ROTHERHAM’S cabinet member with responsibility for climate change efforts defended driving a diesel vehicle saying only the most well-off can go electric.
Cllr Denise Lelliott was asked by opposition member Cllr Simon Ball how she arrived at Magna for January’s full council meeting.
The cabinet member said: “I got here by car and I drive a diesel car.
“We do need electric vehicles and more sustainable transport but what we will find is that for these electric vehicles and charging points, it’s only the more well-off in society that can get them.
“The average wage here is, what, about £24,000 if you’re lucky. If you want to buy a good electric car, you are talking £30,000. Who’s got that as disposable income?
“I would call on central government to actually give us the funding and finances to help our most deprived communities to get there, because it will be the most deprived communities that will suffer most with the pollution. They have not got the affordability and means to get out of that.”
Cllr Ball had pointed out how little the electric charging points were used at one of the council’s main vehicle bases.
He said: “Every day, I drive past the Hellaby depot. There’s 15 electric charging points and they’re all filled by diesel vans. It breaks my heart.”
Cllr Lelliott said he would be welcome to attend the members’ working group on climate change.
“Come and join us,” she added. “Let’s lobby your government so we can get some of these things implemented as well.”
Cllr Ball said after that he would take up the offer \_ and would have “about a million” suggestions for improvements.
Giving a more general update, Cllr Lelliott told the Magna meeting: “In the last few months, work has started on developing Rotherham’s climate strategy as well as finalising the annual report that will be brought to cabinet in March.
“We have now got a dedicated data analyst to help us more accurately measure carbon emissions from day-to-day council business, which is a key part of delivering the climate change plan.”
RMBC’s baseline emissions have been calculated so future changes can be measured, Cllr Lelliott added.
Other recent developments have included energy efficiency changes at 217 homes on The Lanes, East Dene, environmentally-friendly concrete used in the new town centre canal barrier and the securing of £140,000 for tree planting in urban areas.
The council is looking for residents’ opinions on electric vehicles to help understand the need for improved charging infrastructure. Visit www.rotherham.gov.uk/consultations to take part.