Roadworks and events

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Roadworks sign

The County Council has sent me its latest list of new roadworks and events. This is for things starting between 16th and 31st July.

Check out:

  • Blinco Grove
  • Clifton Road
  • Glebe Road
  • Gunhild Close
  • Queen Edith’s Way

Please see the attachment for details of all roadworks in Cambridge, so you can vary your route if necessary.

Gas repairs in Nightingale Avenue

The County Council informs me that Nightingale Avenue will experience some ‘disuption’ at the end of this month/ beginning of July, as Cadent Gas are carrying out repairs to a leaky gas main.

The biggest impact will be to pedestrians, as the work will be mostly on the pavement and verge of the street except for the Queen Edith’s Way junction, where there will be three-way lights.

Working times will be 08:00-17:00 on Nightingale Avenue and 07:00-19:00 at the junction with Queen Edith’s Way.

Park and Ride Victory

Parking charges at the Babraham Road and other Park and Ride sites will END on 1st April. After four years in which usage of the Park & Ride sites has slumped, County Council Conservatives have at last admitted the daily charge was a mistake.

When the Tories proposed the charges, I opposed them, knowing that drivers would just park elsewhere. Unfortunately, that “somewhere else has been outside our houses. In Queen Edith’s, we have been suffering from the extra parking for four years, so I am pleased the charges are at last being scrapped.

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.

Meet the Candidates: St John the Evangelist

Amidst all the excitement of an impending General Election and a metro mayor election, I am working hard defending my county council seat. Elections take place on 4th May.

Tomorrow night, Thursday 20th April, I shall be at St John’s Church for the Queen Edith’s Community Forum’s hustings for the county council elections, along with the three other candidates.

Do come along and ask questions about local issues and hear how we address these on the County Council. The County is responsible for vital services including transport, highways (streetlighting and roads maintenance) social care, health scrutiny, children’s and young people’s service, libraries and heritage.

We Liberal Democrats have published a manifesto for Cambridgeshire, which you can read here.

More on the Morley Residents’ Parking Plan

On the 14th March the Cambridge City Joint Area Committee (CJAC), composed of county and city Labour and Lib Dem councillors, approved the County Council’s Parking Plan for this area. This is the final stage of the process before implementation. At present the timetable is not fixed, but installation is expected within the next few months.

I want to thank everyone for their input into this difficult exercise. There is no perfect solution, but the plan drawn up by the council’s Parking Policy Manager should improve the parking situation for most residents. The council survey conducted in November last year showed 59% in favour, with 35% against. This favourable vote followed a similar result in the informal survey I ran about a year earlier.

I know many of you opposed the plan for a variety of reasons. All objections and suggestions were put before the CJAC in summary form, with commentary. One common issue raised was the question of whether there had been sufficient consultation. You may find it helpful to see this summary of the information and consultation process that has taken place over the last 18 months:

  • November 2015 An unofficial survey by me, to local residents. This showed strong support for residents’ parking in principle (62% For, 30% Against)
  • February 2016 Information meeting at St John’s Church. It was chaired by me, with the Cambridge Parking Policy Manager present. It had a good mixture of people for and against a residents’ parking scheme
  • November 2016 The formal council parking plan was delivered to every household in the area, with an invitation to express support or opposition.
  • The parking plan, with information about how residents’ parking works, was on display at Rock Road  Library
  • January 2017 The result of the formal survey was announced, showing a substantial vote in favour of  the residents’ parking plan (59% for, 35% against)
  • January 2017 The formal council letter advertising the Traffic Regulation Orders (TRO) was delivered to every household, posted in the street, and advertised in the local press. People were invited to put  forward material objections to the plan.
  • There has been publicity in the Queen Edith’s Community News, the Lib Dem Focus newsletter, and in local newspapers.
  • The parking situation was covered on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire and in ITV’s Parking Wars.
  • Four leaflets have been circulated by local residents, two for and two against the plan.
  • On top of all this I have personally dealt with a few hundred emails sent to me about residents’ parking.

The Council invited residents to put their names forward, if they wished to speak at the 14 March committee meeting. Three residents did so: two for and one against.

Two other principal areas of concern were raised in the TRO process: pavement parking in Marshall Road and whether the plan provided sufficient residents’ parking bays. Here is how the Council responded:

Why is pavement/footway parking not being considered, when it is permitted in other parts of the city such as Romsey?
Cambridgeshire County Council is proposing that pavement parking is only considered in exceptional circumstances where there is no impact on safety or pedestrian movement and where the underlying construction is suitable for vehicle parking. Parking on pavements:

  •  Creates a hazard for the visually impaired, disabled and elderly people and those with prams and pushchairs
  • Ÿ Creates safety issues for pedestrians and can hide other vehicles particularly on bends, narrow roads
    and at junctions.
  • Ÿ Can cause damage to the footway.

As the proposed scheme reduces the overall parking spaces available particularly in Marshall Road, will there be sufficient space for residents and visitors?
Parking in Marshall Road, in its current form, is unsustainable and could represent hazards to all road  users not only now but in the future. In order to regulate parking effectively for the benefit of all highway  users it will be necessary to make changes which will ultimately limit and reduce overall car parking on  the street. Whilst this is regrettable, the safety of all highway users should take primacy over the  availability of car parking spaces.

Looking at the plans, the following parking spaces are available (based on average vehicle length of 5m)

Marshall Road 39
Hartington Grove 108
Blinco Grove 100
Magnolia Close 7
Rock Road 28
Rathmore Road 67
Rathmore Close 4
TOTAL 353

A recent parking survey was carried out across Cambridge by a company called Mott MacDonald. This survey showed 291 spaces (in Rock Road,  Blinco Grove, Hartington Grove, Marshall Road and Rathmore Road) were occupied by residents (the count was completed at 5.30am, a time when the number of commuters would be negligible and the number of residents would be at their maximum). This indicates that there would be space available for all resident permit holders even with the number of spaces reduced as a result of the  introduction of public safety, access and junction protection.

I hope this helps answer some of the main objections raised. As you can see, even with Marshall Road no  longer able to park on the pavement the council’s’figures above show that with the plan there is a clear  number of extra spaces available for residents and visitors: 353 – 291 = 62.

The Parking Policy Manager’s report to the CJAC is 31 pages long. It can be viewed on line on the County Council’s website.

Residents’ parking scheme passed

A residents’ parking scheme for the north of Queen Edith’s has been approved by the councils’* traffic committee.

The Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) for the parking scheme was advertised to local residents and in the local paper, following  majority support by residents in the Morley area for the County Council’s proposals when consulted last year.  The council consultation followed my survey to establish in principle support for residents’ parking, and after a public meeting and display at the library.

Residents from the area attended the meeting and spoke both in favour of and in opposition to the proposals. The vote was 10 votes in favour, 2 against.

The scheme will cover the area from the Leisure Park to Blinco Grove, including both main roads.

Also yesterday, a new residents’ parking policy was passed by the County Council’s Highways Committee.

*Joint committee comprising councillors from Cambridge City and Cambridgeshire County Council.

 

 

Impact of Park and Ride parking charges on Queen Edith’s residents

Here is my statement to the County Council’s Economy & Environment Committee on Park & Ride parking charges:

I fully support the withdrawal of the Park & Ride parking charges. They have reduced usage of the P&R sites. Not only have optimistic income predictions been proved illusory, but the bus ridership has suffered and parking has been displaced to residential areas in the vicinity of the Park & Ride sites.

Cabinet’s expectation was that motorists might avoid the charges initially but then realize that Park & Ride was cheaper than city centre car parks. This was a false prediction: what actually happens in Queen Edith’s is that the motorists avoiding the charges at Babraham Road either take the P&R bus or, more frequently, take one of the numerous bus services operating in Hills Road or from the Addenbrooke’s bus station. They leave their cars in residential streets.

Commuter parking is a huge problem in Queen Edith’s due to several traffic generators: the Biomedical Campus, Homerton College, a Leisure Park and two sixth-form colleges. We need commuters’ vehicles to be in the Park & Ride sites, not parked in local streets, or worse, on local pavements.

Hills Road closure: seven questions

County Council officers claim there are ‘many good reasons’ why they need to close Hills Road to enable construction of new cycleways. It is set to be a 24-7 closure, starting in May and lasting for five months. I can see many reasons why this is a bad idea and have grave concerns about access to the hospital (especially the Rosie Maternity Hospital and A&E), the impact on students sitting exams, and the knock-on effect on smaller, neighbouring roads. I have put seven questions to the County Council:

1. What studies have been done of the impact on neighbouring roads?

2. What contact has there been with schools and colleges in the area, and what has their response been?

3. What has the response been from Addenbrooke’s A&E Department, the Rosie Maternity Hospital and the ambulance service?

4. As the closure is proposed to begin in May, what contact has there been with the City Council elections department as to how this might affect people going to vote in local elections?

5. What assessment was done of alternative options such as a non-peak closure?

6. What arrangements are proposed for non-vehicular traffic?

7. How will residents access their homes?

I await their response. Meanwhile, if you have additional questions, please keep them coming.

Also, visit the exhibition on Thursday where the plans will be on display:

Thursday 26th January 17.30 – 19.30 St John the Evangelist Church, Hills Road.