Sunday, September 19, 2010

Election Result

I am up North at the moment and typing this on my phone, so this will be brief, and please forgive any typos...

We gave the election our best shot, but it wasn't to be. I had so many people come out and help, it was very touching. Polling day itself was immense, I'll put a proper thanks up here when I am back.

I would like to say well done to Ian Manning. Being a County Councillor is a great job, and a huge privilege. I hope he gives the residents of East Chesterton the kind of representation they need. Just quickly, a big well done to Gerri Bird, I didn't get to chat to her much, but she seemed really nice. She had a great campaign and from what I saw and heard would be a terrific councillor.

Not only did I lose on Thursday, but the very sad news of Chris Howell's resignation as Councillor for Coleridge on the City Council happened too. I firmly believe Cambridge is a poorer place now, but I wish him all the best in his future endeavours.

So that's it for me... I have enjoyed this campaign, but did find a few of the lies being spread a little difficult, but I guess that's Politics. On the whole it has been good, I met so many nice people. I have also enjoyed tweeting and blogging, both new to me, but something I will continue.

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Monday, September 13, 2010

Bikeability and Cycle England

In today's edition of the Cambridge News is a news piece about cutting some funding to some cycling projects, the link is here

I was the lead member for many things on the County Council and I was very pleased to be the lead member for cycling and cycling infrastructure. Over the years lots of well meaning bits of infrastructure have been put into Cambridge, but the end result is all too often not particularly cycling friendly. I made it my mission to ensure this was to stop. We made a bid to Government for Cycling Town status and was awarded a rather large chunk of money to improve cycling in and around Cambridge. I am pictured here accepting the plaque and about to set out on a tour of Cambridge, with representatives from Cycling England. Cambridge Cycling Campaign wrote a very good piece at

So because of that work I did, I am really sorry to see that the first cut suggested is to Bikeability, which as the article,, says is the new modern version of the Cycling proficiency test. Cutting this funding is not a good idea at all. The funding provides necessary training for 1000's of young people on how to cycle safely and with confidence on the roads. The Cambridge Cycling Campaign have written to Ministers already regarding this issue, and you can find the letter at I simply cannot support this cut. We owe it to our youth to educate them on cycling. I did my cycling proficiency when I was at Primary School, a number of years ago now, but it really stood me in good stead. It taught me about signs, safety and gave me the confidence to cycle on the roads. Judging by the battle of words on the Cambridge News website between drivers and cyclists, we could do with more cycle awareness training, for cyclists and drivers alike, not less.

The other cut is very sad indeed, Cycling England. It was set-up in 2005 and does an absolutely fantastic job. As you will see from the site, it is a tiny independent body consisting of only 3 full time staff. It is a great examply of what can be achieved by so few. I know when I was lead member at County Council this organisation were absolutely brilliant. I think it would be a real shame to cut this too, they are just getting going. They promote cycling as a form of exercise, and we all know future generations are going to need things like cycling.

So I would join in with the Cambridge Cycling Campaign and ask the Ministers to have another look at the enormous benefit of both Bikeability and Cycling England.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Cambridge Libraries

Libraries in Cambridge
A lot has been said about the Library service in Cambridge. The fact remains that the Library service is a fantastic service that gives so much to so many people.

There is a review of the Library service going on at the moment. This has prompted all sorts of calls for no cuts etc. The current proposals are:
  • possible new shared and / or externalised management and support arrangements
  • introducing self-service machines into all libraries and working more closely with community volunteers
  • a review of library provision in Cambridge City and the surrounding area
  • streamlining the mobile library service
  • new support arrangements for Library Access Points
  • cutting costs
  • increasing income
The Lib Dems jumped on the band wagon saying 'Save our Libraries' so they could put some leaflets out, with them looking sad and serious. The FAQ's on the County website answer the questions clearly, The lead member had also already made a statement before any leaflets were dropped through doors:
Cambridgeshire County Councillor Sir Peter Brown, Cabinet Member for Communities, said: “We are putting Cambridgeshire communities at the heart of transforming our library service to meet their needs and be ready for the future. Libraries are community hubs and we want to make sure residents have their say on shaping services while meeting these tough financial challenges. Public services countrywide have been asked to meet savings of 25 per cent or more, but this does not mean we should salami-slice library services; my main priority is saving them. We will innovate to protect the services our communities say are important so that we can deliver more for less. But we need residents’ help. Your library really does need you!”

It is the Community that wants to work together and have the Library service they want and need. I tweeted about the story in the Cambridge News concerning Chesterton Residents Association . This is an absolutely fantastic example of the Community pulling together to look at what services they want. It is clear the Libraries are an important feature of the area, and thanks to the residents they will continue to be, and I applaud that.

There is an online survey about consultation into the Library service. I would urge everybody to fill it out, so you have your say:

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Bus Stops on Milton Road

When I was a Councillor back in 2008 I opened the new Park and Ride building at Milton. I was very pleased to be involved in the expansion of the Park and Ride service. The new building was fantastic and provided a really nice environment for people using the service.

In fact we should be very proud of Park and Ride service, it is used by thousands of people each year, reducing the number of cars coming into Cambridge. It is the envy of many Cities and Town's across the Country. There is just one problem though...

The Park and Ride from Milton used to stop outside the Golden Hind. This made it a very useful service for the people of East Chesterton. I can understand the reason, but cannot agree, for that stop being withdrawn, which was to speed up the service into the City for the Park and Ride users. It was also stated that the residents of East Chesterton have the Citi2, which is all well and fine in theory. But in practise the Citi2 service is not frequent enough, and residents have said to me that it is very unreliable. Residents say they stand waiting for a bus, when 3 or 4 fly past them with empty seats on them. I can understand that frustration. I use the bus service regularly and when the bus is late, yet empty ones have driven right past you it is entirely frustrating.

So I will lobby to get stagecoach to reintroduce the bus stop on Milton Road. I firmly think this would be the best option. It can't take that long to stop and pick up a few people. I am sure it wouldn't stop people using the Park and Ride, but would improve the lives of the people watching them go right past them.

I will also never fully understand why there can't be express buses and non express buses. One of the arguments I always hear for improved bus services is how long the journey takes. If the train service can provide express trains and ones that take longer, why cant buses? Stagecoach has all the data relating to how many people get on the buses and where etc. It could draw up a new progressive timetable looking at what is needed and where. It seems to me that the Bus services, not only in Cambridge but Cambridgeshire, has become more about ticket sales and less about the people buying those tickets. This is all well and good for Stagecoach, but perhaps is a symptom of the monopoly they have on bus services.

There are pro's and cons to a monopoly. Stagecoach have invested heavily into the local area, and they can do that because they know they will benefit from the investment. But where does that leave the bus user? Invariably waiting out in the rain as a bunch of buses with empty seats flies right past them.

Now this is not about Stagecoach bashing, because I do think they have done some very good things around Cambridgeshire. But there are lots and lots of people that have absolutely no alternative to Stagecoach. It's these people I want to fight for. I appreciate Stagecoach has to make a profit, as without profit they wouldn't be here very long. They also invest in upgrading their stock of buses very regularly, although if I said that to the people out in the rural areas' they would disagree as they always get the Cambridge cast off's.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Protecting Cambridge's Uniqueness

In the Cambridge news today is a story about the Station area development . I am absolutely supportive of regenerating this area of Cambridge, and I am also supportive of supplying much needed housing in Cambridge too. But not at any cost.

The big problem I have with this is how unimaginative it is. It was already, quite rightly, sent back to come up with something more fitting. Is this really the best that can be dreamt up? Apparently the planning bosses asked for something that would 'set new standards of architectural excellence'. And this is it!

Cambridge is an absolutely beautiful City, that despite some grave errors by designers of the past has managed to keep it's uniqueness, in the most part. But this design will not help one bit. There are brilliant examples of modern buildings built to fit in with Victorian surroundings, but generally they are not glass boxes. I am a fan of some modern architecture, but it has it's place, and I am not sure the station area of Cambridge is the right place...

I truly hope that the Planners look at this and suggest they try again. Perhaps a few visits to other Cities in the UK and Europe that have managed to regenerate but keep their character. Some of the regeneration completed in Europe is simply fantastic, we should demand this standard of architecture, and nothing less.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Being a local person

Today I saw a copy of the latest Lib Dem leaflet. It is a very cynical leaflet trying to persuade everybody that I am not local, and that being local is the most important thing.

Having worked with Lib Dems for a number of years, they really let themselves down sometimes. The big problem here is they put out a leaflet without checking any facts at all. The leaflet just attacks me and says very little else.

I used to live in Chesterton, way before Mr. Manning did. I set up a business in Cambridge. I only moved out of Cambridge/Chesterton because of the need for a house that would fit my family, which as most people know, is very difficult to afford in Cambridge. So I moved to Cottenham but I continue to run a business in Cambridge, providing jobs for local people.

The biggest issue here though, is the distinct lack of any policies or ideas on how to make Cambridge a better place. I have asked many residents if they feel East Chesterton gets a fair deal. Very unsurprisingly the vast majority feel like they don't. People have spoken about the anti social driving and that it has gone on for years - so what have the Councillors that have represented East Chesterton done about it? Residents have spoken to me about Bus services that have not given them the service they need or want for years, so what did the Councillors of East Chesterton do about it? There may have been leaflets about it and how bad the County Council are etc. But have they actually achieved anything?

The people of East Chesterton need and want representation that does more than just throw a questionnaire about and then print some leaflets telling the residents what they already know. They need someone who will listen to them and go about getting some change for them. Something they have sadly not had for a very long time.

Yes I was a Councillor before for Cottenham, Histon and Oakington, and I did make some mistakes, but I also got a lot of stuff right. My track record for sorting local issues out was good. I achieved a lot as a County Councillor, but I could have done more. I know where I made those mistakes and have learned from them but I also know how to achieve success too. That is what I will bring to every single resident of East Chesterton.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Too Many Street Signs

Too Many Street Signs

So today Eric Pickles has spoken of his wish for local authorities to use less street signs. Whilst I agree 100% with this ideal, and do think that we have a ridiculous system of signs in this Country, haven't we heard this before somewhere???

This was raised by Labour as something that needed tackling, something else they failed to sort out... In September 2008 the Labour Government launched a total review of signage in the UK. This in itself is quite interesting because they had bought the legislation in that now needed reviewing so soon after. The document supporting this review can be found at- ,-if your interested?

The most relevant part of the review was:

(iii) reduce traffic signing

This is a cross-cutting objective and the three working groups will consider how to provide less signing. The road user information group is, for example, exploring whether in-car technology can reduce the need for directional signing in the long term. The environment working group is paying particular attention to reducing unnecessary signing and the associated traffic sign infrastructure.

What happened to this review and consultation? Why has Mr. Pickles had to raise it's ugly head again, although he is dead right to do so? It beggars belief that we had a Government for so long that just reviewed things. I remember hearing David Cameron have a really good pop at Gordon Brown about how many reviews he had ordered since becoming Prime Minister. Well it didn't stop there. What happened to all these reviews? It was just his way of dodging the issue. Thanks god he has gone.

Only this week we say an article about the new 20mph zone in Cambridge- - this is a clear example of the law being daft and forcing Local Authorities to have too many signs, many of which are confusing.

I believe very strongly in allowing local people to shape their area. I do not believe the State should be the interfering busy body it has been for the last 13 years. There clearly needs to be loads of changes to legislation to enable Local Authorities shape their areas as the residents want them shaped. We just need it to happen, which I think it will this time... One thing I like about Eric Pickles is he is always like a terrier, and generally gets things sorted.

Incidentally they were looking at sign proliferation in Scotland 4 years ago - - I really don't know if they got on and did all this stuff, but I'll take a look next time I'm up there.