Following encouragement from a number of sources, including the Park Street residents’ association, and considering the point of view that the more people who apply the stronger the position of the individual eventually appointed I have submitted an application for the position of residents’ director on the Cambridge City Centre Management Partnership (Love Cambridge).
Dear Emma Thornton,
I am writing to express my interest in being considered for the position of residents’ director on the new Cambridge city centre management partnership board. This role has been advertised on the City Council’s website and elsewhere. I believe the person with the largest mandate for the role of a residents’ representative is Cambridge’s MP. I have written to Mr Howarth to encourage him to put himself forward for the role; only if he has not done so do I wish to be considered myself.
I have lived and worked within Cambridge city centre since 2001. I am independent, I not a member of any political party or any particular campaigning group within the city. As I am self-employed I am able to attend meetings at any time of the day.
My interests in the city centre are broad, I am prepared to contribute on the full range of the partnership’s areas of activity. As residents of Cambridge we are custodians of one of the most beautiful city centers in the world, I appreciate the responsibilities which come with that. The city centre also has to function for retailers, residents and the universities as well as the very wide range of businesses which operate here. I am aware of the challenges which the city and region are facing as the population of the city and surrounding area is set to expand massively.
I support the aim of the organisation which has been presented as being to free the city centre management and eventually tourism functions of the city council, which are predominantly not publicly funded, from local government bureaucracy. I hope this can be achieved without losing democratic influence where it is necessary, and recognise that moving away from the city council makes effective residents’ representation even more crucial.
I am in regular contact with residents groups including the cycling campaign, the Friends of Midsummer Common and the Jesus Green Association with respect to matters affecting the city. I am also regularly in touch with the city’s media. I believe a key part of the residents’ director ought be engagement with existing groups, not just residents associations, for example the students’ unions, churches, cycling campaign and Cambridge Preservation Society. Park street residents’ association have written to me suggesting I offer myself for this position.
The board of directors of the partnership would, I believe, be strengthened by the presence of individuals representing established groups in the city. I would like to see the partnership in the future move towards a model where representatives are selected by those they are intended to represent. I consider the appointment of John Dix of Hewitsons, as professional services representative, apparently as a direct reward for his company’s work on setting up the organisation as appearing particularly dodgy. I would also like to see consideration given to board level representation of additional groups such as County Councillors, market/street traders and the students’ unions.
It would be all to easy I imagine for Emma Thornton and Ian Sandison to appoint someone who has an expressed an opposition to conflict as the residents’ director. While such an appointment might well make life easier for other board members I do not think it would be the best decision in the interests of the city and its residents. There is a need for someone who is happy to be in a minority on the board and realises that being a residents’ champion will inevitably often place them at odds with other members. I have discussed the role with Adrian Brink who represented residents on the previous board, and listened to his contribution at the residents’ briefing in which he described this dynamic. I believe I will be able to make a robust contribution and will be prepared to stand up to the dominant stakeholders to champion the interests of residents. While some of the other members of the board of directors will be city residents themselves, their primary interest and perspective will arise from their employment or other role.
I am a strong believer in openness and transparency; I would encourage the new partnership to operate in as open and accessible a manner as possible. I have made my notes and observations on my dealings with the partnership so far available on my website, and would continue to do this if appointed. I will make this letter of application, along with my CV, points addressing the person specification and notes on specific issues, all of which I am enclosing, public.
Should you wish to call me for an interview I would be happy to meet with you, Cllr Cantrill and Mr Sandison and discuss further what I would be able to offer in this role.