15 December 2020
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. Here, we share our response to the question.
Today's Question: Is having both a combined authority and a city deal in the form of the Greater Cambridge Partnership “a massive waste of money and resources”?
But to avoid this being the shortest ever Talking Point contribution it is worth looking at the bigger picture to see what is going on behind the scenes.
It is all about the growth agenda and the plans of successive governments, Labour, Lib Dem and Conservative, to impose high levels of growth on our region, adding further burdens to our already stressed water supplies and making life more pressured and frustrating for the people who live in our area.
Each new initiative, first the City Deal (now the GCP) and then the Mayor and Combined Authority, come with money for infrastructure that is dependent on delivering on the government’s targets. I remember, as a member of the Cambridge University Council, discussing the City Deal before it was established in 2013. The ‘deal’ was quite explicit – if you want the money you have to deliver the growth.
The result is that, whatever they say about individual new developments, the parties that control local authorities in our area, Labour, Lib Dem and Tory, have all already committed themselves to eye-watering numbers of new houses. 42,000 houses are projected to be built in our area between now and 2041. That is nearly as large as the total number of houses in the city at the moment. It would be the equivalent of four new towns the size of Ely. 12,000 of these new homes are planned for the Marshall’s Airport site.
An urgent point that the Green Party makes repeatedly is that some time the growth has got to stop. The priority instead has got to be wellbeing and protecting the natural world. Perpetual growth on a finite planet just isn’t possible. As the writer Edward Abbey put it, ‘Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell.’
Our response was written Jeremy Caddick. Jeremy was the MP Candidate for Cambridge in the 2019 General Election. He has lived in Cambridge for more than 25 years and is the Dean and Chaplain at one of the Colleges in Cambridge University. He campaigns for the University to cut its links with fossil fuel companies.