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What’s happening in the world of local government this week?

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A woman holding a newspaper up and covering her face while reading on a bench. Photo by Roman Kraft on Unsplash

We’ve compiled together some of the most interesting, newsworthy stories of the last week from the local government sector worldwide. We’re just trialling this service out for now, so let us know what you think in the comments below: 

New Zealand: Sustainability

The ‘Let’s Reuse Hamilton’ initiative by Hamilton City Council has diverted over 2,000 disposable cups from landfills in six weeks. Participating cafes offer a sustainable cup-lending system, allowing customers to borrow reusable cups and return them later, reducing single-use cup waste. By using the Again Again app, customers can easily borrow stainless steel cups, fostering a community-wide commitment to sustainability. The initiative, funded through the Waste Minimisation Fund, aims to empower the community to make environmentally friendly choices. Participating cafes include Kopi Cafe, Rocket Coffee Roasters, Cream Eatery, Sierra Cafe, and Weave Eatery. The project has already sparked a sense of climate empowerment and hope for a cleaner planet. Source: Inside Local Government

Scotland: Infrastructure

To mark the occasion of ‘National Pothole Day’ in the UK (15th January), Midlothian Council reports that they are on track to repair over 5,000 potholes in a year, more than double their initial target – thanks to their new JCB Pothole Pro machine, nicknamed ‘The Tarminator’. The JCB was purchased by the Council for £780,000 as part of an investment to replace outdated road machinery. Transportation Service Manager Wayne Clark said that “while the Pothole Pro was a great addition to the council’s ‘arsenal’ of equipment, it is an ongoing challenge to tackle potholes across 640 kilometres and growing of kilometres of roads maintained the council.” The council’s commitment to improving Midlothian’s roads has been praised by residents, and they are working with the community to address road issues and ensure the efficient use of resources. Source: Edinburgh News

USA: Housing

Communities in southern Maine are launching a pilot program with a three-year, $800,000 grant to help residents access climate-friendly home energy upgrades. AmeriCorps members will provide one-on-one energy coaching, identifying cost-effective retrofits and aiding in applying for tax credits and rebates. The program aims to remove financial barriers and simplify the process for homeowners. Maine’s reliance on home heating oil makes residential emissions a top climate change contributor, and the program seeks to address this issue. It will connect with residents, offering assistance based on their energy needs and providing financial support for upgrades. The program also aims to evaluate impact and potentially expand statewide. Source: Grist

Spain: Health

The new local government in Barcelona is cracking down on social cannabis clubs, aiming to shut them down. Deputy Mayor Albert Batlle expressed disapproval of the tolerance towards these establishments, leading to increased inspections targeting 20 clubs. These clubs operate under a legal loophole, allowing paying members to grow and consume marijuana. The government’s conservative stance and the illegality of marijuana under Spanish law have prompted these crackdowns. With over 4 million users and attracting millions of tourists annually, the social cannabis club system in Spain is a big arena. Now, the future of these clubs remains uncertain as the government seeks to tighten regulations. Source: The Mayor

USA: Equality

The St. Paul City Council in Minnesota made history by becoming the first all-female council in the city’s 178-year history. The council consists of seven women from diverse backgrounds, aiming to bring fresh perspectives and address issues affecting the community. This milestone reflects the growing presence of women in politics and their ability to influence positive change. The council members are determined to prioritize affordable housing, public safety, and economic development. This historic achievement highlights the progress towards gender equality and the impactful leadership of women in local governance. Source: USA Today

England: Environment

A £200m investment in energy innovation has led to the development of a new technology that could heat 150 UK swimming pools using excess heat from power plants. This technology utilises heat exchangers to capture heat that would otherwise be wasted, converting it into electricity to power an electro-thermal storage system. This system provides a sustainable and cost-effective solution to heat swimming pools, addressing the rising energy costs faced by local authorities. The innovation is set to be rolled out across the UK, starting with the London borough of Islington, and is expected to make a significant contribution to the UK’s net-zero targets. Source: The Guardian

Scotland: Transport

Edinburgh is set to become the first city in Scotland to enforce a ban on pavement parking, following the Scottish government’s passing of legislation allowing local authorities to implement fines. The move aims to improve accessibility and safety for pedestrians, particularly those with disabilities or mobility issues. The ban will be implemented in phases, starting with a pilot scheme in select areas before being expanded citywide. The penalty for pavement parking will be a £70 fine, reduced to £35 if paid within 14 days. The ban has received support from campaigners who believe it will make a significant difference in making Edinburgh’s streets more inclusive and navigable for all. Source: Sky News

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