Opinion: Let's focus on active travel

​​Paul Bristow has recently spent a lot of time claiming a low emission zone area is planned for Peterborough, writes ​Cllr Nicola Day, Green Party Parliamentary Candidate for Peterborough.
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No proposals have been brought to councillors for the introduction of such a scheme, and any such idea would not be agreed without the support of the council.

At the last full council meeting “Just Transition Motion” was brought forward by the Green group. The motion was about moving towards our net zero carbon targets in a just and fair manner. It states that PCC should ensure no-one in Peterborough is negatively impacted by the council’s climate change policies.

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The Peterborough Green group believe we don’t have the right infrastructure in place to introduce low emission zones. We believe we should focus our efforts on investment in active travel (walking, cycling and public transport). Where low emission zones are introduced, we believe that extensive government funded car scrappage schemes and grants should be in place to help affected drivers. This could be funded by a wealth or carbon tax on fossil fuel companies, who are making billions of pounds in profits whilst still being responsible for putting dirty air into our atmosphere.

​Cllr Nicola Day, Green Party Parliamentary Candidate for Peterborough​Cllr Nicola Day, Green Party Parliamentary Candidate for Peterborough
​Cllr Nicola Day, Green Party Parliamentary Candidate for Peterborough

The Greens do not wish to take part in a manufactured culture war, and regret that people are being made to panic about something that is not happening in Peterborough.

What is happening, and is a problem for many residents, is the current housing crisis. As councillors we often get requests for help from people living in homes that are not suitable for their needs. They may be people with disabilities whose home is not correctly designed for their requirements. We also hear from families who are homeless and struggling to find accommodation through the council due to long waiting lists and a lack of adequate social housing.

It was reported in the Peterborough Telegraph in February 2023 that more than 300 social homes have

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been lost in Peterborough in the last decade, and that 251 social housing properties were built in Peterborough in the ten years to March 2022. Over 5,000 residents were on local authority waiting lists for social housing in Peterborough. The correlation between the lack of affordable social houses being built and increasing numbers waiting for housing is clear.

The Peterborough Green Group introduced an eco-homes project in the budget earlier this year. This will see a development of energy efficient homes that will be used for temporary accommodation and social housing. However, this will be a small development of between six to eight homes but will show what is possible and what can be achieved. We need to upscale such projects across the city.

The Green party has been calling for a “Right Homes, Right Place, Right Price Charter”.

Local councils should be supported to build quality affordable housing in arrears where people live and work, which include the right supporting infrastructure and facilities. The charter would protect valuable green space, reduce climate emissions, tackle fuel poverty and provide genuinely affordable housing.

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Green councillors have made a difference in Mid Suffolk, where developers are now expected to provide electric vehicle charging points and heat pumps as standard.

There is a generation of people trapped in the private rental market by spiralling rents which bear no relationship to incomes. To address this, in the short term, we would introduce an immediate rent freeze and eviction ban to prevent people being made homeless in the middle of this cost of living crisis. In the longer term, we would give councils the power to bring in rent controls in areas where the housing market is overheated. We would also place much stricter controls on the type of new homes being built, to encourage more affordable and social housing for buying and renting.