Lib Dems pour cold water on labour’s £120,000 bridge plans

Liberal Democrats have poured cold water on Labour plans to spend up to £120,000 on Cambridge’s Green Dragon river bridge labelling them as a “waste of money”.


They have backed modest improvement schemes for the area to solve the conflict between cyclists and pedestrians and to prevent drivers parking at the entrance to the bridge but claim plans for a major redesign don’t go far enough and would waste money with little benefit to residents.


The Labour-run Cambridge City Council has launched a residents’ consultation as it plans to share funding with Cambridgeshire County Council to make improvements to the bridge between Water Street and Stourbridge Common.


One of the options involves moving a ramp at the Stourbridge Common entrance and installing pedestrian gates and a cattle grid. A shared area would be created between the Green Dragon pub and the bridge to highlight the cross movement of cyclists and pedestrians. The scheme would cost a total of £120,000 but the Lib Dems say the money could be spent better elsewhere.


They claim they while they can see merit in an option to install double yellow lines to prevent parking at the Water Street entrance to the bridge, Labour’s expensive redesign is a waste of money.


East Chesterton Lib Dem campaigner Shahida Rahman said: “Tinkering with the bridge exits won’t resolve any concerns people have about conflict between pedestrians and cyclists on the bridge; that can only be achieved with a complete redesign of the whole structure to increase the width.


“While we can see some merit in putting some yellow lines on the Water Lane side, the proposals to spend up to £120,000 changing the ramp at Stourbridge Common are unlikely to meet either the needs of those concerned about conflict, or improve things for cyclists. It would be a complete waste of money.


“With the new bridge that will be built over the river near the new Cambridge North station, it may be that pressure on the Green Dragon bridge will be reduced in any case.”


Cambridgeshire County Councillor Ian Manning, who represents East Chesterton, added: “This money is earmarked for reducing pedestrian/cyclists conflict.  We’ve a number of other areas where this could be better spent – Union Lane and the High Street for example


“Let’s do the minimum here and let the money make a real difference elsewhere.”

Possible heavy rain this weekend

We just wanted to update you on the Met  and Environment Agency warnings we are getting for possible torrential localised downpours. The risk has been changing and is now low but we wanted to make sure you were aware as there is still some uncertainty and if, like in August last year, it falls in Cambridgeshire there is a chance of localised surface water flooding.

Services have been keeping an eye on the weather and are prepared just in case.

Environment Agency Flood Warning Duty Officer for Cambridgeshire has said:

–       There is the possibility of heavy rainfall on the 12th June between 20:00 and 04:00

–       We are expecting on average between 10-20mm with the potential for more localised downpours of 50mm in 12 hours although locations and timings are uncertain.

There is a yellow warning from the Met Office for rain. They say:

This means overall  there is a LOW surface water flood risk this afternoon and overnight into tomorrow morning with a LOW likelihood of localised significant impacts for parts of England and Wales. The river flood risk is VERY LOW for the next five days.

There may be persistent rain, locally very heavy that will spread across southwest England and south Wales today, whilst isolated severe thunderstorms may well develop further east bringing the risk of torrential downpours. There remains uncertainty on the exact location where this deluge may fall, but due to our recent experience we thought it appropriate to notify you.

Station planning and station access from Cowley Road

Network Rail have finally submitted their planning application for the station;  at the same time the Crown Estate, owners of Cowley Road business park, have submitted an application for access through the site to the station:

Lighting concerns

Now the work changing over street lights has started in earnest, please don’t hesitate to contact Ian with any concerns.

Issues we’re currently aware of, and are putting pressure on Balfour Beatty to correct:

  • Mortlock Avenue is very dark mid way down
  • Problems with the new lights in Evergreens
  • General issues with placement of works around lights

Terrible traffic management works

Cllr Ian Manning recently challenged contractors who had put safety cones… the middle of a cycle lane!

Before and after his intervention shown below:

beforeafterThe cones forced cyclists into traffic, which then is in danger of swerving into the oncoming traffic in the other lane.  The idea they were put their for safety is very worrying.

Local Lib Dems save 15 streetlights in East Chesterton!

Despite not winning the local election, Shahida and Ian didn’t stop working for the area….Shahida explains:

You’ll remember that Ian and I wrote to you at the start of this month about the threat to your street lights: a contract signed between the Tories on the County Council and the last Labour Government put 1 in ten of our lights at risk.

Local Labour Councillors waived the plans through, but Ian and I took action.

Several weeks of negotiation with the Council and Balfour Beatty and we’re really pleased to announce that Shahida and Ian managed to save a total of 15 lights across East Chesterton!

We wish we could have saved more – but the private company’s contractors started planting lights before the design team had fully considered our proposals.

There are a number of queries about lights being moved:  if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact Ian if you have concerns.

Thank you!

A big thank you to everyone who voted for Shahida Rahman in the local elections last week.  Although she didn’t win, we’re proud of her strong second place.

THe results in East Chesterton were as follows:

Geraldine Bird R (Lab) 1630 38.8%
Shahida Rahman (LDm) 1165 27.8%
J.Alexander Boyd (Con) 608 14.5%
Peter Pope (Gre) 466 11.1%
Peter Burkinshaw (UKI) 327 7.8%

You can see full City Council results here:

Shahida will be taking a short break, but hopes to be back soonto continue the campaigns she’s started.

Library privatisation update: FAQ

Lib Dem Cllrs Susan Van De Ven, Amanda Taylor and Barbara Ashwood have put together an FAQ on the Cambridge Central library service changes, which we reproduce here:

Cambridge Central Library: Kora option for an Enterprise Centre FAQs


Liberal Democrat councillors led the way toward securing a public consultation and forcing a reconsideration of options, and specifically the officer recommended Kora-run option, for an Enterprise Centre at Cambridge Central Library. 


The process has been flawed, other options have not been evaluated and the ‘preferred’ Kora option may not stand up to closer scrutiny. 

  1. How long had officers been negotiating with Kora for an Enterprise Centre on the third floor of Cambridge Central Library?


18 months


  1. When did councillors learn about Kora’s role and officer negotiations?


Members of the Highways and Community Infrastructure (HCI) Committee first learned about this in the lead-up to their March 17 meeting, when they were asked to make a decision endorsing the officer recommendation to go forward with the preferred option of working with Kora to develop an enterprise centre.


The concept of an enterprise centre had been publicly discussed for many months and was endorsed by committee members, but knowledge of Kora’s role and contractual negotiations was not shared by officers with councillors.


  1. Did any councillors outside the HCI committee know about the proposals?

    The Conservative Cabinet members serving at the time of the inception of the proposal – autumn 2013. The current cross-party HCI committee came into being in May 2014.

    4. Did any councillors challenge the officer recommendation to proceed with the Kora option?


Yes. At the March 17 HCI meeting, Lib Dem Councillors Susan van de Ven proposed an amendment, seconded by Lib Dem Cllr Amanda Taylor:


to defer the decision to develop and Enterprise Centre in Cambridge Central Library, pending receipt of further detailed information on the proposals, including the opportunity to question Kora, and the opportunity for a robust consultation exercise.


This amendment was supported by Cllrs Barbara Ashwood and Noel Kavanagh.


The amendment was rejected by the rest of the HCI committee – all of the UKIP, Independent and Conservative members – who then voted and resolved:


  1. a) to approve the development of an enterprise centre within Cambridge Central Library;
  2. b) to enter into an agreement with Kora (part of the Regus Group) to create and run the Cambridge Library Enterprise Centre (CLEC); and
  3. c) to delegate to the Executive – Director of Economy, Transport and Environment in consultation with the Chair and Vice Chair of the Highways & Community Infrastructure Committee authority to approve the final negotiations required to complete this project.


Cllrs van de Ven, Taylor, Ashwood and Kavanagh did not support the decision.


  1. Was this decision then challenged?

    Yes. Cllr Amanda Taylor led a ‘decision review’ of the decision which was considered by the General Purposes Committee on 14 April.  The GPC agreed unanimously to send the matter back to the HCI committee on 2 June, and to ask for the public’s views in a consultation exercise.


  1. Will the HCI committee consider the other two Enterprise Centre options put forward on 17 March, alongside the Kora option?

    That is the expectation and we have asked for confirmation – and also requested that those options are more fully worked up to create a level playing field.


  1. Will members of the public be consulted on next steps?


Members of the public can respond to the Enterprise Centre proposals through the current library consultation exercise, which closes on 10 May:


And please don’t hesitate to contact us Lib Dem Ladies with any further questions or comments