Climate crisis: How can Leicester improve its environmental sustainability?

By Will Miller

A Green Party member and campaigner has expressed concern about Leicester’s environmental sustainability.

Originally a Labour Party supporter, Mags Lewis joined the Green Party in 2007 after being “disillusioned” with the Labour Party’s lack of climate action, and ran for mayor in the recent May elections, unsuccessfully trying to oust Sir Peter Soulsby from the post.  

Mrs Lewis said: “Climate change is going to unfairly impact on vulnerable groups and poorer countries, and the poor in this country.”  

Passionate: Mrs Lewis campaigning for the Leicester Green Party (via @MagsLewisGreens on Twitter)

After moving from London to Leicester in 2001, Mrs Lewis said that her passion and concern for the environment came after she had her twins in 2006.

“I just became a lot more like, oh my god, what are we doing, or what are we not doing about the environment and social justice?” she said.

Mrs Lewis is also an avid campaigner for more safe streets in Leicester schools.

The ‘Safe Streets Scheme’ aims to make sure every school has safe cycle paths and shut roads in front of schools during key times.

Mrs Lewis said: “When I bring this up to the Deputy Mayor, which I often do, and ask about walking buses and safe streets in front of schools, he goes ‘we’re doing those already Mags’, but when you actually look at it, safe streets cover four per cent of schools in Leicester and the walking buses cover about two or three per cent. It’s almost a gimmick.” 

She added: “You have places in London like Lewisham, which are more congested and have more social issues, and have a third of their schools operating the safe streets scheme.

“When you compare our three or four per cent with their 33per cent, you can see it needs to be massively expanded.”

Mrs Lewis admitted: “They (the city council) have some pockets of good work, for example things like ’20 is plenty’, putting in place 20 mph speed limits across 70 or 80 per cent of the city, but I think they should have introduced that a lot quicker, maybe 5 or 10 years ago and covered 100 per cent of all residential streets, rather than this ‘dribs and drabs’ approach.”

In reply, Leicester City Council said: “The Safe Streets and walking buses schemes operate areas in the vicinity of schools, which obviously means they will only cover a small percentage of the total number of streets in the city. That being said, we are working on plans for an additional 22 safe streets to come on board, but also focusing on developing our Park and Stride scheme which is used by 15 schools at present with plans for another 19 to join.”

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