Fen Road Public Meetings


Tuesday, March 20th, 2012. 3:42am


Following the January 2012 meeting the wooden bollards between Water St. and Fen Road were replaced with metal ones. The wooden ones kept getting sawn off.

Wooden bollards between Water St. and Fen Road which kept getting sawn down have been replaced with metal ones.

On Tuesday the 20th of March 2012 at 6pm in the Shirley School on Nuffield Road another public meeting is to be held to discuss the problems associated with Fen Road in East Chesterton. The meeting has not been well advertised and is omitted from the council’s meeting calendar.

The March meeting was arranged because the only thing Cambridgeshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Growth and Planning Councillor Ian Bates (Conservative, The Hemingfords and Fenstanton) could think of doing in response to calls for action at the previous public meeting, on the 26th of January, was calling for another public meeting.

Cllr Bates was jeered and heckled when he made the suggestion by members of the public saying: “Well what’s this?” “This is a public meeting?”. The chair of the North Area Committee, Cllr Ian Nimmo-Smtih sought to calm the situation by assuring the hundred or so people who’d attended the first meeting they didn’t have to repeat everything again and their points would be “taken forward”. The second meeting has now been termed a “steering group” but is open to all. It appears that 45 out of the ~100 people who attended the first meeting signed up for notification of the date of the second where it is hoped that Cllr Bates will, after two months of reflection, be ready to substantively respond to what he heard.

26 January 2012 North Area Committee

On the 26th of January 2012 the North Area Committee held a special meeting to discuss the problems associated with Fen Road, and in particular to discuss a proposal from Clare Blair and Cllr Ian Manning to push for a new access road between Fen Road and Milton Road involving a new bridge over the railway in the vicinity of the planned Chesterton Station.

The problems on Fen Road relate to the use of the road both by heavy commercial vehicles and dangerous and inconsiderate driving by those living on the travellers site.

I know from my own personal experience that the road is lawless. It’s rare to be in the area and not see obviously unroadworthy vehicles and dangerous driving. Local residents at the public meeting talked of white van drivers stopping in the road to speak to each other, not caring about blocking other traffic, and of speeding vehicles mounting the pavements.

The view of those at the meeting was that they were very keen on the provision of a new access road, allowing access to the travellers’ site and industrial units on Fen Road without driving through the residential streets of East Chesterton.

My view is that while a new bridge would be beneficial, especially if it was to carry an extension of the guided bus, and Chisolm Trail, following the line of the railway over Stourbridge Common as well as improving access to Fen Road we ought be able to deal more robustly with the lawlessness now.

It appeared to me that the members of the public who attended the meeting had little confidence in police action being able to address the problems and were therefore calling for the multi-million pound civil engineering project. Many also wanted to see smaller, cheaper, quicker, improvements including a better cycleway between the hailingway and Water Street. This is something I called for when councillors were throwing vast sums at the Penny Ferry car park.

Tweets

I tweeted the following live from the meeting:

  • Chesterton Railway station offers opportunity to address Fen Rd. problems Cllr Nimmo-Smith tells North Area Ctte #live
  • If DoT approval given for Chesterton Station it could be built in 2014 North Area Ctte #live told.
  • Cllrs from @SouthCambs and @cambscc here at North Area Ctte #live as problem area is responsibility of multiple councils. #localgov
  • Cheer as member of public reports white van drivers stop to chat to each other Fen Rd to North Area Ctte #live
  • Members of public reporting Taxi companies refuse to serve Fen Road residents. North Area Ctte #live
  • Allegations of planning breaches at traveller site North Area Ctte #live
  • Traveller saying Taxis refusing to serve travellers, but other residents on Fen Rd say they are refused service too. North Area Ctte #live
  • Member of public complaining about lack of leadership from cllrs.. too much “what do you think” Re: Fen Rd. North Area Ctte #live
  • Members of the public getting fustrated at Cllr Nimmo-Smith’s chairing .. clamour to hear about possible solutions. North Area Ctte #live
  • Lots of support for new road Milton Rd ->Fen Rd. Could form part of Chisolm Trail cycle route from Sci Park. North Area Ctte #live #camcyle
  • Lots of support for two way cycle lane on riverside of Water St narrowing road to slow traffic. North Area Ctte #live #camcyle
  • Officer Mr Preston from @CambsCC getting heckled as he is saying “more evidence needed” to show problems on Fen Road. North Area Ctte #live
  • Officer Mr Preston from @CambsCC confirms there is ¬£2m + in the North Area Transport Corridor Fund. Area Ctte #live
  • Cabinet member Ian Bates of @CambsCC addressing North Area Cte #live His suggestion of a further meeting baffling residents:we’re at a mtng!
  • RT @brianlj: North Area Ctte #live It looks as though we need more evidence before anything is done. Bureuacratic nonsense.
  • Chair protecting @CambsCC officer … not letting public find out what evidence they require. North Area Ctte #live
  • There is a council contracted stenographer taking down every word here to help a man who has difficulty hearing. FOI? North Area Ctte #live
  • Cllr Nimmo-Smith promises Fen Road notes will be on @camcitco website tomorrow morning. North Area Ctte #live

The County Council officer explained the County Council’s policy of spending money on highways improvements where people had been killed or seriously injured. He then went on to say more evidence would be needed before the County Council would support any work on Fen Road. He appeared to be only a whisker away from saying that it will take someone to be killed to prompt action.

The council’s meeting notes were published as promised.

Since the meeting Liberal Democrat Cllr Ian Manning has sought publicity for the new bollards saying progress needed to be shown following the January 2012 public meeting. My view on the bollard replacement is firstly I’m shocked the area is so lawless they were repeatedly destroyed in the first place, and secondly while the replacement is “something” I don’t think it addresses any of the points raised at the public meeting.

Policing

At the previous police priority setting session of the North Area committee in September 2011 councillors had asked the police to tackle Fen Road and 222 Victoria Road. The police had apparently ignored this and turned up to the meeting, which had a special focus on Fen Road, with nothing on the subject in their report.

Councillors failed to hold the police to account for this omission which passed largely without comment.

Policing – PCSOs

I proposed setting a priority of using police constables rather than PCSOs to patrol the North Area, and in particular Fen Road, so that the traffic offences could be more effectively dealt with. The meeting’s chair Cllr Ian Nimmo-Smith declined to shortlist this proposal and did not allow it to be put to a vote.

While introducing it I pointed out my proposal would also address the issue of the patroling of North Cambridge being concentrated in working hours, during weekdays, as a result of the extensive fraction of proportion of patrolling carried out by PCSOs.

I reminded the committee I’d previously asked about this subject to be told by the local Sergent, Sgt Wragg that “PCSOs work on all shifts”. I reported that I’d been tipped off by member of police staff Mr Fuller (who attends area committee meetings) that this response was accurate but misleading as the only reason Sgt Wragg was able to give that response was that very occasionally PCSOs work till midnight, putting them into the night shift. I pointed to the Freedom of Information request I made asking for the hours worked which shows most PCSOs in North Cambridge working 8am-6pm with some doing 2pm to 10pm; and the vast majority of those working Monday to Friday. I questioned if working hours on weekdays was when North Cambridge most needed policing. Sgt. Wragg responded to claim PCSOs were evenly deployed on day and night shifts in direct contradiction of Cambridgeshire Police’s response to my FOI request.

I asked Cllr Nimmo-Smith about his decision to dismiss my suggestion after the meeting and discussed the role of PCSOs with him. It emerged that Cllr Nimmo-Smith was unaware that PCSOs held a paid role, he thought they were unpaid volunteers and said we should be grateful for the work they put in and shouldn’t ask them to work anti-social hours (I wasn’t making that suggestion). Cllr Nimmo-Smith appeared to be confusing Special Constables and PCSOs, something which I find is one of a number of common misconceptions about how the police are run. When I explained the role of a PCSO to Cllr Nimmo-Smith he backtracked and said what he meant was people voluntarily applied for the role of a PCSO expecting a certain pattern of working hours.

Cllr Nimmo-Smith said he would have expected Inspector Poppet (Cambridge’s new neighbourhood policing Inspector) who was sitting in on the meeting to have intervened had Sgt. Wragg misled the meeting.

Cllr Nimmo-Smith’s ignorance is particularly alarming as when he was leader of the council he had significant policing related responsibilities and on a number of occasions approved giving extra powers to PCSOs in Cambridge.

Sgt. Wragg also misled the meeting when he told it the police’s lamppost mounted speed monitoring devices record average speeds of vehicles and not the speeds of individual vehicles. See also: Police Claim 20mph Average Speed on Water Street / Fen Road in Chesterton.

Policing Tweets

I published the following policing related tweets live from the police priorities section of the meeting:

  • Sgt. Wragg says it’s excellent to be at a public meeting with the public present. ~50 people staying for police item. North Area Ctte #live
  • No deliberately set fires on the last month North Area Ctte #live told. Could just be the weather though.
  • Sgt Wragg contradicted the stats provided by @cambscops on PCSO working hours. He insists they are evenly depolyed on day and night shifts.
  • Sgt. Wragg tells North Area Ctte #live he has no idea what to expect in terms of TASER being issued to non-firearms officers.
  • Sgt. Wragg saying even he doesn’t understand where you can and can’t cycle in central Cambridge due to bad signage. North Area Ctte #live
  • Chair Cllr Nimmo-Smith refuses to shortlist my suggestions for @cambscops priorities at North Area Ctte #live
  • #libdem Clr Znajek is useless.He tells me he supports my suggestion of PCs not PCSOs to tackle driving offences but won’t say it to ctte.
  • Democratic police priority setting isn’t as effective as it could be if better councillors were elected and not wet #libdems
  • Only pre-submittted open forum questions taken. Details of how this will be run shld be given in advance. North Area Ctte #live
  • Insp Poppet of @CambsCops was at North Area Ctte #live he didn’t introduce himself though. Chair told me he was there afterwards.

11 comments/updates on “Fen Road Public Meetings

  1. Richard Taylor Article author

    I attended the meeting on the evening of the 20th of March 2012.

    Key Points

    • Cllr Bates, who called for the meeting, didn’t turn up. No one explained, or even commented on his absence. This made the meeting much less useful than it could have been, as rather than engaging with person with the influence we were left talking with his officers.
    • My proposal to use constables to police the area appears to have been taken up by the police despite councillors not formally supporting it.
    • A cycle and pedestrian bridge, cantilevered from the existing railway bridge over the river is proposed and will be taken to the May 2012 North Area Committee for approval.
    • The area is being tackled in a piecemeal manner with little to no-coordination between those working on the station, those working on small improvements to the Fen Road environment, those working on the area’s local plans, and others including Network Rail and those responsible for the guided bus. There is need for leadership, direction and coordination but it isn’t present.
    • Liberal Democrat Cllr Ward, who chairing the latter element of the meeting, rejected my proposal to publicise the meetings of the group better, adding them to the councils’ meeting calendars and making sure interested groups such as rowers and the cycling campaign were aware of them. He stated wider consultation would come at the appropriate time and opted to keep the existing ~45 person email list as the way of publicising the “steering group” meetings which it was decided will be held monthly.
    • Cllr Nimmo-Smith opened the meeting, and set down an agenda of 1. Policing, focusing on driver behaviour; 2. “Fen Road 2″ the new road from Milton Road to Fen Road and 3. Improvements to the safety of the current road, including the level crossing.

    Policing

    Cllr Nimmo-Smith opened the meting saying police action to tackle driver behaviour was the first thing he wanted to discuss. This was a marked departure from his, and other councillor’s stance at the 26 January meeting where policing was hardly raised as route for tackling the area’s problems.

    A PCSO who Cllr Ian Nimmo-Smith called Louisa, spoke on behalf of Cambridgeshire Police.

    She reported that an “action plan” had been drawn up to tackle the problems on Fen Road. The primary new thing which was being done, she reported, was police constables from the Neighbourhood Policing team are now patrolling the road in unmarked cars.

    Perhaps whistleblowing to a degree she reported that this work only continued to midnight on occasion, and generally only took place up to 9 or 10 pm. This is presumably as neighbourhood officers are being used. One of the key things the current Chief Constable has said he will do is breakdown the distinction between neighbourhood officers and the rest of the police, but that does not appear to have yet happened in North Cambridge.

    The PCSO reported Sgt Jason Wragg was lobbying for the deployment of traffic police officers on the road. (Councillors have previously been told that one way their priority setting can be effective is giving local sergeants more bargaining power when bidding within the police for resources to be allocated to their areas).

    The PCSO reported that the neighbourhood team and generated a long list of those cars which are causing the problems on Fen Road, she suggested the neighbourhood team now needed the help of traffic officers to stop these vehicles and deal with them.

    The PCSO finished her remarks by stressing they need the help of the public and need to be told what’s happening so they can deal with it; she urged reports to be made via the 101 non-emergency number.

    I was quite impressed with elements of the police report, however am concerned that the artificial distinction between neighbourhood officers and others is hampering their efforts and am wondering why a two months into the current priority period our local officers have not yet had the support from the traffic officers which they are seeking.

    I think if councillors set a clearer priority next time, explicitly asking for policing of the area by constables and traffic police they will assist Sgt Wragg and his team in their efforts.

    Chesterton Station

    Cllr Ian Nimmo-Smith, from the chair, asked: “How is the planing of the new station going to take account for what is going on”.

    A Cambridgeshire County Council officer named Jeremy responded. He said the station project was complex, and the current design brief was to design a station which does rule out any option for land use or future transport infrastructure in the area. He noted there were “lots of aspirations” for the area.

    Asked for more details of the time-line for the next steps in relation to the station he reported that by the end of the summer a public consultation on the options for the station would be opened. He said this would allow people’s views to be taken into account in the development of the planning application. He then said that the public would get a further opportunity to influence the plans during the formal planning consultation processes which would occur in 2013.

    “Jeremy” reported that details of access to the station would be dealt with in the station planning application, but not other suggestions for improvements in the locality. Responding to public questions “Jeremy” said that Cambridgeshire County Council would be the planning authority to which the station application would be submitted, with the Cambridge City Council – South Cambridgeshire District Council joint planning committee making the determination. He also told the group that either the County Council alone, or the County Council in conjunction with Network Rail would be submitting the application.

    A New Bridge

    County Council officers stated that a bridge over the railway would cost in the region of £8m. (They said this was the figure quoted for replacing the level crossing on the A10 in Foxton with a bridge. They also noted the much greater number of vehicles which use the Foxton crossing and said that despite the strong case for work needing to be done there, and it being on the primary A road network less than a third of the money needed had been found).

    Surprisingly Cllr Manning suggested a new bridge was not the only option he was interested in; he also proposed a new junction for the A14 with a new road serving the Fen Road area.

    Cllr Roman Znajek suggested diverting pedestrians and cyclists from Fen Road onto the hailingway, creating a new path on the site of the pill box by the railway bridge. Showing himself yet again as a man firmly stuck in the past, Cllr Nimmo-Smith said this would probably depend on the co-operation of “Railtrack“.

    Cllr Roman Znajek continued, he said the new station would generate money and the local community should make clear that “we expect to benefit from it”.

    County council officers told the meeting that Theresa Villiers MP would not give £8m for a new bridge as part of the station project, because “passenger rail” was “driving the scheme”

    Another surprising interjection from Liberal Democrat Cllr Manning saw him suggest writing to Theresa Villiers and marching on Westminster. He suggested Theresa Villiers might not be aware of Fen Road and its issues and suggested this ought be corrected. County Council officers expressed an opinion that Theresa Villiers probably was not aware of the issues on Fen Road, but cautioned Cllr Manning against his proposed course of action (while being careful to note he was of course free to do as he thought right). Officers explained the justification for the Department for Transport’s support of the Chesterton Station was that it was expected to make more money for the rail operating companies and therefore enable central government to reduce its subsidy of them by a commensurate amount. Officers expressed a view that ideally the rail companies ought be able to promote schemes like Chesterton Station themselves, but that the current fragmented and privatised arrangements didn’t make that feasible. Officers noted that Network Rail, The DfT and many other groups all had to see the project as a good deal for them to enable it to go-ahead.

    Cllr Znajek asked: “Would it be bad if we lost the station?”. This is a surprising stance given his party colleague Julian Huppert MP is seeking to take the credit for it.

    A member of the public reported that he had calculated that the Fen Road level crossing would be closed for up to fifteen minutes at a time once trains were being run to the new station. He said this would result in a lack of access for emergency services and cause traffic to be backed up onto Fen Road causing problems accessing the residential side streets.

    Officers noted there were worse cases in the county, saying the A142 in Ely will end up blocked for 52 minutes in an hour; though there alternatives are being actively pursued.

    Cllr Ward pointed to the fact if a bridge was built then the value of the land in the area would increase. He suggested that the benefits to the community could come via development taxation. He he had heard there were developers keen on building London commuter homes on the land either side of Fen Road, and added “if they can get rid of the current occupants” apparently in a reference to the travellers site. Cllr Ward reported that South Cambridgeshire District Council were not keen on these proposals.

    My view is building a road to an area to enable development is exactly what development taxes ought be used for. They should be used to enable development in places where otherwise it would have to be refused, in this case due to the inappropriate existing access via Fen Road. I think the tax is justified in this kind of case where the link to the development is direct, I don’t think it is defensible to do what the councils are currently doing – levying the taxes without any idea of what they will spend them on; treating the revenues as free money and not considering the impact on house prices and those who cannot afford a suitable place to live.

    The possibility of an underpass rather than a bridge was mentioned. Mr Bond noted the area was a flood plain and raised the risk of an area served by an underpass getting cut off following a flood.

    Cllr Ward and Mr Bond both spoke in favour investigating the option of moving the existing level crossing north of the proposed station. A modern, safer, flatter, crossing could be constructed and in this location the crossing would be open for a greater period of time (it would have to close five times fewer per hour).

    Cllr Ward noted that Network Rail was primarily a property development company and its major interests were in relation to that and not other factors.

    The potential need for parking restrictions on Fen Road and the streets off it were discussed. Ex Cllr Blair said restrictions would not be popular with the local population. County officers said there would need to be consultation on parking restrictions and noted they expected lots of comments on this during the public consultations.

    Cllr Nimmo-Smith said that Rob Fairchild, the project manager at Network Rail responsible for the new station project, would be attending the upcoming North Area committee on the 22nd of March 2012 to talk about the Chesterton Station.

    Planning

    Despite not clearly fitting into the agenda set out by Cllr Nimmo-Smith Cambridge City Council’s head of planning, Patsy Dell, addressed the meeting. She spoke about the upcoming reviews of the local plans for Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire, she claimed the authorities were working together but reported they were holding separate public consultations running to very different timescales.

    Ex councillor Clair Blair described North East Cambridge as an “unplanned area”, she said that the level of detail being discussed, things like roads, came at the level of an area master plan and said that the local plan was a higher level and this more detailed approach was needed. Blair said all other fringes of the city had these more detailed plans. The head of planning, Patsy Dell, said Blair was correct but didn’t explain how the deficiency she agreed was present would be corrected.

    Improvements to Fen Road

    County Council officer Brian Stinton addressed the meeting. He started by saying speed humps would always result in noise as a result of HGVs using the road (I don’t know why, that’s just a report!). He went on to say that there were 140 sites in Cambridgeshire where there have been five or more serious injury accidents over the last five years and Fen Road wasn’t one of them due to its length.

    I thought this an intriguing statement, and wondered if the criteria for identifying problem areas was changed, to cope with issues which are not concentrated in a very small area such as a junction, then different locations might be identified as priorities.

    Stinton was unimpressive and waffled.

    A member of the public asked if there ought be two sets of plans for the Chesterton end of Fen Road, one for if it remained in its current state and one for if the level crossing was no longer present and if it became a dead end. She noted it would be silly to spend hundreds of thousands on works rendered unnecessary by a new access. Stinton accepted this was a good idea.

    A member of the public proposed removing the terrible road cushions on the grounds they don’t do anything to reduce speeds (they are too far apart) and cause a hazard as drivers swerve to avoid them. This appeared to have universal approval from those present as an idea, though Ex Cllr Blair noted they had been installed at the request of an unelected planning inspector whose permission might have to be sought to remove them!

    A member of the public suggested adding more parking bays (permitting parking in more areas) to slow traffic. Cllr Ward noted that using parked cars in this manner was in his view successful on Histon Road.

    Cycle Bridge

    Cllr Manning reported he had met with County Council officers to discuss a £1.5m project to reduce conflict between pedestrians and cyclists on the Green Dragon bridge.

    Ex Cllr Blair questioned if he really meant the Green Dragon bridge and Manning said he did, he had met officers on the bridge, to discuss it.

    Blair said there was a plan by County Council officer “Phillip Cracks” to spend £1.5 million of the North Area Corridor transport funding on a new cycle bridge cantilevered off the existing railway bridge. (This would form a key connection on the proposed Chisholm trail cycle route). The meeting was told this proposal would be put before the North Area Committee in May 2012. Blair offered to circulate a document she had obtained describing this proposal.

    My view is that a bridge over the railway from the new station area to connect with this proposed new cycle and pedestrian bridge over the river, with decent cycle provision on each is clearly needed, and the two ought be planned together. Cllr Ward disagreed saying they were entirely separate projects and the new bridge over the river (which would connect with Fen Road) was out of the scope of matters the Fen Road steering group would consider. I thought this determined insistence on creating a piecemeal uncoordinated set of projects madness.

    There was no clarity on if this project was to be funded from the same pot as the bridge and other improvements. It was suggested that European cycling money might be involved. Cllr Ward, who was by this point in the chair, noted that no-one present knew the answers to the questions being raised, and what proposals there were for spending various pots of money which needed to be prioritised. He asked officers to obtain clarification prior to the next meeting to be held in about a month’s time.

  2. Cllr Ian Manning

    Richard – I think you may have misunderstood how this meeting was arranged as well as the next North Area.

    The next North area meeting topic (on Thursday) was set in December’s North Area meeting, and was nothing to do with January’s northa area meeting.

    The meeting tonight was always going to be a steering group for people to look at taking the points forward and was something I suggested to the Chair.

    I’m confused what you mean by “appears to be open to all” – I assumed you had moved into East Chesterton, or have you not?

  3. Richard Taylor Article author

    The next North area meeting topic (on Thursday) was set in December’s North Area meeting, and was nothing to do with January’s northa area meeting.

    I’ve not suggested otherwise. The news reported above is that Mr Fairchild from Network Rail is to attend.

    The meeting tonight was always going to be a steering group for people to look at taking the points forward and was something I suggested to the Chair.

    Cllr Bates called for the extra public meeting. The list of invitees was based on those who signed up to be told of the date of the meeting with Cllr Bates. One of the key things I expected was to hear from Cllr Bates.

    I’m confused what you mean by “appears to be open to all” – I assumed you had moved into East Chesterton, or have you not?

    I wrote: “is open to all”; this one was a public meeting albeit poorly publicised. Cllr Nimmo-Smith extended the invitation to everyone.
    I have not moved to East Chesterton.
    Many of those who use the area don’t live in it. I’ve spent a lot of time in East Chesterton while I’ve been living in Cambridge.

  4. Cllr Ian Manning

    You must have been writing your comment “1″ as I wrote “2″. Your post makes sense now.

    Some corrections/comments to your write up of this evening:

    1) “The area is being tackled in a piecemeal manner with little to no-coordination between those working on the station, those working on small improvements to the Fen Road environment, those working on the area’s local plans, and others including Network Rail and those responsible for the guided bus. There is need for leadership, direction and coordination but it isn’t present. ”

    I think this is unfair – this is the point of this steering group, which has indetified the potential problem above but IS dealing with it.

    2) The officer you mention is Jeremy Smith

    3) “Surprisingly Cllr Manning suggested a new bridge was not the only option he was interested in; he also proposed a new junction for the A14 with a new road serving the Fen Road area. ”

    Why is this “surprising”? – I was merely repeating the point I made in my original paper that we should consider all options to get an alternative access road out of Fen Road.

    4) “Cllr Nimmo-Smith said that Rob Fairchild, the project manager at Network Rail responsible for the new station project, would be attending the upcoming North Area committee on the 22nd of March 2012 to talk about the Chesterton Station. ”

    No – I said this, as it was me that contacted Rob Fairchild.

    5) “The potential need for parking restrictions on Fen Road and the streets off it were discussed. ”

    Again, something I raised as it has been raised with me by residents and is a very real fear.

    6) I don’t know why you are surprised that I think contacting a minister is worth it. I did this directly in response to Jeremy Smith’s comment that it was Theresa Viller who wouldn’t sanction more money. If this is true she’s the obvious person to approach.

    I also wish that you’d mentioned my central point that we need to focus on pressing all sides on the practical situation and getting officers to report back to this steering group specific options that were considered. This, rather than focussing all efforts on sometimes high-level policies that don’t have a direct local effect, and are more appropriately dealt with elsewere.

  5. Cllr Ian Manning

    ” The meeting tonight was always going to be a steering group for people to look at taking the points forward and was something I suggested to the Chair.”
    “”
    Cllr Bates called for the extra public meeting. The list of invitees was based on those who signed up to be told of the date of the meeting with Cllr Bates. “”

    You’ve conflated two things here: Cllr Bates said he’d “attend public meetings” and didn’t call for them.

    The suggestion from the steering group came from my suggestion to Cllr Nimmo-Smith.

  6. Richard Taylor Article author

    Cllr Bates said he’d “attend public meetings”

    Well where was he then!

    (He certainly did call for a further public meeting when he attended the January event; I clearly remember the heckles and astonishment from the room – as reported in the original article above).

  7. Sarah Whitebread

    Richard,

    I just wanted to make a small polite request.

    You say “Stinton was unimpressive and waffled”.

    I think it would be considerate if in future you directed remarks like this to elected politicians rather than council staff. Assuming the purpose of your blog is to hold politicians to account, rather than to just insult members of the public.

  8. Richard Taylor Article author

    I fully subscribe to the idea that councillors are responsible for what councils do, not their officers.

    I do regularly though comment on the quality of reports and advice which officers give. I should probably expand and explain that the meeting looked to Stinton for comment on what could be done to improve the road environment. He didn’t volunteer any options and wasn’t able to provide any comment or advice in relation to the various ideas raised including adding more parking, introducing pinch points and my favorite – narrowing the roadway and installing a two way cycleway by the Penny Ferry pub linking Water Street to the hailing-way.

  9. Cllr Ian Manning

    Bates came to the January meeting because I invited him. I agree his response was bizarre, but he didn’t call for another meeting, he just said he’d attend one.

    I’m not defending him by the way, just correcting your memory of events.

    The steering group was suggested by me to the chair as a way of taking forward the ideas at the January meeting, without bogging down every subsequent North Area meeting with a long discussion about Fen Road.

    North Area, should of course be kept informed of progress by the steering group.

    On the Brian point he took a number of actions and I expect he will give a report back to the next steering group meeting. He did make some suggestions and commented that the cost would be around the region of £150k-£300k for a major scheme but much cheaper for the option of just removing the speed cushions outside the Penny ferry.

    I do like your idea, which I’ve also considered in a slightly different form (narrowing the road so much that road traffic is split from cycle/pedestrian) re: the join between the outside of Penny Ferry and the Halingway.

  10. Balan Sisupalan

    I concur with Cllr Manning suggestion of linking the north end of Fen Road with A14. Diverting traffic to the already congested Milton Road could result deterioration of the precious and precarious environment.

    The criteria for road/junction improvement is an anacranistic. It is regrettable that DfT and local authorities support quick death against slow death! ie the pollution related illnesses and the resulting death is almost twice as many as death related to road accident! Please ask me for further explanations.
    Regarding, pedestrian bridge alongside the existing railway bridge, I suggested to the City planning officer when the pedestrian bridge over the ditch located few meters east of the railway bridge over the river. The planning officers response there were many local objection.

    I am of the opinion for pedestrian bridge broadly similar to the one in Braith bite lock?

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