8.0 Equitable People Centered

Inclusive urban communities and addressing poverty

8.1 We are often aware of the effects of extreme climatic conditions and environmental disasters on communities around the world and that people in the developing countries of the world bear the greatest burden and are impacted upon the most by climate change. Whilst there are clearly global inequalities these also exist closer to home within our own City. Nearly 20% of the City are in the Nation’s bottom 10% most deprived neighbourhoods with 33% of our children in low income families.

8.2 There are some significant differences in the life expectancy of people living in Coventry, Overall life expectancy in the city is currently averaging out as 82.4 years for females and 78.3 for males and has consistently remained below the regional and national averages. On average men living in the most affluent areas of the City have a life expectancy 10.7 years longer than those living in the most deprived areas whilst for women the difference is 8.4 years. The growing number of elderly people living in the City will also increase the number of people who are vulnerable to the effects of climate change with an estimated additional 8,900 people aged over 65 and an additional 2,000 people aged over 85 by 2029. A third of the population growth will be concentrated in one tenth of the City.

8.3 Coventry is one of seven cities in the UK that is a member of the Marmot Network to improve health and reduce inequalities in the City. The Director of Public Health’s Report ‘Bridging the Gap’ recognises the significance of the impacts of the environment and living condition upon health.

8.4 Exposure to pollutants, access to a healthy diet, opportunities for an active lifestyle, living conditions, prospects for employment, fear of crime, relationships in our family and local community all impact upon our health and wellbeing. The quality of our local environment is also one of the wider determinants of health and there are distinct differences in a whole range of environmental parameters across the City which will have a direct or indirect affect on health and mental wellbeing some of these are

  1. Traffic levels with associated noise and air pollution;
  2. Access to parks and open space;
  3. Access to a means of affordable transport and access to essential services
  4. Prospects for employment;
  5. Access to fresh food and growing places;
  6. Engaging communities in creating quality neighbourhood environment
  7. Supporting behavioural change

Air Quality

8.5 In 2021 the City was named as one of 28 towns and Cities in England where Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) levels in the atmosphere from motor vehicles and the burning of fossil fuels in wood stoves were forecast to exceed legal limits. The City was at risk of having to introduce road charging but thanks to the Council’s Robust Air Quality Action Plan the Government felt this was enough to negate the need for road charging. 15% of the City has excess levels of the pollutant and the actions in the Air Quality Management Plan aim to address these through a range of activities including improvements to the use of the road space, promotion of active travel e.g. new cycle routes and integration with transport hubs etc.

8.6 Much of our air quality monitoring is based upon the use of diffusion tubes which reveal average levels of exposure over time and do not pick up incidents when levels have been exceeded at any moment in time. There is a need to learn from the DEFRA national pilot project for obtaining more real time data using lower cost remote sensing equipment to monitor pollutants in localities in real time and to develop a better understanding of the factors effecting atmospheric pollution and how it can be most effectively addressed.

  • EPC1 To build upon the work of the ‘Air Quality Management Plan’ and to learn from the results and findings of the DEFRA National Air Quality Monitoring Pilots to identify low-cost ways of recording more accurate real time data on key atmospheric pollutants NO2, PM2.5, PM10, O3 and NOx across the City to inform future arrangements relating to traffic management., layout and design.
  • EPC2 To develop an awareness programme with teachers and children in schools which links with STEM subjects in the National Curriculum by actively investigating traffic levels and vehicle emissions near schools and where possible relating them to health and wellbeing.

Access and transport

8.7 There is a direct relationship between promoting active travel and public transport for families on low incomes and how this can help contribute towards improvements in localised air quality by reducing the number of private motor vehicles (especially older vehicles with lower Euro ratings which contribute more to emissions than he more recent Euro 6 vehicles. Covid 19 resulted in a loss of confidence in using public transport in a recent study carried out by Coventry University a number of actions were identified to improve confidence in using public transport such as sanitisation and social distancing procedures, public information regarding realtime information, promoting active travel e.g. e.bikes and multi-modal access as well as highlighting the need for more EV charge points. the development of initiatives

8.8 Coventry’s last census showed Coventry to have just 409 vehicles licensed per 1000 people (ranked 298th out of 348 Local authority areas in England & Wales. Coventry has a lower than average percentage car ownership and whilst the number of people owning cars has grown the numbers using their cars to commute to work had declined much of this is attributable to more people working from home more with just over 1% of the population doing so in 1981 rising to over 7% by 2011 and now post Covid that has risen nationally to 14% of the workforce (ONS). Reducing commuting to schools and places of work will help reduce the levels of congestion and improve air quality and the incidence of respiratory, cardiovascular disease and Cancer.

8.9 There are usually in the region of 600 to 700 casualties on the road each year due to Covid 2020 this has dropped significantly to 395 with 6 fatalities and 67 serious injuries. The impact traffic levels have on local communities and opportunities reduces the opportunities for social interaction changing the priorities for streets in neighbourhoods to encouraging more active travel and placing a greater emphasis of a sense of place can assist community cohesion and help to reduce traffic speeds through effective design of streets and the public realm with greater priorities for people and safety over cars.

  • EPC3 To look at further innovative opportunities to encourage developers and employers to develop commuter plans to reduce the need for trips in private motor vehicles and to promote commuting by public transport and active travel
  • EPC4 To work with Universities and various user groups to develop a greater understanding to the barriers for accessing and using public transport and modes of active travel in a post Covid World addressing real issues and negative perceptions including marketing and promotions and targeted research to inform future approaches to behavioural change, including possible incentives marketing and promotions.
  • EPC5 To learn from other local authorities applying the ‘Link & Place’ methodology for changing priorities for streets creating a greater sense of place and supporting the development of the 15-minute City where all key services are accessible using public transport or active travel.

Fuel Poverty & affordable warmth

8.10 In the current economic climate with the security of energy supply becoming more of a threat to the UK the risk of rising levels of fuel poverty are becoming increasingly significant. In 2021 there were nearly 26,000 people (19% of the population) living in cold poorly insulated homes in Coventry which directly impact upon health exacerbating the problems for those with cardiovascular and respiratory disease, mental health anxiety and depression. Within Coventry the differences in the levels of fuel poverty can be significantly contrasting within the City itself.

Fuel poverty in Coventry 2019

8.11 There are also issues relating to debt in low-income families with disproportionate percentage of their overall income being spent on fuel and rent resulting in less available for other essentials with direct impacts upon diet and nutrition. With people facing some dramatic rises in energy costs (in some instances up to 300% increases) the numbers in fuel poverty is very likely to increase. Currently 19% of families are in fuel poverty.

8.12 The City Council’s Affordable Warmth Programme is likely to face an increasing level of demand from the public. ‘Act on Energy’ a Stratford based Charity is currently commissioned by the City Council to provide advice and support to households affected by fuel poverty and helps with practical advice and access to funding from the City Council for replacement boilers and energy efficiency retrofit funding from the Local Authority Delivery Scheme (LADS), the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund (SHDF) for those living in social housing, the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) via the utilities, the Warm Home Discount and the Priority Services Register

  • EPC6 To work with Utilities in adopting a strategic approach to the promotion and use of Energy Company Obligation (ECO) Funding to support the retrofitting of residential properties.
  • EPC7 To develop a partnership with Wolverhampton and Birmingham City Councils for the 3 Cities Retrofit Initiative to target more than 165,000 social housing properties which will be able to secure funding, resources and expertise for energy efficiency, green heating and energy generation schemes across the social housing estate.
  • EPC8 To work in partnership with Housing Associations and other Registered Providers and private landlords in securing resources for improving the energy efficiency of properties for tenants especially those suffering from fuel poverty due to the rising prices in fossil fuels.
  • EPC9 To establish ways of improving the City Council’s Affordable Warmth service and access to grants and other support to improve energy efficiency and assist with fuel payments for the increasing numbers of families expected to be in fuel poverty due to the rising prices in fossil fuels.

Access to open space – mental wellbeing

8.13 Green spaces help to cool cities down and provide areas of respite and reflection from the stresses of daily life and are known to contribute to mental and physical wellbeing. A study of over 19,000 people in England looked at the effects of spending 2 hours or more a week in or around open green spaces. The results showed a significant increase in the likelihood of people reporting good health or high wellbeing

8.14 The average number of visits made by residents across the West Midlands to the natural environment (natural England’s Monitor of Engagement with the Natural Environment Survey (MENE)) is well below the national average. In fact, Coventry has the lowest figure in the region with 57 average estimated weekly visits against a national average of 90. Those neighbourhoods with the poorest access to private transport have the lowest areas of nearby greenspace

8.15 The level of perceived greenness of a City notably, parks, gardens and playing fields has an important role to play in determining the wellbeing people derive from their environment. Over 20% of Coventry’s total area are green spaces but from an accessibility point of view – despite this Coventry trails behind regional average for accessible open green space provision by population. The New Economic Foundation carried out a survey of local authorities across the West Midlands and beyond and discovered that Coventry ranks 141 out of the 373 local authorities across England for its average combined size of parks, public gardens and playing fields accessible to households within a 1km radius compared to Birmingham which is 19 and Solihull 45.

8.16 There is a close correlation between the levels of deprivation and the population pressures on available green space, there is a need to ensure a greater level of provision for green spaces in the most densely populated areas where the highest levels of deprivation exist.

8.17 The City Council’s Parks Team had put in considerable effort in supporting the establishment of community Friends of Parks Groups and enhancing support with Allotment associations to encourage local ownership for parks, allotments and areas of open space this was adversely affected by the incidence of COVID and needs to be revived. Working in partnership with these groups and with the use of Section 106 funding through the planning process we should be able to secure funding and resources to support local residents and groups with the development and maintenance of sites on the ground.Index of Multiple Deprivation mapped against Coventry and also shown mapped against population pressure

  • EPC10 To support the further development of Friends groups and to work in partnership with the Trust for Conservation Volunteers, the Wildlife Trust, Canals and Rivers Trust, Heart of England Community Foundation, the WMCA and others to seek funding for projects on the ground.
  • EPC11 To develop training and skills in land management, horticulture, urban forestry, adaptation and wildlife conservation practices for volunteers across the City,
  • EPC12 To work with local schools on the development of the green environment in the schools and to promote membership and participation in Eco Schools, Food for Life and Forest Schools programmes and initiatives.

Prospects for employment

8.18 The Green industrial revolution provides considerable opportunities for future employment and Coventry’s Economic development Strategy identifies the opportunities which exist to address the Government’s ‘Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution’. The development of retrofit technologies and their installation along with renewables such as solar and heat exchange systems provide considerable opportunities for employment. It is estimated that more than 21,000 jobs could be created in new green industries across the West Midlands with 92,000 new jobs

8.19 The development of innovative technologies such as the Very Light Rail System and the manufacture of batteries for electric vehicles such as the Gigafactory offer considerable employment potential.

8.20 The £130m boost in funding for the development of green technology skills across the West Midlands will help to train the locally unemployed or low skilled workers with new skills such as electric vehicle maintenance, installation of electric vehicle charging points and retrofitting homes for example all skills which will be in demand over the coming years.

  • EPC13 To work in partnership with Adult Learning, Colleges and Universities on the development of the new skills needed to support the growth of environmental technologies, goods and services
  • EPC14 To work with local social enterprises in creating employment and training opportunities in the hiring of goods and services in the re-use, recycling, service and repair sector as well as land based industries relating to sustainable agriculture and horticulture.

Fresh Food and Healthy Diets

8.21 The City Council is a member of and aims to work closely with the ‘Coventry Food Network’ whose Food Charter highlights the following principles for action:

  1. Proclaims the universal right to food
  2. Promotes a community food culture
  3. Enables food producing environments and reduces food waste
  4. Supports ethical business and social enterprise
  5. Works for food justice

8.22 Coventry was awarded Sustainable Food Places Status for the work of its Strategy with a discounted food scheme, school holiday hunger projects, community café with ‘The pod’, the social supermarket in Foleshill, food growing projects and cooking programmes.

8.23 To learn from Warwick County Public Health Dept’s successful Food for Life Programme which was introduced to schools, early years settings and hospital trusts and consider the benefits of the programme and how it may be applied in the Coventry context.

  • EPC15 To work with the Food Network and the University of Warwick in the development of a mobile green grocers to tour locations across the City and target areas where fresh fruit and vegetable produce is less readily available and to work on choice management and behavioural change projects to increase access to healthy food and to encourage the development of cooking skills across the community.
  • EPC16 To further refine the Food Strategy including finding areas of land suitable for community food growing in key target areas of need across the City and to apply for Bronze status for the Edible Food Places Award.

Engaging Communities in creating liveable spaces

8.24 The quality of the environment and sense of place play a very important part in making people feel comfortable with the places in which they live and where we can design out crime where people can feel safe. Quality urban design involves and engages local communities helps to understand what characteristics people value and how they use space.

8.25 By talking to local residents and businesses and studying public life we can help to create a greater sense of place which addresses people’s needs and place a stamp of local distinctiveness that evokes civic pride whether it be public art or the sensitivity of the design and landscaping etc.

  • EPC17 To work with communities in shaping neighbourhoods and using techniques like Future Search, Action Planning, Planning for Real, Participatory Budgeting, etc we can help to target those locations where we need to rebuild a sense of place that people can be proud of.

8.26 A recent study of the region commissioned by WMCA and carried out by the New Economics Foundation looked critically at access to green space and found that the most deprived more densely populated areas had the least accessible green space in the City. The Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) populations in Coventry showed greater population pressure on green space than other segments of society.

  • EPC18 To identify areas of neglected open space which has the potential for accessible community open space for formal amenity and semi natural green spaces of value for wildlife and places of refuge to provide rest and relaxation to enhance mental wellbeing.

8.27 The City Council’s Public Health function working in close collaboration with the NHS Trusts, Integrated Care Boards (ICB’s), Children’s Services and Adult Social Care has a major role to play in addressing health inequalities, it would be helpful if this work was also looked at in the context of the UN Sustainable Development goals many of which have a focus on health and wellbeing.

  • EPC19 To review progress in the effectiveness of the Health & Wellbeing Strategy in addressing the wider determinants of health and creating an equitable sustainable city.

Creating a Green cultural legacy

8.28 Arts and culture plays a significant part in promoting emotional wellbeing and celebrating diversity and cultural identity whether at the City or neighbourhood level. The City of Culture Trust working with the City Council ran a very successful programme of events and activities with an environmental theme mainly focusing on our natural heritage and the appreciation of wildlife and natural habitats. A number of activities that were organised were specifically targeted at underrepresented ethnic groups and many events that were organised were fully booked within the week they were advertised to the public. People who were not previously engaged in nature conservation and environmental issues demonstrated an interest.

8.29 There is now an amazing opportunity to build upon the City of Culture’s Green Legacy with a series of arts and cultural events across the City ranging from small scale community based events and public art through to major exhibitions and festivals like the Godiva Festival where we promote awareness of sustainability and Climate Change in new and interesting ways and help to build a sense of place, identity and purpose for Coventry as a Green City and home to the new green Industrial Revolution.

8.30 The Major arts organisations in the region worked together with training and support provided by the Trust in changing the way they operate not only to reduce their environmental impact but also to raise the awareness of their visitors and audiences.

8.31 The City Council intends on working with the City of Culture Trust in the development of a Green Legacy that builds upon the experiences from the City of Culture Year and to use the arts and cultural events as a means of raising the awareness and interest of the general public inspiring changes in attitude and responsiveness to call for action for developing sustainable futures.

  • EPC20 To work in collaboration and partnership with the City of Culture to create a Green Legacy for Coventry with:
    • a clear code of practice for the future running of events and venues to minimise their impact upon the environment.
    • A programme of events and activities which celebrate a Green City and the distinctiveness of the various neighbourhoods which make the City as we know it today.

Advancing awareness of sustainability and supporting Behavioural Change

8.32 All the work of Partner organisations across the City will amount to a little if we do not manage to see a cultural shift in not only the way the individual members of our organisations work across the city work in the future and their commitment to change but also how individuals and wider society, the public, adjust and change their behaviours to minimise the impact they have on the environment. As mentioned earlier there is not much time left to effect the necessary changes so how we all go about this is going to be critical to our success

8.33 Schools have a major role to play in raising public awareness of environmental issues and encouraging action to address climate change not only through what they teach in the classroom but also the examples they set to the children and their parents in the way they manage the school and through examples of good environmental stewardship for present and future generations.

8.34 The Library Service will organise special awareness raising events and activities as part of its community programme with the setting up of book sections and public information directories devoted to sustainability and climate change and promoting the services use of environmental technologies to reduce its carbon footprint.

8.35 How do we create a balance between incentives and penalties to encourage and support the right behaviours and how do we raise awareness of the issues, engage people in problem solving and explain the reasons why certain courses of action are recommended how do we frame our communications to elicit a positive response. These are all challenges which lay before us and there are no easy answers.

  • EPC21 To work with the various institutions and universities and stakeholders including community representatives in
    • Creative problem solving that cross professional and geographical boundaries to address issues of concern and to propose practical solutions to often complex and difficult issues;
    • Applying the use of nudge theory, behavioural economics and other similar techniques to encourage behavioural change and to conduct research into their effectiveness and to learn lessons to help improve the effectiveness of future practice.
  • EPC22 To develop a set of resources and a programme of support for schools which inform and encourage a greater awareness of sustainability and climate change issues adapted for all subjects across the curriculum and to assist schools in implementing the highest standards for reducing their ecological & carbon footprint.
  • EPC23 Working with environmental professionals across the Council and partner organisations to promote opportunities for practical and experiential learning across the whole curriculum in locations outside of the classroom across the City.
  • EPC24 Libraries to work across the City with themed events and activities aimed at raising public awareness of Sustainability issues and the provision of practical information with sources of advice and guidance.