ACE asked candidates standing in Broadland’s district council elections on 4 May 2023 six questions about how they see the future of Aylsham with regard to climate change and green issues. The same questions were sent to all the candidates.
We believe that thinking about the environment is crucial in deciding who we want to run our town and our district; we hope their responses will help you to decide how to vote.
The six questions are:
- Energy – Apart from installing public electric car charging points around Aylsham, what energy-saving schemes would you support?
- Plastics– The Aylsham supermarkets are doing their bit to reduce plastic waste. What more could our local authorities do?
- Nature – What are your views on the current provision/allocation of green spaces in and around the town?
- Transport – What changes would you propose to make public transport in Aylsham greener?
- Waste– Are there particular issues or areas of concern in Aylsham regarding waste? How would you propose to address these issues?
- Food– In considering the issue of food miles, what would you do to encourage people to eat seasonal, locally produced food?
How they responded
Response from the Conservative Party candidate
I believe Aylsham and Broadland Council are performing well already and are ahead of most other parts of the country.
- Energy – All street lighting should be low energy and lights should be turned off after a set time. This includes buildings such as schools, offices and shops.
- Plastics – Ban all one-use plastics.
- Nature – There are not enough. Any new developments must have a much larger percentage of open spaces.
- Transport – More buses and better parking facilities. A park and ride for Norwich?
- Waste – Broadland is already at the fore. We must continue to innovate. Our nearby recycling centre should remain open.
- Food – We need to promote local produce. We need to re-educate people to eat locally sourced foods and to cook for themselves.
Nigel Steele FRICS
A joint response from Labour Party candidates
- National Labour policy: £6 billion per year capital investment to upgrade the energy efficiency of every home that needs it.
We would support:
- Heat loss surveys as already undertaken by ACE (linking with Labour’s national policy).
- Encouraging housing associations to build eco-friendly homes such as Norwich City Council’s award-winning Goldsmith Street.
- Raising public awareness of energy saving schemes such as turning down your combi boiler flow temperature to 60°C, washing at lower temperatures, turning down radiators particularly in rooms not used, not using/using tumble dryers less, closing blinds and curtains at night, switching off sockets at plug, using a smart meter or app to track energy. Examples of how to achieve this would be by involving and educating community groups at the same time eg asking local schools to run poster competitions.
- Community energy projects such as wind schemes which would help Aylsham make the most of its natural resources to become more self-sufficient. In turn, providing its own electricity and generating much-needed income (in neighbouring Reepham, the Sixth form has a wind turbine).
- Where possible (National Trust Market Place and number of listed buildings), solar panels on the rooftops of public buildings, for example, community buildings, schools or local businesses.
- Labour Group at Norfolk County Council Manifesto, Protecting Our Environment: Reduce plastic by offering free drinking water re-filling stations at all libraries and Norfolk County Council public buildings
- Lobbying the local authority to commit to schemes supporting a circular economy for plastics eg plastic bottle return.
- We would support:
- Increasing woodland areas surrounding the town — tree planting schemes.
- Commitment to maintain existing designated footpaths/cycle paths such as the Marriott’s and Weavers’ Ways. Consultation with safer streets/women’s groups to ensure women feel more confident using such areas which are more isolated and disability groups (such as Equal Lives) to look at how to improve accessibility.
- Incorporating green space into new housing developments, ideally together with children’s play areas such as on the Bure Meadows Estate.
- Asking developers to include “homes for nature” eg swift bricks in new houses.
- Discouraging the use of insecticides and plastic grass.
- Putting pressure on water companies to upgrade their plant so it’s adequate for the population and stop them pumping sewage into the River Bure through combined sewage overflows.
- Encouraging the involvement of children with outdoor learning projects eg hedgehog highways.
- Further promoting the Bure Valley Path, Marriott’s Way and Weavers’ Way and Aylsham circular walks.
- Improving and making safer the access to the Bure Valley Path and circular walk off Henry Page Road with pedestrian crossings (the latter also making it safer for residents and school children to cross to the bus stop).
- Reduce bus fares (eg lobby for a permanent £2 cap), provide more frequent buses to meet a wider range of needs (workers commuting to coastal towns, people going out to Norwich in the evenings, connecting rural villages re Labour Group at Norfolk County Council Manifesto) in order to generate and encourage more use of the bus services. Lobby for electric buses, starting with an Aylsham and outlying villages electric community bus to collect residents to come into town (as requested by local people we have spoken with).
National Labour policy is to bring buses back under local authority to control in order to make it easier for them to improve services to meet community need rather than operators having control of routes and fares.
- We are very concerned about the planned closure of the Mayton Wood recycling centre and potential ramifications such as fly tipping and added expense to residents of using the NDR recycling centre. Residents need to have easy access to recycling facilities in order to promote this culture within the town. (We are also concerned about the impact of recycling charges as county-wide fly tipping has increased.)
We would also support:
- Schemes which make it easier to swap, give away unwanted goods, or buy used goods. Also, where repairing items and supporting each other to repair them (by offering expertise for example), or upcycling are encouraged.
- Promoting and providing home composting courses
- We would support:
- Allocating more spaces within the town for allotments.
- Offering educational schemes such as teaching residents how to grow their own produce, also partnering with local schools, businesses and community groups to promote school and workplace growing patches where those involved can take home produce grown together.
From the Broadland Labour Party Manifesto:
A GREENER BROADLAND – thinking globally, acting locally with low-carbon solutions and safeguards for the natural environment.
We will introduce a new Green Standard so that everything the council does helps meet environmental targets.
We believe everyone has a part to play in tackling the climate emergency. There will be new community funding programmes to support local initiatives – from rewilding to recycling, green spaces to community gardens, we will welcome ideas from our communities.
Cheryl Bould | Kay Montandon | Kevin Cunnane
A joint response from Liberal Democrat Party candidates
Broadland Liberal Democrats would welcome the opportunity to be in a position to take the following actions:
1. Liberal Democrats will promote renewable energy and enable the setting up of community energy schemes, so that local communities can benefit from the latest in green energy technology, and the power generated on their doorstep. This includes putting in place a strategy to retrofit the least energy efficient homes in Broadland.
2. Plastics are very much a global and a local issue. Reduction in single use plastics as an individual behaviour or business supply issue will require education and engagement of Aylsham residents and business owners to secure change. Such initiatives have been instigated by other Lib Dem run Councils and we can learn from the success or otherwise of these as to how best to implement in Broadland.
3. Provision of green space is widely known to be beneficial to the health and well-being of residents. Aylsham is no exception. We will do all that is practically possible to secure green space within any new developments and to maintain and improve existing green areas. Maintaining and increasing biodiversity within these areas needs focussed initiatives. At County level, Lib Dems are pressing to re-establish members’ Local Place Funds so that all county councillors can commit money to schemes and projects they believe are of benefit at ground level. Effective planning for the provision of trees to create areas such as community orchards will be achieved through a commitment to increase tree planting.
Water pollution: At national level, the Liberal Democrats are leading the way on the campaign for sewage tax on £2.2 billion water company annual profits, a ban on water company executive bonuses, and for the Government to start dealing with this issue properly. Via theriverstrust.org we have become aware of the regular contamination of the Bure River and will investigate the impact of this.
4. Transport can be made greener by encouraging walking, cycling, use of public transport and car sharing first and foremost. Broadland Lib Dems are committed to supporting local transport schemes and bus services and support the County level commitment, ie if Lib Dems had control of Norfolk County Council, their proposed long-term solution lies in re-thinking our approach to public transport, and building a sustainable transport approach across the county that combines public transport, rail, walking and cycling. The hub and spoke network solution puts park and ride-style car parks in out-of-town locations across the county. Then, rather than people driving all the way to the outskirts of the city, they would only need to drive the first few miles to the nearest hub where they would also be able to get clean, comfortable, modern buses to other towns too – not just Norwich. This networked approach would make it easier to send small electric shuttle buses around the villages to collect non-drivers and bring them to the same hubs too.
5. Waste collected from businesses has been raised as an issue for investigation as it appears that waste food, cardboard, plastics etc are all mixed together in business waste bins.
Domestic recycling rates can be made available locally and, if published along with further detailed explanations of what can be recycled, may encourage local residents to aim for higher recycling rates.
6. Food produced locally, eaten locally, is a valuable aspiration. A big impact could be made by encouraging local businesses to purchase and use locally grown produce. Although not in our manifesto, this concept is an interesting one and a project developed by ACE might have been an example of projects funded through the County level fund specifically for local green initiatives, if Liberal Democrats held a majority.
Sue Catchpole | Steve Riley | Abu Miah
Green Party candidate
- ENERGY – The overall aim should be to decarbonise our energy systems based on efficient use of electricity and heat from renewable sources providing security of supply and replacing fossil fuels. To help achieve this at a local level:
Phase out the use of natural gas for heating. All new-builds to be built to energy efficient low carbon standards, and fitted with solar thermal panels for heating water, and solar photovoltaic panels to produce electricity as standard. All older housing to benefit from a retrofit programme to improve energy efficiency through adequate insulation and efficient heating.
A local energy advisory service can signpost residents to relevant information and guidance.
Broadland can implement the above measures with the right policies in place.
- PLASTICS – Work towards a Deposit Return Scheme, as proposed in Scotland, to make it easier to recycle plastic bottles.
Well over half of the household plastic packaging the government claims is recycled is sent abroad, most of it going to countries with very low recycling rates and a serious problem with plastic waste being dumped or burned illegally.
Household recycling in Norfolk is currently sent to a recycling facility in Costessey, to be sorted. Some of the sorted plastics are sent to Viridor at Rochester in Kent. Norfolk County Council say that any plastic sent abroad by Viridor, is sent to EA- accredited and licensed facilities. We ask: why are the plastics sent abroad and why can’t we process and recycle those plastics in the UK?
- NATURE – Aylsham has some lovely green spaces, and with the Marriott’s Way and Blickling Hall close, there is a great chance for people to enjoy the countryside. It would be fantastic to see a tree planted for every Aylsham resident, trees planted along the verges of the country roads and Mayawaki forests in smaller green areas, which would all help carbon capture and contribute towards a net zero Aylsham.
We would like to see trees planted (and maintained!) in all new developments – tree cover is well-documented to reduce the temperature of cities and urban areas in Summer, as well as contributing to better mental health. This would require planning conditions placed on all new build housing.
- TRANSPORT – Aylsham is a reasonably compact town where active travel, walking and cycling, should be encouraged. An integrated public transport system is required across Norfolk to support travel between towns and villages that does not require the use of the car for every journey. Vehicles are one of the main contributors to greenhouse gases and instead of Norfolk County Council building more roads they should invest in a county-wide plan of public transport provision which integrates bus, rail and community transport services.
The Greens are campaigning for the reinstatement of the Postwick Park & Ride on the outskirts of Norwich. Similar schemes can be rolled out for our smaller towns across Norfolk as part of an integrated public transport network.
- WASTE – Litter is often associated with fast-food takeaways and various schemes have been proposed to identify the sources of litter so that culprits can be identified, or at least discouraged form indiscriminate littering. A system of printing car registrations on takeaway food and drink containers, for example, could be explored.
The installation of public litter bins can be included within the Planning process of new developments with the cost of emptying and maintaining bins negotiated between the relevant councils.
When Extended Producer Responsibilities are introduced in 2024/5 Broadland District Council will be able to directly re-charge businesses for the waste they generate.
- FOOD – Our Green Party candidate for Aylsham, Tom Walker, says: “I’m less concerned about ‘food miles’ as I am about ‘food emissions’. It is well documented, for example, that tomatoes grown in Spain and shipped to Sweden (by rail, sea or road) are less emission intensive than tomatoes grown in Sweden.
Personally, I eat a plant-based diet, locally produced when I can, though this is not always possible. I also have an allotment, allowing me to produce my own fruit and vegetables with barely any emissions at all – further allotments in Aylsham would be welcomed.
It would be great to see a community orchard in Aylsham, similar to that in Felmingham. As a child, and still now, picking an apple straight from a tree and eating it there and then is one way to feel very close to nature.”