Hedgehogs on my mind

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.

Hedgehog Awareness Week: https://www.britishhedgehogs.org.uk/hedgehog-awareness-week-2019/

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.

Hedgehog decline:https://www.independent.co.uk/environment/hedgehogs-decline-uk-climate-change-agriculture-ptes-a8525651.html

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Thinking about an inclusive Cambridge

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.

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Campaigning in Trumpington

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.

Rob, May, Katie and Matt

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,

Cambridge Half Marathon

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.

It’s been a fabulous day.

Free Trees for Babies

I visited Cherry Hinton Park this morning to join the City Council’s tree officers as they gave out free trees to parents who had signed up for the council’s long-running Free Trees for Babies scheme. 

Apparently the most popular tree is the winter-flowering cherry tree, not just because it looks beautiful but because it fits in the smaller Cambridge gardens!

If you want to sign up for next year – the trees are all delivered during the dormant season – then go the website at https://www.cambridge.gov.uk/free-trees-for-babies

Labour: delivering for Cambridge in 2019

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.

Abbey

A great charity called Groundwork have built a stage in the community garden – watch out for events and entertainment!

Castle

A Vole Hole in Eddington

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!

Cherry Hinton

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.

Coleridge

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. 

East Chesterton

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.

King’s Hedges

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.

Market

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.

Newnham

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.

Petersfield

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).

Queen Edith’s

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.

Romsey

There will be temporary bridge for pedestrians and cyclist next to the Mill Road bridge during the 8 week shutdown.

Trumpington

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.

Chinese New Year 2019

This Sunday the Cambridge Chinese Community Centre held its Spring Festival Fair and Gala Performance at the Netherhall School.

There was Chinese food, entertainment activities and Chinese New Year gifts and decorations, and I was fortunate enough to attend with the Deputy Mayor, Councillor Gerri Bird.

It was lovely to experience the New Year celebrations and reminded me of my childhood in Hong Kong

Remembering Nigel Gawthrope

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.

Helping our Hedgehogs Get Around

It’s always interesting being on the Cambridge City Council planning committee. Every application is interesting and generally the discussions help to understand the pressure and opportunities that are being considered on a daily basis in this lovely city.

The National Planning Policy Framework (2018) does seek measurable net gains in biodiversity and this is expected in larger applications but I believe, it is something that we must endeavour to consider on every application.

Today we took a step in the right direction. An application was approved for three new council houses, which is something worth celebration on its own, but it was agreed that as the application involved new fencing an information item could be added as part of the approval. And this is what will be added:

Informative on wildlife access gaps within garden boundary treatments

The applicant is reminded that the National Planning Policy Framework (2018) seeks all developments to ‘minimise impacts on and provide net gains for biodiversity, including establishing coherent ecological networks that are more resilient to current and future pressures’. Residential gardens are increasingly important refuges for declining species such as hedgehogs and local enhancement can be achieved through provision of access gaps (minimum 130mm x 130mm) within boundary features to connect these habitats.

It’s a small thing, but it will matter to the local hedgehogs!

The image shows a hedgehog highway sign, available to buy from the People’s Trust for Endangered Species website.

Taking Your Petition to the County Council

The petition calling for a temporary speed reduction on the guided busway in Trumpington now has nearly 4000 signatures and we are still pushing hard for the proposal to be adopted by the bus operators.

Yesterday I spoke to the County Council about the issue, as they are the authority responsible for the busway. I felt that the councillors understood the issues, and want to thank them all and especially Jocelynne Scutt for their comments.  The meeting has been reported in the Cambridge News – thanks to Josh Thomas for being there.

We have already seen some changes – the white lines and warnings on the busway are a welcome development – but we need more.

This is what I said in my allotted three minutes:

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