City Council Seeking People to Appoint as Conservators of the Cam


Friday, July 13th, 2012. 5:00pm

River Cam Near Jesus Green in Cambridge

River Cam Near Jesus Green in Cambridge

Via the odd route of Liberal Democrat Cllr Ward, my local councillor in Arbury, who is also Cambridge City Council’s Executive Councillor for Planning and Sustainable Transport, making a posting on the Cam.misc newsgroup the city council are inviting applications from people who would like to be considered for appointment by the council to be Conservators of the River Cam.

The notice states:

Cambridge City Council is required to appoint four members of the public (along with three city councillors) to be Cam Conservators for a three year period starting 1 January 2013. The collective body is known as the Conservators of the River Cam and as a collective body it is responsible for maintaining the river between the Mill Pond and Bottisham Lock.

The City Council is seeking to recruit the four members of the public by an open recruitment process. The most important criteria is that you are interested in, and/or have knowledge of, some aspect of the river and its use. Please note that the positions are voluntary and carry no remuneration.

For informal enquiries, further background, an application form and person criteria please contact Glenn Burgess on 01223 457169 or glenn.burgess at cambridge.gov.uk

Closing date for applications is Friday, 10 August 2012

For more information on Cambridge City Council see http://www.cambridge.gov.uk

For more information on the Conservators, its purpose and work see
http://www.camconservators.co.uk

This announcement follows a decision made at the council’s Environment Scrutiny Committee
Tuesday, 26th June, 2012
. The posting by Cllr Ward is the first evidence of the decision to have emerged from that meeting as the minutes are not yet available and the council does not issue timely decision notices.

The report on appointments to the Cam Conservators to that meeting notes the current council appointees are:

  • City Councillors Nimmo-Smith (2001) and Price (2011) [Nimmo-Smith is no longer a city councillor]
  • Riparian land owner Councillor Ward (2007) [I presume Cllr Ward represents the council's interest as a riparian land owner eg. of Midsummer Common, Jesus Green and Quayside]
  • Commercial operator – Mr R Ingersent from Scudamores Punts (2001)
  • Boating interest – Mr R Hardingham (2001)
  • Houseboat residents – Mr L Philipps (2007)
  • Resident living close to the river – Mr C Brown (2010)

The council’s proposed criteria for selecting new appointees were:

  1. An interest in, and/or evidenced knowledge of, some aspect of river use.
  2. Not a Councillor or officer of Cambridge City Council, Cambridgeshire County Council, other District or Parish Councils in Cambridgeshire. Not a relative or close friend of any current elected member or officer of the Council.
  3. Live or work in the City of Cambridge.
  4. Commitment to serve the community, attend meetings and a willingness to take required training and to offer requisite time to perform the duties to the satisfaction of the City Council.
  5. Willingness to sign up to a Code of Conduct applicable to members of the public made Council appointees.
  6. Must declare any party political membership on the application form.
  7. Will have disclosed to the Council during the application process any matter in his/her background which, if it became public, might cause the council to reconsider the appointment.
  8. Committed to a three year term of office.

The proposal for new appointees was three city councillors and four members of the public representing river users.

The report suggests councillors will make appointments having considered application forms with personal information removed, with the decision to be made at a full meeting of the council on the 25th of October 2012.

My Views

I think it is excellent that the council is opening up the process of making appointments to the Conservators; however, assuming councillors accepted the recommendations before them at the June meeting, the new system relies on applications coming forward and councillors making sensible decisions to avoid the risk of substantial interest groups, such as those living on the river, not being represented being realised.

I would hope that any applications made from individuals with the support of say the Cambridgeshire Rowing Association or Camboaters would be looked upon very favourably. No system appears to be in place such organisations to indicate their preferences for a particular “representative”.

The system proposed relies on councillors making good decisions. My on view is that trusting and empowering councillors is not necessarily a bad thing and may well lead to better councillors getting elected.

More on my views in related articles:

Further articles I’ve written cover related matters, such as those on the Penny Ferry Car Park refurbishment, and those on the council’s deployment of hidden CCTV cameras on Jesus Green to monitor independent punters, other things I’ve reported and commented extensively on on such as plans for works on Jesus Green and Midsummer Common are also closely related to the river.

4 comments/updates on “City Council Seeking People to Appoint as Conservators of the Cam

  1. Richard Taylor Article author

    If the council don’t proactively publish the application pack containing the “further background, an application form and person criteria” then a FOI request might be appropriate.

  2. Richard Taylor Article author

    A new advert has emerged:

    http://media.wix.com/ugd/79067b_95038fa8522c42d2a07f32343ac0fc67.pdf

    Quite why it’s at such an odd location again and not prominently on the Cambridge City Council website I don’t know.

    I’ve suggested pro-actively publishing the person specification and application form.

    I can’t find any records of decision on the council website about the latest appointments and the council’s proposed criteria for selection. I’ve browsed, and searched, the decision register and recent Environment Scrutiny Committee meetings. I’ve also searched the website via Google and using the on-site search. I have found only materials from 2012-13 and on recent changes to the a councillor members in papers to the full council.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if there was more deep on the website, which I could find if I spent more time looking. I think it’s reasonable to comment after using the search strategy described.

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