- Meeting of Cabinet, Tuesday 11th February 2020 6.30 pm (Item 3.)
Cabinet Member for Environment and Leisure
To consider the attached report
Contact Officer: Jonathan Sherlock (01296) 585291
That the content of the report be noted and the actions endorsed.
(b) Reason(s) for Decision(s)
To facilitate the wishes of the Council to implement a range of environmental initiatives.
(c) Alternative Options Considered
The report to Cabinet referred to the options considered by the cross party steering group. The proposals outlined in the report are felt to make the best use of the funding available and would achieve the Council’s objectives.
(d) Relevant Scrutiny Committee
Environment and Living. That Committee received a similar report at its meeting on 10 March and endorsed the proposals.
(e) Conflicts of Interest / Dispensation(s)
Members recalled the Council’s decision to put a budget in place to enable AVDC to implement a number of environmental initiatives in response to climate change. A cross party steering group had been established to oversee proposals and Cabinet received an update on the current position. A similar report had been submitted to the Environment and Living Scrutiny Committee on 10 February, 2020. That Committee had been supportive of all the initiatives considered thus far.
It was reported that the Steering Group had agreed that the initiatives should focus on five specific areas, namely, "community orchards", an Enterprise Day, Climate Change Champions and "who does what" information provision.
Initial research had indicated that there were a number of environmental projects across the Vale and that restricting funding to "community orchards" might minimise the legacy that the Council wished to create. In order to maximise the benefit across the Vale it had been considered that an environmental fund should be created.
AVDC had reached agreement with the local charity "Heart of Bucks" to create an environmental fund, with the charity fund matching by 50%. AVDC had committed £20,000, with £10,000 being committed by Heart of Bucks for community driven environmental projects within the Vale. Grants could be applied for up to a value of £2,500. Larger funds could be provided with appropriate fund matching by the applicant(s). Heart of Bucks would administer the fund and oversee the funds allocated. This would allow the scheme to function independently beyond the life of AVDC.
Two example projects were being considered and would be used to launch the fund to community groups within the Vale. These would be selected by Councillors Irwin and Lyons as they were already actively involved with the scheme and activities within their communities.
The Steering Group believed that young people would play a significant role in reducing the environmental impact of schools and homes within the Vale. As such, two local students had been included in a number of discussions regarding the initiatives. To fully engage young people, an initiative had been agreed, in partnership with Heart of Bucks and Bucks County Council, to provide a schools grants scheme for environmental improvements within schools grounds or their surrounding areas.
It had been recognised at the original Steering Group meeting that businesses within the Vale needed to play a significant role in minimising their environmental impact if meaningful improvements were to be achieved. The agreed approach had been to host an "Enterprise Day" at The Gateway, inviting businesses that traded or operated in Aylesbury Vale to network with operators specialising in services to minimise any detrimental environmental impact. This included AVDC, which provided food waste management services. However after researching the costs of hosting such an event, it had been decided that this could not be achieved within the current budget. Accordingly it had been decided to research events within the Vale that AVDC might partner with.
Contact had subsequently been made with Buckinghamshire Business First (BBF) who had recently launched the #netserobucks campaign at their AGM. The campaign had been focused on supporting businesses in reducing or offsetting their carbon footprint. BBF had hosted a Business Expo at The Gateway in 2019, with over 200 attendees. They were again hosting a similar event on 8 March, 2020 and had doubled the number of businesses invited to attend.
The Steering Group believed that education and information provision should be at the forefront of the initiatives. This included Parish/Town Councils, Members and Officers. To provide this across the Vale, it had been agreed that a form of training would be required, providing candidates with information regarding the current climate emergency and the actions that could be taken on a local level to reduce or remove the impact of residents, visitors and businesses. AVDC was currently in the process of contacting organisations that provided the level of training required to enable Parish/Town Councils and Members to best inform their residents.
At this stage AVDC was gathering information from these organisations and would be looking to finalise a partnership over the coming weeks. Once this had been secured the training timings would be finalised and communicated to relevant stake holders. AVDC would be leading the marketing of each initiative, whilst working in partnership with the relevant stake holders in each area. The Council’s Marketing and Communications Team was currently working on branding to ensure that a single message was shared across all the initiatives.
The project had begun with a budget of £60,000 and had increased to £70,000 with the match funding agreed by Heart of Bucks. It might be possible to secure some funding from Bucks County Council.
£30,000, inclusive of the Heart of Bucks funding, had been allocated to the community fund. £15,000 had been allocated to the schools competition, and Bucks County Council was considering a contribution towards this initiative.
£2,600 had been allocated to sponsorship of the Business Expo, inclusive of marketing costs on the day. £2,400 would be allocated to marketing material aimed specifically at businesses.
£20,000 remained in the budget and would be used to cover the costs of administering the initiatives, the Climate Champion training and all other marketing costs.
Cabinet was pleased with the progress made with this issue in a relatively short time and the cross party cooperation and having asked that their thanks be conveyed to all those officers involved in this matter, Members
That the content of the report be noted and the actions referred to therein endorsed.