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

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?

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.

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.

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.

How do you get from Cambridge to Haverhill? Here are three proposals.

The Greater Cambridge Partnership (City Deal) is presenting three travel strategies designed to get people in and out of Cambridge more quickly, reliably and in a more sustainable fashion. The route starts at the Biomedical Campus (the Addenbrooke’s site) and runs along the A1307 to Haverhill.

The strategies encompass everything from major new infrastructure such as a new Park & Ride site and rapid mass transport to lower cost improvements to the existing highways.

At our end of the route, the highlights are:

  • a right-turn lane from Babraham Road into Granham’s Road
  • extra covered cycle storage and electric car  charging points at the Babraham Road Park & Ride site
  • a multi-user path between the Biomedical Campus and the Babraham Research Campus, for cyclists, pedestrians and horses
  • a right-turn lane for the Gog Farm Shop entrance, and a staggered junction to replace the crossroads
  • an underpass at Wandlebury to make it easier for walkers to get across the road

More information can be found at www.greatercambridge.org.uk/CambridgeSouthEast. The GPC promises an advertising campaign and leaflets, though they have not materialised yet, despite the fact the first consultation events are this week.

The GPC is running a consultation running until 3rd April. There are various ways to take part, from letter and telephone to social media and the web.

There will be public exhibitions at various locations, including Queen Edith’s:

4-7 p.m., Thursday 15th March, St John’s Church, Hills Road

8-9.30 a.m., Wednesday 21st March, Babrahm Road Park and Ride site

For those unable to make these times and dates, there will be another chance to hear a presentation at the Queen Edith’s Community Forum AGM on Thursday 8th March, also at St John’s Church.

NB The meeting scheduled for tomorrow morning at the Babraham Road Park and Ride site has just been cancelled due to severe weather.

 

 

 

Liberal Democrat petition against library computer charges

Campaigning against the Library Enterprise Centre plans

Liberal Democrats in Cambridgeshire have launched a campaign to protect free use of computers at libraries.

County councillors last week considered a package of measures for the future of the library service, building on workshops with the public and library campaigners as well as with councillors. The measures included several sensible initiatives, such as improving occupancy of library meeting rooms and co-locating council services — for example, showcasing assistive technology in libraries, providing support to vulnerable people. Other suggestions were to raise income to support the library service by putting on some paid-for events and maximising room income from commercial users. You can read the paper here.

One of the proposals Liberal Democrats object to is charges for use of library computers. The Conservatives are proposing to introduce a £1 charge for using library computers after the first half hour. We believe that the charge will be damaging to people on very low incomes, especially to people applying for jobs – as many employers now require applications to be made on line. People on Universal Credit need to spend time job-hunting, and to prove that they are doing so.

Machines to collect the charges will cost £18,800. You do the sums for how long it will take to recoup the initial outlay. I don’t think the Conservative councillors have!

I also question the raison d’être of the charge, to generate revenue. Experience with bringing in charges for services has shown that usage drops off dramatically. Have Conservative councillors learnt nothing from the fiasco of their petty parking charges at the Park & Ride sites?

The County Council committee responsible for libraries is the Highways & Community Infrastructure Committee, on which I sit. I am one of two Liberal Democrats on the committee; there is also one Labour councillor, one Independent one — and six Conservatives, including the chair and vice-chair.

Liberal Democrat councillor Henry Batchelor proposed an amendment to scrap the computer charges. We were outvoted and the amendment fell, meaning that the charges might still be introduced. We were sorry that the Labour councillor on the committee, Jocelynne Scutt, refused to support the amendment.

Liberal Democrats believe that access to the internet is a key element of equality in the modern world, and that the County Council has a responsibility to provide access to computers to those, who for reasons of finance or where they live may not have high quality internet access in their homes.

The Liberal Democrats have set up a petition opposing the charges.  Over 500 people had signed even before the meeting.  You can sign it at http://www.cambridgelibdems.org.uk/library_computer_charging.

What’s all this about residents’ parking?

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Residents’ parking could be coming to your street soon, or at any rate, a consultation about it. The County Council has embarked on a programme of parking consultations covering most of the city. Up till now, residents’ parking schemes have been developed after evidence of demand, as with the Morley scheme in this area; but following an offer by the Greater Cambridge Partnership to fund the set-up costs of new schemes, the Council is putting the idea to residents regardless of whether any interest has been shown.

The Council has divided the city into 26 zones and is consulting residents in phases, presenting them with parking scheme proposals. They started with the areas where there has been strongest demand: so far, consultations have been run in the Staffordshire, Newnham, Accordia and west Coleridge zones. They have all resulted in majorities for residents’ parking schemes, although with a very low turnout in the Coleridge west area. The Victoria, Elizabeth and Coleridge East zones are coming next, and consultations for Queen Edith’s are likely to be in spring 2019.

Citywide map of RP zones 2017

If the consultations in each area result in over 50% of responses being in favour of the proposed scheme, then they will go ahead; if not, then they will not be progressed. Labour councillors wanted to implement the schemes even without majority votes, but Lib Dems have insisted that there must be majority support.

Residents’ parking schemes restrict parking during set hours to people with permits: residents and their guests, plus traders and carers. Permits cost between £1 and £2 a week depending on the hours of the scheme and all permit types are going up in price in April, to reflect rises in the costs of managing the schemes.

Visitors’ permits are currently £8 for five days but will be going up to £12 in April. (The Conservatives were going to put them up to £15 but were persuaded to set a less steep rise following pressure from the Liberal Democrats and residents.)

See here for our frequently asked questions on residents’ parking, with links to the County Council’s web pages on the topic.

Goodbye Budgen’s. You will be missed!

Adkin’s Corner joins Perne Road and Cherry Hinton Road and is named after W J Adkins, who ran a grocery store there in the 1960s. This later become part of the Budgen’s group.

Budgen’s is quite the local institution, well supported locally and popular for its friendly staff as well as its good range of produce, much of it locally sourced.

So it is sad to learn that they’re closing up shop in March, when the site will be renovated. The owners, CJK Properties, intend to convert three outbuildings into flats but to retain the retail space. See their planning application to Cambridge City Council, which has just been approved.

They are also funding a traffic regulation order for a change to the road layout to allow vehicles to access the site without crossing the pavement. Local people are hoping there will still be a supermarket on site after the changes – but we will miss Budgen’s!

Yellow lines update

Amanda and fencing

New knee-length ‘diamond’ fencing

The yellow lines in Cavendish Avenue and Baldock Way and the disabled parking bay on Baldock Way were painted in the autumn.  Low-level fencing for the verges in the middle section of Baldock Way is also now in place.

Yellow lines in Gunhild Close and Fendon Close have now been painted.