Cambridge Doughnut envisions a new way of rebuilding the Cambridge economy following the pandemic to better meet the challenges of the 21st century. We asked candidates what issues they would prioritise in the aim to create a fairer, more sustainable city for all.
CAMBRIDGE: Cambridge Doughnut, a Cambridge-based community group working to support the regeneration of the Cambridge economy based on Kate Raworth’s Doughnut Economics principles, organised a digital “hustings” for political candidates contesting in the May 6th elections. Our questions covered issues that mattered to the residents of Cambridge while also considering the reality of the climate emergency we now live in.
Cambridge Doughnut strives to foster an economy that supports the needs of all people while helping sustain the planet for future generations, using Raworth’s approach to build a society which is both socially just and sustainable. We launched in September 2020 and have grown to over a hundred members in a little over six months. By asking candidates how they would help achieve the dual goals of social justice and environmental protection, we hope to educate them in the principles of Doughnut Economics and its potential to transform administrative planning.
Candidates from all key political parties standing for the Cambridge City elections replied to our call and their signed responses can be found in full here: Questions to Candidates
Cambridge Doughnut also wrote to candidates standing for the Cambridgeshire County Council and neighbouring district council elections. We received a response from the Green Party Candidate for Cambridgeshire County Council in Abbey and a collective response from South Cambs Greens at the time of writing.
The following were the questions posed to candidates:
Ambitious growth plans for this most unequal of cities usually focuses on high-tech, bio and pharma industries - boosting opportunities for incomers, the already advantaged and the highly qualified.
1. How will you ensure the new Local Plan alongside council initiatives improves the living standards of the less privileged and those for whom ‘affordable housing’ is not affordable?
2. How will you seek to ensure the city as a whole delivers what’s needed to address the climate and ecological emergency (climate emergency was declared by the city council and Parliament in 2019)?
3. Will you work for (and how?) passage of the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill?
For the 100-and-growing residents from Cambridge and surrounding areas who are part of Cambridge Doughnut, the motivation to run a digital “hustings” was two-fold: firstly, to receive a public commitment from candidates on where they stand on the above issues, and secondly, to encourage them to adopt principles from Doughnut Economics in planning, following the path taken by other cities around the world, including Amsterdam and Brussels. Closer to home, Cornwall Council identified the Doughnut model as a useful framework to assess the impact of policies.
David Stoughton, a member of Cambridge Doughnut, said, “While there is some good intent when it comes to narrowing the wealth divide or tackling climate change, urgent demands and party politics tend to override better motivations. Without an unambiguous statement of belief and intent it is impossible for voters to hold our representatives to account, and this is what we hope to achieve.”
Acknowledging the limited influence councillors have in changing national-level policies, fellow member and long-time resident Geraint Davies adds, “We are interested to hear the links candidates make between the big picture and the local Cambridge system. Are they referring to national political stances or do they have aspirations for local change? Are they making system-level connections between local issues? Are they connecting environmental protection with societal change? The responses indicate to some extent candidates' alignment with the principles of Doughnut Economics. If you are interested in these principles and, like us, believe they are important in creating a fairer and more sustainable society, you can use the responses to steer your votes.”
At Cambridge Doughnut, our intention is to make Doughnut Economics a more central theme in the political dialogue, and we want to continue to work with councils and the successful candidates to promote a better understanding of Doughnut Economics and of ways to implement it locally.
We can all play our part and so we invite residents and local organisations to join our efforts to help make the city of Cambridge and surrounding areas a thriving place for all. Join us today: www.cambridgedoughnut.org.uk