Transition Culture

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28 Jul 2008

Something Wonderful Just Happened in Somerset

Last week, Somerset County Council voted unanimously to endorse a motion that they become the UK’s first ‘Transition Local Authority’. What is means is that SCC could start taking an integrated approach to its planning processes, putting peak oil and climate change at the heart of its forward planning. It may well also unlock funds for the many Transition initiatives emerging across Somerset. The proposal put before the Council ran as follows;

That this Council

  1. Acknowledges the work done by communities in Somerset on Transition Towns and that the independence of the Transition Movement is key to its grass roots appeal.
  2. As demonstrated in its Climate Change Strategy, fully endorses the Transition Town Movement and subscribes to the principles and ethos of the organisation’s goals to reduce dependence on fuel oil and create more sustainable communities.
  3. Commits to providing support and assistance to all towns in Somerset that wish to join this initiative to help them achieve the goals they set for themselves as local communities, as demonstrated under the ‘Community Initiatives’ section of the Climate Change Strategy.
  4. Therefore, requests the Scrutiny and Executive Committees to consider through the council’s strategic planning process; allocating funds to assist in achieving the outcomes of the Transition Towns Movement in Somerset and requiring all directorates to engage with and provide support for Transition Initiatives in Somerset
  5. Through the work outlined above, seeks to become the first Transition Authority in the UK.
    Agrees to undertake a review of its budgets and services to achieve a reduction in dependence on fuel oil and produce an energy descent action plan in line with the principles of the Transition Initiative.

Alex Malcolm of Transition Frome, on behalf loosely affilliated network of initiatives calling itself, Transition Somerset, submitted the following statement to the Council;

  1. We welcome the motion and would like to arrange a meeting between District and County reps with Transition reps – the Transition Network have offered to facilitate this
  2. The independence of the Transition Movement is key to its appeal at the grass roots and therefore councilors are requested to take a similarly non party political and independent stance with regard to the TM
  3. The activities of the Transition Movement can help to achieve some of the Local Area Agreement objectives – particularly the cross cutting theme of stronger communities
  4. The County Council should make a Statement on Peak Oil as suggested in the document attached targeted at Local Governments planning for Energy and Climate Uncertainty.
  5. The County Council should set up a Peak Oil Task Force to identify vulnerabilities within the communities they serve with the view also of creating appropriate Energy Descent Action Plans and a strategy for a low-carbon economy for Somerset.

I have assembled the above based on various emails and communication that I have had over the past week. I hope that I have created an accurate picture of developments, and have represented the views of those involved. Please do write and correct me if I have got any details wrong. As in the recent story of the Forest of Dean , the beginnings of meaningful engagement between Transition initiatives and their local authorities are fascinating to watch.

Comments are now closed on this site, please visit Rob Hopkins' blog at Transition Network to read new posts and take part in discussions.

17 Comments

Greenpa
28 Jul 9:38pm

!!!!! HUGE HUGE GRINS!

Absolutely FANTASTIC, Rob. You deserve to go out and do a little happy dance, at least!!! :-)

chris - TT exmouth
29 Jul 12:04am

i do believe thanks goes to Paul Buchannan, who sits on our steering committee in Exmouth, for his vision and commitment to the cause! I look forward to Devon taking the same approach, and don’t believe it is far off. well done guys, i’m sure we’ll see more of the same soon.

chris

Stonehead
29 Jul 9:16am

It will be interesting to see what actions actually flow from the fine sentiments and typical council wording. I’ve seen these sort of sentiments expressed about umpteen schemes, projects, initiatives and the like many, many times before—across scores of councils in three different countries. Far too often, it’s just words to cloak “business as usual” although on rare occasions something actually happens. I hope this is one of those rare occasions.

[...] to endorse a motion that they become the UK’s first ‘Transition Local Authority’ reported the Transition Culture blog [...]

Darren Woodiwiss
30 Jul 11:39am

This is a great step forwards, I am addressing our full council meeting on September 8th so might try and slip something like this into the presentation.

Any more details about the actual motion that was voted on would be great.

I went to the LSP green event last month, ‘ENVIRON’ in Leicester, no one had heard of peak oil and the academic in the chair dismissed the idea.

Fred Irwin
1 Aug 5:54am

Transition Town Peterborough Ontario Canada

 We have a Transition Initiative Group (TIG)

called Economic Localization that is proposing a Peak Oil And Climate Change Resolution principally to move City and County infrastructue dollars in support of ecologicl needs rather than perceived social and economicand in support of the business as usual car centric market economy .This motion will help are efforts a lot

Fred

Paul Buchanan
5 Aug 2:03pm

Dear All,

This is the wording of the actual motion I put forward – I have to say that it was only possible due to the inspirational work on the ground of so many fantastic initiatives, the brilliance of the dreams Rob and Bob have put before all of us, and the challenge that we all face in doing our best at all levels to bring about a future truth – a better world for all of us.

(2) Transition Town Movement

That this Council

  1. acknowledges the work done by communities in Somerset on Transition Towns and that the independence of the Transition Movement is key to its grass roots appeal.

  2. as demonstrated in its Climate Change Strategy, fully endorses the Transition Town Movement and subscribes to the principles and ethos of the organisation’s goals to reduce dependence on fuel oil and create more sustainable communities.

  3. commits to providing support and assistance to all towns in Somerset that wish to join this initiative to help them achieve the goals they set for themselves as local communities, as demonstrated under the ‘Community Initiatives’ section of the Climate Change Strategy.

  4. therefore, requests the Scrutiny and Executive Committees to consider through the council’s strategic planning process;

· allocating funds to assist in achieving the outcomes of the Transition Towns Movement in Somerset.
· requiring all directorates to engage with and provide support for Transition Initiatives in Somerset

  1. through the work outlined above, seeks to become the first Transition Authority in the UK.

  2. agrees to undertake a review of its budgets and services to achieve a reduction in dependence on fuel oil and produce an energy descent action plan in line with the principles of the Transition Initiative.

Katy Duke
5 Aug 5:33pm

Alex has done a fantastic job working his way through the minefield of local government(s) and Sustainable Frome, town in transition, is thriving. I gave a progress report to the Town Council last week & they were supportive & understanding too.

You can see the SCC committee resolution at http://www.somerset.gov.uk/council/meetings/results.asp?ccode=1&Input2=Submit&SMonth=June&SYear=2008&EMonth=August&EYear=2099&searchpage=1&sort=Meeting_Date+DESC

Here is the wording;

(2) Transition Town Movement

The Council RESOLVED to adopt the following resolution:

That this Council

  1. acknowledges the work done by communities in
    Somerset on Transition Towns and that the
    independence of the Transition Movement is key to
    its grass roots appeal
  2. as demonstrated in its Climate Change Strategy,
    fully endorses the Transition Town Movement and
    subscribes to the principles and ethos of the
    organisation’s goals to reduce dependence on fuel
    oil and create more sustainable communities
  3. commits to providing support and assistance to all
    towns in Somerset that wish to join this initiative to
    help them achieve the goals they set for themselves
    as local communities, as demonstrated under the
    ‘Community Initiatives’ section of the Climate
    Change Strategy
  4. therefore, requests the Scrutiny and Executive
    Committees to consider through the council’s
    strategic planning process:

• allocating funds to assist in achieving the
outcomes of the Transition Towns Movement in
Somerset.
• requiring all directorates to engage with and
provide support for Transition Initiatives in
Somerset
5. through the work outlined above, seeks to become
the first Transition Authority in the UK

  1. agrees to undertake a review of its budgets and
    services to achieve a reduction in dependence on
    fuel oil and produce an energy descent action plan
    in line with the principles of the Transition Initiative

Alex Malcolm
6 Aug 9:25am

This was achieved by lobbying our County, District and Town Councilors and thanks to Cllr Paul Buchanan (Chard North), we have got County recognition.

Now we need to get District and Town Council recognition to carry things forward.

This could be initiated by each Local Authority in the form of a Statement on Peak Oil and by establishing Peak Oil Task Forces to identify vulnerabilities within the communities they serve with the view also of creating appropriate Energy Descent Action Plans and a strategy for a low-carbon economy within each District.

While this will help raise awareness of the Transition Movement and Peak Oil throughout Local Government, we also need to raise awareness within the general public, build their enthusiasm for the Transition ethos and thus create a groundswell of support to implement projects in earnest.

We have the strategies and methodologies explained in Rob’s Transition Handbook, now we need to put them into practice.

We also need to keep the pressure up on Councilors to make sure that any Local Government Resolutions are not forgotten and are actually put into practice. Here is a superb opportunity for our Councilors and the Councils that are accountable to them to set an example and lead the way forward with the participation of Stakeholders, Strategic Partners and the general public.

It is therefore up to all of us to continue lobbying our representatives in government to raise awareness and respond to the twin threats of energy and climate uncertainty.

Get in touch with your Councilors, friends and neighbours about this.

All the best,
Alex Malcolm
Tel: +44 (0) 1373 462158 or +44 (0) 207 100 7283
Mobile: +44 (0)7798 572665
Blog website: http://www.alexmalcolm.co.uk/

Darren Woodiwiss
8 Aug 7:56pm

Kudos to you all, I will liase with all and any councillors that I can collar upon this subject.

Darren

David Bailey
20 Aug 8:55pm

This is brilliant news. The Transition Town Movement now needs to spread.

Simon Fairlie
5 Sep 11:28am

A message to Paul Buchanan
Paul how can you possibly support a Transition Initiative in Somerset when you have been the main spokesman for the continuing asset stripping of Somerset County Farms, by selling them off to the highest bidder. Have you seen what happened to Balham Hill Farm after you sold it off? Left to go rank for a year and then sold again at an estimated profit to the speculator of £100,000 and now a horseyculture farm. Call this sustainable? Any claim by SCC to be a Transition Initiative is just so much greenwash until you reverse this policy and use the County Farms for what they were intended — providing affordable land for low income smallholders producing sustainable local food.
Simon Fairlie,

Robert Maxwell
13 Oct 8:45pm

Congratulations on your brilliant collective achievement. I would love to see the same here in Oz.

Fred Irwin
14 Oct 2:54pm

We at Transition Town Peterborough(Canada) are interested to know how the global economic crisis is effecting centres in terms of their ability to engage politicians towards reform and support of the Transition Towns Movement.It has caused TTP to move forward its Economic Localization Initiative ,a little before its natural time and before our first Town Hall on the topic.Its too early to know if this strategy will work. TTP has a five page EL strategy doc and is willing to share.Email Fred Irwin at gaiancf@nexicom.net

David Bailey
19 Oct 2:22pm

I am very impressed by this. We need Devon County Council to get on to Transition Town Culture now and not soon enough!

[...] the lead set by Somerset County Council a couple of months ago (see http://transitionculture.org/2008/07/28/something-wonderful-just-happened-in-somerset), a motion was put forward by the county council in Leicestershire declaring support for the [...]

[...] the Somerset County Council motion a couple of months ago, a motion was put forward by the county council in Leicestershire [...]