Council must “shout about” its successes to improve climate scorecard rating


Bedford Borough Council’s climate scorecard result was below average because it hadn’t “shouted about” all of its projects, a meeting heard.

The council’s Climate Change Committee (February 5) heard that Climate Emergency UK had assessed all UK councils on the actions they’ve taken between the start of 2019 until the end of March last year towards net zero.

This “scorecard” assessment consisted of up to 91 questions depending on council type, across seven different sections.

The methods used for this assessment included Freedom of Information requests, national data, online research on the council’s webpages, press releases and other publications.

Paul Pace, chief officer (environment) at the council, said: “This council scored 30 per cent against the average score of 36 per cent for single-tiered councils.

“A lot of the scoring was based around what’s gone into the public domain.

“So if we’ve done a lot of good work for implementing various different projects and we’ve kept that internal or have not gone out and promoted that then it doesn’t count.

“Because we hadn’t gone out and shouted about [the work we’ve done] as much as what Climate Emergency UK wanted, we lost some marks.

“To make sure we considerably improve our scores next time around we just need to make sure we publish more of our achievements on our website so they’re fully available to the public,” he said.

The Committee heard that Climate Emergency UK did give the council an opportunity to challenge the scores, but the campaigners didn’t take the council’s responses into account.

Claire Wilkinson, energy and water technical officer, said: “Some of the things that we did point out as being incorrect were still kept in the report.”

A spokesperson for Climate Emergency UK told the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS): “All information provided by councils during the Right of Reply process was taken into account as part of our scoring process.

“It is possible that while the council pursued efforts towards a certain area of action, our criteria was not met, and therefore no points were awarded for specific questions.”

Committee vice-chair, councillor Lucy Bywater (Green, Castle and Newnham) said: “Certainly, when I saw the score I was really disappointed, but I think in a way we shouldn’t be looking at the score as a sense of disappointment.

“We should be looking at this as a motivator, and I know you’ve explained, Paul, that some of it is the lack of publicising all the things and ticking those boxes.

“But at the end of the day we’re being compared broadly with other unitaries so we should be wanting to be near the top.

“We should see it as we’ve got to do better and we can learn from others, we can always learn from other councils can’t we?

“2025, that’s the next climate scorecard, isn’t it, so we’re going to be top of the league next time,” she said.

In their statement to the LDRS Climate Emergency UK added: “We would like to acknowledge Bedford Borough Council’s efforts in taking climate action, despite significant national barriers, particularly in Collaboration and Engagement where they achieved their highest score.”

by John Guinn
Local Democracy Reporter

Keep Local news Alive in Bedfordshire