Cllr Katie Thornburrow, Labour’s Executive City councillor for Planning Policy and Infrastructure, has announced a series of public forums looking at the pressures faced by Cambridge City and the surrounding area as a result of the climate and biodiversity emergencies and development plans, which was confirmed at the Full Council meeting on 21st July.
Working alongside Cllr Rosy Moore, executive councillor for Environment, Climate Crisis and Biodiversity, they will prepare and run six monthly forums, kicking off in October 2022. The forums will be an opportunity for councillors to take evidence from concerned organisations and individuals about issues such as retrofitting, the city’s water supply, sewage, and other forms of waste and pollution. The rest of the forum topics are still to be decided, but issues such as urban heat sinks, flooding, roads and infrastructure have been suggested.
Speaking at the announcement of the forums, Cllr Thornburrow said:
“I am thrilled to announce this really ambitious program of meetings and forums. We are facing a range of serious issues that directly affect the way we live, and it is vital that local councillors both understand the issues and appreciate what steps they can take to address them. The necessary action may be far beyond the scope of the City Council or any other local authority, but we can highlight the issues by assembling evidence from those with expertise and that is what I have sought to do here. We can then use what influence and authority we have to move towards a long-term solution that takes full account of the available evidence.”
The objective of each forum will be to learn and gather information so elected members and the wider public are better informed about critical issues facing the region. The six upcoming forums are based on the successful water forum organised by Cllr Thornburrow in 2019, which uncovered the extent of the water crisis facing the area and successfully influenced proposals in the emerging local plan. They are not planned as scrutiny events and will not form policy, but will bring issues to the attention of councillors and the wider public, while allowing these significant issues to be discussed at depth.
Cllr Thornburrow has also emphasised the need for them to be cross-party and cross-boundary events, with all political parties from the Cambridge City Council, South Cambridgeshire District Council and Cambridgeshire County Council invited to participate. Alongside council representatives, relevant organisations and members of the public are also being encouraged to attend to contribute to these important discussions.
This announcement follows on from a motion discussed at the full meeting of Cambridge City Council on the 21st July 2022. During discussion on a motion titled ‘Rivers, Safe Swimming and Sewage’, Cllr Thornburrow committed to preparing a second Water Crisis Forum. Adding to this, she said she planned to organise a public meeting or forum on river pollution and sewage, suggesting that it might be called “cut the crap”.
She went on to say:
“As I mentioned earlier in the meeting, Cllr Rosy Moore and I have been considering the risks that our city faces with the climate and environmental crisis. Now after the recent two days of extreme hot weather, which is clearly an effect of the climate crisis we are facing, we have decided that these two forums should be part of a 6 forum series that address the broader question of ‘How Resilient is Cambridge? ‘”
Further details to follow will include confirmation of the subjects, location of events, names of councillors who are participating, other involved organisations and final event format.