2019 Cambridge City Elections: Newnham Ward

 Cambridge City Council
Polling date:2nd May 2019
Candidates (by surname):Joe BEASTALL (Labour Party)
Markus GEHRING (Liberal Democrat)
Mark SLADE (Green Party)
Dollly THEIS (Conservative Party)

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?

Joe BEASTALL (Labour Party)Yes, global warming is a fact and it’s pollution made by humans that is the course. We must use Local Government Structures to set an example to the city of Cambridge that a greener way is possible. We also need to facilitate Green transport such as cycling across the city. I’m glad that the Labour Group through the Greater Cambridge Partnership are investing 20 million in cycling.

I’m also very glad that young people are leading the protests across the city. I spoke to a few of them at the recent Extinction Rebellion Protests. We will face the effects of global warming in our lifetime it’s important that our children have a future on this planet.
Markus GEHRING (Liberal Democrat)Absolutely yes – governments, businesses and really all, should respond to climate change and aim for the most ambitious carbon reductions. We cannot possibly wait for the UK government to ‘do the right thing’ on climate change. They are letting us down and for an island nation in particular I am ashamed by the lack of action and regression on climate change under Mrs May. Future generations will view this time as a lost decade.

I also strongly support the climate strikes and admire the audacity of hope which these young people display. Their actions should be wakeup calls to us all, especially those in decision-making positions.
Mark SLADE (Green Party)Unequivocally yes; it should have been declared 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.
Dollly THEIS (Conservative Party)This candidate did not respond to the questionnaire

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?

Joe BEASTALL (Labour Party)Yes, currently the Labour Group have set a target for the Council to be carbon neutral by 2030. With the complete loss of the core grant from central government action on this issue would be difficult to implement any faster without incurring significant cost to the council potentially meaning that other services would be effected or have to be cut.

Long term, I would love to see Cambridge become the first Carbon Sink City. We secured funding to plant 16,000 trees in Cambridge. We will be replacing our council fleet with electric vehicles by 2028 and we have put charging points in the city too. With a sympathetic national government that supported these projects through grants or match funding and can pass the legislation not in our power we could likely get it done sooner than 2050.

The Labour Group have already shown their commitment by Getting the Council to reduce its own carbon emissions by 15 per cent since 2016, and is on track to reduce it by one-fifth by next year. We will continue to cut emissions produced by the council’s buildings and fleet through developing and investing in carbon reduction projects, such as the completed installation of solar panels at Parkside Pools, and a biomass boiler at King’s Hedges Learner Pool, and a Combined Heat and Power plant in the Guildhall.
Markus GEHRING (Liberal Democrat)Especially a well-advanced city like Cambridge could aim for complete carbon neutrality by 2030 as the LibDems proposed and not just 2050 as the Labour Council decided. Our LibDem manifesto demands better and would take very concrete steps towards the 2030 target. Only aiming for the Council operations to be carbon neutral by that date is not good enough. Small islands such as Bonaire have been carbon neutral for years and are now aiming for carbon positivity. That is what Cambridge should be aiming for. Other Councils in England have already become carbon neutral and Councils similar to Cambridge have adopted a 2030 neutrality target. Carbon neutrality is one of our top three priorities aiming for a cleaner, greener, fairer Cambridge. As an educator and teacher of climate law, I think we also need to teach more people about the consequences of GHG emissions and climate change in general. I consider climate change the number one global justice issue of this century. We know how to fix it but are not doing nearly enough.
Mark SLADE (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.
Dollly THEIS (Conservative Party)This candidate did not respond to the questionnaire

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?

Joe BEASTALL (Labour Party)I’ve stated above many examples above about how the city council is showing leadership on becoming a carbon neutral organisation. This leadership will show to other employers around the city that a better way is possible.

A key point however is The Labour Group will proceed with a new Air Quality Action Plan, with proposals for a Clean Air Zone in the city centre to improve the quality of the air that we breathe. We recently signed up to the Charter for Cleaner Air, backed by Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and other councils, to signal our intent to maintain pressure on Government to take steps to reduce illegal levels of air pollution. I cycle around the city a lot and one of my growing concerns is the amount of pollution I’m breathing in. I’m glad we are taking action to clean the air of this city. Hopefully, it will promote more cycling too.

These commitments will complement existing work in reducing diesel and petrol vehicle movements into the city centre. A Labour council will add to initiatives such as the recent investment of more than 20 electric taxi charging points, and support residents and businesses who wish to pursue the option with the County Council of ‘car-free days’ in areas of congestion like Mill Road.
Markus GEHRING (Liberal Democrat)The council should be leading the response to the climate emergency and getting everybody in this city to share ownership of it. The City Council has an important, influential role in Cambridge, and it should be ambitious in order to inspire similar action from the universities, business and residents.

The City Climate Change Strategy needs review in the light of the IPCC Gap Report and requires a more ambitious update. We also need to more clearly assign the climate portfolio and giving it organisational footing in the Council. We should consider an energy investment scheme for all Council property and improved charging provision for electric cars. We must request for a concrete breakdown of the 1.5C target from the UK government and commensurate powers to address our climate challenge. Within the existing powers we should increase recycling and not be satisfied that recycling rates have flatlines and for Colleges even decreased. We should also avoid selling plastic bottles or consider recycling schemes and even a CamCup (like in Freiburg in Germany) to avoid plastic waste and support the circular economy.
Mark SLADE (Green Party)Cambridge City Council needs to be showing leadership by setting the example. Council owned buildings need to modernised to maximise energy efficiency and provide the infrastructure / logistics to encourage employees to travel by public transport, bike or foot. Single use plastics and plastic bottles should not provided by the Council.

It should also be using its influence and voice with the City Deal to ensure that affordable and convenient alternatives to car travel into the city are invested in. Perhaps the biggest influence the City Council can have is in planning and development; ensuring environmental issues are a priority for new developments.

Finally, the Council should play an important role in educating people on the issue of climate change and provide advice for local businesses on how they can help the effort towards making the city carbon neutral.
Dollly THEIS (Conservative Party)This candidate did not respond to the questionnaire

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?

Joe BEASTALL (Labour Party)As stated above I’m glad that the Labour Group have secured funding to plant 16,000 trees in Cambridge and they’ve all got to go somewhere. I’m working with residents associations in Newnham to plan where they would like more greenery such as Lammas Land and near Skaters Meadow.

One-fifth of the city will be covered with tree canopy by 2030 through new initiatives, as well as existing ones like our ‘Trees for Babies’ scheme. We commit to adding to our thirteen city wildflower gardens.
Markus GEHRING (Liberal Democrat)Yes, we need trees to mitigate climate change, convert CO2 and increase biodiversity.
I think we need a net positive annual target for trees on council-managed land and a Children’s Tree Scheme to gift trees to year 4 pupils for planting in private gardens and to embrace biodiversity net gain in local planning policy and public scheme design and management. We also need more funding for better biodiversity provision in the City.

I would absolutely support creating new areas of woodland around Cambridge, in fact Lib Dems have insisted on country parks for both the Clay Farm and Trumpington Meadows developments and would do so at Marshalls airfield which would provide an excellent opportunity for increased tree planting alongside more housing. Trees don’t just have great climate impact, they are also biodiversity hubs and improve wellbeing.
Mark SLADE (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. This should not be an arbitrary process either but a well conceived and connected project.
Dollly THEIS (Conservative Party)This candidate did not respond to the questionnaire

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?

Joe BEASTALL (Labour Party)I’m a keen cyclist. Most days I cycle around the city and it’s my preferred method of transport. Additionally, I’ve significantly reduced my meat intake due to environmental concerns and not wanting to endorse battery farming.

I would really like to grow more of my own food. That would be something I would like to do to reduce my carbon Footprint too. Actually, Cambridge is being recognised nationally as a leading sustainable food city with easy access to locally-sourced produce and I seek to promote a vibrant and sustainable local food system from field to fork.
Markus GEHRING (Liberal Democrat)My carbon footprint is about 8t/year, largely because I cannot avoid the occasional air travel for work. Four years ago we added a Passivhaus extension to our home (we had to import the windows from Germany because back then they did not make Passivhaus grade windows in the UK) and we don’t need to heat that part. We also have a 100% renewable energy tariff (though renewable gas is still difficult to source in the UK). We have a Prius as a family car but try to use is sparingly. One thing I will try to do this year is more skype conference presentations and fewer flights.
Mark SLADE (Green Party)I have not used a calculator to accurately calculate my carbon footprint but have taken steps in my life to reduce my personal impact. This includes becoming vegetarian (pretty much vegan unless eating out), cycling to work, reducing car travel to necessary trips only and drastically reducing the number of flights; part of the reason I changed direction with my career. I make a conscious effort to buy from local shops and try my best to avoid packaging; also repair and reuse as much as possible.

The biggest change that I would like to make is to my house; however, I rent and this is not a simple solution. That said, I am looking to move into my own place this year and am excited at the prospect of making improvements to further reduce my footprint.
Dollly THEIS (Conservative Party)This candidate did not respond to the questionnaire