THE Forest Council’s new Green administration says it will pull the authority’s investments in the oil industry.
The Cabinet member responsible for finance, Cllr Andy Moore (Newnham), says it is the “minimum expectation” of voters who made the Greens the single largest party on the council at the May elections.
The move was revealed in an answer to a public question from Richard Leppington, who was Cllr Moore’s predecessor as Cabinet member for finance before he stepped down from the council at the election.
Mr Leppington, of Bream, asked two questions about the finances of the school including whether Cllr Moore “welcome(s) our investment in the oil industry.
In reply, Cllr Moore said: “In terms of maintaining our current investments, it is this Cabinet’s intention to divest from investments in the oil industry and Cabinet will be reviewing all investments in the near future.
“We plan to meet with our investment advisers to discuss the whole portfolio.
The council declared a climate emergency in 2018.
“Lamentably, the planet’s life support systems and biodiversity have manifestly deteriorated at least as fast as was predicted then
“We need to show how serious this council is about the climate emergency.
“That is what residents voted for and so controlled divestment of the council’s oil-related assets is surely a minimum expectation?
“Our investments must be attuned to the well-being of the Earth and myriad life forms.
“This is a policy line this Cabinet will be following and developing.
“We debated these issues a number of times when you were Cabinet member.”
Mr Leppington congratulated the council’s finance team for maintaining reserves at more than £2 million and asked Cllr Moore if he could “assure taxpayers he will maintain reserves at this level.”
Cllr Moore said: “I would agree this council is in a good position in terms of our budget deficit reserve and working balance.
“However there are still gaps in the medium term financial strategy which these reserves may need to be used.
“I would also like to thank the chief finance and finance team for their work in continuing to strengthen the position wherever possible.
“Also the position is dependent on the government annual finance settlement of which I’m sure former Cllr Leppington is aware having formerly held the Cabinet finance portfolio.
“I can assure you and the public that the Cabinet intend to oversee the finances to ensure this council is in the best place to cope with anything that comes out of future financial settlements.
“The Cabinet has had a very enlightening briefing on the financial position of the council and we take the responsibility we now have very seriously.”