A DEBATE on climate change at Dudley Council ended in angry protests, amid accusations Conservative councillors deliberately 'talked out' a climate proposal.

Councillors debated whether to pass a motion calling for Dudley Council to declare a climate emergency, which would have seen the local authority pledge to achieve a net-zero carbon footprint by 2030.

The debate ran out of time before it could be put to the vote, leading campaigners to claim the debate was deliberately talked out of the chamber.

Supporters from groups such as the Green Party, Friends of the Earth, Extinction Rebellion, Transition Stourbridge and Young Labour held a rally outside the council building before the meeting and packed into the public gallery to hear the motion be put forward by Labour councillor Chris Barnett.

However tensions rose when an amendment to the motion, which removed a target date to reduce the authority’s carbon footprint, was put forward by Conservative councillor Simon Phipps.

The ensuing debate on the motion led to shouts of protest from people in the public gallery, who claimed councillors did not know the facts of climate change.

Protestors were asked to leave several times and blew whistles to show their frustration - but they were also told to be quiet by other members of the gallery.

The debate ran out of time, pushing the motion into April's full council meeting and the public gallery closed due to the fracas.

Speaking outside the meeting, climate campaigners accused Conservative councillors of deliberately running down the clock so the motion would be pushed back.

Mark Binnersley, co-chair of the Dudley Green Party, blasted the Conservatives actions as 'shameful'.

He said: "I think the blame lies with the Tories, they have talked it out, I think it was shameful that they focussed on the council’s carbon emissions when really declaring a climate emergency is about helping the borough to become carbon neutral.

"I wouldn’t condemn their [the protestors] behaviour, I think it’s understandable, this is an emergency. People feel desperate. They are not being listened to and I can understand why people were speaking out."

The Green Party have now challenged the Conservatives to call an urgent extraordinary meeting to debate the motion before the next full meeting in April.

A statement from the party read: "We cannot afford to delay any longer. Show the borough you're serious about this. We need climate action now."

Councillor Pete Lowe, who supported the motion, said: "I don’t support people shouting but you can understand their frustration when people have been sitting up there for so long. If that’s democracy we need to review democracy and have a look at what’s important."

Councillor Phipps denied that his party tried to push out the motion instead stating that the protestors’ interruptions delayed the debate.

He said: "It's not correct. The constant interruptions from the public gallery drowned out the elected councillors of Dudley who were trying to express support.

"With my amendment a lot of the detail was exactly the same as what councillor Barnett was proposing. It said, let's set a date when we know what we are starting from."

Along with removing a target date for achieving a net-zero carbon footprint, councillor Phipps proposed setting up a climate change action group on the council; to make a cabinet member responsible for taking action on climate change and to consult residents on how to cut down on emissions.

He added: "Behaving in such a way does nothing to win people to your side. But it's not changed my position as an advocate for climate change action in the Conservatives."

Authorities around the country, including nearby councils in Wolverhampton, Walsall and Solihull, have already declared a climate emergency.

The motion comes after Dudley came joint second bottom out of list of a 340 local authorities for tackling climate change following a Friends of the Earth investigation.