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.
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!
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.
It’s hard to miss the growing number of cargo bikes in Cambridge, being used to ferry everything from children to shopping to deliveries around. They use a lot less energy than cars do, and take up a lot less space, and I think they are a really valuable alternative means of transport.
Like many car owners, I’d like to use my car a lot less, but the thought of cycling a long distance with a week’s shopping, especially when it’s got heavy things like cat food or bulky things like toilet roll, is a bit of a deterrent.
Which is one reason why I was excited to see that there’s a new generation of electric cargo bikes, offering those of us who like to cycle but could do with a little help the perfect alternative to a car.