1:1 London Assembly Meetings - Claire Bonham, Liberal Democrats
Updated: Feb 26
On Tuesday 23rd February, we held the second of our 1:1 meetings with Croydon & Sutton candidates, running for the London General Assembly in May 2021.
Our main aims for holding these meetings are to perform a deep-dive into each candidate's views in relation to the current climate and ecological crisis we are facing, and to ultimately take the below pledge:
"If I am elected to the London Assembly, I will make the climate crisis a top priority in considering all the Mayor of London's decisions, and push the Mayor for tougher action on climate, as illustrated in Friends of the Earth's Climate Action Plan for London."
We were joined by Claire Bonham, who is currently standing as a candidate for the Liberal Democrats. She has lived in Crystal Palace since 2013; has over 15 years’ experience working in the voluntary sector, championing the causes of children, the elderly and victims of crime, homelessness and poverty; and is currently an Executive Director at the IARS International Institute.
The main highlights from the meeting:
In relation to London as a whole
Current London Environment and Transport Strategies don't go far enough
Against the building of the Silvertown Tunnel as it will cause more traffic at both ends
Supports the Green Party idea of setting up a People’s Land Commission, so decisions are made as locally as possible
Community Land Trusts are underused and not widely know about
Supports the redesign bus stops to make them greener
In favour of the Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) and congestion charge increase, as it gives people an incentive to drive more once the charge has been paid
In relation to Croydon & Sutton specifically
Claire advised that there need to be incentives in place for improving housing, and she wants to supports having green roofs on all new buildings to lower energy bills and improve air quality. Claire highlighted the need for developers to be regulated, and should be retrofitting where possible. She believes that making homes more energy efficient will make them more affordable. After noting that Croydon Council's investment in Brick by Brick has been a "disaster", she reiterated the need to have more decisions made at a more local level. Claire commented that Sutton Council are doing a much better job in relation to housing than Croydon Council, but would still use the opportunity to influence them, if elected.
Claire is in favour of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs), living in one herself. She feels it has provided better opportunities for active travel, but the consultation was handled poorly. She is in favour of a progressive road-user charge. Her other ideas relating to transport include creating a good environment for active travel by extending bus and cycle lanes. Claire was dissapointed that the Mayor cancelled the tram extension to Sutton, and thinks bus stops in Croydon should be safer with better lighting. She would also like to extend night tube to Crystal Palace.
Claire feels strongly about reducing pollution by cutting idling time of vehicles, which can be achieved though having better road layouts. She is very passionate about not penalising poorer people though pollution-reducing measures, and believes that having delivery hubs for food and goods would mean fewer vehicles on the roads. Claire is in favour of electric vehicles, and highlighted that the government should be providing subsidies to be using them. Regarding pollution data, she agreed that it needs to be more readily available.
Local influence and awareness
Claire highlighted that attending sessions with local groups is really positive and wishes to attend more meetings in the future. When asked about how to influence local people's actions on climate change, she advised that it can seem like too much to do at once, so needs to be broken down into more specific goals. Claire wants the Council to act on her 2018 pledge for boroughs to share waste waste and recycling facilities. She feels making goals fun will help people get more involved and feel less guilty about climate change. Claire's party is currently talking to supermarkets about reducing single waste plastics.
She added: "As a consequence of lockdown, what I'm really hoping is that we can invest in the 600-or-so local highstreets, because people will be living at home, working from home a bit more, and actually that reduces some of the need for so much travel. If we can take pride in the areas that we live in, have good transport options and good facilities that we can walk to, then it cuts down on the need to drive and travel everywhere."
Claire wholeheartedly agreed to take our pledge.
You can watch the whole video of the meeting below - there was a slight technical issue in the middle where a very small portion of footage was lost unfortunately!