Recent news that Southend Borough Council had scooped a green award will have struck very many Southend residents as surprising. But a Freedom of Information request  issued to Southend Borough Council has revealed that the council paid to join The Green Organisation , which makes the awards, at a cost to council taxpayers of £720.00 .
In recent years, Southend Council has made many environmentally damaging decisions, including their controversial approval of expansion of the local airport, road schemes that caused the felling of many of the town’s mature trees and bad planning decisions that have encouraged edge-of-town development and the associated increased car use. Inevitably, these decisions will lead to a dramatic increase in greenhouse gas emissions in the borough, making the “Green Apple Award” for “Looking for carbon” particularly ironic.
South East Essex Friends of the Earth  Group coordinator, Denis Walker said:
“Southend Borough Council has sought to paint a picture of environmental responsibility by joining an organisation which makes environmental awards. But the fact that the Council has paid for bronze membership of the Green Organisation casts doubt upon the credibility of the award. The public will inevitably question whether membership of the organisation resulted in the award being given, meaning that the decision to spend this money represents exceptionally poor value and poor judgement on the part of those who approved it.
The fact that Southend Borough Council has paid a not insignificant sum on such a worthless piece of “greenwash” publicity at a time of such extreme austerity must be condemned.
If Southend Council is desperate to be recognised for the good things that it does it could easily ask local groups to comment upon its work on a red, amber, green basis – a service which could easily be obtained free of charge.”
Notes to Editors:
- The Green Organisation exists primarily to issue awards. Its website is at http://www.thegreenorganisation.info/
- Membership fees for The Green Organisation are shown at http://www.greenorg.livewirecms.com/GO_Membership_FormV6.pdf – note that these exclude VAT, which has to be added
- More information about South East Essex Friends of the Earth at http://seefoe.org.uk
- Freedom of Information response from Southend Borough Council:
Subject: FOI Response 468
Date: Wed, 11 Jan 2012 11:15:21 +0000
To: Jon Fuller
Dear Mr Fuller
In response to your Freedom of information request number 00468, in which you asked the following questions
Please can you inform me if SBC is or has ever been a member of the Green Organisation, if it is or has been a member please inform me of at what level SBC joined (Bronze, Silver, Gold or life)?
I can confirm that a search for the information has been completed.
Southend-on-Sea is a member of the Green Organisation and we have a Bronze membership.
If you are unhappy with the service you have received in relation to your request and wish to make a complaint or request a review of our decision, you should write to Complaints Officer, Support Services Department, PO Box 6, Civic Centre, Victoria Avenue, Southend-on-Sea, Essex, SS2 6ER. If you are not content with the outcome of your complaint, you may apply directly to the Information Commissioner for a decision. Generally, the IC cannot make a decision unless you have exhausted the complaints procedure provided by the Council. The Information Commissioner can be contacted at: The Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliff House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF.
Debee Skinner | Business Intelligence Officer | Performance and Business Support
Enterprise, Tourism and the Environment
Southend on Sea Borough Council | Floor 13 Civic Centre | Victoria Avenue | Southend on Sea | SS2 6ER
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