Climate change cabinet member appointed for Hastings

Hastings Borough Council has created a new cabinet post charged with ensuring the town becomes carbon neutral by 2030.

Thursday, 16th May 2019, 3:03 pm
Maya Evans is the newest cabinet member at Hastings Borough Council

At the authority’s annual civic meeting on Wednesday (May 15), council leader Peter Chowney confirmed the appointment of a cabinet member for climate change, biodiversity and sustainable development.

The role was tasked to Maya Evans, a peace and human rights campaigner who was elected as a Labour councillor for Hollington in 2018.

Cllr Evans said: “Climate change is petrifying. Anyone who believes in science and facts now accepts that the next 11 years are the most crucial years in human history.

“Ice caps are melting, coral reefs dissolving, there are devastating hurricanes in America, wildfires in Australia, islands are disappearing underwater, countries turning into desert. It is overwhelming and almost incomprehensible.

“But there is hope. Currently we do have enough time to turn things around. Our deadline is 2030 and our aim is carbon neutrality.

“I feel honoured to be the first person at Hastings Borough Council to be given responsibility for overseeing the passage of this town to carbon neutrality.”

The creation of the cabinet position comes after the Labour-led council declared a ‘climate emergency’ in February and committed to making the town carbon neutral by 2030.

Cllr Chowney said the role would be responsible for overseeing the council’s work on climate change initiatives, including sustainable energy generation and revised planning policies.  

He added: “The biggest challenge facing the council and indeed all of us is climate change.

“It might not seem like this council does much on its own to prevent the catastrophic consequences the UN’s intergovernmental panel on climate change warned about, but we have to play our part.

“I’m hoping Hastings will be taking a lead in demonstrating to other councils what can be achieved.

“We will be refocusing everything we do to play our part in mitigating climate change. We will be looking at revised planning policies, we will be looking at sustainable energy generation  but we will be looking at everything else we do too.

“We really have to think global and act local.”

The creation of the new cabinet post received cross-party support, with Conservative group leader Rob Lee saying: “It is of critical importance to us all, now and in the future, that this subject is taken very seriously.

“Indeed having a new cabinet position with a focus on that is something we can all agree on.

“We not only agreed with the climate change motion that came before us recently but of course last year Cllr [Matthew] Beaver put forward a single use plastics motion about how we ourselves, as a corporate entity deal with plastics.

“[The discussion] felt constructive, creative and collaborative and I hope we can work more like that not only at cabinet but at full council and as individual ward councillors.”

As well as the new position, several cabinet positions have had name their names tweaked in an effort to better reflect their responsibilities.

Deputy council leader Kim Forward saw her regeneration and culture cabinet role become regeneration, culture and tourism.

Cabinet member for housing and leisure Cllr Andy Batsford also saw his position renamed, becoming cabinet member for housing, leisure and community engagement.

Formerly the cabinet member for environment and equalities, Cllr Colin Fitzgerald became cabinet member for environment, community safety and equalities.

Meanwhile Cllr Judy Rogers became cabinet member for transformation, governance and people, with her role previously listed as cabinet member for corporate services.