Lewisham Greens propose "Green New Deal" for the Borough [Updated]

Lewisham's Green Party Councillors are currently promoting their ideas for the upcoming budget. They write:

"On 2nd March, Lewisham Council meets to consider its budget for the next municipal year. Labour is proposing a business mostly as usual budget, with a number of cuts to services, and a 2.5% council tax increase... Greens have proposed a detailed amendment to the budget, reversing a swathe of the most damaging cuts to services, while proposing a package of investment to to fight recession and climate change together, while creating skilled local jobs. For further details, see here."

The big idea is helping thousands of people across the borough insulate their homes and finding an energy company partner prepared to provide match-funding as part of the work they are required to do under the government's Carbon Emissions Reduction Target rules.

They add:

"The plan would pay for free loft, cavity wall or boiler insulation in 25,700 private homes across Lewisham. That means all private homes in Lewisham which need insulation - but which do not qualify for free help under schemes for the elderly and those on benefits - would get it free of charge."

As a flagship policy, it seems pretty smart. There's a whole host of other ideas here, most of which involve preventing or reversing cuts - we hope one of our regular Green contributors will explain what will have to be sacrificed in order to do all this and balance the budget.

The term new deal suggests this budget would provide some kind of localised economic stimulus to "fight recession", which is a bit of a grandiose statement for a balanced budget from a local Council. The Greens also claim that Council Tax is regressive, which it isn't. It's a progressive tax on wealth, rather than income. Both wealth and income contribute to a person's standard of living and income is already taxed. Someone living alone in a massive house is also likely to generate a much larger CO2 per capita footprint than a family of four living in a small house, so you'd think Greens would be happy for some of the burden to fall on wealth, rather than people's salaries.

Still, these quibbles aside, it's interesting to read some specific proposals and the Greens go to far greater lengths than any other party in Lewisham to communicate their ideas. Even if you don't agree with them, they deserve credit for taking local politics so seriously.

[Updated] The Lib Dems alternative is to freeze Council Tax at current levels. Their rather brief rationale is:

"Times are tough for people in Lewisham at the moment, and the Council needs to play its part in making life easier for residents in the Borough. The Lib Dems are proposing a 0% council tax freeze in Lewisham this year, as opposed to Labour's 2.5% hike."