So who is Jon Burke, the new Cabinet Member for Energy, sustainability and community services?

Following his election in September, Hackney's new mayor Philip Glanville appointed Councillor Jon Burke to coordinate the council's work on energy, sustainability and community services. His brief ranges from environmental sustainability, energy efficiency and climate change to community energy, fair trade and volunteering.  We're clear that we want to engage well with the council. And the Greenprint for Hackney on this website show how much there is to be done. So Sustainable Hackney's Kathryn Johnson and Philip Pearson booked an early meeting with Jon at Hackney Picturehouse, to get a better idea of the person and his priorities.

Jon said, 'I want a constructive relationship with anyone interested in sustainable development in Hackney and beyond. I'm really concerned on a daily basis at the lack of awareness about the urgency of tackling climate change. Cities will be unliveable places in very few years if global temperatures keep rising as they are. By now, we should have zero emission buses and commercial vehicles as standard, solar power on every flat roof, fully-insulated housing, and be closing our centralised and wasteful fossil fuel power stations. Our prosperity isn't threatened by these things, it's absolutely dependent on them. That's why I'd like to see Hackney set up a municipal energy company, providing sustainable and lower cost energy to tackle fuel poverty, which is widespread across the borough.'

Jon says his background as a civil and structural engineer will help to bring a new, longer term perspective on the changes that he would like to see in the borough. He wants policies that last, even if it means going back to first principles. So as one example, he's planning a municipal energy company as a long term answer to the linked problems of high energy costs, fuel poverty in many Hackney households and the need for green, clean energy. The council, he says, owns over half of the flat roofs in the borough, which could be a massive source of solar energy. 'A fully-licensed energy company is a huge undertaking, but cities like Nottingham are already making this a reality; I believe we have the kind of political leadership in Hackney that can go even further.'

He's also wants to draw on "peoples' memory and knowledge" of the borough, in encouraging a new spirit of volunteering, with a particularly strong focus on environmental volunteering. We pointed him in the direction of our Greenprint for Hackney based on wide public consultation with the borough's environmental organisations and interested citizens.

We felt the meeting was a good start, and the plan is to meet together pretty regularly. Greening Hackney is a huge task, but we're up for it.

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