A EVENT that was due to launch the city’s pollution-battling Green City Charter tomorrow (March 21) has been cancelled, after the opposition head of a civic committee called the document ‘back-in’ to be debated further.

The decision was made by Southampton City Council after Conservative member Peter Baillie, chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee (OSMC), said he wanted the group to have another look at the document because he claimed “assurances” by Labour civic chiefs of “cross-party working groups” never came about.

The event was due to take place at the city’s Novotel, with politicians, business heads, and school children all scheduled to attend.

The council has not yet confirmed how much it lost from cancelling the launch.

As reported, the charter aims to tackle all types of pollution in the city, going further than the compulsory nitrogen dioxide-tackling Clean Air Zone.

When making the announcement at Cabinet last night, Cllr Baillie labelled the scheme a “Labour charter”, adding that the council was just “publishing Labour initiatives, rather than focusing on actual issues to help the city”.

This was rebuffed by authority leader Christopher Hammond, who said that the Conservative’s “11th hour” opposition to the charter is just a “political stand” rather than actually caring about city residents.

“I think it is disgraceful,” he said, adding that they “had weeks” to consult on the charter by taking part in the online survey – which saw more than 1,000 respondents give their views.

Despite the call-in, the charter was unanimously approved by the Labour cabinet, but currently cannot be pursued further until it has been debated by the OSMC.

Regarding the event, a council spokesperson said: “Due to the democratic process, we have had to delay the formal launch of the Green City Charter on Thursday 21 March at the Novotel Southampton.

“The Chair of Overview and Scrutiny is able to ‘call in’ any decision made by Cabinet, meaning the item must be presented to OSMC for further discussion before a final decision is taken. On this occasion, the chair has chosen to call in the Cabinet decision relating to the Green City Charter.

“This means that the council has to take all reasonable steps to ensure the decision is not implemented until the matter has been through this decision making process. Therefore, the formal launch event for the Charter which was scheduled for March 21 has had to be delayed.

“We sincerely apologise for any inconvenience caused. We will be in contact with all stakeholders with an update and to let them know when the Charter will be available for signing by founding partners as soon as possible.”