It was standing room only at the Cherry Hinton Village Centre at last night’s South Area meeting, mainly with people from Queen Edith’s who were there to quiz traffic officers from the Tory-run Cambridgeshire County Council about parking.
Queen Edith’s is home to some venerable institutions such as Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Homerton College and both Hills Road and Long Road VI Form Colleges. All of them are excellent – and all of them are big traffic generators. Either to save money paying for hospital parking, or because there is no parking at the colleges, the cars park in neighbouring streets. Some residents say it’s like the ‘Addenbrooke’s Overflow Car Park’.
The County Council traffic officers have sensibly been taking a holistic view of parking, seeking to avoid introducing parking restrictions in one street only to see the cars move to the next. As a former friend of mine, Philippa Slatter, a former mayor of Cambridge, puts it: ‘Parking is like a corset – you get rid of the problem in one place and it appears somewhere else.’
So the officers are being more radical going instead for the Cambridge Diet: looking at the whole of the south of the city – Queen Edith’s, Trumpington, Coleridge and parts of Romsey. A big job. The funds available are limited but they will use developer funds where they can. Their brief is to draw up a priority list of streets for parking restrictions, and their brief includes charges and Park & Ride capacity. They are considering the needs of businesses as well as residents. There wer hints that Park & Ride users might be asked to pay something towards their parking and that parking provision for bikes and motorbikes would be taken into account.
What we are not happy about is that this review is taking such a long time. Residents in Queen Edith’s rightly raise concerns about commuter parking, and it is frustrating to have to say nothing can happen until the review group reports. People are are concerned about access for emergency vehicles, and about having collisions because they cannot see where they are going because of inconsiderately parked cars. As it is the County Council – and only the County Council – that can act on yellow lines and other restrictions, Cllr Geoff Heathcock and I invited them to the area meeting so residents could engage with them face-to-face.
The officers had a challenging time of it, with residents vocally expressing their anger about individual streets, such as Almoners Avenue, Beaumont Road, Maners Way and Topcliffe Way But anywhere within 5 minutes’ walk of Addenbrooke’s would say the same thing: one gentleman just gave his address as the ‘Addenbrooke’s Overflow Car Park’. People fear that ambulances and fire engines won’t be able to get through, that they may have accidents because the volume of cars makes it impossible to see well enough when you are getting out of your drive. Children have to cross the road in between parked cars.
There is a feeling that no one at the County Council listens. As one gentleman put it, ‘What happens to our letters? They probably go straight into the bin.’
It was regrettable we had none of the proposals on paper – the officers promise a letter to residents in a few weeks’ time, but as I invited them to the meeting twelve weeks ago, why could they not have had something on paper for us to consider last night? Cllr Geoff Heathcock has got them to commit to a small exhibition showing the different options – probably in September.
A few proposals already known to command public support will be advertised in the autumn – 7-day waiting restrictions in Nightingale Avenue and new yellow lines for Godwin Close – very welcome, to stop cars parking on the corner and blocking the view for children going to Queen Edith’s Primary and other schools – see previous post on the petition for yellow lines. A full plan of all the new proposals will go to the City and County Councils’ joint traffic committee in January.
It all takes a long time – but we are moving, albeit at a crawl.
For alternative accounts of this meeting, I refer you to another website on Queen Edith’s by new resident Chris Rand: http://queen-ediths.co.uk/, to the website of Richard Taylor, a regular attender of and commentator on council meetings: http://www.rtaylor.co.uk/policing-south-cambridge-july-2012.html, and to the Cambridge News local government correspondent Chris Havergall: http://www.cambridge-news.co.uk/Home/Parking-near-hospital-now-a-health-hazard-19072012.htm