Residents’ parking

My review last year of the Morley residents’ parking review showed a need for some short-stay parking spaces near the library and school for daytime volunteers and visitors. I shared the feedback with parking officers and the Council has now advertised a Traffic Regulation Order for some Pay & Display bays, as well as a few new residents’ bays. To see the details and comment on the proposals, see https://www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/residents/travel-roads-and-parking/roads-and-pathways/roadworks-and-faults/traffic-regulation-orders/. Comments are open until 12th September.

We know people in other areas want parking schemes, especially with the expansion of the  Biomedical Campus and have been pressing the Council to run consultations.

https://ccc-live.storage.googleapis.com/upload/www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/residents/travel-roads-and-parking/PR0566%20Public%20Notice.pdf?inline=true

Starting soon: zebra crossings and roundabout redesign

Amanda at Fendon Rd roundabout

Next month, work will begin on constructing pedestrian crossings and redesigning the roundabout joining Fendon Road, Mowbray Road and Queen Edith’s Way.

The County Council has scheduled works to start on 9th September. There will be three public exhibitions in the area to present the plans:

Exhibition events

  • Thursday 29 August 2019, 12.00pm to 2.00pm, Addenbrooke’s Concourse
  • Monday 2 September 2019, 5.30pm to 7.30pm, Netherhall School
  • Wednesday 4 September 2019, 3.30pm to 6.30pm, St James C of E Church, Wulfstan Way

There will be a chance to talk to the county council officers overseeing the project

Cherry Hinton Road

Cambridgeshire County Council is running a consultation on its proposals for changes to Cherry Hinton Road. Their aim is to make the road safer and more attractive for pedestrians (2000 a day) and cyclists (1500 a day).

The Council has arranged two drop-in events at Rock Road Library to display the plans and talk to residents. One took place on Tuesday and the next will be on Wednesday 5th June, 6-8pm. Last week’s session was busy, with about 50 people visiting, and a number of issues were raised.

A big concern was about what will happen to the bus stops on Cherry Hinton Road, as some of the existing stops don’t appear on the Council’s map. When questioned, the council officers explained that all bus stops are staying put, but the only ones they’ve marked are the ones that they want to convert to ‘floating bus stops’.

Floating bus stops themselves prompted questions too, about their suitability for this road and in some cases about their siting.

There are mixed views about the removal of the parking bays outside the shops, as although the parked cars reduce the width of the road, the parking bays are used by people visiting the café, the shops and the bank.

Questions were asked about the different categories of cycle lane: mandatory (solid white line) and advisory (dashed white line). The advisory ones are not as good for cyclists, but the road is not wide enough for mandatory lanes along its full length — and there are concerns about whether the narrower carriageway will be wide enough for buses.

Shops and woman

Cherry Hinton Road

It’s important to get this right as there are many different types of users and journeys on Cherry Hinton Road: trips to shops, schools, places of work, doctors and chemists, community and leisure facilities, so please visit if you can to have a look.

Tories’ Shire Hall gamble

Liberal Democrats at Shire Hall presenting a petition

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 structure.

“We are also deeply worried by the lease mechanism which has been pushed through the council by the Conservatives against cross-party opposition.

“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 parking

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.

government inquiry

South Area: policing, transport projects and grants

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.

Save The Haven!

People outside building

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.

If you prefer to sign a paper form, download one here, or sign at St James’s Church, the Queen Edith Chapel, or St John’s Church. We would welcome any other local places that can display the petition.

The Haven – letter – CCC

Celebrating trees … with talks and tea in Hills Road

human tree

A young tree Ambassador

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.

Cambridge City Council will be planting the first 4 of 44 new street trees in the grass verges in Hills Road — a mixture of Zelkova and Persian ironwood trees that are known for giving good autumn colour.

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.

There’ll be a chance to chat and to enjoy tea, coffee, cakes and biscuits too. Download more details here: Cambridge tree planting invitation .pptx.

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

Road and pavement repairs

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/.

Library computer charges crash

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).

Don’t the Tories ever learn?