Seven candidates are standing in a by-election in Hollingdean and Stanmer ward for a seat on Brighton and Hove City Council on Thursday 6 May.
The seat became vacant when Labour councillor Tracey Hill resigned to move to Derbyshire for family reasons.
The seven candidates are Emma Dawson-Bowling née Hogan (Conservative), Leila Erin-Jenkins (Labour), Nigel Furness (Independent), Alex Hargreaves (Liberal Democrat), Zoë John (Green), Des Jones (UKIP) and Rob Somerton-Jones (Trade Union and Socialist Coalition).
Each candidate was sent questions which were submitted by community groups and voters. Below are the responses from Green candidate Zoë John.
Why do you want to be a councillor for Hollingdean and Stanmer?
I’ve been fuelled by watching central government’s handling of the last year and the never-ending policies and actions that don’t consider most people – let alone consult them on what’s happening.
I got bored of being cross and wanted to put that energy into something positive.
For me, this is about my community. I live in the ward. I’m already active in the ward and my kids go to school here. I want to be a voice for you.
What do you think you will bring to this role?
I’m a researcher in human-centred design, where we put people at the centre of decisions. I want to make sure the council does this too.
We all have different lived experiences, so it’s vital that we don’t put people into categories based on assumptions, just because it’s easier or because we haven’t asked.
I’ll bring my knowledge – and my experience as a local resident – to be the voice for my ward in the development of our city, our communities and our futures.
What understanding do you have of the struggles that children, young people and adults and their families face because they have additional needs or a disability?
It’s vital that we support our SEND community through the challenges they face.
The most important thing we can do is to listen and act on the requests from families in the best interests of all parties.
The council has taken steps to work closely with families to understand their needs, but we can always do more.
It’s also important that we learn from mistakes – like the home to school transport debacle that was rightly challenged by Greens.
To what extent do you support the trend of building more homes on busy, polluted roads, exposing more people to it?
As a first step, the focus should be on reducing pollution levels by encouraging greater take-up of public transport, cycling and walking and supporting the move to more electric vehicles.
We’re constrained by Brighton and Hove’s position between the sea and the Downs, which limits where we can build – and we do have a housing crisis.
So we are committed to delivering 800 new council homes by 2023 and making them the best they can be for the whole community.
How can you ensure that residents of Saunders Park don’t get forgotten as the area is very seldom mentioned or factored in to Hollingdean and Stanmer ward? There are no meeting spaces, no focus or strategy for the area and it is densely packed.
Firstly, I’m really sorry that people feel that way.
One of the reasons I am running is because I want to contribute towards making sure everyone has a voice.
Greens are investing £3 million in a parks refurbishment programme for the city, which includes Saunders Park.
If elected, I would work with current councillors Martin Osborne and Theresa Fowler and Cityparks officers to ensure that the voices, needs and concerns of the local community are central to the plans.
How do you think a park and ride scheme, as suggested by the Climate Assembly, could be implemented in Brighton and Hove?
I understand that this is a controversial issue in the city. It’s important to heed what was suggested by the climate assembly and investigate the pros and cons.
Given the ultimate goal of becoming carbon-neutral by 2030, park and ride may not actually deliver the shift towards active travel and public transport.
The first issue to tackle would be where it was located and a thorough exploration of how that would affect the location it sat in.
What would you do to improve transport equity in our city for the 40 per cent of households who do not have access to a car?
I fully support the Green commitment to improving walking and cycling infrastructure.
It was great to receive funding for new cycle lanes, which are constantly being improved to work for everyone on the roads.
Having safe infrastructure is crucial for enabling us all to travel by foot and by bike.
I’d also continue the Greens’ co-operation with the bus companies to improve accessibility to public transport in the city, with particular emphasis on those areas with limited car ownership.
Our playgrounds are dated, and some of the equipment is broken. How will you champion improving play areas for our children?
Ultimately what play areas need is more funding, so I am thrilled that the Greens are investing in a playground refurbishment programme.
Having young kids, I know outdoor play is critical for children but that outdoor play can also look like Play Streets, something we have on our road (that my kids love) and access to green open spaces.
I will champion outdoor play generally and explore how we can make initiatives like Play Streets easier for communities to organise.
There are no youth clubs in the area. What will you do to give teenagers something to do?
Youth work is about more than buildings, and while we don’t have youth clubs in the ward, the council funds the Trust for Developing Communities to provide youth work in the area.
Working with the trust, I would look to consult with teenagers and families giving them a voice in what they would like to do.
Thanks to Green councillors, we are investing more funding into youth services across the city.
What action will you take to tackle dog waste on our streets?
I hate getting home and finding a buggy wheel has gone through some!
As a ward councillor, I will help residents contact the environmental enforcement team if there are areas constantly being left with a lot of dog waste, as they can issue fines.
I will support residents in requesting more bins and also look at the wider behaviour to tackle how we can address why people aren’t picking it up and what we can do about it.
What are you going to do about the rubbish problems of missed collections and people dumping their rubbish in communal bins?
I would continue to work on the Cityclean modernisation programme, as we are all affected by missed collections.
I would also continue to raise missed collections as and when they happened on behalf of residents.
Fly-tipping can cause all sorts of issues. I would actively look for solutions such as CCTV cameras to address the problem.
I’m thrilled that the Greens have put money into improving the amount of plastics we can recycle and exploring food waste collections.
What will you do to make yourself known as an active part of our community?
I am already active within the community, having co-founded a local community garden, being involved in street play and being an active parent.
I would continue this but scaled up, working for and on behalf of our community.
For me, being a councillor is doing the work and making a difference to our community, whether that’s picking up litter in the Bates Estate, volunteering in Coldean Community Corner or listening to residents at events like Lucky Dip.
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