How pandemic is an opportunity to Build Back Better in St Albans and Harpenden for the future

St Albans Friends of the Earth are asking readers to take a photo of a green and fair recovery opportunity, then share on...

St Albans Friends of the Earth are asking readers to take a photo of a green and fair recovery opportunity, then share on social media with the hashtag #TakeClimateAction and tag MPs @LibDemDaisy or @BimAfolami - Credit: Archant

A grassroots community campaign has been launched calling for a better St Albans in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Build Back Better St Albans campaign group has been founded by a group of local residents to highlight the need for positive social and environmental action, especially given the structural inequalities exposed by the ongoing health crisis.

This week they will be meeting with local MP Daisy Cooper to deliver an open letter calling for a green and fair coronavirus recovery plan that protects public services, tackles inequality in our communities, provides secure well-paid jobs and creates a shockproof economy to fight the climate crisis.

The letter has been co-signed by over 20 local community groups and local businesses, including Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust, St Albans Green Party, and popular pubs the White Lion and Ye Olde Fighting Cocks. It stresses the importance of investing in the NHS and social care, tackling the climate crisis, and creating green jobs.

The activists want to make sure a green recovery plan is top of the agenda for the country’s MPs.

Founder Chris Allen said: “The coronavirus pandemic has exposed major weaknesses in our economy and the deep-seated inequalities in our society. We can’t go back to business as usual after the pandemic.

“We need to create an economy that works for everyone. At the heart of the COVID-19 recovery we need a green new deal that will help us tackle the climate crisis and create millions of well-paid green jobs to tackle rising unemployment.”

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Cllr Simon Grover, leader of St Albans Green Party, said: “It’s crucial that our local and national recovery from coronavirus doesn’t simply return us to business as usual. We know there is an ecological catastrophe taking place, and that means an economic catastrophe is on the horizon too. So we must follow the ideas of campaigns like Build Back Better to create a safer, greener, more sustainable world.”

Christo Tofali, landlord of Ye Olde Fighting Cocks, said: “I think it’s important to look at our city with an holistic approach. We are going to need it.”

As well as joining in the Build Back Better initiative, St Albans Friends of the Earth are also doing their bit to show the way to a green and fair recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Next weekend, campaigners will be sharing photos from around the district pointing out opportunities that will be good for the planet, for people and for the economy.

Group coordinator Amanda Yorwerth said: “We support the Build Back Better movement, particularly the recognition that we need to tackle climate change and the COVID induced economic crisis together. Our weekend of action will highlight some of the local measures that would be required.

“We’ll be highlighting things like poorly insulated buildings where there could be new, green jobs in installing insulation.

“Or roads where cycle paths could help people to get to work or the shops more easily so boosting local business and cutting pollution. Or places where trees could be planted to enhance the environment for people and wildlife. We want to show our politicians the way to a green and fair recovery right here, in our district.”

Recent languages graduate Nina Vinther from Harpenden added: “The COVID-19 pandemic has changed everything. In spite of what we’ve lost, we now stand to gain a better future. This autumn the UK government will publish the Comprehensive Spending Review detailing the sectors and areas where they aim to spend money. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to rebuild our systems and ecosystems to better serve everybody. We want to ensure that our politicians know what a green and fair recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic looks like. Because it looks fantastic.”

This week’s event is part of the national Build Back Better campaign, which fights for a green and socially just recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.