Liberal Democrat opinion: 'Tackling climate change a priority', writes Nick Sandford

Nick Sandford, Lib Dem group leader on Peterborough City Council, talks waste, climate emergency and cycleways in his latest column

By The Newsroom
Sunday, 24th April 2022, 12:00 pm

Peterborough used to call itself the “Environment Capital of the UK”. You can still see it on signs on roads leading into the city, but our Tory-led council doesn’t seem to talk about it any more. But Liberal Democrats believe that protecting our environment and tackling climate change are vital issues that should be prioritised by our city council.

‘Concerns over pesticide’

The Lib Dems support the declaration of a climate emergency by the council and its aim for carbon neutrality by 2030, but much more needs to be done. We led the successful moves to get the council to adopt much higher tree planting targets but so far the Conservatives have allocated no budget at all to help deliver them.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Nick Sandford, Lib Dem group leader on Peterborough City Council (image: David Lowndes)

Tree planting encourages more wildlife; improves air quality and helps tackle climate change. The Lib Dems are concerned that pesticide use by the council and its contractors has increased in recent years. Just look at the dirty brown rings on grass around the base of trees and lampposts all over the city, wasting money and potentially endangering health.

Read More

Read More
LibDem Opinion: Changing how decisions are made in Peterborough

We believe the council should use the opportunity of a proposed review of its local plan to promote high energy conservation standards and use of renewable forms of energy within new housing and commercial developments. The government’s recent ‘Energy Strategy’ was hugely disappointing but the council should use what powers it has to encourage more onshore wind and solar energy generation.

‘Embankment should preserve green space’

Any masterplan for our embankment worthy of the name should seek to protect and enhance the green space, not concrete over it. The recent pandemic showed clearly that visits to parks and green spaces can massively improve people’s mental and physical health. We would safeguard and enhance parks and playing fields across our city so that future generations are able to access a green space close to their home.

The Lib Dems are concerned that too much waste is being incinerated in Peterborough rather than prioritising reduction, re-use and recycling. We want to review the future of the waste incinerator in Peterborough. We would ensure that brown bin collections are restored permanently and we would review the Tories ‘Brown Bin Tax’ which, perversely, discourages people from composting garden waste. Our Tory council cynically promised people free bulky waste collections, introduced them six months late and then cancelled them. We would offer a permanent, affordable solution of two free bulky waste collections each year for every household.

‘Bus franchising should be introduced in city’

The Liberal Democrats believe that an affordable, reliable and efficient public transport service is vital to sustaining our city’s physical and economic growth. We would like to see ‘bus franchising’ introduced (like in Greater London) and smart ticketing to make it simpler and easier for people to travel, as well as making all buses and taxis electric or hybrid as soon as possible. The council talks about prioritising pedestrians and cyclists over motor vehicles, but in practice it often does the opposite. In the longer term, we should be planning for Peterborough to have an ultra light rail system, like that being proposed for Coventry and other fast growing cities.

Parts of Peterborough have a great cycleway system but it is incomplete, disjointed, and investment is needed to improve it. All over Peterborough pavements are blocked and grass verges damaged by parked cars yet we know that in other cities councils have taken on powers to enable them to deal with the problem. We would consult on introducing 20mph speed limits in residential areas across the city, as they have been proven to be effective in keeping children safe.

So, if you want to see a greener, healthier Peterborough with a greener, safer, more affordable transport system, that is one more good reason for voting Liberal Democrat on May 5.