A WINCHESTER city councillor has criticised the Green Economic Development Strategy (GEDS) for being vague and confusing.

The Economy and Housing Policy Committee received an update on the GEDS , with the strategy reaching the end of its two-year action plan.

Civic chiefs discussed the impact of the scheme, since it was agreed by Cabinet in October 2021, and how it will be implemented for the next three years.

Cllr Lucille Thompson, Cabinet member for business and culture, said: “Following adoption of the strategy a detailed two-year action plan was produced so it is now time to look at what has been achieved and what has changed. For example, continuing affects of the pandemic, inflation and the cost of living. All these events have had an effect on how GEDs can be delivered. It’s really important that this strategy and operational plans remain agile.”

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Cllr Malcolm Wallace welcomed the general aims of the strategy but “struggled” to understand whose responsibility it was to implement the goals.

The Green councillor said: “I’m pleased to see the green economic strategy today and particularly pleased to see that green aims run throughout. While I applaud the intent I do have some practical concerns.

“I was struggling to find out how this strategy linked to the council plan or the carbon neutrality plan. There are aims in the strategy that don’t appear in any of the other strategies. It’s great to be thinking green but I am confused as to how all this links together and delivers on the council’s aims.

“This council is committed to working collaboratively so I suggest cross-party representatives are invited to join the forum.

Hampshire Chronicle: Cllr Wallace speaking at the meetingCllr Wallace speaking at the meeting (Image: Newsquest)

“Lots of great points on the action plan but it’s really difficult to understand who is committed to delivering what. I’m used to seeing specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound (SMART) goals but unfortunately after having read this document, I am none the wiser as to what has been committed to, by whom and over what time periods.

“The council has the target of net zero by 2030. The council does not have unlimited resources so it is therefore imperative that we use the resources that are available in the most efficient ways. It would be great if this report could be revisited to provide SMART goals and objectives so we can clearly understand what we are aiming to achieve.”

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Andrew Gostelow, economy and tourism lead, said: “We take on board your points. This is a strategy for across the whole council, within this action plan there are specific actions for different teams.”

Cllr Wallace’s concerns were shared by Cllr Caroline Horrill. The Winchester Conservative group leader said: “Some of the elements we are not in control of like the lack of infrastructure such as electricity and waste water. We are simply not aligned with the utility companies providing these services and don’t have the right resources to achieve some very admirable objectives.”

The GEDS aims to make sure Winchester district benefits from the new jobs, goods, and services that the whole of the UK will need in the next decade.

The pledge to be a carbon-neutral district by 2030 will continue to be a priority for the next three years. A Winchester District Climate and Green Economy Partners Forum will be developed to work with the GEDS boards and Economy and Housing Committee to guide the delivery of aims such as the next phase of electrical vehicle charging, green energy initiatives, improved transport and more sustainable housing.