Ironworks Time Capsule

[Image shows Gerri Bird, Richard Robertson and Katie Thornburrow with the steel time capsule]

The Ironworks development on the old council depot site off Mill Road has brought 182 new homes, half of them new council homes, as well as the much-needed community centre.

On Thursday 26th Cllr Gerri Bird, our executive councillor for housing, helped to bury a stainless steel time capsule in the Ironworks community garden, accompanied by council officers and representatives of Hills, the contractors.

The capsule contains material commemorating the area’s time as a main depot for council vehicles, as well as memories of those who worked there and local residents, and its location is marked with a plaque.

I cycle through the Ironworks on my way to and from Mill Road, and it’s a lovely development with a growing community. It’s nice to know its history hasn’t been forgotten.

Welcome to 2023

As we look forward to the year ahead, the challenges facing us may feel enormous, but as ward councillor for Petersfield and executive for planning and infrastructure on Cambridge City Council, I can promise that I will be working hard with my fellow Labour city councillors, colleagues on Cambridgeshire County Council, our Labour mayor of the Combined Authority, and Labour MP Daniel Zeichner to do everything in our power to deliver our promise of one Cambridge, fair for all.

For me, I’ll be focused on developing the new local plan, dealing with the consultation around the sustainable travel zone, continuing to raise awareness of the need to balance development goals with preservation of the environment and water supply, and dealing with the many issues that come as a ward councillor. But I’m sure that other things will come up.. they always do.

So here’s to 2023 and all that it offers.

Rail is key to Cambridge’s Future

I wrote an article recently for the East Anglian branch of Railfuture, raileast

You can see the whole issues here on the RailEast website


It’s a real privilege to represent Cambridge City Council on the East West Mainline Partnership, and an opportunity to ensure that we can make a full contribution to improving rail services in the region.

It also reflects the commitments made by Cambridge Labour, the controlling group on the City Council, to support further rail investment and improvements, acknowledging what has currently been achieved and building on it.

Our wider transport strategy is clear about the importance of rail and the City Council, via the County Council as the transport authority, made a commitment to support investment and improvements in the rail network through the 2014 Transport Strategy for Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire, which supports our current 2018 Local Plan.

It’s great that all the planned rail service improvements have been implemented along with many of the future service enhancement sought, but the main outstanding development is the Bedford to Cambridge connection.

Fortunately funding has been allocated for the feasibility, contracts and delivery of the Stage 3 Bedford to Cambridge section and, subject to ministerial approval, could be approved in the next few weeks but with so many changes in the government we may have to wait longer to know if this will be granted or not.

And we want to go further, with a proper assessment of routes from Norwich and Ipswich to Bristol and Cardiff via Cambridge. We need a more extensive, integrated rail system that is not London-centric, one that reflects changing patterns of living and working.

It is vital that we get this right: a modern transport system needs to work for people in their daily lives. People shape their lives around transport systems, asking whether there is a bus stop near home or work, how long it will be to cycle to a rail station or get to the shops or GP surgery.

These are fundamental considerations, and we will be judged on how effectively we can deliver. Working with the East West Mainline Partnership offers a significant contribution to achieving our shared goals.

The Equiano Bridge

This morning I joined hundreds of other people at the official ceremony to name the Equiano Bridge on Riverside. Along with other councillors including Gerri Bird, Hilary Cox Condron, and Neil Shailer, Cambridge Mayor Jenny Gawthrop Wood, and combined authority mayor Nik Johnson, we heard speeches from those involved in the campaign, and saw the plaque unveiled.

This marks the end of a successful campaign started by Cambridge African Network and Circles of Change, Cambridge and supported by The Equiano Society, London, and was a wonderful way to celebrate the last day of Black History Month.

The crowd gathers for the plaque unveiling

The bridge is named for Oluadah Equiano, born in Essaka – modern day Nigeria – who was enslaved at the age of 11 but eventually bought his own freedom and settled in London in later life. He was a powerful advocate for abolition, and wrote an autobiography. He is generally acknowledged as the first political activist within Britain’s African community in the 18th century.

Oluadah Equiano had several ties to Cambridge through his work with Cambridge-based abolitionists. He married Cambridgeshire woman called Susannah Cullen and one of their daughters, Anna Maria Vassa, is buried in St Andrews Church in Chesterton.

Find out more at the Equiano Bridge website
http://equianobridge.org.uk/ and at the Equiano Society website at https://equiano.uk/

Don’t forget the young trees!

We’ve been planting lots of trees around Cambridge, and we want them all to thrive. But in this hot period the ground is dry and they are suffering.

So I’ve started filling old plastic bottles with water and taking them to some of the trees in the area – and it would be great if more people did the same. There are signs on the ones that our tree officers think are most in need.

Restoring Our Chalk Streams

Chalk streams are one of the most important water features in this area. They are a globally rare habitat in Northwest Europe and an important habitat to the UK – our equivalent of rainforests. They are hugely important for supporting biodiversity, as they support a wide range of flora and fauna including freshwater sponges, brown trout, and mayflies.

So it was a real pleasure to work on a restoration project for Cherry Hinton Brook, along with Ruth Hawksley of the Wildlife Trust, Cambridge City Council, Friends of Cherry Hinton Brook and other environmental activists.

We met at the Daws Lane bridge to reshape the bank and improve the flow of water by restricting the brook in some areas, returning it to the state it was in before the area was developed.

Katie using a sledgehammer to hammer in a post
Katie using a sledgehammer to hammer in a post

In 2019 I convened a forum on the water crisis facing the region (you can read our full report here on my website), and we highlighted the importance of the chalk streams, so it was great to get my hands dirty – and my feet wet – helping improve them.

The work was covered by BBC Look East and you can see the report here

#StopRwanda

The great people at Care4Calais are fighting to stop Government plans to forcibly send refugees to Rwanda, a cruel and inhumane policy that I absolutely oppose.

Apart from the many issues around sending people to a country that they have no connection to, anyone sent to Rwanda will no longer be inside the UK asylum system, so if their application for asylum fails in Rwanda they won’t come back here – they will be sent somewhere else by the Rwanda government.

Yesterday I wore my #StopRwanda t-shirt around Cambridge, and I’ll be working with Cambridge Labour to do what we can to get this plan cancelled.

Katie cycling in her t-shirt. The message reads “If you are neutral in situations of injustice you have chosen the side of the opppressor”

You can buy your t-shirt directly from Care4Calais at
https://shop.care4calais.org/product/stop-rwanda-t-shirt-mens/

Take care over the next few days

As we go into this extremely hot weekend I hope that everyone will take the high temperature seriously and look after themselves. I was in Cambridge in July 2019 when the temperature reached 38.7 degrees and it was almost unbearable. It could be 40 degrees next week.

These sorts of extreme weather events, like gales or high temperatures or snow, are a consequence of the changes to the world’s climate we have made, and as long as we carry on putting more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere it will get worse. That’s why our net zero targets matter – we must do all we can as a local authority

I thought this advice from the ITV Weather presenter Chris Page’s Facebook was very helpful.

This is what Chris wrote:

Let’s clear a few things up about this Extreme Heat Forecast.
This is not “just summer”.

The average summer maximum temperature here in the UK is 23-24C. Temperatures in some parts of the country are set to be 16C higher than that.

This is not hype. The Met Office Red and Amber Extreme heat warning have been issued for a reason. Temperatures here in the UK rarely get above 35C and even then, in the past we have seen a steep rise in heat related illnesses and death.

We are now forecasting higher than that. Much higher. Possibly 40C.
Not only will this impact our health but also the UK’s infrastructure.

Roads will melt. Railways will buckle. Wildfires will happen. Power networks will see an increase in demand and so will the water network too where in some places there are reduced resources already.

The temperature at night will not drop below 20 degrees and in some places it could hold up into the mid-twenties. If your body can not cool down, you will suffer and could see problems such as heatstroke or heat stress. Please brush up on what to do if these circumstances arise and what to look for.

If you’re an employer, you should be considering not sending your staff to work especially if they have to use public transport. And if you’re an employee, you should be asking your employer what to do in this hot weather.

It’s common sense stuff. Stay well hydrated. Try to stay out of the midday sun between 11-3pm. We need to look after each other and check on those who live alone.

One last thing. Yes, people do go on holiday to temperatures higher than this and yes other countries do cope in this heat. Often, these people have either grown up with this heat and are used to working in it or if they’re going on holiday, it’s a choice they make and often air conditioning is available in countries where high temperatures occur.

For us, everyone in the UK, we do not have a choice and a lot of us don’t have access to air con. This dangerous heat is coming. Listen to the advice and you’ll be OK. Try and stay cool.

Oh and finally. If you’re going to take the micky saying its ‘over-reacting’, you’re not looking at the bigger picture, please keep it to yourself and don’t tell me you survived 1976 either. That wasn’t as hot as this and you’re not as young as you were then.
Stay safe! X