Local Election Survey 2019 Questions
Below are the questions we asked candidates in our 2019 local election survey. Each question is accompanied by a paragraph of background information. More information about the survey and a list of candidate responses is available.
1. Will you support (or have you supported) a Climate Emergency motion in your local authority area?
With international agreements and national governments failing to stop – let alone reverse – global warming, councils can play a key role in leading the climate emergency response. Business as usual or incremental change has led us into a climate crisis. By declaring a climate emergency that includes a call for immediate and urgent action to reverse global warming, your council can add its voice to over 400 councils that have already made the declaration. For more info, see: http://www.caceonline.org & https://climateemergency.uk
2. Do you agree that the Greater Manchester Pension Fund should fully divest from fossil fuels in the next two years?
The Greater Manchester Pension Fund (GMPF) has around £2 billion invested in coal, oil and gas companies – more than any other local authority pension fund in the country. These companies are investing billions each year in exploring for new fossil fuels when the science tells we can afford to burn less than 20% of known reserves if we’re want to keep the rise in global temperatures to below 2 degrees. Many other pension funds in the UK and across the world have moved their money out of dirty fossil fuel companies, both because of the moral and environmental arguments and also the financial risks of owning shares in companies whose valuations are based on destabilising the climate. GMPF must act now to reduce its exposure to these risks, starting in the first year with companies involved in the most polluting fossil fuels – coal, tar sands and unconventional gas – and within two years from all companies involved in the exploration, extraction, transportation and supply of fossil fuels. For more info, see: https://friendsoftheearth.uk/climate-change/divestment & https://gofossilfree.org/uk/fuellingthefire/
3. Do you support the introduction of a zero-carbon standard for all new buildings in Greater Manchester from 2021?
We know we need to make rapid reductions in carbon emissions to avoid climate chaos, but we’re still putting up new buildings that will generate even more carbon emissions. The technology already exists to construct buildings that are properly insulated and generate their own renewable power – indeed it was originally proposed that new homes would be zero carbon from 2016 and commercial buildings from 2019 . But developers won’t build them to that standard unless the planning rules require them to.The Greater Manchester Spatial Framework only includes a requirement for all new buildings to be zero carbon from 2028. That means most buildings that are constructed over the next 9 years will need to be retrofitted in the following decade if we’re going to meet our zero-carbon 2038 target. We need the Spatial Framework to introduce the zero-carbon standard as soon as it comes into force, and no later than 2021.
Reference:  https://www.theccc.org.uk/2014/10/21/zero-carbon-buildings-are-becoming-a-reality/
4. Will you commit to taking Carbon Literacy training within one year of being elected?
To do our fair share in tackling climate change, all ten council leaders have committed to staying within the Tyndall Centre’s carbon budget. This depends on us halving our carbon emissions over the next five years, which will mean reducing emissions by at least 15% each year. In order to help make these steep and rapid carbon reductions, we need everyone in Greater Manchester to understand what climate change means and what they can do about it. That’s exactly what Carbon Literacy does – a day’s worth of training designed to empower and motivate people to take action. And several of our local authorities have already started rolling it out to their members and staff. As a councillor, you will have a key role in defining the policies and support mechanisms for your residents to play their part in delivering the carbon reductions needed. To ensure you’re fully equipped for this essential task, we therefore call on you to commit to taking Carbon Literacy training within one year of being elected. For more info, visit: http://carbonliteracy.com/
5. Do you support the introduction of a Clean Air Zone D (which includes private cars) in the Regional Centre?
In July 2017, the UK government published a plan to tackle roadside air pollution which required local authorities with illegal levels of air pollution to set out initial plans by the end of March 2018 and final plans by the end of December 2018 to reduce air pollution in the ‘shortest time possible’. The GM Clean Air Plan  recognises that air pollution is a “public health emergency” but rules out a Clean Air Zone that includes all polluting vehicles on the grounds of cost and lack of effectiveness compared to other options. Research by Kings College London for an IPPR North report  published in June 2018 estimated that the annual “cost to the Greater Manchester economy is between £1 billion and £1.2 billion with every single local authority area affected.” But Greater Manchester will not have a plan in place before the end of 2019 and is not planning to achieve legally compliant air quality levels before 2024. That means a child born today in Greater Manchester will be 5 years old before they can breathe legally clean air. The government’s own evidence is that the most effective measures are Clean Air Zones covering all polluting vehicles – known as a CAZ D. References:  https://cleanairgm.com/clean-air-plan  https://www.ippr.org/research/publications/atmosphere
6. Will you support re-regulation (otherwise known as London-style public control) of our bus services in Greater Manchester?
Currently, local authorities have no control over commercial bus services. Under a regulated network, the Greater Manchester would have planning powers to coordinate the network and demand bus companies follow certain standards through contracts. The key difference is that companies compete for contracts, given by the local authority, to run specified services. Through bus regulation or franchising, local authorities decide the routes, frequencies, fares and quality standards for all buses. This is how services are run in London and across a lot of Europe. Under recently devolved powers, Greater Manchester can choose to regulate our bus services and there will be a bus consultation later this year. For more info, see https://betterbusesgm.org.uk & https://friendsoftheearth.uk/climate-change/why-we-need-climatefriendly-free-bus-travel
7. Would you support a ban on pavement parking in your council area?
Too many drivers are parking on the pavement and it’s putting vulnerable pedestrians at risk. A YouGov survey (2018) commissioned by Guide Dogs found that 65% of drivers have previously parked on the pavement and 43% of drivers have parked on the pavement in the last six months. Vehicles parked on the footway can cause obstruction and inhibit the independence of many vulnerable people, especially older or disabled people with visual or mobility impairments. And when pedestrians, for example families with pushchairs, are forced into the road and into oncoming traffic, pavement parking is simply dangerous. Pavement surfaces are not designed to carry the weight of vehicles, and the added maintenance cost of repairing cracked and damaged paving adds an unnecessary financial burden to already cash-strapped councils. In London, pavement parking is banned throughout the 32 London boroughs. For more info, see: https://www.livingstreets.org.uk/policy-and-resources/our-policy/pavement-parking
8. Do you support the introduction of a cap on emissions from flights to and from Manchester Airport?
At the Green Summit in March , the Mayor and the council leaders endorsed the Tyndall Centre’s carbon budget for Greater Manchester. The carbon budget means we must keep emissions from electricity, gas, and fuel for ground transport below 71 million tonnes for the period from 2018 to 2100. This budget is based on the assumption that emissions from flights from all UK airports do not grow between 2018 and 2030, and then fall to zero by 2075. This gives Manchester Airport a carbon budget of 113 million tonnes for flight emissions. If emissions from flights increase, that means our carbon budget will be even smaller, and so we’ll have even less left for heating and powering our homes and businesses and for getting around the city region. As majority shareholders in Manchester Airports Group, the ten local authorities must therefore introduce a cap on emissions at Manchester Airport (and the other airports under its control), and urgently call for national policies to end airport expansion across the UK. Reference:  https://gmgreensummit.com/
9. Do you support (or have you supported) the phase out of pesticide use in your local authority area?
Throughout the world there is a growing movement to end the use of pesticides in towns and cities. Not only is their use affecting urban biodiversity but use presents an unacceptable risk of exposure to citizens. A phase out would end the use of all pesticides and weed killers on council land, end all use of glyphosate-based treatments in all council operations over time and involve the trial of pesticide-free alternatives. Trafford Council recently introduced a ban on pesticide use on council land and operations. See http://www.pan-uk.org/pesticide-free-towns-campaign-gains-momentum/
10. Do you support the procurement of school milk in plastic-free containers?
In response the shocking images in the TV series Blue Planet 2 of the impact of plastic pollution on our oceans and marine wildlife, a growing number of schools have started trying to reduce the amount of single-use plastic they use. One area that many primary schools are struggling with is the milk that they provide to their pupils, which usually comes in plastic-lined Tetrapaks, often with plastic wrapped plastic straws attached to the side. This milk is procured centrally by local authorities, so we’re calling on councils to commit to procuring school milk in plastic-free containers when the contracts next come up for renewal. See for example: https://www.sas.org.uk/news/1000s-of-school-children-take-the-sas-plastic-free-fight-to-big-business/
(Page last updated 21st November, 2019 16:02)