It’s hard to know where to begin after reading the deeply objectionable remarks about Trumpington made by newly-elected LibDem county councillor Barbara Ashwood, reported in today’s Cambridge News. They reveal a set of attitudes towards the people she is supposed to represent that I find deeply depressing and worrying and that run completely counter to my views. They also seem to be based on hearsay and prejudice, with no supporting evidence.
I am sorry that Trumpington residents find that they have replaced the absent former LibDem Donald Adey with someone who seems to have no real understanding of the issues facing us and seeks to create social division by claiming – without any evidence – that newly arrived residents are responsible for problems in the ward.
I am also sorry that the real challenges that Trumpington faces as a result of rapid expansion will be overshadowed by this sort of ill-considered comment. We do have problems, because the ward has grown massively and this places a great strain on transport and other services. We have issues because we have less to spend after years of Tory and LibDem led cuts in public services as a result of the false narrative of austerity in public funding. And we have issues because many people are struggling, and some are failing, to keep their lives together.
If you shop at the Waitrose in South Trumpington, or pass it regularly on foot, cycle or by car, then you may have noticed how hard it can be to turn into or out of the site, and how badly positioned the traffic lights are.
The issue of safety at the junction was first brought to my attention during my campaigning in 2017 and 2018, when I heard from several families with small children about their concerns. It’s not just that the road is inherently unsafe as cars approaching from the south can always turn into the junction, but it’s also impossible to teach young children to cross the roads safely as there is no safe way to cross here.
There are often queues building up to get into the carpark, and then a rush to drive over during the short period when the cars have the right to cross. And the visibility for cars turning in when coming from the M11 junction can be an issue if not kept under control.
When the junction was built, long before the thousands of homes in Trumpington Meadows and the new junior school, it was a minor inconvenience as it was only really used by people walking to Monsanto or cyclists heading south.
However, it is now part of a major thoroughfare. There are many families who live in old Trumpington who cross twice a day to go to the Trumpington Meadows Primary School. People who live in Trumpington Meadows use this route to go to the Clay Farm Centre, and the recreation ground. Then there are visitors who go to the successful Country Park or want to walk over to Byron’s Pool Local Nature reserve. And of course, the Harston – Trumpington cycleway also uses this route.
With so many more people using the junction, it has become a real concern, and not just because of the way cars turn into the site. Last week I heard a really worrying story from a local resident about a father and son who were heading south and waiting to cross.
A bus was pulling out but did not have enough time or space to leave the site, so ended up blocking the pedestrian route over the junction. The family crossed in front of the bus, with the father leading the way. The lights went green and the bus pulled forward without the driver noticing that the young son had not reached the safety of the crossing island.
As a result, the boy was trapped between the railings and the departing bus, and ended up bruised, and in shock. It could have been so much worse.
It’s clear that as well as some traffic control we need a safe crossing for pedestrians and cyclists before someone is seriously hurt. Having worked closely with local residents to support the campaign to put safety measures in place along the guided busway, I hope we can pull together similar support here.
It’s Hedgehog Awareness Week, organised every year by the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS) to highlight the problems hedgehogs face and how you can help them. This year Cambridge City Council is helping Cambridge Hedgehogs, a new charity, to give hedgehogs a higher profile both during the campaign and all year around.
In the UK hedgehog numbers have declined by 97% since the 1950s, and this is a particular issue in Trumpington, where I’m the local councillor. When I was first out canvassing in Trumpington in 2016, I met many Green Party members living in the ward and we talked about biodiversity loss in the ward as development increased and the number of new dwellings was delivered. What seemed to be a thriving population of local hedgehogs had dwindled as new homes increased. I was shocked about the news, and that I had not been aware of the situation.
Yesterday evening, FeCRA (Federation of Cambridge Residents’ Associations) held their annual general meeting, which was followed by a talk from Professor Robin Hambleton about the inclusive approach for design of cities and a panel discussion on ‘How can Cambridge grow in a way that will make it Inclusive?’
I was invited to join the panel and delighted to be involved with this important event along with Daniel Zeichner MP, Chair of Woodland Trust Baroness Barbara Young , the Chief Executive of the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire Wildlife Trust Prof Brian Eversham, and Meredith Bowles of Mole Architects.
FeCRA represent 97 local residents’ associations and community groups across Cambridge, and at the event the chair of the meeting, Wendy Blyth, ran through some of their achievements, from questioning the County Council about procedure when ancient hedgerow was removed for a new cycleway, coordinating feedback on a space survey of Cambridge city centre, and organising a celebration of 53 new trees planted along Hills Road among many others.
There will be elections on May 2nd for Cambridge City Council, and I’ve been out talking to hundreds of local residents about the issues that they face and asking them to vote Labour. I’m not standing this year, but I want to support our great candidates.
Normally there would be one City Councillor being elected, but after absentee former Lib Dem Donald Adey finally stepped down from his role on the City and County Councils after almost a year claiming he could represent the people of Trumpington from 400 miles away in Fife, we actually have a chance to elect three new Labour councillors – two for the City, one for the County.
And we have some great candidates: May Shafi and Matt Bird are standing for the City Council and Rob Grayston for the County.
You’ll be seeing us all out and about between now and the election on May 2nd – and if you have any questions about the campaign and our policies, do get in touch,
It’s been an exciting morning for me, as along with my fellow councillor Anna Smith I’ve been attending the Cambridge Half Marathon, and watching thousands of dedicated runners take to the streets of Cambridge.
I’m the executive councillor for streets and open spaces, so my team has a lot of work to do getting things ready and clearing up afterwards, and I was really pleased to be able to thank them for all they do.
As well as saying a few words as the runners assembled, Anna and I got to mark the start of each stage of the race with a klaxon, and I’ve also been at the finish mark to cheer the runners as they arrive and present them with their prizes.
As executive councillor for Streets and Open Spaces I’m looking at what the council can do to improve the environment across Cambridge. I have a special concern for the variety of plant and animal life, or biodiversity, but there are lots of other important aspects such as air quality and pollution levels, keeping open spaces clean and tidy, planting trees and so on.
However the Council does many other things, so in my recent report to the Cambridge Labour Party I highlighted one or two from each ward.
A great charity called Groundwork have built a stage in the community garden – watch out for events and entertainment!
There is a tunnel under Eddington Avenue to allow the endangered species Great Crested Newt to travel safely around the green spaces – I hope they use it!
A garden management plan has been prepared for Cherry Hinton Hall Park – this is a requirement for a Green Flag award which we hope to win this year for the park.
The residents parking scheme has been widely appreciated except for some issues on Coleridge Road, but these will be resolved by removing the bays which create pinch points.
Planning consent for the improvements to community centre is granted and the building works might start around end of May with completion at the end of September.
There have been some very successful Traffic Regulation Orders to impose verge parking bans on King’s Hedges Road, Ramsden Square, Lovell Road and Campkin Road! Hope we can learn from this for other problem areas.
The City Council is planning for the roll out of suitable biodiversity friendly/ low maintenance treatments on ornamental bedding across parks/ road islands here and across the city. This is will help to support biodiversity across the city.
The first water vole sighting after winter was today – on the River Cam at Coe Fen! This is part of the most exciting ecological project Cambridge has carried out in some time.
The alcohol license at Tesco was refused as the Council reinforces of the cumulative impact zone policy. This was despite the police saying it could be accepted (subject to special terms).
Planning application has been submitted for a new Nightingale Pavilion, 19/0040/FUL. The application might be dealt with by 8 March.
53 trees have been planted along both sides of Hills Road.
There will be temporary bridge for pedestrians and cyclist next to the Mill Road bridge during the 8 week shutdown.
I have reported the following lights not working:
60 lights in the Park and Ride; 7 by the train station; 4 by the Foster Road bus stop on the guided busway; 5 on the Addenbrookes approach on the guided busway. And reported on some on un-numbered lampposts too.
I’ve been informed that Balfour Beatty now have the number plates to be fix onto the lamposts, and all the replacement equipment required to make the lights work, and that this is proceeding. After this there will be electrical checks every 6 months, and replacement of old light fittings every 3 years.
The sudden death of my fellow councillor and Mayor of Cambridge Nigel Gawthrope has left me shocked and saddened. Nigel was a committed and dedicated ward councillor, an enthusiastic and energetic Mayor, and a supportive friend to all of us who worked with him. I would like to send my condolences to his family.
As a newly-elected councillor Nigel offered me a great deal of support, and I learned quickly from him that you should not be intimidated by the complexity of council proceedings or the formalities of office, but should just get on and do the best job you could – while enjoying yourself wherever possible.
I was lucky enough to accompany Nigel on a range of official engagements, such as the official opening of Stourbridge Fair and the Mayor’s reception for the Christmas lights, and it was always clear just how much he enjoyed being Mayor and how much energy he put into the role. He understood that as Mayor he could bring attention to issues and causes that might otherwise not get noticed, and he was dedicated to doing everything he could for those who needed help.
I was honoured to serve with him on the City Council, and I know that all of my fellow councillors will work to ensure that Cambridge delivers on the promises he made to those he represented in King’s Hedges and throughout the City.