Swindon Council Climate Change Motion – how the drama unfolded in full council

Here is a brief summary of what happened in January 2019:

  • Initially the Green Party (who don’t currently have any seats on the council, so couldn’t submit a motion themselves) proposed a comprehensive Climate Change motion to all the parties represented on the council (Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat) as the basis for a cross-party motion that they could all agree on. The target was originally for the January meeting but this was then deferred to February.
  • The Conservatives then pre-empted the process by submitting their own much shorter motion, with few actions, a week before the January meeting.
  • The Labour party in conjunction with the Liberal Democrats tried to arrange a cross party meeting in the short time before the full council meeting but this did not happen, so instead they submitted a longer list of actions as an amendment to the motion.
  • Many members of the public, including SCAN and Extinction Rebellion members with colourful banners, attended and several important public questions were asked at the beginning of the council meeting. The mayor who was chairing the meeting welcomed the unusually large public engagement and allowed extra time for questions.
  • Later the Conservatives proposed their short motion, and Labour proposed the amendment with additional actions, which was seconded by the Liberal Democrats.
  • Several Labour councillors spoke in favour of the amendment, and several Conservatives spoke against it.
  • After a short recess to negotiate, rather than voting down the amendment, which would have been very unpopular with the public gallery, the Conservatives (who have a slim majority) proposed setting up a cross-party working group if Labour withdrew their amendment.
  • So everyone voted for the motion with the addition of an action to set up a cross-party working group.

The details of the motion and proposed amendment as presented at the council meeting are at https://ww5.swindon.gov.uk/moderngov/mgAi.aspx?ID=51867

The local press report has a good picture but misses out most of the detail: https://www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk/news/17387090.politicians-will-join-forces-to-tackle-climate-change/

SCAN members look forward to hear more detail of the working group. This should be able to invite other people to meetings and should recommend actions to the council cabinet as soon as possible.