Honour our Key Workers by Funding their Work

Services are under threat unless the Government keeps its promise to fully reimburse councils for the impact of the Covid-19 crisis:

For the Nottingham context:

  • £54million additional costs
  • £19million additional funding
  • £100million less Govt funding since 2010.

There’s a looming crisis ahead with devastating consequences for local services if the Government reneges on its promise. The majority of the Council’s expenditure goes towards funding care services for older people and protecting vulnerable children.

During the pandemic we’ve seen our key council workers doing outstanding work, often in difficult circumstances. From care workers, bus drivers and household waste collection teams to Community Protection Officers, housing support staff and park rangers, whether working directly or indirectly for Nottingham City Council we couldn’t have come this far without them. It’s now imperative that the Government doesn’t turn its back on these people by leaving a huge gap in the funding that’s required. 

We have had to endure year after year of cuts to our budgets which has already made it extremely difficult to maintain services. The Government can’t expect us to now meet the huge costs and loss of revenue due to Covid-19 on top of the seemingly endless austerity.

The Government promised they would support us and we’ve stepped up and done what was asked of us. It would be incredibly disappointing if they now backtracked and as a consequence put local services at extreme risk.

Cllr Sam Webster,
Portfolio Holder for Finance, Growth and City Centre

Letter from Cllr Sam Webster to Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP re Funding for Local Authorities

Dear Minister

We welcome your recent announcement of a second round of funding totalling £1.6bn for local authorities,

This, along with the initial £1.6bn allocation (of which Nottingham City Council received £10.67m), will go some way towards mitigating the serious and significant impact we are experiencing on our finances as a result of Covid-19.

However, we are very concerned to hear speculation that the methodology for allocation of this second round of funding may be changed from that used in the first.

The consequence of this could be that Nottingham City Council would receive a smaller share of the overall pot and would therefore be denied vital funding to help us deal with the financial consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic.

As you will know, these extra costs are significant in in many council service areas like homelessness support, adult social care, food parcel distribution and support for people coming out of hospital.

Specifically, in our recent return to Government, we highlighted the following additional costs to the Council:

  • £9.2m needed for Adult Social Care including PPE equipment
  • £2.7m needed for Children’s Social Care
  • £13.4m lost income from Council activities

Overall, we identified £56.4m direct and indirect pressures caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

This is only our initial estimate and will inevitably increase as multiple pressures continue to impact the Council’s finances.

Our immediate focus has been on making sure residents and businesses are supported through this crisis period and making sure that vitally important front line council services continue to function safely. We want to able to continue to do that to the best of our ability but we need Government to stand shoulder to shoulder with us and recognise the financial consequences we are experiencing.

I would be very grateful therefore, if you would confirm that Nottingham City Council will not see a reduction in its second round share of the £1.6bn and that the methodology for distributing this funding will be unchanged.

Yours sincerely,
Councillor Sam Webster
Portfolio Holder for Finance, Growth and the City Centre

Cllr Webster Speech on Budget at Full Council

Lord Mayor, 

The Labour Group and the Leader of the Council gave me political responsibility for the council’s finances less than 10 months ago. 

I feel fortunate to have reached this milestone, delivering my first council budget today, a milestone that Sajid Javid didn’t manage to make. Just 10 short months, but already onto my 3rd Chancelllor of the Exchequer. It has indeed been a time of considerable political change and flux. 

Our residents went to the polls in May last year and returned 50 Labour Councillors. They again went to the polls in December and all Nottingham City constituencies returned Labour Members of Parliament.

I know that I speak for my colleagues when I say that representing our residents interests is always our top priority. 

For Nottingham this is a time of great challenges. I’m going to set out those challenges and explain what the council is doing to meet them. 

After a decade of Government austerity, 10 years of Government funding cuts those challenges have become increasingly difficult to navigate, balancing a number of competing priorities. 

Chronic underfunding of local services by the Government over such a prolonged period of time has consequences. It’s caused social and economic issues that in my view were and are unnecessary. Social and economic issues that in the medium to long term will cost the public purse more. The recent updated Marmot Review highlighted for instance that, and I quote  ‘the amount of time people spend in poor health has increased across England since 2010. inequalities in poor health harm individuals, families, communities and are expensive to the public purse. They are also unnecessary and can be reduced with the right policies.’

Austerity has impacted the poorest people, hardest and that’s wrong. 

Let’s just remember what’s happened over the lost decade of austerity, the decade of low growth, the decade of stagnant wages, the decade of underinvestment, the decade of increasing child poverty, the decade of school cuts. 

Let’s remember that Nottingham has been in the Conservative Government’s firing line throughout and let’s also remember that this is not a new Government, it’s Michael Gove, it’s Liz Truss, it’s Grant Schapps, it’s Boris Johnson. These people have been in Government for years and years. They are austerity. 

Since 2010 Government has consistently cut the funding for Nottingham’s public services. Nottingham now receives over £100million less in Government funding per year than it did.  £100million less every year to fund libraries, parks, public toilets, the local road network, public transport, youth centres, street cleaning, trading standards, environmental health, drug and alcohol services. We’re a hundred million pounds a year down on the resources we can put in to tackling anti social behaviour, supporting the homeless and looking after our most vulnerable residents. 

Over £100million less each and every year.

£529 per Nottingham household cut. 

Since 2012 this council has had to make savings of over £270 million pounds. 

It’s this Government’s attack on Nottingham’s households that’s led to a gap in the council’s budget yet again for the next financial year to the tune of £15.6million. 

After a huge amount of work by my colleague Portfolio Holders and Council Officers I’m able to set out budget proposals today to close this gap and deliver a balanced budget for the next financial year.

We have significant additional demands in our children’s services department. Like many councils up and down the country, but especially in big cities, urban areas and areas with higher than average levels of deprivation we have growing demand in children’s services. More vulnerable children have been brought into the care of the council and other additional costs associated with protecting children means that we’re putting more money into those services next year. 

Almost all councils are currently spending more on children’s services than they had budgeted for and therefore are having to allocate additional resources.

We’re also putting more money into care services for elderly people in recognition of a growing number of people requiring council funded care.

These two areas of spending – looking after the care needs of older residents and protecting vulnerable children are now by far the biggest areas of spend for the council. 

It’s now urgent that Government brings forward proposals to deal with the growing funding gap that councils face. As demand for care services continues to rise the Local Government Association has warned of a funding gap of £6.4 billion by 2024. After many years of promises from Government to bring forward new policy proposals to fund care services for elderly and vulnerable people it seems that realistically we are nowhere near a solution. Successive governments have failed to deal with this fundamental issue. 

It is the growing demand for children’s and adults services, the government’s failure to lead and the chronic underfunding of these services that is driving instability in the finances of councils across the country. 

Remember that these are literally life or death services for many of our residents, they are vitally important, but trying to fund them from council tax and the half of business rates that Government allows us to retain locally is unsustainable and unfair.

We have no choice therefore, but to apply the Government’s adult social care precept to council tax bills yet again. The Government expects us to apply this additional 2% on to council tax bills. 

The Governments adult social care precept has now added £160 to an average council tax bill in Nottingham. 

And it’s just about the worst way to fund these key services. Council tax isn’t based on ability to pay, its regressive so that poorer households pay proportionally more than wealthy households and it embeds inequality and unfairness regionally and nationally with councils in the poorest parts of the country able to raise the least new income. 

When you consider that 1% added to council tax bills in Richmond will translate to over £6 per person in new income for their council, yet here in Nottingham a 1% increase in council tax raises around half that level of new income to fund local services. 

Which area do you think has greater demand on its children’s and adult care services? 

Not only is this a government stealth tax, it’s an unfair tax that does nothing to level up, in fact it does the opposite. 

Let me be clear – The council tax rises proposed in this budget are a result of Government funding cuts. I will continue to inform the Government of my belief that council tax is no way to fund care services for older people. 

I need to point out further unfairness of the Government’s approach and I highlighted these points to the new Chancellor in a letter I recently sent to him. In anticipation of his first budget on Wednesday I urged him to change course and end the unfairness, because while Nottingham has faced relentless funding cuts some of the wealthiest parts of the country have received additional funding. 

The attack on Nottingham to the tune of a £529 cut per household can be shockingly compared to a £19 increase in funding per household in Surrey for example. This must end. The Government’s funding formula, if unchanged, is expected to slash another £14 million from Nottingham, yet Surrey, one of the wealthiest parts of the country is set to receive an additional £26million. 

And not just Nottingham – residents in Nottingham would be rightly angry. As angry as residents in Durham – set to lose over £10 million, Dewsbury, set to lose another £6million and Doncaster set to lose another £5 million. Some of the poorest parts of the country set to be targeted yet again. 

My message to the Government is clear – stop your attack on Nottingham, stop your attack on Nottingham households and stop your unfair funding regime.

I sincerely hope the new Chancellor changes course on Wednesday. The people of Nottingham will be watching.

So our challenges are significant, but we’ve done a lot to meet these challenges. In many ways I’m proud of the way the council,our partner organisations and our communities have responded. There has been damage done by Government policy, but also great resilience in our city.

Whatever Conservative Governments throw at Nottingham, we will succeed, but we won’t forget.

In our budget proposals today we’ve worked hard to protect vital, front line services, to protect those services upon which our most vulnerable residents rely, with our dedicated council officers we’ve been innovative to bring in grant funding, to grow commercial income, to further embrace new technology and be as efficient as possible whilst demanding high standards of our services.

Despite the challenges we’re doing so much. We have an ambitious agenda, we’re still investing in Nottingham’s future, we’re confident in Nottingham and in Nottingham people, we’re helping to create new jobs, delivering the biggest regeneration programme for decades and growing the city. 

Each of my colleagues on the Executive and our assistant portfolio holders could point to excellent work happening in the council and I know that all of my colleague Councillors could demonstrate the positive work happening in their communities. 

When I see thousands of Nottingham children receiving a free book direct to their home every month, when I see that we’re a child friendly city, when I see that we’re working towards being the first city in the country to be carbon neutral, to improve health with the cleanest city air, to build the best children’s library in the country, those things give me great hope for our future. 

And all of those things that we can do as a council when combined with the resilience in our communities, the positive work of our partner organisations, our voluntary sector, the diversity of the city and our history of innovation and creativity I know that despite being held back by this Government, Nottingham will continue to progress. 

And because we are a progressive city, we are an inclusive city we will meet these challenges together. 

Lord Mayor I move the report. 
Councillor Sam Webster
Portfolio Holder for Finance, Growth and City Centre
Nottingham City Council 

Valentines Letter to Rt Hon Rishi Sunak MP Ahead of Budget 2020

Roses are red,
violets are blue,
if you have money for Surrey,
can we have some too?

Dear Chancellor,

Congratulations on your new appointment.

With the Local Government Association indicating that Surrey is set to receive an additional £26million of Government funding while Nottingham is set to lose another £14million I wanted to write to urge you to change course.

Ahead of your first Budget I’m asking you to begin to restore the resources that your predecessors have taken away from Nottingham.

Nottingham has had its main Government grant cut by £102 million since 2013, at a time when demand for services like care for the elderly and protecting vulnerable children have been rising.

In Nottingham over the last 9 years we’ve had to save £267 million, due in large part to Government funding cuts. We’ve been innovative and improved efficiency.

We’ve implemented a range of commercial and trading activities which bring in over £20 million a year to help fund local services. We have prioritised vital front line services and tried to protect our most vulnerable residents.

The funding cuts imposed by your Government have gone too far, they’ve hit the poorest parts of the country hardest, they mean that local people are having to pay more to fill the funding gap and without new resources are putting vital public services and the financial stability of councils at risk. Just like in other local areas up and down the country we’ve had to cut services, increase some charges and increase council tax in an attempt to counter the funding cuts.

There are three specific areas I would ask you to prioritise to ease the pressure on our financial position and help us to unlock Nottingham’s potential:

  • Social Care Green Paper – Care for the elderly, vulnerable children and disabled people are the biggest areas of expenditure in Nottingham. The LGA has warned there will be a £6.7 billion spending gap in children’s and adult social care services by 2025. Since March 2017 we have been waiting for the Government’s Social Care Green Paper but its publication has been delayed time and time again. A clear plan for how local authorities continue to provide social care services as demand rises is essential for the long term financial sustainability of councils.
  • Fair Infrastructure Funding – There is a serious disparity in spending on infrastructure between regions. London gets £3636 spent per head compared to just £741 per person for the East Midlands. Projects like the electrification of the Midland Mainline have been shelved while projects like London’s £30 billion Crossrail 2 are set to go ahead.
  • Funding Based on Need – Cuts to local authorities have disproportionately fallen on urban areas with higher levels of deprivation. Since 2011 Nottingham has lost £529 spending power per household compared to wealthier areas like Surrey which have gained £19 per household. A new funding formula is needed that recognises the differences between areas of the country and has need at its heart.

Councils do so much to transform local communities and economies, but given adequate resources and powers we can do much more. As a Chancellor delivering his first Budget you have an opportunity to work with us rather than against us.

The people of Nottingham will be watching closely on 11th March to see if you’ll begin to return to us some of the funding that’s been taken away.

Yours Sincerely,
Cllr Sam Webster
Portfolio Holder for Finance, Growth and City Centre

Labour Group To Reinstate Concessionary Travel Passes

The Labour Group has taken the decision to restore  pre 9.30 and post 11pm  use of concessionary mobility travel passes for over 2500 users following a meaningful consultation with those affected, taking the difficult decision despite ongoing Government cuts.

Last year the Portfolio Holder for Adult Care and Local Transport, Cllr Adele Williams, committed to a meaningful review of the decision taken in 2018 to make changes to the mobility bus pass. Between September and November 2019 a consultation process took place with 1028 responses. Listening to those responses the Labour Group has collectively taken the decision to reinstate the pass in full. 

Speaking on the decision, Cllr Williams said, “Government cuts to Nottingham’s funding mean we continue to have to make difficult choices. Reinstating this concessionary mobility travel scheme is not an easy choice and will mean having to find savings elsewhere. It is the right decision though, and I believe the right priority.

We will fight for the funding our city deserves to meet the needs of our citizens and to allow them to make the fullest contribution to our city, their communities and families. We will fund the additional hours of operation for as long as we can as we recognise the value of these extra hours’ use to our citizens. We receive no government funding for the use of the card before 9.30am and after 11pm

We have worked to build an accessible and integrated  public transport system and it’s our ambition to make Nottingham an inclusive city where barriers to work, leisure and good health are cleared. A travel pass that allows disabled people in our city, who are some of the lowest paid, to travel for work, leisure, appointments, and sometimes just to get out and about underpins this ambition.”

The Leader of Nottingham City Council, Cllr David Mellen, echoed these views, saying, “Finance remains the greatest challenge the Council faces at the moment with diminished resources from Government year on year.  I said when I became Leader though that I want to run a Council that listens to people and I believe by reinstating the pass we are doing that”.

Cllr Rebecca Langton’s Speech for Labour Local Government Conference

Good morning. I am pleased to welcome you here today. 

I can’t think of many more suitable locations for this conference than the socialist city of Nottingham.

As a Labour council, over many years, we’ve worked hard to demonstrate the difference Labour in power can make in our communities. 

We’ve developed a culture of municipal enterprise, a reputation for early years intervention and maintained a focus on our universal services.

We’ve kept hold of our bus company, now an award winning component to the best public transport network outside of London. We own some 27,000 council houses, with our ALMO Nottingham City Homes named UK Landlord of the year. And we now directly run street cleaning, parks maintenance, waste disposal, security, CCTV, traffic wardens, leisure centres, highways and many more.

But if there’s one thing that December’s election reminds us, it’s that we can never take for granted the support of our voters. We must never be complacent and assume that our council, town, city or ward will always be Labour because it always has.

There’s always more to do. And as one of nearly 2 dozen new Labour councillors elected last May, I’m committed to keeping our socialist legacy alive in Nottingham. And for the first time ever with a female majority on our council and cabinet, and our most diverse group ever, we’re making sure we are connected to our communities.

Because its by looking forward that we can keep a sense of vision and keep ourselves relevant to the communities we serve. We can’t just look back and ask for support based on what we’ve done. We have to look forward and campaign for votes for what we’re going to do.

So that’s why I’m excited about the work we’re doing around selective licensing, our investment in neighbourhoods, our clean and developing city centre, our ambitious plans to be the first carbon neutral city, our green flag award winning parks and our network of community centres. There are many exciting and innovative projects going on in Nottingham that we’re proud to be delivering in spite of the huge challenges we face. 

As we look ahead to the local elections this May, we’ll need to show voters across the country that it’s still Labour who has the vision, the values and the drive to make a difference for and with the communities we serve.

So thankfully, we’re not the only council putting Labour values into practice in local government:

¥ This year, Newcastle City Council became the first local authority to be named as Stonewall’s top employer 

¥ In Southhampton, the Labour council has developed a cooperative learning trust to boost school improvement as an antidote to forced acadamisation

¥ In Norwich, Labour have overseen an award winning programme of innovative new council homes

¥ And in Newham, the Council is pioneering a Community Wealth Building Strategy to address poverty and ensure investment benefits all residents

Across the country, Labour is leading in local government. As we face 5 years of majority Tory government, our Labour councils are the best opportunity we have to show voters the difference Labour in power can make.

And even in opposition, Labour councillors are still leading. Standing up to Tory cuts, showing resilience and commitment in representing their communities and presenting an alternative narrative to a government focused on slogans and rhetoric, not real lives and real change.

Whether in power or in opposition, the Labour party nationally can learn a huge amount from the work of dedicated councillors in this room and beyond. 

I’m pleased that the Leadership and Deputy Leadership candidates are joining us today. If we’re to work our way back into government, Labour councillors need a new relationship with our Leaders. 

One which recognises that we’re not just the foot soldiers of the Labour party. We are the ones fighting for the communities we must win back so that Labour can take power away from this damaging and dangerous government. 

Over the past year I’ve been part of the 14th edition of the LGA Labour Group’s Next Generation programme. I’d like to take a moment to thank the LGA and especially Martin Angus for the work he and the group do to support the next generation of local representatives.

It’s an outstanding programme, where I learnt a huge amount. But perhaps the most valuable thing I took away was the friendship and support that comes from spending time with inspiring people up against challenges familiar to the ones we’re all facing.

I’m looking forward to hearing our speakers and to the leadership debates. But just as much I’m looking forward to the conversations to be had over coffee and lunch, when by talking to and supporting each other, we can remind ourselves we’re not alone. We can all do our bit individually, but it’s collectively we have the best chance of transforming our communities and our country from the bottom up. Because if you put us together, we’re a formidable force of more than 6000 Labour councillors committed to making a difference. 

There are many important conversations to be had today and I’m looking forward to sharing these with you.

Once again welcome to Nottingham and thank you for coming to be a part of today. 

Cllr Sally Longford’s Speech at January Full Council on Carbon Neutrality

Thank you Lord Mayor

In January 2019 I made the pledge that the City of Nottingham would be carbon neutral by 2028. This was an ambitious pledge, which then transferred into our Manifesto and now is part of the Council Plan. The motion I brought to Full Council was passed unanimously, and I am hoping that today’s actions will also be welcomed across the political spectrum.

I am taking this opportunity to make the formal declaration of a Climate and Ecological Emergency, something which I was unable to do last year, but seems ever more important in the light of recent events.

The realisation of the seriousness of our situation surely cannot have been missed by even the most sceptical citizen. Around the world there are shocking events, which, taken individually might not be an indication of climate change, but when one seems to come around every corner the connection becomes clear.

Since my motion last year we have had:

  • Probably the 2nd hottest year on record
  • Summer heatwaves in Europe, smashing temperature records
  • Flooding around the world, including the UK and recently Indonesia,
  • Drought in Zambia and eastern Africa, parts of Australia, and South America – Santiago the Capital of Chile received only 25% of its normal rainfall last year.
  • Wildfires in Siberia and Alaska as well as terrible devastation in South America and more recently in Australia.
  • Extremely powerful cyclones in Japan, the Caribbean and east Africa.
  • Shrinking glaciers and ice caps in the Alps, Greenland, Antarctica and the Himalayas
  • Coral reefs, some of the most diverse and beautiful ecosystems on the planet are suffering repeated bleaching events due to rising sea temperatures and are genuinely threatened.

None of this is good news, heatwaves, floods, cyclones and wildfires all directly threaten people’s lives and the ecosystems on which they depend. Shrinking glaciers and ice caps threaten coastlines around the world with inundation and reduce flow of water downstream, threatening drought to people dependent on river flows for agriculture and their water supply.

Around the world the ability of people to feed their families is affected by all these devastating events, and without healthy natural environments their long term future is threatened, creating a growing number of environmental refugees.

Here in Nottingham we are in a relatively safe place, we mostly have decent quality of housing, are comparatively well served by public services and the UK is not particularly vulnerable to the most devastating hazards, however, our citizens will gradually notice the impacts of changes in the environment. We will be increasingly affected by the changes both here and around the world, our young people are aware of the growing risk and are rightly demanding we take action.

Although we have not been hit by devastating disasters I’m sure members have noticed changes we are experiencing, last year in July, we experienced a new record temperature for the city of 36 degrees. I reckon we’ve only had one decent frost this winter, and we’ve had more heavy rainfall, and, in a city with significant rivers such as the Day Brook, the Leen and the Trent the risk of fluvial flooding is heightened. Anyone living at the bottom of a slope, of which there are many in the city, is also vulnerable to flooding from surface run-off as water rushes down hardened surfaces under gravity. Already, we as a city, are having to take increasing action to protect our citizens, which is why I had the pledge to protect a further 1,000 homes from flooding included in our manifesto, and now the Council plan.

More vulnerable citizens, young and old, and with existing health conditions are the ones who will be most severely impacted, and it is vital that we do not allow climate change to worsen increasing inequalities.

As a Council, one of our most fundamental duties is to protect our citizens from emergency situations, and we have a duty to take a lead in reducing emissions to protect future generations from the worst potential impacts of climate change.

There is also our wider responsibility as a Core City, recognised for its excellent record on climate change to lead on carbon neutrality in the country.

Do any of us want to live in a world where there are no polar bears, koalas, snow leopards and coral reefs? Obviously not, but that is what is staring us in the face, a real possibility that, within our lifetimes polar bears will starve to death because of the loss of sea ice, koalas will not survive because of destruction of their forest habitat and in particular the eucalyptus trees on which they depend, snow leopards are adapted to hunt in the high mountain areas of central Asia where the quantity of snow is depleting rapidly and coral reefs may well be bleached out of existence by warming seas.

Do we want to turn on the news and be bombarded every day with grim reports of more death and destruction by extreme weather events? Do we want people to be increasingly driven from their homes becoming environmental refugees because of sea level rise? Of course not.

More particularly, do we want mortality rates of our more vulnerable citizens to rise because of the impacts of heat waves in the summer, the increased threat of serious flood events in the city and the cost of food rising as the vegetable growing regions of the world, including Lincolnshire are inundated by rising sea levels? No we do not!

We want future generations to have a good quality of life, and, in order to help make that happen we need to join with all the other regions, cities, towns and parishes around the world who have made the commitment to make changes now in order to preserve our future.

We have made a good start. As the Charter before Council outlines, we have made significant progress in cutting carbon emissions already, from the Nottingham Climate Change Declaration, made in 2000. So far our emissions are down by an impressive 41% since 2005.

Various key actions have helped our progress towards this reduction, the use of our EnviroEnergy District Heating scheme, to heat 5,000 homes and businesses, a wide range of energy saving measures in homes, including large scale retro-fitting of Council Housing, for example in Clifton and Lenton Abbey, the establishment of Robin Hood Energy which now supplies green electricity to city residents and the Workplace Parking Levy, which enabled us to provide high quality public transport improvements to encourage people to get out of their cars and get on the tram or our electric buses.

These schemes have benefitted the city, not just in terms of carbon reduction, but by reducing air pollution, so that we now have the cleanest air of any UK city, reducing fuel poverty among our most vulnerable citizens and enhancing quality of life.

Since my motion last year we have continued to make progress for example:

  • Converting more of our fleet, so that by the end of this year 30% will be EV, saving 2,500 tonnes of Co2 in their lifetime,
  •  Installed more solar panels equivalent to 866 tonnes of CO2 during the year,
  • Improved cycle routes around Clifton and the Meadows,

We have worked with partners in One Nottingham Green Partnership to develop the Carbon Neutral Charter and received support from many people and organisations. On Friday when I met with local members of Extinction Rebellion they congratulated the Council on the quality of analysis and vision of the Charter. It is a very high quality document which clearly sets out the challenges we face and the path we need to take to achieve our ambitious goals. At the core of this Charter is the expectation that this carbon reduction will take place in an environment which will deliver further benefits to our citizens.

  • Continuing to improve air quality, reducing health problems and improving quality of life,
  • Having a more sustainable built environment, enabling sustainable communities.
  • Creating jobs in the green economy, our own “green industrial revolution”,
  • And creating a more safe and attractive city, with good access to natural environments improving wellbeing and health.

Now we are launching consultation on our Draft Action Plan, which is ambitious and far reaching.  It is a plan for today, with understanding of today’s technologies and opportunities, it is the first plan, and will need to be reviewed regularly in order to maximise new opportunities and ensure we are on the right track.

We need to talk to everyone. We need to hear what people from every part of the city have to say about this vital issue, all generations, from different backgrounds. We hope that in the next few months everyone will get to have their say. Whether they live, work or study in the city, we want everyone to get on board and help us achieve this challenging target.

The Council cannot do this alone, everyone will need to play their part, even in the smallest way. Can we ask and support all our citizens to take simple and cheap actions?

  • Switch to a renewable energy tariff,
  • Reduce the quantity of meat and dairy they consume,
  • Reduce car use, even if it’s just a couple of days a week,
  • Plant a tree if they have the space in their garden,
  • Increase their recycling and do it right!

Employers can easily help:

  • By allowing staff to work from home,
  • Gradually converting their essential vehicles to electric,
  • Explore the opportunities for carbon neutral deliveries and improve energy efficiency of their premises.
  • Make use of technology to video conference to reduce the amount of travel.

How can the government help?

  • Speed up the phase out of petrol and diesel vehicles and incentivise people to change from more polluting cars.
  • Provide funding for home owners to invest in insulation,
  • Change planning regulations to ensure high level energy efficiency in new buildings,
  • Invest in the electricity grid to enable new developments to access renewable energy, including projects like our Vehicle to Grid.

Over the coming years, more radical change will be needed, and the Council must lead the City on that more difficult path, among other things we will need to

  • support our citizens to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle and encourage people in communities to get involved,
  • ensure that the benefits of new opportunities make a difference to the people we serve,
  • monitor progress towards the goal,
  • continue to seek funding from every available source to help deliver the huge scale of retro-fitting of poorly insulated homes and to extend our sustainable transport offer,
  • collaborate with partner organisations, in the public, private and voluntary sectors to learn from them and ensure we are all pulling together to reduce blockages to progress,
  • And be adaptable, so that our plans can change according to developments in technology, politically and in society.

As Councillors I hope we can speak as one on this vital issue, that we can lead our communities towards this cleaner, greener, healthier city and maintain our number one position nationally, while making a small but important contribution to global action.

Cllr Sally Longford.

Labour’s Ambitions for Nottingham

As we set out in our Council Plan, published at the last Full Council meeting, we have a four year programme of priorities for Nottingham and I am pleased that at the start of 2020 we are working hard to achieve the ambitious targets laid out in the council plan.

We want to build or buy at least 1000 council or social houses for rent. We know that waiting for an appropriate home for themselves and their family is a big problem for too many in our city. From those finding themselves sleeping rough to those living in overcrowded conditions, as well as those who have spent months and years on the waiting list, all point to there being not enough homes in our city and we intend to do something about it. Of course if the government would return to councils all of the receipts made as a result of the sale of council houses rather than the proportion that we currently receive, this would make this task much easier. But irrespective of government support, we will do everything we can to achieve this ambition.

Our second main target is to create 15,000 new jobs in Nottingham. It is pleasing to see the cranes in the sky over the southern part of the city centre and to see the construction jobs that have been created by the exciting building work that is going on. We look forward as well to the opening of the new College Hub building, the Broadmarsh bus station and car park, the renovated castle in early 2021, the Broadmarsh shopping and leisure space, and the new city centre library, as further centres for employment in the city centre. Building taking place at Unity Square, plans for Crocus place as well as other developments in the South Side of the city are matched by housing developments in other parts of the city in Bestwood, Bilborough and at the Waterside in Colwick. We want to encourage new businesses to come to Nottingham to benefit from our wonderful public transport systems and forward looking environmental policies. We look forward to new developments at the former Imperial Tobacco Site on Thane Rd, on the former Boots Island site, on Blenheim Industrial Estate, on Glaisdale Drive and at the NG2 business park. We need to work together with our regional colleagues to argue for government investment in the East Midlands, in HS2, on the electrification of the Midlands Mainline and in regional projects that will provide much needed employment in our area. And we know that work makes a difference. As austerity continues, despite what Tory politicians say, we know that work and fairly paid work makes a difference to the lives of our citizens and we will do everything we can to create the conditions for jobs to be created.

The plans for our new central library are ambitious and exciting. Housing the best ‘Children’s Library’ in the UK in our brand new library space at the heart of the new broadmarsh area contributes to changing the area completely and will bring with it pedestrian friendly public space which will lend itself to citizens gathering for a variety of purposes and enjoying the space vacated by the removal of vehicles from Collin St. Giving children a love of reading is vital for the aspirations of the next generation. Screen based entertainment for our children makes that a challenge, but our young people need both; to be IT literate is a vital skill for the future, but as are good literacy skills and an imagination and curiosity that comes from an immersion in books from birth. That’s why our early years book gifting scheme is so important and why a linked ambition is to get 10000 children receiving free monthly books.

Our ambitions for our city include making it safer, by reducing both crime and anti-social behaviour. I’ve talked earlier about knife crime, but the rises in crime over the last two or three years, coinciding with government cuts to police funding, undermined the huge reductions in crime achieved by us in Nottingham in the previous decade, Crime and the fear of crime has a debilitating effect of our citizens’ wellbeing and anti-social behaviour has a nagging undermining of our community cohesion and quality of life. We will work through our dedicated community protection teams with the police and our communities to address crime and antisocial behaviour, doing everything we can to keep our citizens safe in their homes, on our streets and on line.

Our fifth main priority is to keep our city clean and to keep our neighbourhoods as clean as the city centre. This is a tough challenge but is one which we will prioritise. Our wonderful staff working across the city from early in the morning until late at night are vital in this task and we applaud their commitment, but they can’t achieve this target alone. Much of the work that they do would not be necessary if all of our citizens used bins properly, booked their bulky waste collections on our free system and picked up after their dogs and the council would not be so stretched in this area.  I appeal to those living and visiting Nottingham in this new decade to play their part in keeping our city clean and I pay tribute to those who go out of their way as ‘Clean Champions’ and as part of community litter picks to clear up the rubbish dropped by others.

These are our priorities and they are some of our ambitions but there are many others. We want to lead a city where people get on with each other and live in harmony and treat each other with respect. Children should be safe and nurtured in our child friendly city, young people should have opportunities to learn in good schools and have a range of positive activities to get involved in and job opportunities. We need to work in strong partnerships between the council and other public institutions, with businesses, with our universities, with our communities and with voluntary and faith groups so that together we can build a better Nottingham. We all need to do everything we can to look after the planet we live on and to adopt policies in this city which improve our air quality and reduce our carbon footprint. The next generation are entitled to us doing what we can to reverse mistakes that we have made and improve the legacy that we leave them.

So as we start the 2020’s, we are ambitious for Nottingham. We are aware of the many challenges facing the people of Nottingham and the council, but we will work hard in partnership to achieve these ambitions.

Lord Mayor, the ambitions we have for our city are exciting. For years, Labour politicians have stood in this chamber and proudly represented the people of Nottingham guided by our clear values – to help build a safer, cleaner city that is ambitious for our residents that we can all be proud of. And we’ve achieved many great things as a Council over the last decade whilst enduring years of government austerity. This means that vital services that we all rely on have been squeezed to a point of crisis and millions of pounds have been shifted from those who need it the most in Nottingham and other cities in the midlands and the north, to more affluent areas in the south. Of course, these difficult times have led to challenges in delivering our ambitious commitments for the city, but despite these difficult times our ambition for our residents has never diminished.

Nottingham needs politicians who want to make our city an even better place and throughout the next decade we will continue to campaign for a Labour government which will rise to the challenges facing us, setting an ambitious vision, not only for our city, but the country as a whole.

Cllr David Mellen,
Leader of Nottingham City Council

Government Making Local People Pick up Social Care Bill

the Conservative Government expects councils to put an additional 2% charge onto council tax bills from April. 

This follows on from them cutting 60p in every £1 of Government funding that councils across the country receive. 

In Nottingham that means our city now receives over £100million less Government funding every year than it did back in 2011. That equates to a loss of Government funding of £529 per Nottingham household. 

In fact it was one of the first acts of the new Chancellor to add half a billion pounds onto council tax bills by way of this adult social care precept, which means that the additional money raised is to be spent on care services for the elderly, vulnerable children and disabled people. 

There are a few problems with the Governments approach:

  1. It’s short termism at its very worst – for 2 years councils have had promise after promise of new Government policies to properly fund care services for older people. The need for those services is growing yet the funding for councils has been reducing. This causes a funding gap for many councils who have adult social care responsibilities. 
  2. It’s unfair – areas with the highest need tend to be local authorities in poorer parts of the country. Those happen to be the areas that can raise the least additional funding from a council tax increase. It breaks down like this – in places like Nottingham, Hull and Liverpool most older people are not wealthy enough to fund their own care in older age so the council has to fund it. In places like Surrey, Sussex and Buckinghamshire most older people are wealthy enough to fund their own care when they need it. But guess what – it’s the areas with the least demand on the council who can raise the most by increasing council tax. So to put it bluntly when Nottingham, Hull and Liverpool add 1% to their council tax they might raise around £3 per head. When councils in Surrey, Sussex and Buckinghamshire do the same the raise over double that amount per person. So by failing to redistribute funding based on the needs of local populations the Government is making the inequality even worse.
  3. It’s hard pressed families that face yet again higher council tax bills. Council tax is not progressive, it does not take account of income, it does not take account of ability to pay in the same way that income tax does. So people on low wages who are already struggling to make ends meet will pay 2% more and a multi millionaire with a very highly paid job or business income will pay 2% more. A Tory tax if ever I saw one. 

I hope that City Councillors in opposition parties can see this for what it is. We in the Labour Group certainly can – Unfair, short termism that doesn’t actually provide the funding that’s needed, where it’s needed. I also hope that we can have cross party support to join Labour Councillors in our lobbying of Government to deal with the huge funding gaps that now exist. 

Council tax increases alone cannot meet the cost demand for services or close the funding gap or begin to deal with inequalities between different parts of the country.

The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services ADASS say that councils now have a funding gap of £3.6billion in adult care services 

And 

The Children’s Society has concluded that by 2025 councils will have a £3 billion funding gap for children’s services. 

Contrary to some statements I’ve heard this is not a new Conservative Government. It’s the same group of Tory MPs that have presided over austerity and funding cuts for the last decade. They have created the inequality, they have unfairly increased council tax bills and they have created the huge gaps in funding that affect towns and cities across the country. It’s about time they dealt with the problems they’ve created. 

Cllr Sam Webster,
Portfolio Holder for Finance, Growth and the City Centre

Labour’s Plan to make Nottingham Green

At January’s Full Council Nottingham Labour is unveiling our response to the climate crisis, reiterating our ambition to become the first carbon neutral city in the UK by 2028 and publishing a positive plan that tackles the environmental challenges we face in a way that improves the quality of life for local people.

Over the past two decades some Nottingham Labour has ensured our city is leading the rest of the country on this issue. that Nottingham met its Energy Strategy target early (a 26% reduction of carbon dioxide emissions against 2005 by 2020) with reductions of emissions by 39% since 2005, equivalent to 43% per person  Some of the actions we have already taken include:

  • Signing the Nottingham Declaration on Climate Change in 2000 with a follow up in 2011,
  • £15 million investment in one of the UK’s largest electric bus fleets
  • Developing and expanding the electric tram network
  • Improving cycling facilities, including bike hubs and a cycle hire scheme
  • Significant investment in cycle corridors
  • Introduction of the Workplace Parking Levy – tackling congestion and containing traffic growth, while generating funds to invest in public transport and
  • Installing solar panels on 4500 domestic properties across the city.

Whilst we rightly celebrate this success, it is just the beginning. . Together with city partners, we will be creating new Climate Change and Energy plans for the next decade, taking forward the ambitions of a locally responsible global city and turn words into actions. This will bring benefits such as reducing fuel poverty, improving the natural environment and air quality and providing sustainable jobs for the future

Following the launch of the citywide charter for sustainable carbon neutrality through the Green Partnership, the Council is now it is setting out a plan of action to help take the city towards carbon neutrality. This takes the same aim of addressing one of our most pressing environmental and climate challenges in a way that benefits the city and residents, improves quality of life and ensures nobody is excluded from the progress it will bring. In particular, Nottingham wants to develop and maximise the opportunities for local jobs and retaining the value of what’s need to be done within the city. Efforts are focused on five key areas:

  • Transport – Building on the city’s successful efforts so far to provide high-quality green public transport and to encourage take-up of low and no-emission vehicles.
  • The built environment – Adding to the 40,000 energy efficiency measures already in local homes and the roll-out of the pioneering Energiesprong scheme to create net zero carbon homes.
  • Energy generation – Going beyond the huge installation programme of solar panels on council buildings and homes and the council’s energy from waste operation by looking into anaerobic digestion, maximising the use of heat pumps that use water, air and the ground to heat our buildings and the possibility of expanding the city’s district heating network
  • Waste and water – Maximising the potential of the city’s waste disposal arrangements, which see over 90% reused, recycled, composted or used for energy recovery.
  • Consumption – Increasing local food production while reducing food waste and consumption of high carbon foods, by making city events more carbon neutral and tourism more sustainable, increasing the range of edible plants in public spaces and encouraging community gardens and hubs to grow and share food.

We all have a role to play in this, but we all have something to gain by finding more sustainable ways to live and work. This will bring benefits such as reducing fuel poverty, improving the natural environment and air quality and providing sustainable jobs for the future.

Read full report here.

Cllr Sally Longford,
Deputy Leader of Nottingham City Council,
Portfolio Holder for Energy & Environment and Democratic Services