’ intention to appoint commissioners the continuity provided by Sir Tony Redmond provides some assurance that our previous improvements are understood and can be built on.

But, we are asking what new actions would happen as a result of commissioners coming in that would improve the working of this council, or result in any changes that Nottingham people would want. We will use our opportunity to respond to this proposal from Government to ask these questions.

If it is the case that the government does take this action, this will be based not on what is best for the city, but what is best for the Conservative Party.

We will of course work positively and openly with commissioners, as we have with the Improvement and Assurance Board in the best interests of our city, but we will be straight with them, and straight with Nottingham people and will continue to fight for what Nottingham people need and have elected a Labour council to do.

The government cuts to our budgets means that it is more difficult to do everything we want to do to help our communities at this time but we have been fighting for Nottingham and protecting our services against the worst effects of Tory cuts. We made sure that Nottingham City Council – and our amazing staff – were there for you during the Covid crisis and we fought hard to get what we needed for our city to help keep people safe.

After more than a decade of Tory austerity – and the pandemic – we have managed to set a four year balanced budget. This has not been easy, but Nottingham Labour: Has retained 75 community protection officers Are still building council houses and have improved private rented housing through our licensing scheme Has kept ownership of our outstanding care homes Is still running six leisure centres Is supporting Welfare Rights advice services across the city because we defend what is needed by Nottingham people.

We are still supporting free events for families all year round, and you can still expect a regular bus service to get you there from our award winning city owned bus company. We have our own bus company because Labour protected it, when many others were sold off to private operators and they are now seeing more cancelled services and far higher fares. We invested in a tram that brings good jobs to the city and gets people to them. Our great public transport system has contributed to cleaner air than other cities in the UK and made people less reliant on a car.

The transformation of the Broadmarsh is underway after the shopping centre operator went into administration, a new central library will soon be fitted out, a green space in the heart of our city will be created and new developments creating jobs and homes will be coming in the next few years.

We are a city of hardworking people and Nottingham deserves better than intervention from an out of touch Tory government that is more concerned with protecting the profits of the energy companies than the people who can’t heat their homes or struggle to feed their families. We understand what twelve years of Tory austerity and now the cost of living crisis means to you, because we do not just represent our communities, we are part of them. We will carry on fighting for what Nottingham needs and will still be ready to help with the problems you are facing, or hear your views and hopes for the city.

Clean Air Day

Today marks Clean Air Day. This day seeks to highlight the dangers and impact of air pollution as well as seeking to improve air quality. In Nottingham City we are particularly focussing on idling vehicles, an issue which is easily preventable and which every driver in the city can tackle.

Over 50% of dangerous particulate matter polluting our cities is caused by taxis and cars, idling is especially an issue as it builds up pollution locally. This can be a big problem around schools, where parents dropping off or picking up their children can leave their engines running, causing spikes in particulate matter. This pollution and poor air quality can have huge impacts on our health. it causes 36,000 premature deaths in the UK annually. This can be even more pronounced for children who are still growing.

There are a number of ways air pollution can be reduced, many of these via actions that everyone can take. For example leaving your car at home and using public transport instead or travelling at quieter times to avoid congestion. More details about this can be found online at: https://www.cleanairhub.org.uk/clean-air-information/what-can-i-do

What is clear is that while air pollution is a global and national issue, the proactive steps taken by the Nottingham Labour led city council has meant that Nottingham has reduced pollution levels while ensuring that its residents can still get around the city easily.

Novel steps such as the Workplace Parking Levy reduces pollution, while our safe school programme seeks to reduce cars idling at school gates, mitigating potential harmful pollution hurting our city’s children

bus showing NCT biogas bus referred to in body of text
NCT biogas bus in the city

We have maintained majority ownership of NCT, which operates the largest fleet of biogas double decker buses in the country with zero tailgate emissions. Our tram network enables people to move around the city easily powered by clean electricity. We are also focussed on making more homes more energy efficient, as well as championing solar panel technology to reduce the burning of fossil fuels.

Despite all these positive steps, there is still more we can do and Clean air day offers a good time to reflect on that, and for Nottingham Labour to renew and strengthen its commitment to being as green and forward looking a city as possible. Councillor Sally Longford, portfolio holder for Energy, Environment and Waste said “This Clean Air Day we want to remind people that clean air is everyones responsibility and everyone can make a contribution to a healthier city”