Sian Berry: Green Party co-leader and Highgate councillor says London ‘ought to be world leader’ in active travel

London Assembly member Sian Berry.

London Assembly member Sian Berry. - Credit: Green Party

Highgate councillor and Green Party co-leader Sian Berry has called for more immediate action from Camden Council and for there to be “environmental scrutiny built into every committee”.

Cllr Berry, who is also in the running to be the next mayor of London, told this newspaper: "The key thing is to have more measures to meet that target, and then that they are prepared to be campaigning enough to get the powers to actually enact change.

"The council needs to embed the climate emergency into every committee.

"Otherwise the warm words will get forgotten about."

Cllr Berry also called on Camden to stop resisting divestment (see p16) but added: "The key thing is the scrutiny. You have only got one Green councillor and it's three years until people vote again. Most of the actions that need to be taken, need to be taken in those three years. It's no good preparing things and it suddenly being 2030."

Looking outside of Camden, she added: "Councils have this issue. We are stuck with gas heating. Councils have replaced heating systems with much more efficient versions, but they are still burning gas. I'm spending quite a lot of time talking to campaigners - there are a lot of options and these boilers might need to be replaced before the end of their lives."

She added: "Relying on every council to come up with their own solutions isn't necessarily the answer but neither do I want to say to councillors: 'Leave it up to the mayor [of London].'"

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Cllr Berry said encouraging active travel needed to be stepped up. She said: "We ought to be the absolute world-leader."

Cllr Berry, also an Assembly Member, added more needed to be done to convince the public of the benefits of traffic-calming schemes. Ambivalent about the London walking and cycling tsar, she said "stronger leadership" from City Hall was needed to steer projects and give councils the necessary expertise.

"Too many schemes get bogged down because of objections to the small print,"

We need to support buses, and walking - yet we're seeing bus cuts.

"We're stalling on investment in big projects like Crossrail 2. It's about funding investment in other things and giving people an alternative to cars. At the minute with bus cuts we're in danger of a reverse."