On Wednesday the 10th of February 2010 Cambridge’s Parliamentary Candidates from the Labour, Green, Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties debated their “vision for Cambridge in 2020″ at an event hosted by the University of Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership at B-Bar on Market Passage. Each candidate from the main parties outlined their vision for Cambridge in 2020.
The Green Party’s Tony Juniper said he’d sketch out his vision for the city under three headings:
- A city where we have high quality of life.
- A city which is more sustainable; a leading sustainability city.
- A city with a dynamic and resilient economy which can deliver the first two priorities.
To achieve the higher quality of life he said the key areas were transport, housing and education. He said that a lot of what happens in Cambridge is affected by national policy and is decided by politicians in London so the decision on who to elect to represent the city is an important one. On transport he spoke about cleaner transport walking, cycling and cleaner vehicles by 2020 he predicted many people would be driving electric cars and suggest we ought be planning for that now by installing charging points in schools and supermarkets. Tony Juniper said we also need to consider connecting the city to the rest of the county, he said like Hillman he is keen on restoring rail links which have been closed in recent years, particularly the East – West link towards Oxford.
On housing, Tony Juniper said that we have to find ways so that more of those who work in the city can afford to live here, his solution was in part more social housing and also separately, distinctly from “social housing” he called for a “resurrection of council housing” which he said should be under the control of local authorities.
On education he said we need to focus on producing “decent human beings” rather than focusing on targets to achieve SATs results and putting people through a treadmill. Juniper linked problems with crime to disillusioned teenagers and said this could be solved by “giving people a different educational experience which is about the development of people rather than achieving simple academic targets”.
In terms of this being a sustainable city Tony Juniper said we should be looking to have zero waste to landfill by 2020, and a massive increase in small scale renewables, including photo-voltaic panels to produce solar electricity, solar hot water, and [ground-source] heat pumps amongst them. He also suggested that in the next decade we could retrofit existing houses and bring them up to Norwegian standards, making our fuel security better, ending fuel poverty and creating lots of jobs.
Tony Juniper said this part of the country was among the most degraded in terms of natural habitat, and spoke about how he is involved in what he called a “large scale” scheme for habitat restoration (presumably Wicken Fen / The Wicken Fen Vision).
Speaking about local food, Tony Juniper suggested setting targets for schools and hospitals to buy local food, saying this would have the effect of creating jobs in the countryside, cut food miles, and result in a better diet.
Finishing by talking about the economy, Juniper outlined his vision to see people coming out of school into apprenticeships on fitting solar hot water systems and ground source heat pumps. He said we need to look at the university and linking it to the wider economy and real world change; he cited the “Cambridge Conservation Initiative” as an example of linking the university with NGOs and other institutions to create a world leading centre.
Finally he called for a local economy which is “not so much about being in a globalised situation”, he said the university is a big player in that potentially in terms of procurement, and in terms of how we will be shaping the city in the future.
My Comments on Tony Juniper’s Speech
I thought it was excellent to hear Tony Juniper talking positively about Cambridge; he appears to have softened his previous stance of becoming a “national politician”, and even arguing against investment in Cambridge on the grounds economic activity needs to be shifted out of the South East of England.
My big worry about Tony Juniper’s plans for local food is that he is proposing returning to a time when food was very expensive and lots of people worked in agriculture. I don’t see why we would want to take a step back like that and have people living in both fuel and food poverty. I want to, and do, buy local food as often as possible myself and where it makes economic sense I’d like to see it used in schools and hospitals, but Juniper isn’t taking such a moderate view he is promoting a massive shift. Juniper appears to be describing a post-apocalypsical economy; I’d rather see us try and trade our way out of our debt and recession than give up on the modern world; and try and isolate ourselves from the rest of the world.
Juniper wants to see electric cars, but he’s not told us where he wants to see that electricity generated. The green party are firmly anti-nuclear power.
As with the other candidates the speech wasn’t too evocative and inflammatory, but elements of Juniper’s rather extremist views still made it though between the lines.
Other Articles in this Series:
- Richard Taylor – An Independent Vision for Cambridge in 2020
- Julian Huppert – A Liberal Democrat Vision for Cambridge in 2020
- Daniel Zeichner A Labour Vision for Cambridge in 2020
- Nick Hillman – A Conservative Vision for Cambridge in 2020
- Cambridge Parliamentary Hustings Focusing on Growth – October 2009