Shirley School parking further progress

Cllr Manning met for the latest time with the Shirley School today to talk about progress around parking problems for surrounding streets.

With officers and Governors from the School an initial plan for parking restrictions was considered that will see double yellow lines around entrances to Laxton Way, Cam Causeway, along Nuffield Road outside the school, on at the entrances to Discovery Way and Pippin Drive.

Further to this those present considered introducing a 20 mph limit near the school.

“Lib Dems on the City Council are pushing for 20mph limits around Cambridge and this is another example of why this policy is needed.” said Cllr Manning.

East Chesterton Roads to benefit from Lib Dem secured funding

Cllr Manning and the Liberal Democrat Group on Cambridgeshire County Council pressured the administration into spending £90m extra on road maintenance in the current budget, and the schedule of works has just been released.

The move was started when Cllr Killian Bourke, Lib Dem County Group Leader, found evidence that Worcestershire Council had instigated a review of highways maintenance and put this before the Environment Services scrutiny committee[1].

The areas to be worked on in East Chesterton are:

  • Highways maintenance on Elisabeth Way – Carriageway and footpath/cycleway repairs – Quarter 3
  • Surface dressing and micro asphalt programme (“papering over cracks”): Kinross Road, Edinburgh Road, Church Street, Union Lane – Mid May to End July

[1] The minutes of the meeting state:
The review was initiated following a request from Councillor Bourke, who had highlighted the value of a Highways review undertaken by a Scrutiny Task Group at Worcestershire County Council (referred to in section 5). It also reflected the Committee’s recognition of the critical role that local highways play in supporting the Council’s objectives, particularly in terms of supporting economic growth and affecting the quality of life of local people and visitors, by providing access to local services.

North Area Fen Road steering group – first meeting

Tonight was the first meeting secured by Cllr Manning and the East Chesterton Liberal Democrats as a result of their campaign to get the new Station to benefit the area.

That campaign got a public meeting attended by over 100 people – http://eastchesterton.mycouncillor.org.uk/2012/01/26/lib-dems-tackle-fen-road-problems-head-on-for-residents/

The meeting was well attended by residents and Liberal Democrat Councillors.

Officers from the County Council Highways and City Council Planning presented various information to us about the desire for an access road:

  • From a planning perspective, Patsy Dell from the City Council explained that the Cambridge local plan will have a bearing on the overal situation and there are Governance agreements between the City, County and South Cambs.
  • Jeremy Smith, from highways stated again that the project will not prevent anything from being built.
  • Brain Stinton talked about what could be done down Fen Road itself to prevent speeding.

Cllr Manning pressed the point that many residents echoed: “No matter the complexities from the point of view of planning and integration between the different authorities, we absolutely must push and help officers to get the best result for local residents. I asked that there is a clear report back to the steering group on the vaiability or not of the two steering road options (onto the A14 and onto Cowley Road).”

There were also suggestions for underpasses and on Fen Road itself, it cost is a problem, to simply remove the current speed cushions. Cllr Znajek explained “It doesn’t matter how this is funded or who is doing it, we must get a benefit to locals from the area.

Cllr Manning also raised the issue of parking on Fen Road / satellite streets that might happen to avoid getting charged for using the station car park: “Officers have this in hand with their plans and we wait to see what they come back with.”

Cllr Manning is also concerned about possible plans to spend up to £1 million on a cycle bridge (either the Green Dragon or a new one) which he believes should be used in preference on Fen Road. He will be following this up with officers from highways.

Officers have taken away actions to draw up some high levels options for us to consider at the next meeting in a month’s time.

Redeveloping the local plan: cycling and parking on new developments

Cllr Ian Manning today met with City Council officers to discuss parking and cycle parking provision on new developments, using the VIE Development as an example.

As you may be aware, the Cambridge Local Plan is currently being reviewed as a new one should be adopted in 2015. The meeting discussed the previous plans aims for cycling and car parking provision and what the resulted in ‘on the ground’.

“This small meeting actually felt like I’d come full circle. I first became involved in local politics when, as Chair of the VIE Residents’ Association, the poor provision of cycle parking on the estate was an issue I campaigned on.

It was the first time I encountered local politics and the problems caused by our two tier local authority setup (City and County).

I’ve impressed a number of things to the officer:

  • The policy of single car parking space is not currently working fully to discourage second car ownerhip.
  • This is partly because developers are selling properties with the promise of multiple/visitor spaces which don’t exist: therefore every new development should have a public sign with information about it on.
  • Cycle parking and car parking provision need to be in place before residents move in.
  • There should be an assumption that one property generates need for at least 2-3 car parking spaces (regardless of whether the family owns more than one car)
  • It would be desirable that there was a recommended method enabling residents to “protect” their space: e.g. raisable bollards
  • The shape of cycle parking provision should be specified, not just the volume

LIB DEM VICTORY OVER GLARING INEFFICIENCIES IN BUS CONTRACT

Glaring inefficiencies in Cambridge County Council’s Park and Ride contract are to be addressed thanks to the Liberal Democrats.

The move will save money for the taxpayer and could see the sites used more widely as rural bus interchanges potentially providing better services for travellers.

Lib Dems revealed a deal between the council’s Tory administration and bus operator Stagecoach that cut departure charges for Park and Ride buses by 25 per cent for the duration of the contract in return for a freeze on ticket prices.

But after the first year, Stagecoach continued to increase ticket prices above inflation while the departure charge – commission the operators pay to the county council to use the Park and Rid sites – remained frozen at the reduced rate.

Papers released for the Tory-run Cabinet meeting today (Wednesday, January 11) revealed, however, that departure charges have been increased by 25 per cent and further significant rises are planned.

The Lib Dems have welcomed the move but warned that the Tories must now make sure that the operators do not pass the increase on to passengers.

Kilian Bourke said: “The Lib Dems exposed the glaring inefficiency of this contract over a year ago and it is good news that the Conservatives are finally doing something about this.

“They have unequivocally accepted our argument that the levy on the commercial operator should be dramatically increased, and already implemented a 25 per cent hike, although the proposals don’t go far enough. Whatever the outcome, the council needs to make sure any increase is not simply passed on to bus passengers through ticket prices.”

Lib Dem Shadow Cabinet Member for Transport, Susan van de Ven said: “The open access model is the right choice and we have long argued for it. It is the most risk-free option and could potentially introduce some competition into this local monopoly. The Tories have also taken on board our idea of using the sites as rural transport hubs, which is welcome news.”

LIB DEM CAMPAIGNER GIVEN ASSURANCES OVER BLUE BADGE FEARS

Leading Cambridgeshire Liberal Democrat campaigner, Clare Blair has received assurances that national changes to the Blue Badge system, designed to prevent fraud, will not affect existing users.

Clare contacted Cambridgeshire County Councillor, Ian Manning, who represents East Chesterton because she was worried that existing disabled users might have to immediately changeover to new style badges leaving them without their permits.

She said: “It can take a long time to get a new or replacement badge and I was worried that the changes could have meant users having their service interrupted while the new badge was sent.

“I’ve received assurances that existing users won’t be affected and current badges will continue until they expire. For new badge applications the process will remain exactly the same as before although new style badges will be issued. This is good news for all disabled people who rely on their badges.”

The Department for Transport has launched changes to the badges to reduce the potential for fraud and misuse and to streamline administration of the scheme, which is carried out by local authorities. The move will save up to £20 million per year.

Other changes include the potential to increase the price of a badge from £2 to £10, to cover the cost of the new technology. But a decision will not be made on whether to pass this onto users until Cambridgeshire County Council’s Cabinet meets in January.

Cllr Manning said: “I know how valuable these Blue Badges are for people with limited mobility and the thought that they might lose them while the new system is rolled out can be extremely worrying.

“The assurances Clare has been given will put a lot of minds at rest.”

Whippet Guided Buses to stop on Milton Road

Milton Road will get a new bus service once the Guided Bus starts running – scheduled to start on 7th August.

Whippet bus timetable

Whippet coaches have agreed that their hourly service along Milton Road will stop at the Arbury Road/Union Lane junction.

The Monday to Saturday services will start at 0816 and run until 1816 southbound taking 10 minutes to get to the city centre and a further 9 to the railway station where they will stop. Northbound, the buses will stop every hour from 1003 until 1903 taking 5 minutes to get to the Science Park and a further 20 to get to St Ives via Histon, Oakington, Longstanton and Swavesey. On Sundays, services are very 2-3 hours starting after 10am and finishing before 7pm.

Click here for the whippet timetable.

On Tuesday, Cllr Kevin Wilkins, County Councillor for West Chesterton, met Peter Lee, the Director of Whippet Coaches to welcome the news and discuss details.

Mr Lee agreed that Whippet buses would stop at any stop along Milton Road not just Union Lane. This is very welcome news – but County Council officials are believed to be unhappy about this!

All the buses (with green, euro 5 engines) will have the widget that means they show up on the real-time information signs at the busstops and on various mobile phone apps.

Cross-company tickets will be available so that passengers wishing to transfer to a Stagecoach bus for example in the city centre will be able to do so.

Despite repeated requests, Stagecoach have no plans to follow suit with stops on Milton Road.

Well done, Whippet: if you think this is a good decision please contact Peter Lee on whippetcoaches@btconnect.com to let him know!

MP presses minister over Chesterton Station

Cambridge MP, Julian Huppert, the ex-County Councillor for East Chesterton, has been further pressing for a station in our ward (see also http://eastchesterton.mycouncillor.org.uk/2011/03/15/chesterton-station-comes-closer/ ) :

House of Commons Deputy Leader, David Heath may visit the possible site of Cambridge’s £20 million Chesterton Station after congratulating MP Julian Huppert for making an “extremely strong case” for the project on Tuesday.

Mr Heath said that if he comes to Cambridge over the next few weeks, he would be delighted to see the site for himself.

His comments came after Julian urged the government to support Cambridge’s bid for £10 million from the regional growth fund.

County Cllr Ian Manning commented “Further to the City Council’s support for a station in our ward, lobbying by our Lib Dem MP is making the dream closer to a reality and shows the benefits of having Lib Dems both locally and nationally.”

He said that Chesterton Station would be “an important strategic interchange that would cut journey times for the vast majority who work in the north of the city”

County Council full council 29th March

Today was the latest meeting of the Cambridgeshire County Council Full Council.  Here is a summary of some key points affecting East Chesterton residents –

  • The Liberal Democrat group proposed an amendment to the local transport plan ( http://www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/transport/strategies/local/) taking out the support for the guided bus – the Conservatives voted this down.
  • Whilst we (the Liberal Democrat group) find some good things in the plan (a bid for Chesterton station for example) it simply does not match up with the Conservatives’ budget – nothing was achieved in the previous plan and the budget means less will be achieved by this plan – therefore we abstained.
  • Several points about the bus cuts:  in particular Cllr Macguire was unable to say whether the mega rider service was good value for money as he has “never used it”.
  • The Lib Dem group had a motion to delay the cutting of the City Centre shuttle bus by one year  to allow the option of securing funding from external sources such as developers to be explored.  The Tories voted this down – unbelievable!
  • After the latter vote the Conservative chair allowed a re-vote because two senior cabinet members “pressed the wrong button” – something we have asked for in the past and been denied.
  • A rather surreal waste of time at the start where members were asked to individually declare whether they had bus passes or not – this wasted at least half an hour of councilor and officer time.  Something Cllr Manning will be chasing up in future.

Cllr Manning fully expected the Conservatives to keep on with the folly of the guided bus and support it, however he had hoped that they could have supported the saving of a vital city bus service.