1:1 London Assembly Meetings - Peter Underwood, Green Party
Updated: Feb 26
On Wednesday 17th February, we held the first 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 Peter Underwood, who is currently standing as a candidate for the Green Party. He has lived in Croydon for over 20 years, has experience working for the Civil Service and the Government, including the Department of Energy and Climate Change, where he wrote the UK National Renewable Energy Strategy.
The main highlights from the meeting:
In relation to London as a whole
Support the proper implementation of the London National Park City and improve access to green spaces;
Switch the Transport for London (TfL) network to 100% renewable energy and generate renewable energy for London, which will help tackle fuel poverty;
Focus on refurbishing existing buildings rather than only building more;
Wants more monitoring and better publicity of air pollution;
Instate a food policy, aiming for less food waste and more access to healthier food;
Introduce common standards on recycling across London;
Use the power of London to reduce packaging on a national level;
Tackle "car culture" by introduce car hubs for communal use;
Expand the Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) to the whole of London;
Invest more in public transport infrastructure;
Divest in projects such as airport expansion;
Ensuring new buildings are not only carbon-neutral (where possible) but air pollution-neutral too; and
Conduct proper consultations with residents when developing council or housing association housing.
In relation to Croydon & Sutton specifically
Peter emphasised the need for refurbishing existing housing in the constituency, and that there should be a large drive to train people to carry out the retrofitting, especially in colleges and other training systems. He believes working with landlords will be essential, as will the provision of financial models such as loans and grants. Peter wants the new Mayor to revisit the housing targets for London, and will play a part in lobbying the government to ensure environmentally friendly planning regulations are fed into all new planning documents.
The main point Peter reiterated was the need to move away from the dependency on cars and to invest more in improving public transport, and encouraging active travel methods like walking and cycling. He believes Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) are generally positive, but more engagement with communities is required so all voices are heard. Peter supports initiatives such as car-free days of the week and creating car hubs to encourage more car sharing when required.
Peter wants to reduce the input of bad air in the constituency, by increasing the greenery, green walks and parklets to improve the air quality. He wants more access to green spaces for everyone, so more people are breathing fresher air. The Beddington incinerator is a big issue for Peter and will lobby to ensure its closure by 2030, as well as looking to introduce much more monitoring of air pollution and publicity of the data.
Local influence and awareness
The need for more public engagement in relation to the net-zero targets is high on Peter's agenda, and this will be made easier by using less jargon and working on the same level as local people, using real life examples. He wants to be lobbying at a national level as well as locally, and look at the areas of London with higher success rates of waste prevention and better recycling, to replicate in Croydon and Sutton.
He added: "We need to be looking at some radical new ideas because we are looking at a radical new future, and that covers everything from tackling crime, to drugs issues, to inequalities, to housing... it is time for some revolutionary thinking and some drastic changes."
Peter agreed to take our pledge, although not committing to the exact figures we proposed in the 10-point plan as he believes they should not be limits but minimum milestones to reach.
You can watch the whole video of the meeting below.