Milton Road Local Liaison Forum – 5 July 2016


Wednesday, July 6th, 2016. 6:35pm

  • Councillor Jocelynne Scutt has been elected chair of the Milton Road Local Liaison Forum
  • The Milton Road Local Liaison Forum is holding an event including presentations and two design workshop sessions on Tuesday 19th July from 6.30pm-9.00pm at Chesterton Community College. The event is open to all who request to attend. Requests should be made to the Greater Cambridge City Deal team
  • Councillors decided to co-opt three representatives of residents associations to the forum and may elect one of them as chair, and may co-opt others, at future meetings.
  • No date for any future Local Liaison Forum meeting has yet been set

Background

The Greater Cambridge City Deal board have offered local councillors the opportunity to establish local liaison forums to discuss, and make recommendations on, details of the proposed remodelling of Milton Road.

The forums are to discuss the detail of the road cross section, tree planting, and similar details in the current “Do Something” plan being developed.

Matters such as the closure of junctions, or if the road should be remodelled at all, are out of the scope of the forums and comments on them have been generally directed by councillors and officers to the City Deal Board and the City Deal’s planned consultation on the proposals which is expected to start no sooner than November 2016. Cllr Scutt indicated a willingness to stretch the remit of the forum to enable a resolution on junction closures, but stressed the importance of focusing on what the forums have been asked to do.

Confidence in Councillors

Cllr Ian Manning told his fellow councillors that they have lost the confidence of residents.

Councillors did nothing to regain public confidence as they scurrilously tried to distance themselves from the City Deal process. Cllr Sarris for example said:

“none of us here had any role in the design of the City Deal board”.

Cllr Sarris’ statement was not true, the principle of the City Deal arrangements were approved unanimously by Cambridge City Councillors in April 2014. Cambridge City Councillors also, in November 2014, unanimously agreed the delegations of powers to the three councillors on the City Deal Board and other aspects of the Governance arrangements. County Councillors also, in December 2014, approved the City Deal arrangements with Conservative councillors, most Liberal Democrats and Labour in favour, and they have since, in March 2016, revisited and reaffirmed their delegation of powers with nearly all Conservatives and all Labour in favour and Liberal Democrats along with nearly all UKIP against.

The vast majority of the councillor members of the Milton Road Local Liaison Forum, including Cllr Sarris, had participated in those votes. The only councillor present who could legitimately have claimed not to have been responsible for setting up the City Deal arrangements was the recently elected Cllr Mike Sargeant.

If councillors want to undo the City Deal arrangements or take more powers back locally they are able to do so.

Decisions

Chair and Vice-Chair

Only councillors were invited by the City Deal Officer to nominate prospective forum chairs and only councillors got to vote on the chair and vice chair.

Prior to the meeting I had said if was elected chair I’d run the forum inclusively and publicly in a focused manner with an online route for participation. I suggested workshop sessions before the proposal was published by City Deal officers saying that with a good chair, workshop sessions, could be useful. I suggested using the forum’s officer support to review the responses to the consultation which has already been held to identify points of contention and the submissions made on them.

Cllr Ian Manning said the Milton Road proposals had caused the most public outpouring and controversy of all the City Deal schemes. Cllr Manning suggested councillors had lost the confidence of residents and residents had doubts about their councillors. Cllr Ian Manning proposed a temporary chair be elected with a view to seeking nominations for a chair and vice-chair from local residents’ associations. Cllr Manning’s proposal was defeated in a vote.

Cllr Kevin Price nominated Cllr Jocelynne Scutt to be chair. Cllr Scutt was elected on the back of votes from Labour members. Cllr Hipkin of Castle Ward who isn’t a member of the Milton Road forum put his hand up to vote for Cllr Scutt too, he might not have been following what was going on, it was a very confusing meeting. No councillors opposed Cllr Scutt’s election. Cllr Geri Bird was elected vice-chair.

Terms of Reference

Chair Cllr Scutt proposed an amendment to section 2 of the officer proposed terms of reference which originally stated:

The LLF will not have any decision making powers in relation to the development and delivery of the projects but will act as a conduit through which:

  • Local issues, opportunities and concerns relevant to the projects will be discussed
  • Comments and views will be offered regarding detailed design matters
  • Project developments and decisions will be reported.

Under Cllr Scutt’s proposal that would have become:

The LLF will not have any decision making powers in relation to the development and delivery of the projects but will act as a conduit through which:

  • Local issues, opportunities and concerns relevant to the projects will be discussed
  • Comments and views will be offered regarding detailed design matters.
  • A. Project developments and decisions will be reported.
  • B. Local issues and concerns relevant to the projects will be discussed; and
  • C. Comments and views will be offered on detailed design matters, and resolutions may be adopted and presented to the City Deal Assembly and Board so that in relation to what I’ve got as B and C is what we should be making resolutions on we shouldn’t be making resolutions on “Project developments and decisions will be reported”.

Cllr Ian Manning pointed out that section 6.3 already covered making such resolutions. Cllr Scutt said it went well where she had proposed to put it but appeared to accept moving it wasn’t very important. The discussion on Cllr Scutt’s proposed amendment faded out with no clear conclusion.

A member of the public suggested the forums should not just be about listening to public anger but actually considering it so asked for a wording change to state “projects will be discussed and considered” rather than just discussed.

I made some suggestions on the terms of reference including:

  • Adding the terms the County Council uses encouraging filming and reporting.
  • Following the same approach as taken by either the City or County Council in terms of publishing meeting dates and the agenda and papers. (Noting the key papers for that day’s meeting had been slipped out just a couple of days earlier). I suggested the meetings should appear on the City Deal, City Council and County Council meeting calendars.
  • Confirming in the terms of reference the meetings are formal public meetings, like council meetings [with all the access rights which go with that].
  • I suggested a section on public speaking in the terms of reference.
  • I suggested a route for those who don’t wish to speak in public to contribute. I suggested a formal online way for contributions to be made and to follow what the liaison forum and the workshops are doing.

Councillors adopted the first two suggestions, with wording to be agreed, but were less keen on providing a route for those not attending in person to follow, and participate in, proceedings with Cllr Kevin Price of King’s Hedges was most vocally opposed, though he did not provide any reasoning just saying: “No, no, no”. Cllr Ian Manning said he agreed with the principle but would have to consider how to do it and if to permit anonymous contributions. Cllr Manning proposed bringing the suggestion back to the next meeting of the forum after time for considering it, and the forum chair Cllr Scutt agreed.

Cllr Scutt then proposed deleting the last line from paragraph 6.2 of the officer proposed terms of reference which had stated: “The only part of the minutes that can be discussed is their accuracy”.

A councillor had pointing out that what those proposing this idea were probably seeking was a “matters arising” item on the agenda, but forum chair Cllr Scutt was keen to permit discussion of matters arising from the minutes when debating a motion on if the minutes ought be signed as a correct record instead and councillors agreed with amending the terms of reference to specifically permit that.

A member of the public asked for the remit of the Local Liaison Forum to be extended to formally include considering the format of the consultation due in November, and specifically what any questionnaire will look like. Forum chair Cllr Scutt stated that was already the intention (although it hadn’t been written down). Cllr Scutt appeared to agree to amend the terms of reference to add this function. Cllr Manning suggested the meeting should resolve to ask the board if the forum can see, and comment on, draft consultation materials.

Chair Cllr Scutt said her approach to chairing a meeting on Union Lane would be to first cover the remit of the forum to comment on the design of the closure, but ruled there would be nothing to stop the forum adding other matters when it came to the text of any resolution.

This is a challenge for a chair of the forum as it’s crucial to focus on what the forum has been asked to do. Perhaps a special North Area Committee agenda item to discuss the Union Lane closure would be appropriate as a way to provide for a public debate on that matter, and to seek views of councillors, without distracting the Local Liaison Forum and design workshops from their function.

Cllr Scutt said her approach as chair would be to work within the remit of the forum but to find ways to “get things done”.

Co-opting members of Local Liaison Forum

Forum chair Cllr Scutt proposed going to Residents’ Associations and asking the Federation of Cambridge Residents’ Associations.

A member of the public noted that many members of the public are not represented by a Residents’ Association.

I said I opposed adding Residents’ Association members, but suggested as a practical way of nominating members would be to ask the Federation of Cambridge Residents’ Associations to do so, avoiding the need for the forum to try to define residents’ associations. (We have associations with no membership, and sometimes I think individuals claim to be representing a Residents’ Association when they are just trying to add weight to their own speech or representation.)

Cllr Scutt proposed contacting residents’ associations, having discovered all the associations they can in the North Area asking them to sort out between themselves three representatives to join the “panel”.

Cllr Scutt had previously told the meeting she was unaware of any residents’ association operating in King’s Hedges; perhaps suggesting she does not consider the Milton Road residents’ association to be a residents’ association.

Cllr Ian Manning suggested Cambridge Cycling Campaign be co-opted onto the Milton Road Local Liaison Forum.

Cllr Scutt proposed considering further co-options at a future meeting.

Cllr Austin said residents associations have different cultures and concerns and suggested it would be hard for them to work together to select just three representatives.

Cllr Ian Manning then made a proposal to just have councillors as forum members but to run meetings in an open and public manner allowing lots of contributions.

Cllr Scutt’s proposal to co-opt three residents association representatives, nominated by them and the Federation of Cambridge Residents’ Associations was put to the vote and supported by Labour members, and the Liberal Democrats abstained.

Arrangements for Workshop Sessions

A public speaker said no pedestrians, pavement users, or bus users were specifically represented.

I suggested holding the workshops for whole days at weekends to take the time pressure off, rather than holding just two twenty minute sessions as officers proposed. I made my suggestion in the hope of giving time for meaningful deliberation but this suggestion was not taken up, or even acknowledged, by councillors.

I suggested public access at least to the proposed presentations at the forum events even if councillors decided to restrict who can be round the tables and participating in the workshop sessions.

I suggested adding representatives of the Science and Business parks and generally running the workshops in an inclusive manner, and I stressed the importance of promoting the existence of the workshops.

Cllr Manning proposed opening the workshops to anyone, asking those who want to attend the workshop to let the forum know, and only restricting access if the number of people seeking to attend is deemed “unmanageable”.

Cllr Sargent opposed Cllr Manning’s suggesting asking to prioritise certain groups.

Cllr Sarris suggested organistions on the Science and Business parks would come under “traders” which I had taken to mean those running shops, pubs, restaurants and providing services directly to the public locally.

Cllr Sarris claimed the officer proposal refers to “local businesses and traders”. That is false, the proposal was only to invite four representatives of “local traders”.

Cllr Sarris said inviting “the business park” which he said would result in the owners of the land turning up (which I think would be fine, and welcome). Cllr Sarris wrongly suggested that Trinity College (where he is a senior individual involved in running the college) owned Cambridge Business Park. Cambridge Business Park is public land managed by Crown Estates.

Cllr Ian Manning clarified that he was happy with sending invitations to a list of bodies, but just opposed limiting who can attend. Cllr Manning said: “If five hundred people apply, that’s a problem, we’ll have to deal with it”.

Cllr Manning’s proposal to open the workshops to anyone who asks to attend was passed in a vote.

Dates and Workshop Agenda

The officer proposal accepted by councillors was for the Milton Road workshop to be held on Tuesday 19th July, 6.30pm-9.00pm, at Chesterton Community College

Councillors didn’t debate the content of the workshops; officers’ proposals include just two twenty minute workshop sessions – much less time than was spent debating who to invite to them.

I suggested whole day workshops at weekends to remove the time pressure, and in the hope of giving time for meaningful deliberation but this suggestion was not taken up, or even acknowledged, by councillors.

I had previously suggested using the North Area Committee to avoid the need for creating new forums (councillors from other areas and others can be co-opted to the area committees, the council’s constitution expressly encourages it). The benefits of using the North Area Committee include a right of public access, public speaking slots, published papers and agendas and more. Area committees can, and have in the past, met in a discursive, workshop style, format.

Interests

Councillors were dismissive of a member of the public’s request that they declare their interests. During the any other business item I reminded councillors they’d not responded to the request.

Councillors did not respond substantively with Cllr Scutt for example saying she had an interest because she is a councillor.

I pointed out two interests I was aware had been declared in other contexts; Cllr Price has declared at the City Deal Assembly that he lives in a cul-de-sac just off Milton Road, and Cllr Sarris has an interest in relation to his position at Trinity College which owns the Science Park on Milton Road.

See Also

This meeting was a re-run of an original meeting to establish Local Liaison Forums which was held behind closed doors. I was invited into that meeting by Cllr Hipkin but a City Deal Officer tried to physically remove me and asked for the police to be called. I’ve written about my experience and published a video.

My Views on the Milton Road Remodelling

I have published my February 2016 Consultation Response on the Milton Road Proposals and a video summarising my views.

4 comments/updates on “Milton Road Local Liaison Forum – 5 July 2016

  1. Cllr Ian Manning

    Richard, you keep suggesting this:

    “I had previously suggested using the North Area Committee to avoid the need for creating new forums (councillors from other areas and others can be co-opted to the area committees, the council’s constitution expressly encourages it). The benefits of using the North Area Committee include a right of public access, public speaking slots, published papers and agendas and more. Area committees can, and have in the past, met in a discursive, workshop style, format.”

    The LLF meeting here was about hours long. That’s most of a NAC agenda gone. That’s why seperate meetings are needed. As long as they are advertised at North Area, it isn’t an issue.

  2. Richard Taylor Article author

    A further Milton Road Local Liaison Forum meeting was held on the 9th of August 2016.

    Councillors were joined on the forum by representatives of three residents’ associations.

    Key points:

    • The forum failed to decide who to invite to its planned “workshop” events and decided to take the decision outside of the public meeting.
      • There was a proposal for the workshops to be open to all which was supported by a number of forum members but opposed by officers.
      • The chair, Cllr Scutt, proposed only permitting the Cambridge Cycling Campaign to send delegates to the workshop who live in the Milton Road area. No such restriction was proposed to apply to any other groups.
    • Forum members reversed their decision to adopt the County Council’s rules on access to meetings, filming, and publication of meeting papers when approving new terms of reference.
    • An officer admitted to over-ruling the decisions made by the forum at its previous meeting.
    • The forum passed a resolution opposing bus lanes in both directions in the vicinity of Oak Tree Avenue
    • The forum passed a resolution asking for an independent landscape consultant to be appointed by the Greater Cambridge City Deal.
    • The forum decided to run workshops for each end of the road separately, and selected some subjects for the workshops to consider

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