Equity and Ecology- Building a Fair and Sustainable Local Economy

This public afternoon workshop was organised by Schumacher North in collaboration with Third Sector Leeds, the statutory representative body for the Leeds Third Sector, and took place on 25 September 2015 at St. George’s Centre, Gt. George St., Leeds.  Judith Blake (Leader of Leeds City Council) had agreed to speak at the event, but was called away on urgent international business.  The Council was represented by Richard Lewis (Exec. Member for Regeneration, Transport and Planning) and Alex Sobel, now lead spokesperson on climate change for the Council and also the director of Social Enterprise Yorks. & Humber.

Other speakers included Prof. Paul Chatterton, leader of the M.A. programme in Social Activism at Leeds University and founding member of LILAC sustainable co-housing project, Mags Shevlin, director of LATCH (Leeds Action To Create Homes), Nigel Foster, director of the Leeds Ahead partnership and former president of Leeds Chamber of Commerce, Mary Brennan of Leeds Poverty Challenge, Naomi Harriet-Brown of Hyde Park Source and Chris Smyth of Leeds Credit Union.

60 people attended, representing a wide range of public, private and Third Sector organisations, as well as concerned individuals.  Workshop session were held on the following topics:

  • Combating Fuel Poverty with energy efficiency improvements to properties
  • How to make affordable, sustainable Community led housing work in Leeds and the surrounding region
  • How can Leeds reduce vehicle emissions through infrastructure and changes in transport use?
  • Carbon Conversations – a tool for facilitating behaviour change in communities and organisations
  • Community Energy
  • Empowering communities towards local food sovereignty

Each workshop group came up with a set of recommendations for action and was asked to select one key recommendation; these were rated by attendants who responded to a feedback survey, and have been presented to the leader of the Council.  The 6 key recommendations were as follows:

  • Follow Bristol Green Capital partnership model for delivering sustainability through partnership with Third and Private Sector.
  • Council to buy under-used land at current market value, put infrastructure in place and sell it on for use for sustainable community projects.
  • Leeds Living Streets – Reclaim the Public Realm
  • City-wide Carbon Conversations programme including public and private sector employees – and management?!
  • A demonstration housing retrofit project combining insulation, biomass-powered district heating, PV generation + digital Smart energy monitoring.
  • A designated funded post in the City to lead on food sovereignty issues.

Schumacher North and Zero Carbon Yorkshire will be carrying forward some of these recommendations in collaboration with the City Council and other partners.