Remembering Millicent Fawcett

I was out canvassing today on the final weekend of the local election campaign, and took the opportunity to visit the blue plaque put up recently in honour of one well-known former resident of Trumpington – Dame Millicent Fawcett.

The plaque on Brookside acknowledges this incredible woman and her fight for votes for women, on the centenary of some women getting the vote – but I never forget that not everyone gets to vote, even today.

I grew up in a place and at a time when none of the adult members of my family had a vote – Hong Kong when it was a colony – and even now their votes count for little now that it is a special administrative region of China.  Perhaps that’s one reason why I value my own vote and have impressed on my daughters and all the young people I know how important it is to use their vote.

Plaque to Millicent Fawcett
Plaque to Millicent Fawcett

It’s not just about voting, it’s also about who you can vote for. In democracies it is important that we have a diverse group of elected representatives – not just women but people from different class, ethnic backgrounds and social groups, of different sexual orientation, with varying pasts and aspirations and ideals and interest, so that the discussions at councils and in parliaments and assemblies can reflect the glorious variety of the world and not just the views of a bunch of like-minded lucky people.

We need diversity so that people can bring a different perspective, one that is grounded in their life experience and valuable wherever it is heard.  That’s why I’m standing, along with the other women candidates: we want to bring that perspective to Cambridge City Council.

And I hope that all women will consider standing for other things, because nobody is going to ask us to take over from the men – we have to stand up and fight for it just as we women candidates are doing this time around.

Katie next to plaque to Millicent Fawcett
Katie next to plaque to Millicent Fawcett

Cycling in Trumpington

Every year the fine people at the Cambridge Cycling Campaign send out a survey to all of the candidates for local elections asking for our views on a range of cycling-related issues.  This year’s survey will be published on April 24 but I thought I’d share my thoughts – and some photographs I took recently while cycling around the southern part of Trumpington.

As a candidate for local government, I have spent a lot of time considering ways to make Trumpington better. As an architect, I think about the built environment, and the way that physical changes can make people’s lives better; as a regular and frequent cyclist, I have noticed a number of things around the ward that I think need to be reconsidered. As I engaged with the Cambridge Cycle Campaign about transit choice in Trumpington, I realised I had a lot of strong opinions about the state of infrastructure across our community that I wanted to explore in greater detail. This blog post is an outgrowth of that process.

I have lived in Cambridgeshire for over thirty years and have always cycled – when I’ve lived in the City it’s been my main way of getting around. All of my family members cycle regularly and our garage is filled with bikes. I’m obviously concerned about road safety for my children, and myself as I grow older.

When I consider transit provision, my priority is to protect the most vulnerable road users, and improve their experience first – this includes pedestrians, but also the elderly, people with limited mobility, and anyone else who struggles to get around. The ward has seen major transit improvements in the last few years with the introduction of the guided Busway and new, wide pavements and cycle lanes along Addenbrookes Road, and in the award-winning design of some of the new housing estates. There is also good cycling provision from Bateman Street south to Alpha Terrace, and wide pavements along the High St.

That said, there is a dramatic drop-off in quality from Alpha Terrace to the M11 junction. There are two areas about which I feel particularly strong: first, the junction that governs access to Waitrose, particularly the right-turn lane facing south; and second, Hobson Avenue junction across the guided Busway. The right-hand turn lane into Waitrose is only long enough for about six cars to queue, creating backups that stretch north – sometimes literally for miles.

Map showing issues
Map showing issues

The result is a dangerous junction for cars and especially for cyclists (there is no pedestrian crossing, which is a separate issue), as well as traffic congestion along the length of Trumpington Road. Hobson Avenue, where a road crosses the guided Busway, is a dangerous intersection that requires a two-pronged approach: it needs changes to the signalisation and road users need to be educated about the dangers inherent in the junction. I would seek to restore priority to the Busway users. At present, not only is there a long wait for the signal to change, it is too short for anyone but an able-bodied adult to cross in time, which is also something that could be improved.

There are also many areas of Trumpington that need to be re-considered. The new junction of Addenbrookes Road and Shelford Road is disappointing because only three of the four roads are signalized – so pedestrians need to cross three roads to get across the street. There are other small changes – such as paving unpaved cycle tracks around the ward, and creating safe routes to primary schools – that could have a major impact on providing transport choice.

The crossing at Hobson's Ave should prioritise Busway users.
The crossing at Hobson’s Ave should prioritise Busway users.

As a resident of the Novo estate pointed out, many of the roads in new estates in Trumpington have not been adopted, and as a result see high traffic speeds and are becoming rat runs. There are also pedestrian/cycle tracks that, though heavily used, have fallen into disrepair, with inadequate drainage making them impassible after rain. Improving them – preferably without closing them, as that entails substantial disruption to regular users – would make a big difference to people who are car-free or experience limited mobility.

Pedestrian and cycle tracks become unusable in wet weather
Pedestrian and cycle tracks become unusable in wet weather

Ideally, the whole of Trumpington should be assessed for vulnerability, so that we can build resilience into the design of the city. The examples above are things that residents have brought to my attention or that I have noticed in my travels around the ward.

In addition to physical improvements, there are a few things I would like to see that would support better transit opportunities for all Trumpington residents. I would love to see bike racks added to Busway vehicles, preferably of the sort shown below (from Stuttgart, 2013. The more common fold-down racks only fit two cycles at a time). Adding an additional bus stop north of the turn-off to Addenbrookes would mean many more buses serving the Trumpington community. Making vulnerable road users a consideration in travel management plans (included in planning applications) would force developers and contractors to account for the impact of construction on pedestrians and cyclists, and mitigate situations where, for example, cycle lanes are obstructed by construction vehicles.

Stuttgart bus with bike rack
Stuttgart bus with bike rack

Trumpington has six state schools and seven private schools, and so cycling to and from school is a real prospective growth area in Trumpington. My first priority is the stretch of road south of Alpha Terrace, for families with children at Trumpington Meadows Primary School. Many of the children who attend the school need to cross Hauxton Road and they deserve a safe and pleasant route to school. Traffic in the Newtown area, where there are five schools, is particularly bad during school term time at rush hour. At other times of day and year, it is a relatively pleasant cycling environment.

If elected, I would seek to work with private schools to make school drop-off a safer and more seamless experience for everyone. We should work with the schools to create a better system – one that provides a more seamless experience for pupils and parents, and also helps to minimise traffic congestion for residents. In Trumpington we have both an opportunity and an obligation to address school traffic, which has an impact on everyone’s quality of life.

Adding a bus stop north of the Addenbrookes turn-off would make the buses more useful for Trumpington residents.
Adding a bus stop north of the Addenbrookes turn-off would make the buses more useful for Trumpington residents.

As a regular and frequent cyclist, I know of many places in Trumpington that could be improved for standard and non-standard cyclists alike. Each deserves individual consideration, but I would love for the ward to receive a comprehensive assessment of cycling strengths and weaknesses. In the meantime, I have learned so much from residents of Trumpington as I have been campaigning, and I have enjoyed getting a more in-depth and granular understanding of the issues that affect residents every day.

Campaigning hard in Trumpington

Lots of Labour Support in Trumpington!
Lots of Labour Support in Trumpington!

It’s just over two weeks to the Local Elections on May 3 and the last day you can register to vote – and remember that students can register and vote at both college and home addresses, and all EU citizens can vote in local elections.

It’s been great to see so much support on the doorstep in Trumpington as our campaigners go out talking to people – I hope to meet many more of you   between now and May 3.

 

The Campaign Kicks Off..

It’s a month until the local elections on May 3 and campaigners, canvassers and candidates across the City are out talking to people about the issues that matter and asking for support for Labour. I’m proud to be the Labour candidate for Trumpington, and will be out almost every day between now and the election.  Here’s my first campaign video  – do get in touch if you’d like to discuss any of the issues raised.

[There are subtitles if you would like them]

Visiting the Clay Farm Centre

At Clay Farm Centre
At Clay Farm Centre

Yesterday I went to the Trumpington Spring Fair in the new Clay Farm Centre, which is due to open fully on 4th April.  There was so much going on! I enjoy sewing and Lego and was very impressed by the Lego structures being built by the kids and the tapestries created by the Trumpington Stitchers!

Trumpington is a great place to live and work, and there are lots of community resources that we can all make use of.  The new estates offer much needed homes for many and are welcome – but with lots of new residents we need shops, community resources, transport links and everything else to be in place to ensure a high quality of life.

The doctors surgery and pharmacy are due to relocated to the excellent new community centre, but we need to keep the pressure on to have the path link from Foster Road to Lime Avenue, the Addenbrooke’s-Trumpington Footpath, upgraded from an often muddy track to a well surfaced path with adequate lighting.  I also hope another really useful facility uses the shop vacated by the current pharmacy to keep the small shopping centre thriving.

If I’m elected I’ll work to ensure that the interests of everyone living in Trumpington are taken into account in planning the future growth of Cambridge.

Cooking in the Community

Last week I was one the volunteers who helped prepare the evening meals with Food Cycle Cambridge.  This is a great charity that receives unsold food from shops and supermarkets to prepare regular meals for people across Cambridge.

Hard at work in the kitchen
Hard at work in the kitchen

I first volunteered in 2016, just before Christmas.  Now that my children have left home I don’t have to worry so much about family obligations, and I’ve also become less happy with the excess consumption that is so common.  I decided that over this period I will always try to give to the community, so rather than have an office Christmas dinner last year the office was closed and those who wished to volunteer joined me at Food Cycle.

This year we did the same.

The community kitchen isn’t big, but it was fine for the team of four plus our supervisor to prepare and cook two dishes for the main course and two desserts, all vegetarian dishes and the majority vegan.  It was a challenge but fun and we were all proud of the dishes made.

A meal being prepared
A meal being prepared

My part in the evening was very small, but it has made a big impact on me. I was a cog in wheel that was turning to do good.  There are many more wheels turning to improve the lives of others and every effort to assist is important.

If I’m elected to represent Trumpington then I’ll work hard to support great initiatives like this. We shouldn’t expect volunteers to replace services that should be properly funded, like libraries, but there are many areas of our lives where voluntary work can make a difference to people – and be rewarding for those taking part, as I’ve found myself.

Find out more about Food Cycle Cambridge on their website.

 

The Day After

I spent this morning at Cambridge Guildhall as votes were counted from yesterday’s election. Sadly, I wasn’t successful and the Liberal Democrats held the seat.

Trumpington

Donald Marshall Adey 1,116 (Lib Dem)

Ceri Barbara Galloway 204 (Green)

Shapour Meftah 694 (Con)

Katie Thornburrow 847 (Lab)

However I’m enormously grateful to everyone who voted for me as your Labour candidate, and would like to thank everyone who took time to talk to me or our many canvassers during the campaign – it was a pleasure to meet all of you. I won’t stop campaigning for Trumpington, doing what I can to help the area I live in.  But first, there’s a General Election to fight…

Onwards...
Onwards…

The last push

It’s the weekend before the election on May 4, and we’re getting everything ready for the day – including sorting out computer and printers for our Committee Room, arranging lists of volunteers to help on the day, and putting our final leaflet together to deliver.

This campaign has been an extraordinary experience for me, and I’ve been lucky enough to work with an amazing team of people, including my campaign manager, George, whose energy, insights and sheer dedication have made all the difference.  The Labour Party is built on cooperation, and I’ve enjoyed helping out with other campaigns around Cambridge and been grateful for the help we’ve received in Trumpington.

And on Friday we’ll know how it went.

Out on the doorstep

On Sunday April 24th we were joined on the canvassing trail by Martyn Ware, well known as a member of Heaven 17 and a founder of The Human League – it was great to have his support speaking to people in Trumpington, especially as the snap General Election has given our campaigning even more importance!

Bin collections

One of the things that people often raise when we’re out canvassing in Trumpington is bin collections – whether it’s because the new schedule means that collections or missed or because of problems with bin lorries getting into some of the newer developments.

Having rubbish pile up is a real problem, and the City Council puts a lot of effort into making sure this doesn’t happen – but sometimes things do go wrong.

You can report a missed bin collection using the City Council website – there are also details of service changes and other useful information that may help.  See https://www.cambridge.gov.uk/report-a-missed-bin

Recycling Centre - Hanover Court - geograph.org.uk - 974556

(image Sebastian Ballard [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)