All around the world…

Last Friday (March 21) I published a post here about the City Council’s decision to issue an enforcement notice telling the owners of Charter House to remove the controversial statue of Prince Philip known as ‘the Don’.

I thought people would want to know that the statue, generally considered to be rather ugly, and installed on Hills Road without planning permission, was going.

It turns out people did want to know- several million of them, by my reckoning.

After Gemma Gardner picked up the story for the Cambridge Independent, quoting me from my blog it went up on their website, with a link, and my husband noticed that it had made the main section of the Guardian.

I then received calls and messages from the BBC’s culture reporter Noor Nanji. Even though I was in the City Council Planning Committee I headed over to the site during our lunch break and recorded an interview which was then broadcast on the Six O’Clock news on BBC One and on Radio Four.

After planning I had a look online, to find that this small story about an unwanted statue had spread around the world. There were dozens of reports, in the New York Times, ITV, Time magazine, even GB News (!), and they all quoted me. Many linked to this blog, which has seen more traffic in the last day than it had all year.

I’ve had relatives in Switzerland, old teachers from Hong Kong, and friends from around the world tell me they’ve spotted me.

And there’s been a lot on social media – perhaps my favourite was Ruth Dyermond who saw the story and said “One of the amazing things about the Prince Philip statue story is the discovery the Cambridge council has standards for public art. This will be a surprise to everyone who lives here“.

We do, Ruth, and we try to enforce them. I’m an architect and the state of public spaces really matters to me and to the council. In fact, we’re currently working on getting rid of some other unwanted pieces of art – keep an eye out for action.

(of course not everyone is happy.. it’s nice to be officially labelled a ‘woke leftie’ by the Daily Mail).

Coverage so far

And on Reddit..

We need honesty in campaigns

As we head towards the local elections on May 2nd it is important that campaigning is honest and truthful. Unfortunately we’re already seeing examples of misleading statements and even completely false claims.

For example, in their latest desperate attempt to persuade people that they have any idea how to run the country, the Tories have decided to frighten people about council plans to improve neighbourhoods by managing traffic flows, making false claims about imminent road closures or other measures.

This includes sending out misleading leaflets designed to worry people who might fear that ambulances or fire engines could be delayed or that barriers could appear without consultation, which is not the case.

Tory leaflet

The leaflet plays on the fact that the city council, like every other local authority, has a duty to decide which roads in its area are part of the country’s ‘primary route network’ and which are local roads intended for local traffic. What it doesn’t point out is that this has been the policy since 2012, when the Tories were in power, and that it’s also covered by the Cambridgeshire Local Transport Plan passed by a Tory administration in 2014. The Tories are trying to stir up fears about the application of their own policies.

But making false claims, causing unnecessary worries, and denying their own policies seem to be all the Tories are capable of as they limp towards a General Election they are too frightened to call.

It gets worse. We all know that their campaign, including these expensively printed leaflets, benefits from millions of pounds raised from people like Frank Hester, who even Prime Minister Rishi Sunak admits has made racist comments about Diane Abbot MP.

The Tories have nothing to offer Cambridge, locally or nationally.

Great to See New Bike Shelter

Sometimes we have to wait for something good, and I believe that the new bike shelter in Monkswell has been worth the wait.

Back in 2019 I sponsored an Environmental Improvement Bid (EIP) when I was a councillor for that ward. By 2023 it was being consulted by residents and other ward councillors, and with their support and some topup funding from Housing the project could proceed.

This week it was completed and as you can see from the photographs it is a wonderful covered, biodiverse shelter, lit by an existing nearby light, with four Sheffield stands. I hope that it will be useful for residents and visitors, and that we can use this an example for more around our lovely city. I’ll certainly be using it when I visit Monkswell.

Thank you to the resident who first suggested it in 2019, the City Council who agreed the funding, and the Open Spaces team for getting this built and opened.

Don statue coming down

The controversial 13ft statue locally called ‘The Don’ that stands outside Charter House at 62-68 Hills Road, may finally have to be removed after ten years. Originally commissioned for a new office development in Cambridge, it was put up without planning permission, but now the Greater Cambridge Shared Planning service, on behalf of the city council has issued an enforcement notice and told the site owners to remove it.

The figure, supposed to represent Prince Philip in his robes as vice-chancellor of Cambridge University with mortar board and tassel, is cast in bronze but painted black and white, with a twisted bronze abstract ‘head’. It has been described as ‘kitsch-like’ and ‘detritus masquerading as public art’ and nobody, apart from the wealthy property developer who commissioned it, seems to have a good word to say about it.

I will be glad to see it gone, but remain angry that developers could just dump it in place and then force the council to spend officers’ time and money getting them to take it away. We deserve better.

Here’s the original refusal document.
Here’s a report on the controversy over who actually made it:
And here is the new enforcement notice
EN/00222/23 | Alleged erection of a sculpture ‘The Cambridge Don’ without permission | Charter House 62 – 68 Hills Road Cambridge Cambridgeshire CB2 1LA (

I made it.. thank you

I made it around the Cambridge Half Marathon on Sunday March 3rd, and was boosted by the amazing support from friends and family – and we raised over £450 for the important work of ‘Something To Look Forward To, a charity that benefits people affected by cancer who are also suffering as a result of loss of income due to their illness. The charity provides positive things to look forward to generously donated by companies and individuals.
Thank you!