Lib Dems demand inquiry on Koragate – but Labour back Tories

Cambridgeshire Liberal Democrats yesterday called for full independent scrutiny of the failed deal with Kora to run part of Cambridge Central Library.

In a full debate at Shire Hall yesterday, we insisted that an independent review is the only way to regain public trust after the disaster of the Regus-Kora misadventure, when the County was on the verge of signing a contract with a disqualified company director.

Disappointingly, Cambridge’s Labour councillors voted with UKIP and the Conservatives for an “in house” investigation.

Lib Dem Cllr Barbara Ashwood led our call for ain independent review into the handling of the library enterprise centre.

“We believe that multiple failings in the course of this process, including a large number of secret meetings between Kora and council officers have brought this council into disrepute,” she said.

“Only a fully independent review of the whole process, outside of the council itself, will truly allow the public to trust that the matter has been dealt with properly.”

I seconded the amendment, saying: “The Tories should not pretend that they dropped the project because of lack of public support. They were happy enough to vote it through in the face of a 4,000 signature petition and an overwhelming number of objections. It was only put on hold when a member of the public discovered that the director of the company was serving a disqualification – a fact that had eluded the council despite 37 meetings.

“The fact is the deal was only stopped when independent blogger Phil Rodgers unearthed that Kora’s lead negotiator was banned from being a company director.

“The reason we are having this debate today is that the processes and procedures of this council have been found wanting. We need an independent inquiry to restore the trust of the public, not the council investigating itself.”

Lighting up time for the Guided Busway

Most people in Cambridgeshire have heard of the Guided Busway that runs between Trumpington, Huntingdon and St Ives – even if not always for the reasons its creators would like. Sadly, one of the country’s most ambitious transport projects has been blighted by poor project management, leading to legal wrangles that have cost the county millions of pounds in interest alone.

It’s not all bad news. The guided buses have attracted more passengers than forecast. And one of the unexpected bonuses of the Busway has been the bridleway running alongside it, well used in the three years that the Busway has been open. Completely separated from traffic it provides a convenient and safe route, and it’s well used both by pedestrians and cyclists.

But it is not reaching its full potential. It could be better used still – were it lit. Illumination would make it safe for cycling and walking on at all hours, all year round. Back in 2012, people I know in the community and at work asked me to see if I could get lighting installed. In the winter months, it is pitch black at the end of the working day, and not much better at the beginning. Many people working at Addenbrooke’s start early in the morning and can get caught at both ends of the day. (more…)