6 March 2021
What is Talking Point?
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 week. In the run-up to the elections on 6th May 2021, they are also running a series of 'election special' talking points. Here, we share our responses.
Today's Question: How should the council promote recovery in the city centre and make sure it thrives beyond the pandemic?
The pandemic has served to widen the gulf between those who are better and worse off in our community. Recovery and thriving for the city and people of Cambridge needs to put reducing inequality at the heart of all our decision making. A genuinely green recovery from the pandemic would represent a huge opportunity for job creation, and not just in the high-tech knowledge economy that leaves behind so many of our residents.
To determine whether our city is thriving we need to look beyond raw economic growth and GDP. The model of “Doughnut economics” ensures that everyone’s needs are met as the main measurement of success, including food security, promotion of good health, high quality education and stable income and work. We cannot remain in a situation where the use of food banks becomes the norm for even those lucky enough to keep their jobs, propped up by volunteers. We also need explicitly to measure and value those who care for children, the elderly and work done by volunteers. Currently measures of success, for example, value additional sales of cigarettes over supporting one’s elderly neighbours, ensuring children’s health, dignity for the elderly and high quality education.
Cambridge, as we all know, is an expensive city. Citizens on lower and middle incomes often struggle more than they would in many other cities to achieve basic well-being and quality of life, particularly younger residents. The private rent sector is particularly unjust and our for-profit, privately owned public transport system fails too many of our residents. We need a single, unified, ticketing system for public transport that makes travelling simple; our equivalent to the Oyster card in London, benefitting families and those who do not have cars.
The opportunity in the recovery from the pandemic is that we can do things differently and more fairly. Green jobs in adapting our housing stock, in transport, in recycling, in restoring nature are far more productive of well-being than the soulless zero hours contracts that too many of our neighbours rely on to just about make ends meet.
Our response was written by Dr Hannah Charlotte Copley. Hannah is a local NHS medical doctor and Medical Research Council clinical research training fellow, as well as a Greens4Abbey candidate.