6 April 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: How should the additional funds provided by the government for local councils be used to help those affected by coronavirus?
The current coronavirus pandemic has turned our perception of what matters, what really matters, upside down. Our attention has been focussed on the relationships that sustain us, our families and our local communities, and all over Cambridge we have seen people coming together to support one another and to help the most vulnerable, those who are most often overlooked. We need to make sure that this outpouring of community feeling persists after the virus has passed.
Greens up and down the country have been active in their local communities with policies and actions that do this. Sîan Berry, Green Party London Assembly Member, suggested that Sadiq Kahn the Mayor rent empty hotel rooms to house those who would otherwise be homeless or in unsafe accommodation. Andrew Cooper, Green councillor in Kirklees proposed the Council give a rent holiday to small businesses operating from Council owned premises. Nationally the Party has called for councils to use resources to support the most vulnerable, the old, refugees, those on uncertain incomes and families with children receiving free school meals.
Behind all this there lurks a bigger point. In times of urgency such as this, governments need to spend whatever it takes. When the chips are down there is a magic money tree and the austerity rule book goes out of the window. Governments can and must spend to safeguard what is really important. The last decade of austerity has been based on a mean spirited and short-sighted lie. We need to wake up from this bad dream.
At a local level the lessons are clear. The coronavirus has drawn our attention to the importance of local neighbourhoods. The government needs to restore (and to increase) funds available to local councils to pre-austerity levels to give us the resources to re-build our communities.
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.