Liverpool’s Climate Change Challenge: “ I’m looking forward to working with many colleagues to…

Just over two months ago I was asked by the Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, if I would take on the newly created ‘Environment and Sustainability’ portfolio in Liverpool City Council’s Cabinet.

Liverpool was about to declare a ‘Climate Emergency’ (on 17 July) and Mayor Anderson had created the new post in the cabinet to demonstrate the administration’s commitment to this agenda.

I have been a councillor for over eight years, with experience on the Merseyside Recycling and Waste Authority (MRWA), and on a personal level, am hugely enthusiastic about recycling and waste reduction, wildflower meadows and community food growing.

This position is a fabulous opportunity and my own priorities for action are:

  • transport and air quality
  • waste reduction
  • the natural environment.

All three are areas that the council is making and can continue to make an impact on — either directly or indirectly using our ‘soft powers’ of persuasion with key stakeholders and partners to make a real difference.

On the air quality front, the council is building up a huge bank of data by monitoring right across the city. This will inform whether we can meet EU targets or if we need to introduce Clean Air Zones. This will be a big topic of debate over the coming 12 months.

In terms of physically making a difference to our landscape, I’m greatly encouraged by the numerous greening projects across the city such as our EU-funded ‘Urban Green-Up’ — including the 50 meter living green wall recently announced for St John’s Shopping Centre.

Something which is fundamental to this whole journey is how we engage with our children — to live healthier, active and greener lives. I am working across council departments and with external partners (Sustrans, Living Streets) to encourage all our children to walk to school; finding funding and setting up systems to support councillor colleagues to plant wildflower meadows across the city and working with Mersey Forest on planting trees; liaising with colleagues at the Combined Authority, and at the MRWA, and with colleagues across other Merseyside local authorities. Climate change does not recognise local authority boundaries!

From a city council perspective, as an organisation, I’m personally proud of our enthusiastic volunteer ‘Green Champions’ who are working to promote the sustainability agenda with staff colleagues across all the council’s departments. I have been to visit fascinating green spaces in other wards with some of my councillor colleagues: by the shores of the Mersey in Mossley Hill; a hidden semi-jungle in Knotty Ash! We have the excitement of Calderstone’s Park’s one thousand year-old “Allerton Oak” making the shortlist of the Woodland Trust’s ‘Tree of the Year’ contest, and the attendant media interest with strangers stopping me in the street to discuss the news! Please don’t forget to vote.

Some things can be resolved quickly once raised. Well done to the Liverpool Town Hall staff who recently replaced single-use plastic water cups with more durable ones that can be washed and re-used when asked to change this.

Much of this work will, by its very nature, be more longer-term, such as how we travel to work and the choices we make.

My role on environment and sustainability is wide ranging and I’m looking forward to working with many colleagues to find solutions to these many challenges. Like our football clubs — we work better together as a team.

I hope you can get involved. Changing the way Liverpool City Council does things is not enough — we all have to change the way we live, eat and travel if we are to preserve our planet for future generations.

Cllr Laura Robertson-Collins

Cabinet Member for Environment & Sustainability

Liverpool City Council

Liverpool Waterfront