Sue Robb of 4Children talks to Julie Laughton and Alison Britton from the Department for Education about the role of childminders in delivering the 30 hours free entitlement.
A coalition of environmental organisations, including the National Trust and The Wildlife Trusts, the Campaign for Better Transport, the Green Alliance and the Campaign to Protect Rural England, have called on incoming metro mayors to take urgent action to make their city regions greener.
The news comes as metro mayors are set to be elected in six city regions, creating a new tier of political leadership in England.
In its report,Greening the city regions: opportunities for metro mayors, the research includes a Green City Regions Index which indicates each region’s strengths and weaknesses on a range of issues, from air quality to the natural environment and protection of heritage.
The study also highlighted areas where the new metro mayors should take action, showing how the new role and its powers offer significant opportunities to drive ambitious progress on the environment.
For transport and air quality, metro mayors should ‘tackle air pollution and congestion by investing in green public transport, walking, cycling and electric vehicle infrastructure’. Metro mayors can also make public transport easier to use via smart ticketing and use their new powers to improve bus provision.
Furthermore, for the natural environment, city regions should ‘prioritise investment in high quality open spaces for recreation for health and well-being’. The report also proposes the development of new green infrastructure strategies to provide detailed information about the city region’s green spaces and nature, identifying where they need protection and where they can be enhanced in future development.
Tamsin Cooper, acting director, Green Alliance said: “Devolution aims to unlock the potential of England’s cities, but metro mayors will be the key. Cities have to be resilient to climate change and grow their low carbon economies if they are to thrive and grow in the long term. The new metro mayors have an historic opportunity to use their new status to accelerate environmental action, creating sustainable city regions around the country.”
Shaun Spiers, chief executive of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) said: “House building is a national priority, but we need a much greater focus on building the sort of homes and communities that will last the test of time – high quality, low energy developments with plenty of space for nature. The number of new homes we build is important, but the metro mayors have a great opportunity to focus on their quality and location as well. New homes should be built as far as possible on suitable brownfield sites, near jobs and existing transport links. In this way we can both save countryside and make our towns and cities exciting and sustainable places to live.”