Should streetlights be switched off? and other hard questions

The County Council is at last consulting on its plan to switch off streetlights between midnight and 6am. Please take part in the Cambridgeshire Streetlight Consultation, running till 11th December.

This cut has generated a lot of concern especially in areas where people are around in the small hours, or the early morning. But it is just one of many proposed cuts that leave a bad taste in the mouth – other economies are to end mobile library services, stop community transport and school buses, slash the budget for roads maintenance, and reduce the funding for children’s centres and adult social care.

The cut is in response to the deep budget deficit that the County Council is grappling with this year, thanks to a poisonous cocktail of the government withdrawing funding and the population soaring.  To see the streetlighting proposals in context, you may wish to look at the wider budget consultation, Cambridgeshire’s £100 million budget challenge.

Storms close local school

Reception closed next week

Reception closed next week

Last night’s surprise thunderstorms have caused flooding at a number of local schools, including Morley Memorial in Queen Edith’s, where some classrooms have been left without power and with wrecked flooring.

The headteacher, Ms Brown, has written to parents saying,

‘Unfortunately our school has suffered significant flood damage as a result of last night’s storms. We have lost the use of all Reception and year 1 classrooms and also a Year 3 classroom as well as the community room.’

Staff worked through the night to contain the damage and arrange for something close to normal service. Nevertheless, Reception children have had to stay at home today, and will be unable to attend school next week.

Seven other Cambridgeshire schools have been affected. Any further closures will be posted on the County Council website

“Following the rainstorms that hit Cambridgeshire yesterday evening a number of schools and early years settings, mainly in the Cambridge area have been affected by flooding. Cambridgeshire County Council has been liaising with schools to make sure any repairs are carried out as soon as possible. A small number of schools may have to close or partially close but they will stay open if at all possible. Schools and early years facilities will contact parents if they are closing early or if there is any change to their normal routine. The County Council will also be posting any school closures or partial closures on their website: www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/closures.

The Met Office had issued no Flood Guidance Statement or Adverse weather warnings to Emergency Responders, so the County was not expecting the thunderstorms. Nevertheless, school closures are hugely regrettable, as although the children will be happy enough to start their holidays early, many working parents will be caught out, with the consequent knock-on effect on the services where they work. Days off school for children also mean days off for nurses, doctors, transport workers – and other teachers.

It will be interesting to know what contingency plans the County has for securing alternative teaching accommodation when the need arises.

New parking restrictions for Nightingale Avenue and Godwin Way

Yellow lines_NightingaleAt the beginning of the year, double yellow lines were painted on junctions in the north of Queen Edith’s, in the streets on either side of Baldock Way. The County Council had also hoped to extend the double yellow lines on Nightingale Avenue near its junction with Queen Edith’s Way – something residents have been requesting for a while, to aid visibility.

The process is that the traffic regulation orders are advertised, any objections determined, and then the orders are ‘sealed’. I understand this does involve some actual sealing wax. The final stage of the process is to book a painting vehicle to attend and actually to paint the lines on the road.

Unfortunately – wouldn’t you just guess — the yellow paint charabang hasn’t been able to extend the lines because there’s always something parked there. They plan to have another attempt this weekend – let’s hope they succeed this time.

The Council will also be advertising some extra yellow lines for Godwin Way near the Queen Edith’s Primary School. Click here for a plan.Godwin Way parking restrictions 2015

If you wish to comment, please do so by 20th March, quoting Amendement 24 and send to: Local Infrastructure & Street Management
Policy & Regulation
Box No: SH1204
Shire Hall
Cambridge
CB3 0AP

Police priorities and 20mph

ASPolice priorities for the south of Cambridge will be set next Monday at the South Area meeting, which will take place at Homerton College, starting at 7.30pm.

Following the election of a new chair, there will be an Open Forum, when anyone can speak or ask a question.

After a report on Cherry Hinton High Street comes the police report and priority-setting. Police will report on their activity over the summer and set priorities for the coming three months.

They have been focussing on the supply of Class A drugs and propose to continue with this. There have been reports of illegal drugs dealing and consumption in Hills Road and I would welcome further feedback on this to present at the meeting.bike burglar

The police also propose to prioritise cycle crime and cycling offences, both of which will be welcomed by many people – not necessarily the same people!

There will be further reports on:

  • the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime & Policing Act and its implications for this area
  • Developers’ contributions
  • consultation on the 20mph project

Morley: one site for the school, plus childcare

morley-1Morley Memorial Primary School on Blinco Grove is one of the oldest buildings in the area, founded at the end of the 19th century. There are plans for improving the school buildings to bring them up to modern standards: three new classrooms plus long overdue repairs. The changes will enable the whole school to be on one site. The aspect likely to be the biggest hit with the children is a multi-use games area, similar to the one at Nightingale Avenue ‘Recreation Ground.

I am really pleased that the Council is investing in Morley, and the new plans will improve the learning experience. I know many people are concerned about what happens to the old Early Years building, and I am determined it should stay in community use. I amvery pleased that the Council is planning to tender it for a new nursery, as childcare in this area is in such short supply.’

Calling for a traffic survey on Hills Road

Today I attended Cambridgeshire County Council‘s Economy & Environment Committee, which was voting (for the second time this year) on segregated cycle lanes for Hills and Huntingdon Roads. The project had first been considered in May but deferred on safety grounds, including many raised by myself on behalf of local residents.

I called for a traffic survey to measure traffic speeds and behaviour before and after the scheme, as well as representing residents’ mixed views on the scheme.

Thank you for allowing me to speak.

I am speaking particularly about Hills Rd, as the stretch concerned runs through Queen Edith’s. It is the part between the notorious Hills Rd bridge and Long Road.

Local views are mixed. Although people want the cycling environment made safer, my residents have articulated the concerns you heard at your last meeting: floating bus stops and how pedestrians would manage

I know this aspect has been improved and I welcome the wider islands and the refashioning of the cycle lane near bus stops. I still have my doubts about whether this is the right place for such a scheme, given the heavy volumes of different road users (2400 getting on the bus)

But residents have other concerns which are very local: how it affects the roads:

Concern about what will happen when tradesmen visit, as not all properties have their own drives.
Rat-running: if cars get held up behind buses there is a risk they will become impatient and divert into streets off Hills Road. Four of these have schools, with children from 2 upwards, many of them walking or cycling to school.

I would like a traffic survey to be carried out before and after the scheme is input.

Are you ready for the Tour de France?

le-tour-riders2012In less than seven weeks, the Tour de France comes to Cambridge on Monday July 7th. All very exciting for those who follow competitive cycling – but even if you’re not a fan, have you thought about how you’ll get out about that day?

There are several road closures that day, including Hills Road and Trumpington Road, and many schools are closed for the day, including Morley Memorial, Netherhall, St Bede’s and Coleridge. Schools are announcing changes as I write, so I will update this page as I receive new information. (more…)

Don’t play Bob the Builder with the Green Belt!

BobLast week, the Tory-led Cambridgeshire County Council Cabinet voted to start putting together a business case for developing housing on Wort’s Causeway. The County owns 8.5 hectares of land to the south of Wort’s Causeway, known in the Local Plan consultation as GB2, GB1 being a slightly smaller parcel of land to the north.

I think this was premature. Both sites are still in the green belt, despite the fact that the City and District Councils’ Local Plans have proposed that they come out so they can be built on. As the Local Plan has not yet been decided, I think the County Council should wait before it starts playing Bob the Builder. To do otherwise is hugely disrespectful to the hundreds of people who have made representations about these sites. It is also speculative, making assumptions about the outcome of the Local Plan.

Although the County Council Cabinet takes major decisions, backbencher councillors are able to call in decisions and have them debated by overview and scrutiny committees. That is what I did, along with colleagues from Histon & Impington, East Chesterton and Fulbourn.

The paper was discussed at the Resources scrutiny committee this afternoon (download hereHousing call-in). Histon councillor Mike Mason and I addressed the committee and expressed our concerns regarding the prematurity of the decision, the principle of the County providing housing, and whether the business case development is properly provided for in the Council’s budget. I am pleased to say that the committee voted to refer the decision back to the Cabinet, who will now need to take a fresh look.

Watch this space.

Here is a transcript of what I said at the meeting today:

(more…)

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

Child Safety Concern

I have been made aware of the following safety concern, from the information shown below that our local secondary school has sent to its pupils.

‘We have been made aware of a disturbing incident which took place last night when a Parkside student was apprehended by a man in a car as she was walking from a dance class on Emmanuel Street at around 5.30pm.

The man in question appeared to be of Chinese / Far Eastern origin and at first asked directions to the cemetery in Mill Road. He then asked if she would get into his car to show him the route. She refused. He then asked for directions to primary schools in the area so that he could ‘ask directions ‘again.

This description also fits a man who has approached students from Parkside and other schools in the area over the past week. On other occasions he was on a bike and tried to engage them in conversation asking directions, questions, and trying to exchange contact details.

Once again he wanted details of nearby primary schools.

The man speaks with a slight American accent. On these occasions he was wearing glasses and wore a black jacket with silver panels down the side.

The Police have been informed of all incidents.

We would ask you as parents to contact the police at once if your child reports any incident.’

Thank you