Referendum set for increase in Warwick district council tax to tackle climate crisis

A referendum is set to take place this year for an increase in council tax in the Warwick district which would then be used to tackle the climate emergency.

Ambitious plans for a £3m climate action fund have been drawn up by an alliance of Warwick’s political leaders in a bid to make the district carbon neutral in just five years and make the district carbon neutral by 2030.

The Red Rebels coming down the Parade in Leamington. Photo by Kevin Ward

The Red Rebels coming down the Parade in Leamington. Photo by Kevin Ward

Councillors hope that the new fund will come from an increase in council tax of £1 per week on an average band D property but government rules mean that they will need to hold a referendum across the district to see if the public agrees.

The council said that the revised charge will be implemented from April and if the outcome of the referendum is against the increase Council tax payers will be rebilled.

In a joint statement issued by the leaders, they say that the money raised would be ring-fenced and could only be used to deal with the current climate emergency.

The statement read: “Together, we believe that the time has now come to take practical action to deal with the climate emergency.

“Warwick District Council's officers and a cross-party group of councillors have developed a plan - The Climate Emergency Action Programme - that advocates strong local leadership and significant investment to change our future for the better.

This plan will enable the council to be carbon neutral by 2025 and help the district to also be carbon neutral by 2030, plus make necessary local preparations for climate disasters such as flooding. Investment today will help our communities face the future with confidence.

“Councillors believe that the fairest way to raise the money locally is through our Council tax. We will therefore be considering at the council meeting on February 26, asking residents for an increase of £1 per week (for a Band D property) at a referendum to be held on May 7. This would put £3m per year into a ‘ring-fenced’ Climate Action Fund. “

As well as the ambitious plan to make the council carbon neutral within five years, the statement, signed by the leaders of the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats, Greens, Labour and Whitnash Residents parties, outlined some of the major benefits for residents. These include reduced congestion, improved air quality, enhanced biodiversity and more energy efficient homes and public buildings.

The statement continued: “Last summer, your councillors put aside political differences and came together to unanimously declare a Climate Emergency. A far-reaching plan has since been developed to reduce the council’s carbon emissions to zero and lead further climate change efforts across the district.

“The Climate Emergency Action Programme is a positive programme that, over the next decade, will bring social, environmental and economic benefits to all our residents and businesses.”

During a press briefing to coincide with the statement, council leader Cllr Andrew Day explained that the referendum, which will be held on the same day as voting for Warwickshire’s police and crime commissioner, will cost £300,000 with the money coming from the council’s New Homes Bonus Scheme.