Lamppost levy false alarm

NWSeveral residents involved in Neighbourhood Watch schemes in Cambridge have been warned by police that they will in future have to register signs that they fix to lampposts, and pay £25 for each one, plus surveying costs.

Such charges have not been imposed.

In some areas, you do have to register signs that are fixed to lampposts, in the interests of safety.

But not in Cambridgeshire. Cambridgeshire County Council has not authorised Balfour Beatty to make charges, and councillors have not approved such charges.

 

UPDATE (18th June 2016)

We have pursued this at the Council and it transpires that an officer gave an instruction to Balfour Beatty when he shouldn’t have done. That has now been countermanded and we have received the following advice:

Thank you for forwarding on the residents’ concerns. We have no current or future plans to charge Neighbourhood Watch Associations for signs which are already in place and I have confirmed this with Balfour Beatty. Neighbourhood Watch Associations are not subject to fees for the installation of new Neighbourhood Watch signs at this time and if we do consider introducing charges in the future, Balfour Beatty and ourselves will notify Neighbourhood Watch Associations as to the requirements of any new installations.

Hopefully this has provided you with reassurance about the situation and I would be grateful if you could forward this information on to any concerned residents that come forward. Neither Balfour Beatty or ourselves have officially issued any information in relation to this but I will contact Neighbourhood Watch leaders to let them know the above.

This doesn’t mean the idea of the charges is dead – the Conservatives on the County Council may seek to get the plan agreed at committee. We in the Liberal Democrat group will be voting against, but any feedback from you would be helpful.

Hills Road cycle lanes: Frequently Asked Questions

Hills Road cycle lanesCambridgeshire County Council’s new cycle lanes on Hills Road have generated a record number of questions and concerns. Here are some of the most common ones:

Q: Why is Cambridgeshire County Council doing this?

A: The County wishes to enhance cycleways in order to meet the needs of the rapidly growing population, which will result in more traffic. The County would like to keep the extra motorised traffic to a minimum and encourage other modes of transport. Similar schemes have substantially increased cycling in other areas, particularly amongst children.

Q: How is it being funded?

A: Through central government’s Cycle City Ambition Fund.

Q: Who approved it?

A: County Council Highways officers identified Hills and Huntingdon Roads as main routes into Cambridge that would benefit from enhancement. The scheme was first presented to Cambridgeshire County Council’s Economy and Environment Committee in May 2014. Councillors deferred it as they were unhappy with elements of the scheme including the floating bus stops, and changes were made. It was passed in July 2014 at the second time of asking, with an undertaking to conduct traffic surveys before and after implementation, an amendment I requested, in order to assess the level of rat-running as a result of the narrower road carriageway. One survey was done last year and another will be done after completion.

Q: Will any trees be felled?
A: The County Council has stated categorically that no trees will be felled. Some pruning of vegetation that encroaches onto the public highway may be necessary.

Q: Will new rubbish bins be provided at bus stops?
A: Providing litter bins is a City Council responsibility. The County Project Team is discussing with City Council about replacement of old bins with new ones and other locations where a new bin may be desirable.

IMAG1839Q: How will works across junction mouths be organised?
A: Junctions are being closed off at weekends to allow works to be safely and quickly undertaken. Letterdrops to residents and advanced warning notices inform those affected at least one week in advance.

Q: How will work on junction mouths of cul de sacs be organised?
A: Junction works to be constructed one half at a time with access maintained into/out of the cul de sac.

Q: Could the concrete layby near Glebe Road be used as a bus stop?
A: This layby is halfway between two other bus stops so if a bus stop went there, the other two stops would be removed, meaning bus users would have a long walk to the next stop.

Q: What consultation took place before this scheme was agreed?
A: The proposals were advertised in FOCUS, as well as via a streetletter from myself to all residents in Hills Road and several of the side roads. The County Council delivered leaflets with feedback forms to a wide local area and held local staffed events in March 2014. Drawings and information on the proposed scheme were put on the County Council website, together with contact details.  The Team also had information stalls at Hills Road VI Form College, Long Road VI Form College and at an Addenbrooke’s Sustainability Event.

In November 2014 the County Cycling Team wrote again to residents inviting them to a pre-construction event at Rock Road Library — an opportunity to find out about boundary issues, construction sequence etc.  This event was well attended by residents of Hills Road. The letter included details of where the final drawings could be seen on the website and asked residents to provide email addresses if they wanted updates on the scheme.

Q: What will happen when there are weddings and funerals at the church? What about hearses and wedding cars?
A: The Cycling Team has been liaising with St John’s Church. During construction, the cycleway works will be left in an appropriate state to accommodate wedding cars and hearses. After completion, wedding cars and hearses will be able to park for the duration of services, as the new cycle lanes are not ‘mandatory’ and there are no loading restrictions attached to the double yellow lines.

Q: Is the width of the carriageway being reduced?
A: Yes, the carriageway width is being reduced, to 6m.

Q: Will there be a loss of grass verges?
A: The roadside verges next to the road will go, but there is a half metre sedum strip between the cycleway and the footway on both sides of the road.

On the outbound side of Hills Road, the verges next to the houses will be largely the same except where space is needed for the floating bus stops.   On the citybound side (the side with the current shared-use cycle/footway) the verges next to the houses are increasing.

Here is a link to the drawings showing details:
On the west side of Hills Road (S to N), from No. 284 to 256, and from 248 to 228, a 800 or 900mm wide strip of footway will be turned into new verge. From No. 226 to Homerton College this strip widens to between 1.4 and 1.6m and then it is about 2.5m wide running past Homerton College. On the east side (S to N),  there are no significant areas of new verge until you get to the block north of Glebe Road, No.s 253 to 247 have 1.2m wide new verges. Re. the loss of those verges on the residence side of the footway, the only real areas where there is loss of verge is near the floating bus stops (and to some extent near crossings) but this does vary depending on the location.

Q: Was Cambridge City Council consulted?
A: The City Council is a statutory consultee for every cycling project within Cambridge.   The Project Team was keen to gain the input of City’s Urban Design team on the Huntingdon Road and Hills Road schemes – a meeting with the City’s Head of Urban Design was arranged before the schemes were approved and, in neither case were concerns raised about the proposals.

Q: Are our streetlights being replaced to facilitate the cycleway scheme?
A: No, the streetlighting on Hills Road is not being replaced as a result of the cycleway scheme but as part of the County’s streetlighting replacement programme – as such, the lighting along the whole length of Hills Road is being updated to conform with new British standards.

Q: At present, the pavement cycleway on the northbound side of Hills Road provides a convenient way of turning into Luard Road. Won’t the new arrangement be more dangerous?
A: The main carriageway on Hills Road will be narrowed to 6m, which should reduce traffic speeds. Equally, the speeds of vehicles exiting side roads should be slowed by the tighter turning movements required by the new scheme.

The Road Safety Audit 2 did not raise any issues about the changes to this junction, nor the removal of the shared-use foot/cycleway. The new scheme (unlike the shared-use foot/cycleway) gives cyclists on Hills Road priority through the junction with Luard Road so there should be a reduction in the number of cycle-related accidents at this location. Less confident cyclists on Hills Road may choose to pull in and wait on the left side of the new southbound 2.3m cycle lane before turning right. The County Council will monitor the situation and may consider installing a central island that would offer cyclists some protection whilst waiting to turn right.

Q: How will it be made clear that vehicles cannot drive across or park on the cycleway?

A: Cycle symbols will be added to the cycle lane and double yellow lines will be painted on the main carriageway (next to the outside edge of the cycle lane) to prevent parking in the new lane. This work should be taking place on the northbound side in  November 2015.

Q: How will the construction for the southbound side of Hills Road be handled?

A: The intention is to keep the citybound shared-use path open whilst the outbound works are carried out – to ensure safety for cyclists and pedestrians during the construction phase. The footpath work will be done first, then the cycleway and ‘Cambridge kerb’.

Q: Whom do I contact for more information?
A: If it is an operational matter, contact Grant Weller at Cambridgeshire County Council: [email protected] If your question is about consultation or general principles, contact Mike Davies: [email protected]

MONDAY 5TH OCTOBER: REPORT ON THE PRESENTATION ON CYCLING SCHEMES AT SOUTH AREA MEETING, ST JOHN’S CHURCH, HILLS ROAD.

Streetlighting contractor told to halt Hills Road works pending consultation

Cambridgeshire County Council’s streetlighting contractor Belfour Betty will be replacing streetlights in Hills Road, to conform to new British Standards for traffic routes. There will be no fewer lights than at present, but the new columns will be further from the kerb, and spaced out differently.

The streetlighting works are being synchronized with the construction of the segregated cycle lanes. This makes good sense, as it avoids having the road dug up twice, and all the associated disruption.

What I am not happy about is that the County Council’s contractor, Balfour Beatty, is digging holes and trenches in the road before consultation. I have taken this up at the County Council, and Balfour Beatty will now cease work until consultation has taken place with Hills Road residents.

Balfour Beatty’s website shows plans for the new lighting scheme: www.lightingcambridgeshire.com/news and you can also view them here:

If you would find it easier to look at a printed version, please get in touch with me. If you have any comments about the changes, please let us have them by Tuesday 17th February so that we can give feedback to the contractor before they make their firm proposals and commence formal consultation.

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.