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:

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Lib Dem MP joins fight for fairer funding for sixth-form colleges

Cambridge MP Julian Huppert is to join a cross-party group of MPs to fight for a fairer deal for Cambridge’s sixth form colleges.

Julian has been invited to become a member of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Sixth Form Colleges which has been established to protect the future of the colleges nationwide. With Hills Road Sixth Form College and Long Road Sixth Form College educating thousands of 16 to 18-year-olds in the city, Julian is working to make sure they get fair funding and the same benefits as school sixth forms.

At the moment, sixth form colleges receive less funding per student than school and academy sixth forms. Disadvantaged youngsters attending sixth form colleges do not receive free meals and, unlike schools and academies, sixth form colleges are not reimbursed for their VAT costs. They are also not eligible for any publically funded improvement support.

Now there are fears that if a new proposed funding regime for sixth form colleges is introduced they will face reductions in funding of up to six per cent, far bigger than that faced by all other providers. Despite these inequalities sixth form colleges across the country generally send more young people to higher education than independent schools and a third of these youngsters come from the least advantaged areas of the country.

Julian said. “We are so fortunate in Cambridge to have two excellent state-run sixth form colleges which produce year-on-year fantastic results for our young people. Whether they are studying A levels or vocational courses, our young people are succeeding and going on to higher education.

“These results are being achieved against a backdrop of inequality. It is time the government gave them the same funding and support that other sixth forms receive.”

After a year of talking, the County Council unveils its Parking Plan

QUEEN EDITH CHAPEL THIS WEDNESDAY

Most residents of Queen Edith’s will know that parking is a big problem in this area. Lib Dem councillors have for many years been calling for action from Conservative-run Cambridgeshire County Council, the council responsible for parking management and highways.

Last summer the County agreed to set up a parking review group, to look at all of the south of the city, including Queen Edith’s, Trumpington, Romsey and some streets in Coleridge. Cllr Jean Swanson and I attended the first meetingabout a year ago, and since then Cllr Geoff Heathcock has represented Queen Edith’s on that group.

The County officers have visited twice, once to our South Area meeting at my request and again to meet residents in Queen Edith’s. It was made very clear that people were impatient with the long delays and looking for solutions soon.

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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.

County gives top billing to Light The Cycleway and Long Road improvement proposals

It was a pleasant surprise to come back from holiday to see that the County Council has given top billing to my proposal for lighting the Guided Bus cycleway in a report going to Cambridge councillors tomorrow night (Wednesday 5th Sept).

This year I have been leading a campaign calling for better lighting along the city stretch of the Guided Busway bridleway, following a spate of accidents.

Cyclists have been injured while riding there, and others, especially women and older people, fear for their personal safety on dark stretches of the path.

Together with Trumpington councillor Caroline Shepherd, I launched a petition asking Cambridgeshire County Council to install lighting along the cycle path in Queen Edith’s and Trumpington.

The petition was supported by many working people and had the support of trade union UNITE. It garnered 230 signatures and I presented it to Cambridgeshire County Council’s Cabinet on 22nd May. You can read an account of that here.

The cycleway is a fantastic facility for cyclists and pedestrians; it is well used, but the lack of lighting on most of the route poses a serious safety risk, especially as the days get shorter and it becomes dark both in the mornings and evenings.

Lighting this track provides an opportunity to make a good thing even better, and I am delighted that the County Council has put this project top of its list on value for money. I look forward to seeing progress.

Another scheme with very high scoring is a plan to remodel the Long Road cycleways by widening and resurfacing the existing shared us, to improve access for the thousands of people who walk or bike down Long Road en route to school or college as well as Addenbrooke’s Hospital. The case for this was eloquently presented to the South Area meeting by Hills Road resident Sam Davies.

The funding for transport schemes is to come from developer contributions as part of their planning obligations. You can see the report and a list of all the projects under consideration here.

If you would like to lobby for any of the schemes being considered, contact your local councillors.

Parking Plan comes to Queen Edith’s, 30th August

Are you plagued with too much parking in your street?

Well, there’s a fine rhetorical question. I would be able to get a ‘yes’ answer to that question in almost any street in Queen Edith’s.

We have some very big traffic generators: Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Hills Road and Long Road VI Form Colleges. So – lots of commuter parking, blighting the local environment and causing practical difficulties, such as not being able to park your own car, being blocked in by strangers’ vehicles, not being able to see the way ahead clearly because of obstructions…

I and other members of the Queen Edith’s Liberal Democrat Focus Team have many times called for solutions from the Conservative-run County Council, the authority responsible for traffic management and parking controls. We have had some successes, with yellow lines in particular streets – but we feel the County Council has not given commuter parking the attention it deserves. After all, it is our local environment!

And the challenge is bigger than just one street. Removing parking in one area can mean the cars just move to another street and annoy somebody else. That’s why we have pushed for creative thinking, looking at the area as a whole. Pressure from the team, notably our county councillor Geoff Heathcock, has got the County to set up an Area Parking Plan looking at the whole of the south of the city. The County Council will soon be writing to residents in the worst affected streets to tell everyone about the Plan.

This Parking Plan has not been moving as fast as we would like, so in April, Cllr Geoff Heathcock and I asked Cambridgeshire County Council officers to visit the South Area committee and report on progress, which they did. See here for a report of that meeting. And at Geoff’s request, the officers will be visiting Queen Edith’s on 30th August to answer questions about their proposals, as a prelude to exhibitions in the autumn.

Please come along if you can. 

SOUTH CAMBRIDGE PARKING PLAN MEETING

7.30pm, Thursday 30th August

St James’s Church, Wulfstan Way

Meeting arranged at the request of the Queen Edith’s Liberal Democrats Focus Team and ward councillors

QE PARKING POSTER[1]

If you would like to keep up to date with the parking review and other local issues, please drop one of us an email, and we’ll add you to our email newsletter circulation list.

Vehicle thefts in Queen Edith’s

The South Cambridge Neighbourhood police report just one burglary in Queen Edith’s in the past week: burglars broke into a shed in Long Road last Wednesday and used tools to jemmy open a side window leading to the kitchen. Property was stolen, including valuables and a vehicle.

There have been two thefts of motor vehicles in the Cavendish Avenue area.

Domestic burglary is a police priority, as set at the recent South Area meeting on 16th July, and police have spent over 50 hours patrolling in Cherry Hinton and Queen Edith’s to deter burglars, in line with the policing priority.

If you wish to contact the neighbourhood policing team, ring them on the police non-emergency number, 101, or 999 for emergencies. To receive regular updates from the police, sign up for e-cops for their local newsletter covering the south of Cambridge.

If you would like to comment on police priorities, please get in touch with me or any other member of the Focus Team.