More children’s centre drop-in events

Following pressure from a number of concerned councillors and campaigners, the county council has announced eight more drop-in sessions about the proposals to close 19 children’s centres. The times should also be better for many working parents too. Here is an updated list of events with the new ones shown in bold.

Tuesday 15th August, 13:00-15:00, Waterbeach Children’s Centre

Wednesday 23rd August, 13:0-15:00, Oasis Children’s Centre, Wisbech

Thursday 24 August, 16:00-18:00, Cambridge Professional Development Centre, Trumpington
Wednesday 30 August, 14:00-16:00, Murrow Children’s Centre
Tuesday 5 September, 17.00-19.00, Sutton Children’s Centre
Wednesday 6 September, 17.00-19.00, Bar Hill Children’s Centre
Monday 11 September, 17.00-19.00, Linton Children’s Centre
Monday 11 September, 17.00-19.00, Bottisham Children’s Centre
Tuesday 12 September, 16:00-18:00, Ramsey Library
Wednesday 13 September, 18.30-20.00, Papworth Children’s Centre

Hills Road cycleway: lessons to be learnt

Live on Hills Road? Travel along it?

Then you will know it’s been a rough ride since council contractors arrived at the beginning of January 2015 to replace our cycleway.

There has been deep dissatisfaction over the length of time this project has taken, as well as about working practices – and ironically, about the reduced road safety during construction.

With other Lib Dem councillors, I persuaded the County Council to undertake a review of the cycleway so that lessons can be learnt about what went well and what didn’t go so well, and applied in future projects.

Nearly 600 people participated in our survey on the quality of the cycleway and its construction. While cycling levels have gone up and cyclists say they feel safe on the cycleway, it’s not such a good story when it comes to the safety of pedestrians. We have had reports of  collisions at bus stops and delays for emergency vehicles. The project management came in for heavy criticism, with 45% of respondents describing the efficiency of the construction process as poor, inadequate, or very poor.

There were over 500 individual comments Hills Road survey Q10  (Additional comments), including 200 on road safety Hills Road survey Q7.2. We will be pushing to make sure that all of them are taken on board.

The survey results will be considered at the August meeting of the Council’s Economy & Environment Committee. Here is a link to the report.

Yellow lines update

Last year, there were several successful bids to the  County Council Local Highways Improvement Initiative for this area.  Council highways officers have been working up plans, and I now have provisional drawings for:

  1. Netherhall Way Netherhall & Chalk parking restrictions
  2. Chalk Grove Netherhall & Chalk parking restrictions
  3. Beaumont Road Beaumont Road parking restrictions
  4. Lichfield Road * Lichfield Rd parking restrictions and Lichfield Road parking restrictions V2
  5. Topcliffe Way Topcliffe Way DYL 001-1

You can view these drawings by clicking on the links. If you, or anyone you know, would like to look at a printout, please let me know.

The next stage will be for a Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) describing the changes to be advertised in the local paper and in the street. If there are no objections, the scheme will go ahead; if there are objections, then they will be determined by the Cambridge Joint Area Committee.

We await drawings for Cavendish Avenue and Godwin Way

  • Credit due to Cllrs Noel Kavanagh and Rosie Moore for the Lichfield Road bids; I am taking over where they left off.

Children’s centres consultation

Many thanks to everybody who’s signed our petition opposing the  County Council’s theats of cuts to children’s centres. It’s grown like wildfire since we launched it last Monday; this shows just how much the children’s centres and services are valued, not just by the people who use them but by the whole community.

There are two more things you can do to help:

SPREAD THE WORD

We are on 1,500 signatures after just a week, but we are aiming to get to 3,000 by September, as this will mean we can have a council debate and challenge the decision. So: can you please share the petition with your friends and family (even if you have  done so already)?

We also have some paper forms, so you can collect signatures in person and tell people about the campaign. Please email Amanda: [email protected], or leave a note on our Cambridgeshire Children’s Centres campaign Facebook page and we’ll get some forms to you.

SPEAK UP

The County Council has now launched its official consultation, which you can find at https://www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/residents/children-and-families/children-s-centres/children-s-centres-consultation/. As you can see, there are very few facts or figures behind their proposals, and they seem to be struggling to justify what is really a vicious cost-cutting exercise. Please take part, and make sure they know what you think of their plans.

The consultation runs until 22nd September. As  the school holidays are a difficult time for families, we asked the Council if they would keep the consultation open later, but our request has been ignored.

The County is putting on a consultation event on 3rd August (2.30-4.30pm) at the Arbury Community Centre in Campkin Road. As in other areas, the consultation events are not near the centres that are under threat.

Homerton Children’s Centre will have staff available to discuss the consultation at their summer events, starting with one in Holbrook Park this Friday morning (21st July), 10-1130am. Tesco’s is kindly fundingsnacks.

Homerton CC SUMMER 2017

 

Conservatives threaten our children’s centres

Conservative councillors have today voted in favour of going ahead with a consultation to close 19 children’s centres, including Homerton Children’s Centre in Holbrook Road.

The centres themselves were only told last Tuesday, just as a public consultation is about to start.

In Cambridge, the Tories will also close children’s centres at Romsey Mill, Fawcett, and Cherry Hinton, which they say are ‘not needed’. Families are expected to  travel to other areas– eg Homerton families are directed to the Central Library in the city centre. Quite a distance if you are taking small children, and an extra cost if you have to pay bus fares or park in town.

The proposals have been met with anger and indignation by local people. A petition calling for a halt to the proposals has gained nearly 1,000 signatures in just 2 days.

Today I attended the County Council’s Children & Young People Committee and told them:

“Homerton Children’s Centre not only supports the excellent nursery education, but it provides a range of vital services to families: baby clinics and benefits advice and, at the sharp end, they deal with cases of mental health and domestic abuse.

If these services are taken away, the needs will not disappear but will still have to be met, by the NHS, the police and the councils. The Council’s £1m saving will cost that and more to other services, as well as the cost to quality of life.

It’s hard to see how families are going to access services easily if they have to go all the way into town to Central Library. This will not only turn a short visit into a lengthy trip in and out of town, but it will mean families have to pay for bus fares or parking. In practice, this will reduce the take-up from those who most benefit from the services.”

To make matters worse, the council’s consultation will run through the school holidays, 17th July – 22nd September – the worst possible time for families.

Liberal Democrats on the committee asked for the proposals to be sent back for more work, and for the consultation to be delayed until the beginning of next term but were outvoted by the Conservatives, who voted en bloc to go ahead.

We will continue to oppose these proposals to close children’s centres and to challenge the assumptions behind them. If you would like to join our campaign, please sign our petition opposing the closures, and follow our Facebook page Cambridgeshire Children’s Centres campaign.

Hills Road Bridge cycle lanes to be suspended this summer

I am sorry to have to bring news of yet more roadworks: a continuation of the current UKPN works in Cherry Hinton Road, across to Brooklands Avenue, to run electric cabling to the new Cambridge Assessment HQ that is being built on Shaftesbury Road.

Unfortunately the works will involve withdrawal of the cycle lane in the middle of the Hills Road bridge, which has obvious safety implications. There’s already problems with speeding on the bridge, with no noticeable enforcement of speed limits by the police. Please share any observations about increased speeding or other traffic issues with me.

The County Council tell me that work is scheduled to start on Saturday 22 July and last approximately four weeks on Hills Road and two weeks on Brooklands Avenue. Here is their rundown on what is planned:

Before the cable work can begin, contractors will remove two kerbed islands on Hills Road Bridge to allow two-way traffic to remain in place on Hills Road. This will happen week beginning 17 July, for approximately three nights to minimise disruption to daytime traffic.

The electricity work will be carried out in three phases by UK Power Networks:

Phase 1: work at the junction of Cherry Hinton Road will require temporary traffic signals and delays should be expected. Drivers are asked to allow extra time for their journeys. Also, work will start on 22 July in Clarendon Road, Fitzwilliam Road and Shaftesbury Road. When the work takes place in Clarendon Road and Fitzwilliam Road parking will need to be temporarily suspended.

Phase 2: work on Hills Road Bridge. Two-way traffic will be maintained but the cycle lanes will be suspended so motorists and cyclists should take extra care and delays should be minimal.

Phase 3: work at the junction with Brooklands Avenue and along Brooklands Avenue. Temporary traffic signals will be in place for this phase and delays should be expected. Drivers are asked to allow extra time for their journeys.

UK Power Networks will be working longer hours and weekends to reduce the overall duration and may work from 7.30am until midnight if required. Noise will be kept to a minimum between 8pm and midnight.

If you have concerns about the management of the works, contact UKPN on 0800 0284587 and [email protected]<[email protected].

Morley residents parking scheme

The County Council highways officers have been working on the back office systems for the Morley residents’ parking scheme, to ensure everybody eligible for a permit is listed properly. The scheme is bounded by the southern side of Cherry Hinton Road, the eastern side of Hills Road, and Blinco Grove.

The officers are about to order signs and pay & display machines, as well as book the yellow lining works. There will be letters to residents informing everybody that the parking scheme is going to be installed, followed by another inviting people to apply for permits. The first permits should be issued in September.

Streets need to be free of parked cars for the installation of bays to be installed and the painting of yellow lines. The Council is concerned that in the summer there may be some cars on the street belonging to people who are on holiday, which would frustrate the works – so the physical installation will take place in September, when the cars’ owners are less likely to be away.

The Council is about to commence consultation on seven new residents’ parking schemes, including two in Coleridge, starting on the other side of Cherry Hinton Road. Other areas of Cambridge should follow later this year. The Greater Cambridge City Deal have been asked if they will consider funding this scheme, as well as others, and we are hoping for a positive response.

For more information on residents’ parking, see https://www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/residents/travel-roads-and-parking/parking-permits-and-fines/parking/residents-parking-in-cambridge/.

Council road closure delayed

The road closure at Addenbrooke’s, due to begin today, has now been delayed until next Monday, 19th June. The City Deal has put the date back because there are extra underground utilities cables that need to be moved.

The road closure is to facilitate the construction of the next phase of the new cycleway on Hills Road and will involve the closure of the road between Long Road and the Addenbrooke’s roundabout to outbound traffic for approximately 14 weeks . There will be a diversion via Queen Edith’s Way and Fendon Road – see the plan on my previous post. The citybound lane will still be open to traffic.

The City Deal assure us that they will still meet the finish date of early September.

Hills Road cycleways: U-turn on total road closure but no end in sight

The Greater Cambridge City Deal has announced new plans for traffic management on Hills Road to facilitate cycleway construction.

Diversion routes for cycleway works

Having announced in January that they would close the top section of Hills Road entirely for five months, there has been some rowing back following public anger. The road between Long Road and the Addenbrooke’s roundabout will now be closed to outbound traffic for approximately 14 weeks, starting in June. There will be a diversion via Queen Edith’s Way and Fendon Road see right). The citybound lane will still be open to traffic.

The modifications to traffic management are welcome, but the works will still continue to be extremely disruptive to local residents as well as to people visiting the area, including the sixth form colleges and Biomedical Campus.

Outstaying their welcome

When the first phase of the cycleway works started in January 2015, it was scheduled to last 37 weeks. Over 2 years on, Phase I is still unfinished and it seems the Council cannot even organize simple things such as bus stop signs. The City Deal told us the second phase would take 11 weeks from February, but it is now not due to finish till September 2017. (They might like to update their website.

The project is the responsibility of the City Deal but is being managed by the County Cycling Team.They have given us a Q&A, which I can share with you here. FAQs Hills Road June TM

Any other questions or complaints should be directed to them at [email protected].

Meet the Candidates: St John the Evangelist

Amidst all the excitement of an impending General Election and a metro mayor election, I am working hard defending my county council seat. Elections take place on 4th May.

Tomorrow night, Thursday 20th April, I shall be at St John’s Church for the Queen Edith’s Community Forum’s hustings for the county council elections, along with the three other candidates.

Do come along and ask questions about local issues and hear how we address these on the County Council. The County is responsible for vital services including transport, highways (streetlighting and roads maintenance) social care, health scrutiny, children’s and young people’s service, libraries and heritage.

We Liberal Democrats have published a manifesto for Cambridgeshire, which you can read here.