Six years as a councillor

Six years ago today, I got elected as a Labour City Councillor by 4 votes. I’ve been re-elected twice but 4th May 2018 will always be a special memory.

Since then I have worked with the most amazing group of dedicated socialists. Without a doubt we have achieved more than we might have achieved alone.

We continue to build the most energy efficient Council homes in the country, run the services with care and our finances remain robust even as the decade of Tory austerity continues to grind down local government. We plant more trees and provide more open, green space in our beautiful city.

Yet the future challenges remain daunting.

We have just re-elected all our re-standing councillors. Residents have reaffirmed their choice of a Labour administration for Cambridge City.

I love being a local politician. I value the trust given by residents immensely. I love having a cup of tea with people, or a beer, a walk around or community event, planting trees and trying to protect parks. The small things makes a big difference but working to make those really hard, big, strategic decisions with our communities is part of our responsibility too.

I’ll do everything thing I can for a brighter, clearer future, for all of us, even as we have dark, storm clouds swirling around.

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!

Cambridge Half Marathon 2024


On Sunday March 3rd I’ll be running the Cambridge half marathon again, and have been training for a while using an excellent app that whispers encouraging words in my ear to accompany my playlist of fast-paced songs. It’s working so far, but the real test is yet to come.

Katie with Hilary Cox Condron at the start of the 2022 Half Marathon
Katie and Hilary at the start of the 2022 half marathon

I’ve mostly been training in Cambridge, joining the many others on Midsummer Common and Stourbridge Common, but had the occasional session in the Yorkshire Dales, which is significantly hillier and offers a very different challenge. I’m sure my calves will recover..

Katie sets off to run near the Tan Hill Inn

I’m running to support the important local charity Something To Look Forward To which provides positive things for people affected by cancer who are also suffering as a result of loss of income due to their illness. It relies on donations from companies and individuals.

If you’d like to sponsor me and help me reach my goal of £300 then you can do so on the People’s Fundraising website.

Thank you!

Katie off for a Cambridge training run

Saving the Trees on St Matthew’s Piece

The application to fell three trees on St Matthew’s Piece was rejected by the City Council planning committee today.

This application has had a lot of attention, and many residents attended the committee, to call for the protection of all trees. Several spoke including Friends of St Matthew’s Piece and Petersfield Labour ward councillors.

Unusually, there was no recommendation on whether the application should be accepted or refused, but the reasons for refusal were clear and strong. The debate that followed was rigorous and acknowledged the many residents who took time to write into object.

The final, formal reason for refusal was comprehensive and robust. The decision was unanimous.

This is what I said in my statement:

Continue reading “Saving the Trees on St Matthew’s Piece”


The recent attack on Israel carried out from Gaza by Hamas was an appalling act of terrorism that killed many civilians, and has been rightly condemned.

Israel has the right to defend itself, but the current actions of the Israeli government seem to amount to collective punishment of the people of Gaza and may be in breach of international law. They have created a humanitarian crisis in Gaza and millions of people who played no part in the attacks, many of them children, are suffering. People in Gaza have no food, water, or power. Hospitals cannot function. There is no safe place, no exit, and currently very little aid is being allowed in.

I grieve for everyone killed or harmed, in Gaza or in Israel, by acts of terror or in retaliation. I want Hamas to stop terrorising not just Israel but the population of Gaza. I want the Israeli government to turn from its current path and operate within international law, allowing aid and supplies to a desperate population that has already suffered so much.

And I want those politicians and others in the UK who may have some influence on the Israeli government, particularly the leadership of the Labour Party, to make it clear that Israel must pull back from causing such suffering to those living in Gaza. Standing to one side is to side with the death of many innocent people, and we must speak out.

I also endorse the statement which was read by Mayor Jenny Gawthrope Wood at the meeting of Cambridge City Council on October 19 2023. It is published on the council website, but I wanted to reproduce it here:

Continue reading “Gaza”

“Pure Clean Water” at Cambridge Film Festival

I’m really pleased that Pure Clean Water, a documentary made by my friend Tony Eva, is screening at the Cambridge Film Festival – and I’m in it!

It concerns the water crisis in the greater Cambridge area, and particularly looks at the impact on our precious chalk streams

It is screening on Wednesday 25 October at 1820 and Thursday 26 October at 1420 at the Arts Picturehouse – details on the CFF website. And I will be taking part in a discussion about the film after the Wednesday screening.

You can find out more on the Pure Clean Water website.