Profiles | Sian Berry

Articles, Election 2008, Interviews, LondonUnlockedEditor

The Evening Standard today carries a profile of Green Mayoral candidate, Sian Berry.

Certainly worth a read, not least to see how Ms Berry's no-nonsense approach to a green lifestyle shines through, the article can be found here.

Her comments about public transport are certainly worth paying attention to and can be found after the jump:

A Green Mayor, she says, would cancel the Thames Gateway Bridge, the £450 million proposed thoroughfare connecting the A406 at Beckton with Thamesmead on the south of the river. "I don't think building any more roads is a good idea. There's a lot you can do to ease congestion on other bridges, and with that amount of money poured into sustainable travel throughout the city, well, I could cure any traffic jam."
And so we are onto cars. It was Berry who in 2004 launched the Alliance Against Urban 4x4s, the campaign group that slaps fake yellow-and-black parking tickets - in fact leaflets containing information on CO2 emissions - on offending vehicles throughout London. I ask her whether she has ever met her arch-nemesis on this issue, Jeremy Clarkson: "No, but I'd love to. I'd love to debate it with him. Greens are not airy- fairy hippies anymore. They're cool people, committed people. They're businesslike."
So yes, of course she would raise the Congestion-charge to £25 for cars in Band G (the highest CO2-emitting vehicles) and, for a year at least, charge a zero rate to drivers of cars in the A and B bands.
"People do have choices. What I'm really concerned about is not how people's cars look but about safety issues and of course carbon emissions." As Mayor, she would also ban 4x4 adverts on the Underground, and is currently campaigning to have CO2 emission bands clearly printed on car adverts everywhere "like the tar content in cigarettes used to be".
But is she not simply anti-car? "No, I'm not," she protests vigorously. "I support people getting out of their cars but I'm not here to make life difficult for them. I want green to be enabling. If I make it more difficult for people to use their cars, I'd want first of all to make it easier for people to use public transport."
But how, how? The Tube is in a mess, the buses are often empty - or late. Berry argues for the effective " renationalisation" of the complete Underground network; says that she would put it under the control of TFL and insists that central government should cover the reported £500 million debt accrued as a result of Metronet's collapse last year. "The argument for PPP [Public Private Partnership] was that the private sector would run the Tube more efficiently. Well, they haven't. No one in London wanted it. It was forced through by Gordon Brown and now it's gone horribly wrong. We'd bring the Tube back under public control. Keeping fares low would be the absolute priority." She would also bring the timetables and fare system on some commuter overground train routes under TFL control - an undoubted crowd-pleaser. The daughter of two teachers, Berry grew up in Cheltenham and did not see her future in politics until she left university. "I've been a Green since I was very small, but then we all are I think. All kids grow up thinking the environment is important and that we must look after the planet. It's patently obvious really, but other priorities seem to get in the way as we get older.