Because Cambridge can be better
What sort of Cambridge do you want to live, work and play in? Is this the sort of place Cambridge currently is? If not, what can we do about it to make things better?
I wrote this booklet on the back of over 2 years of emotionally intensive research, outreach, listening, learning and mistake-making. It’s also in part the product of my childhood growing up in Cambridge during the 1980s & 1990s. On top of that, it contains hard life lessons from my time away in Brighton at university, and working inside the machine of central government at the heart of Whitehall. In that time, I got to visit various parts of the country to see what was happening in other villages, towns and cities. I also got to work in a number of different policy areas, including local government reform, housing and climate change, and finally in community development.
A manifesto to inspire
That’s my intention. The Liberal Democrats & Labour have produced manifestos. While covering most of the essential issues, are also very ‘safe’. With small numerical differences between their numbers of councillors, there is little incentive to take risks or try things that are radically different. As me and Puffles the Dragon Fairy have zero prospect of being elected, this manifesto is trying something completely different. In it I try to cover issues that are less likely to appear on the doorstep – such as digital democracy. I also try to cover challenges such as making safe spaces for difficult conversations for resolving community tensions. Because they are there.
A manifesto that is not seeking votes – but one that encourages you to have conversations with local activists and political parties
Most of the councillors that I have met – lots of them – are nice, decent, hard-working people who give 10-20 hours per week on top of commitments such as full-time jobs and family commitments. The expenses they get in return is very little in terms of a financial return. If you want to become rich, becoming a councillor isn’t the way to go. If you want to become popular, ditto. You have all the responsibility of local services going wrong without the legal or financial powers to do anything substantial to prevent this.
Discussions on digital
With the explosion of social media in recent years, I want this to be the first of many where we use it to have open conversations with our politicians.
- Make suggestions
- Ask questions
- Demand answers
I have published my ideas to start debates across the city and beyond. I have also published them to ‘frame the debate’. This creates an incentive for other people, parties and institutions to respond – even if it is something they would rather ignore. ‘The ball is in your court’ so to speak. As for the ideas, I have split them into three parts.
These are the values on which my ideas are built on. Without these values, the ideas can only go so far. These are particularly important for institutions and community groups within the city. If what we do reflects these values, we increase the chances of making the ideas in the themes work.
The common links and connections
These are the things that link the themes and ideas together. As with the values, they should be common throughout the ideas in the themes. If we can make these work to their potential, we increase the chances of making the ideas in the themes work.
The ten themes – ideas to make Cambridge a greater city
Click here for the themes. There are lots of ideas that I’ve brought together for this manifesto. I’ve grouped them into themes where they are taking on similar or common problems. The themes also help break down what look like huge problems into something that is more reasonable and achievable for individuals and smaller groups to take on. Also, some play towards the strengths of different groups and organisations too.