Campaigning to be your Mayoral candidate

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.

Do We Really Want to ‘Build Build Build’?

Almost all sectors of the economy  are struggling as we adapt to living with a deadly virus. Perhaps telecommunications is doing well, but manufacturing, engineering, hospitality, arts and construction are all suffering, either closed or falteringly starting up again.

The big wheel of commerce has stopped, but we need people back in their jobs, not least because the social support systems that offer help when in need have been dismantled and kicked away by over ten years of austerity. 

So it seems we are going ‘build, build, build’ our way out of trouble. And in order to make this possible planning laws will be changed to allow developers to build homes more quickly under ‘permitted development’ rules that mean councillors like me, who sit on planning committees, will have no say.

Really?

Continue reading “Do We Really Want to ‘Build Build Build’?”

Open Spaces in Cambridge

One of my roles on Cambridge City Council is to look after our open spaces, ranging from Midsummer Common, where we host so many community events, to the new allotment on Glebe Farm and everywhere in between.

The open spaces team do a magnificent job keeping them in good order, and ensure that they are accessible to everyone. They also work hard to keep them litter free

Open spaces are good for people but they are also good for the environment, helping support many species of plants and animals, especially now that we have planted so many wildflower meadows across the city to replace grass and formal flower beds.  

This has been a key element of our response to the biodiversity emergency which the council declared last year, at my request, along with our successful hedgehog awareness campaign.

We have also stopped using herbicides on land owned by the council.

Looking forward, I’m making sure we deliver on our tree strategy, looking after the thirty-three thousand trees in public places across the city and planting more as part of our Tree Canopy Project

I’m also continuing to work closely with all the relevant bodies to find a way to deal with the water stress that we face in Cambridge and the surrounding area, following the Forum I held last November. 

We still have a lot to do to ensure that our long term water supplies meet our needs and preserves the natural beauty of our chalk streams and the River Cam.

Taking Care In Cambridge

When I’m working in the food hub I take the right precautions, to ensure that I don’t infect anyone, and that I am unlikely to be infected.

Katie wearing a disposable mask, a visor, and latex gloves, at the Community Food Hub

And when I’m out of the house, I do the same, with a fabric mask that can catch droplets I produce and reduce the risk of infection. I’d ask everyone else to to the same if they can, as there’s good evidence that masks really make a difference.

Katie wearing a fabric mask, standing in a garden

Keeping Cambridge Going

This is an enormously difficult time for so many people and we are all struggling in different ways as we cope with the pressures of being unable to live and work as normal as we deal with Covid-19.

As a City Councillor and member of the executive I’m spending a lot of time working to ensure that the council does everything it can. Many of our staff are working from home, and doing a great job, while some, like refuse collectors and street cleaners, have had to adapt their working practices in order to stay safe. Children’s parks are closed and we have limited car parks for use by essential workers.

The City Council has details of where to ask for help

If you live in Trumpington then we have set up the Trumpington.info network and there are details of local resources there.

And of course you can always contact me directly as your local councillor or for issues around planning and open spaces.

We all need to work together to get through this and I want to thank everyone for all they are doing. Stay safe.

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.

Thinking about an inclusive Cambridge

Yesterday evening, FeCRA (Federation of Cambridge Residents’ Associations) held their annual general meeting, which was followed by a talk from Professor Robin Hambleton about the inclusive approach for design of cities and a panel discussion on ‘How can Cambridge grow in a way that will make it Inclusive?’  

I was invited to join the panel and delighted to be involved with this important event along with Daniel Zeichner MP, Chair of Woodland Trust Baroness Barbara Young , the Chief Executive of the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire Wildlife Trust Prof Brian Eversham, and Meredith Bowles of Mole Architects.

FeCRA represent 97 local residents’ associations and community groups across Cambridge, and at the event the chair of the meeting, Wendy Blyth, ran through some of their achievements, from questioning the County Council about procedure when ancient hedgerow was removed for a new cycleway, coordinating feedback on a space survey of Cambridge city centre, and organising a celebration of 53 new trees planted along Hills Road among many others.

Continue reading “Thinking about an inclusive Cambridge”

Cambridge Half Marathon

It’s been an exciting morning for me, as along with my fellow councillor Anna Smith I’ve been attending the Cambridge Half Marathon, and watching thousands of dedicated runners take to the streets of Cambridge.

I’m the executive councillor for streets and open spaces, so my team has a lot of work to do getting things ready and clearing up afterwards, and I was really pleased to be able to thank them for all they do.

As well as saying a few words as the runners assembled, Anna and I got to mark the start of each stage of the race with a klaxon, and I’ve also been at the finish mark to cheer the runners as they arrive and present them with their prizes.

It’s been a fabulous day.

Free Trees for Babies

I visited Cherry Hinton Park this morning to join the City Council’s tree officers as they gave out free trees to parents who had signed up for the council’s long-running Free Trees for Babies scheme. 

Apparently the most popular tree is the winter-flowering cherry tree, not just because it looks beautiful but because it fits in the smaller Cambridge gardens!

If you want to sign up for next year – the trees are all delivered during the dormant season – then go the website at https://www.cambridge.gov.uk/free-trees-for-babies