Friday, 9 May 2014

Meet The Candidates (Green)

Party: Green
Ward: Old Malden (RB Kingston)
Name: Lucy Howard

I have lived in the Borough for most of my life; I was born in Kingston Hospital, grew up here and I now live in New Malden with my family. I have worked for 8 years as a secondary school teacher and have a first class degree from Oxford University. I am passionate about improving the environment for future generations and particularly in reducing local air pollution and improving our parks and green spaces. I'm driven by a desire to bring our children's health and quality of life into the centre of the debate.  Having seen my parents battling with the bureaucracy of the care system when my grandparents were extremely old and frail, I would like to see the council adopt a more human face towards those people who are in the greatest need.

Traffic and Transport
There are two issues here: we need to ensure that people are able to get from A to B (for example, through maintaining driver services for the elderly and disabled) but we also need to address the problems which heavy traffic causes. Our air pollution in Kingston is at illegally high levels and we have one of the highest rates of asthma in London as a result. We urgently need to look at ways to reduce traffic through incentivising car sharing and public transport use. The news that Kingston has been chosen to develop cycle lanes is excellent and we need to plan these carefully and consult with residents and commuters to ensure that the money is used in a way which encourages more cycling.

Housing and Planning
The Green Party has put housing for London at the forefront of its policies. All too often, including in our own Borough, new buildings are being planned for private rental, using our taxes to benefit the landlords rather than families who would prefer to be able to buy their own home. We don't want young people to be priced out of the area, and the high prices of privately built student accommodation is something I'd definitely want to address. With 300 homes currently empty in the Borough we need to look first at getting needy families housed in these, before getting involved in costly and unpopular new developments. Building lots of new flats in areas which don't have the local infrastructure to support the residents is a recipe for disaster and I would like to ensure that the planning takes place before the buildings go up.

Rubbish and Recycling
Along with three other councils, Kingston Council has given the go-ahead to a huge South London Incinerator. There has been little public consultation about this development which is going to increase our already high levels of air pollution and traffic and one of my first priorities would be to support the campaign against the incinerator. In general I feel the council is doing pretty well with recycling (apart from the annoyingly flimsy food waste bags!) but there needs to be clearer information about where exactly our waste goes once it has been collected. We also need to address the issue of unsightly bags of rubbish left out in High Streets all morning for the business bin collections which makes our streets unattractive, smelly and difficult for some to navigate.

Children and Education
Improving child protection in the Borough needs to be an urgent priority. We need to support the work of our excellent Children's Centres and ensure that more parents know about them and are able to seek help when they need it. We need to start planning now for how the baby boom of 2009/10 will affect secondary school entry, while continuing to work to improve capacity at the most popular primary schools. We should use our green spaces more imaginatively to help our children get active outdoors; for example for minimal cost we could have a space in local parks so that children who didn't have gardens of their own could grow plants with the help of volunteers.

The Local Economy
The Green Party believes strongly in promoting the living wage and we should start off by making sure that the council pays the living wage to all its employees, if necessary reducing the pay of its highest earners in order to do so. We need to regenerate our High Streets by promoting and supporting independent shops and markets. I'm not a business woman myself, so rather than assuming I had all the answers I'd want to listen carefully to the concerns of local traders and use their input to help with planning, while looking carefully at successful models of regeneration in other parts of the country for example local reward cards or loyalty schemes. Thank you for reading this far and if you would like any further information on Green policies please see

Promoted by Tariq Shabbeer, 52 Dukes Avenue, New Malden, KT3 on behalf of the Green Party