Plan to create climate change committee collapses

The Conservatives were accused of “throwing their toys out of the pram” for withdrawing the plan
By Victoria Munro

Waltham Forest Town Hall
Waltham Forest Town Hall

A plan to create a new committee to scrutinise Waltham Forest Council’s response to climate change collapsed last week.

At a full council meeting on 22nd October, the Conservatives withdrew a motion to set up the new committee, after a Labour amendment said it would replace an existing one.

Conservative councillor Justin Halabi said simply renaming the neighbourhood committee to create a climate change committee “does nothing more than wipe away any ounce of progress”.

Responding after the meeting, deputy leader Clyde Loakes said it felt like the Conservatives “were throwing their toys out of their pram” after realising “just how poor a motion it actually was”.

At the meeting, Cllr Halabi said the Conservatives want to “diversify the council’s spending on climate change” because the “vast majority is spent on ill-implemented policies, namely Mini-Holland”.

He questioned why more than half of a £1million Climate Emergency Fund ring-fenced in 2019 had been spent on creating traffic restrictions around schools, rather than suggested measures like introducing more energy-efficient street lamps.

Following the meeting, Conservative leader Tim James said the plan fell through because of “Labour’s refusal to be held to account and playing political games”. 

He added: “The committee they wished to scrap just happens to be the one that would have responsibility for scrutinising such things as the Edmonton incinerator plans.”

In response, Clyde Loakes said the Neighbourhoods Scrutiny Committee “already has scrutiny of the borough’s climate work… and has been doing great work doing just that”.

He said: “[The Labour group] could see how they may have wanted to have a name change to better focus attention on these important matters. We accepted this and proposed removing the non- climate and environment matters to another scrutiny committee.

“Whilst the local Conservatives might want to talk and talk about their sudden and recent interest in the climate emergency, we’re busy getting on with delivery.”