Queen Edith’s is in Cambridge!

Most people who live in the Queen Edith’s area – the part of Cambridge between Hills and Cherry Hinton Roads and Wort’s Causeway – would agree with me. They are represented by three city councillors (including yours truly), and we pay our council tax and business rates to Cambridge City Council. Queen Edith’s is home to Homerton College, part of the University of Cambridge, and a good proportion of the city’s sixth-form students come to college here every day.

Alone amongst the fourteen wards of the City of Cambridge, we are  assigned to the South Cambridgeshire constituency, and have a different MP from the rest of Cambridge. This makes the Cambridge constituency a very strange shape, rather like Attila the Hun! The incongruity of this is supported by the number of times Queen Edith’s separation from the rest of Cambridge is mentioned when the Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire constituencies are described.

You may have read about the shake-up of constituency boundaries. The Government is cutting down the number of parliamentary constituencies and standardising the number of people in them – a good idea, but it involves a lot of arithmetic and calculation, not all of it with results that recognize natural communities. In future, no Member of Parliament is to represent fewer than 72,810 or more than 80,473 electors. The changes are being worked up by the Boundary Commission and they are expected to be in force by the time of the next General Election in 2015.

The proposals have just been published, and you can read them on the Boundary Commission‘s website. If you prefer to look at a printed copy, then visit Cambridge City Council‘s Customer Services Centre on Regent Street, the Guildhall, or the Council’s South Area Office on Cherry Hinton Road.

They are proposing to keep Queen Edith’s in the South Cambridgeshire constituency, even though new areas are going in, such as Teversham and Fulbourn, and its western flank is being converted into a brand new constituency to be called St Neots. It would seem more logical to move one of the wards in the east of the city – moving the village of Cherry Hinton, for example, would maintain the right numbers in Cambridge and South Cambs, and make more sense geographically.

There will be a series of local hearings: the Cambridge one will be at the Gonville Hotel, 10th-11th November. Alternatively, you can comment on line on the Boundary Commission’s website.

Here is my own representation:

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Health meeting: Time to RSVP, Mr Lansley

Monkey not listening

Following a health debate at the April meeting of Cambridge City Council, Council Leader Sian Reid issued an invitation to attend a public debate on the government’s health ‘reforms’ to both the city’s MPs, Julian Huppert and Andrew Lansley.

Cambridge City MP, Julian Huppert accepted the invitation very quickly, but nearly two months later, we still await a response from the Rt Hon Andrew Lansley, MP for South Cambridgeshire (into which Queen Edith’s falls) but better known as Secretary of State for Health and the architect of the government’s planned changes to health service commissioning.

This is disappointing since here in Queen Edith’s, we have Addenbrooke’s Hospital. The Addenbrooke’s NHS Trust employs some 7,000 staff, many of whom live in the city. The proximity of the hospital also means we have a high proportion of residents with long-term illness.

During the election campaign and since, I fielded questions about the future of the health service from staff concerned about service provision and of course their own jobs. It would be good to hear it from the horse’s mouth.

Following the concerns at his plans voiced at the Lib Dem conference in Birmingham, Mr Lansley declared that he would listen.He said that government will “take the opportunity of a natural break in the passage of the bill to pause, to listen and to engage with all those who want the NHS to succeed”.

What better place to listen and engage with the public and those working in the health service than Cambridge? In fact, what better area than Queen Edith’s?

We look forward to hearing from our M.P.