Present: Luke Osborne (Chair) Emma Powell (Minutes) Nikki Saunders Robert Baillie Rob Lillis Malcolm Karmy Tim Copsey Stephen Geary Salvo Mark Runchman Dave Oliver Catherine Thornton Cllr Russ Savage Cllr Michael Dixon Cllr James Cutler Cllr Andy Thornton Cllr Jacqui Thornton Cllr Sharon Ainsley Apologies Apologies for absence were received from Sue McKay, Joan, Jo Wylde, Sam Lofts, Eileen, Billy Brew, Harriet Marks, Pat Roberts, Ray, Cllr Tom Skipp, Cllr Clive Walters
1. Introductions Each member briefly introduced themselves and their interest with climate change/the group. Those on the steering group identified themselves.
2. Feedback on the Eco Fare held in September Nikki reported on the Eco Fair, having written a report which she read out. The Fair was a great success and team effort. Emma communicated well with stallholders before the event. Several short planning meetings beforehand meant we were well prepared for the day, helping it to run smoothly. There were 23 stalls and activities at the event and a steady stream of visitors. 55 feedback forms were collected by Pat giving us a great insight into what local residents felt about the climate crisis. Plant Faced provided refreshments which were enjoyed by all. From Essex County Council, we had Julia-Marie Apostoiu provide information for schools and families. Unfortunately, Climate Tsar Peter Siegel was unable to attend. Ray’s plant stall raised money for the group. The event cost approximately £200 for the hall hire, insurance, posters and banners.
3. Banking Arrangements and Fund Raising Sue and Nikki have set up a bank account for the group and will be the two signatories. The bank account is with Lloyds. Nikki shared the great news that she has secured a £500 grant from the Waitrose Community Fund for the group which will help cover the costs of the fair and future projects. She is looking into other grants the group can apply for including with ECC. Cllr Jacqui Thornton asked about the structure of the group. Emma explained how membership worked – anyone who is on the facebook group/mailing list is considered a ‘member’. However, the ‘steering group’ sits within this and has separate meetings and a separate mailing list. Anyone can join, apart from councilors, by contacting the email address. It was also noted that now we have a bank account, roles would formally need to be assigned. Action: For our AGM, roles would need to be decided such as Secretary, Treasurer etc and added to the constitution, which will also be reviewed.
4. Administration and "Revamping" of Website Malcolm has recently taken on the role as facilitator of the website. He has currently updated the work Luke started and completed a site map, which he shared with attendees. He talked about updating information including a page on tips on how you can save energy given the current energy crisis. Malcolm has asked that everyone review the website and share any ideas with him, content to be added, blog pages etc by contacting the group email address. Luke mentioned that we can upgrade the website to the next tier of options and now we have a bank account, add a donation function, for example. Malcolm expressed his concern that the website fit the group’s constitution ethos of being non-party political but suggested a ‘blog’ page could be used where opinions could be freely expressed and discussions had about key topics. Salvo mentioned concerns with links to other groups and organisations and that they may not wish for them to be there. Malcolm said that if that were the case, they would be taken down. Action: Luke will support Malcolm with a set up whereby he can receive notifications when people contact the group via the ‘contact us’ page so that he can make adjustments. Action: Luke to review the cost of upgrading the website. Action: Cllr Russ Savage requested being in contact with the steering group mailing list. Emma will follow this up with Sue.
5. Administration of Face Book Emma expressed concern about lots of admins on the group and that she is happy to take a lead on this with support from others so that it can be moderated well. Unfortunately as not all current admins were present, it was not agreed on who could support Emma in the role but it was agreed she would continue as the main admin. Stephen talked about using Instagram more. Emma explained she tried her best but as the account is linked to other accounts she owns, she cannot share access with other members. Catherine suggested setting up a separate business page to solve this dilemma. Stephen also raised the issue of the facebook group being ‘private’. However, Emma explained that facebook will not let her change the settings to ‘public’ and that she would have to create a new group in order to do this. Catherine suggested a separate ‘facebook page’ be created whereby key information can be easily shared. Action: Emma to look into creating a new Instagram account and facebook page for the group.
6. Proposed "Info Only" WhatsApp Group Emma explained the previously discussed idea of having a whatsapp group to share information only, rather than as a discussion group. This would enable members to see key information about events incase they missed it on facebook. However she expressed concern about GDPR and phone numbers being easily seen and known. Catherine suggested looking into a whatsapp bulletin whereby information can be shared without other members seeing to who it is being shared with. Stephen felt the idea would only be doing what facebook and Instagram already does. Cllr Andy Thornton felt that the website should be the ‘go to’ place for key information and the group uses social media as a platform to direct people there.
7. Update on Castle Point Council's Carbon Reduction Forum Emma shared an update on reinstating this group, based on a meeting Sue and herself attended at the council offices earlier that week. Cllr Russ Savage was able to contribute key information, having also been present at the meeting and Climate Change being identified as his ‘remit’. To summarise, Emma highlighted how the councilors and council officer present were keen to start the forum up again and would be in contact when this would be. Cllr Jacqui Thornton requested that she continue to be involved in the forum alongside Emma, Sue and Luke. It was agreed that communication between the group, the council and general public was vital including revamping the council website so that key information such as the Climate Action Plan was easily accessible. Cllr Russ Savage shared how the updates to the council website are coming soon. Emma also talked about her concern on a climate emergency not being declared. Catherine asked what this meant and Nikki explained how several councils in Essex had done this and it meant climate change was seen as a priority. Several attendees expressed their views with agreeing that the declaration was important, whilst others expressed a concern that the words alone were not enough and a robust plan was needed to support this and was more important. Rob Lillis declared that he has put forward a proposal to the council that a climate emergency be declared. This has been added to the agenda of the next council meeting on 29th November. He also called for action that the group should have the ‘climate emergency declaration’ on its agenda every meeting.
8. Report on Climate Education in Local Schools Emma reported and summarised on the work she does in the education sector as well as developments in terms of climate change. She talked about the DfE’s new strategy on climate change and sustainability within the education sector, highlighting how it is focused on nature and outdoor learning. She mentioned that each school will need to have ‘Sustainability Lead’ and that the document outlines plans for the next 5 years linked to how schools are operated, education changes etc. Luke asked if there was anything about green careers and Emma said it was a key section of the document, highlighting how these skills would be developed and training initiatives funded within the higher education sector. Emma also talked about her work with local schools through the Eco Education group and newsletter and the UK School’s Sustainability Network Group. She explained how she has created a separate group for Essex and is the regional network lead for the group, with several primary schools and one secondary signed up. She is keen to get as many local schools joined up as possible and asked that any useful contacts be passed onto her. Rob Baillie suggested a local competition such as for children to take photos. Catherine agreed this was a great idea and that the local libraries would love to be involved. Action: A separate working party should be formed to plan for this event. Cllr Sharon Ainsley mentioned the Field Studies Council as a great resource for schools and Emma said she would have a look as it was a great idea.
9. Any Other Business Cllr Jacqui Thornton talked about the involvement of local businesses and ensuring they received relevant grants. Luke also talked about what could be on offer and Cllr Michael Dixon shared his involvement with local businesses. He suggested that it would be ideal to invite some to future meetings and he would share this information. Cllr Andy Thornton talked about involving local businesses in branding and associating CPCAG with this. It was agreed that certain criteria would need to be agreed so that this was not ‘greenwashing’. Cllr Jacqui Thornton also suggested perhaps that there should be an award for green businesses, for example, with the annual Mayor’s Award. Action: Jacqui to email her suggestion. Action: A working party to be formed to discuss and implement this idea. Dave was concerned about the lack of EV charges in Castle Point. Cllr Jacqui Thornton said this was on the Climate Action Plan. Dave was also concerned about the reduction in the number 21 bus service. Emma agreed she was also concerned but had been informed that Cllr Steven Cole was working with First Bus to improve services. Luke shared information on solar panels and building regulations and that this would be mandatory from 21st April this year. Cllr Sharon Ainsley expressed a concern about the content of solar panels and it was discussed that it should be included in council policy that any solar panels used adhered to certain standards. In addition, a preference was shared for having green roofs in Castle Point, for example, on bus stops and this project was already underway. Luke also shared that he would be able to run business workshops on any other new initiatives. Salvo expressed a concern about insulating his home. Luke and Cllr Jacqui Thornton talked about the council funding which was secured for Kings Park for insulation and that this should be pushed so that a similar project can take place on the mainland using the Home Upgrade Grant. Action: Cllr Jacqui Thornton to follow up and persue this. Nikki shared the news that St Michael’s Church who would normally have a bluebell day in April were hoping to have a similar environmentally themed event this year and if the group would like to be involved. Emma suggested that as it was World Earth Day on 22nd April, this date would be ideal. It was agreed we would be involved and Stephen agreed Plant Faced could provide refreshments. Cllr Sharon Ainsley suggested some activity ideas for children and Nikki agreed we would have scope for lots of things like this at the event. Action: Set up a working party to plan and organise the event.