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Downham councillors urged to join 'hope-giving network' on climate change

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Community leaders in Downham have been urged to become a force for "enlightenment" by formally declaring a climate emergency.

Environmental campaigners made the plea as town councillors debated a motion on the issue at a meeting last night.

But members voted to refer the matter to the authority's newly formed environmental working panel, with further discussion to take place at a future meeting.

Extinction Rebellion to hold 'declaration of rebellion against the UK Government' outside Downham Market Town Hall.. (16293803)
Extinction Rebellion to hold 'declaration of rebellion against the UK Government' outside Downham Market Town Hall.. (16293803)

The session followed a protest in Downham at the weekend, in which members of the area's Extinction Rebellion group declared themselves to be in "open rebellion" against a government which it says is not doing enough to tackle the problem.

A small number of supporters attended the meeting, carrying placards in support of their case.

One of them, Brenda Kent, urged councillors to accept the motion in full and without delay.

She said: "If you agree this, you will become part of a hope-giving network, a beacon of enlightenment and responsibility around the world.

"You will address the issue that overarches all other issues we may address locally, nationally and globally. Now really is the time to act."

Councillor Robert Shippey, a Green Party member, tabled the motion calling for an emergency declaration, together with a document setting out the case for it.

He told colleagues: "This is the most important issue facing humanity and we should be taking the actions we need to take."

And he claimed West Norfolk Council leaders were "dragging their heels" on the subject.

But town mayor Becky Hayes argued that any action taken should be above domestic political concerns, rather than being based on a single party's material.

She said the document contained rhetoric, but little in terms of practical points for action.

She said: "If we are going to do something about this, it should be our actions, our words, thinking about what is right for this town. We need to take ownership of this."

Her deputy, Jenny Groom, said the council was already taking action on environmental issues and suggested more should be done to communicate those activities to the wider public.

And Elizabeth Hendry said: "If it is true that we are going to have a 20 metre rise in sea levels, then a whole lot of Downham is going to be under water. We need a long-term view as well as a short-term view."

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