"The most important thing for me as a councillor is to make sure no community is left behind, and everyone's voice gets heard. I'll always fight for what is best for our residents." Cllr Carla McQueen
First in a new series of interviews with our councillors, we’re talking to Carla McQueen, who represents East Chesterton on the city council, Carla was elected in May 2018, and since then has been part of the Planning and Licensing Committees – as well as taking on the role of Lead Councillor for LGBT+ Equalities, Homelessness and Refugees. Originally from Liverpool, she now lives in East Chesterton with her two sons.
What’s your background, Carla?
I moved to Cambridge over a decade ago with the boys, but I was brought up in Liverpool in a town called Kirkby. It was a very different beginning, but I have many happy memories of being part of a tight-knit community where everyone supported each other. That start in life has not only given me a sense of loyalty and compassion for others, but shown me imaginative ways to improve others’ lives and make a real difference. There wasn’t much money, but people regularly came together in the local community centre. They organised great things for us children – day trips, educational resources, camping trips, drama groups and play writing.
Later on I studied sociology and psychology at university, and I think that’s given me a really good insight into how communities work.
What is it about East Chesterton that makes it a great place to live?
East Chesterton is a truly diverse ward and I’m so proud to live here. We’ve got some really beautiful green open spaces to enjoy, as well as our community centres. 2020 has been an extremely challenging year for us all, but what’s truly amazed me is the great community spirit – both in East Chesterton and across the city. I’m so proud of all our residents who have helped each other, from the mutual aid groups to the regular socially-distanced gatherings in our local park in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
What’s important to you as a councillor?
I’ve been involved in a range of campaigns since I was first elected in 2018, from installing CCTV to help prevent dangerous driving to getting more trees planted on East Chesterton’s streets. I’ve also given a voice to the Fen Road railway crossing, and I really want to continue that work after next May’s elections. The most important thing for me as a councillor is to make sure no community is left behind, and everyone’s voice gets heard. I’ll always fight for what is best for our residents.
I’m passionate about preventing further poverty in the most deprived areas of Cambridge, giving the people that live there a voice. Last year I proposed a motion to full council calling on the government to provide a Universal Basic Income (UBI), and I want to do more work in this area.
What do you think the priorities should be?
Housing – genuinely affordable, sustainable housing for all – is vital too.
Climate change isn’t going away either. I’m proud of the efforts my colleagues at the city are making towards a cleaner, more sustainable Cambridge, and I’ll continue to play my part in those discussions. Plus I’ll keep campaigning on behalf of young people locally – they need more activities to combat the rise in anti-social behaviour. There’s loads of potential to build really strong communities by involving young people.