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.

 

 

 

Morley Memorial school development gets go-ahead

Morley passed!

On Thursday 16th March, Cambridgeshire County Council’s Planning Committee passed plans for the developments at Morley Memorial Primary School.

The developments will bring the entire school onto a single site, and create three new classrooms, as well as make improvements to toilets, windows and the boiler, which will save the school money on maintenance. The details of the plans and the council report can be read here.

Local residents and Morley parents, staff and governors attended the meeting to listen to and participate in the debate. So did a prospective Morley pupil, a delightful gurgly baby called Hannah, whose presence reminded us what it’s all about.

Pamela McLeman and Mary O’Flynn, a former school caretaker, articulated concerns about loss of open space, and parking and traffic.

The Head, Nikki Brown, spoke of why the changes are needed and how they would improve the day-to-day logistics of school life as well as cater properly for pupils and staff with disabilities – and make all the children feel part of the school.

I spoke in support of the application, while recognizing the tension between traffic and the educational needs. You can read my speech here: Morley planning application

Councillors were impressed with the plans, praising the way the architectural design of the new build would blend with the old buildings, and showing an appreciation of how the school has balanced the need for play space. There was an understanding of the traffic and parking problems but an acceptance that parking is a problem at all schools, and that it was not of sufficient weight to stand in the way of the school’s improvements.

Construction traffic and pedestrians and cyclists do not mix, especially for young children and I asked if the condition on delivery hours could be amended to be well clear of school finishing time. I am pleased that this was taken up. Deliveries will now have to be completed by 2.45pm in termtime.

Contractors will be encouraged to use Park & Ride, as there will be no parking on Blinco Grove except for the school car park.

Morley Memorial development

mlysch1The County Council is planning to develop our local primary school on Blinco Grove, Morley Memorial – but the determination of the planning application has been deferred yet again, and is now scheduled for the Planning Committee meeting on 16th March.

It should have been determined last December, but the traffic statement contained serious omissions and was sent back for further work.

We hope that the decision will be made soon, to allow the school to get on with its development. For more information on the plans, see here.

 

Morley Memorial: plans for new classrooms plus a day nursery

mlysch1

An old photo, but not as old as the school, founded in 1899

The County Council intends to improve our primary school on Blinco Grove (dates from the 19th century) and to create a day nursery in the Early Years building on the corner of Baldock Way and Blinco Grove.

The planning application was to have been decided this month, but has been halted to allow more work on the transport statement. Unfortunately it contained serious inaccuracies, including a questionable claim about ‘sufficient unrestricted on-street parking available on the roads surrounding the school’. I wonder when they came?

The application is now intended to be determined on 16th February. If you haven’t seen the plans yet you can view them here. If you have commented, you should get a letter from the Council explaining what to do if you wish to speak at the meeting.

Queen Edith’s Way roundabout and pavement cycleways

On Thursday, councillors on the County Council’s Economy & Environment Committee debated the proposals for changes to the Queen Edith’s Way/ Fendon/Mowbray Road roundabout, and to the pavements and cycleways on Queen Edith’s Way. Queen Edith’s Way residents Dara Morefield, Richard Martin and Tim Moore all spoke at the meeting, and I was sitting on the committee that day.

The QE Way/ Fendon/ Mowbray Rd roundabout proposals were AGREED. The proposals for cycleways on Queen Edith’s Way to replace the shared pavements were DEFERRED. The Council will now set up a Local Liaison Forum to develop alternative options better suited to Queen Edith’s Way and those who live and travel on it. This will include residents, as well as councillors and council officers.

You can read the decision notice of the meeting here.

The meeting was recorded by Antony Carpen, with sponsorship by the Federation of Cambridge Residents Associations. You can view it on YouTube here.

City Deal consultation starts today

City DealThe Greater Cambridge City Deal is a partnership between central and local government to deliver new infrastructure in Cambridge and the sub-region.

It is managed by a board comprising leaders of the councils in the area (Lewis Herbert, Steve Count and Frances Burkitt), plus representatives from the universities and business. They have just launched proposals to tackle rush hour congestion and are proposing eight initiatives. Some of the proposals have had a mixed reception, particularly bus lanes at the expenses of trees. One that has generated a lot of controversy in this area has been the congestion checkpoints, which would block major roads at peak times, incuding Hills Road.

The package includes:

  1. Better bus services and expanded use of Park & Ride
  2. Better pedestrian and cycling infrastructure
  3. Improved public space and air quality
  4. Peak-time Congestion Control Points (PCCPs)
  5. A Workplace Parking Levy
  6. On-street parking controls
  7. Smart technology
  8. Travel planning

These proposals aim to transform people’s ability to travel into, out of and around Cambridge by providing more efficient, safe and reliable capacity for travel, without the need to get in a car.

There is more information on the City Deal’s website and at community hubs and employment locations across Cambridge, South Cambridge and beyond. A series of events and exhibitions are being held including three in Queen Edith’s:

Addenbrooke’s Concourse tomorrow, 12th July

Babraham Road Park & Ride site 13th July

St John’s Church, 20th July

80K Elected Mayor? No thank you!

why

www.notoamayor.org.uk

The good news: The Government is proposing to devolve some powers, giving Cambridgeshire and Peterborough control over funding for new housing, transport and other infrastructure.

The bad news: in return, they are demanding we have an elected mayor. Unlike ceremonial mayors, elected mayors take executive decisions. The government’s plan is for an elected mayor to lead the new combined authority that would take decisions on the spending.

The Liberal Democrats have opposed having an elected mayor, at Cambridgeshire County Council and in other councils in the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough area (see my post on Peterborough City Council’s meeting). We have voted against the proposals, but have been outvoted by the Labour and Conservative parties.

I spoke on the elected mayor element at an extraordinary meeting of Cambridgeshire County Council on Tuesday.

Devolution is meant to be a step forward for democracy, but elected mayors are a step backwards, making government more remote from the people it serves. An individual representing a million people is not likely to have more than a superficial knowledge of local areas.

It is dangerous to concentrate power into the hands of one individual, especially as the proposals we have provide for no right of recall. I fear there is a risk of slipping into ‘personality politics’.

Ironically, it was that great populist Tony Blair who introduced elected mayors in 2000. But even he didn’t force them upon local areas: if cities wanted a mayor they had to get 5% of the population to sign a petition for a referendum, and only if that referendum was passed would a mayor be introduced. Out of 40 referendums, only 13 cities said yes. I remember that the Labour party in Cambridge tried to get a petition up for a mayor, though as we never saw it, we assume they couldn’t get enough signatures.

As there haven’t been any successful petitions anywhere else in Cambridgeshire or Peterborough, it looks as though people here don’t want an elected mayor.

We are told ‘a mayor is necessary’, but why? Why can’t the new combined authority just elect a chair from its own members? The case for an elected mayor has not been made.

We hear the mayor is going to have a salary of £60-80,000 and have an office costing about £300,000. And this after huge cuts to essential services to children’s services and social care!

I applaud the devolving of powers and welcome the extra funding for infrastructure, especially for new houses. But we must say that we do not want an elected mayor on a big salary. I think the public is very unlikely to support that.

UPDATE: Sign the Liberal Democrat petition opposing an elected mayor.

Be a streetscape designer!

There was a good response to last year’s consultation on improving cycling and pedestrian facilities on Queen Edith’s Way. The County Council has arranged a stakeholders’ workshop at The Netherhall School Sports Centre on 15th March to look at the results, and to consider what is feasible given the widths of the carriageway, verge and footway/cycleway. There will be an opportunity to do a bit of road and streetscape designing. The scheme will include improvements to the Queen Edith’s Way/Fendon Road roundabout and the approach on Queen Edith’s Way to the Robin Hood junction.

The conclusions of the workshop will shape the design options proposed in the full public consultation in June. If you would like to attend, contact me for the details.

Wort’s Causeway: Council digging holes

Wort's Causeway dig 1People living in or travelling through Wort’s Causeway may have noticed the fields on each side being dug up. The previously tranquil meadows are now pitted with trenches and orange netting, as well as a jolly blue loo on the western side of the road.

Wort's Causeway Dig 5This is part of an archaeological survey, being carried out at this time of year while the fields are free of crops to establish whether there is anything of archaeological interest in the location.

The archaeologists will be on site until Friday and there will then backfilling work for a few more days.

Wort's Causeway Dig 5

The status of the land is still green belt until and unless the Local Plan determines otherwise. As Queen Edith’s county councillor I have made other councillors aware of the strong local opposition to development. When the land was discussed at the Council last year, I said it was insensitive (not to mention rash) to do any work relating to future building on this land before the Plan was settled. You can read my comments here.Wort's Causeway 4

The Tory councillors ignored objections this and gave officers the go-ahead to draw up a business case for future development. They are primarily interested in the revenue potential of the land rather than its community asset value.

I am nevertheless assured by the powers that be that ‘nothing has happened’ on the scheme. I shall continue to investigate, as it certainly doesn’t look like’ nothing’ to me.