Following a meeting behind closed doors on Tuesday, Cambridgeshire County Council has announced Brookgate as its preferred bidder for the council’s Shire Hall site in Cambridge.
The decision was taken in confidential session, although I and the other Liberal Democrat councillors voted against the exclusion of the press and public — ‘clearing the public gallery’ as the administration crassly put it.
Brookgate, the company that has developed the CB1 development of Cambridge station, will lease the Shire Hall site for a period still to be agreed. The company proposes to establish a hotel and office accommodation there, while the County Council moves its HQ to Alconbury, Huntingdonshire, 25 miles away from Cambridge.
Liberal Democrat group leader Cllr Lucy Nethsingha speaks for us all today, saying: “The Liberal Democrat group have very grave concerns about the decision taken this week on the future of the Shire Hall site.
“We have opposed the move to Alconbury, on the basis that there are
too many levels of government in Cambridgeshire, and the Conservatives
should not be building an expensive new headquarters at a time when we
should be reducing the number of councils and moving to a unitary
“We are also deeply worried by the lease mechanism which has been
pushed through the council by the Conservatives against cross-party
“The proposed lease arrangement leaves the council with a high level of future risk.
“The expectations of income over the next 30 years depend on complex
calculations of inflation and rental income. This income is far from
certain. Yet again it seems Conservatives are pushing risk and cost
onto future generations.”
Pavement: for pedestrians. That’s whom they are intended for.
Yet only too often, pedestrians can’t walk on the pavement safely because it’s blocked by parked cars. Not only does that mean people have to squeeze past cars and risk the doors opening in front of them, or walk in the road, but the cars are too heavy for the pavement, meaning they break and crack.
Parked vehicles on the pavement is a pain for all pedestrians, but most of all for anyone with a disability. For folk in wheelchairs because wheelchairs need the pavement width, and for blind and visually impaired people because they can’t see a car on the pavement and it is perilous for them to walk in the road. Young children in prams and pushchairs are also at risk when their parents have to push them in the road because the pavement is blocked.
Dorset MP Simon Hoare tabled a Private Members’ Bill in the House of Commons to ban pavement parking in 2015 but was persuaded to withdraw it when the Government promised to review the law and look at the options for changing it.
The review has been a long time coming but this week the Government’s Transport Committee has launched an inquiry. They are calling for evidence in three areas:
the impact of pavement parking;
the enforcement of pavement parking offences; and
enforcement and, if necessary, reform of traffic regulation orders need to deal with pavement parking.
The closing date to submit written evidence is 14 May 2019.
You can comment on line at https://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/transport-committee/inquiries/parliament-2017/pavement-parking-17-19/.
Alternatively, I shall be sending in a representation myself on behalf of the many emails and phone calls I have received about pavement parking and how it affects them.
Next Monday’s South Area meeting will be at the Cherry Hinton Village Centre, starting at 7pm.
The agenda is a full one with some new presentations as well as the regular items. Highlights are the police report, a presentation on new transport projects from the County Cycling Team — including new pedestrian crossings and changes to the roundabout linking Mowbray Road, Fendon Road and Queen Edith’s Way — and decisions on grants for a wide range of local organizations. Here is the full agenda.
Conservative-run Cambridgeshire County Council is planning to close The Haven, a supported living scheme in Wulfstan Way.
The Haven was purpose-built – only 13 years ago – for older people with mental health problems, but now the County Council is saying it’s not up to standard and must close.
The scheme comprises eight flats as well as communal rooms, a garden, a manager’s office and a bedroom for staff on night duty.
Residents moved to The Haven with the promise that they would not have to move again. They take part in a recovery programme there enabling them to develop confidence and become members of the community — both the ‘family’ at The Haven and also the local Queen Edith’s community.
If this very successful unit closes, the upheaval will have a profound impact on the lives and mental states of these vulnerable residents, who will take a long time to adjust and to learn to trust again. And the dedicated and experienced staff there will lose their jobs.
The local churches and other members of the community are running a petition to the County Council asking them to reconsider. I and your other Lib Dem councillors are supporting this and invite you to sign the petition at bit.ly/the_haven. This will be presented to the Conservative councillor responsible for adult care provision and her committee.
As the old Chinese proverb goes, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”
If you love trees and enjoy the benefits they bring to the environment, then come and join in the fun next Saturday (24th November). The creative Hills Road Residents Association is putting on an event to celebrate both National Tree Week AND the first planting of new trees.
The trees are being planted to take their place as the next generation of trees in Hills Road. Apart from their natural beauty, they will bring other benefits, notably mitigating the effects of climate change. City Council Tree Officer Matthew Magrath* will be speaking on why Cambridge needs more trees, and there will also be a talk by Cambridge’s Tree Ambassadors about why trees are important.
11 a.m. Saturday 24th November, St John the Evangelist Church, Hills Road.
Matthew Magrath of Cambridge City Council writes:
Most trees in the City grow in gardens. So if you have space in your garden please consider planting a tree to enhance Cambridge’s unique urban forest. If you live in Cambridge you can also claim a free tree on behalf of your child of up to four years old through the Council’s Free Tree for Babies scheme. Happy planting.
There’s another tree treat on 2nd December, when the Queen Edith’s Community Forum is holding a Tree Dressing Day, celebrating the contribution that trees make. They promise lights, decorations, songs and stories. They are also asking us to come up with tree-related sayings, to hang on the trees — get your thinking caps on and post your leafy lines on the QECF Facebook page.
11 a.m. – 1 p.m., Sunday 2nd December, outside the shops in Wulfstan Way
Potholes and pavement surfaces and drains are always causing problems! We are constantly asking County Council Highways officers to attend to problems, and are pleased to report some action on some:
Drains have been cleared in Baldock Way and Marshall Road, and the ones in Hills Road should be done soon.
Some pavement defects have been repaired in Wulfstan Way and Gunhild Close, and more are being scheduled for repair. Patches have been ordered for Cowper Road and the work should be done soon.
A repair has been made to the uneven patch of pavement outside the old Early Years building on Blinco Grove
Surface dressing treatment will be applied to several streets in the Nightingale Avenue area.
Some other roads have very bad surfaces that have got into such a state that they will be very expensive to repair them, eg Baldock Way, Coniston Road, Marshall Road, Cavendish and Hills Avenues. Amanda is putting pressure on the Council to bring these roads up to standard — watch this space.
In the meantime, please report any highways faults on the council’s website at https://www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/residents/travel-roads-and-parking/roads-and-pathways/roadworks-and-faults/.
The Conservatives’ decision to charge people for using library computers has been a complete failure.
Computer use is down 55% in Cambridgeshire’s libraries and the charging scheme has raised £4000 against a prediction of £50,000.
The Liberal Democrats and thousands of residents (see our petition) opposed the charges, saying it would both put people off using the computers and fail to raise money. We raised an amendment for the council not to go ahead with charges for computer use, but unfortunately our amendment was not supported by Labour/ Conservative councillors. For the background, see https://amandataylor.focusteam.org/2018/02/18/lib-dem-petition-against-library-computer-charges/.
When the Conservatives proposed bringing in charges for using the computers at libraries we were worried about the reduction of information to people who don’t have computers at home. We also thought that people would simply stop using the computers, just as they stopped parking at the Park & Ride sites when charges were levied there.
This is exactly what has happened: usage has slumped and the money raised won’t even cover the cost of collecting it (c 18K).
A new residents’ parking scheme was approved this evening for a residents’ parking zone to be named ‘Coleridge West’, between Mill Road, Coleridge Road and Cambridge Leisure. It will operate Monday to Friday, 9am – 6pm. Hours have been amended following comments from residents and the bowling club.
Residents in ‘Coleridge East’ (Lichfield – Perne Road) and other areas of Cambridge will be surveyed next year. I am keen to hear from you whether residents’ parking is something you want or not, to help schedule consultations. Take my three-question survey at http://bit.ly/rps-views.
Residents on the evensside of Cherry Hinton Road area already in the Morley scheme which began last year. If you live there, you can take part in a review at bit.ly/rsp_morley2. Thank you to everyone who has already responded.
The Met Office has advised the County Council that we may be getting severe weather later today and perhaps tomorrow. With the obvious pleas not to shoot the messenger, here is what they have to say:
The probability of Cambridgeshire being within the area of concern, or outside it, is very marginal BUT there is the potential for heavy thundery showers during this afternoon and evening, possibly persisting overnight into Saturday.
Showers may be slow moving across the County resulting in surface water flooding, giving some high totals in places . Potential rainfall scenarios are:
Best Estimate Scenario:
10mm in 1hr (locally);
20mm in 2hrs (isolated);
30mm in 3hrs (isolated).
Reasonable Worst Case Scenario:
20mm in 1hr (locally);
30mm in 1hr (isolated);
50mm in 2hrs (very isolated);
50mm in 3hrs (isolated).
The issue with ‘slow moving’ showers is that it is very difficult to state where exactly and when exactly the rainfall will, if at all, fall within the County. But if it does fall within an isolated area of the County we could experience that in August 2014 where a number of major roads a were closed and properties flooded.
The risk from rivers remains very low and there is no anticipation of the issuing of widespread Flood Alerts and/or Flood Warnings for river flooding.