Posted: Wed 23rd Jun 2021

Council’s Extraordinary meeting set for three motions – including call on pension fund to rapidly move away from carbon fuel investments for people living in or visiting the Wrexham area
This article is old - Published: Wednesday, Jun 23rd, 2021

A cross party group of councillors have urged Wrexham Council to call “upon their regional Pension Fund bodies to seek rapid disinvestment in companies that produce carbon emitting fuels.”

The motion, which has been signed by members of the Labour, Plaid Cymru and Liberal Democrat councillors, will be debated at an Extraordinary General Meeting of Wrexham Council this afternoon. This is one of three motions set to go before the EGM, with many councillors unhappy that the motions had not been heard at a recent previous meeting (with previous issues on motions also surfacing recently).

The precise wording of the disinvestment motion has caused issues that came to a head with the Deputy Leader of the Council Cllr David A Bithell requesting clarification from the legal officer last week if it was a “legally submitted motion”, explaining “my understanding is that we can not mandate members and therefore this motion is invalid.”

The Labour group leader Cllr Dana Davies clarified internally to councillors: “…that we intend to make an amendment to remove ‘mandate’ and replace with ‘call upon’ “, pointing out that the planned change had been made known prior to last months Annual General Meeting – a position the legal officer confirmed.

In 2019 the local authority declared a climate emergency, becoming one of the first Councils in Wales to do so.

However the cross party group of councillors have called on the council to go further and will request the council call on its Clwyd Pension Fund representative(s) to press for the rapid disinvestment in carbon fuel companies at every available opportunity.

The motion reads (prior to the in meeting amendment as detailed above) :-

“On 25th September 2019 Wrexham County Borough Councillors unanimously declared a Climate Emergency, recognising that climate change posed the most serious threat to the future well being of the citizens of Wrexham, becoming one of the first Councils in Wales to do so.

“Despite already achieving substantial and often ground breaking progress in areas such as the deployment of solar panels and recycling, the Council remains strongly committed to continuing to reduce carbon emissions as rapidly as possible.

“To this end, Wrexham Council today joins with other Councils in Wales calling upon their regional Pension Fund bodies to seek rapid disinvestment in companies that produce carbon emitting fuels, believing that the current policy of “engagement” is an unrealistic way of producing the sort of rapid change that the climate emergency demands.

“In particular, given the very long history of carbon fuel companies investing huge sums of their money to distort and deny climate change evidence, the likelihood of persuading them to go against their narrow financial interests seems remote.

“To this end the Council shall:-
i) Mandate its Clwyd Pension Fund representative(s) to press for the rapid disinvestment in carbon fuel companies at every available opportunity.
ii) Seek to join with other Councils and public bodies in Wales in achieving unanimity across the country in the campaign for rapid disinvestment by our pension fund holders in carbon emitting fuel companies
iii) Encourage the citizens of Wrexham, wherever possible, to use their influence with their pension providers to follow a similar course of action.

“Wrexham County Borough Councillors are committed to doing all we can to pass on to our children, grandchildren and current and future residents of Wrexham, the best, sustainable environment we can together achieve.”

TCC (Trefnu Cymunedol Cymru/Together Creating Communities), an alliance of 43 community groups, faith groups and schools, is asking Wrexham County Borough Council to support the motion.

The Clwyd Pension Fund holds the pensions of employees Wrexham Council, Flintshire Council, Denbighshire Council, Coleg Cambria, Glyndŵr University, various town and community councils, and several other organisations.

Karen Marie Anderson, from TCC member group Wrexham Quakers said: “As a person who has worked for Wrexham Council and paid into the pension fund for many years, I was shocked to find out that my money is being invested in the fossil fuel industry without my knowledge.

It’s distressing to think that both my pension subs and parts of my council tax are contributing to an industry which causes environmental damage as well as having a negative effect on the climate.”

Elsewhere, Monmouthshire, Cardiff, Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Powys councils have already voted to divest their pension funds from fossil fuels, as have the Welsh Senedd Members.

Another motion is looking to delay the demolition of Centre 67, and the other motion set to be discussed today is one that simply reads, “That in future it should be mandatory and obligatory for anyone in employment by the council to inform the local member of any decision likely to be taken that would have a severe impact on the said councillors constituents and ward, before that decision is taken” as tabled by Cllr Edwards.

The motions will be discussed at an Extraordinary General Meeting of Wrexham Council at 4pm this afternoon. The meeting will be webcast live on the local authority’s website.

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