19 July 2021
Dorset Green Councillors were in action at the full Council meeting on July 15th, tackling the Climate and Ecological Emergency, the Dorset Local Plan, youth services and the Cabinet System.
The Green group of four councillors supported the Climate & Ecological Emergency Strategy with heavy hearts. Cllr Kelvin Clayton told the meeting the Strategy "lacks vision, ambition and a sense of mission". He called for a Dorset wide transport strategy which discourages car use, encourages walking and cycling, and sees drastically improved rail and bus services. "This could develop Dorset into a network of eco-towns, towns with high levels of self-sufficiency that facilitate local living and the local economy, connected by a comprehensive public transport infrastructure. This is the level of vision and ambition we need to adopt."
Greens also challenged the housing numbers in the Dorset Local Plan - the numbers just don't add up. Using calculations based on population numbers Cllr Brian Heatley said proposals for at least 30,000 new houses are wrong. He showed that using Office of National Statistics population projections only around 10,000 new houses and flats would be needed. Cllr Heatley was supporting a motion to reject housing targets handed down by the Government.
Councillor Clare Sutton raised questions about youth services and social mobility. She said: “For the poorest part of Dorset to have the lowest social mobility of 533 constituencies should be a source of shame to us all in what is, after all, a reasonably prosperous county. This has further intensified over the past 18 months. Since the pandemic began, young people have suffered most in terms of losing their jobs and poor mental health, and house prices in Weymouth and Portland, already unaffordable to many in our low wage economy, have risen by around 9% in the last year”.
The motion to change the Cabinet structure to a Committee system was lost. The aim was to secure a more open and democratic system of decision making. Cllr Sutton said: “The proposed system would make best use of the knowledge, experience and passion for different subjects across this virtual chamber, irrespective of political party. There would be greater transparency and therefore accountability, which would give our residents greater confidence and encourage more of them to actively engage with us”.