Reading’s new Cleaner Air and Safer Transport Forum will call on organisations and individuals across the town to come together to help tackle the Climate Emergency.
Earlier this year Reading Borough Council joined other local authorities in declaring a climate change emergency, pledging to work with partners towards a carbon neutral Reading by 2030.
In response, a new Cleaner Air and Safer Transport Forum will focus its attention on a range of transport-related topics with a view to further reducing carbon emissions in Reading, improving local air quality and providing safe transport infrastructure. The Forum will hold its first meeting in the autumn and will shortly be writing to organisations across the town to contribute to the debate. Through partnership working the aim is to bring about positive changes to support the Council’s climate change agenda.
The Cleaner Air & Safer Transport Forum will focus on a range of transport based topic areas that discuss, review best practice and seek to recommend ways forward. Key topic areas will include:
- air pollution
- electric charging infrastructure
- education and school initiatives
- finalising Reading’s Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan
A meeting of Reading Borough Council’s Policy Committee on July 15th will be asked to approve the terms of reference and political make-up of the new Forum which will be chaired by Councillor Adele Barnett-Ward. The new forum will also incorporate the work of Reading’s long-established Cycle Forum. The full Policy Committee report can be found at https://democracy.reading.gov.uk/documents/s7749/Cleaner%20Air%20Safer%20Transport%20Forum.pdf
Tony Page, Reading’s Lead Member for Strategic Environment, Planning and Transport, said:
“Tackling air pollution by providing clean and sustainable transport alternatives is a central theme of the Council’s commitment to creating a ‘Zero Carbon’ Reading by 2030. Our track record is strong. We have provided quick and reliable bus routes, new Park and Ride facilities, new transport interchanges at Reading Station, new cycle routes and Christchurch Bridge, the new pedestrian and cycle bridge over the Thames. In Reading Buses, we also own one of the cleanest bus fleets in the UK and plans for a new railway station at Green Park are well developed.
“The Council, voluntary sector, local businesses and residents are now embarked on a comprehensive revision of Reading’s Climate Change Strategy. The new Forum will play its part in contributing to this important work and the updating of our 4th Local Transport Plan later this year.
“As we have said before however, this is not something any Council can achieve alone. We need more buy-in from schools, businesses and other organisations across the town and we will shortly be contacting groups across Reading asking them to play an active role in the Forum and its work.”
Councillor Adele Barnett Ward, Chair of Reading’s new Cleaner Air and Safer Transport Forum, said:
“The new Cleaner Air and Safer Transport Forum will provide a focus for the Council’s work in this area and a public platform so local stakeholder groups and organisations can engage directly with the Council in planning for a cleaner and more sustainable Reading.
“The Council recently met its own target to cut carbon emissions by 50% three years early, helping to achieve the borough wide reduction of 41%. That puts it in the top 20 local authorities in Britain for progress but we will need to accelerate that improvement even more if we are to achieve a carbon neutral Reading in just 10 years’ time. This means getting as many groups to the table as quickly as possible to plan a way forward.
“There’s a lot of enthusiasm and knowledge in our town and I’m confident that if we work together we can hit that ambitious 2030 target.”
The Council’s recently updated Corporate Plan includes ‘Keeping Reading’s environment clean, green and safe’ as one of its main objectives. And to ensure a ‘golden thread’ of helping to tackle the climate change emergency runs through all areas of the Council’s work, changes have been made to the Council’s constitution which all standing committees on Reading Borough Council are being asked to sign up to. This means future Council committee reports would include a section on environmental implications and mitigations.
Notes to Editor:
At the Council Full Council on 26 February 2019 (Minute 48 refers), the Council resolved:
‘Reading Borough Council (RBC) believes the world is now clearly in the midst of a climate emergency and that more concerted and urgent action is needed at local, national and international level to protect our planet for future generations. As such, this Council commits to playing as full a role as possible – leading by example as well as by exhortation – in achieving a carbon neutral Reading by 2030.’