Local Highways Improvements

Cambridgeshire County Council Local Highways Improvement programme funds improvements to roads and pavements, such as traffic calming, parking restrictions, speed limit changes and footway and pedestrian crossing improvements costing up to £10,000. It is a competitive process and councillors have to assess bids for Queen Edith’s with bids across the city, but we have been succesful over the past few years, for example parking restrictions have been introduced in Strangeways Road, Netherhall Way, Glebe and Holbrook Roads. See my rolling update on the parking restriction schemes.

It is not a speedy process: the bids are assessed early 2019 and officers don’t start work on the successful ones until the spring. What with consultation on the detail and the legal procedures associated with Traffic Regulation Orders, the whole thing takes about 18 months from the date the bid goes in to completion of scheme, sometimes longer.

The County’s ‘Improve Your Local Highway’ web pages provide full information on the Local Highway Improvement (LHI) Initiative and the online application form. The closing date for applications is July 2018, following which you will be contacted by the Council to look at the feasibility of your application in more detail. Your final application will then be presented to the LHI Member Advisory Panel in the New Year.

If you have an idea for a bid and would like to talk about it, please contact me, George, Jennifer or Colin.

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.

Yellow lines update

Last year, there were several successful bids to the  County Council Local Highways Improvement Initiative for this area.  Council highways officers have been working up plans, and I now have provisional drawings for:

  1. Netherhall Way Netherhall & Chalk parking restrictions
  2. Chalk Grove Netherhall & Chalk parking restrictions
  3. Beaumont Road Beaumont Road parking restrictions
  4. Lichfield Road * Lichfield Rd parking restrictions and Lichfield Road parking restrictions V2
  5. Topcliffe Way Topcliffe Way DYL 001-1

You can view these drawings by clicking on the links. If you, or anyone you know, would like to look at a printout, please let me know.

The next stage will be for a Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) describing the changes to be advertised in the local paper and in the street. If there are no objections, the scheme will go ahead; if there are objections, then they will be determined by the Cambridge Joint Area Committee.

We await drawings for Cavendish Avenue and Godwin Way

  • Credit due to Cllrs Noel Kavanagh and Rosie Moore for the Lichfield Road bids; I am taking over where they left off.

Highways improvements: clean sweep for Queen Edith’s

Eight out of eight bids for highways improvements in Queen Edith’s have made it to the list of funded projects for the coming year – including one which made the top ten for the whole city.

I have been working with local residents to get funding for various small highways schemes, under the County Council’s Local Highways Initiative, which funds schemes up to £10,000. We had to submit the bids last autumn and they were scored by a panel of councillors in January.

A bid for mobile speed signs in Queen Edith’s Way was the top-scoring bid in our area. Many thanks to QEW resident Ken Hart, who put the bid together, and addressed councillors on the day. Speeding is a continual cause of concern in Queen Edith’s Way, especially at the Hills Road end.

The other bids were for parking restrictions, to address concerns raised by residents in many streets:

Cars on the grass

  •  Topcliffe Way, where vehicles park on the grassed island
  • Godwin Way, where vehicles park on the grass outside the school and too close to the junction with Wulfstan Way
  • Netherhall Way and Chalk Grove, to tackle double parking and junction parking
  • Cavendish Avenue, to tackle double parking and junction parking
  • Beaumont Road to tackle junction parking
  • Lichfield Road– submitted by Coleridge ward councillors

Many thanks to all the residents who provided evidence for the bids, especially those who attended and spoke at the council meeting.

Highways improvements

zebraDo you have a suggestion for improving our roads and pavements, such as traffic calming, a zebra crossing or parking restrictions?

Cambridgeshire County Council operates a Local Highway Improvement (LHI) programme that funds small schemes costing up to £10,000. It is a competitive process and bids are scored by councillors, but some bids for funding from this area have been awarded funding, even though we have yet to see the results.

The application form has recently been updated and is now online at http://www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/lhi. You can download a guidance document with examples of what has been funded in the past.

The closing date for applications is Wednesday 30th November 2016. If you have a suggestion you would like to discuss, please get in touch with me, or contact the County Council direct by emailing [email protected]

Fendon Road roundabout resurfacing

road-closureCambridgeshire County Council will be resurfacing the Queen Edith’s Way /Fendon Road /Mowbray Road roundabout next weekend, 14th-15th February 2015.

The works will start at 18.00 on Saturday evening. The roundabout will remain closed with access to residents maintained at all times, and for the emergency services.

Any questions, please contact the County Council Highways Department.

Balfour Beatty — lighting contract is not working that brilliantly

Has your street had new lighting yet?

We are in Phase II of the County Council streetlight replacement programme, the PFI which replaces all the lights in the county with new ones, in the interests of cutting energy costs by 50%. Phase II is going a bit better than Phase I, but I am hearing about lots of problems.

While the idea is excellent – new lights using half as much energy – it is being badly handled by the contractors, Balfour Beatty, to whom the Council has handed responsibility for communication and consultation with residents as well as implementing the programme. Plans of which lights are staying or going are highly technical and you need to look at them on line – not possible for everyone. Notice is short, while if you contact their Customer Services Department you get an auto-message promising an answer in ten working days – locking the door after the horse has bolted in many cases.

The contract was written a long time ago, and failed to take into account the needs of vulnerable people, the historic nature of our city, and had no ‘wiggle room’. The Tory councillor in charge of Highways infrastructure admitted yesterday, ‘If I had the opportunity to rewrite that contract, I would.’

I am concerned about one particular street in our area, where a light will be removed outside the home of someone with a disability – in a road which has had more than its fair share of burglaries. There are cracked pavements and removing the light could put the safety of disabled and elderly residents at risk.

Residents want to see the light retained or others repositioned so that it doesn’t leave such a big gap, but there is little room for flexibility.

And in Blinco Grove, one of the city’s 19th century streets, the elegant cast iron street lights are being replaced with modern ones as a safety measure. Residents value the distinctiveness of the old lights and believe that if they must be replaced, the new lights should be in keeping with the historic street. The lights are scheduled to be removed on Friday (21st Feb), which leaves no time for residents to respond to the consultation, especially as many families are on school half term.

I have asked for the removal to be delayed so people can be briefed on the need for replacement and give them time to identify funding for lights of a more traditional style.

Yellow lines coming soon

TROAddenbrooke’s is an outstanding hospital, but the thousands of cars it attracts pose a problem for those of us living nearby, earning the south of Queen Edith’s the sobriquet of the ‘Addenbrooke’s Overflow Car Park’.

Last year, Cambridgeshire County Council advertised a raft of parking restrictions, some new yellow lines and some extensions of existing ones, for example, making them effective seven days a week instead of just Monday to Friday.

I have been pushing the Council’s Highways officers to get on with the restrictions that they advertised last year as the first step of the Parking Review. Most of these were agreed last spring under Geoff Heathock’s watch as county councillor, but the yellow paint has still not hit the streets.

The officers are now making and sealing traffic regulation orders for new and extended yellow lines in the following streets:

The Council plan is to have the yellow lines in operation week beginning 16th January, weather permitting. I had hoped to have them in place before Christmas, but given we are getting so close, the decision has been taken to wait until the New Year, so as not to make life difficult for your Christmas visitors.

Hills Road VI Form College is another car magnet, and the roads off Hills Road are used by students and staff during the day, particularly inconvenient for those who do not have their own drives. Some of these roads are very narrow and the Fire Service has raised concerns.

I have asked officers to propose some solutions, and they will be consulting in the New Year.

Roundabout survey this Thursday: can you help?

Amanda at Fendon Rd roundabout

Amanda at Fendon Rd roundabout

The Fendon Road roundabout near Addenbrooke’s Hospital is a cause of concern to many local residents, and we have been asked for a pedestrian crossing, as well as safety improvements to the roundabout, which has one of the worst accident records in the city (34 crashes in one 5-year period).

Local campaigner Dr Tim Moore monitored traffic one morning during rush hour. In just one hour, he saw more than 300 cyclists pass through the area and more than 150 pedestrians, many of them school and college students. He also witnessed two near-miss accidents involving pedestrians and a further incident where a cyclist was forced to jump onto the pavement to avoid being hit by a vehicle.

Here is a video taken by cycling teacher Rad Wagon, showing the volume and speed of traffic: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RLB8aKMmqZU

Dr Moore is working with me and fellow local councillor George Pippas, and we are working on Cambridgeshire County Council to make safety improvements.

To provide evidence, we shall be carrying out a traffic survey this Thursday, counting vehicles, bikes and pedestrians, covering Fendon Road, Mowbray Road and Queen Edith’s Way during both rush hours. We’ll present our findings to Cambridgeshire County Council highways officers.

Thank you to all those who have offered to help. We could still do with a few more people. Could you spare 15-30 minutes on Thursday afternoon? If you can, please email our Survey Co-ordinator, Dr Tim Moore: [email protected], or phone him on 07973 882121.

Mowbray Road resurfacing work and closure rescheduled for SUNDAY

Despite informing us that the road closure and resurfacing would take place yesterday (Thursday), the County Council have this morning said that the work will now take place on Sunday 7th July. This is due to administrative errors and failure to take into account other works taking place in the area.

To recap, the County will be carrying out surface dressing of Mowbray Road. Their contractors did some preparatory work in June, and they now need to carry out the second stage, overlaying the road surface with a plymer-modified bitumen and covering it with aggregate or chippings. This is to seal the surface to keep water out and improve the road’s ability to stand up to its heavy usage.

There will be people at the end of the road to give access to properties for residents and businesses, though it won’t be immediate and you may have to wait a bit.  Other traffic will have a signed diversion: Cherry Hinton Road, A1307 Hills Road and A1134 Queen Edith’s Way and vice versa. Cyclists will be able to wheel their bikes along the pavement.

Also scheduled for repairs are Babraham Road and Cherry Hinton Road. Hills Road will be resurfaced in August.