5.1 The Chair invited the to present on Communications and Engagement, introducing the Junior Account Manager whose role is to support Front Line Services communications.
5.2 The Chair noted that the recruitment process to replace the Climate Engagement Officer is being taken forward.
5.3 The and the Junior Account Manager presented on communications and engagement undertaken over the last three months and upcoming plans.
5.4 A member of the group asked if there will be climate emergency messaging within the information that goes out with Council tax bills this year and noted that the Council should be communicating any plans it was developing around the national No Mow May initiative aimed at residents own gardens and green spaces.
5.5 The group also highlighted the national Plant Based Treaty campaign, that elected members have been receiving several emails on, noting that Haywards Heath Town Council have pledged to this treaty and asking if we are aware of any other Council’s that have signed up and what communications have been made around this.
5.6 The Chair noted in relation to ‘No Mow May’ that the Council’s position is to have the right approach to maintaining grasslands throughout the whole year and noted how the ‘No Mow May’ approach led to problems with cutting immediately afterwards. With regard to the Plant Based Treaty, the line being taken in Council communications is on the choices available, avoiding dictating but helping ensure people are fully informed.
5.7 The noted that the Medway Food Partnership, and the Climate Change subgroup which sits beneath this, has had correspondence on the Plant Based Treaty. The subgroup’s current focus is on the ‘Every Mouthful Counts’ toolkit produced for local authorities which helps identify where big emission savings can be made through food and supporting the Council’s application to the Sustainable Food Places award. The will investigate if other districts have signed up to the Plant Based Treaty or if any are planning to do so but noted that Medway is not currently planning to sign up, with the subgroup focusing on taking a strategic approach around food systems.
5.8 A member of the group noted a different view on No Mow May. The group asked if the Medway Food Partnership subgroup work, and recommendation on Plant Based Treaty, could be shared with elected members.
ACTION: to investigate other districts that have signed up to the Plant based treaty and share findings with elected members.
ACTION: Climate Response Officer to co-ordinate a written update on the Medway Food Partnership subgroup work.
5.9 In relation to an earlier comment, the Assistant Director of Frontline Services confirmed that information on waste, recycling and climate response is included with the upcoming council tax letter. The Chief Information Officer also noted the recent introduction of an e-billing option for Council Tax and how envelopes will have messaging about this to encourage residents to sign up. The noted that the information brochure sent out with the Council Tax letter will also be available online.
5.10 The group noted that it was good to hear of the links with Nesta on the Strategy Room due to their very good environmental and social responsibility sides. On the Plant Based Treaty, it was noted that this goes to the heart of the farming community and how Medway has a big farming community that should be involved, kept in the discussion, and better addressed in the action plan. The Chair asked that this is included in the next review of the action plan.
ACTION: The ensure that farming and farmland is addressed in the next review of the action plan.