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May 01, 2008

Policy on the Hoof

This story was told in a story circle at the Learning History workshop in February 2008. It tells of how, by gathering key politicians into a facilitated workshop setting, a group were able to get comitted buy-in to ambitious targets for carbon reduction. The process normally would have taken several months.

Chapter 3: Policy on the Hoof - Shortcutting bureaucracy to meet climate targets

I suppose this is an example of the policy on the hoof; At my Local Authority, I have dipped in and out of the community funding offices: so I deal with the funding as well as the council. So, we are putting on a new wing to the museum. We got Heritage Lottery money. A ground source heat pump and all the environmental stuff is going into the new wing. We have got new offices, green roofs, Biomass boiler, got the DEFRA grant last year to help with that. We are tinkering around the edges. A new depot. We have had a climate-change working plan because we have a climate-change group made up with officers from various departments within the Borough council.

We started off with a green cleaning contract and got all that going. Procurement, everything down to having pool bikes, pool cars and all that kind of stuff. So we have kind of tinkered around, done little projects, raised the awareness; it was all led by Jim who I have replaced today. But it was going to the next step and this highlights it. We had made the application for Beacon town status. We got it good, but they felt that we could do more and they recommended we went for our 14,001 accreditation that we had to have higher targets and aspirations. And all this kind of stuff came out.

So we went away and thought about it. And Jim’s great into facilitation. He would have loved it here today with all the flipcharts and stuff. So we had a workshop with the Leader of the council. She is really up for it, taking it onboard and is leading the climate-change program. We had the environmental cabinet leader as well; we had a couple of people from environmental services and a lady whose name escapes me to look at climate-change issues.

And we started out from….. the environmental guy in the cabinet is super green …he was skeptical saying “ahh, if we set targets it’ll never happen and we will get exasperated and the rest of it” but by the end of the workshop we were going for the London target of 60% reduction of 1990 by 2025! Then they said right, put that into cabinet papers for Wednesday. What?!! and Jim got it all written up, whacked it in there within 3 days it got accepted and to that and go for the 14001 - get an officer dedicated to doing that. That is still only 6 months and it goes back to management team which it should have gone through the first place!!!! And they said “you only have 6 months”, y’know, looking at the purse strings.

It was really interesting, normally that would take us 2 or 3 months. Rough report, back and forth between directors and so forth; but because we got the politicians into a workshop, facilitated it, we had a couple of hours, nice and relaxed, roll the sleeves up kind of thing….. It was making policy on the hoof which seems to have an impact. So, hopefully that is going to lead to a more aspirational targets and we now have to come up with an action plan behind it which would be interesting, more interesting than money I think.

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