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.
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.
Please note that my brief has now changed and as of June 2021 I am Executive Councillor for Planning Policy and Transport, having covered Streets and Open Spaces 2018-2019 and Planning Policy and Open Spaces 2019-2021
I was born and raised in Hong Kong to British parents, moved to UK to attend university in 1980 . and I have made this country my home and raised my family here, having moved to Cambridge to work as an architect after graduation.
I have had my own architectural practice for thirty years, working on social housing, older buildings and private homes. I have always been interested in the connection between architecture, cities and food, and in 2013 I studied for a Masters degree in Food Policy at City University in London.
My grandmother was interned in a Japanese prisoner of war camp in Hong Kong for four years with her three children, including my mum who was four when they were rounded up. During that time they lived in one room shared with another family.
Growing up I heard many stories of that time, when they had no medicine, were cut off from most of the outside world . and had very little food. I heard how that time brought the family together and how the Christmases in the camp were so special as each year they realised they were still together and alive, part of a community that was working together in dreadful circumstances.
Understanding what they went through, and how it was family, friends and community that got them through has been important to me throughout my life, and has driven me to do all I can to support others.