Road and pavement repairs

Potholes and pavement surfaces and drains are always causing problems! We are constantly asking County Council Highways officers to attend to problems, and are pleased to report some action on some:

Drains have been cleared in Baldock Way and Marshall Road, and the ones in Hills Road should be done soon.

Some pavement defects have been repaired in Wulfstan Way and Gunhild Close, and more are being scheduled for repair. Patches have been ordered for Cowper Road and the work should be done soon.

A repair has been made to the uneven patch of pavement outside the old Early Years building on Blinco Grove

Surface dressing treatment will be applied to several streets in the Nightingale Avenue area.

Some other roads have very bad surfaces that have got into such a state that they will be very expensive to repair them, eg Baldock Way, Coniston Road, Marshall Road, Cavendish and Hills Avenues. Amanda is putting pressure on the Council to bring these roads up to standard — watch this space.

In the meantime, please report any highways faults on the council’s website at https://www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/residents/travel-roads-and-parking/roads-and-pathways/roadworks-and-faults/.

Highways improvements

zebraDo you have a suggestion for improving our roads and pavements, such as traffic calming, a zebra crossing or parking restrictions?

Cambridgeshire County Council operates a Local Highway Improvement (LHI) programme that funds small schemes costing up to £10,000. It is a competitive process and bids are scored by councillors, but some bids for funding from this area have been awarded funding, even though we have yet to see the results.

The application form has recently been updated and is now online at http://www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/lhi. You can download a guidance document with examples of what has been funded in the past.

The closing date for applications is Wednesday 30th November 2016. If you have a suggestion you would like to discuss, please get in touch with me, or contact the County Council direct by emailing [email protected]

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.

 

Queen Edith’s Way and Cherry Hinton Road pavements

The County Council has launched a consultation on pedestrian and cycle arrangements on Queen Ediths’ Way and Cherry Hinton Road.

dual useThe aim is to address safety concerns over the shared use pavements, whereby cyclists may legally ride on the pavement. Many do so to keep out of the way of heavy – and sometimes fast – motor traffic. This is entirely understandable – but ironically, in avoiding cars and vans, cyclists themselves pose a hazard to an even more vulnerable class of traveller – the pedestrians who use the pavements. It is a particular problem for people with disabilities, especially the visually impaired, who cannot see bikes coming or report incidents easily.

Cambridgeshire County Council conducted a trial of the shared use arrangement in the late 90s and despite strong local opposition, made the ‘trial’ permanent. It still doesn’t work terribly well: in Queen Edith’s Way, the combination of schoolchildren at one end of the road and a high proportion of older people in nearby Wulfstan Way frequently leads to conflict, with cyclists sometimes failing to slow down or stop when they encounter pedestrians. Many cycling campaigners would agree that shared use is a cheap compromise that satisfies no one, and that demarcated space is to be preferred.

So local councillors have asked the County Council to spend some of its transport fund on a solution in both these roads. The money comes from Section 106 funds – payments by building developers as part of their planning conditions to offset the traffic impact of their developments.

At this stage the County Council is asking residents and other road users for information on which areas they find particularly dangerous and what options they would consider. There’s an on line questionnaire to complete. It is important that the County hears from everybody, so if you know of places or groups of people who would appreciate printed copies, let me know.

 

 

Balfour Beatty — lighting contract is not working that brilliantly

Has your street had new lighting yet?

We are in Phase II of the County Council streetlight replacement programme, the PFI which replaces all the lights in the county with new ones, in the interests of cutting energy costs by 50%. Phase II is going a bit better than Phase I, but I am hearing about lots of problems.

While the idea is excellent – new lights using half as much energy – it is being badly handled by the contractors, Balfour Beatty, to whom the Council has handed responsibility for communication and consultation with residents as well as implementing the programme. Plans of which lights are staying or going are highly technical and you need to look at them on line – not possible for everyone. Notice is short, while if you contact their Customer Services Department you get an auto-message promising an answer in ten working days – locking the door after the horse has bolted in many cases.

The contract was written a long time ago, and failed to take into account the needs of vulnerable people, the historic nature of our city, and had no ‘wiggle room’. The Tory councillor in charge of Highways infrastructure admitted yesterday, ‘If I had the opportunity to rewrite that contract, I would.’

I am concerned about one particular street in our area, where a light will be removed outside the home of someone with a disability – in a road which has had more than its fair share of burglaries. There are cracked pavements and removing the light could put the safety of disabled and elderly residents at risk.

Residents want to see the light retained or others repositioned so that it doesn’t leave such a big gap, but there is little room for flexibility.

And in Blinco Grove, one of the city’s 19th century streets, the elegant cast iron street lights are being replaced with modern ones as a safety measure. Residents value the distinctiveness of the old lights and believe that if they must be replaced, the new lights should be in keeping with the historic street. The lights are scheduled to be removed on Friday (21st Feb), which leaves no time for residents to respond to the consultation, especially as many families are on school half term.

I have asked for the removal to be delayed so people can be briefed on the need for replacement and give them time to identify funding for lights of a more traditional style.

Long Road Cycleway Improvements

Long-Road_7888_webWork is set to begin in February on improving the Long Road pavements and cycleways. This is the result of a campaign run by a local resident, with the support of the Lib Dem Focus Team, who helped her present the project as a candidate for Section 106 funding — money contributed by building developers as part of their planning obligations. The project was supported by both the South Area committee and the County Council Cabinet and £180,000 was allocated to it.

This will be good news for the many hundreds of pedestrians and cyclists who use Long Road every day, many of them going to school or college.

The path will be widened and provide a more level surface for walking and cycling. There will also be more space for crossing Sedley Taylor Road.

As part of the scheme, there will be a tidy-up of vegetation, and improvements to drainage.

For more information, see here: Long Road briefing note

Lib Dem budget harvests green energy to protect services

Cambridgeshire Liberal Democrats have revealed ambitious plans to harness the power of solar energy and wind to bring in millions of pounds every year to protect county council front-line services.

The Lib Dem budget amendment and supporting text are available online here:

http://www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/CMSWebsite/Apps/Committees/AgendaItem.aspx?agendaItemID=6512

Their alternative Cambridgeshire County Council budget includes a £20 million investment in solar energy and a new wind farm that would generate £2.5 million a year.

In addition they would sell off the council’s headquarters at Shire Hall and dispose of some of the council’s “bloated” property portfolio to bring in a further £20 million plus.

“These are difficult times for local government, particularly in Cambridgeshire, where this year the interest payments on the guided busway will wipe out almost half of the funds brought in by the council tax increase,” said Cambridgeshire Liberal Democrat Leader, Kilian Bourke. (more…)