Yesterday was one for my other job - City Councillor and Opposition Spokesman on Sustainability. There were two big set-piece events: the launch of the Newcastle Waste Commission Report and a public meeting on Air Quality. The emerging theme was the same – culture change is everything.

The problem the Council always has had is its assumption that culture change will come from sending residents letters or hosting consultation events. Clear communications are important, but not enough.

As I said in the AQ meeting, the desired option must be the easy one to take. There's no point in having a wonderful cycle route if it just comes to an abrupt end at a busy road junction – I won't take my kids that way. Likewise the big surge in Newcastle's recycling rate a decade ago (when I was 2nd in command 😉) came because we made recycling really easy. About the same time, we put a (hybrid) bus service through the Quayside part of my Ward and for years endured jokes about them being empty. 10 years later they're busy – it took time for people to adjust their lifestyle to the new opportunity.

There's much more to culture change than this, but your first task is to minimise every barrier to the behaviour you want to promote.

 

 

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