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.

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.

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.

The disappearing bus – now U see it, now U don’t

universal

graduation_cap_with_a_question_mark_education_stock_photo_slide01

The Stagecoach Uni 4 bus between Addenbrooke’s and Madingley Road has been replaced by a new service run by Whippet, known simply as the ‘U’. We are disappointed to hear that Whippet is changing the route so that the bus will no longer go down Hills Road. This will leave out several hundred residents, including staff and students of Homerton College. I have written to Whippet to ask them to reconsider.

Parking survey in the Morley area

Working witMarshall Roadh residents, I am surveying the streets in the north of Queen Edith’s on parking problems.

The streets suffer from a daily influx of visitors: students, office workers, shoppers, Leisure Centre visitors – and even hospital staff. This severely limits the parking spaces for  local people, and there has also been dangerous parking, cars on the pavement, blocked drives, damage and petty crime.

Parking is a problem throughout Queen Edith’s, but it makes life particularly difficult in the older housing opposite the sixth form college and Homerton, as many of the houses have no drives.

Parking controls for some streets in the area have been agreed twice, in 2004 and 2009, but then not implemented by the County Council due to policy changes.

Residents ran a petition to Hills Road VI Form College earlier this year asking them to stop their students from parking in residential streets. I am working with some of the residents and with County Council officers  charged with addressing parking issues in Cambridge. Following a meeting and a walkabout with the officers, we are now gauging the support for parking controls – which could include a residents’ parking scheme*. If you live between Blinco Grove and Rathmore Road, you should receive a survey through your letterbox soon.

*For more information on how residents’ parking schemes work, including permits for visitors and medical professionals, see http://www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/info/20018/parking_permits_and_fines/9/parking/2

Hills Road cycle lanes: Frequently Asked Questions

Hills Road cycle lanesCambridgeshire County Council’s new cycle lanes on Hills Road have generated a record number of questions and concerns. Here are some of the most common ones:

Q: Why is Cambridgeshire County Council doing this?

A: The County wishes to enhance cycleways in order to meet the needs of the rapidly growing population, which will result in more traffic. The County would like to keep the extra motorised traffic to a minimum and encourage other modes of transport. Similar schemes have substantially increased cycling in other areas, particularly amongst children.

Q: How is it being funded?

A: Through central government’s Cycle City Ambition Fund.

Q: Who approved it?

A: County Council Highways officers identified Hills and Huntingdon Roads as main routes into Cambridge that would benefit from enhancement. The scheme was first presented to Cambridgeshire County Council’s Economy and Environment Committee in May 2014. Councillors deferred it as they were unhappy with elements of the scheme including the floating bus stops, and changes were made. It was passed in July 2014 at the second time of asking, with an undertaking to conduct traffic surveys before and after implementation, an amendment I requested, in order to assess the level of rat-running as a result of the narrower road carriageway. One survey was done last year and another will be done after completion.

Q: Will any trees be felled?
A: The County Council has stated categorically that no trees will be felled. Some pruning of vegetation that encroaches onto the public highway may be necessary.

Q: Will new rubbish bins be provided at bus stops?
A: Providing litter bins is a City Council responsibility. The County Project Team is discussing with City Council about replacement of old bins with new ones and other locations where a new bin may be desirable.

IMAG1839Q: How will works across junction mouths be organised?
A: Junctions are being closed off at weekends to allow works to be safely and quickly undertaken. Letterdrops to residents and advanced warning notices inform those affected at least one week in advance.

Q: How will work on junction mouths of cul de sacs be organised?
A: Junction works to be constructed one half at a time with access maintained into/out of the cul de sac.

Q: Could the concrete layby near Glebe Road be used as a bus stop?
A: This layby is halfway between two other bus stops so if a bus stop went there, the other two stops would be removed, meaning bus users would have a long walk to the next stop.

Q: What consultation took place before this scheme was agreed?
A: The proposals were advertised in FOCUS, as well as via a streetletter from myself to all residents in Hills Road and several of the side roads. The County Council delivered leaflets with feedback forms to a wide local area and held local staffed events in March 2014. Drawings and information on the proposed scheme were put on the County Council website, together with contact details.  The Team also had information stalls at Hills Road VI Form College, Long Road VI Form College and at an Addenbrooke’s Sustainability Event.

In November 2014 the County Cycling Team wrote again to residents inviting them to a pre-construction event at Rock Road Library — an opportunity to find out about boundary issues, construction sequence etc.  This event was well attended by residents of Hills Road. The letter included details of where the final drawings could be seen on the website and asked residents to provide email addresses if they wanted updates on the scheme.

Q: What will happen when there are weddings and funerals at the church? What about hearses and wedding cars?
A: The Cycling Team has been liaising with St John’s Church. During construction, the cycleway works will be left in an appropriate state to accommodate wedding cars and hearses. After completion, wedding cars and hearses will be able to park for the duration of services, as the new cycle lanes are not ‘mandatory’ and there are no loading restrictions attached to the double yellow lines.

Q: Is the width of the carriageway being reduced?
A: Yes, the carriageway width is being reduced, to 6m.

Q: Will there be a loss of grass verges?
A: The roadside verges next to the road will go, but there is a half metre sedum strip between the cycleway and the footway on both sides of the road.

On the outbound side of Hills Road, the verges next to the houses will be largely the same except where space is needed for the floating bus stops.   On the citybound side (the side with the current shared-use cycle/footway) the verges next to the houses are increasing.

Here is a link to the drawings showing details:
On the west side of Hills Road (S to N), from No. 284 to 256, and from 248 to 228, a 800 or 900mm wide strip of footway will be turned into new verge. From No. 226 to Homerton College this strip widens to between 1.4 and 1.6m and then it is about 2.5m wide running past Homerton College. On the east side (S to N),  there are no significant areas of new verge until you get to the block north of Glebe Road, No.s 253 to 247 have 1.2m wide new verges. Re. the loss of those verges on the residence side of the footway, the only real areas where there is loss of verge is near the floating bus stops (and to some extent near crossings) but this does vary depending on the location.

Q: Was Cambridge City Council consulted?
A: The City Council is a statutory consultee for every cycling project within Cambridge.   The Project Team was keen to gain the input of City’s Urban Design team on the Huntingdon Road and Hills Road schemes – a meeting with the City’s Head of Urban Design was arranged before the schemes were approved and, in neither case were concerns raised about the proposals.

Q: Are our streetlights being replaced to facilitate the cycleway scheme?
A: No, the streetlighting on Hills Road is not being replaced as a result of the cycleway scheme but as part of the County’s streetlighting replacement programme – as such, the lighting along the whole length of Hills Road is being updated to conform with new British standards.

Q: At present, the pavement cycleway on the northbound side of Hills Road provides a convenient way of turning into Luard Road. Won’t the new arrangement be more dangerous?
A: The main carriageway on Hills Road will be narrowed to 6m, which should reduce traffic speeds. Equally, the speeds of vehicles exiting side roads should be slowed by the tighter turning movements required by the new scheme.

The Road Safety Audit 2 did not raise any issues about the changes to this junction, nor the removal of the shared-use foot/cycleway. The new scheme (unlike the shared-use foot/cycleway) gives cyclists on Hills Road priority through the junction with Luard Road so there should be a reduction in the number of cycle-related accidents at this location. Less confident cyclists on Hills Road may choose to pull in and wait on the left side of the new southbound 2.3m cycle lane before turning right. The County Council will monitor the situation and may consider installing a central island that would offer cyclists some protection whilst waiting to turn right.

Q: How will it be made clear that vehicles cannot drive across or park on the cycleway?

A: Cycle symbols will be added to the cycle lane and double yellow lines will be painted on the main carriageway (next to the outside edge of the cycle lane) to prevent parking in the new lane. This work should be taking place on the northbound side in  November 2015.

Q: How will the construction for the southbound side of Hills Road be handled?

A: The intention is to keep the citybound shared-use path open whilst the outbound works are carried out – to ensure safety for cyclists and pedestrians during the construction phase. The footpath work will be done first, then the cycleway and ‘Cambridge kerb’.

Q: Whom do I contact for more information?
A: If it is an operational matter, contact Grant Weller at Cambridgeshire County Council: [email protected] If your question is about consultation or general principles, contact Mike Davies: [email protected]

MONDAY 5TH OCTOBER: REPORT ON THE PRESENTATION ON CYCLING SCHEMES AT SOUTH AREA MEETING, ST JOHN’S CHURCH, HILLS ROAD.

Hills Road segregated cycleway work has started.

Cambridgeshire County Council is starting to build new segregated and raised cycle lanes on Hills Road. The works are taking place off-peak between 930 and 330pm. The new cycleways are set to be completed in the autumn.

There will be cones and temporary traffic lights during these times to create a safe working area. Whenever possible a cycle lane will be kept open throughout the road works.

Some weekend closures of the side roads will also be necessary to enable the works to be carried out with the least disruption to motor traffic — but not until the spring. Here is a list of planned closures:Floating Bus stop leaflet_main page

Hills Rd closures

As part of the scheme, all the bus stops along this stretch will have new bus shelters.

Concerns have been raised recently about the amount of grass verge being lost, as well as the siting of the new bus stops. A group of Hills Road residents and I met the Cycling Team last week and discussed various issues.

For changes to the original scheme to address safety concerns, see my previous post here.

If you did not get to one of thepublic exhibitions showing the plans, here are some technical drawings of the road layouts, as displayed

Cycle lanes_C_5040001_HW_EL_012_REV G-2

Cycle lanes_C_5040001_HW_EL_011_REV G-3

Cycle lanes_C_5040001_HW_EL_010_REV G-5

Speaking up for nursing mothers

The breastfeeding drop-in group that meets at Homerton Children’s Centre has been told it will have to close at Christmas due to funding cuts. Today, I took the campaign to Shire Hall, and urged councillors responsible for health and children’s services to help me identify funding to keep it going. I have received assurances that the issue of how breastfeeding support is funded in the county will be explored and I am very much hoping we can find alternative sources of funding for the group based at Cambridge’s Homerton Children’s Centre.

I am deeply concerned by the decision to cut this group’s funding. It’s short-sighted, and probably will not even save any money, as the children may miss out on the long-term health benefits of breast-feeding.  It is a well-documented fact that breast-feeding boosts a child’s immunity making it less susceptible to developing allergies and it is so important for bonding between mother and baby.

I visited the group recently and discovered that it not only serves mothers in this area, but all over the city and beyond, offering advice and helping mothers finding it difficult to breastfeed.

Organisers of the group are campaigning to have its funding reinstated and have so far raised more than £900 in donations towards a £5,000 target which will allow it to become a charitable organisation and apply for grants. Anyone interested in finding out more or donating can go to: http://bfsupportmatters.org.uk/

 

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Police priorities and 20mph

ASPolice priorities for the south of Cambridge will be set next Monday at the South Area meeting, which will take place at Homerton College, starting at 7.30pm.

Following the election of a new chair, there will be an Open Forum, when anyone can speak or ask a question.

After a report on Cherry Hinton High Street comes the police report and priority-setting. Police will report on their activity over the summer and set priorities for the coming three months.

They have been focussing on the supply of Class A drugs and propose to continue with this. There have been reports of illegal drugs dealing and consumption in Hills Road and I would welcome further feedback on this to present at the meeting.bike burglar

The police also propose to prioritise cycle crime and cycling offences, both of which will be welcomed by many people – not necessarily the same people!

There will be further reports on:

  • the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime & Policing Act and its implications for this area
  • Developers’ contributions
  • consultation on the 20mph project