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.

Room With A View

I get to use an attic room overlooking King’s Parade, and it is a great place to view all very many ways this significant Cambridge street is used: for protests, for dancing, singing and busking, for weddings and funerals and picnics both on the wall outside King’s and, more recently, on the college’s lawn. 

I often get my phone out to photograph the comings and goings of people but also the rain, sunsets and birds. Some I post up on Twitter with or without comments, but mostly they get left in my cloud storage. 

Today I photographed some dancing, singing, a bubble machine, families with dogs, some drummers, all in blue and silver glitter with flags, bunting and banners. A protest about the threat to water, and the climate crisis.  Both things I am very concerned about.  

The group behind it was Cambridge XR, and once they had assembled there were some speeches. About the climage emergency. About Black Lives Matters as well. Taking the knee and silence.  All on the green in front of King’s College, while the sun shone and a group of brass instruments played loudly further down the street.

After a short while the group reassembled and moved on, while continuing to protest while dancing and singing. I posted a couple of photos and quoted the banners, and referenced Cambridge XR. 

I don’t support any form of violence, but I do support freedom of speech and peaceful protests. I campaign for equality, to protect biodiversity, nature and to mitigate the climate crisis. 

I’m not a member of XR but I can see the impact they have had on the conversation about the climate crisis. The younger people are speaking out and I am trying to listen. 

Trees and Water

It was a real pleasure to listen to students who had marched from Shire Hall to the Guildhall yesterday to highlight the need for more trees and to deal with our water crisis as part of an event organised by Cambridge Schools Eco Council, and I’m pleased that it got coverage in the local press. 

While I did say to the students that we wanted their help planting trees, it’s not that we won’t be putting the. on council land- we just don’t have *enough* council land. And I think that comparing Cambridge to the whole of Essex is a little misleading…

I’m looking forward to the forum on the water crisis that I’ve convened for next month. Although the report says I’m doing this as part of my work as Executive Councillor for Planning Policy and Open Spaces this isn’t the case- it’s just something I’m doing as a local councillor. The report will be available for the council and everyone else to use to help decide what we can do to deal with this important issue, but it’s not a formal City Council document.

Cambridge Independent: Screenshot of article 'Trees and Water: Youth Strikers look to Cambridge Council'

The article is on the Cambridge Independent website.

Hedgehogs on my mind

It’s Hedgehog Awareness Week, organised every year by the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS) to highlight the problems hedgehogs face and how you can help them. This year Cambridge City Council is helping Cambridge Hedgehogs, a new charity, to give hedgehogs a higher profile both during the campaign and all year around.

Hedgehog Awareness Week: https://www.britishhedgehogs.org.uk/hedgehog-awareness-week-2019/

In the UK hedgehog numbers have declined by 97% since the 1950s, and this is a particular issue in Trumpington, where I’m the local councillor. When I was first out canvassing in Trumpington in 2016, I met many Green Party members living in the ward and we talked about biodiversity loss in the ward as development increased and the number of new dwellings was delivered.  What seemed to be a  thriving population of local hedgehogs had dwindled as new homes increased.  I was shocked about the news, and that I had not been aware of the situation.

Hedgehog decline:https://www.independent.co.uk/environment/hedgehogs-decline-uk-climate-change-agriculture-ptes-a8525651.html

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