Former English scholar Councillor Kemp came down to join us at the Triple E challenge, which is now well underway. We took up the chance to chat with him about his thoughts on the challenge and Newcastle’s future.
How long have you been a councillor for?
CK: 14 years!
How have you found that?
Mixed, there’s been a lot of pride and satisfaction but the bureaucracy as been difficult… especially when you can’t make as much impact as you’d like.
How have you found the event today?
It’s been a fantastic project and it’s such an opportunity to learn how to develop a brand and work professionally within a team.
How big is the waste impact of Newcastle currently?
Huge. Its everyone’s responsibility, people have got to start taking ownership, it’s everyone’s responsibility. There’s a belief that someone else will pick up your rubbish and that needs to stop.
How do you intend to address this problem?
Recycling has to be made easy. Everybody has a role. That’s why this event is so good, students are aware of the problem and are thinking of localised solutions. It’s about becoming a community rather than students and locals and that’s a lovely thing to see.
What do you see for Newcastle in 2020?
At the moment it’s a ‘party town’ and that’s great but by 2040 it would be amazing if it was a green and significantly cleaner city. A city that people want to move to because of this fact.
And how did you learn to be so good at public speaking?
Well I learnt ‘on the hoof’! You learn a lot from other people. It is about confidence and belief that what you’re saying has value. Listening will tell you a lot more than talking.
What advice would you give to upcoming English graduates this summer?
Don’t feel like you have to know what to do. I never did, the careers service told me to be a teacher and that didn’t seem to be for me. But through my experiences and different jobs I have realised that an English degree has the most transferrable skills than any other degree. Also learning to enjoy reading again is really great!
Thanks very much for your time Councillor Kemp.
* some of this interview has been paraphrased and is not exact quotation.