Hills Road cycleways: U-turn on total road closure but no end in sight

The Greater Cambridge City Deal has announced new plans for traffic management on Hills Road to facilitate cycleway construction.

Diversion routes for cycleway works

Having announced in January that they would close the top section of Hills Road entirely for five months, there has been some rowing back following public anger. The road between Long Road and the Addenbrooke’s roundabout will now be closed to outbound traffic for approximately 14 weeks, starting in June. There will be a diversion via Queen Edith’s Way and Fendon Road see right). The citybound lane will still be open to traffic.

The modifications to traffic management are welcome, but the works will still continue to be extremely disruptive to local residents as well as to people visiting the area, including the sixth form colleges and Biomedical Campus.

Outstaying their welcome

When the first phase of the cycleway works started in January 2015, it was scheduled to last 37 weeks. Over 2 years on, Phase I is still unfinished and it seems the Council cannot even organize simple things such as bus stop signs. The City Deal told us the second phase would take 11 weeks from February, but it is now not due to finish till September 2017. (They might like to update their website.

The project is the responsibility of the City Deal but is being managed by the County Cycling Team.They have given us a Q&A, which I can share with you here. FAQs Hills Road June TM

Any other questions or complaints should be directed to them at [email protected].

All aboard the Abbey-Addenbrooke’s Express!

115 busGood news! We’re getting a new bus service. Starting next month, the new 115 service, run by Whippet, will run hourly between the Newmarket Road Park & Ride site and Addenbrooke’s Hospital. The bus will stop at both Long Road and Hills Road sixth form colleges, St Bede’s and the Perse. In the other direction, it drops you off at shopping and leisure destinations such as Sainsbury’s, Mill Road, the Abbey Pool and the Cambridge United football ground.

The new service is a trial, funded by Section 106 developer contributions and will be made permanent if there is good take-up – so if you enjoy shopping, swimming or soccer, take a ride on the 115. Its first journey will be on Tuesday 3rd May.

Here’s a timetable and a handy map showing the route

Lib Dems announce free school lunches for infants

At the Liberal Democrat conference in Glasgow last week, I heard the good news that all pupils at infant schools in England are to receive free school lunches from September 2014.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg used his speech to Liberal Democrat conference to make the formal announcement. In addition, disadvantaged students at sixth form colleges and FE colleges in England will also be eligible from next September. Money is also being provided for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, should their devolved parliaments choose to spend the money on free lunches.

Free school meals were one recommendation in The School Food Plan, commisioned by the Government and launched in July by Henry Dimbleby and John Vincent. They found that in pilots where all children had been given a free school dinner, students were academically months ahead of their peers.

Nick Clegg said:

“Teaching healthy habits young, and boosting attainment early, will bring the biggest benefits. Universal free school meals will help give every child the chance in life that they deserve, building a stronger economy and fairer society.”

In closing the Liberal Democrat Conference in Glasgow, Lib Dem Leader Nick Clegg re-emphasized the impact the Liberal Democrats are having in Government. Click here for a copy of his full speech.

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.”

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]

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