During the Open Forum section of Cambridge City Council’s East Area Committee on the 3rd of September resident James Woodburn raised the subject of pelican crossing refurbishment in the area. He drew councillors’ attention to the fact that one on Cherry Hinton road had had been altered such that the posts had narrowed the shared use footpath. He asked for the arrangement to be altered in the interests of both pedestrians and cyclists.
County Councillor Kilian Bourke responded and I was shocked by what he said. He asked Mr Woodburn, who had taken the trouble to attend the area committee meeting, submit a question, and make his point in public, to provide him with a “written report”. The resident was as shocked as I was by Cllr Bourke’s attitude of putting the onus back on the person raising the matter and challenged him, asking why what he had said would not suffice. Cllr Bourke responded that a letter from a constituent would ensure he was taken seriously when he raised it with county council officers. I find it astounding and worrying that a county councillor would not be taken seriously without a “written report”.
Cllr Herbert reported that Mr Woodburn had raised the matter with Coleridge councillors before the meeting, and said he shared Mr Woodburn’s view that the control boxes for the crossing ought to be moved. Cllr Herbert expressed surprise that the work was being carried out at all – saying: “we had perfectly adequate crossings before the council started spending this money”, he suggested that now they’ll have to spend even more as they’re going to have to re-do what they didn’t do right in the first place.
Cllr Tariq Sadiq, County Councillor for Coleridge, complained that he didn’t know about the works on the crossings in his ward. I think he was complaining about the County Council Officers rather than his Labour party colleagues.
Cllr Howell reported that he had already asked the County Council what they were up to: “replacing perfectly good working crossings with new working crossings”.
Cllr Burke said that he hadn’t been made aware of the proposed works either. He was due to attend a joint city and county council seminar on highways design issues and would raise the matters discussed there.
I think that councillors ought to have been involved in prioritising how money is to be spent on projects like these in their wards.
A notice on Cherry Hinton High Street states that the works will begin on the 21st of September and run for four weeks. The works were well underway by the time I took the above photograph on the 12th of September. Writing to the council officer named on the notice as the relevant contact results in an “out of office” auto-response.
At least at the East Area Committee county councillors were present to have their say on local issues and face their constituents. At the recent North Area Committee not one of the County Councillors for the area bothered to turn up (all four are Liberal Democrats).
Double Yellow Lines in the Middle of the Road
During the meeting Cllr Burke said he was a Liberal Democrat spokesperson on highways matters. In that light his recent, brief, response on his website to the consultation on improving the safety of Mill Road is surprising as it states:
Removing the lines in the middle of the road is a good idea, but double yellow lines should be placed between lanes on the railway bridge, to prevent overtaking.
Perhaps he has been travelling to the USA too much (or been watching too many American films) and has forgotten what British road markings look like? Perhaps he is proposing bringing completely novel non-standard road markings to Mill Road – something which I can’t believe will promote safety.