Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Future of Quayside

As I indicated in a previous post, the regulation of punting in Cambridge is a serious business, with safety problems relating to getting on and off punts, the problems of nuisance punt touting, issues about where punt businesses can operate from, as well as more general concerns about the role of punting in Cambridge tourism.

Keen observers of the Council's meetings schedule will have noticed a Strategy & Resources Special Committee Meeting last Monday, to discuss 'Quayside Property Matters'. In fact, this decision had been deferred from a recent scheduled meeting, and opposition Councillors (if not back-bench Lib Dem Councillors who should also be scrutinising these decisions) have held several meetings with Council officers to clarify the situation.

From the publicly available report:

The Council is currently seeking to register land ownership at Quayside with the Land Registry and is involved in other associated ownership disputes and litigation with interested parties here... A compromise agreement has been provisionally agreed between all of the parties, subject to formal acceptance, that should resolve and formalise the land ownership issues. As well as addressing the land ownership issues, the compromise agreement also addresses issues at Quayside such as health and safety, public access and safe use of the River, providing a long-term formal solution that has not previously existed.

The rest of the agenda item was a 'pink paper' report - not for public consumption. The meeting resulted in a relatively lively discussion involving whether the compromise agreement was in the Council's (and hence Cambridge's) best interest. I know that my Coleridge Labour colleagues on the City Council are very concerned to ensure that I give them full credit for everything they do, so I am happy to report that Cllr Herbert and myself spent a considerable period of time scrutinising the deal on the table, whether the Council could or should have done more to consult with other interested parties, and whether the deal sold the City down the river, so to speak.

Sadly I can't report the outcome as the final deal still needs to be agreed with the relevant parties, but I think this is an important decision for Cambridge, and I will be pressing for full details to be available when the agreement is finalised so we can judge how well the City Council has acted in the past, in agreeing this decision, and what the implications are going forwards.

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