23 March 2020
What is Talking Points?
Cambridge News asks a representative of each local political party to answer a question on a local issue in just 300 words. The answers are then published in the physical copy of the Cambridge News every fortnight. Here, we share our response to the question.
Today's Question: Do you think it is feasible to simultaneously build hundreds of new council houses whilst also bringing existing council houses up to standard? If not, what should be prioritised? If so, is there the budget and resources to manage both?
On February 25 The News reported that the Combined Authority is planning to miss targets for carbon neutrality in homes that it is funding. Homes that are built now will be in use in 2050 and so need to meet standards that are consistent with the target of being carbon neutral by then. The Greens point out that 2050 is too late, but the Combined Authority don’t seem to be planning to achieve even that.
The City Council are no better. They are planning to continue installing gas boilers in their housing stock right up to 2050 and this is despite having declared a Climate Emergency. For goodness sake! At the very least an ‘emergency’ means we have to act quickly. The current Council by contrast seem wedded to business as usual.
This illustrates a problem with local authority attitudes to housing, which look backwards rather than forwards. The houses that we are building now need to be, literally, the houses of the future – as close to carbon neutral as is technically possible. That means including solar panels to generate electricity and heat pumps instead of gas boilers all as integral to the design, as well as insulation to the passivhaus standard.
And that is all before we begin on the massive task of insulating and adapting our existing housing stock. Clearly this far exceeds the resources available to local authorities and illustrates the point that the Greens make loudly and clearly – that the transition to a carbon neutral future will require a national effort by government at all levels. Investment in our future housing stock will bring employment as well as housing. And before critics start protesting that it is all too expensive, ask yourself what would the cost of failure be?
Our response was written by Jeremy Caddick. Jeremy is your Green Party parliamentary candidate for Cambridge in the event of a snap general election. He is a local campaigner and the Dean of one of Cambridge's colleges.