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?

New residents’ parking scheme for Coleridge West

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.

Thunderstorm alert

Raining cats and dogs

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.

Roadworks and events

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Roadworks sign

The County Council has sent me its latest list of new roadworks and events. This is for things starting between 16th and 31st July.

Check out:

  • Blinco Grove
  • Clifton Road
  • Glebe Road
  • Gunhild Close
  • Queen Edith’s Way

Please see the attachment for details of all roadworks in Cambridge, so you can vary your route if necessary.

East Area meeting this week: policing report

The next East Area meeting is Thursday 12th July, at the Cherry Trees Day Centre in St Matthew’s Street. It starts with an Open Forum when anybody can ask a question or raise an issue with councillors. Although the area meeting cannot always sort things out on the spot, it can request action from council departments and get balls rolling.

It will include a report from the neighbourhood police on their activities in the last policing period (December to March 2018), including tackling anti-social behaviour on Coleridge Recreation Ground, and promoting and enforcing road safety. If you have issues you would like to bring to police attention, this meeting is a good place to do it. If you cannot attend, let me know if anything you’d like me to raise.

The full agenda is here.

Local collection for refugees in Northern France

The Cambridge Convoy Refugee Action Group is having a collection of clothes, food and other essentials at St John’s Church next Saturday, 14th July.

They are looking for men’s clothes in small and medium sizes, tents, basic foodstuffs and toiletries. Torches and trainers, blankets and sleeping bags are also particularly welcome. Here’s a full list of what they need: http://camcrag.org.uk/donating/.

You can drop things off at St John’s between 10.30am and 3.30pm. Please bag similar things up together and label them as it will save the volunteers time when they are sorting.

CCRAG will take the donations to the refugees in Northern France when they visit in July.

Download a poster here with details of what is wanted: Donations_Drop_July_poster&flyer

Residents’ Parking: How is it for you?

Cambridgeshire County Council is consulting throughout the city on residents’ parking, and most Queen Edith’s should be consulted in the next year. Demand in some streets is very high and the established schemes are popular, but we recognize that it’s not the right solution for everywhere.

The city has been notionally divided up into 26 zones, each named after a street or landmark in the area: for example, in Queen Edith’s, we have Morley, Coleridge West, Coleridge East, Nightingale, Glebe, Perse, Wulfstan and Walpole.

The Morley scheme is in place, Coleridge West is to be decided on in July, and a consultation for Coleridge East will start this autumn. The other consultations for this area are scheduled for spring 2018.

It would be helpful to have an idea before that of whether or not there is a strong demand. Please let me know if you’re broadly in favour or not, by taking part in my preliminary survey. There are just three questions, so it shouldn’t take long.

If you live in the ‘Morley’ residents’ parking zone (between Hills Road, Cherry Hinton Road and Blinco Grove), I have a different survey for you, as I am running a review of the Morley scheme now that it’s been in place for six months. There are questions on how it’s working, as well as one on short-stay spaces. Please give me your feedback on how things are going.

Let me know if you’d prefer a paper version of either survey.

Gas repairs in Nightingale Avenue

The County Council informs me that Nightingale Avenue will experience some ‘disuption’ at the end of this month/ beginning of July, as Cadent Gas are carrying out repairs to a leaky gas main.

The biggest impact will be to pedestrians, as the work will be mostly on the pavement and verge of the street except for the Queen Edith’s Way junction, where there will be three-way lights.

Working times will be 08:00-17:00 on Nightingale Avenue and 07:00-19:00 at the junction with Queen Edith’s Way.

Cambridge Residents’ Parking: Frequently Asked Questions

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Q: What are the costs of residents’ parking in Cambridge?
A: Residents’ parking schemes are self-funding, ie they are costed to pay for themselves. At present, participating in a residents’ parking scheme starts at just over £1 a week per permit. There are discounts for less polluting vehicles. Each household can buy up to three permits.

Schemes that include weekends and/ or evenings are more expensive than ones running 9-5 Monday to Friday or less.  There is usually a joining fee to cover set-up costs but the Greater Cambridgeshire Partnership is currently funding these.

Q: What about visitors?
A: Residents may purchase up to 20 visitor permits a year, which allow visitors to park for up to 5 days at a cost of £2.40 a day or part of a day. Anyone living in the area of a scheme can apply for visitor permits for their guests. You do not have to have a residents’ parking permit to have a visitors’ permit.

Businesses can apply for permits.

Blue badge holders are entitled to one free annual visitor’s permit.

Q: What happens if I have carers or medical visitors who need to park?
A: There is a free medical permit scheme for people who need visits from relatives or health professionals. Your doctor will need to assess your infirmity or lack of mobility and provide an estimate of the number and frequency of official visits required. There are dispensations for medical professionals who attend emergencies or who carry special equipment.

Q: What happens if I have people working on my house who need to park?
A: Tradespeople are able to purchase one or two permits for the area in which they are working.

Q: What about shops/ schools/ churches?
A: It is possible to include short-stay bays for community facilities as part of a scheme. They should be incorporated at the time the scheme is developed.

Q: Does a residents’ parking scheme guarantee a space?
A: It does not guarantee a space, but it gives residents a better chance of getting a space.

Q: Do you have to join if there’s a scheme in your street?

A: Only if you want to park in one of the on-street residents’ bays. If you have your own private parking, say on a drive, you need not purchase a residents’ permit.

Q: To whom should I report illegal parking?
A: Ring the County Council’s Civil Enforcement team on 01223 727 900. For dangerous parking, eg obstruction, parking on school zig-zags, or in bus lanes and cycle lanes, contact the police on 101.

Q: I am in a car club. Surely I would not have to pay £50+ a year when I only park in the street occasionally?

A: Residents who occasionally use car club vehicles can purchase visitor’s permits, or use the Pay & Display or short-stay bays if they are close enough to be convenient. Some schemes include spaces specifically for car club vehicles.

See the County Council website for more information including application forms for permits,  and the residents’ parking policy.

Local Highways Improvements

Cambridgeshire County Council Local Highways Improvement programme funds improvements to roads and pavements, such as traffic calming, parking restrictions, speed limit changes and footway and pedestrian crossing improvements costing up to £10,000. It is a competitive process and councillors have to assess bids for Queen Edith’s with bids across the city, but we have been succesful over the past few years, for example parking restrictions have been introduced in Strangeways Road, Netherhall Way, Glebe and Holbrook Roads. See my rolling update on the parking restriction schemes.

It is not a speedy process: the bids are assessed early 2019 and officers don’t start work on the successful ones until the spring. What with consultation on the detail and the legal procedures associated with Traffic Regulation Orders, the whole thing takes about 18 months from the date the bid goes in to completion of scheme, sometimes longer.

The County’s ‘Improve Your Local Highway’ web pages provide full information on the Local Highway Improvement (LHI) Initiative and the online application form. The closing date for applications is July 2018, following which you will be contacted by the Council to look at the feasibility of your application in more detail. Your final application will then be presented to the LHI Member Advisory Panel in the New Year.

If you have an idea for a bid and would like to talk about it, please contact me, George, Jennifer or Colin.