ENVIRONMENTAL activists have praised proposals to raise council tax in a bid to tackle climate change in Warwick district.
The district’s Extinction Rebellion (XR) branch is backing Warwick District Council plans to hold a referendum on whether to raise council tax to generate around £3million a year for a Climate Action Fund – the first of its kind in the country.
The council’s plans aim to reduce congestion, improve air quality, enhance biodiversity and produce more energy efficient homes and public buildings.
The council will also partner, advise and encourage businesses and other organisations to take the necessary steps to meet the challenges of climate change.
Warwick XR spokesman Dominic Harrison said: “It’s great to see ambitious plans from our local council. The climate crisis has reached a stage where we need to see urgent action by policy-makers at all levels and hopefully these developments will serve as inspiration for others across the country. Of course, ambitious plans are one thing and making them happen is another. If we’re going to tackle the catastrophic collapse of our climate we will need to come together as a community and turn plans into reality.
“We also welcome the fact that Warwick DC have discussed plans for a public consultation event in the form of a People’s Assembly, which aligns with one of XR’s demands, and it’s fantastic to see political parties joining together to cooperate on this programme. The climate crisis is an existential issue for us all, it’s something that goes beyond party politics.”
Green Party county councillor Jonathan Chilvers was delighted climate change was being taken seriously in the district.
He added: “It’s fantastic that all parties at Warwick District Council have come together to propose a strong plan to tackle climate change.
“It is the most serious issue we face today and ‘business as usual’ is not an option. Asking for extra council tax of £1 per week is a big step, but I hope local people will think it’s worth it to protect and improve our area for the future. As residents of Warwick district we will all get a chance to vote on whether this is what we want to see on May 7.”
But the initial reaction on social media, when the Observer first revealed the news on Wednesday evening, was not positive.
Many were sceptical about how much impact the move would have, while others were concerned about paying more in council tax, with both Warwickshire Police and Warwickshire County Council also planning inflation-busting rises in their respective precepts.
Under the proposals for the cross-party agreed Climate Emergency Action Programme, residents in an average Band D property would pay an increase of £1 per week or £52 a year – a 30 per cent rise on the district council’s current precept. Those on lower incomes could pay a reduced rate under the council’s tax reduction scheme.
The plans must first be given the green light at a council meeting on February 26, after which a local referendum would be held on Thursday May 7.
If agreed in February, the hike would be introduced this April, but if rejected by residents at the subsequent referendum, households would get the cash back.