Chichester District Council ‘needs to light the touch paper’ on the drive to eliminating single-use plastics, according to one councillor.
A motion was submitted by Adrian Moss (LDem, Fishbourne) asking the council to commit to phasing out single-use plastics from its premises within two years, supporting Surfers Against Sewage in its goal to have a plastic-free coastline, exploring how the authority can work with environmental groups and businesses on the issue, and setting up a task and finish group to oversee how these objectives can be achieved.
However a counter motion by John Connor, cabinet member for environment services, was passed instead by 26 votes to 13 on Tuesday.
His motion committed the council to continuing to work to remove single-use plastics from council premises and encourage plastics free initiatives across the district, continuing its support for anti-pollution groups and tasking officers with preparing a report on the issues for October’s cabinet meeting.
Mr Moss argued his motion was the one which ‘most suitably reflects what we should be doing’ and suggested the one put forward by the Tories did not have the same ‘tightness’.
However he suggested ordinary people would be the ones to drive out single-use plastics.
He said: “We just need to light the touch paper.”
Mr Moss added: “Our council must be seen to be a leader by phasing out our use of single-use plastic here.
“This will send a signal to other organisations and businesses in our district that we put the environment at the forefront of our thinking.”
Mr Connor (Con, Selsey North) said that everyone could welcome the broad objectives behind Mr Moss’ motion, but added: “You will all I know be pleased to learn that the council has for some time been seeking to reduce and as far as possible eliminate the use of single-use plastics at its premises.
“With considerable success, as they are now almost entirely free of these materials.”
Tony Dignum (Con, Chichester North), leader of the council, added: “I am seconding councillor Connor’s motion because I want to deal with plastic, initially single-use plastic.
“But to achieve results I also want to make sure this council has a practical programme to tackle plastic along the lines outlined by councillor Connor.”
Tricia Tull (Con, Sidlesham) suggested plastic was too convenient for keeping items such as fruit fresh and transporting them and research needed to be undertaken to find viable alternatives.
Andrew Shaxson (Ind, Harting) suggested the Tories’ counter-motion was ‘vague’ with not enough timescales.
Kate O’Kelly (LDem, Rogate) agreed as she felt the Tories had ‘watered down’ the original motion.
She explained: “The timescale gives us focus and will sharpen our resolve.”
Richard Plowman (LDem, Chichester East) felt they should stick with the original motion.
He said: “It should be us taking the lead as opposed to all the wonderful work that is already going on.”
Jonathan Brown (LDem, Southbourne) argued the motion was not just about CDC reducing its use of plastics, but also about joining a national movement.
At the end of the debate Mr Connor responded to suggestions by agreeing to add an October timescale for the production of a cabinet report to his motion.
He added: “I would encourage members to engage in the process with ideas and suggestions.”