Providing funding for 'Warm Spaces' in the winter (proposed by Cllr Sandelson, seconded by Cllr Goddard)
Liberal Democrat Group member motion
This Council is proud of the financial and officer support it has given during the covid epidemic. However, rising energy and utility costs coupled with the highest inflation in years, means that many of our residents — the elderly, infirm or parents with children — may have to decide whether to ‘Eat or Heat’.
On 14.07.22 Metro quotes Don’t Pay UK: up to 6.3m households won’t be able to afford their energy bills*.
(a) Notes that many councils, charities and communities around the UK are addressing this rising concern: e.g.
(i) On 11.07.22 money-saving expert Martin Lewis tweeted: “I wonder if this winter we’ll need ‘warm banks’ the equivalent of food banks where people who can’t afford heating are invited to spend their days at no cost with heating (e.g. libraries, public buildings)?”
In reply, Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol, tweeted: “the sad reality is we have been actively organising a citywide network of warm places (we call them ‘Welcoming Places’) for Bristol. We plan to have them set up by Sept, ready to open in Oct.”
(ii) In early 2022, Bungay Community Support, a Suffolk group, set up ‘warm rooms’ for people to use over the winter – to help those struggling to afford energy prices and to help combat loneliness in the community**.
(iii) On 25.08.22, Isobel Hunter, CEO of Libraries Connected, called for libraries to be warm refuges for those in fuel poverty, and sought a relatively small investment to boost support programmes such as holiday activity and food programmes, digital assistance and debt advice surgeries: “Over 80% of library leaders expect an increase in people using libraries to keep warm this winter.” ***
(iv) In Aug 2022, Birmingham City Council confirmed they will map out potential buildings where people struggling with energy bills can go to keep warm ****
(b) Believes that our priority is to ensure that Oxford residents don’t have to choose whether to ‘Eat or Heat’. On 8.09.22 our website stated: “The council is looking at opportunities to work with community groups, public buildings and public event organisers to build a network of warm spaces and free activities across the city through this winter.’
(c) Resolves to:
· Request that the Executive Director (Communities and People) submits a report to Cabinet with options to consider:
o How to encourage the provision of ‘Warm Spaces’ accessible to all by working with church, charity and community groups.
o The provision of funding to heat and maintain these spaces including, where necessary, basic kitchen facilities for supply of hot soup, drinks and snacks.
· Request the Leader of the Council to write to the Rt Hon Simon Clarke MP, Secretary of State DLUHC:
o With the Council’s resolution; and
o Calling on the UK Government to provide Councils with additional funding to meet energy costs, in particular for community ‘warm spaces.’
· Acknowledge the statement that Oxfordshire County Council made on this issue***** and support the County Council rollout of the scheme they have announced within the city.
**https://www.edp24.co.uk/news/bungays-warm-rooms-tackles-loneliness-and-living-costs-8719452 Eastern Daily Press 27.02.22
a national charity and a membership organisation for public libraries.
This motion was not taken as the time allocated for debate had finished.