Help us save Homerton … and 18 other children’s centres!

With other Lib Dem councillors, I have been running a campaign challenging  the County Council’s proposals to ‘redesignate’ (close) 19 children’s centres, including Homerton in Holbrook Road, whose services would be moved to the Central Library in the city centre — costly for families in terms of time and money. Other centres on the hit list are centres in Trumpington, Cherry Hinton and Romsey.

Thank you if you have signed the Liberal Democrat petition opposing the closures, which has now exceeded the target of 3,000 signatures which we set when we launched it in July. We are hoping to use the petition to trigger a council debate on 17th October.

Before that, the closures will be debated at a meeting of the Children and Young People (CYP) Committee on the 10th October (2pm at Shire Hall). I am not on that committee but I shall be attending to speak against the proposals.

Would you be able to go along too, to show support for the campaign to defend the children’s centres, either by greeting councillors and listening to the debate, or by making a short speech challenging the closures? Please let me know if that is something you might be able to do, so that we can co-ordinate.

Thank you to all those who have written to me and other councillors.  Please write to other county councillors too, particularly Conservative ones (it’s the Conservative party that controls the county council, and that is supporting the closures) and the members of the CYP committee.

We have a Facebook page for the campaign: Cambridgeshire Children’s Centre campaign. Do have a look, and share with friends.

Roadworks and events

road-closureThe County Council has sent me its latest list of new roadworks and events. This is for things starting between 1st and 15th September – please see previous posts for works already in progress.

Check out:

  • Glebe Road
  • Queen Edith’s Way
  • Robinson Way
  • Frances Crick Avenue
  • Addenbrooke’s Road

The extent of the works varies from minor to major but please see the attachment for details so you can vary your route if necessary.

CITY 1-15

Lichfield Road yellow lines

Thank you to everyone who has given feedback on the parking restrictions plans for Lichfield Road – it’s been very helpful.

The yellow lines at the the bus stop, opposite the hall and at the Coleridge Road junction,  and the H-markings outside the entrances to the flats have been generally welcomed. The only issue people have mentioned is the yellow lines outside houses near the Coleridge Road junction, which came as a surprise to many. It’s felt that this would be too restrictive for residents to park their own cars.

I have asked the County Council to take those lines out. Here is a Lichfield Road parking restrictions v2.

The next stage is for the Council to advertise the yellow lines as a Traffic Regulation Order.

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.

Last stop for the 114

Whippet is deregistering 17 bus services in Cambridge, claiming they are unprofitable. The following services will take their last journeys on 2nd September.

Service 1                   Hilton – Hemingfords - St Ives
Service 1A                 St Ives – Fenstanton – Cambridge
Service 2                   Cambridge - Hardwick - Toft - Caldecote – Boxworth
Service 3                   Papworth St Agnes – Papworth Everard – Huntingdon (Saturday journeys only)
Service 5                   St Ives - Hemingford Abbots - Hemingford Grey - St Ives
Service 7A                 Whittlesford - Babraham Road Park & RideAmanda Tayloramandataylor
Service 8                   Cambridge - Dry Drayton - Papworth Everard
Service 9                   St Ives - Elsworth – Hilton
Service 12                 St Ives Town Circular
Service 15                 St Ives - Swavesey – Over
Service 16                 Huntingdon - Oxmoor Circular
Service 18                 Newmarket - Fulbourn – Teversham – Cambridge
Service 21                 St Ives - Earith - Somersham – Ramsey
Service 45                 Huntingdon - Houghton - St Ives
Service 45A                Huntingdon - Houghton - St Ives
Service 114               Cambridge City Centre - Grafton - Beehive - Addenbrooke's
Service 117               Cambridge City Centre - Fen Estate

Here is a statement on the deregistrations from Whippet.

The 114 which runs between the city centre and Addenbrooke’s will be missed in this area. It has provided a useful route to the Beehive and Grafton Centres, as it runs down Coleridge, Lichfield and Mowbray Roads.

The County Council has been considering varying the frequency on this service; they will now need to retender it along with the other services. The challenge will be to find another operator who can make them work financially, given the passenger take-up and the congestion on the routes.

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.

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.