Meeting Notes: June 2023

 Notes from Sheffield FoE Local Group meeting -  19th June 2023 by Zoom

Attendees: Lindy Stone  (chair), Shaun Rumbelow, Greg Hewitt,  Steph Howlett, Rebecca Ford

Apologies: Liddy Goyder , Sean Ashton, Nick Jowett, Oliver Blensdorf, Ian McHugh, Corinne Angier, Ruth Milsom


May meeting – Councils’ action on climate case studies (Sandra Bell)

Following up on discussion at our meeting in April, we held an in-person meeting in May at the Showroom with guest speaker Sandra Bell, Senior Sustainability Analyst with FoE who had led on the Councils Climate Action case studies project.

This was a well attended meeting, with around 20 people, including two new councillors (one Green, one Labour) who were particularly welcome.  Lindy had made contact with as many Sheffield councillors as she knew, inviting them and asking for the message to be passed on and several had intended to come, but urgent party meetings before the new council AGM called them away.

Sandra’s presentation was well received and attendees were buoyed by the possibilities of steps, however small, taken by other councils. Sandra’s presentation has subsequently been shared on our website and the link to the case studies shared once again. Supporters have been urged to share the case studies with their own councillors and

Lindy has written to the new Sheffield Council leader, Tom Hunt, with the case studies attached.  She also drew his attention to Climate Emergency UK’s Council Climate Scorecards, as issued at the end of 2021, where the average of all UK councils is 52%, but Sheffield is on 0% because it had no identifiable plan.

Contact with local MPs

Nationally, FoE are asking that we target Labour MPs to stiffen their resolve in holding to their sustainability plans. The most recent newsletter included a link to a letter to Labour MPs welcoming the announcement that they were committed to no new oil and gas.  FoE have appointed a new Political Affairs manager, Abdi Suleiman. Abdi has only just moved to London from Sheffield to take up this role – and recently contested the Labour candidate selection for Sheffield Central.

Letters have been sent and lengthy replies received from both Louise Haigh (Sheffield Heeley) and Olivia Blake (Sheffield Hallam) supporting the ‘no new il and gas’ commitment. Louise has also posted her response on the Facebook page, saying she had been contacted by many constituents and wanted to assure them of her personal commitment to this policy, and that of the party.

At a recent event, Lindy had spoken briefly with both Louise and Olivia who again assured her of Labour’s commitment to green investment and in their speeches both referred to its importance.  However, Angela Rayner who spoke at the event only mentioned ‘climate’ in a very throwaway manner and possibly is an example of the older fashioned labour view that it is jobs OR climate and doesn’t see fully the possibilities of jobs AND climate.  

At a further event, (see below) Lindy heard Ed Miliband speak with determination and commitment about Labour’s plans to tackle the climate and nature emergencies and in a very brief exchange, he also assured her as an FoE rep, that Labour were not turning back from their commitments.

We discussed the commitment of the other MPs in Sheffield to decarbonisation and nature recovery issues.

Shaun reported that his MP, Gill Furniss (Brightside & Hillsborough) had not been very responsive recently when he had contacted her. He had now sent the Labour MP email to her and would forward any reply to Lindy.

Greg had sent the letter on to his MP Paul Blomfield (Sheffield Central) and received a brief supportive reply. Steph had on several occasions in the past contacted and met with Paul and he had been supportive in principle but said that his inbox did not show major concern about the climate and nature emergency.  Possibly this is changing now. Paul had suggested to Greg that he also make contact with Abtisam Mohammed who will be the Labour candidate at the next election. Greg had already had supportive exchanges with Abtisam about Sheffield Action on Plastic and would follow up.

 No one in the meeting lived in Sheffield SE constituency so there was no more information about Clive Betts. Lindy will follow up with local FoE supporters who she knows live in that constituency.

No one in the meeting lived in Penistone & Stocksbridge constituency but it had been agreed at the April meeting that there was no point making contact with its Conservative MP Miriam Cates , since she either failed to respond or fed back a government line.  However, Lindy suggested that making contact with Marie Tidball, the Labour candidate at the next election was an appropriate move.

Our database has recently been updated to add in supporters’ constituency and it was agreed that it could be appropriate to contact people by constituency, with details of how best to contact Marie & Abtisam.

United for Warm Homes campaign

We have been slow to get started with this national initiative. However, mailings had resulted in nearly 300 names being added to our petition calling on all S Yorkshire MPs to support action on the three areas of the warm homes campaign (urgent action to support households, a sound insulation/retrofit strategy and a move to renewable energy.)

So far we have only partnered with SYCA and GND SY in very loose terms. We need to try to access TARAs, food banks, community support networks if we are to speak with those most affected by the energy costs. However, no-one in the meeting had appropriate contacts.

We had our first stall at the EcoFest staged by the Sprotbrough Parish Council (Doncaster) by special request of regional FoE lead Simon Bowens, because this is in Ed Miliband’s constituency.  It was a successful event with another 30 names added to the petition and some useful conversations.

Petition numbers stand at 342 and all 14 South Yorkshire constituencies are already covered. Aim to get to at least 500 and/or at least 35 in each constituency – possibly using a constituency-targeted request. .

Possible Stalls:

All the materials for United for Warm Homes are now together for additional stalls. We have bought a banner and a wooden doll’s house to draw attention, pasted the large cut outs on to cardboard, stocked up with leaflets and copied relevant papers for display.

The following festivals have been flagged by supporters for possible stalls. 

·       Saturday July 1st: Sharrow Festival: Lindy to check whether there is a stall available. Steph said that XR would like to be there also and would support our campaign/stall. Lindy/Steph to liaise.

·       Saturday 8th July: Walkley Festival – Lindy to make contact

·       Sunday July 9th: Firth Park Festival: Lindy will check if another FoE supporter can lead on this: Rebecca said that she would try to attend.

·       Sunday 6th August: South Yorkshire Festival (Wortley Hall) No takers at the moment.

·       Saturday September 9th: Eco Churches Festival: Lindy can attend and Nick Jowett hopes to support.

All of these events need more people to support them.  Lindy to send general plea to supporters.

Supporters Update

Email list now 703 (+182) since March, Twitter 954 (+31) Facebook 682 (-10). Shaun feels Facebook is not getting much traction. Rebecca, as a younger person, said she used Twitter and Instagram.  Agreed that we ought to use Instagram and should investigate more.

Next Meetings

Lindy suggested an outdoor meeting/get together in July or August at Green Estate on Manor Fields Park which was considered a good idea.

We also discussed moving meetings from Mondays to avoid clashes, particularly with XR who meet every Monday.  Agreed to trial this.