07:22 Tuesday 16th April 2013
Bigger Breakfast Show
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire
(TAPE OB CAMBRIDGE)
ED MILIBAND: It’s more to the seriousness with which we’re taking every part of the country. Look, in a way we’re a long way back on the County Council, and I’m not predicting we’re going to take control of the County Council. But what I am saying is we’ve got something to say to everybody right across the country. I think it’s right that we do that. And that’s what I’m determined to do.
PAUL STAINTON: With Labour admitting it’s unlikely to make much headway in Cambridgeshire, a Tory stronghold of course, maybe the Greens could capitalise on the party’s decline in fortunes. Councillor Simon Sedgwick- Jell is leading the Green Party in Cambridgeshire. Good morning.
SIMON SEDGWICK-JELL: Hiya.
PAUL STAINTON: Were you impressed with Ed’s message yesterday in Cambridge. Is he going to make serious inroads and batter the Greens and the Tories in the forthcoming elections?
SIMON SEDGWICK-JELL: I’d be very surprised if he didn’t pick up a few seats. It would be almost impossible not to, given the current circumstances. But I find, as do people on the doorstep, that they find it very difficult to quite understand where the Labour Party is coming from. Because they seem to be desperately eager not to commit themselves to anything very much at all, rather than taking a lead against policies which are being implemented at the moment by the Government, which a lot of people have, as some of your respondents there said they find really very very nasty indeed.
PAUL STAINTON: Right. So Labour not committing to policies. What are the Greens committing to?
SIMON SEDGWICK-JELL: We must remember this is actually a County Council election, and the depressing thing is that the biggest voting block is those people who are not going to bother, because they don’t think it really concerns them. But it concerns them massively. In particular, an awful lot of our council tax money goes on paying for social care, for the elderly, for the disabled, for all sorts of other special needs groups. And we’ve got a dysfunctional system. There’s not enough money in the system, and it’s not very well spent, because we don’t integrate health and social care. And with all the changes that are taking place at the moment, that’s something that we would press for very very much. People don’t seem to realise until they are elderly, or their relations are, or they’ve got some other family disaster, how incredibly important this system is. And it’s evidence based. And what gets me is that in a county council where 90% of the councillors come from Coalition parties, they’re compromised, because they find it impossible to really attack the Government. And it’s the Government that is actually changing the rules to make it more difficult to provide care for people. And also, and this was true of the Labour Government as well, not giving a county like Cambridgeshire enough money to provide proper services.
PAUL STAINTON: So that’s one of your big things then. It’s about health and social care. And people would be with you on that I’m sure. They’re very concerned about those issues. But “equality for pedestrians” I’m not quite so sure about.
SIMON SEDGWICK-JELL: Well I think most people find themselves to be using roads in all sorts of different ways. Most of us are cyclists and pedestrians and motorists and public transport users.
PAUL STAINTON: Is it a big issue though?
SIMON SEDGWICK-JELL: I think it’s a very big issue. One of the things that always strikes me is that we call ourselves a cycling centre. But what’s happens is that these things are squeezed in at the edges. How many cycleways right across the county are fairly good until you come to a major junction, at which they completely disappear? And if that’s one way of putting people off cycling, I don’t know of a better one.
PAUL STAINTON: Do you think people are worried about cycling, or walking at the moment though? They’re more worried about putting some food on the table, aren’t they?
SIMON SEDGWICK-JELL: I think people are worried about a variety of issues. Different people have ones uppermost. But most people have several things which they’re going to be concerned about. And certainly what’s happening to traffic planning and what’s happened to public transport, or more particularly in the County as a whole the lack of it, is something that people bring up to me quite often.
PAUL STAINTON: You’ve got a lot of candidates in Cambridge, South Cambs, Hunts, east Cambs, but not in Fenland. Why not? You’re not very popular in Fenland?
SIMON SEDGWICK-JELL: I think we’ve always been fairly weak in Fenland. We’re quite strong in Peterborough. And I think politics up there is sometimes fairly intense. And remember we’re a much smaller party than the big three. What I’m impressed about is the way in which we’re actually managing to put candidates up in a surprisingly large number of places, and I think that will make an impact on them all, that it will make an impact not just this year, but in the European elections next year, where I’m fairly confident that we’ll actually elect the first Green MEP for this region.
PAUL STAINTON: Simon, thank you for that this morning. Nice to talk to you. Simon Sedgwick- Jell, Leader of the Green Party in Cambridgeshire.