Ben has represented Thorpe Hamlet on the city council since 2012. His strong community focus has led him to help solve problems alongside local residents while trying to effect change at City Hall. As a professional gardener, Ben understands the importance of biodiversity and the impacts of climate change on the natural and human worlds.
Ben enjoys meeting local residents and being part of finding new solutions to problems in the area. He has worked on a number of issues on the city council and sees that these are linked to the actions of all levels of government. He would like to see more practical and environmental voices on the county council, particularly around the subjects of air quality and transport which are so important to people living in Thorpe Hamlet.
As a city councillor, he has supported the creation of a community group at Old Library Wood which transformed a run-down park with anti-social behaviour problems into a safe and friendly space. He is now helping to establish a similar group at James Stuart Gardens, bringing together older and younger people to protect wildlife and enjoy the outdoor area.
Ben recently gained council support for giving most roads within Norwich's outer ring road a 20mph speed limit and has fought to protect local trees through the planning system. Ben has campaigned against a western link road being built near Norwich and would like to see air quality improved for children through traffic-free zones outside schools. He considers poor air quality a serious health concern and would like to see it at the centre of decision making, with a Norfolk-wide transport plan put in place.
He has been a member of the Licensing Committee since first elected, instrumental in developing the Stakeholders' Forum, a Green Party initiative with the aim of improving the late-night economy and reducing anti-social behaviour. Having completed a local investigation and reporting his findings to the Government Minister for Licensing at Westminster, he led Norwich City Council’s introduction of a Cumulative Impact Policy, which capped the number of bars in the Late Night Activity Zone.
Along the Wensum, Ben organised a river tidy, removing rubbish and helping to highlight plastic pollution and the importance of the waterway. He also worked with local residents to build a successful campaign to oppose the proposed construction of a straw-burning incinerator power station known as Generation Park, located in Thorpe Hamlet.
Anti-social behaviour is, unfortunately, a prominent issue in parts of Thorpe Hamlet and Ben has been involved in improving this situation for residents. He has fostered strong relationships with the local policing team and, at the invitation of the police, chairs the Safer Neighbourhood Action Panel (SNAP) for the city centre and Thorpe Hamlet.
At City Hall, Ben chairs the Audit committee, monitoring the way the council carries out its business. Here he has focused on governance, transparency and risk management, challenging the Labour administration on its investment strategy, introducing training for members of the committee to improve overall performance and directing investigations into the governance of the council’s commercial company through the work of the internal audit team. He wants to see an improvement in governance so that the council’s money is spent more wisely.
As Vice Chair of the Mousehold Conservators, Ben’s spent the last few years working alongside council officers on the newly-agreed ten-year vision for Mousehold Heath, helping to create a focus on biodiversity and community participation. With a deep love of nature, he employs the practical knowledge of a professional gardener to further his aims of looking after Norwich’s special green areas and protecting trees and other wildlife in the city.
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