Open Letter For Council To Decarbonise Buses

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Open Letter For Council To Decarbonise Buses
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Overview

A green transport campaign to gather with various interested groups within our area (such as universities, green transport groups and trade unions) to create an open letter for our local council to implement decarbonised buses into our city. We initially conversed with many interested groups and gained support but after a strategy meeting with our MP, we decided to capitalise on the upcoming local elections as councillors were more likely to sign our open letter in light of this, especially if they held a swing seat. We gained many signatures and using this our MP went to a major bus company in the city who promised to phase out diesel buses by 2022.


Goals

The goal is to implement green transport – specifically decarbonised buses (electric or hydrogen) – in cities or towns. Transport usually comes under each council’s discretion rather than wider government, so the first step is showing councillors and local MP’s that there is a need and a desire for this change to happen in your area. Under this pressure councillors can then work with bus companies and the government or larger funding bodies to find a way for bus companies to afford to reinvest.

Timeline

Month 1: Research key players for transport in your area, build a community in the city, develop your strategy, understand potential issues/setbacks/problems in your area. Month 2: Write and make the open letter and make a presentation. Month 3: Send off your open letter to any and all interested groups, present it at events, and publicise it. Month 4: Present your signed open letter to the individual you have deemed most influential for transport within your council and/or to your MP. Month 5: Using your open letter talks can begin between MP’s/councillors with bus companies. Month 6+: They will continue negotiations but you must keep them accountable and maintain the pressure going forward.

Full description

Month 1: Research key players for transport in your area, build a community in the city, develop your strategy, understand potential issues/setbacks/problems in your area. - Start a database of contacts within the city from the key players in the council (whether they are the directors of transport or sustainability or both) to various groups in the city. Start with researching green-transport and sustainability groups and initiatives, but reach wider to consider bus driver trade unions, local MP’s, manufacturers, universities, schools etc. - Consider also a social justice approach as vehicle pollution is one of the largest contributors to dangerous levels of air pollution in some areas. The people who live in these areas are usually from low socio-economic backgrounds and/or minority groups and suffer from related health issues that can be deadly. Therefore, collaborating with justice groups is really powerful and necessary and your open letter can include some of their stories. - Network at various green-transport or sustainability events in the city to build your community, even if these are online. Talk to people about your plans. - In meetings develop your demands and try and predict and mitigate potential issues/setbacks. One thing we found from networking is that bus routes are already under-funded and many in our area have been fought for to even exist. We were very aware going forward to not compromise existing bus routes, and this also increased our focus onto the council rather than the bus companies themselves as they will need heavy subsidising to feasibly reinvest in new fleets. - Find the keystone person in the council, or MP, who you wish to present your open letter to in the end.

Month 2: Write and make the open letter and make a presentation. - Draft the open letter/cover letter part. - Ask for approval and edits within your group and any closer contacts. - Make sure it clearly states your demands and your reasons why. - Make the online open letter so they can add their signature. - Make a powerpoint presentation detailing your campaign and collating all your information. - Prepare social media posts and draft emails.

Month 3: Send off your open letter to any and all interested groups, present it at events, and publicise it. - Importantly if there is a general or local election soon make sure to send your open letter to MP’s and local councillors during their election campaigning period. - Continue networking and ask to present your open letter at relevant events or online events. - Send out your open letter via email to all contacts on your database. - Advertise your open letter on social media.

Month 4: Present your signed open letter to the individual you have deemed most influential for transport within your council and/or to your MP. - Arrange a meeting either with the senior member of the council or your MP (or both) and present to them your signed letter. - Create an action plan going forward and see if there is any more you can do. - Hold them to account on your plan and any action points going forward. - Publicise what they say on social media and the result of your open letter so all signatories can be made aware of progress, and to hold the councillors accountable later on.

Month 5: Using your open letter talks can begin between MP’s/councillors with bus companies. - Ask for the minutes of these meetings and to be kept in the loop of any progress. - Ensure commitments are made.

Month 6+: They will continue negotiations but you must keep them accountable and maintain the pressure going forward. - It’s hard to maintain momentum but simply keeping in touch with the council every few months to ask for updates suffices. - Push for sooner deadlines if they seem too distant.

Tips/ comments

- Definitely capitalise on local or general elections as this is when promises are more likely to be made, but also understand that promises are easily made but not always held, so maintaining pressure throughout their elected duration is important. - With that comes understanding that from the start of this campaign to a hydrogen or electric bus being seen in your city it's probably going to take longer than a year, but promises and commitments are still wins in themselves. - Councils have rather complex hierarchies and systems which vary from council to council. They also usually have pretty outdated websites and contact forms so it can be hard at the start to find who you want to address. Don’t be disheartened if things don’t appear super clear to start with. The best thing to do in this case is reach out and network with various transport groups in your area and the names of key players will usually crop up. If not, you will always get a response if you email your MP.

Links

Organisers social medias: Website: https://peopleandplanet.org/. Society Page: https://su.sheffield.ac.uk/activities/view/people-and-planet-society . Instagram: peopleandplanetsheffield . Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PandPSheffield/