Agenda item

Questions by the Public

To receive questions from and provide answers to the public in relation to matters which are about something the council is responsible for or something that directly affects people in the city, in accordance with Part B, paragraph 11 of the Constitution.


Questions, of no longer than 50 words, can be submitted to the Democratic Support Unit, Plymouth City Council, Ballard House, West Hoe Road, Plymouth, PL1 3BJ, or email to Any questions must be received at least five complete working days before the meeting.


There were three questions submitted by members of the public.


The following question was submitted by Ricky Lowes and answered by Councillor Mrs Maddi Bridgeman (Cabinet Member for Environment and Street Scene) –


Question: Given the Council's ambition to achieve Net Zero for Plymouth by 2030, what method of carbon accounting does the Council use, does it employ a carbon accountant and does its accounting include scope 3 emissions - e.g. those from imported goods?

Answer: I would like to start by saying that this Administration has kept faith with the overall strategic approach that was put in place on the back of the Climate Emergency Declaration unanimously agreed at the City Council meeting held on 18 March 2019. Since May 2021, and as we said in our manifesto, we will ‘commit to improving the environment by creating innovative plans to make Plymouth carbon neutral by 2030’. As I have made clear at scrutiny committees on our climate action plans in July 2021 and December 2021, I am passionate about the strong monitoring of our actions. As well as developing future action plans to support our 2030 net zero target, a crucial part of responding to the Climate Emergency is the regular monitoring of emissions. So, I am pleased to say, your questions are very timely.


In relation to your question: What method of carbon accounting does the Council use? The scope of CO2 emissions is a well-researched area. The most widely used definitions are those set by the Green House Gas Protocol (GHG Protocol), which establishes comprehensive global standardised frameworks to measure and manage greenhouse gas emissions from private and public sector operations, value chains and mitigation actions. These well-defined areas of scope are:


Scope 1 - All Direct Emissions from the activities of an organisation or under their control, including fuel combustion on site such as gas boilers, fleet vehicles and air-conditioning leaks.


Scope 2 – Indirect Emissions from any electricity, heat and steam purchased and used by the organisation. Emissions are created during the production of the energy and eventually used by the organisation.


Scope 3 – All Other Indirect Emissions from activities of the organisation, occurring from sources that they do not own or control. These are usually the greatest share of the carbon footprint, covering emissions associated with business travel, procurement, waste and water. This methodology is used for both the Climate Emergency Action Plan and the Corporate Carbon Reduction Plan. The complexity of recording scope three emissions means it is not possible to monitor all of scope three emissions at this time. In relation to your question: Does it employ a carbon accountant in relation to the Climate Emergency Action Plan, the accounting and reporting of emissions is fully reliant on the Government’s national data provision. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy publishes several annual data sets in relation to the UK Local and Regional Carbon Dioxide Emissions Estimates. These data sets are interpreted by Exeter University who are commissioned annually by Plymouth City Council to provide an independent report, which details city wide emissions.


Our Corporate Performance Team undertakes the accounting and reporting of emissions for the Corporate Carbon Reduction Plan. We have created a City Council Carbon Emissions Framework with our own bespoke dataset for our future corporate carbon reduction reporting This is completed utilising internally held data and applying nationally agreed carbon conversion factors. In relation to your question: Does its accounting include scope three emissions – for example - those from imported goods? Our Corporate Carbon Reduction Plan monitors scope three emissions from business travel - with the anticipation of collecting emissions from waste and water in 2022.  Imported goods do not yet feature in our monitoring, though we have implemented a method of evaluating the carbon impact of services and products we purchase into our procurement process. Finally, The Climate Emergency Action Plan does not take into account scope three emissions.


The following question was submitted by Mr Howard Goffin and answered by Councillor John Riley (Cabinet Member for Governance, HR, IT and Community Safety) -


Question: Recent headlines report how Authorities are moving away from election cycles ‘by thirds’ towards ‘whole Council’ elections. The majority of Unitary Authorities already practice whole Council elections. Acknowledging the financial and continuity benefits to less frequent election cycles, what is the rationale for PCC retaining a ‘by thirds’ model?


Answer: There are a number of arguments in favour of and against each system of elections. Arguments against elections by thirds include the extra costs and logistics of holding elections in three years out of four, and the potential impact on longer term decision making. Arguments in favour include the ability of the electorate to hold political parties to account on a more frequent basis, and the greater engagement with voters that this can encourage.


In order to change a Council’s election arrangements, consultation must take place with electors and two thirds of all Councillors must agree to the change. Plymouth’s election arrangements are kept under review, and this Administration is exploring the option of a return to whole Council elections which will likely be the subject of further discussion over the coming year.


The following question was submitted by Mr Alex Spencer and answered by Councillor Nick Kelly (Leader of the Council) –


Question:I have seen from Facebook pages that one of the two councillors for Chaddlewood, Cllr Collins, has taken a job in Gloucestershire. Does this mean that Chaddlewood will be represented by a councillor living over 100 miles from Plymouth for the next two years?


Answer: Plymouth City Council prides itself on having some outstanding Councillors from across the political spectrum, who do an excellent job in representing their communities and supporting the work of the Council.  I would suggest that any Councillor whose personal circumstances have changed in such a way as to prevent them from serving their communities as they would wish, to reflect carefully on their ability to continue in the role.


Detailed employment and living arrangements are a matter for individual Councillors, and it would not be appropriate for me to provide such information in a public forum, but the law is clear about the qualifications to be a Councillor – at Section 79 of the Local Government Act 1972. I can confirm that all Councillors currently serving the Council currently meet these legal requirements, whether or not they currently live in the City.