What do you see as the most pressing climate and biodiversity issue/s facing Basingstoke and Deane at present?
There are several issues across Basingstoke & Deane that need to be addressed to help tackle the climate crisis. Unpredictable weather patterns along with rising temperatures will have a lasting effect on both the natural environment as well as on humankind in general and Basingstoke & Deane could be seen to be leaders of a new strategy at the local level to help play our part. I’m no fan of what I call the “slopey shoulder” behaviour seen within regional governments but understand that at a local level some changes could be problematic to implement however, we should try our utmost to effect change when no how we can. For me we need to see action on the following (and in no particular order)
- Recycling rates in Basingstoke are particularly bad. Why is this? What can we as a local council do to help residents recycle more? The removal of recycle points across the Borough is particularly worrisome considering the items that can be recycled in our green bins. What do other councils do/provide that we currently don’t do to help increase our recycling rates?
- Public transport (although can we call it that considering it is run by private companies on our behalf?). Again, troubling to see that the the council have reduced subsidies to provide public transport across the borough. Considering we have issued a climate emergency as a council. We need to encourage more use of public transport however people are reluctant to use a service that isn’t reliable nor efficient in the routes that are taken. We should also be encouraging more people to use alternative modes of transport such as cycling and walking where possible.
- There needs to be a big shift towards more use of green/renewable energy and the production/storage of it. With considerable development occurring across the borough over the next decade we should be looking at how new homes are built, what standards they should be built too and the types of energy that they use.
- Biodiversity issues are quite complex due to the link between biodiversity and climate change. As someone who has changed his diet to be more plant based I think we do need to encourage more people to assess how their diet affects biodiversity and make a change, however small, to using less meat/animal products however, and linking back to the development that will happen across Basingstoke & Deane, and noting the significant decline in insect numbers that play a massive role in the management of our biodiversity, I think we need to see an increase in our rewinding projects across the borough and encourage a better use of both private and public space that may not have any other particular use to it (central reservations on dual carriageways, roof tops on buildings etc.)
If you had the authority of the Council Leader, what would you do to urgently address any such problems you perceive?
- From understanding there is a climate team within the council but I would like to see more interaction with groups, like yours, to help us tackle this important priority. I would set up a “Taskforce” to understand the greatest of threats to us as a borough and use the knowledge of those who are active in this area to help come up with practical and realistic solutions to the issues.
- Bring buses back into local authority ownership and enable a quicker transition towards a zero emission fleet of buses. According to the National Audit Office 57% of motorists would use their care less if they had better access to a more reliable and cheaper public transport system. Reading Council, who own and manage Reading Buses were able to invest additional funds into their fleet meaning they have some of the greenest buses in the country and contributed to an increase in usage!
- Improve cycle lane and route availability across the borough.
- Reopen / Reinstall the now closed recycling centres. Reach out to those councils with a better recycling rate than us to understand what differences we have and seek, where possible (and where it makes sense) to implement them here in Basingstoke. Identify the gaps in the waste and recycling provision and seek to address this.
- Direct large scale developments in expectations for build standards on all big developments working towards passivhaus standards. Encourage, through the use of grants, smaller developers and those renovating properties to switch to renewable sources of energy. Use already available funds to help insulate homes across the borough and work with partners such as Vivid and Sovereign to understand how they intend to do the same to their stock.
- Work with local councillors to identify areas of the borough that would be ideal locations for rewilding programmes and act on their recommendations.
In the absence of being Council Leader, in which way would you seek to apply pressure to the local decision-makers?
- If elected lets organise a session together to understand how the local Labour Group can better support your organisation within the council. As the secretary of Labour Friends of the Forces, working with a campaign group called Citizenship4Soldiers we successfully lobbied multiple councils up and down the country to pass motions in support of the removal of indefinite leave to remain fees. This pressure ensured the national government then ran a consultation on the subject and ultimately led to changes in legislation. I’m sure there are things we can do to help in the same way through motions to full council or questions to officers and cabinet members.
- As a candidate for Winklebury & Manydown there is great opportunity to influence some of the above issues. With the Manydown development happening over the next decade along with the Winklebury Centre regeneration I would aim to sit on or lobby the relevant committee’s to ensure that we actually achieve change. We need to encourage Vivid to build houses that are insulated correctly and provide/use renewable energy where possible. Manydown developers should be directed to use renewable energy sources from the outset such as air/ground source heat pumps and solar panels. We also have large amounts of industrial space available that could be used for solar panelling and this is something I would be keen to look into.
- Seek to improve rewilding schemes within the ward. There are many spaces across the ward that could be better used to do this.
- Use council motions to instruct council on the issues above.