Labour Councillors vote down £13m solar investment and £450k hardship fund

At a meeting on February 16, Labour City Councillors voted down proposals for £13m worth of investment in solar energy and a £450,000 hardship relief fund. The proposals, from the Green Party group of Councillors, would have amended the City Council’s proposed budget.

The Greens’ amendment to the Labour administration’s budget would have seen a tranche of £13m of investment in commercial property replaced with direct investment in renewable energy. It also would have established a £450,000 hardship relief fund to mitigate against the impact of the pandemic and the cost of living crisis.

According to the Greens, this fund would allow the Council to flexibly respond to the needs of Oxford’s residents and provide a vital lifeline for those who are struggling financially. The hardship fund would be financed by increasing fees on park and ride in line with inflation.

Leader of the Green Group Chris Jarvis said, 

“It is deeply disappointing to see Labour Councillors vote down proposals in this budget that would have helped tackle the climate emergency and mitigate against the impact of the cost of living crisis and the pandemic.

 “Now, the Council will be speculatively investing in commercial property, which has little benefit to the residents of Oxford, and not offering a safety net to those who need it most.

“This budget is a missed opportunity – and it’s both people and our planet that will bear the cost.” 

In addition to investment in solar energy and introducing a hardship relief fund, the Greens’ budget amendment would have made a number of other changes to the Council budget. These included:

  • Reversing the planned cut to the Council’s out of hours noise service
  • Introducing a biodiversity officer to handle new planning regulations requiring ‘biodiversity net gain’ in planning applications
  • Stopping an increase in the garden waste bins concessionary rate