2019 Cambridge City Elections: Cherry Hinton Ward

 Cambridge City Council
Polling Date:2nd May 2019
Ward:Cherry Hinton
Candidates (by surname):Mark ASHTON (Labour Party)
Mohammed HOSSAIN (Conservative Party)
Jennifer RICHENS (Green Party)
Henry WRIGHT (Liberal Democrat)

Question 1:

Do you agree that elected officials should now be responding to climate change as an emergency? Please answer yes or no. If ‘yes’, what do you mean by this? If ‘no’, why not?

Mark ASHTON (Labour Party)This candidate did not respond to the questionnaire
Mohammed HOSSAIN (Conservative Party)This candidate did not respond to the questionnaire
Jennifer RICHENS (Green Party)Yes; although it should have been considered an emergency years ago. To deal effectively with this emergency, every decision made by the City Council must have climate change as the starting point for discussion and action. As with any emergency, it needs strong leadership. We need officials willing to actively promote and push policies to minimise our carbon footprint, protect our environment and prepare for the impact climate change will have in Cambridge.
Henry WRIGHT (Liberal Democrat)Yes. With the IPCC saying we only have 12 years to act on climate change to keep rises within 1.5 degrees Celcius it's clear to me that this is an existential threat. As we've seen with the young people's climate strikes, and as a young person myself, I think we have to get real change to preserve the planet for future generations.

We need to act now: that's why it's an emergency.

Question 2

Do you support the setting of a net zero carbon target for the city of Cambridge? If ‘Yes’ when do you think we should be aiming for Cambridge to be net zero carbon? If ‘no’, why not?

Mark ASHTON (Labour Party)This candidate did not respond to the questionnaire
Mohammed HOSSAIN (Conservative Party)This candidate did not respond to the questionnaire
Jennifer RICHENS (Green Party)Yes. The Green Party proposed a plan to the Cambridge City Council to make the target 2030. This was sadly rejected. It was not properly adopted a second time when the Council finally declared a climate emergency this year. We maintain that 2030 is the latest target we should be aiming for. In addition, a clear road map needs to be proposed to achieve this.
Henry WRIGHT (Liberal Democrat)Setting a target commits us to the end point to force us to find solutions. Locally, Liberal Democrats have been clear on this, in fact when we tried to pass a motion at the council to set a 2030 target it was amended from 2030 to 2050 by Labour. Other councils such as Bristol and York have managed this and we can too.

I'm glad to be standing for party which has made it one of our top three priorities for a cleaner, greener, fairer Cambridge.

Question 3

Cambridge City Council is a central organisation in Cambridge. What do you think its role is in local leadership in relation to climate action? What specific additional actions in relation to climate change do you support the City Council doing in the coming 12 months?

Mark ASHTON (Labour Party)This candidate did not respond to the questionnaire
Mohammed HOSSAIN (Conservative Party)This candidate did not respond to the questionnaire
Jennifer RICHENS (Green Party)The city council should be taking a leading role in climate action, and lead by example.

Internally the council could be single-use plastic free and have transport initiatives to encourage employees to use public transport or cycle/walk. If not already in place then make sure that all pension funds etc are divested from fossil fuel companies.

Around the city the council should:-
Improve green spaces, and increase tree planting.
In tree removal planning applications have the default response be refusal, unless excellent reasoning can be shown for the need to remove the tree.
Require new builds incorporate planting, and also to incorporate low carbon building materials, and technologies such as solar panels to generate either electricity or hot water for the building.
Work to require buses be emission free, as they contribute a lot to air pollution in the city. This would require working together with the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Mayor.
Improve bus routes so that people don’t feel they “have to drive” as public transport is inconvenient.
Improve areas where cycling is dangerous to encourage cycling rather than use of cars.
Look into nappy recycling services. Many people in Cambridge are using disposable nappies, which – with the right treatment – can be mostly recycled.
Henry WRIGHT (Liberal Democrat)The City Council has an important and influential role in Cambridge and by being ambitious I believe it can inspire action from other Cambridge organisations.

The manifesto that I’m standing on lists specific actions that, if elected, I will work with other Liberal Democrat councillors to achieve. We’d start by reviewing the council’s Climate Change Strategy 2016-2021 in light of the more ambitious 2030 target we’d set. We’d introduce an energy investment scheme to get the council’s property portfolio of shops, offices and investment units using greener energy.

We’ll be calling for more powers for the council from the UK Government and starting an ambitious program to increase tree planting (see my response to Question 4) as well increased provision for charging electric vehicles.

The one I’m personally most proud of is our call to improve recycling rates. We’d explore the introduction of weekly food waste collections and renew the council’s focus on educating the wider public of the need for recycling. Something I’d personally use is the new water fountains we’d introduce in the city centre to reduce my reliance on drinks in single use plastic bottles.

Locally in Cherry Hinton I’d personally try to gain support from local businesses and residents to help reach our target. I’d also work with county councillors to continue to support measures to increase cycling uptake such as schemes for improved cycle safety along Queen Edith’s Way, which currently has a very narrow shared pedestrian and cycle path forcing cyclists to use the road. The Cherry Hinton Liberal Democrat team have already managed to get a scheme for a pedestrian crossing at Walpole Road approved, showing our commitment to making roads safe for all road users so it’s easier for people to reduce their carbon footprint.

Obviously, this is only a start and I’d be a staunch advocate as councillor for anything that would help us tackle this climate emergency in Cherry Hinton and beyond.

Question 4

Green spaces and trees remove carbon dioxide and other pollutants from the atmosphere, provide shade, help reduce flooding and often contribute to a feeling of well being. Would you support a more ambitious tree planting programme in Cambridge city? Also, suggestions have been made recently to create new areas of woodland around Cambridge. Would you support ambitious tree planting programmes around Cambridge city?

Mark ASHTON (Labour Party)This candidate did not respond to the questionnaire
Mohammed HOSSAIN (Conservative Party)This candidate did not respond to the questionnaire
Jennifer RICHENS (Green Party)Yes and yes. Reforestation is critical and Cambridge needs to play its part. This could be a fantastic opportunity to combine climate action with education, by having school children do trips to learn about reforestation, and to plant trees. I have fond memories of primary school trips to plant trees. Any areas of woodland should ideally be connected, as this creates much larger habitats for wildlife, and allows them to travel more easily.

In addition to creating areas of woodland, the planning committee should look into requiring well thought out green spaces in all new builds, including the inclusion of roof gardens/green roofs and trees/ other plants integrated into buildings. These “green buildings” are a great success in Singapore for example, and provide much needed habitat for birds and insects, as well as keeping cities cooler, and reducing pollution. We should not limit our vision to the ground... No new builds should be allowed that don’t incorporate some green space that is beneficial for the environment (i.e. not just a patch of grass)

I would also advocate greater allotment provision (ideally organic) as allotments have been shown to be valuable wildlife habitats including for insects, and have also been shown to have great health benefits for the allotment holders.

I would like to see greater tree planting where animals are reared for food, e.g. pig farms. in last summer’s heatwave I saw fields of pigs with nothing but dirt and their metal houses for protection from the sun. The houses will have been roasting hot, but there was no shade anywhere for the pigs. Planting trees for shade would give the pigs a much nicer habitat, reduce the temperature, and make the fields better habitat for wildlife.
Henry WRIGHT (Liberal Democrat)Yes to both! Tree planting is a way to not only take carbon out of our atmosphere but to increase bio-diversity and cool the planet.

The manifesto I’m standing on calls for an ambitious program to increase tree planting specifically. I’d be joining other councillors to support a net positive annual target for tree planting on council land as well as embracing the principle of a net gain of biodiversity in local planning policy and public scheme design.

This is something Liberal Democrats have insisted on before, with our calls for country parks at the Clay Farm and Trumpington Meadows developments and something we’d insist on for the Marshalls airfield development.

My favourite proposal of ours is the one to gift trees to year 4 pupils in the city council area for planting in private gardens, both getting kids more involved in tackling climate change and improving biodiversity in people’s gardens!

Question 5

Finally, do you know the size of your own Carbon Footprint? Can you identify one thing you’d like to change but haven’t yet managed to move your own carbon footprint towards zero carbon?

Mark ASHTON (Labour Party)This candidate did not respond to the questionnaire
Mohammed HOSSAIN (Conservative Party)This candidate did not respond to the questionnaire
Jennifer RICHENS (Green Party)I do not know my own carbon footprint exactly, but it is relatively small (for the UK) as I am vegetarian; use green electricity and greenish gas (currently 14% renewable); do not own a car; and take trains when visiting family in Germany, rather than flying. We also use washable nappies for our baby, which is actually no harder than using disposables! I would like to reduce the amount of food that we buy in packaging in our household, and I would also like to reduce the amount of dairy products I consume, as these are the most carbon intensive foods I eat.
Henry WRIGHT (Liberal Democrat)Yes, it’s something I’ve been trying to calculate and keep track of recently.

I used the WWF climate calculator a little while ago and it turns out 16% of my footprint was due to food! I already cycle and don’t use a car but there’s definitely work to do to reduce my footprint and this year I’ve been trying (mostly successfully) to reduce my meat consumption which had a much bigger impact on the climate than I thought.