Posted: Mon 18th Sep 2023

Council still maintain climate emergency despite ‘pausing’ seven carbon projects due to budget black hole

Wrexham.com for people living in or visiting the Wrexham area
This article is old - Published: Monday, Sep 18th, 2023

Seven carbon related projects have been “paused” as Wrexham Council look to cut £23.8m off their in year budgets.

We asked senior leadership at Wrexham Council if there was still a climate emergency after the carbon ‘service cut’ – as it was explained to councillors.

Cllr David A Bithell said, “Yes. We declared a climate emergency in Wrexham back in September 2019.”

We asked how the proposed service cut – or suspension – of projects match up with an emergency response.

Cllr Bithell said, “There were seven projects, £230,000 worth, that we paused. I can’t remember them all off hand but they were basically studies and surveys to enhance future work. There was nothing significant that was going to make a major impact now, it was all about planning for the future. So that’s all, we paused them until next financial year.”

We asked if that meant they would restart for certain next year, and was told it was ‘dependant on budget’, adding “Hopefully, if we’ve got the budget available, then we carry on with the seven projects next year”.

Council Leader Mark Pritchard pointed to the ongoing process to plug a £23.8m in-year black hold in the council’s budget, “We are not stopping them. We are pausing them, and then we will reconsider them. This isn’t just the carbon and the climate emergency, we are a pausing a lot of things because we’re stopping what we’re doing, and looking at our budgets. That makes sense.”

Last month we had asked for a list of projects, as we had been told the cut had been agreed, as had councillors. We were told that was not possible.

Cllr Bithell has since shared the list of the paused projects:

.

Although not detailed, we understand some of these projects were to look at helping work out the cost of a overall decarbonisation plan of Wrexham Council.

External funding could be sought to help reactive the projects next year, or some could even be scrapped totally.

The budget black hole may have come as a surprise to many, but lack of cash impacting the quest of zero emissions target by 2030 is not, as we reported back in March, Audit Wales said there was a “significant risk” that Wrexham Council will not meet the net zero emissions target by 2030 as the authority has not identified all the resources required to doso – including capital funding.

Significantly Audit Wales also explained they believed Wrexham Council’s services needed “…to undertake further work to develop the cost benefit and carbon impacts analysis of planned interventions” – part of which work appears to have come under these paused projects.

(Top pic: Climate change causing more extreme weather, New Broughton floods.)



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