Leading councillors in Carlisle need to do more tackle climate change, the authority’s former deputy leader has claimed.

Labour’s Les Tickner said he was disappointed that a report by the Conservative’s environment and transport portfolio holder Nigel Christian made no mention of the council’s strategy for addressing the environmental crisis.

Criticising executive members for what he called a lack of urgency, he also sought assurances that they would be phasing in a fleet of electric or hybrid vehicles to replace the diesel ones now used.

Dr Tickner’s comments come 10 months after the authority declared a climate emergency and pledged to become carbon neutral by 2030 – though some campaigners want to bring this forward to 2025.

He asked Councillor Christian for an update on the meetings of the climate change group including any practical steps that had been implemented since March.

Dr Tickner also blasted the executive amid claims that no effort had been made to replace the council’s fleet of vehicles with more environmentally-friendly vehicles.

Coun Christian, however, said that the council had introduced new all-electric street-sweepers and would indeed phase in more electric or hybrid vehicles, particularly when new technology became available.

The portfolio holder also insisted that the executive and the scrutiny committees had been working very hard on the authority’s emerging climate change strategy.

Dr Tickner also rubbished previous claims from one executive member that replacing the fleet of council vehicles would cost the authority £25m, necessitating a 50 per cent hike in council tax.

Describing the comments as a scaremongering tactic, he added: “We would never ever buy £25m-worth of vehicles – we would phase them in over the years.

“Nobody is expecting that we would replace the whole fleet in one go and purchase them with £25m; that’s utter nonsense.”

Speaking earlier this year, deputy leader Gareth Ellis urged his fellow councillors to be realistic about their demands to tackle climate change and to consider the practicalities as well as the cost involved in an earlier roll-out of the eco-friendly vehicles.

The authority has explored the idea of moving to an electric fleet in the next five years, which would cost between £15m and £20m, money he said that the cash-strapped authority simply does not have.

Coun Ellis claimed that the only way to bring the project forward would be through a 15 to 18 per cent hike in council tax – an increase so great that it would require a district-wide referendum, a move that he did not recommend.

He had also estimated that borrowing the money needed to fund the project would cost the council about £1m to £1.1m per year in interest repayments.

Coun Ellis had also claimed the technology was not ready to meet practical demands, with some bin wagons likely to run out of juice halfway through their round.