Speak up for your local library

Rock Road LibraryCambridgeshire County Council is looking to save £2 million from its library budget — about 30%.

On Monday (August 9th) they launched a consultation on different services and facilities. There is a series of public meetings and roadshows as well as a questionnaire at libraries and online at the County’s webpage.

Views are sought on the following cuts:

  • possible new shared and/or externalized management and support
  • self-service machine and greater use of volunteers
  • streamlining the mobile library service
  • new support for Library Access Points
  • a review of library provision in the city and surrounding area

as well as ways of increasing income.

The meetings in the city are at Central Library: the first was on 10th August and the next is 9th September, 7.00 – 9.00 p.m.

The Library Garden Project website is being used as a discussion forum for the consultation.

Users of Rock Road Library in Queen Edith’s may also be interested in becoming a Friend of Rock Road Library, which supports the library by raising enthusiasm as well as funds, putting on various events.To join the Friends, contact the Membership Secretary Katie Knapton at 61 Rock Road. One of the benefits is 12 free DVD loans a year.

Two more library dates for your diary:

Saturday 4th September, 10.00 – 11.30 a.m: Second-hand book sale

Friday 24th September, 7.30 p.m.: Friends’ AGM and Library 75th birthday celebration

New school on Gunhild Way: get your comments in now!

Time is running out to comment on the competition to run a new primary school on Gunhild Way — the County Council’s consultation closes this Friday. If you haven’t already commented, you can do so up till 20th August, by writing to David Clark at Cambridgeshire County Council ([email protected]).

Comments are invited from everyone, but the choice of provider of the new school is especially important for parents of children about to go to school, ie those currently at nursery school or younger, who will be applying to primary school soon. Astonishingly, nursery schools have not been included in the consultation.

There is a significant amount of local interest, but please spread the word, as I am still getting people telling me they are unaware.

Many people have heard through email grapevines, chat forums etc. There is a Facebook page about it, which draws together individuals’ comments as well as press reports. If you’re on Facebook please share the page with any local parents.

Mayor joins families at Nightingale Avenue party

Mayor opening the new MUGA at Nightingale Avenue

Thanks to all who came to the launch of the new facilities at Nightingale Avenue Recreation Ground last Saturday:

  • to the Mayor, Cllr Sheila Stuart, who cut the tape of the new games area and also cut the cake
  • to the CHYPPS team who ran the games and painted faces
  • to Mark Buckton, who ran the Bin Challenge and gave recycling tips
  • to Authentic Cakes, who made the cake
  • to the City Council’s Active Communities team who managed the series   of improvements to the recreation ground over the past few years
  • to James Day, who took this photo.

The games area can be used for a variety of ball games whatever the weather. The other recent enhancements have been:

  • a second tennis court
  • a revamped playground
  • a second tennis court
  • a path around the recreation ground that can be used by wheelchairs and pushchairs
  • recycling bins for bottles and cans
  • new benches

It was great to see a mixture of all ages enjoying the event and the sunshine!

New Gunhild Way school contest: rival bidders set out their stalls to the community

NetherhallThis evening over 100 people crowded into the Cambridge Professional Development Centre in Trumpington to hear the two organizations bidding to run the new school set to open next year on Gunhild Way, where Netherhall Junior School is now.

The Queen Edith’s Federation team, presented first. The Head, Caroline Peet, spoke of their vision over the next ten years of two schools working in partnership. The Queen Edith’s chair of governors, Pam Jones, described the other sort of partnerships that Queen Edith’s has in the community – with educational institutions, faith groups and bodes promoting wellbeing and inclusion. The schools’ deputy head explained how Queen Edith’s serves the needs of a community that is diverse in its ethnicity, religions and economic backgrounds.

Mr Rossi spoke for the Roman Catholic Diocese of East Anglia, explaining the theological imperative for education and their belief in the uniqueness of every child as a child of God. He told us there are 26 Catholic schools in the diocese, so there is plenty of experience. They aim to serve South Cambridge, as there are many Catholic families from the local churches who would like to send their children to a catholic school if there were more provision.

The meeting was very well attended, mainly by parents from Queen Edith’s, but there has been scanty local publicity in the other local schools.

Questions were wide-ranging, covering special needs provision, school economics and the logistics of split sites, but the major concerns led back to the main difference between the two bids: admissions policy.

While the Queen Edith’s Federation if successful would serve the immediate community — children residing in the current catchment areas of Queen Edith’s, Ridgefield and Morley primary schools — the Roman Catholic school would cover half of Cambridge, but give priority to children baptized as catholics, and only then to local non-catholic children.

Concerns were expressed about the extra traffic that would be generated by children coming from across town. It is unlikely children would walk or cycle to school from Newnham or Newmarket Road … especially at the speed of your average 4 or 5 year-old. More importantly, many people expressed alarm at the prospect of the new school having insufficient places for children living near the school.

These are concerns that I very much share. While I appreciate the value of a faith school (I attended two myself), it is even more vital that a school is embedded in the local community. Children going to a school in their neighbourhood has to be a good thing, not just for parental convenience but for the social life of the child and community cohesion.

I am hoping there will be more opportunities for people to hear the two sets of proposals again between now and the end of the consultation period, 20th August. It would be good to have something actually in Queen Edith’s, at a time that’s more convenient for parents than the early evening, a time when many parents will be on bedtime duty and I shall be making this request of the County Council.

The Conservative Cabinet of Cambridgeshire County Council will make the final decision on which organization runs the school at the end of September.

South Area Meeting, 8th July

Liberal Democrat Cambridge City Council has devolved some functions to local ‘area committees’, each covering a geographical quarter of the city. Queen Edith’s is part of the South Area, which also includes Cherry Hinton and Trumpington. The committee comprises the councillors for the three wards.

Last Thursday it met at Homerton College for the first time – a handy venue on the mainbus routes, but swelteringly hot last week. Fortunately chilled water and fans were close at hand.

For my sins, I have been elected to chair it for the coming municipal year, taking over from Trumpington councillor Andy Blackhurst who is chairing the Council’s Housing Management Board this year. Fortunately he is staying as vice-chair.

The first item of business was ‘Safer Neighbourhoods‘, a report by the local police on their activities and recommendations for priorities for the coming quarter. The meeting agreed to carry on with tackling anti-social behaviour in Paget and Foster Roads in Trumpington and in Tenby Close, Cherry Hinton. Following a request from Cllr Sheila Stuart, drug abuse in Hanover and Princess Courts (council flats in the northern part of Hills Road) were added.

We received a report about the Council’s revision of its Statement of Licensing Policy, which has to be renewed every three years, and a consultation on the same. The meeting did not give much detail about any changes, but was more a means of bringing the renewal to people’s attention. If you would like to see what is proposed, and comment, you can view the policy on the City Council’s website — any time up to 5th September.

More wonders of the web were presented by the Council’s planning officers in a Powerpoint presentation on a new virtual facility for viewing and tracking planning applications: Planning Public Access. You can view plans on line, comment on them, see what others have said about them,  and set up an email alert so you know when something changes. Use it at home, or if you prefer, at the Council’s Customer Service Centre on Rewgent Street, where planning officers are there to help form 10.30 till 3 p.m.

Community development grants were approved for  the following groups:

  • Little Bunniers Mothers/ Carers Playgroup
  • Trumpington Residents Association
  • 2nd Cherry Hinton Guides
  • Hanover and Princess Court Residents’ Association
  • Trumpington Elderly Action Group
  • Denis Wilson Court Social Club

There were two environmental improvement bids:

A topographical survey was agreed for the Wulfstan Way shopping parade, to take forward improvements (see my previous post on this).

The other bid was for traffic calming in the form of road humps in Clarendon Road and Shaftesbury Road, to stop speeding, alleged to be coming from the Government offices and Cambridge University Press. I am sorry to report that police checks demonstrated that there is indeed speeding taking place, 15% of the vehicles driving not just over 30 mph but over 40 mph, though it’s not proven who is speeding. Two cats were killed in one of the streets last year.

The chair of the Brooklands Avenue residents’ association, spoke in support of traffic calming. E-mails expressing opposition to traffic calming had been sent to councillors by C.U.P. and one of the residents of the street.

The committee considered that while they viewed the speeding with concern, other measures than speed humps should be considere, possibly a 20mph limit, flashing lights warning people of the speed limit or chicanes. Officers will report back at the next meeting.

Two planning applications were approved: a retrospective application for a tall fence at 54 Kelsey Crescent and two new houses at 102 Glebe Road (with conditions for new landscaping on the boundaries with neighbouring properties and for a ban on deliveries to the site during construction during the school rush hour).

South Cambridge neighbourhood police team surgery, 17th July

The police covering Queen Edith’s will be holding a community surgery at the Cherry Hinton Village Centre on Saturday 17th July from 4-5 p.m. They will be happy to give advice on crime prevention and discuss any concerns about the community.

If you would like to receive regular updates of police activity in the area, sign up for the Cambridgeshire Constabulary E Cops newsletter by visiting http://www.cambs-police.co.uk/myneighbourhood/ecops/

Come and party in the park at Nightingale Avenue – Launch Event 17th July

LAUNCH OF NEW MULTI-USE GAMES AREA

NIGHTINGALE AVENUE RECREATION GROUND

Saturday 17th July

3.00 – 5.00 p.m.

TELL YOUR FRIENDS!

MUGA

Families in Queen Edith’s are to be invited to party in the park to celebrate the opening of a new games area at the Nightingale Avenue Recreation Ground.

The event is being organised by myself and the other three Lib Dem councillors for the area and there will be games, sports and possibly face painting during the afternoon of Saturday, July 17th.

Cambridge Mayor, Sheila Stuart will open the new multi-use games area for basketball, volleyball, netball and football at the Nightingale Avenue recreation ground, marking the culmination of a series of improvements to the park.

These include an improved children’s playground, extra tennis court and a pushchair and wheelchair friendly path around the edge of the park. New cycle racks and benches have also been added. So there should be something for all ages!

We have been working on making the park better to serve different people’s needs for some years. Many of the ideas have come from residents of the area, notably the path round the outside of the rec, a bright idea that the council was able to make a reality.

I hope local families will come and bring a picnic to enjoy the celebrations and help us officially open the new area.

Please tell your friends!

Wulfstan Way shops revamp steams ahead

Traders and residents are moving forward with a package of ideas to revitalize the shops at Cambridge’s Wulfstan Way and we have just held our second workshop to explore ideas.

 

They want to see more lighting and seating, extra parking which could be controlled so that it could be used exclusively for shoppers, a community noticeboard and better signage to the shops.

 

My colleague Cllr Viki Sanders suggested we might incorporate some public art with the help of the local schools and colleages.

We have prioritized the areas we would like to go ahead with and will be taking detailed costings forward to the City Council’s South Area Committee on September 9th.

 

Party in the park — to celebrate new facilities at Nightingale Avenue Recreation Ground

Have you visited the Nightingale Avenue rec’ lately?

The City Council has put lots of extra kit in over the last few years — new climbing frames and spinners in the children’s playground, a second tennis court, a wheel-friendly path round the park, and most recently, a multi-use games area that can be used for basketball, volleyball, netball or football if, like today, it’s raining and the grass is not suitable to play on. The games area is constructed from wood specially chosen to mimimise noise and as the non-wood parts are dark leaf-green, it blends in well with the local environment.

There’s also some new benches and cycle racks. The other things I really like are the recycling bins for bottles and cans – which arrived this morning.

When I first raised this at the Council, the prevailing view was that people wouldn’t bother to recycle when they’re in a public place but if you are recycling at home then why not when you’re out and about too?

Abbey Pool and Romsey Rec have got some bottle and can bins too and I’m hoping we’ll collect more than they do!

I am currently working on arranging a summer party on Nightingale
Avenue, to celebrate all the improvements, as well as publicise leisure activities and events this summer.

I’ll post details when they are settled; in the meantime, if you would
like me to update you by email, drop me a line at [email protected]