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Councillors slammed for closing meeting before climate emergency vote

PUBLISHED: 15:09 28 February 2020 | UPDATED: 15:09 28 February 2020

Councillors have been blasted for  a “concerted effort to delay” holding a vote on whether to declare a climate emergency. Pictured, climate protestors in King's Lynn and council leader Brian Long (inset). Photo: Casey Cooper-Fiske/Ian Burt

Councillors have been blasted for a “concerted effort to delay” holding a vote on whether to declare a climate emergency. Pictured, climate protestors in King's Lynn and council leader Brian Long (inset). Photo: Casey Cooper-Fiske/Ian Burt

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Councillors have been blasted for a “concerted effort to delay” holding a vote on whether to declare a climate emergency.

Extinction Rebellion protests outside Barclays on King's Lynn High Street. Photo: Extinction Rebellion King's Lynn & West Norfolk/Louise Gardner Extinction Rebellion protests outside Barclays on King's Lynn High Street. Photo: Extinction Rebellion King's Lynn & West Norfolk/Louise Gardner

King's Lynn and West Norfolk councillors were set to vote on whether to declare a climate emergency at a meeting last night.

But after the full council session reached the three-hour mark - triggering a vote on whether to continue with the meeting agenda - councillors called a halt mid-way through the climate motion.

Michael de Whalley, Green Party councillor, said: "It's been an extremely frustrating process.

"The council wants to do it in their own time and at their own pace and have been dragged kicking and screaming into doing anything at all."

West Norfolk council leader Brian Long at the Mini meet. Picture: Chris BishopWest Norfolk council leader Brian Long at the Mini meet. Picture: Chris Bishop

He added: "It's the biggest challenge we face as a civilisation.

"It requires more than a little bit of effort."

READ MORE: 'The NDR coastal road': Maps give stark warning over flooding risk for Norfolk and Suffolk

While climate campaigner Dr Charlie Gardner, from Extinction Rebellion, added: "Their entire approach has been delay, delay, delay - there's been a concerted effort to avoid this issue."

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Mr de Whalley's motion called for council officers to prepare a climate change policy and put together an action plan by August.

It also asked that the council "fully recognise the evolving climate crisis and its own duty of care to protect human life by declaring a climate emergency" as well as working towards a goal of carbon footprint neutrality by the council and net zero carbon emissions across the district by 2030, and extending the UEA climate intern role to two years.

But council leader Brian Long said: "I think if there was a sense of urgency all the members of the council would have focused their time on that agenda item."

READ MORE: Head shaving protest over 'shameful refusal' of climate emergency

Mr Long (Cons) said he was "frustrated" by how long the councillors had spent questioning cabinet members and added: "We had other things on the agenda, not least the budget, which has to be approved otherwise the council tax bills won't be sent out

"It's critically important, as is the climate change motion.

"The council is taking measures making a real difference but we needed to spend less time on questions to cabinet members.

"I think a better approach would be a time limit on that section."

He also said the council was not allowed to extend the meeting for a set time, and added: "Some members have been to work during the day and started early."

Mr Long confirmed the motion would be heard at a future date.

READ MORE: Cabinet refuses to declare climate change emergency


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