As part of our Rethinking Lambeth campaign, local Lib Dems are committed to finding innovative solutions to the green issues facing the borough and beyond. Last week saw our inaugural Green issues meeting in Clapham, where we were honoured to be joined by the always inspiring Caroline Pidgeon AM.
Caroline spoke powerfully about the numerous challenges facing our environment, and how Lib Dems have consistently been at the forefront of devising and advocating policies to address them. Big wins like the plastic bag charge and the Thames Tideway Tunnel to keep raw sewage out of the river are due in large part to many years of hard work by Lib Dem politicians at national and European level. Meanwhile, our London Lib Dem representatives have been influential in the launch of the bus Hopper ticket and recent work on road pricing to tackle congestion and air pollution. At the same time, we are fighting proposals such as the Silvertown tunnel and Enderby Wharf cruise ship dock that promise only more traffic, noise and pollution for residents while failing to address the real problems facing London.
What then can we do, as Lambeth Lib Dem members and supporters, to advance green issues locally?
The local elections provide a great opportunity to highlight the issues that we care about, particularly in areas where the Labour council is failing to make a difference.
Attendees at the meeting split into groups to discuss and develop a number of policy areas, and to think about how best to get our message out locally. Issues discussed included:
Liveable streets: Can we rethink the dominance of cars on our residential streets, turning them from places whose primary use is parking and motoring into attractive spaces for play, relaxation, cycling and walking? Despite widespread and longstanding concerns of residents in areas such as Fentiman Road about rat running blighting their lives, Lambeth has implemented only a handful of measures to make streets more liveable. Is a saving of a few seconds on a car journey for someone travelling through Lambeth really more important than quality of life for those who live here?
Moving away from combustion: What can we do to make other transport options more inviting than private cars? And where residents do need to use a car, how can we incentivise electric car use over polluting combustion engines? At the moment, Lambeth only has 3 public charging stations for electric cars in the whole borough (with none at all in Streatham or DaWN), and the council website listing these stations was last updated in 2015!
Reducing waste: Blue Planet and other recent documentaries have led to an explosion of awareness around the damage that plastic waste (in particular) is doing to our planet. What can we do at a local level to make it easier for people to make lower-impact choices? Lambeth’s Labour council watered down a recent attempt to become a Single Use Plastic Free authority by April, instead committing to “exploring” this by end of 2018 and “exploring” conditions relating to use of SUP at festivals – yet they boast on social media about their credentials.
Thank you to everyone who joined us and contributed to the discussions – the level of enthusiasm was fantastic and we came away with a huge list of great ideas. Whether or not you were able to come to the meeting, we’d love to hear any further thoughts you have on how to make Lambeth a greener place, particularly in the areas outlined above – please send them to us via firstname.lastname@example.org. Over the next few weeks we’ll be working these up into a series of posts and actions, so please keep an eye out – and we hope you’ll be able to join us in promoting these policies locally when the time comes.
Ben Austin and Heather Glass