Gavin James – LibDem, Basingstoke South East

1.  Pollution
1a) This is a big issue for me as the most polluted area of Basingstoke is the town centre, where I live and work and where my children go to school.  It is not surprisingly the worst part of the borough is Winton Square, busy, with queuing traffic, narrow streets, built up area and no trees.

1b). I would love to see more fuel efficient cars, preferably electric but realistically that will take more incentives from government.  That does not mean we should put up with it.  Improved road networks reducing congestion and cutting journey times would help, better bus services to reduce car dependency can make a contribution.  We also need to persuade people out of their cars.  Properly maintained and lit footpaths with safe crossing, lets promote the health benefits of walking 10000 steps a day.  And cycling should be more popular.  Cyclists are put off by things such as ring roads, roundabouts, underpasses, one way systems and isolated cycle stores.  Basingstoke is burdened with all of those things!  We can’t change them, so we must mitigate against them to encourage people to use their bikes.  Finally a park and ride scheme at junctions of the M3, not easy, but it will not get any easier, these should be planned now, especially junction 7 before there is no land left to use.

2. Energy
1a) 7 years ago, I suggested the Borough Council invest £20m of their reserves in green energy.   That was when the feed in tariff was higher and returns of 10% were realistic.  Had we done this, we would now be generating £2m a year extra to fund services.  It is not just the Council offices or Eastrop park boat house (both have which have been done in attempt to shut me up I think) but the Aquadrome roof – giving them energy rather than financial subsidies, saving money and the environment.  Our school buildings are perfect places as they are in use during the day, exactly the time when solar is at its best.  There are also massive opportunities in regeneration projects such as the leisure park where onsite generation would mean by-passing the national grid throughout the day.  Sadly the Councils seem obsessed with investing in financial instrument which lack any ‘social’ return or financial returns.  If the Councils are reluctant to invest too much in green energy schemes here, then we should adopt ethical investments – investing in green schemes and making sure we only invest in or award contracts to organisations who demonstrate their commitment to a low carbon future
1b) The borough set up a green investment fund, but it failed to compete with a bank loan.  We must find away to encourage business to go green, generating their own electricity, encouraging staff to use public transport, work from home a day a week, work 4 longer days rather than 5, cycle more.  Whether this can be done via business rate incentives I doubt yet, but it is a power we should ask from central government.  If I had written the local plan, the expectation is every new home would have at least 1 solar panel.  If that home didn’t have a south facing roof, then refuse the planning application until it does! We should be adopting a similar stance with commercial development where a good bream standard should not be an aspiration, but a minimum standard we only accept when excellent was not financially viable.  The Council’s have to lead by example and any land owned by the Council which is not either public green open space, earmarked for development within 15 years or used for farming should be considered for its green energy generating capacity.