Budgens new SMOOTH forecourt

Many of us do our shopping at Budgens at Adkin’s Corner, just outside the Queen Edith’s ward. While the supermarket itself is modern and pleasant to shop in, its car park is full of monster potholes and hard to traverse. When it rained, the potholes fill up and the area resembles Venice gone grey.

As the Labour councillors representing this area seem to have taken no action, Lib Dem councillors took on the challenge of getting the forecourt sorted. The County Council has acknowledged responsibility for it and repairs are on order.

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:

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Defend local pubs and independent shops

On Tuesday 10th July Liberal Democrat MP for Cambridge, Julian Huppert, will propose new measures to defend local pubs and independent shops from being taken over. Under the current system, councils and local residents often have no opportunity to stop the process.

Julian will ask to bring a Bill preventing the demolition or change of use of a pub or local independent shop without planning permission. Planning permission would also be needed before premises or land could be used for a supermarket.

If you agree that pubs and independent shops need greater protection against being lost, please sign Julian’s petition here.

Independents Day: support individual shops

Join the Independents Day campaign and strike a blow for individuality by buying at least one thing from a local, independent shop.

There’s a great selection in the Queen Edith’s ward alone – everything from soy sauce at the Chinese supermarket on Wulfstan Way to koi fish at the tropical fish shop on Blinco Grove.

Cambridge City Council and Love Cambridge, the City Centre partnership, are backing a campaign to help the High Street by Skillsmart Retail and the National Skills Academy for Retail. They have got together with independent retailers and trade associations to encourage people to celebrate diversity on the High Street and support their local, independent retailers on 4th July.

Retailers can download the ‘Your high street needs you!’ poster online, ‘like’ the campaign on Facebook and follow it on Twitter, and download a campaign toolkit at: www.skillsmartretail.com/IndependentsDay.

To keep up with the campaign, follow it: twitter @Retail_IndieDay or via facebook.com/independentsday.

Your vote is needed again – this time for charity’s sake

Every year, Sainsbury’s runs a Charity of the Year contest.

I shall be giving my vote to the Cambridge City Foodbank – which collects donations from shoppers at Sainsbury’s in Coldhams Lane, Cambridge. They also collect at Waitrose and Asda , but I believe Sainsbury’s was the first Cambridge supermarket to welcome Foodbank into their foyer – at least, that’s what they said when I did a session last year.

Cambridge City Foodbank would really appreciate your visiting Sainsbury’s and voting for them as Charity of the Year. This will strengthen their position and their chances of being able to continue collecting there on a monthly basis. You can vote any time between tomorrow (9th May) and the end of May. You need to fill in a form saying what the charity contributes to the local community, and how it helps people. Here is a copy of the form, in the Sainsbury’s ‘It’s Time to Nominate your Favourite Local Charity leaflet: CAMCANON_Canon018_1648_001

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One World is Enough, Cambridge Fairtrade pioneer

My Nepalese cardigan from One World is Enough

Yesterday, I visited One World is Enough on Bridge Street with the Chair of the Cambridge Fairtrade Steering Group, Revd Pat Heap. We were there for a photo to illustrate a story for the Cambridge News about the Fairtrade retail audit that we are carrying out during Fairtrade Fortnight.

One World is Enough was the first fairtrade shop in Cambridge, and is unique in the city, I think, in stocking only fairtrade goods and it’s run by Peter and Laura Harlow. It is an eclectic cornucopia of beautiful and original clothes, jewellery and gifts from around the world – everything from floaty dresses for evenings out to vivid and cosy rainbow jumpers and hoodies.

I first got to know the shop and them about twelve years ago, when they were on Mill Road. They’ve been active in the fairtrade movement in Cambridge for years and were involved in gaining fairtrade city status for Cambridge back in 2004. The most memorable event leading up to that was a Fairtrade Fashion Show they led for us at the old drama centre in Glisson Road.

Since then, they’ve moved, via market stalls and an Internet operation, to their present site on Bridge Street, close to Quayside. Much more footfall and an alternative way to spend your time and your money, and as they put it, you’re ‘helping skilled craftspeople in developing countries to help themselves’.

Here is the way the Cambridge News reported the retail audit, in their Style Guide: How to stick to Fairtrade shops in the city.

We look forward to hearing all your nominations for new shop windows needing our Fairtrade stickers!

Favourite Fairtrade place in Cambridge? Please tell!

Watching the Mayor put up the first Fairtrade Cambridge sticker

Yesterday, the Mayor of Cambridge, Councillor Ian Nimmo-Smith, put up the first Cambridge Fairtrade sticker in the Green Coffee Company and gave out stickers to Fairtrade retailers, including the Co-op, Harriet Kelsall Jewellery Design and One World Is Enough.

The stickers are sponsored by the Co-operative, which was the first big supermarket to stock Fairtrade goods back in 1992.

Cambridge shoppers are being asked to keep an eye out for Fairtrade goods when they go shopping – and pass on their findings to the Cambridge Fairtrade Steering Group by email ([email protected]) or via their blog http://fairtradecambridge.wordpress.com. Having a good list will help us when we come to renew our Fairtrade City status, and we would like to know about anywhere that sells a range of Fairtrade products. Look out for the green and blue Fairtrade mark.

Cambridge has been a Fairtrade City since  1994.

New Sainsbury’s store awarded drinks licence

I attended a hearing of Cambridge City Council‘s Licensing Panel, which granted a premises licence to Sainsbury’s for its new store on the Cambridge Leisure Park. The store is not trading yet, but is likely to open early next year, underneath the budget hotel — and opposite Tesco’s.

As explained in my previous post, the Leisure Park was designated a cumulative impact zone.because of high levels of booze-fuelled crime in the Hills Road/ Cherry Hinton Road area and a high number of places selling alcohol – 17 on the Leisure Park alone, plus wine shops and off-licences nearby. This means that new drinks licences are only issued if the applicant can demonstrate that their operation will not make existing alcohol-related crime worse.

Premises licence applications are not well publicised, and they go through automatically if there are no objections. When I first heard about this one, there were no objections on file, so I put in my own. I did this because first: I cannot see how a new store selling alcohol can avoid making the alcohol-related crime worse, and secondly: because I thought the proposed finish time of 11 p.m. was too late. I asked that if the committee were minded to approve the application, that the drinks sales should stop at 9 p.m., as does the Sainsbury’s in St Andrew’s Street.

There have been three other objections: one from the manager of the Essentialz shop on the Hills Road Bridge, one from the chair of the Rustat Road Residents’ Association, and one from the police. The objections performed a function, as they enhanced the dialogue between the police and the supermarket, so that by the time of the meeting yesterday, the application had been amended for the better, including an earlier closing time of 10 p.m. (for the drinks sales, not the store). There was also an undertaking to provide security guards on Friday and Saturday nights, and to have the alcohol area locked with shutters outside licence hours. There will be no strong beer or cider on sale and Sainsbury’s will operate a policy of asking anyone  looking under 25 to show ID. They will join CAMBAC, (Cambridge Businesses Against Crime).

The police and the residents’ association were satisfied with the changes and withdrew their objections, but the hearing still went ahead, as there were still two objections sustained.

I am impressed with the provisions that have been put in place and I hope they work. Sainsbury’s assured us that they have a national pricing policy and are not likely to get into a price war with Tesco’s (also on the Leisure Park) – but there are other outlets nearby and I hope they behave responsibly too.

We shall wait and see.

A Farmers’ Market for Queen Edith’s

Would you like to see a Farmers’ Market in Queen Edith’s? Possibly outside the Wulfstan Way shops, or in the Hills Road area?

A farmers’ market is a market in which farmers, growers or producers from a defined local area are present in person to sell their own produce, direct to the public. All products sold should have been grown, reared, caught, brewed, pickled, baked, smoked or processed by the stallholder. For more information, see http://www.farmersmarkets.net/

Farmers’ markets are a great way of bringing producers and customers from the same area together. Not only do they support the local economy, but they gives you fresh and healthy food and they reduce food miles – helping the environment as well as making life easier for those who cannot get into town easily.

If you’d like to be involved, please contact me.