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City Council Elections 2018

There are elections for the Council happening in Newcastle on the 3rd May 2018. This year new ward boundaries are being introduced. The wider Heaton area will be now covered by three wards: Heaton, Ouseburn and Manor Park.

With lots of new faces we’re keen to find out what the candidates think, in particular about how they plan to address transport-related issues in our community. To do that we’ve come up with five statements or pledges and we have asked each of the candidates whether they support these or if not what they plan to do instead.

Below the candidate’s responses, which we’ll update as they are received, we have also written a bit of background about why we have chosen these particular statements.

Please keep checking back in advance of the elections on 3 May and if one of your candidates has not yet answered please do encourage them to do so. The very least we should expect from future local councillors is a willingness to engage with local residents and share their vision for the future of Heaton.

THE SPACE FOR HEATON PLEDGES

The five pledges we have asked candidates to support are:

  1. Streets that are safe (and feel safe) for children to walk and cycle to school, to the shops or to the park.
  2. Air pollution in Newcastle brought within legal limits as soon as possible.
  3. Residential streets that are pleasant, safe and attractive places to live and where children can play out.
  4. Rapid implementation of temporary changes to trial interventions to support these objectives.
  5. Constructive community engagement about how to address the public health impacts of travel and the benefits of active travel.

Please see below for more on why we have chosen these pledges and what they mean in practice.

We are contacting all the candidates and will post their responses below when we receive them. The candidates are listed in the order they appear on the Statement of Persons Nominated on the City Council website

Heaton Ward

Name Party Response
Christopher Boyle Liberal Democrats  Agrees with 1-3 and 5. Reservations about 4 explained in the full response below.
Alex Collier Conservative Party
Lara Ellis Labour Party We are happy to endorse all of the pledges. Read the full response below
Matthew Folker Liberal Democrats
Andrew Gray Green Party Many thanks for your letter asking me to support your five pledges.  I am happy to do so, with the additional comments below (especially in relation to pledge 4, where I would like to combine better engagement with a quicker process or trials). See the full response below
George Lloyd Conservative Party
Chris Parker Green Party Thanks very much for getting in touch and giving me the opportunity to support your pledges, which I do so wholeheartedly. Read the full response
Clare Penny-Evans Labour Party We are happy to endorse all of the pledges. Read the full response below
John-Paul Stephenson Labour Party We are happy to endorse all of the pledges. Read the full response below
Jonathan-Fin Tuddenham Conservative Party
Jason Lee Whalley Liberal Democrats
Louise  Wilson Green Party

Manor Park Ward

Name Party Response
Alex Benson Labour Party
Leanne Conway-Wilcox Conservative Party
Sylvia Copley Labour Party
Paula  Dyer Conservative Party
Michael Gardner Green Party
Thomas Gordon Liberal Democrats  I’m more than happy to give my support to the five pledges! View
Charlie Gray Labour Party
Doreen Huddart Liberal Democrats
Florence Kirkby Conservative Party Heaton has always been felt to be a pleasant place to live and I am happy to endorse pledges 1, 2, 3 and 5. Pledge 4 I think I might like to consider on a more individual bases.
Gregory Stone Liberal Democrats Agrees with 1-3 and 5. Reservations about 4 explained in the full response below.  Read the full response below

Ouseburn Ward

Name Party Response
Jason  Carr Conservative Party
Alistair Chisholm Labour Party We are happy to endorse all of the pledges. Read the full response below
Harry Craggs Conservative Party
Paula  Holland Labour Party We are happy to endorse all of the pledges. Read the full response below
Rachel Holland Green Party  As a Green Party candidate for Ouseburn Ward, I heartily support your five pledges. Read the full response
Gareth Kane Liberal Democrats The local election candidates are more than happy to support the five pledges! (view)
Ciaran Morrissey Liberal Democrats The local election candidates are more than happy to support the five pledges! (view)
Ralph Pettingill Green Party  Fully support the five pledges. Read the full response below
Stephen Powers Labour Party We are happy to endorse all of the pledges. Read the full response below
Aleisha Stansfield Liberal Democrats The local election candidates are more than happy to support the five pledges! (view)
Nicholas Sundin Conservative Party

WHY HAVE WE CHOSEN THESE PLEDGES?

Pledge 1. Streets that are safe, and feel safe, for children to walk and cycle to school, to the shops or to the park.

Everyone should be able to travel safely whether they walk, cycle, use public transport or drive and should feel safe while they do so, but this isn’t currently the case in Heaton. Often, traffic is fast and heavy, which is intimidating to many people.

Children are less able to look out for themselves and are more likely to be injured or even killed in the event of a collision, so focusing on children, whether travelling independently or with an adult, is a good way to make Heaton safer for everyone.

Children are also more vulnerable to air pollution and children driven to school can be subject to up to ten times worse air quality than children who walk or cycle, and the extra vehicles make it harder for everyone else who needs to drive. Children who walk or cycle also get the benefit of the exercise – with the NHS recommending that children need at least 60 minute of moderate or vigorous exercise every day.

When we say streets ‘that are safe and feel safe’ we mean streets where children can and do walk and cycle to school, to shops or to the park, and where parents feel comfortable to let them. Ultimately it will be for local residents, and in particular parents, to judge whether a street is safe for their children to walk and cycle. We hope to work with Councillors who sign up to this pledge to engage with local parents to determine what is needed to achieve this objective.

While it is right that children are the priority, the map below shows the locations of where people have been killed or seriously injured in the Heaton area in the last 10 years (2008-2017). As with other UK cities including Liverpool and Edinburgh we hope Newcastle will also adopt a “Vision Zero” target i.e. zero deaths or serious injuries on Newcastle’s roads.

Crash-map showing locations of  people killed or seriously injured in the Heaton area of Newcastle 2008-2017
Crash-map showing locations of  people killed or seriously injured in the Heaton area of Newcastle 2008-2017

Pledge 2. Air pollution in Newcastle brought within legal limits as soon as possible.

In the last official figures from 2016, both Gosforth and City Centre Air Quality Management Areas (which stretches along Jesmond Road to Heaton) were in breach of the legal limits that should have been met by 2010. Bringing air pollution within legal limits as soon as possible is actually a legal requirement and Newcastle City Council has been mandated by DEFRA to produce a plan to do this by the end of 2018. Our expectation is that legal limits in Newcastle can be achieved by 2020 however that will depend on the detailed modelling currently being undertaken by the Council.

Air pollution affects everyone but it affects the young and the old the most. In Newcastle it has been estimated that 124 lives are lost every year as a result of illegal air pollution just for nitrogen dioxide with particulate matter likely to be responsible for more still. As well as causing early deaths, air pollution is also known to be a major cause of heart disease, lung disease, cancer and has been shown to be responsible for birth defects and cognitive delay in children.

In a recent report, the Royal College of Physicians has recommended that to protect public health, the UK adopt even more ambitious targets than the current legal limits and we hope Newcastle will adopt and work towards meeting those more challenging targets.

Given this is a legal requirement that the Council must meet we expect all candidates will sign up to this pledge.

 

Pledge 3. Residential streets that are pleasant, safe and attractive places to live and where children can play out without fear of traffic.

Streets aren’t just about movement of traffic. They are also where we live, shop and socialise, and for children also where they are most likely to play outside near their homes.

Many streets in Heaton are suitable for children to play out but many are not. Traffic surveys undertaken by the Council in 2017 show some streets having high volumes of traffic throughout the day. On Warwick Street, a terrace link many in Heaton, but with high volumes on traffic more than 200 vehicles were recorded in one 15 minute period on 7th June 2017.

As a result we don’t see as many children playing out as we might expect and certainly a lot fewer than we when were children ourselves. Parents cannot be blamed for keeping their children indoors with such high volumes of traffic.

Low-traffic neighbourhoods with streets that are safe for children are better for everyone with less noise, less danger and cleaner air.  It’s even been shown that people living on streets with less traffic have more friends and a better social life than those that live on streets with heavy traffic. This is no laughing matter when loneliness is now considered such a serious issue that the Government has appointed a Minister for Loneliness to create a national loneliness strategy.

As with pledge 1, it will be for local residents to judge whether a street is pleasant, safe and attractive and where children can play out without fear of traffic. We hope to work with Councillors who sign up to this pledge to engage with local residents who have concerns about  traffic-related issues to look at options for how this objective can be met for their street.

Graph showing eastbound traffic on Warwick Street in June 2017
Graph showing eastbound traffic on Warwick Street in June 2017

Pledge 4. Rapid implementation of temporary changes to trial interventions in support of these objectives.

If Pledges 1-3 are to mean anything there must be some meaningful and urgent action as a result. Often changes involving traffic are controversial with long and heated debates about the likely consequences of a change. Yet other cities have shown that there is a different way, with trial interventions that can be implemented quickly that let people experience what will happen without any permanent commitment being made.

Using trials as part of a range of interventions helps inform the debate as people can see the benefits for themselves, and if there are issues with the trial then they can be stated factually with councillors and residents then able to work together to resolve or mitigate those issues.

Clearly not all issues can be resolved straight away but we hope to work with Councillors and other members of the community to identify and prioritise the areas of greatest concern, where trials might receive the most support and have the greatest benefit.

Pledge 5. Constructive community engagement about how to address the public health impacts of travel and the benefits of active travel.

Making streets safer and cutting air pollution should be objectives that everyone supports, but it is still important that the council and local councillors engage with the community to ensure that residents understand what the issues are and have a chance to help solve those issues. Air pollution in particular is invisible and we’ve found that many people haven’t been aware that it has been, and continues to be, a problem in Heaton. Nor are people generally aware of the very serious health impact of sedentary lifestyles which cost taxpayers billions of pounds every year and are responsible for even more early deaths than air pollution.

Likewise it is often challenging to put ourselves in others’ shoes, to understand for example what it is like to be a child on Heaton’s streets, what it is like to be a parent cycling or walking with children (or even alone) on busy streets during the rush hour, or what it is like for residents or visitors with disabilities or conditions for whom travel is a challenge. It is only by having this broad engagement that we can ensure that Heaton’s streets are safe and accessible for everyone.

These five pledges are based on SPACE for Heaton’s objectives which you can see here. They don’t cover all the SPACE for Heaton’s objectives but we welcome input from candidates about how they will go about meeting other aspects of those objectives to make streets in Heaton more healthy, liveable, accessible and safe for everyone of all ages and abilities.

Our thanks go to our neighbouring group, SPACE for Gosforth, in helping to put this information together.

 

Streets for People update

There has been an announcement from the Council on the progress of the Streets for People projects taking place in areas around the city, including Heaton.

The comments collected from the consultation exercise in October and November 2017 have now been assessed against the initial proposals drawn up by the reference groups in the three project areas.

There were more than 2600 responses to the consultation for in the Heaton and Ouseburn area which suggest many people heard about the proposals and submitted their thoughts. SPACE for Heaton also submitted a response which you can read here.

The consultation results have now been published by the council. You can read the full document on the Streets for People website or download it directly (PDF).

What happens now?

The next step is for officers at the Council to create detailed plans that take in to account the results from the consultation. The original timeline for the project suggested that these plans would be available around now but things appear to have slipped a bit.

Hopefully, once the local elections have happened (which prevents Council announcements for the duration) we will be able to see detailed schemes that are ready for formal consultation and implementation.

Keep pavements for people, not cars

Sign the petition today

Recently a number of people have raised the issue of pavement parking, highlighting Heaton Park Road as a particular problem.

Although the pavement, particularly outside the shops, is very wide some of the area is private land and gets used by people to park cars on. These parked cars often encroach on to the public pavement causing an obstruction, putting people at risk, and making it harder to get around our community.

The obstruction means people who walk (particularly those using pushchairs/wheelchairs) find it hard to get around, and there is a risk of accidents as cars drive along the pavement looking for a space.  By preventing parking on the pavements, the area would become much safer, but also be more pleasant to spend time in – which has clear benefits for both local businesses and the wider community.

The opposite side of the road (by Heaton Perk) has no parking, and is a much more pleasant environment.

To raise awareness of this issue and ensure it gets addressed in the future SPACE for Heaton have started a petition where local people can lend their voice in support of keeping pavements clear for people.

Sign the petition today

We’re SPACE for Heaton – the film

On a very cold, frosty, morning in December some Heaton residents who had heard about the aims of SPACE for Heaton met in Heaton Park. The purpose of the meeting was to make a film that explained what and who SPACE for Heaton is and why it has been created.

After all the clips of people from around Heaton had been gathered together the film has been edited and released to the world.

You can see the film below. If you agree with the message don’t forget to share it with your friends. You can also sign up to our newsletter to keep up to date with what SPACE for Heaton is doing.

Air Quality Monitors Installed in Heaton

Working alongside the Sense My Street project from the Urban Laboratory at Newcastle University we have had three air quality monitors installed in the Heaton area.

The monitors are capable of measuring nitrogen dioxide as well as particles of different sizes to give a good idea of the air quality in the area.

The sensors are linked to the Urban Observatory and the data can be seen online. The three monitors that are currently in place are:

We will be writing more about what the data is showing and what the current limits are shortly, but early indications show there are some areas to look at in more detail. For example, the national air quality guidelines say that PM10 particles should not exceed an average level of 50 µg/m³ over a 24 hour, period while European obligations say 50 µg/m³ should not be exceeded more than 35 times per year.

Readings of PM10 on Warwick Street on 12th January 2018 had readings around 100 µg/m³ for most of the morning before dropping during the afternoon.

European obligations for nitrogen dioxide are an annual mean of 40 µg/m³.  Early readings taken from Chillingham Road on 12th January 2018 show a reading above that level at several points throughout the day but an average that currently meets targets.

Readings from the sensor on the Coast Road show an average of 68µg m³ for the 7 days from  6th to 13th Feb 2018.

Nitrogen Dioxide Levels on Chillingham Road
Nitrogen Dioxide Levels on Chillingham Road, Heaton, 12th January 2018

As more data comes in over the next few weeks it will be possible to get a much clearer idea of the air quality across the area as well as what the causes of the different types of pollution are.

The Government guide to safe levels various types of air pollution can be found on the DEFRA website (pdf) along with a useful guide explaining what the targets mean in terms of UK and EU limits

Streets for People Response

The consultation for the Heaton and Ouseburn Streets for People project is coming to a close at the end of November and SPACE for Heaton has submitted a response to the proposals.

The proposals can be seen on the Streets for People website. Our response is detailed below.

Heaton Road

We strongly support the proposed cycle lanes on the northern section of Heaton Road and see it as a strategic priority cycle route for the city with the longer-term potential to connect north – south linking schools, the hospital and employment locations such as the Ministry. We would like to see the principle of one cycle lane on each side of the road kept as this is the safest layout as it avoids cyclists having to move from one carriageway across traffic to another. We would like to see this completed to the highest standard possible within the available budget.

We strongly prefer new cycle ways being given some protection (especially for new and young riders) by placing them inside not outside any car parking bays.

At the junction of Heaton Road and Cartington Terrace we don’t see a problem with retaining the current traffic signals. If they are to be retained, we would like to see a cycle phase included in the light sequence, as has been done at the junction of Heaton Road and Cardigan Terrace recently, to release cycles ahead of people in cars. This will allow people on bikes to safely turn on to other streets if they desire, before people in cars make this difficult and dangerous.

We don’t think the full closure of Alexandra Road and Cartington Terrace is necessary but would urge the Council to consider alternative means of traffic calming to discourage through traffic possibly by using experimental measures. We would particularly like to see some discouragement to through traffic at the junction of Cartington Terrace and Chillingham Road by the Post Office as this location is made difficult for pedestrians by people parking on yellow lines and the pavement.

Heaton Park Road

The proposals for Heaton Park Road look very good and we fully support them. The proposed changes should make the street more people friendly as well as bringing a welcome refresh to how it looks. The additional crossing will increase the safety of people wanting to get from one side to the other and emphasise pedestrian priority.

We feel more could be made to provide an easier crossing of the strategic cycle route over Heaton Park Road but appreciate this would cause problems with the proposed new crossing.

 

Heaton Park View

We welcome the proposed changes along Heaton Park View which should bring a bit of balance to people using the street on foot. The blended footways will make it considerably easier and safer for pedestrians to travel along the streets while not making it any harder for anyone else.

In combination with the changes to the junction with Stannington Grove and Heaton Park View we would like to see the priorities with Wandsworth Road/Stannington Avenue changed to prioritise the cycle route that goes through that junction. This would only need road markings to be changed and would further help to underline that people driving should give way to people travelling more sustainably.

The changes to the Heaton Park Road and Warwick street junction seem appropriate and bring some emphasis to pedestrian desire lines that are ignored in the current layout.

 

Warwick Street and Newington Road Junction

We support the changes to this junction. We would like to emphasise that the final plans should look at the details of cycle manoeuvring. For example, the left turn from Warwick Street going east on to Newington Road southbound will be difficult in traffic if the cycle entrance is narrow and has 90-degree corners. Likewise, the right turn procedure for cyclists from Warwick Street will need to be totally obvious. While these manoeuvres are not likely to be the most frequent uses of the junction, if they are possible they will happen, so need to be safe for people making them.

 

Road Safety around Ravenswood Primary School

We welcome any proposals near schools that improve the safety of children.

The new and modified crossings on Chillingham Road are very welcome. The islands they replace made crossing, particularly with children, very difficult. Being able to cross the road in one go will be a convenient a safe improvement to the current layout. Providing more space on the west side of the crossing nearest the school is a welcome change too.

The blended pavements along Chillingham road should help to slow turning traffic and emphasise that priority should be given to people on the pavement.

 

Traffic counts and speed surveys

As part of the Streets for People project that has been running for the past year or so the City Council commissioned a number of traffic surveys on various roads in the Heaton area.

The surveys were carried out from Monday 5th to Sunday 11th June 2017 and is most cases recorded the number of vehicles in each direction and the speed vehicles were travelling at.

You can see all the data from the surveys at www.heatontrafficstats.co.uk

A lot of the results are not that surprising but there are some interesting points when the data is looked at closely. For example, the highest volumes of traffic are in the morning and evening peaks with traffic tending to be highest travelling westbound (towards town and the Central Motorway) on the morning and eastbound in the evening but there are streets that vary from the norm.

High volumes of traffic on residential streets

Some of the figures do raise some cause for concern. Warwick Street is a residential terrace the same size as most of the other streets in Heaton. The historical layout of the area has contributed to Warwick Street being used as one of the main routes to and from Heaton from the west. Now around 8000 vehicles are using the street each day which will contribute to high levels of noise and air pollution compared to other terraces in Heaton.

Despite any vehicles heading towards the city centre or Central Motorway having to end up on New Bridge Street or Sadyford Road, Warwick street appears to be favoured by commuters heading west. On one day during the survey period 150 vehicles were recorded in a 15-minute period travelling towards town, a level of traffic that would be unacceptable on most narrow, terraced streets.

Speeding Drivers

The survey data also highlighted the prevalence of speeding drivers on Heaton’s streets. Speed data was reported as average speeds along with the 85th percentile – the speed at which 85% of drivers were travelling at or below.

Speed data collected on Heaton Road, a street with a 30mph limit shows the 85th percentile as just above the 30mph limit from 6am until midnight each day. While this means the majority of drivers are travelling at or below the limit at least 15% are breaking the speed limit every day.

Of the 51761 vehicles passing the count point during the 7 day survey period the data suggests that around 7500 drivers were breaking the speed limit.

Through traffic

Many of the streets at the south end of Chillingham Road were closed to through traffic many years ago. However, cross street between Heaton Road and Chillingham Road further north remain open and appear to suffer from high levels of through traffic. There is a big imbalance between east and west bound traffic with the number of vehicles travelling towards the city centre and Central Motorway far exceeding those traveling in the other direction. This could be because people perceive cutting through the residential streets is quicker than remaining on the Coast Road when heading west in the morning.

On Cartington Terrace for example the morning peak sees between 74 and 104 vehicles in an hour westbound with between 38 and 48 eastbound. However in the evening peak when it could be expected to see the numbers reversed there is still more traffic going west than east.

The table below shows the difference between traffic in each direction on Cartington Terrace.

Day Eastbound Westbound Total
05/06/2017 549 827 1376
06/06/2017 573 900 1473
07/06/2017 546 847 1393
08/06/2017 587 861 1448
09/06/2017 592 886 1478
10/06/2017 396 481 877
11/06/2017 366 511 877
Alexandra Road House Access
The area of houses that can only be accessed by Alexandra Road

Alexandra Road is another street that appears to suffer from a lot of through traffic.

There are around 147 houses that can only be accessed from Alexandra Road with a few more that need it for rear access.

The total number of vehicles using Alexandra Road each day

However the street sees over 900 vehicles using it each week day and, like Cartington Terrace, many more travel west the east.

 

 

 

The full count and speed data, broken down by hour of the day can be seen at www.heatontrafficstats.co.uk. The raw data can also be downloaded from the Streets for People website.

SPACE for Heaton and Sense My Street

SPACE for Heaton has joined forces with Newcastle University to find out more about the air quality in Heaton. You can watch a short clip from the BBC about the project below.

We hope to publish our findings soon so that we can begin to understand what the air in Heaton is like and what can be done to improve the quality of it and safeguard clean air for the future.

Read the press release from Newcastle University about the project below.

 

Local communities tap into the UK’s largest urban data set to find out how polluted their street is.

Sam, Jenny and Fergus Whittaker test the air quality on their way to school

Residents concerned about the air quality around their homes and schools are taking control and testing the pollution levels themselves.

Using static air pollution monitors and hand-held sensors, the ‘SPACE for Heaton’ group, in Newcastle, is testing the air quality around their local area – including their three local schools – to find out exactly how much pollution they are being exposed to on a daily basis.

Carrying out the testing as part of Newcastle University’s Sense My Street project, data collected will be fed into Newcastle University’s Urban Observatory – the UK’s largest set of real-time, urban data.

This will provide a baseline against which the Heaton residents can compare the pollution levels along their own street with the average for the area.

Power to the people

Aare Puussaar, a doctoral researcher in Newcastle University’s Open Lab in the School of Computing who is leading the project, said:

The aim is to give communities the power to gather data relevant to issues that are important to them at a very local scale.

“This could be anything from air quality and noise to localised flooding or the volume of traffic through the area.

“What makes this project possible is the Urban Observatory which provides us with a reliable source of baseline data against which local data can be compared. Through the Sense my Street project, the public is in charge – identifying the areas which they believe to be pollution hotspots, gathering the evidence and driving change.”

Mark Nelson, who leads the SPACE for Heaton group and is cycling to and from work with an air monitor, said their big concern was air pollution in Heaton following the implementation of the council’s city centre Air Quality Management Area (AQMA).

“The AQMA has been introduced which stretches along Jesmond Road to Heaton Road,” he explains. “We are really supportive of the scheme and are working closely with the council on the Streets for People project which is all about improving the areas for walking and cycling.

“But it’s a really busy area and the traffic still has to go somewhere. Our concern is that it will all just shift to going through Heaton in future and that air quality in the area will plummet.”

“This project is allowing us to gather that data and find out exactly what the impact is.”

Hospital consultant and mum of three Julie Whittaker, who lives in Heaton and whose children attend St Teresa’s Catholic Primary School, is one of the residents who has been taking part in the project. She and her children – Fergus, Jenny and Sam – have been collecting pollution data on their way to school.

“There are seven schools in this small area and that creates a huge amount of traffic in the morning and afternoons,” she explains.

“Ultimately, what we’d like are dedicated cycle lanes so that all our children can safely cycle to and from school. This would not only reduce the number of cars on the road but also improve our children’s health both in terms of reducing the air pollution but also getting them out of the cars and exercising.

“But to push for this we need the facts and figures to back it up. Through the Sense my Street project that’s exactly what we’re doing, gathering the evidence we need to hopefully make a case for reducing traffic and pollution in Heaton.”

Open data for the city

The Sense my Street project, funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), is just one data set that is being fed into the Urban Observatory – a ground-breaking project that monitors Newcastle and Gateshead at multiple levels such as temperature, wind flow, air pollution and traffic.

Funded by Newcastle University and UKCRIC – the UK Collaboratorium for Research on Infrastructure and Cities – the observatory is based in Newcastle University’s Urban Sciences Building on Science Central.

Data from hundreds of sensors is fed into this central hub that is openly available on the internet.

Led by Newcastle University in collaboration with Newcastle City Council and other partners, the aim is for the data to be used by planning authorities, infrastructure operators, emergency services and community groups to help them make better informed decisions about how conditions in the city could affect them.

“There is a wealth of data available in our cities and since it was established in 2015 the Urban Observatory has recorded more than half a billion observations about conditions in the city centre,” explains Phil James, who co-leads Newcastle University’s Urban Observatory research.

“But the Science of Sensing at scale is still little understood and now we’ve captured this data we need many people to get involved in using it to help deliver the cities of the future that communities want.”