To consider the report of the Head of Democratic Services that introduces a presentation that sets out the Council’s plans for green economic recovery in Leeds, following the outbreak of Covid-19.
The Chief Officer for Sustainable Energy and Air Quality (Polly Cook), and the Head of Economic Policy (Fiona Bolam), delivered a PowerPoint presentation that sets out the Council’s plans for green economic recovery in Leeds, following the outbreak of Covid-19. Necessary considerations and key opportunities were highlighted as follows:
· Lessons learned from the global financial crisis in 2009, including avoiding carbon-intensive investments which would ‘lock-in’ future climate change, as well as the creation of ‘any jobs’, which then fail to address poor productivity and leads to increasing inequality.
· The vulnerability of Yorkshire to the risks of an unjust transition with a high concentration of foundation industries, but also an opportunity in that 11.3% of workers have skills that match future jobs, which is higher than the national average.
· Environment and carbon reduction are key focuses within the economic recovery plan for West Yorkshire, and will also be central to the Leeds economic recovery approach, in line with the Council’s three pillars as set out in the Best Council Plan – Inclusive Growth, Health and Wellbeing, and Tackling the Climate Emergency.
· Plans to build on the investment priorities put forward by the Committee on Climate Change – low carbon retrofits, energy systems, tree planting schemes, active travel initiatives, and moving towards a circular economy.
· The Local Government Association (LGA) have predicted that demand for ‘green jobs’ will accelerate massively across the North of England, with Leeds likely to be among the strongest cities in the UK in creating jobs to support greener industries.
· The wider opportunities for change as a result of the pandemic, including the move towards digitalisation, remote working and shift in transport patterns.
Members discussed a number of matters, including:
· Clean Air Charging Zone (CAZ). In response to a query, Members were advised that delays to implementation are due to ongoing discussions with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) around the limits and modelling. Related to this, Members were advised that all eligible and approved grant applicants will receive funding despite the delay.
· Roll-out of full fibre. With the shift towards working from home, Members noted the importance of fast and secure broadband. Members were advised that the schedule for the roll-out of full fibre would be reported back at future meeting.
· Supporting retail. Members sought more information on the steps taken to support high-street retail, and were advised that work is underway to explore an app based solution to give confidence to shoppers visiting the city centre by providing data on busy areas and available parking.
· The role of planning and supporting change in the building sector. Members highlighted the necessity of engaging with the building sector, and encouraging investment into sustainable practice and materials. Chair noted his intention to write the Secretary of State on behalf of the Committee to seek further support to drive change locally.
· Devolution. Members were advised that the West Yorkshire devolution deal is likely to provide further opportunities for innovation. The Chair suggested that a collective response of the Committee to the ongoing consultation on devolution be submitted.
a) That the Chair writes to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government to seek clarity and support on the future role of local authority planning and building regulations.
b) That the Committee respond to the West Yorkshire Devolution consultation.
c) That the contents of the presentation, along with Members comments, be noted.