2018 Cambridge by-Election: Petersfield Ward

Cambridge City Council
Polling DateThursday 13th September 2013
Candidates (by surname):Sarah Elizabeth BROWN (Liberal Democrat)
Othman Bankole COLE (Conservative Party)
Kelley GREEN (Labour Party)
Virgil Au Wenhan IERUBINO (Green Party)

Questions for Petersfield Ward Candidates

Question 1

Air quality is a growing problem in and around Cambridge and the city council has published an Air Quality Action Plan. Other cities have introduced measures such as electric vehicle charging points, improved public transport, congestion charging and clean air zones. What are your thoughts about this?

Sarah Elizabeth BROWN (Liberal Democrat)I support the thrust of the council’s draft air quality action plan, but I think it is disappointingly light on improving public awareness, which is a precondition for the significant changes which we need to follow. In particular I would have liked to see it include an immediate campaign against engine idling when vehicles are out of traffic, as a number of other urban councils have done and it is a pity that the council rejects this.

A much more comprehensive and accessible public transport system is a priority to provide a reliable alternative to car journeys and I would like to see people consulted on a congestion charge as not only a potential means of subsidising it, but also to reduce private traffic.

I would like to see a Clean Air Zone in the centre of Cambridge and a toxicity charge applied to public service and commercial vehicles as a means of encouraging a switchover to electric vehicles by operators and shared “last mile delivery” logistics schemes.

At all levels the council and its partners should be making transition to electric vehicles easier. I am pleased that the council has eventually progressed Lib Dem proposals to incentivise this for taxis and is using government funding to provide taxi charging points. I would like to see the Greater Cambridge Partnership accelerate its scheme to trial electric vehicles with bus operators. I would like to see a project to facilitate car charging in streets without private off-street space, which is the situation through much of Petersfield.

I would like to see provision in the planning system to require electric vehicle charging points for new developments with communal parking.

I am campaigning in Petersfield against the disastrous air pollution in Great Northern Road.
Lessons still need to be learned in order to avoid new developments being planned in a way
that exposes homes to continuously queueing traffic at very close quarters.
Othman Bankole COLE (Conservative Party)This candidate has not responded to the questionnaire
Kelley GREEN (Labour Party)Cambridge City Council's air quality action plan is a good starting point but more needs to be done to ensure the health of our citizens. Respiratory diseases recently overtook heart disease as a leading cause of death in the city. I would support a combined approach including more electric car charging points and better public transport. Whilst Cambridge City Council has a limited role in delivering bus services it can work in partnership with other government organisations improving the infrastructure that good bus services, as well as train services, cyclists and walkers all require. The planning process is crucial. As is public awareness of alternative means of transport. Cambridge was not built for car use and its impact is significant. I look forward to the day when it is regarded as a minority mode of transport.
Virgil Au Wenhan IERUBINO (Green Party)Air quality is an urgent and serious problem. This means drastic remedial action is required, not small patchwork. Certain initiatives require a bold investment to have an impact. For instance, making electric vehicle charging points easily accessible throughout the city would suddenly make the use of electric vehicles both appealing and convenient, increasing their use. Other initiatives may seem disruptive (like congestion charging and clean air zones) and therefore equally require a boldness to enact. Any disruption can be mitigated through careful planning, and would quickly diminish and be forgotten as we adapt to them. We could then enjoy the benefits of cleaner air for generations to come.

Question 2

There have been calls recently for Cambridge to have a Car Free Day in Autumn 2019. What are your thoughts about this?

Sarah Elizabeth BROWN (Liberal Democrat)I support the objective of focusing the public on the attractions of less car use. If a proper assessment could ensure that necessary journeys would continue to be possible, I think this is an interesting proposition to promote debate and hopefully progress.

For an ongoing scenario, I incline against imposed universal bans. In many circumstances these can be a rather a blunt tool in a city where the diversity of need is better accommodated by influencing choices and rather than prohibiting them. Experience has
shown that simple road closures polarise opinion.
Othman Bankole COLE (Conservative Party)This candidate has not responded to the questionnaire
Kelley GREEN (Labour Party)I would support a car free day. It's a good way of encouraging a modal shift.
Virgil Au Wenhan IERUBINO (Green Party)This event would be a valuable way of raising awareness around environmental issues and transport. Of course, it must be properly planned to minimise disruption, particularly for anyone that relies on a car at present. But if London can do it, there is no reason why we can't!

Question 3

CO2 emissions in Cambridge associated with transport have remained essentially unchanged over a decade. What measures would you like to see introduced by City Council that can encourage the uptake of walking, cycling and public transport?

Sarah Elizabeth BROWN (Liberal Democrat)I am proud to have been personally instrumental in the citywide 20mph limit in residential streets, which creates safer norms for all highway users, though still lacks good enforcement.

The City Council now primarily works through the Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP) for
most of its impact on transport. I am pleased that some schemes are now being designed which provide for improved walking and cycling provision (especially the Chisholm Trail, but also including Milton and Histon Roads and parts of Hills Road). It is disappointing that more substantial progress has been held up by complete failure to set an overall demand management strategy for highway space, which means that high levels of private vehicle use continues to be accommodated rather than contained and reduced to allow more space re-allocation to pedestrians and cyclists and freer flow for public transport: see my answer to Q1.

Other priorities for me are more cycle parking across the city, including offering residents in streets where off-street cycle parking is difficult, the choice of converting some on-street car parking bays to cycle racks.
Othman Bankole COLE (Conservative Party)This candidate has not responded to the questionnaire
Kelley GREEN (Labour Party)Cambridge has the highest rate of cycling in the country. 56% of people cycle at least once a week. That compares with around 24% throughout the county of Cambridgeshire. Cycling is also increasing year on year. The cycle bridge at the station has a monitoring point indicating over a thousand cycle journeys a day. It is in the ward of Petersfield. Obviously, there are improvements that can make journeys better, like layout and safety. I wasn't very impressed by the improvement scheme at Lensfield Road near to where I live. Opportunities were missed when the county council 'upgraded' the junction. I took part in the consultation but there wasn't much evidence of my suggestions being incorporated. I think we need to take public involvement a lot more seriously. My view is that small scale, incremental improvement is the best way forward in our urban environment. Larger schemes can cause disruption and conflict between different user groups, as well as residents groups. As a designer I've always been a fan of seeing what works and doing more of it. In the case of Cambridge, cycling clearly works. I believe there needs to be additional funding for a variety of integrated transport schemes and a better bus service is the key to unlocking some of that funding.
Virgil Au Wenhan IERUBINO (Green Party)These modes of transport simply need a far greater share of the pie from the Council budget. Maintenance of pavements, improvement and installation of bike facilities and a more reliable bus service are all sorely needed. However, a large proportion of emissions from transport are not caused by the transport choices of local residents – we have an influx of traffic into the city daily. Initiatives like clean air zones, park and ride and congestion charging can help alleviate this part of the problem.

Question 4

It is anticipated that something like 30,000 new homes will be built in and around Cambridge in the next decade. It’s imperative that these are built to very high energy efficiency standards so as to reduce carbon emissions and the dangers of climate change, keep running costs down and to avoid overheating in summer. Retrofitting existing homes is also very important. The City Council has published the Cambridge Sustainable Housing Design Guide but London and some other cities have gone further. What are your thoughts about what Cambridge should do?

Sarah Elizabeth BROWN (Liberal Democrat)I fully support the council’s Sustainable Housing Design Guide, which covers a wide range of topics. I would like to see the council push for widespread development at Code level 5 and to use its resources to help facilitate this.

I very much support the council’s drive for innovation and if elected would seek to understand how council officers are approaching this challenge and work with them to push ideas forward. It may be that the council will over time need further in-house expertise and I would press for that to be available through the budget setting process.

High standards in new housing are essential, but improvements to the existing stock are equally important. I would like to see the council dig deep into its resources as well as seek further third party funding, such as we successfully used in Cambridge under the Green Deal, to fund a grant programme for improving homes and possibly other buildings. As well as grant funding, I think the council could do more to assist householders to access value-for-money energy saving/producing solutions.
Othman Bankole COLE (Conservative Party)This candidate has not responded to the questionnaire
Kelley GREEN (Labour Party)I like the idea that sustainable development occurs best when housing is delivered close to where it is needed. This is why I support the idea of Cambridge as a growth hub and a compact city. We need to continually improve the status quo without causing planning applications to be rejected and clogging up the planning system. Pushing the agenda forward a little bit at a time, with each planning review, and frequently adding new policy documents, will keep us at the forefront. Some of the new dwellings in Trumpington have solar panels and I'd like to see this as retrofitting in older parts of the city where appropriate. The development of the Mill Road Depot site will provide a great chance to deliver high standard, new council homes and I look forward to the opportunity of working on it with my colleagues in Labour.
Virgil Au Wenhan IERUBINO (Green Party)The Council's guide contains many admirable 'goals' for developments to 'consider'. However, the urgency of environmentally friendly design does not come off clearly, and it is easy to see how it could continue to fall by the wayside. It is after all only the 4th (not the 1st) listed goal in their guide, of which only the 2nd subpoint is "Energy and carbon emissions". A prospering city like Cambridge should be are the forefront of environmentally friendly design, so I would like to see more stringent guidelines that will clearly be enforced.

Question 5

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 an enhanced tree planting programme in Cambridge city? Also, suggestions have been made recently to create new areas of woodland around Cambridge, but there are always pressures to use the land in other ways. What are your thoughts about how to reconcile these issues?

Sarah Elizabeth BROWN (Liberal Democrat)I would certainly support more tree planting in the city and I have been dismayed that, in recent years the rate of removal was actually greater than the rate of new planting on council land, until this was challenged by Lib Dem councillors. To improve overall canopy cover, we also need more trees on privately owned land and I am an advocate for the Children’s Tree Scheme, whereby each child in year 4 would be gifted through schools a young tree for their garden (or a designated public space) as a focal point for learning about the role of trees in the environment and how to plant and care for them. Sadly this scheme has been rejected by the City Council.

Throughout the city and at its edges I’d like to see the provision of adequate, publicly accessible green space, some of which should be new woodland. New development should integrate ‘green fingers’ into the city and be used to enhance biodiversity, as we planned with the country parks at Trumpington.
Othman Bankole COLE (Conservative Party)This candidate has not responded to the questionnaire
Kelley GREEN (Labour Party)Now you are really getting to my specialist area! I'd love there to be an enhanced tree planting program and I would certainly get involved if I had the chance. By selecting varieties to help bio-diversity, for example helping the dwindling bee population, we can bring more nature into the city. Horse Chestnut is a great tree species in parkland and provide s a wonderful opportunity for children's play. I'm talking about conkers! I'm a qualified Arborist as well as Landscape Architect and Town Planner. The farm I grew up on in Willingham is now a dedicated woodland, registered with the Forestry Commission. It's capturing a heck of a lot of carbon dioxide. In terms of woodland around Cambridge, I'd support it as we all need access to wooded areas, it's part of our birth right. Strategic planning should be able to deliver this as well as everything else.
Virgil Au Wenhan IERUBINO (Green Party)I would wholeheartedly support vastly increased tree planting across the city, as well as the creation and maintenance of green spaces large and small. Wherever you are, it should not be hard to find some grass! Regarding pressures on land use, land development is important, but so too is the creation or protection of natural green space and woodland. The balance between these two simply needs to start tipping the other way. The upshot of this may be that Cambridge grows more slowly. That sounds negative but would actually be beneficial itself, too: the pursuit of lightspeed growth is at the heart of many local issues.

Question 6

Finally, do you know the size of your own Carbon Footprint? Are you taking any measures to reduce it and if so what?

Sarah Elizabeth BROWN (Liberal Democrat)According to the WWF, my carbon footprint is 11.3 tonnes per annum, which is below average for the UK. I would like to further reduce it. I have utilised energy saving technology extensively in my home, including replacing all my lighting with LEDs and fitting a smart thermostat which gives me significant gas savings, automatically reducing heating use when we are out or when sunny weather is forecast. My home is well insulated to modern standards to further reduce the need for heating. I plan to fit solar panels to the roof. My trips around Cambridge are predominantly by foot or bicycle, and further afield I favour the train over car use. When I do drive, my car is a low emission hybrid. My garden is rather small but I do grow some of my own food in it and choose energy efficient ways to shop, including using local shops wherever possible and weekly delivery rather than driving to a supermarket. In addition to making full use of the council recycling and composting waste collections, my household also recycles old clothes, batteries and books.
Othman Bankole COLE (Conservative Party)This candidate has not responded to the questionnaire
Kelley GREEN (Labour Party)No, I don't know the size of my carbon footprint. I suspect it is high as I live in an old building without any wall insulation. There are no cavity walls. I am also a car user. I took the decision a few years ago to make my main occupation a local farm shop, based on a farmers' market model. It supports local suppliers using a co-operative system to encourage sustainable food production and reduce carbon miles. We have been very pleased with the success of our online sales and an advantage is that customers no longer need to drive to the city to get our produce. We send it all over the country including some remote areas. We try not to waste any food instead giving to organisations such as food cycle, the community fridge, and promoting short-date items through our membership of Camlets, a local exchange and trading system. Our business has become a hub in the local community and it's great connecting with a number of local networks. It helps the environment and adds resilience to our local economy.
Virgil Au Wenhan IERUBINO (Green Party)I have tried to reduce my carbon footprint in a large number of ways. Just some aspects of my life contributing to this are that I don't own a car, my energy supplier uses 100% renewables, and I almost never take airplane journeys. Minimising my carbon footprint is something I consider actively day-to-day. For anyone reading this, if you don't currently use a 100% renewable energy supplier, I strongly encourage you to look into switching. It may be the biggest impact you can make, and the cost difference these days is often negligible.