Our third election blog post by Canterbury Labour Party member Mike Blamires. Edited by Ali Dilnutt
We have a climate emergency.
Drastic changes must be made to how we travel, and slashing our use of cars is at the forefront. With an announcement today from the British Heart Foundation that air pollution is damaging our hearts to the equivalent of smoking 150 cigarettes a year, the evidence of how poisonous our air has become couldn’t be more stark.
One move we must make is to get traffic out of our city centres and the go-to solution for most councils is to build or expand a park and ride bus service. But this does not address the core problem – we have too many cars, we make too many car journeys, we are car dependent and that has to change.
In Canterbury, our Wincheap Water Meadows are under threat from the creation of more park and ride spaces. This is the solution our Tory council have found to encourage the use of public transport. Clean, accessible, integrated public transport is vital if we are to combat the very real climate crisis we face. But at what cost to our existing environment?
Wincheap Water Meadows and Hambrook Marshes would be significantly impacted by the development of a new car park. This impact wouldn’t be just the destruction of plants, mature trees and the habitat which supports the diverse wildlife there, but also people’s enjoyment of a beautiful and peaceful public space.
Then there’s the issue of flooding. The river Stour has burst its banks already in recent weeks, the water flooding out across the marshes preventing further flooding downstream. If there was a carpark there, it would have been submerged and a significant volume of water would have been forced elsewhere.
Marshes such as the one in Wincheap must form an important part of our planning for the future and the Labour Party manifesto sets out promises to protect and restore our natural environment, alongside bold plans to create a cleaner public transport system.
The reality is that once Wincheap marshes are covered in concrete, there will be no restoration or recovery – they will be lost.
People from across the political spectrum may regret these losses and some might argue they are the price to pay for progress. It is clear, however, that party politics have a role to play in the quality of our lives and the lives of future generations of Canterbury citizens.
Environmental Stewardship is a grand old Conservative value enshrined in David Cameron’s Tory Oak Tree logo, but in practice, action appears to be lacking. In Canterbury, it is the Tory Councillors from the rural wards outside of Canterbury (apart from Neil Baker) who are prepared to be rigid in their thinking and are likely to vote for a park and ride next to Wincheap Water Meadows and the Hambrook Marshes that have long been an iconic resource for Canterbury people.
Rosie Duffield, our local Labour candidate has been vocal about her support to save this precious marsh land. She already made a video at the Meadows to highlight the threat and also appeared on local radio to argue the case for both these locations.
Vote for Rosie on December the 12th and you will vote for a candidate that understands that our climate emergency means it’s not business as usual and we need Real Change to tackle it.
The next Canterbury Council meeting to discuss the park and ride development at Wincheap will be on January 8th 2020 at 7pm at the Guildhall in Canterbury. All welcome.
You can read more about the campaign to save the marshes here.
You can follow the Facebook campaign to save the marshes here.
You can sign the petition to support the campaign to Save Wincheap Marshes here.
You can write to Conservative Councillors with your objections to the development of the marshes here.