Print this page

LCH Strategy Meeting

Notes of a Low-Carbon Headington strategy meeting held on 15th April 2015

Present: Mary Gill, Jill Haas, Halla Huws, Chess Black, Alison Grünewald, Robin Gill, Glyn Backshall, Lesley Harris, Patrick Coulter (for Headington Action). Apologies: Mary Woolliams, Hilary Rollin, Jennifer Marsden

MG explained that the chair, secretary and treasurer of LCH were standing down at the next AGM and this raised questions about the future viability of LCH. Jennifer Marsden is willing to be treasurer, which is good news. The purpose of the meeting was to consult on the future of LCH and how it might be run in future. Do we need LCH any more? If we want it to continue, what should it do and how?

In Cambridge there is one central low-carbon campaign group (Cambridge Carbon Footprint), whereas in Oxford a network of more local groups had grown out of Low-Carbon Wolvercote. Would a single central organization be more effective in Oxford too? AG felt that Oxford networks tended to be more local and there are strengths in building on these local networks.

MG asked if we wanted LCH to continue and if so what should it do? Its formal aims are to raise awareness of climate change locally, to reduce local carbon emissions, and to promote more sustainable lifestyles. It was agreed there is no need to continue the current monthly ‘core-group’ meetings: a leaner LCH could just concentrate on specific areas. Current strengths are Carbon Conversations, thermal imaging, and lobbying on climate change issues.

Organisational structure. Do we need to continue with a formal chair, secretary and treasurer? The website would be key, and Low Carbon Oxford North employs a part-time co-ordinator who handles their website and communications. AG suggested we could apply for up to £2k from the Co-op to support a similar paid post for LCH in the short term, or to pay for website upgrade. JH suggested asking Simon and Peter for CAG funding support too, given that LCH was at a crossroads where seedcorn funding could make all the difference. PC suggested a paid co-ordinator could also apply for additional grants. Such a post would require a job description to be written. Brookes might provide suitable applicants.

To maintain a bank account, the bank requires a chair, secretary and treasurer, but these could be nominal positions attached to a new organisational structure. MG volunteered to act as LCH co-ordinator (cf. FoE co-ordinator) for a year to deal with e-mails and act as front person, as long as supported by a treasurer and by a website co-ordinator to handle day-to-day website maintenance (distinct from website re-design).

It was agreed we do not need a regular newsletter that may be little read. Instead a newsletter could be issued just when there is something to report, or we could simply send out e-mail prompts/links alerting the mailing list to news on the website.

Website. Though the current website is functional, it needs updating and would be improved by a rebuild based on a more flexible authoring application. It currently has no capacity to record number of hits. Before commissioning an upgrade, it would be necessary for a small group to design the page architecture we required. PC suggested that John Nealon might be willing to advise at this stage and he could provide his e-mail contact address. HH also has a possible contact. CB has knowledge about websites and suggested a smaller group look at other low-carbon groups websites and bring some examples to discuss before talking to an advisor.

Solar PV. GB asked if LCH promoted local solar energy development. AG recalled the recent well attended LCH meeting on PV at which Tim Nicholson spoke, and asked if he had had any take-up (no-one knew). JH noted that the Low-Carbon Hub had raised about £2.4M for solar through a share issue, and that BMW had invested heavily in PV at the Mini plant, though little was visible from outside the site.

AG said that Anthony Simpson is the PV adviser for the LC Hub, and wondered if he might have a role to play in encouraging local businesses to adopt PV. PC asked if LCH had tried to work with major institutions in Headington. RG felt that institutions like the hospital and universities liaised with councils and other organisations at chief executive level, and would not be influenced strategically by a small pressure group like LCH.

Proposed future LCH activity

  1. The small lobbying group (Mary, Jill, Jennifer) would continue its work. It might be helpful to meet with our MP every 6 months or so to discuss priorities.
  2. Carbon Conversations. LCH was working with people in LCON, meeting with them and sharing the CC workload. They proposed to go to school fêtes to recruit particiants. A pop-up banner is being designed for the two groups to share. There was a bit of a lull in activity at present.
  3. Thermal imaging. AG had been approached by a number of people via the website. She, RG and MW had carried out free thermal imaging surveys at a number of Headington homes, notably in Binswood Avenue. They had met the previous evening and planned a more ambitious programme for next January/February. More volunteers were needed to allow rapid response to demand and weather. PC asked if the group did surveys of shops, schools and churches as well as private houses. AG said that Windmill School had been thoroughly surveyed and a report would be available. Windmill was part of the Solar Schools initiative (LC Hub), but installation of solar panels had been delayed by the school expansion work (though the panels were planned to go on existing roofs).
    (HH asked what happened after a thermal imaging survey had been carried out. AG said the team reported back to the householder by e-mail and ideally would engage in face-to-face discussion and provide advice on steps to reduce heat loss. HH asked to be involved in future programmes, as she has a professional interest).
  4. AG said she would research what grant support might be available to local SMEs assist in becoming more energy-efficient, and LCH might like to facilitate discuss-ions with Headington SMEs. JH suggested calling a meeting with SMEs and Headington Action might fund such an initiative.  Neil Holstock was mentioned.
  5. Gardening group will just carry on as it is. Kathy Ramsay is now coordinating this.
  6. Swap shop – this is essentially a separate group which functions well by itself.

PC said the Headington Action would greatly welcome an informed response from LCH to its forthcoming consultation on the draft Neighbourhood Plan, which would be launched at the end of May 2015 with a response period of 6 weeks.

We need an AGM soon to regularise arrangements. It just needs to be a short meeting. MG will send a doodle poll.



Previous page: Feb 2015
Next page: AGM 2015