Of chicken, ducks and geese … the ethics of eating

Next Monday, the committee I chair, the Customer Services and Resources Scrutiny Committee (5.00pm, The Guildhall), will be considering a new procurement policy. Councillors will also be put on the spot as to the practical aspects of procurement and purchasing by a motion and a petition about types of food the Council buys or doesn’t buy.

First, there is to be a petition asking the Council to ban foie gras on its premises, and next there is a report on moving to Freedom Food standards for chicken and egg products – a motion first proposed by the Labour leader of the opposition, Cllr Lewis Herbert.

The procurement policy itself sets out best practice, taking in practical measures to ensure good environmental standards and manage risk. It confirms the Council’s commitment to fair trade, which I am particularly pleased about, as it builds on my own council motion leading to Cambridge being recognized as a fair trade city in 2004.

As well as the procurement motion, councillors will be reviewing equalities policies in the light of the new Single Equalities Act and setting a new direction for its door-to-door publication Cambridge Matters.

The meeting is open to the public and if you wish to speak at it or ask a question, contact the Council’s Committee Manager before the meeting, [email protected] For a full agenda, click here: http://www.cambridge.gov.uk/public/councillors/agenda/2009/1012sr/00.pdf

Blocked drains in Hills Road

One of the less glamorous aspects to life as a councillor is sorting out blocked drains! They are, however, a pain in the neck as they flood the pavements and roads, turning grass verges into bogs and cycle paths into mini-lagoons.

Two particularly bad ones on Hills Road, one outside Homerton College and the other closer Addenbrooke’s, were reported this week to the County Council and are being attended to.

Area meeting — presentation on the new ‘Blue Bin’ recycling scheme

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The Lib Dem City Council has divided Cambridge into four areas so that local issues can be determined locally. The area meetings decide on smaller planning applications and environmental, leisure and community grants as well as other issues, including policing priorities. These meetings are open to the public.

blue-bin.gifThe South Area covers Queen Edith’s, Cherry Hinton and Trumpington and usually meets from 7pm on Thursdays in Queen Edith’s.  The next meeting is this Thursday at Hills Road VI Form College and will include a presentation on the new recycling arrangements coming in this autumn.

If you can’t come along but would like me to raise an issue on your behalf, please let me know.

Here is an agenda: http://www.cambridge.gov.uk/public/councillors/agenda/2009/0924areas/00.pdf

Smoking medics’ mess

I have recently received fresh complaints about litter and disturbance caused by Addenbrooke’s staff on the streets near the hospital.

Although staff were given a smoking area after complaints when the hospital site went smoke-free, they continue to gather in neighbouring streets to smoke.

 Residents of Greenlands and Red Cross Lane have been in touch with me to say they are getting fed up of the litter left behind – plastic cups and sandwich wrappers as well as smoking-related detritus such as cigarette ends, as well as the general disturbance of having people chatting just outside their homes.

I have asked the hospital’s director in charge of the site if he can request staff not to impose on local residents in this way.

 Update: see latest post.

Library Garden Big Dig – 12th September

Dig It on the 12th

I was first contacted about the land behind Rock Road Library by Lucy King, a pupil from Morley School, asking if she could turn into a proper garden. She not only sent me a hand-coloured picture of her vision of a garden but offered her labour and that of her friends too. I don’t get many letters from people of that age, so it has great to help her turn her dream into reality. 

A few more gardeners later, all from the local community, and support from both City and County Councils amongst others and I am pleased to say it’s now happening. They have relaunched the ‘Friends of Rock Road Library’ and will be running community events as well as creating a garden.

There is a mixture of schoolchildren from Lucy’s class and from Spectrum, Morley’s After-School Club, local residents and businesses.

A generous garden centre has already offered help and a landscape architect has worked with the Friends to draw up plans. You can see them on the Friends noticeboard as you enter the library.

The first digging session is on 12th September – if you’d like to join in, contact Jane Elliott — chair of the Friends’ Group and Head Gardener — on 710095 or email her at [email protected] See you there with your spade!

Hills Road Bridge to become cycle-friendly overnight?

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Cambridgeshire County Council has just announced two bits of news:

1. that the roadworks for the Guided Bus will finish on Sunday – good news even though it is six months late

2. that they will immediately start a 4-month trial of segregating cyclists and motor traffic by putting them in separate lanes on the uphill parts of the bridge, divided by a ‘rumble strip’ (white line to you and me). They are going to put in temporary kerbs and white lines on Sunday night as soon as they finish the Guided Bus work, so we will wake up on Monday morning to a new traffic layout.

It’s the second of these that takes my breath away. As a cyclist, it’s great news, as the bridge is just about the most dangerous place to cycle in Cambridge. It will make the bridge useable by less confident cyclists including children. However, it’s a shame the County didn’t give more warning before embarking on such a bold plan. They have consultation meetings and exhibitions next week (Tuesday at Hills Rd VI Form College, Thursday at St Paul’s Church) but they don’t have much time to tell people about them.

I hope the manic motorist tendency gives a fair trial to the new arrangements, but more important, I’m pleased that we will have a safer cycling environment for the 4,000 people who ride their bikes over the bridge every day.

To find out more, see http://www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/transport/cambridgegateway