Thursday, August 11, 2011

New Mosque: Public Exhibition

I have just received details of a public exhibition for the planned new mosque on Mill Road:

There will be a public exhibition of pre-planning application proposals for the new Mosque building. Please join us to view the detailed plans, learn more about the project and ask project leaders any questions you may have.

The exhibition will take place on Wednesday 7th September, 2011 from 2pm to 8pm at Ross Street Community Centre.

Click Here for more information and to download the exhibition leaflet.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

East Area Committee today

It's the first meeting of the East Area Committee since the local elections tonight, 7pm at the Cherry Trees Day Centre. The Labour party will back with a majority on the committee after defeating Raj Shah in May in Romsey Ward. It'll be interesting to see if his replacement is any more effective.

The agenda is online. There are three planning applications affecting Coleridge: a proposal to convert some retail space at Adkins Corner into residential space, a proposal to change 171 Coleridge Road from a guest house into student accommodation and the reappearance of a garden-grabbing application for the rear of 163 and 165 Coleridge Road that was approved last year but due to incompetence in the planning department was inadequately consulted upon. All three are recommended for approval.

The other main issue tonight will be environmental improvements. There's good news regarding progress on agreed improvements such as Cherry Hinton Road shop forecourts and the completed Rustat Road footpath. New proposed schemes include verge parking prohibition for Perne Road and tree planting on Chalmers road, which I think will be good things.

More care will need to be taken over other proposals to tackle commuter parking in the ward - I welcome the efforts but as with the now defunct Ashbury/Golding cycle path proposal the true consent of residents must be sought. The more 'live and let live'-inclined residents who might not want anything changed but are also unlikely to make a fuss at consultation need to be sought out and involved. Aspects focusing on safety ought to be the least controversial.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Welcome David Campbell-Bannerman MEP

David Campbell-Bannerman

Welcome to David Campbell-Bannerman MEP who today has returned to the Conservative Party from the UK Independence Party of which he was formerly chairman.

Mr Campbell-Bannerman will join the East of England's excellent team of Conservative MEPs, Geoffrey Van Orden, Vicky Ford and Robert Sturdy and sit with the only practical and effective Conservative grouping in the European Parliament that opposes ever-greater political integration, the European Conservatives and Reformists.

It is well known that UKIP MEPs are often absent and fail to stand up for British interests in the European parliament.

UPDATE: David comments on his own move on the Blue Blog and Cambridge Conservative Deputy Chairman Timothy Haire welcomes David as a new member of Cambridge Conservatives.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Coleridge Labour's own Mr Busway?

On this post-election Saturday morning while waiting to see if there's any news coverage of today's Rally against Debt, here's a fun snippet from the past pointed out to me by ex-Lib Dem activist Phil Rodgers.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Coleridge Result

Well done to Labour's Cllr Jeremy Benstead for winning Coleridge yesterday in the city council election.

Thank you to all the enthusiastic supporters in Coleridge - sorry we didn't delivery a victory this time. And thank you to everyone who helped in any way, particularly Tim and Chris.

Jeremy Benstead, Labour, 1346, 47%
Andrew Bower, Conservative, 869, 30%
Valerie Hopkins, Green, 368, 13%
Tom Yates, Lib Dem, 285, 10%

Now off to the Guildhall to scrutinise the referendum count. Enjoy the sun!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Cambridge Cycling Campaign Survey

Each year the Cambridge Cycling Campaign runs a survey of election candidates on their views on cycling matters relevant to their potential role as councillors. I think this is an excellent idea and am always keen to take part.

My answers are reproduced below. My apologies to anyone who was looking for them earlier when I hadn't yet submitted them.

# Question 1

Our new Cycling Vision 2016 report, available on our website and as featured in the local media recently, outlines a range of proposals for increasing the rate of cycling in the area. Do you give Cycling Vision 2016 your backing, and what are you most keen to see implemented?

The vision is an impressive report. A core of high quality cycling backbones across the city would really make a big difference. Some of the junction improvements are badly needed.

I also like the idea of removing substandard cycle lanes - we need all road users to be fully aware that cyclists do belong on the highway and not on substandard cycle lanes.

# Question 2

There is a major shortage of cycle parking all around the city. Cycle theft is over 10% of all reported crime in the County. Do you have any suggestions for locations for cycle parking? Would you be willing to see a very small proportion of on-street car parking being replaced by on-street cycle parking in your ward? How will you work towards a situation where every resident and every worker in every ward can keep a bike safe?

I do support this idea. I think it is particularly relevant to neighbouring wards, such as Petersfield and Romsey around pubs, shops and terraced houses practically fronting the highway and in the city centre. Kingston Street’s cycle parking is an excellent example, albeit insufficient! I am not sure where in Coleridge the take-up would be quite so high (except from cycling canvassers of course!) but would be interested in any suggestions.

In critical areas it may also be worth converting the odd verge for this purpose - perhaps one that is already mutilated by car parking.

I would like to see more rigorous enforcement by city council planners of our minimum cycle parking standards for developments.

See my blog for further comments on cycle parking and theft:

# Question 3

Do you support our view that traffic policing (including fining of cyclists without lights or using pedestrian-only pavements) should become a greater police priority?

I do support this view.

I campaigned for proper police enforcement of speeding on problem roads in the area, including holding police officers to account at the council’s East Area Committee. I persuaded my colleague who was Conservative councillor to get police enforcement of speeding made a priority in our area, which was eventually successful despite being opposed by councillors from different parties all along the way.

One of the advantages of using police to enforce speed limits is that they can also tackle other motoring and cycling offences at the same time.

I organised a survey of bicycles on Mill Road over a couple of nights to gauge the extent of the problem of cycling without lights and found that 50% of lights were missing. I achieved some publicity as a result of this survey and consequently found police paying attention to the problem. It is important that policing of cycling is not just confined to a token annual check on Sidney Street.

We should be trying to increase the total amount of policing by cutting out police bureaucracy, doing more patrols individual rather than in pairs and allowing the public to elect no-nonsense police chiefs directly, something I am delighted to note that the new government is planning.

Cycle offences such as riding in the dark without lights and using pedestrian-only pavements, which intimidates pedestrians, should be taken more seriously. I think the prevalence of shared-use footpaths as part of a box-ticking culture towards cycling provision has created uncertainty and led many to assume that cycling on footpaths is always permitted.

# Question 4

We believe that 20mph should be the norm for local streets in residential areas (as distinct from main connecting roads). 20mph would: greatly encourage walking and cycling; improve the quality of life in an area for residents; and would not delay car journeys significantly (because only the start/end of a journey would be affected). Do you agree that 20mph should become the norm for local streets in Cambridge and surrounding villages?

I certainly agree that many such streets in our area are not suitable for higher speeds (over 20mph) most of the time. It is worth reading speed reports for places like Mill Road - most of the traffic was already limiting itself to this speed most of the time. We shall have to see if anything actually happens about those who used to go too fast now that the 20mph speed limit is in place there...

However, I do think the obsession with 20mph zones detracts from wider arguments about safety and by being unnecessarily broad in cases can undermine support for traffic restrictions. Safety measures should certainly be deployed for safety reasons only, not social engineering.

# Question 5

There have not been enough cycle stands at the station for at least a decade now. Given the level of cycle theft, congestion and growth in the city, what steps will you take to solve this and in what timescale?

I support the cycling campaign's continued pressure on railway companies to release parking spaces for cycles at the station. But this should not be the only avenue as the financial incentives may not be aligned there to see action... Regular removal of unused cycles is also important but also cannot be seen as a panacea. New developments nearby really should have been required to include much more cycle parking with them - we must not allow that to happen again.

# Question 6

Will you give your active support to the proposal to construct a proper cycle path linking Ashbury Close to Golding Road?

I have already given active support to this proposal:

I have put the case strongly to local residents as to how the scheme is a good one but in final decision making I will only support the scheme if we have been successful in gaining the support of local residents when it eventually goes to consultation. They have to live with the consequences either way.

# Question 7

Do you support our proposal for 'The Chisholm Trail', a cycling super-highway that would run roughly along the railway, joining up the Science Park to Addenbrookes? More details are in our Cycling Vision 2016 document. This high-profile scheme would cut journey times, give people a genuine, realistic alternative to car use and help the city cope with the population increase which will take place in the coming years.

I do support the Chisholm Trail and would do what I could to get rail companies and any other relevant bodies to facilitate the scheme.

The Conservative-controlled county council is open to the idea of the trail and Cambridge Conservatives have supported it for many years.

# Question 8

Do you have any other general cycling-related comments or points? And what support have you given for cycling and walking, or sustainable transport more generally, in the recent past?

Cycling has been my primary mode of transport for many years.

I have promoted cycling with lights, defensive cycling, the need to open up what I call value-added cycle paths (not the same as a splash of white paint on the road/pavement) which open up new options for cyclists, adequately sized cycle lanes (many in the city are not) and have campaigned to get speeding vehicles under control.

I oppose road measures that make life more difficult for cyclists, such as road humps. I have been sceptical of the culture in government of painting white lines on the road or sharing pavements and calling that a cycling facility. Cyclists need to feel confident cycling on the main highway, through promotion, law enforcement and training.

I recently wrote some notes about commuter cycling in Cambridge:

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

East Area Committee

East Area Committee is back this Thursday, 14th April at 7pm, Cherry Trees Day Centre, St Matthew's Street.

Neighbourhood policing is on the agenda. None of the policing priorities for the last period covered Coleridge and all are recommended for discharge and there are no recommended priorities for the next period so councillors will be working from a blank sheet.

Without Conservative Chris Howell to push the case for the speeding priority that was dropped a while ago although it's worth reading about the traffic policing session that the policy undertook in Coleridge as part of their 'beat sweep' across the east area.
Friday also saw 4 officers from the Roads Policing Unit (RPU) assist us. Their task was to deal with speeding through Coleridge, the anti social use of vehicles and other road traffic related matters. The following is a breakdown of their results:
  • 1 driver reported for speeding
  • 13 drivers prosecuted for driving whilst using a mobile phone
  • 4 drivers prosecuted for not wearing seat belts
  • 1 driver reported for not having current road tax
  • 2 drivers reported for the condition of their vehicles
  • 2 drivers reported for no insurance
  • 1 vehicle seized as there was no insurance policy in place
  • 2 drivers reported for vehicle defects
  • 1 driver reported for driving through a red light
  • 1 person arrested for the offence of going equipped to steal
  • 1 vehicle stopped in relation to rogue trading intelligence
A lot of work on drugs was also reported - it is good to see the police following leads from the local community - often residents feel that they are being ignored on this sort of thing.

The controversial item on the agenda will be libraries, when fervently ideological opposition (to the Conservative cabinet on the county council) councillors will whip up outrage over plans to make the library service viable in a tough fiscal environment. I hope that they will engage with trying to save the libraries instead, otherwise it'll just be a waste of time - I could write out the script right now if that's the case.

Elsewhere in Coleridge the 28th Cambridge Scout Group and St Martin's Church look set to receive significant capital grants towards the scout hut and hall respectively. These are worthwhile causes.

There are no planning applications up for decision at this meeting in Coleridge.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Debating the Alternative Vote

Coleridge Conservative Branch Chairman Richard Normington will be putting the case for First Past The Post in a public debate on the AV referendum on Monday evening, 7.30pm at St Luke's Church, Victoria Road.

Say no to mediocracy—rule by the mediocre!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Don't let Labour do to your council what they did to the country

David Cameron's party political broadcast for the local elections:

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Saving Rock Road Library

There is a public meeting organised by the 'Friends of Rock Road Library' tonight at 7.30pm, Wednesday 2nd March 2011, at the library to explore the future of the library.

As we reported last year, the Conservatives at the county council are determined to keep open local libraries in Cambridgeshire and so are looking to find ways to continue the service despite needing to rationalise spending. Any ideas raised by the community at the meeting will be helpful.

Friday, February 18, 2011

South Cambridgeshire District Council retained

Yesterday voters showed their support for a low-taxing Conservative council that has already got its house in order and doesn't need to make significant reductions to service this year.

Neighbouring South Cambs District Council was held by the Tories by one seat as voters in Bourn and Cambourne elected Clayton Hudson with 56% of the vote.

It's great to have a good example nearby of what a Conservative council can do. City Conservatives will be making the case at the forthcoming city council elections for a more efficient council that gets the basics right.

Meanwhile the latest from the Department of Communities and Local Government: Stop the non-jobs!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

One day to complete 'community safety' survey

The sham consultation for the 'Cambridgeshire Community Safety Partnership' and its priorities for 2011 to 2014 closes tomorrow.

The options available, to councillors and members of the public alike, are to select three of the following five priorities. That is it:
  • Repeat incidents of anti-social behaviour
  • Cycle theft
  • Re-offending
  • Alcohol-related violent crime in the city centre
  • Repeat victims of domestic violence
An earlier, very unscientific, prefiltering exercise eliminated other possible priorities like burglary (a high priority to city residents).

Friday, January 7, 2011

Lib Dems confirm loony parking policy

Today's Cambridge News carries confirmation from the Liberal Democrats running Cambridge City Council that they remain intent upon exacerbating Cambridge's parking chaos with every new development that is permitted.

Referring to not changing the current hierarchy of road users (pedestrians > cyclists > public transport > private motorists) Cllr Clare Blair said,
I think that makes sense in Cambridge because it is a historic city which is very constrained, but we do recognise that people need to use their cars.

What we need to do is provide for people to be able to use their cars where necessary, but to use alternative modes of transport wherever possible. I see this as an opportunity to look carefully at what we are doing and see whether it suits the needs of our residents.
But this is a classic straw man. No-one ever suggested changing the relative priority of road users - the most vulnerable types must come first and be promoted.

Frankly I can see no evidence that the Lib Dems do "recognise that people need to use their cars", despite driving them themselves; they seem to have an ideological obsession that leads them to make perverse decisions like that on limiting parking for new developments when they should instead be requiring it to safeguard our future infrastructure.

She has also missed the point by focusing on the use of cars rather than the possession of cars - it is good for car usage to go down but that doesn't mean that car possession rates should go down, and if it is at the expense of those of more limited means then it probably would be a bad thing, too. When people do have them they will park them, whatever it takes - it's a shame the Lib Dems are unable to grasp this simple fact of life.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Relieving parking pressure

Welcome news for Cambridge today:
Limits on car spaces for new homes and guidance encouraging higher parking charges are being abolished ending the war on motorists, Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles and Transport Secretary Philip Hammond announced today.
The former Labour government's policy of maximum parking spaces for new developments (1.5 per dwelling), gold-plated (page 134 - 1 per dwelling) by the ideologically-obsessed local Liberal Democrats, have been creating huge structural problems for Cambridge.

Coleridge residents have been hit badly by the impact of inadequate parking on new developments, such as those off Rustat Road, compounding commuter parking problems and soon to be made much worse by the cb1 development.

Time after time, when developments should have been rejected due to lack of parking such as cb1 as well as all over the city and most recently the former Texaco petrol station on Castle Hill, councillors have been unable reject on that basis, even if they would like to.

The Liberal Democrats are taking a very short term view on this subject: limiting parking does not stop people from owning cars it just causes parking chaos, while future technological developments may lead to more sustainable personal transport solutions. They would be doing more good for the city if they focused their efforts on enforcing minimum cycle parking standards, which are often ignored.

Parking problems are one of the biggest issues in this city but the Lib Dems have done nothing but make it worse. Conservatives won't stand by on this issue and will be standing at the local elections on a policy of scrapping this bonkers rule from our local plan.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year

Happy New Year from Coleridge Conservatives!

David Cameron's new year message set the tone for 2011 - tough times and the government focusing on "enterprise, aspiration, public service reform and national security".

I agree with the Prime Minister that if the government holds its nerve on getting the public finances in shape, reforming our often counter-productive welfare state and creating an environment for enterprise - in business and in the big society - that the country will be on track for a happier future.

Guido Fawkes' quote of the day today from Matthew Parris (presumably from behind The Times' paywall) sums up brilliantly the political battle facing the government's supporters:
“People will embrace retrenchment in principle then lament any cut affecting them. Shrouds will be waved, illiteracy and infant malnutrition predicted, and in the opposition imagination old people will be starving or freezing to death in countless wretched hovels. The demise of theatre, ballet, museums and day care centres, the fine arts, mountain rescue and the Battersea Dogs Home will be pronounced imminent. Charities, think-tanks and academics will write to The Times to call ministers deaf to reason. Long-term savings will be claimed to be achievable only by maintaining current spending. The whole lexicon of short-termism, scorched earth, vandalism and philistinism will be ransacked. Howls of indignation from co-ordinated bands of identifiable losers will drown out quiet murmurs of approval among the ungalvanised majority.”
We have seen this consistently since the election: scaremongering, misleading figures, exaggerations and special pleading aplenty. That's not to say that there is never a good point behind many claims, and that no mistakes will be made, but no-one should be surprised when vested interests whip up a fuss over everything, often without revealing their interest.

Of course it is quite right that local representatives should try to get the best for our area - that is their job - but it doesn't help to make ridiculous and unsubstantiated claims such as Labour's that the housing benefit cap would be lead to an exodus from Cambridge.

I suspect we won't have a boring year...