In today’s blog, a brief glimpse of community Utopia and then back to earth with a bang, as we talk about local street works and the proposed busway and car park to the south of the city.
One of the highlights of my week was a walk and talk with Jess Studdert from the New Local think tank. New Local work with a network of councils across the UK to foster community power and co-working with local government and they’ve published a very good report on their work:
These are approaches which are fundamental to my beliefs about how local government and communities should interact and I hope Cambridge City Council will join the New Local network and make a determined effort to embrace them too.
Disruptive street work
In the meantime, however, we are still in a world where our communities are generally ‘done to’. That feeling is very evident in the communications I’ve been receiving from residents in the last week about the disruption which will be caused by Cadent gas network renewal project on and around Babraham Road, and the arrival of City Fibre’s network installation at various locations in Queen Edith’s.
To recap, the Cadent project will have three main phases:
- Starting 5th July, two-way traffic lights (ie alternating traffic flows) on Babraham Road between Wort’s Causeway and the new signalled crossing near Granhams Road (around 5 weeks’ work);
- Approx 9th August, four-way traffic lights on Babraham Road, Wort’s Causeway, Knightly Avenue and Hills Road (around 2 weeks);
- Approx 23rd August, total closure of Wort’s Causeway at the junction with Hills Road (around 3 weeks); entry and exit for vehicles only possible via the southern end of Wort’s Causeway, though the Hills Road slip road will stay open for bikes and pedestrians. Connection with the rest of the city will require a lengthy detour via either Limekiln Hill/Queen Edith’s Way or Cherry Hinton Road/Babraham Road.
Following hard on the heels of the last year’s projects to remodel the Fendon Road roundabout, the Robin Hood junction and the Granham’s Road junction, and with the prospect of the GCP’s Linton Greenway project (affecting Babraham Road and the southern end of Hills Road) and Sawston Greenway project (affecting the Robinson Way/Long Road junction) to come, it’s not surprising that one resident told me this week that she feels like the area is “permanently under siege”.
With City Fibre, the disruption on any one street should be relatively short-lived, but residents are expressing concerns about safety during and after the works (multiple trip hazards); the quality and durability of the work (shoddy construction will become the County Council’s responsibility to fix in the years ahead); and the casual disregard for residential amenity (visual impact, damage to verges, etc).
These have all been reported to City Fibre and I hope they can be persuaded to treat our neighbourhood with a little more respect in the future. Please do let me know about any issues which arise as City Fibre work on your road, and they have a number which you can use to report issues, which is 0800 0836160.
Let’s reconsider the busway
A further update on the CSET busway. In advance of the GCP’s Executive Board meeting on 1st July, an alliance of parish councils, environmental groups and transport campaigners, plus South Cambridgeshire MP Anthony Browne, has now submitted a letter requesting the GCP to reconsider its plans. It addresses the same aims as the Smarter Cambridge Transport petition which now has over 1,500 signatures.
Unfortunately, the Board has already indicated that it will not recognise the SCT petition, on the grounds that it wasn’t first submitted to the GCP Joint Assembly. Why was it not first submitted to the Assembly? Because we all hoped that the Assembly would recognise the folly of the GCP’s proposals and would recommend the Board rejected them, hence removing the need for a petition! Let’s hope the letter doesn’t receive the same dismissive treatment. But it would appear that our local government bodies still have some way to go when it comes to community decision-making and collaboration.
Last week’s South Area Committee meeting
Council area committee meetings have received mixed attendances from the public when held ‘in person’ in the past. Now that these meetings are online, it should be easier for people to take part, but it seems very few want to do so. If you were one of the few who watched last Monday’s meeting, I’d love to hear from you. Have you ever been to one of these meetings before? Would you ever do so again? What would you want to see on the agenda? Let me know.