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

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.

e-scooters on the streets of Cambridge

As reported in the Cambridge Independent, e-scooters will be available to hire in Cambridge by September as part of a year-long trial.

Voi Technology has been appointed by the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority to run the trial, and today they were out on King’s Parade doing some filming, so I headed over and asked to have a go!

I found it an interesting experience, but we will need to see how these fast-moving scooters fit in with pedestrians, cyclists and other motorised vehicles on our streets. I’ll be watching the trial carefully.

Trumpington Community Food Hub

We opened the food hub during May and it has been running successfully with many local volunteers turning out each week, and supplies of food from shops, restaurants and individual donations.

Please get in touch at hello@trumpington.info if you can help

And if you want to know what it’s like, local filmmaker Gabriela Fuzi has made this:

The food hub is open from noon-3pm on Tuesday and Friday in Trumpington Pavilion, and is accessible to everyone. If you need help, we’re there for you.

A Community Fridge for Trumpington

I’ve worked with Cambridge Sustainable Food and know how awful food poverty is. A Community Fridge provides fresh food which is coming up to or just past its sell by date, but not its use by date. The food is donated by local businesses and is free for anyone who needs it.

There are three Community Fridges currently running in Cambridge, in Abbey, Arbury and East Chesterton.  I have volunteered at the one in Abbey and I can see how valuable they are to so many people so I want to set one up in Trumpington, here in the south of the city.

I’m proposing to run the fridge on Tuesdays and Fridays 11am – 1pm, and am seeking volunteers to help, especially anyone with food hygiene training.

Can you help?

Please contact me via hello@trumpington.info if interested. Everyone is welcome and training will be available.

No Nets for Trees: the University backs down

updated February 29

There has been a lot of publicity recently around the placing of nets over more than 20 trees at the Whittle Laboratory on JJ Thomson Avenue. They have been placed there by Cambridge University with the aim of discouraging birds from nesting during the planning process.

I deplore this use of netting to cover trees and and have never seen netting used this way before in Cambridge.

I really do not understand the reasoning behind this – the university normally takes long, considered views on their investments and has done so for over 800 years. But in this case, there seems to be an urgency that has resulted in harm to the landscaping and danger to the wildlife.

These trees seem to have no ivy growing on them, no scrubs around them, and the canopies are open so it would seem that the risk of birds nesting was low. This now has to be weighed against the risk of birds being injured by the nets themselves.

I explored what action the Council could take in regard to the netting and it is clear that we cannot.  The trees are privately owned and not protected.  Even if they were protected, currently it is not a criminal offence to use netting on trees or hedges.

While our options are limited, I requested a meeting with the University and expressed my grave concerns by email and in a number of phone conversations.  I wanted to understand why the University thought that netting trees was an acceptable way forward and if they can consider alternatives.

Now the university has acknowledged its mistake and agreed to remove all of the netting. In a tweet they said: We are removing the netting over trees in West Cambridge that have upset people. The decision to use nets to discourage nesting birds ahead of building works was wrong and we unreservedly apologise.

The tweet from Cambridge University

I’m pleased that they have realised that nets are not the way to deal with this issue, and hope that we can continue to discuss how best to resolve this issue in the longer term.