Addressing the climate crisis is to be a “critically important” goal for Wiltshire Council moving forward.

Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Ian Thorn, asked the council’s leader why he did not take the climate portfolio with him into the leadership position.

Richard Clewer, the new leader of Wiltshire Council said the climate emergency was vital to the administration – particularly in regards to decarbonisation.

“Is there the danger, that having left it in the hands of another member of cabinet, that it rather downgrades the issue?” Cllr Thorn asked.

Cllr Clewer disagreed with the point and said the county’s climate plan needed to link in with other areas such as the local and transport plans.

Coming into the leadership role, Cllr Clewer explained, he feared he might not be able to give the portfolio the time needed.

“To make sure that I was giving it to a cabinet member who was giving it the appropriate time but also able to help make sure that it is linked inextricably to those other plans going forward,” he said.

Adding that he will still have a hand in the climate plan and will run the cabinet “collegially”.

The leader added he has full confidence in Cllr Nick Botterill – who now holds the climate portfolio – moving forward.

Cllr Thorn later tweeted that he was “disappointed” that the portfolio wasn’t taken over by Cllr Clewer when he took the mantle of leader.

The Lib Dem leader also took time to question the leader of climate sub-committees for Area Boards – something he said was discussed and supported during the Wiltshire Climate Alliance debate.

Cllr Clewer said he still supports the initiative but added it was down to the area boards themselves if they wanted to create the climate sub-committees.

“I’m very happy to encourage area boards if they see that that’s the appropriate way to address the issue,” said Cllr Clewer.

“But if they have a more appropriate way of addressing it within their communities, I wouldn’t want to dictate to them.

“I’m sure the members would appreciate the leader not dictating how their area board should be run.”

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