Bringing the Queen Edith’s community together

It was a real delight to spend time today at the Queen Edith’s Share Fair and Community Environment (Skip) Day on Wulfstan Way, organised by the Queen Edith’s Community Forum with support from City Council’s Streets and Open Spaces team. I was reminded about the event by Sam Davies, the chair of QECF, who seemed busy helping out at every stall.

There was so much going on, with ‘bring and take’ stalls, a skip for larger items that had no further use (though we hope most of the material will be recycled), dog chipping, and stalls from local groups.

Lots of activity at the event
Lots of activity at the event

The day was a great example of what a community can do when they work together, and all of the organisers deserve massive thanks for their efforts. As well as helping people get rid of household items they no longer need, these sorts of events encourage people to get to know their neighbours and bring communities together.

The City Council was there to help
The City Council was there to help

The City Council’s City Homes team have a regular programme offering community environment days (or ‘skip days’) so do get in touch if you’d like to find out how you could arrange something for your community

See https://www.cambridge.gov.uk/community-environment-days for more details –

We have them planned for

21 September: Ashfield Road – organised by our Streets and Open Spaces team
28 September: King’s Hedges (meet at The Ship)
5 October: Bliss Way and Tenby Close – organised by our Streets and Open Spaces team
12 October: Ditton Fields
19 October: Byron Square – organised by our Streets and Open Spaces team
6 November: Whitehill Road – organised by our Streets and Open Spaces team

We declare a biodiversity emergency

In May this year Cambridge City Council declared a biodiversity emergency and pledged:

to provide leadership and to ensure that we work with all organisational departments, partners and our communities to reverse the decline in biodiversity and deliver measurable biodiversity net gain within Cambridge and the wider region.

I was proud to propose the motion, and as I introduced it this is what I said:

I’d like to stand before you and say how pleased I am that Cambridge City Council is leading the way in acknowledging the significance of species collapse, and pledging action, but I can’t, because I fear that even this will be too little, too late.

I hope I’m wrong, and that what we do today makes a contribution to turning us away from the ecological and agricultural disaster that faces us

Continue reading “We declare a biodiversity emergency”

Replacing gas mains in Trumpington

As I cycled into the Guildhall this morning I went down Porson Road and noticed the large yellow pipes standing ready to be laid along the road. Yellow is the colour used for gas, and although I was pleased to see that Trumpington’s vital infrastructure is being properly maintained, I also wondered how long we will want to keep providing gas to people’s homes when we are planning to becoming a zero carbon economy by 2030.

We all know that if we are to avoid dangerous levels of global warming then we need to change many of our current practices and assumptions, especially here where so much of our daily life and industry rely on oil, coal and gas. However we don’t seem to reflect on what that means – and it will mean not piping gas to everyone to burn, however convenient it may be.

Clearing Floating Pennywort from the Cam

At the weekend I had an enjoyable if tiring time canoeing on the Cam near Horningsea. It wasn’t just a pleasant afternoon on the river – I had joined enthusiastic members of the Cam Valley Forum and the Cambridge Canoe Club as they embarked on their mission to clear floating pennywort from the river.

This involved carefully pulling the weed away from the bank and collecting it in buckets on our canoes, and then either putting it on the bank to provide useful compost or putting it into a boat being used by the Cam Conservators.

Katie canoeing
katie canoeing

It was a beautiful summer day, and great to work with such a committed group of volunteers. And my upper arms really benefited from the exercise!

river in the evening
river in the evening

Dealing with the real issues Trumpington faces

Barbara Ashwood quoted in the Cambridge News

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.

Continue reading “Dealing with the real issues Trumpington faces”

We Need Safe Junctions in Trumpington

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.

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

Continue reading “Hedgehogs on my mind”

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.

Continue reading “Thinking about an inclusive Cambridge”

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.