Residents in Warwick district face referendum on paying more council tax to tackle climate change - The Leamington Observer

Residents in Warwick district face referendum on paying more council tax to tackle climate change

Laura Kearns 4th Feb, 2020 Updated: 5th Feb, 2020   0

RESIDENTS in the district face voting on whether they want to pay more council tax to tackle climate change.

In a national first, councillors have agreed a cross party ‘Climate Emergency Action Programme’ with the aim of seeing Warwick District Council (WDC) become carbon neutral by 2025 and the entire district carbon neutral by 2030.

Under the proposals, residents in an average Band D property would pay an increase of £1 per week or £52 a year – a 30 per cent rise on the district council’s current precept. The money would be ring-fenced in the Climate Action Fund which would generate around £3million a year.Those on lower incomes could pay a reduced rate under the council’s tax reduction scheme.

The plans must first be given the green light at a council meeting on February 26, after which a local referendum would be held on Thursday May 7.

The hike would be introduced this April if agreed by councillors on February 26, but if rejected by residents at the subsequent referendum households would get the cash back.

Conservative council leader Andrew Day told the Observer: “We hope people will get behind this. I was in Australia over Christmas where the bush fires were, that is a very real example of climate change. Here we will see it differently through a lot more rain and storms so we need to be prepared for that so people can carry on going about their lives.

“We want to make positive changes like introducing electric taxis, making all of our waste vehicles electric and insulating homes of those on lower incomes as just a few examples.

“We are the first council to propose a Climate Action Fund and we have a real chance to set the pace for the future of climate change action and look after our district.”

A cross-party statement also backed the plans – the

It said: “Last summer councillors put aside political differences and came together to unanimously declare a climate emergency.  A far-reaching plan has since been developed to reduce the council’s carbon emissions to zero and lead further climate change efforts across the district.

“The action programme is a positive programme that over the next decade will bring social, environmental and economic benefits to all our residents and businesses.

“Warwick District Council is well placed to do this work, being strongly rooted in the local community with many of the practical skills and local contacts necessary to lead in implementing this ambitious plan.”

Plans include reduced congestion, improved air quality, enhanced biodiversity and more energy efficient homes and public buildings.

The council will also partner, advise and encourage businesses and other organisations to take the necessary steps to meet the challenges of climate change.

But the initial reaction on social media, when the Observer first revealed the news on Wednesday evening, was not positive.

Many were sceptical about how much impact the move would have, while others were concerned about paying more in council tax, with both Warwickshire Police and Warwickshire County Council also planning inflation-busting rises in their respective precepts.

Eight previous local authorities have held referendums in a bid to increase council tax over two per cent, but all have failed.

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