Reprieve for mobile libraries and roads maintenance

Cambridgeshire Lib Dem councillors are relieved that the County Council (Highways and Community Infrastructure Committee has had a change of heart on the axing of the mobile library service and cuts to highways maintenance (eg potholes) and will no longer recommend these cuts to the Council’s General Purposes Committee.

We were appalled that the Council was even considering ending the mobile library service. Sometimes the mobile library is the only contact people in rural areas have with the councils. Time and time again when I spent a day on the van, borrowers described it as ‘a lifeline’.

Potholes and cracked pavements are amongst the most frequent complaints that councillors receive. They make life so difficult for people tryjng to get about, whether by car, on foot or on a bike. Poor surfaces are particularly dangerous for older people, sometimes resulting in broken bones and hospitalisation. Cutting this budget would have been not only a false economy but a slap in the face for the people of Cambridgeshire, so I’m pleased that the committee saw sense and decided to maintain funding for this core service.

But we were disappointed that Conservative councillors voted to endorse:

stopping school crossing patrols
turning lights off at night
cutting grants to agencies such as the Citizens Advice Bureau — when the need for help with money and benefits grows ever more acute.

We were sorry that Labour councillors sat on their hands for the votes on the streetlighting switch-off, mobile libraries and the CAB grant. What was the point of their being at the meeting if they do not vote?
These cuts will be included in the budget recommendations to the Council’s General Purposes Committee, which meets later this month. You can help defend these services by writing to your county councillor.

 

Streetlighting switch-off: councillors to discuss on Monday

switchoff mapConservative county councillors and County Council Highways officers are proposing to switch off streetlights between midnight and 6am in an attempt to make the books balance, in the face of swingeing cuts to councils from the government.

We believe this will have an unacceptable impact on road safety and on individual safety in Cambridge, given the high numbers of residents and visitors who are about after midnight or early in the morning.

A report on the lighting switch-off will be discussed at the South Area meeting on Monday evening.

Here is a link to the full agenda. There’s also an open forum session, an update on the late-running Hills Road cycle lanes and a report on environmental services in the south of the city (rubbish, graffiti and vandalism).

The meeting is open to the public and anyone can speak. If you cannot attend but would like to make a point, please contact me or one of the other councillors.

7pm, Monday, St John’s Church, Hills Road.

LOCAL BLOGGER CHRIS RAND HAS WRITTEN A DETAILED REPORT OF THE DISCUSSION AT THE MEETING. Read it here.

Hills Road: life in the slow lane, and the Tory switch-off plan

Cones on Hills Road

Cones on Hills Road

Cambridgeshire County Council‘s Cycling Team and the contractor for the Hills Road project will be coming to Queen Edith’s on October 5th to report on the slow-running Hills Road cycle lanes.

Or should that read ‘the slow lanes’? The project was scheduled to take 37 weeks but we are in week 36 already and they still haven’t finished the first side. More red tarmac went down last weekend but the route still involves a mixture of surfaces and cyclists having to move onto the road. All road users are having difficulties: drivers are delayed, pedestrians cannot cross the road because of rows of traffic cones, and bus users have had bus stops out of commission for weeks on end.

The officers will report on the Hills Road project and  take questions, then tell us about other cycle-related matters, including the Chisholm Trail cross-city cycle route.

Here is a link to the agenda of the South Area meeting. There’s also an open forum session and a report on environmental services in the south of the city (rubbish, graffiti and vandalism).

7pm, St John’s Church, Hills Road.

switchoff map

Under Conservative proposals only the blue roads would be lit at night.

STOP PRESS: The meeting will also receive a report on the County Council’s proposals to switch off streetlights at night. County Tories want to stop night-time lighting in an attempt to make the books balance, in the face of swingeing central government cuts to local government.

We believe this will have an unacceptable impact on road safety and on individual safety in Cambridge, given the high numbers of residents and visitors who are about after midnight or early in the morning.

LOCAL BLOGGER CHRIS RAND HAS POSTED A REPORT OF THE DISCUSSION ON HIS WEBSITE: http://queen-ediths.co.uk/cambridge-planning/hills-road-cycleway-some-of-our-questions-answered/

Cambridge South Area: streetlighting Q&A plus new layout for Cherry Hinton High Street

The next South Area meeting is at St John’s Church Hills Road on Monday 30th March and here is the agenda.

The County Council’s streetlighting contractor Balfour Beatty will be sending a representative to explain the lighting contract, and answer questions about replacements in Queen Edith’s.

There will be reports on changes to the road layout in Cherry Hinton and Hills Road, and environmental services activity. Finally, the committee will vote on grants to community groups.

The meeting is open to the public and there is a slot at the beginning of the meeting to ask questions of councillors. Sometimes questions can be answered on the spot, and if questions highlight issues that need to be addressed, they will be taken up by councillors after the meeting.

Busway lighting coming at last

IMG_2694SMWalkers and cyclists on the track alongside the Cambridgeshire Guided Busway should be able to see where they are going this winter, thanks to new LED lights to be installed over the next few months. The lights are being funded by local developers.

This is the result of a long-running campaign to make the route safe in the early mornings and evenings.

Funding was agreed in principle in 2012 following a petition run by Amanda Taylor and fellow Liberal Democrats in response to people concerned about accidents, but the project was held up last year by UKIP and Tory county councillors who wanted to divert the money to their own areas.

Cambridgeshire County Council has created a timetable and fact sheet which you can view on line at

The new lights will be Light Emitting Diode (LED) and there will be 68 between the railway station and Trumpington Park & Ride, and 23 north of Milton Road. They will direct the light downwards to illuminate the track.

Next phase of streetlight replacements in Queen Edith’s

Cambridgeshire County Council’s streetlighting contractor Balfour Beatty will soon be returning to Queen Edith’s for the next phase of streetlight replacements. This is part of a countywide PFI programme to change all the streetlights in Cambridgeshire to a new, more energy-efficient type of light that will deliver energy savings of nearly 50%. The new lights are taller and we are told they illuminate a wider area.

The Conservatives, who ran the Council at the time the contract was set up, gave us a rigid contract, with very little flexibility on issues such as removals and light types, but with loose provisions other areas, such as standards of service. The councillor who drew up the contract, has said in public, ‘If I had the chance to rewrite that contract, I would.’

Worse still, the Council agreed to a reduction of the total number of lights by 10%, and many smaller streets are losing more than that. Although this is leaving dark patches in many streets (such as Hinton Avenue picturd above), Liberal Democrat proposals to have lights reinstated in badly hit streets have been voted down by the other parties on the Council.

The next area to be visited by Balfour Beatty is Hills Road/ Babraham Road and streets off Hills Road such as the Red Cross Lane area and Luard Road. You can see what is planned at http://www.lightingcambridgeshire.com/news.htm, or download a plan:Hills Road main carriageway (ie not the slip road)

1425 Cambridge PRELIM–Access Hills Rd -V11

1425 Cambridge PRELIM–Babraham Road V1

1425 Cambridge PRELIM–Luard Road V5

1425 Cambridge PRELIM–Greenlands V4

1425 Cambridge PRELIM–Red Cross Ln – V2

1425 Cambridge PRELIM–Stansgate Av V3

Please let me know if you would prefer to look at a printed plan.

The county Council’s lighting contractor Balfour Beatty is working with the cycle lanes contractor to synchronize their activities on Hills Road.

We did it! Busway lighting agreed

Busway 1Cambridgeshire County Council has agreed to provide LED lighting on the guided bus bridleway – a victory for all the 230 people who petitioned for lights in the interests of public safety. The new lights will go along the Busway maintenance track from Cambridge railway station to Trumpington Park and Ride.

The County Council’s Economy and Environment Committee voted almost unanimously for it yesterday, following speeches in support from myself and  Trumpington county councillor Barbara Ashwood as well as Jim Chisholm of the Cambridge Cycling Campaign.

I am delighted that at last we will be getting lighting along the bridleway. Usage doubled in the first year alone and there are now over 2,000 journeys a day, including many peoplewalking or cycling to work. Because it is completely unlit, it is unsafe in the early morning and evening, especially now the clocks have gone back. There have been accidents to individuals, and there are many who won’t use it after dark because of personal safety concerns.  This is very good news for everyone who uses the cycleway. Thank you to everyone who has supported this campaign.

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…)

Cycling projects: time for the County Council to decide

Cyclists, hold your breath.

Two big cycling improvement projects are being recommended to Cambridgeshire County Council’s Cabinet next week:

And campaigners, take heart.

Both schemes are the direct result of people campaiging for the improvements they believed were needed:

(more…)

South Area councillors support cycling schemes

A bunch of simple line bikes. Image: Bianchessi

Transport was on the agenda again at this week’s South Area Committee meeting – councillors were receiving a report on transport projects from the County Council. Highways officers had assessed projects proposed by local people last March, and assigned them scores.

My Light the Cycleway proposal, to light the bridleway running alongside the Guided Busway, was given the top score, and another local project, improving the cycleways on Long Road, were given two of the top scores, and were well supported by councillors. I went along to speak, as did Sam Davies, who has spearheaded the Long Road campaign. Read about it in the Cambridge News.