Virtual Council Meetings
We have been functioning through virtual meetings since last March, but have not managed to achieve the fame/notoriety of Handforth Parish Council, whose meeting went viral, causing much hilarity and exposure on TV! Richmond’s are professionally run, and the observance of protocols and standards of behaviour, if not quite exemplary, is very good. This also applies to public participants, and we have had those since a Planning Committee last March.
We hope that in more normal circumstances we will be able to retain some of the benefits we have discovered. Personally, I miss physically meeting in York House. I will not miss “you are muted, unmute yourself”, or “is that a new raised hand or an old one?”. However, it has been beneficial for many residents, who are able to participate far more easily. Some hybrid form could be the way ahead, but changes to what is legally permitted for local government may have to precede it.
Environment & Sustainability
The Environment, Sustainability, Culture and Sports Committee is a bit of a mouthful, but being on it has become a very satisfying experience. Back in June ’19 I was the proposer of the Motion that the Council should recognise and respond to the Climate Emergency. It was passed unanimously. What is now observable in the Council is high levels of motivation and commitment to do our bit and make a difference.
The Carbon Disclosure Project is an international organisation that objectively evaluates the strategies of major corporations and cities. The Borough’s climate emergency strategy and action plan were tested against what other places are doing across the world (a ‘B’ grade at the first time of trying is an excellent result). A study by University College London looked at the challenges and opportunities for local authorities in the context of climate emergency action planning. Out of 33 authorities that were assessed, Richmond was the highest rated.
So, I am encouraged, enthusiastic and full of praise. There is also good evidence that implementation is progressing well. I will reserve coverage on this for later in the year.
Cllr Richard Bennett
South Twickenham Ward, Leader, Green Group, Richmond Upon Thames