Below is the text of three motions recently submitted by the Labour Group for consideration of the Full Council. Unfortunately, we have not yet been able to debate these motions but they are scheduled to now come to Full Council in June, where the Labour Group will be speaking in support of all three. The three motions submitted by the Labour Group are as follows:
Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Motion
Climate change is threatening hundreds of millions of lives, livelihoods across every continent and is putting thousands of species at risk. The burning of fossil fuels – coal, oil, and gas – is by far the major contributor to climate change and is responsible for almost 80% of carbon dioxide emissions since the industrial revolution. In addition to being the leading source of emissions, there are local pollution, environmental and health costs associated with extracting, refining, transporting and
burning fossil fuels.
These costs are often paid by Indigenous peoples of the Global South as well as marginalised communities here in the UK. Hastings is one of the most deprived towns in the country, residents are forced to spend an ever-increasing proportion of their income meeting the exponentially rising costs of energy. Standards of living and health are directly impacted. It is not sustainable to continue to extract and globally transport fossil fuels when genuinely sustainable methods of production may exist locally to meet demand.
Globally, egregious industry practices have led to human rights violations and a fossil fuel system that has left billions of people across the globe without sufficient energy to lead lives of dignity.
Failure to meet the ultimate goal of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement (to limit global warming to 1.5°C) risks pushing the world towards catastrophic global warming.
Yet, the Paris Agreement has no mention of oil, gas or coal and the much anticipated COP26 deal was disappointingly weak. Meanwhile, the fossil fuel industry continues to plan new projects. Banks continue to fund new projects. Closer to home, despite calls from the Labour-led Hastings Borough Council since 2016, East Sussex Pension Funds continue to invest in fossil fuels.
According to the most recent United Nations Environment Programme report, 120% more coal, oil, and gas will be produced by 2030 than is consistent with limiting warming to 1.5°C. Efforts to meet the Paris Agreement and to reduce demand for fossil fuels will be undermined if supply continues to
The solution is clear: fossil fuels must be kept in the ground. We therefore agree:
1. To endorse the call for a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty (https://fossilfueltreaty.org).
That is, for world leaders to work together in a spirit of international cooperation to:
• End new expansion of oil, gas and coal production in line with the best available science as outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and United Nations Environment Programme;
• Phase out existing production of oil, gas and coal in a manner that is fair and equitable, taking into account the responsibilities of countries for climate change and their respective dependency on fossil fuels, and capacity to transition;
• Invest in a transformational plan to ensure 100% access to renewable energy globally, support dependent economies to diversify away from fossil fuels, and enable people and communities across the globe to flourish through a global just transition.
2. To write to Rother District Council, Wealden District Council, Lewes District Council, Eastbourne Borough Council, East Sussex County Council and the East Sussex Pension Fund, communicating this decision to them and urging them to pass similar motions of their own.
3. To continue to call on East Sussex County Council to commit to divesting the East Sussex Pension Fund from fossil fuels.
Southern Water Motion
Following the appalling sewage leak at Bulverhythe last summer, our residents have been rightly calling for action to ensure that this doesn’t happen again. Since then, Hastings BC has been working
to hold Southern Water to account.
This Council now calls for:
* Southern Water to be returned into public ownership
* Regular meetings with Southern Water at the highest level to hear current plans to improve both the sewage system and clean water supply for everyone, everywhere, in Hastings
* Further letters to be sent to both our MP and Government expressing severe reservations about the performance of Southern Water
* Stronger action from the Environment Agency, Ofwat and the Consumer Council for water to enforce sea water and domestic water supply standards in Hastings
* Residents of Hastings to continue to report concerns about water on the Hastings Borough Council website
Housing Crisis Motion
This Council on behalf of the residents of Hastings, agrees to declare a housing emergency.
With rents soaring out of control, thousands of families are left buried in debt and under the threat of losing their
home. Many remain stuck on the Council housing list with little or no chance of an affordable secure home. The problem is made worse by a huge increase in the use of section 21 notices to secure ‘no fault evictions’ of tenants, destroying family homes as
landlords look to take advantage of unprecedented price rises and sell up.
The Hastings Local Housing Allowance (which determines the maximum level of Housing Benefit that can be paid) now is at least 40% below the market value of most rented properties, once again driving families in to debt, with rent arrears blocking them from seeking another home when they’re evicted. The government has just announced that LHA rates are to be frozen for another year, while the rents tenants have to pay continue to escalate with no controls on the level of rents landlords can charge.
The shortage of genuinely affordable rented homes is causing a long-term problem too. But significant numbers of empty homes and unidentified housing sites, particularly brownfield sites, remaining undeveloped, ‘land banked’ by property speculators who prefer to wait for local housing values to increase still further. Councils can do little about this, as they lack the cost-neutral CPO powers to bring empty homes and land-banked land back into use for genuinely affordable social rented housing.
Like many tourist towns, residential homes in Hastings are also being stripped out of the rental market through the increase in homes being used as holiday lets and being bought for second homes. We recognise that holiday cottages for short-term lets are an important part of the tourist economy. However, second homes remain empty for most of the year, and are of little local value, as well as depriving local people of a potential home to live in. Councils need powers to control the proliferation of holiday homes, and to discourage people from using properties as second homes.
All these factors have led to a huge escalation in homelessness, with hundreds of millions of pounds wasted each year across the country providing unsatisfactory temporary accommodation, when it should be spent on building affordable homes and paying realistic levels of housing benefit.
All these factors combine to precipitate a real housing crisis. We are only at the very start of this perfect storm which will condemn current and future generations of Hastings residents to insecure, unaffordable and substandard hosing. A safe, secure and affordable home is a basic human right.
In recognition of the above, this Council:
1. calls on the Leader of Hastings Council and encourages the Conservative opposition leader to join him to write to the Hastings and Rye MP and the Secretary of state for Department for Levelling Up,
Communities and Housing Michael Gove demanding that he:
- abolish section 21 notices;
- reverse the decision to freeze LHA and increase it so it reflects the true level of private sector rents.
- allows Councils to charge up to 300% Council tax on second homes;
- introduces a separate planning use class for holiday let properties, so the council can control the proliferation of holiday homes through the development control process;
- reinstates the fair rent review system to cap housing rents at a realistic level;
- grants councils ‘cost neutral’ compulsory purchase powers that allow them to deduct costs from compensation paid for the compulsory purchase of long-term empty homes and land-banked land;
- fully funds councils to initiate a social rented house-building programme to finally produce the number of ‘council’ homes our town desperately needs.
2. Ask the Leader of the Council to write to Marie Lorimer, the UK Public Policy Manager at AirBnb to request a meeting, and seek to proactively introduce a 90 day annual limit for entire home rentals in Hastings within the AirBnb platform. AirBnb currently has a lock on their
platform that does not allow Greater London entire home properties to be rented out for more than 90 days a year.