Richard Robertson for Petersfield
City Candidate for Petersfield
I’m Richard and I’ve been a Petersfield city councillor since being elected in 2014, although I also represented the ward from 1983 to 1991. I’m a chartered accountant by background, now retired from a career spent managing the finances of housing associations and charities. This included 15 years as the finance manager/director of Cambridge Housing Society and a further 15 years at Newnham College.
I was drawn in to stand for election once more in 2014 by the way the Tory and Lib Dem government were undermining the welfare state and increasing inequality. I wanted to play my part in developing policies particularly on tackling poverty and inequality but also to take action on climate change, maintaining the environment, developing biodiversity, and providing affordable housing.
In my first term as a councillor he helped draw up the City Council’s anti-poverty strategy to deal with Thatcher’s attacks on ordinary people. As chair of the city’s Finance Committee for the years 1987 to 1991 I also had to oversee the administration in Cambridge of the grossly unfair Poll Tax, but also campaigned strongly against it and helped get it killed off.
As the city’s Executive Councillor for Finance from 2016 to 2020 I made sure that the Labour council has had the resources to fund our work despite the removal of virtually all government grants, using my experience of finance and investment to develop new income streams and to improve the efficiency of the council so that council services can not only be protected but also be delivered at lower cost.
Planning is a major issue in Petersfield as there always seem to be proposals for developments, both big and small, which affect local residents. Being a local councillor can be frustrating at times, particularly when the government imposes policies and laws which tie our hands. One example is the way offices can be converted, without requiring planning permission, into flats with sub-standard space and energy criteria.
However I work hard to do what I can to ensure that developers’ plans are fully analysed and comply with the rules which do exist. I often speak at meetings of the Planning Committee, representing the interests of Petersfield residents and recently helped get the proposed huge building on stilts on St Matthews’s Piece rejected, as well as a massive office development on Hills Rd which would have both towered over the Botanic Gardens, and destroyed the viability of the Flying Pig pub and music venue.
I’m seeking re-election to be able to carry on using this experience as a ward councillor in dealing with planning, but also the many other issues which affect the ward such as getting environmental and local highway improvements funded, and tackling issues of anti-social behaviour, noise and air pollution.
For the city as a whole, I would also take a specific interest in work to tackle climate change by ensuring that Cambridge moves as quickly as possible to a net-zero carbon position, in particular by the council, businesses, education and health sector investing in the conservation and sustainable generation of energy.