Sorting out Clay Farm Allotments

When I became a city councillor in 2018 one of the top items on my list of things to sort out was the delays in handing over allotments in Trumpington from the developers of the new estates to local residents.  Since then we’ve managed to get three out of four sorted – Glebe Farm, Trumpington Meadows and Nine Wells are all now growing local food for local people.

However there are still issues over the Clay Farm allotments, and I’ve just written to Dave Fox at Cambridge allotments to explain what’s going  on.

You can read it here

[the image shows a screenshot from allotments.net with a map of Clay Farm allotments]

The short version: the original agreements between the council and the developers in 2007 and 2010 weren’t properly thought through and the local councillors at the time did not seem to understand the issues.

Getting back to campaigning – safely

When it was announced that this year’s local elections would be going ahead everyone active in local politics was relieved that we would get a chance to speak to people, discover their concerns, share our vision and campaign for your votes.  

For the last few weeks we’ve been doing that through phone canvassing, but now we’re actually going out onto the doorstep again. Or rather, we’re knocking on doors and then standing a safe distance away from the doorstep, wearing a mask and following the guidance we’ve been given!

I have always enjoyed this part of the campaign the most, as it gives me a chance to meet people and find out what matters to them, to hear about any problems they may be having, and to explain why I believe that voting for a Labour councilor is the way to make sure that Cambridge can thrive.  

A lot of the concerns are about local issues, but we can also talk about bigger things.  I believe we need find ways to live that balance people’s needs for a good quality of life with the planet’s need for us to live sustainably, and that the city council has a key role to play, and I’m always happy to talk about our support for the environment, food supply, and biodiversity.

Today I was in Accordia, off Brooklands Avenue, an area I know very well as it is one of the sizeable parts of Trumpington Ward that has been moved into Petersfield as part of this year’s boundary changes.  It was hard to decide which part of Trumpington to stay with when everything was moved, but having lived in Petersfield in the past I felt that I had most to offer there.

I hope I’ll get a chance to see lots of Petersfield residents between now and election day on May 6, but if I don’t please get in touch – you can email me on katie@katiethornburrow.com or call or message me on 07480 246939.

I’m standing in Petersfield… but bringing part of Trumpington with me

I was elected to Cambridge City Council in 2018, when I won Trumpington ward by four votes and became the first Labour councillor there for seventy-three years, when Edward Andrews won in 1945-46.  However in the forthcoming election I will be standing for Petersfield ward, and I wanted to explain why. 

It’s all to do with the way Cambridge has grown, and the resulting changes in the number of voters in each ward.  In 2018 Trumpington had 8940 registered voters,compared to 5,364 for Petersfield and 5,724 for Market. It was projected that in 2024 Trumpington would have nearly 10,100 voters – while Petersfield would still be less than 6,000.

As a result the government decided to review the ward boundaries in Cambridge, a formal process that concluded in 2019 with significant changes across the city and meant that every councillor would have to stand for election in new wards with new boundaries – but the same names, as the number of wards didn’t change.

Most of the changes are small, but Market, Petersfield and Trumpington have changed substantially as the north of the Trumpington ward has been reallocated to Market and Petersfield. This means that the numbers of electors for all three will be around 7,000 per ward by 2024, but in order to achieve this over 2,500 resident have been moved out of Trumpington. There are other substantial changes in the north of Cambridge.

Read the boundary review here

Because of the changes I was faced with a decision as to which part of the ward I would stay with, and after talking to ward members who are in the newly expanded Petersfield ward, I decided to seek selection there.  I know the area well, having lived Petersfield three times during my three decades in Cambridge, most recently on Sturton Street. 

I also understand the issues it faces. I had been attending meetings of the Petersfield councillors to discuss shared issues, and as a result I knew about the things that concern the ward, like traffic congestion, community facilities and homes for older people. These are all issues I am working on as an executive councillor and I will continue to press them as councillor for Petersfield.

The 2020 election would have been fought on those new boundaries, but it was suspended, so this year we have elections for all City Councillors in the new wards, as well as the normal four-yearly County Council elections. And the Combined Authority Mayor. And the Police and Crime Commissioner… 

I am really pleased to be one of your three City Council candidates for Labour in Petersfield, and I hope you’ll vote for me and my brilliant fellow candidates, Cllr Mike Davey and Cllr Richard Robertson, so that we can continue to deliver for Petersfield and Cambridge.

Find out more about our campaigning in Petersfield on the Cambridge Labour Website

Cambridge and Doughnut Economics

Over the last few months your Labour councillors have been talking a lot about an idea called Doughnut Economics. Developed by economist Kate Raworth, it is a way to think about how we live that balances people’s needs for a good quality of life with the planet’s need for us to live sustainably. 

It is a really interesting model, and I think it offers a way for us as a Labour council to think about how our policies affect residents and the world, and how to make the necessary tradeoffs that ensure we will be able to support people and the environment, and begin to undo some of the damage that has already been done.

One way we’re getting the message across is by holding public meetings, but this is very different in this time of social distancing and staying at home. When I ran the Water Crisis Forum in 2019 I started by booking a room in The Guildhall, and had to think about seating arrangements, catering, and how to make sure the PowerPoint presentations were visible from the back of the room. 

It was rather different on Wednesday 17 March, when we held our online event on Doughnut and Cambridge, organised via the ticketing website Eventbrite, advertised on Twitter and Facebook, and run on the Zoom videoconferencing service.

Katie standing looking at a screen. The rear of the monitor is visible
Katie standing looking at a screen. The rear of the monitor is visible

  

Continue reading “Cambridge and Doughnut Economics”

The proposed mast on Jesus Green

Early on Thursday morning I was in a radio interview with Dotty McCloud, which you can listen to on the BBC website. 

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p09514gq (at 1:55:37)

I was invited on because of proposals by telecoms companies EE and Hutchison to relocate an existing base station from Park Street Car Park to Jesus Green.  The relocation would make use of Permitted Development powers to allow for a temporary installation, and overrule City Council requests not to locate it on common land. There are concerns about the site and whether it might end up being a permanent location.

I was able to provide more information about the emergency notice under which the mast is being built, and talk more about this complex situation.

Continue reading “The proposed mast on Jesus Green”

The #TuringTree in place…

On Saturday January 29th the Cambridge Canopy Project planted the 1,024th of 2,000 trees in Cambridge.. and it has been dedicated to the Cambridge mathematician and computer scientist Alan Turing.

You can read about the background here on my blog.

And yesterday afternoon a friend sent me some pictures of the tree in place.. so here it is! Do have a look next time you’re on Christ’s Pieces in the centre of Cambridge.

A recently  planted Stone Pine tree in a park, with buildings in the background

Planting the Turing Tree

One of the most important activities I am responsible for as the executive councillor for Planning Policy and Open Spaces is  the Cambridge Canopy Project, which is planting 2,000 trees across the city between 2019 and 2022. 

This is part of a bigger European project to roll-out ‘green infrastructure’, or natural solutions, to make cities more resilient to the likely impacts that will be brought about by climate change.

This week we hit two milestones –  the 1,000th and 1,024th trees – so it seemed fitting to make an occasion of these milestones and celebrate accordingly, and I’m really pleased that we are going to commemorate one of the city’s best known residents in the process.

The 1,000th tree – a magnolia ‘Galaxy’ – was planted in Stourbridge Grove, adding spring colour with its large pink flowers, and today (Jan 29) we are planting the 1024th in Christ’s Pieces. This will be the Turing Tree,  named for the mathematician and computer scientist Alan Turing. 

Continue reading “Planting the Turing Tree”

Looking forward to 2021

It’s January 2021, but our times are so strange and altered that there is no real sense of the weeks or months passing, and only the bare trees and frosty mornings have revealed that it’s winter. The new year has begun, but with muted celebrations and no real transition. More online meetings involved friends and family and fewer were about Council matters, but that was the only real difference.

But now, with vaccinations rolling out, there is perhaps a sense that we will find our way back to a way of living that does not require us to stay apart and stay home. And in that spirit, I wish everyone well for the year ahead.

Labour’s Campaign for Mayor

The Labour candidate is Nik Johnson, and he has my full support and backing – you can find out more about him and how to support him on his website at https://drnikjohnson.co.uk

Here is what I wrote in support of my candidacy.

I’ve been a Cambridge City Councillor since 2018 and I am looking forward to standing again for the council at the next election, in May 2021. 

However I have also put myself forward to be the Labour Party candidate for another election taking place at the same time, the election for the Mayor of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough combined authority.  

The combined authority was established in 2017, with a wide range of responsibilities including promoting local economic growth, developing transport infrastructure, housing – especially affordable and council housing, skills and apprenticeships.

If I am selected as Labour candidate I will propose policies for the Combined Authority that the region and each of the seven local authorities will benefit from, and if elected I will deliver these policies, honestly and transparently.  

As an executive councillor in Cambridge I have been working on the shared local plan for Greater Cambridge. As an architect I know that the new plan has the potential to transform how we build new homes and communities. At the same time, I have the vision to improve how we provide spaces to support existing and new businesses and organisations. 

As we develop our plans together, we need to be mindful to reduce our carbon footprint and ensure that we all understand the consequences of our decisions. As a Labour Mayor I will stop the Combined Authority making things worse and take actions to control our negative effects on the climate and biodiversity crisis.

As a Labour Mayor I will commit to build new homes, create opportunities for jobs, and make sure every young person has an education that is right for them. The next generation need homes to live in, jobs they will enjoy, and infrastructure that supports them.

We don’t just need more homes, we need great new homes, particularly Council homes.  To be serious about climate change, we also need a plan to improve what we already have.

And of course we need to acknowledge that Covid 19 has forced us to adjust our living, working, and learning patterns. My manifesto will be visionary in reacting to the new situation whilst tackling inequality, and promoting infrastructure and a working transport system.

If selected by Labour to stand for Mayor you can expect to hear a lot more about my plans.

The Last Six Months

The period since March has been among the most challenging any of will us ever have known.  I know how much the pandemic has affected my family and my work, and I hope that everyone has been able to cope.  My sympathies go out to everyone who has been ill, or who may have lost loved ones.

Like many of you I have been busy doing what I can to support those who have been badly affected, in Trumpington Ward and across Cambridge. 

I worked with residents and other councillors to set up the trumpington.info online hub to share information and provide a focal point for volunteering

Katie in a mask and visor at the food hub
Katie in a mask and visor at the food hub

After spending time working at Abbey Food Hub I initiated a similar offer for Trumpington, which has been open in the Pavilion since May 5, initially for two afternoons a week but currently on Fridays only. Over the last twenty weeks we have provided hundreds of families with access to much-needed food. The Food Poverty Alliance has used funding from the City Council and Cambridge United to buy food from Fairshare, and we have also had generous donations from local businesses and residents. 

Life on the City Council has been very different as all our meetings are now online. This has had the welcome side effect of making them more accessible to councillors with caring obligations, and I plan to make sure that we retain online access even after we go back into the Guildhall.

I am now the City Council lead for a local action group seeking to establish whether the ‘doughnut economics’ model would be useful for our long term planning. Doughnut economics combines the ideas of planetary and social boundaries to provide a framework for sustainable development shaped like a ring doughnut.

This is an idea that has been growing in importance and has been adopted by many cities around the world, including Amsterdam. I believe it offers us a way to plan for a sustainable world, and will be one of the ways we will come through these difficult days.