Next Wednesday (7 July) will be the first meeting of my new Cabinet following the local elections back in May and our first in-person Cabinet meeting since before the pandemic began.
I have a new deputy in the shape of Councillor Gary Sumner and I am looking forward to welcoming Councillors Kevin Parry and Tim Swinyard to the Cabinet. It will be good to get back to Council business with a renewed sense of purpose especially with an increased 17-seat majority following the election of Kate Tomlinson in the Priory Vale by-election last week.
This is going to be an important period for our town as we begin to unlock the country from the restrictions that have had such a grip on all our lives for so long.
One of the priorities for us as a council is how we do our bit to tackle climate change and next week my Cabinet colleagues and I will discuss Swindon’s first Net Zero Emissions Action Plan.
The plan will clearly set out how we intend to achieve net zero when it comes to the Council’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. This includes, among other things, completing our LED streetlight replacement programme, using a solar farm at a disused landfill site to power our operations depot at Cheney Manor, purchasing low emission vehicles and downsizing our corporate estate.
We are fortunate to have a Cabinet colleague in Councillor Keith Williams who is passionate about the environment and ensuring that we as a town do our bit to combat climate change.
But there is really only so much the Council can do on its own and whatever changes we make as an organisation will just be a tiny fraction of what is needed if we are to hit Borough-wide net zero targets.
This is why today (1 July) we are asking local people and organisations to join together to ‘Be the Change’ themselves and to make some small adjustments to their lives and operations, which will have a positive impact on the environment.
The ‘Be the Change’ campaign is about all of us and aims to raise the profile of climate change in Swindon. There are so many positive actions that local people and businesses are already undertaking to make a difference.
The great thing is that you do not have to buy an expensive electric car or install solar panels on your roof to contribute.
You may reduce your energy usage by having the heating on for half an hour less each day, invest in ethical banks, or try cycling to work instead of taking the car. Businesses too can play their part by minimising the amount of waste they produce, electrifying their vehicle fleet, or switching to LED lights. In my own household, we have ensured our home is well insulated, we keep the heating as low as possible, keep the lighting off as long as possible and have converted to low energy bulbs. We also recycle as much as we can.
Today is only launch day and our campaign will continue to run over the weeks and months to come so that by the time of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow between 31 October and 12 November later this year, the climate change agenda will be something many more people in Swindon will act on.
To find out how to get started, visit the ‘Be the Change’ webpages on the Council’s website and follow the new @bethechangeswindon Instagram page.