West Twickenham Labour Candidate, Dr Paul Tanto, spoke at a hustings meeting this week organised by Richmond and Twickenham Friends of the Earth, on environmental issues.
He spoke about Labour’s policy regarding local fossil fuel divestment. He outlined the motion that Cllrs Jenny Churchill and Stephen Knight proposed to Richmond Council urging it to divest the pension fund from investments in fossil fuels. A policy rejected by the Conservative administration.
In response to the excuse that the Trustees needed to invest because they had a duty to get good returns, Paul Tanto gave them many examples of Councils divesting including the London Boroughs of Southwark and Waltham Forest.
He observed that:
"Norway, one of the biggest oil producing nations, is divesting its own sovereign wealth fund from fossil fuels. Large company boards, such as the owners of the Guardian, are divesting, so why not Richmond Council? There are plenty of acceptable ethical opt outs such as animal testing, weapons, nuclear, gambling and tobacco. There is no reason why fossil fuels can't be added to that list. This is a failure of leadership."
Paul praised the economic expertise of Cllr Jenny Churchill commenting
“Jenny is an academic economist whose area of specialist expertise is pensions. This proposal makes both economic and environmental sense for the people living in Richmond and Twickenham”.
He observed that it was absurd for other local political parties to say they could not change Richmond’s policies because, as stated by one of the representatives, "Wandsworth runs the Council’s pension fund now". Paul suggested that if that was true then there existed a huge democratic deficit for Richmond Borough council tax payers.
Paul Tanto went on to describe Labour’s proposals to introduce 20mph speed limits in the Borough.
As a Doctor working in emergency medicine he was well aware of the injuries and morbidity caused by cars hitting pedestrians. He spoke about paediatric trauma. Pointing out that there is risk of much less damage to children from cars travelling at 20 compared to 30 mph.
It was therefore absolutely essential that the Council introduced 20mph zones in order to save lives and prevent serious injury.
Paul summed up by observing that Labour is leading the way locally on issues of the Environment.