Council & Cabinet Member for the Environment fail to consult on Carbon Action Plan
On May 2nd 2019, one felt that a new dawn had arrived in local politics within our district when six Labour Cllrs, five Green Cllrs and two Lib Dems were elected to the district council.
One hoped they’d hit the ground running and start giving the Conservative led council a difficult time. But within a year, both a Lib Dem and Green Cllr had come to sit on Cllr Monk’s Cabinet, accepting the £16,000 for doing so, and promises and dreams of change were shattered.
Cllr Lesley Whybrow (Green) joined Cllr Monk’s Cabinet in Feb 2020. Recently her party – Shepway Green Party – planted trees on a scheduled monument – Royal Military Canal – without the necessary consent from Historic England, and committed an offence under s2 of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979, which can lead to fines in excess of £50,000.
It has now come to light that Cllr L Whybrow, as the Chair of the Climate & Ecological Working Group and Cabinet Member for the Environment, along with our council, Folkestone & Hythe District Council, have failed to consult with the residents over the Carbon Action Plan
As you may or may not know, all EU legislation as it applied to the UK on 31 December 2020 is now a part of UK domestic legislation. This means that the terms of the Aarhus Convention are also part of UK law.
One of the purposes of the Aarhus Convention was to lawfully establish public consultation rights on all plans, strategies and polices relating to the environment including building works, licensing and permitting, environmental impact assessments and the development of national, regional, local and neighbourhood plans, strategies and polices which may have an impact upon the environment.
The Council’s current Carbon Action Plan falls within the definition “plans, strategies and polices”. It’s clear the “plan” will have an impact upon our/the environment.
Article 7 of the Aarhus Convention says that
“Each Party (in this case FHDC) shall make appropriate practical and/or other provisions for the public to participate during the preparation of plans and programmes relating to the environment, within a transparent and fair framework, having provided the necessary information to the public”
Page 179 of the Aarhus Implementation Guide says the public authority conducting the consultation “must provide the public with access to the information relevant to the preparation of the plans and programmes themselves”.
Residents of the district were NOT provided with access to information relevant to the preparation of the Carbon Action Plan as all meetings of the Climate & Ecological Working Group were held behind closed doors.
Paragraphs 174 and 175 of Maastricht Recommendations on Promoting Effective Public Participation in Decision-making in Environmental Matters (prepared under the Aarhus Convention) make many comments on the type of information which must be provided as part of the consultation exercise including:
Information about the decision-making procedure, including all opportunities for the public to participate;
“The economic analyses, cost benefit and other analyses upon which the plan, programmed or policy is based”… Information about the potential effects of the plan, programme or policy (such as) legal consequences social impacts or economic impacts”
Information about the possible effects of the proposed plan or programme, including the analyses through which these effects have been assessed.
Environmental impacts and any proposed mitigation measures
Cllr Whybrow (Green) in her role as Cabinet Member for the Environment and chair of the Climate & Ecological Working Group (held behind closed doors), has along with our Council failed to consult with residents of the district about the Carbon Action Plan, as is and was required by law.
As such the Council’s Carbon Action Plan is ultra vires or in layman’s terms unlawful.
Cllr L Whybrow stated prior to her election in May 2019:
“The council is not at all transparent… it does not go out and listen to the people and does not listen to what the people want… we need to make the Council more open and reactive to what the people want.”
The Council just follow the lead of the Government – when are we likely to hear the result of the Russia investigation? Transparency is what those in power call for from their opponents, they don’t consider it applies to themselves.
So we are now condemned to a future in which Folkestone’s Tory oligarchy continues to misrule us and looks after their chums while the ‘opposition’ disintegrates
I left the Shepway Green Party as it was fast becoming a cult where one had to bow or curtsy in front of the Whybrow’s. When I dissented to pay homage at their altar, I was treated like a pariah and hounded out of the party by their lackies.
All this must be a real godsend to the Tories..
When and where did it all start to go wrong?
Did it start to go wrong when Cllr L Whybrow joined Monk’s cabinet?
Or could everything be down to Cllr Whybrow being mislead by Council officials – I’m a bit vague on this, but I seem to recall that Cllr Meyers in the last council had problems getting details from his own council officials for an FOI on an important matter that needed oversight then he ended up in Monk’s Cabinet. Let’s not forget that Cllr Meyers blew up the alleged second attempt for a Nuclear Dump on the Marsh.
In May 2019 the local electorate took the opportunity to send Monk a direct message by removing a lot of Tories off the council.
Then we know that Monk played a good game by involving the Greens and Lib Dems into his Cabinet which in effect meant a coalition where whatever ideas the Greens or Lib Dems bought forward would only ever get lip-service if they disagreed with the Tories in a fait accompli. Remember Prater winning an “advisory vote”?
Job done there!!!
Whatever is going on, there’s one truth I feel should be remembered from the Tory cull in May 2019 – it is easy to remove Tories and yet it is difficult to replace Tory thinking and planning so why the hell didn’t all the opposition parties coalesce out of respect for the local vote?
How May 2021’s elections turn out after this omnishambles is yet to be seen, in my opinion I think it’s time for the Greens and Lib Dems to leave the Cabinet and get back become a proper opposition otherwise May 2023 may see a non-Tory cull, which again in my opinion is the game Monk and even possibly local Tory party chairman Tillson are playing and seemingly winning.