Richard Johnson for Abbey
City Candidate for Abbey
I’ve always been a political being. What drives me are debates and discussions about how society should work and, more importantly, how we can make things better for people – especially those who are having a tough time of things.
I sometimes say to people that I went to two universities – the University of Cambridge and the University of Life. I was the first person in my family to go to any university, let alone Cambridge. My childhood was a challenging one. I lived in a small council flat within a deprived area in Plymouth. With my mum passing away when I was eight, my dad had to bring me up as a single parent. We were on benefits; my dad was not able to work. Life was often tough.
So how did this council house kid get to the best university in the world? Well, I was lucky enough to be given chances to fulfil my potential. I’m talking, of course, about a good school. Great teachers. Excellent facilities. The investment in education by a Labour government undoubtedly made a huge difference to my life chances. People need access to the tools to enable them to fulfil their potential. It’s why I joined the Labour Party. I strongly believe in the principle that opportunity, wealth and power should be in the hands of the many, not the few.
I’ve been proud to have had the privilege since 2012 to put these principles into action as your local councillor. We’ve achieved a lot together for Abbey during that time. And since Labour took control of the city council seven years ago, we’ve put in place a initiatives to tackle inequality and improve life chances for people in the ward. These include: a scheme to enable patients at the East Barnwell Health Centre to have access to a CAB advisor; investment to improve the environment of our housing estates and open spaces; planting hundreds of new trees; updating play equipment; continuing to fund important organisations like Abbey People that work with the community, and giving kids in low-income families the chance to swim at Abbey Pool for free.
As Executive Councillor for Housing, I’ve been lucky enough to oversee the largest and most ambitious council housebuilding programme in Cambridge for over fifty years. We are on target to deliver over 540 new council homes by 2022 and have plans for a further 1000 over the course of the next decade. With new projects in the pipeline for homes that are ultra-low carbon, using up to 80 percent less energy than standard houses, and plans to bring our existing council stock to the highest sustainability standards, we are determined to address both Cambridge’s housing emergency and the climate emergency.
I’m humbled by the way the council and its partners who work with the homeless worked together to bring everybody in since the first lockdown of the coronavirus pandemic. Since last March, we’ve made over 300 offers of emergency accommodation for rough sleepers and homeless people and been able to provide suitable longer-term housing options for 150 people. Some of these options include the innovative modular homes which are being built around the city.
I believe that my record shows I have provided residents with the competent and strong representation they deserve. I want to continue being your representative for Abbey on the city council with my two excellent colleagues Haf and Nicky, as well as our brilliant candidate for the county council, Alexandra Bulat, and work with you in continuing the job of making our community, and Cambridge as a whole, fair for all.