Celebrating trees … with talks and tea in Hills Road

human tree

A young tree Ambassador

As the old Chinese proverb goes, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”

If you love trees and enjoy the benefits they bring to the environment, then come and join in the fun next Saturday (24th November). The creative Hills Road Residents Association is putting on an event to celebrate both National Tree Week AND the first planting of new trees.

Cambridge City Council will be planting the first 4 of 44 new street trees in the grass verges in Hills Road — a mixture of Zelkova and Persian ironwood trees that are known for giving good autumn colour.

The trees are being planted to take their place as the next generation of trees in Hills Road. Apart from their natural beauty, they will bring other benefits, notably mitigating the effects of climate change. City Council Tree Officer Matthew Magrath* will be speaking on why Cambridge needs more trees, and there will also be a talk by Cambridge’s Tree Ambassadors about why trees are important.

There’ll be a chance to chat and to enjoy tea, coffee, cakes and biscuits too. Download more details here: Cambridge tree planting invitation .pptx.

11 a.m. Saturday 24th November, St John the Evangelist Church, Hills Road.

Matthew Magrath of Cambridge City Council writes:

Most trees in the City grow in gardens. So if you have space in your garden please consider planting a tree to enhance Cambridge’s unique urban forest. If you live in Cambridge you can also claim a free tree on behalf of your child of up to four years old through the Council’s Free Tree for Babies scheme. Happy planting.

There’s another tree treat on 2nd December, when the Queen Edith’s Community Forum is holding a Tree Dressing Day, celebrating the contribution that trees make. They promise lights, decorations, songs and stories. They are also asking us to come up with tree-related sayings, to hang on the trees — get your thinking caps on and post your leafy lines on the QECF Facebook page.

11 a.m. – 1 p.m., Sunday 2nd December, outside the shops in Wulfstan Way

Cambridge Residents’ Parking: Frequently Asked Questions

Sign

Q: What are the costs of residents’ parking in Cambridge?
A: Residents’ parking schemes are self-funding, ie they are costed to pay for themselves. At present, participating in a residents’ parking scheme starts at just over £1 a week per permit. There are discounts for less polluting vehicles. Each household can buy up to three permits.

Schemes that include weekends and/ or evenings are more expensive than ones running 9-5 Monday to Friday or less.  There is usually a joining fee to cover set-up costs but the Greater Cambridgeshire Partnership is currently funding these.

Q: What about visitors?
A: Residents may purchase up to 20 visitor permits a year, which allow visitors to park for up to 5 days at a cost of £2.40 a day or part of a day. Anyone living in the area of a scheme can apply for visitor permits for their guests. You do not have to have a residents’ parking permit to have a visitors’ permit.

Businesses can apply for permits.

Blue badge holders are entitled to one free annual visitor’s permit.

Q: What happens if I have carers or medical visitors who need to park?
A: There is a free medical permit scheme for people who need visits from relatives or health professionals. Your doctor will need to assess your infirmity or lack of mobility and provide an estimate of the number and frequency of official visits required. There are dispensations for medical professionals who attend emergencies or who carry special equipment.

Q: What happens if I have people working on my house who need to park?
A: Tradespeople are able to purchase one or two permits for the area in which they are working.

Q: What about shops/ schools/ churches?
A: It is possible to include short-stay bays for community facilities as part of a scheme. They should be incorporated at the time the scheme is developed.

Q: Does a residents’ parking scheme guarantee a space?
A: It does not guarantee a space, but it gives residents a better chance of getting a space.

Q: Do you have to join if there’s a scheme in your street?

A: Only if you want to park in one of the on-street residents’ bays. If you have your own private parking, say on a drive, you need not purchase a residents’ permit.

Q: To whom should I report illegal parking?
A: Ring the County Council’s Civil Enforcement team on 01223 727 900. For dangerous parking, eg obstruction, parking on school zig-zags, or in bus lanes and cycle lanes, contact the police on 101.

Q: I am in a car club. Surely I would not have to pay £50+ a year when I only park in the street occasionally?

A: Residents who occasionally use car club vehicles can purchase visitor’s permits, or use the Pay & Display or short-stay bays if they are close enough to be convenient. Some schemes include spaces specifically for car club vehicles.

See the County Council website for more information including application forms for permits,  and the residents’ parking policy.

Roadworks and events

The County Council has advised me of the following roadworks taking place next week. There are only a few minor works for our area this time.

Check out:

Hills Road

Cherry Hinton Road

There will also be traffic counts taking place.

Please see the attachment for details of all roadworks in Cambridge, so you can vary your route if necessary. CITY 1-15 MAY

Residents’ parking comes to Queen Edith’s

Work has begun on a residents’ parking scheme. The new scheme will be known as ‘Morley’ after the primary school on Blinco Grove – and will ipso facto also share a name with Liberal MP and founder of Homerton College, Samuel Morley. It will include Blinco Grove, Marshall Road, Hartington Grove, Rathmore Road & Close and Rock Road, plus 151-219 Hills Road and Cherry Hinton Road from the Cambridge Leisure junction to no. 196.

The first stage of the installation is putting up signs near the bays explaining the restrictions –10am –7pm Monday-Friday. During these times you may only park with a permit.

The signs are a legal requirement, and need to be near the parking bays to allow the County Council to enforce the restrictions and to protect itself against challenges by motorists. There are rules about the distances between the signs and the height of the poles on which the signs are mounted.

I know that some people have been unhappy about the positioning of the poles so I caught up with the contractors this morning to have a chat. They’re very approachable and said they’d had a friendly reception from most people, and even a few cups of tea.

They work to instructions from the Council about where they put the poles, and that has to comply with national regulations – but it is sometimes possible to tweak the positioning, bearing in mind other constraints such as services under the ground. If you are unable to talk to the contractors, please drop me an email and I’ll do what I can to help.

The next stage will be painting residents’ bays, white H-markings and yellow lines, and the scheme is set to launch on 3rd November.

Residents’ parking scheme about to launch

After many years of discussion and debate – plus plenty of legwork – residents’ parking is about to arrive in Queen Edith’s. It has been named the ‘Morley’ residents’ parking scheme after the excellent Morley Memorial Primary School in Blinco Grove; and it will include the streets from Elsworth Place to Blinco Grove inclusive, plus the stretches of the main roads that link those streets. The new scheme will operate Monday-Friday, 10am-7pm. See here for a guide: Parking_Guide___Morley_Area_2017

The new scheme will give residents priority parking within their area but it also takes into account the needs of local businesses and community facilities such as Rock Road Library.

The scheme will officially launch on 1st November. Residents can apply on the County Council’s website for permits for themselves and / or guests to park within the zone. Residents’ annual permits are £50 each.

I have been working with residents and officers for a long time on this and given the majority support shown when the Council consulted last year, I’m pleased that the scheme is coming in. It will give local residents a better chance of parking near their homes – very important, especially for people with medical/ care needs, or with young children — but it will also bring road safety improvements, reduce congestion and air pollution, and generally improve the local environment for everyone.

The other good news is that there will be no joining fees. Usually people pay a starter fee when they buy their first permit on top of the cost of the permit itself. Following requests from myself and from the Hills Road Residents’ Association, the Greater Cambridge Partnership (City Board) has agreed to fund the implementation costs.

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.

Hills Road Bridge cycle lanes to be suspended this summer

I am sorry to have to bring news of yet more roadworks: a continuation of the current UKPN works in Cherry Hinton Road, across to Brooklands Avenue, to run electric cabling to the new Cambridge Assessment HQ that is being built on Shaftesbury Road.

Unfortunately the works will involve withdrawal of the cycle lane in the middle of the Hills Road bridge, which has obvious safety implications. There’s already problems with speeding on the bridge, with no noticeable enforcement of speed limits by the police. Please share any observations about increased speeding or other traffic issues with me.

The County Council tell me that work is scheduled to start on Saturday 22 July and last approximately four weeks on Hills Road and two weeks on Brooklands Avenue. Here is their rundown on what is planned:

Before the cable work can begin, contractors will remove two kerbed islands on Hills Road Bridge to allow two-way traffic to remain in place on Hills Road. This will happen week beginning 17 July, for approximately three nights to minimise disruption to daytime traffic.

The electricity work will be carried out in three phases by UK Power Networks:

Phase 1: work at the junction of Cherry Hinton Road will require temporary traffic signals and delays should be expected. Drivers are asked to allow extra time for their journeys. Also, work will start on 22 July in Clarendon Road, Fitzwilliam Road and Shaftesbury Road. When the work takes place in Clarendon Road and Fitzwilliam Road parking will need to be temporarily suspended.

Phase 2: work on Hills Road Bridge. Two-way traffic will be maintained but the cycle lanes will be suspended so motorists and cyclists should take extra care and delays should be minimal.

Phase 3: work at the junction with Brooklands Avenue and along Brooklands Avenue. Temporary traffic signals will be in place for this phase and delays should be expected. Drivers are asked to allow extra time for their journeys.

UK Power Networks will be working longer hours and weekends to reduce the overall duration and may work from 7.30am until midnight if required. Noise will be kept to a minimum between 8pm and midnight.

If you have concerns about the management of the works, contact UKPN on 0800 0284587 and [email protected]<[email protected].

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.

Using Addenbrooke’s access road? You could be fined.

The Addenbrooke’s access road is experiencing increased volumes of traffic unconnected with the Biomedical Campus – no doubt in desperation at the never-ending delays on Hills Road. The NHS Trust management say that 400-650 vehicles a day are using the road as a rat-run, rather than to access the hospital – although they do not say how the journey purpose is established.

They have announced that from 22nd May, drivers using the road as a short-cut will be hit with a £50 fine, using data from Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras.  The enforcement will apply to Addenbrooke’s Road at its intersection with Dame Mary Archer Way and Frances Crick Avenue at the roundabout, Robinson Way, Adrian Way and the main drive from Hills Road.

More on the Morley Residents’ Parking Plan

On the 14th March the Cambridge City Joint Area Committee (CJAC), composed of county and city Labour and Lib Dem councillors, approved the County Council’s Parking Plan for this area. This is the final stage of the process before implementation. At present the timetable is not fixed, but installation is expected within the next few months.

I want to thank everyone for their input into this difficult exercise. There is no perfect solution, but the plan drawn up by the council’s Parking Policy Manager should improve the parking situation for most residents. The council survey conducted in November last year showed 59% in favour, with 35% against. This favourable vote followed a similar result in the informal survey I ran about a year earlier.

I know many of you opposed the plan for a variety of reasons. All objections and suggestions were put before the CJAC in summary form, with commentary. One common issue raised was the question of whether there had been sufficient consultation. You may find it helpful to see this summary of the information and consultation process that has taken place over the last 18 months:

  • November 2015 An unofficial survey by me, to local residents. This showed strong support for residents’ parking in principle (62% For, 30% Against)
  • February 2016 Information meeting at St John’s Church. It was chaired by me, with the Cambridge Parking Policy Manager present. It had a good mixture of people for and against a residents’ parking scheme
  • November 2016 The formal council parking plan was delivered to every household in the area, with an invitation to express support or opposition.
  • The parking plan, with information about how residents’ parking works, was on display at Rock Road  Library
  • January 2017 The result of the formal survey was announced, showing a substantial vote in favour of  the residents’ parking plan (59% for, 35% against)
  • January 2017 The formal council letter advertising the Traffic Regulation Orders (TRO) was delivered to every household, posted in the street, and advertised in the local press. People were invited to put  forward material objections to the plan.
  • There has been publicity in the Queen Edith’s Community News, the Lib Dem Focus newsletter, and in local newspapers.
  • The parking situation was covered on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire and in ITV’s Parking Wars.
  • Four leaflets have been circulated by local residents, two for and two against the plan.
  • On top of all this I have personally dealt with a few hundred emails sent to me about residents’ parking.

The Council invited residents to put their names forward, if they wished to speak at the 14 March committee meeting. Three residents did so: two for and one against.

Two other principal areas of concern were raised in the TRO process: pavement parking in Marshall Road and whether the plan provided sufficient residents’ parking bays. Here is how the Council responded:

Why is pavement/footway parking not being considered, when it is permitted in other parts of the city such as Romsey?
Cambridgeshire County Council is proposing that pavement parking is only considered in exceptional circumstances where there is no impact on safety or pedestrian movement and where the underlying construction is suitable for vehicle parking. Parking on pavements:

  •  Creates a hazard for the visually impaired, disabled and elderly people and those with prams and pushchairs
  • Ÿ Creates safety issues for pedestrians and can hide other vehicles particularly on bends, narrow roads
    and at junctions.
  • Ÿ Can cause damage to the footway.

As the proposed scheme reduces the overall parking spaces available particularly in Marshall Road, will there be sufficient space for residents and visitors?
Parking in Marshall Road, in its current form, is unsustainable and could represent hazards to all road  users not only now but in the future. In order to regulate parking effectively for the benefit of all highway  users it will be necessary to make changes which will ultimately limit and reduce overall car parking on  the street. Whilst this is regrettable, the safety of all highway users should take primacy over the  availability of car parking spaces.

Looking at the plans, the following parking spaces are available (based on average vehicle length of 5m)

Marshall Road 39
Hartington Grove 108
Blinco Grove 100
Magnolia Close 7
Rock Road 28
Rathmore Road 67
Rathmore Close 4
TOTAL 353

A recent parking survey was carried out across Cambridge by a company called Mott MacDonald. This survey showed 291 spaces (in Rock Road,  Blinco Grove, Hartington Grove, Marshall Road and Rathmore Road) were occupied by residents (the count was completed at 5.30am, a time when the number of commuters would be negligible and the number of residents would be at their maximum). This indicates that there would be space available for all resident permit holders even with the number of spaces reduced as a result of the  introduction of public safety, access and junction protection.

I hope this helps answer some of the main objections raised. As you can see, even with Marshall Road no  longer able to park on the pavement the council’s’figures above show that with the plan there is a clear  number of extra spaces available for residents and visitors: 353 – 291 = 62.

The Parking Policy Manager’s report to the CJAC is 31 pages long. It can be viewed on line on the County Council’s website.