In your absence (reported as being due to a collapsed ceiling in your front room) at yesterday’s North Area Committee you were appointed as to “champion” the environmental improvement scheme for the car park, hailing way and green area at Penny Ferry, Chesterton.
I think this scheme has enormous potential to rejuvenate this area of Chesterton to ensure that this area of the city benefits from the improvements made further upstream, there is also an opportunity make the area safer for cyclists. I encourage you to take the responsibility and opportunity you have been given here seriously.
At the September 2007 North Area Committee meeting an amendment sheet to the Environmental Improvements program was distributed (this was omitted from the papers produced for yesterday’s June meeting) the total cost of the scheme in September was £35 650. In advance of the June meeting this had, without explanation, been reduced to £20 000. As there is now likely to be plenty of money in available now the committee are thinking again about spending taxpayer’s money improving private property such as the forecourts of shops on Milton road I would encourage you to try and work towards the original higher figure.
The information given in the agenda and papers for the June Area committee does not provide the full background to the proposal and how it has been dealt with previously by the North Area Committee.
The minutes from the September 2007 North Area Committee state:
“Penny Ferry, the Haling Way (by 8 votes to 0) to consult the public, the Cambridge Cycling Campaign and the Conservators of the River Cam to pick up any additional suggestions before bringing a report back to the Committee. “
ie. the committee rejected the officer recommendation to proceed with the scheme in September 2007, and decided to ask for more consultation instead. The grounds were a lack of detail on the scheme, no justification for the costs (the point made by councillors that it was odd to have a cost down to the nearest £50 without any detail on the scheme). The committee then wasted a lot of time on an inane discussion on if the bollards (which are there to protect trees from being run into by cars) need to be retained to prevent cars falling in the river, when they clearly don’t fulfill that function.
We also learnt at that meeting that to describe this improvement as an improvement to the hailing-way is misleading – the area involved is the car park, and the area about 20m or so downstream, including I presume the triangle of grass downstream of the car park. There is a need for a plan showing the exact extent of the proposed improvements.
A key question this raised was if this consultation which the committee requested in September 2007 had taken place. When asked this at the North Area Committee Yesterday I was shouted down by Cllr Blair, she did not appear to understand that what she had done in September was request a consultation before the project was decided by the committee. She answered my point by saying that there would be a consultation after the committee had seen the plans and approved them.
My view is that there ought be no need for a consultation, councillors should just get on and make the decisions; however equally I do not think it is acceptable that the decision of the committee in September has been ignored, I think you should ask the council’s consultation officer to explain why the ordered consultation has not been run.
I would like to suggest that you place a site notice at the Car Park informing all users of the proposed work and how we can influence what is done; both now, and in advance of the next North Area Committee, as well as during the consultation. I posted flyers to the immediate neighbors in advance of the September 2007 area committee, it might be useful to repeat this if it was to be raised there again.
I would like to suggest any consultation is a public one, and not limited to interest groups such as the cycling campaign and rowers.
In terms of my suggestions themselves:
*This work needs to be co-ordinated with an improvement of the signage of the cycleways on the roads/pavements in the immediate area. Currently it is difficult to distinguish cycleway from pavement, both under the trees on the downstream end of the carpark, and by the road next to the public house, and I can’t tell is there is a cycle way on the pavement from the car park to the on road cycle way a few hundred meters away upstream? I think clear cycleways, with markings and dropped curbs, need to follow the cyclists’ path of least resistance – for the primary route which is that taken by those following the river.
*Could this scheme be co-ordinated with the new bridge and riverside promenade scheme – giving the whole stretch of the river some kind of consistent look. Connecting with the upstream improvements could ensure the effects of the regeneration of the riverside nearer the city centre extend into Chesterton. By “connecting” I mean using a similar style of railings, bollards (though I think the new bollards on Riverside itsself are not substantial enough) , street furniture, signage, lighting and quality of work.
*I think parking should remain essentially unregulated on the grounds there isn’t currently a problem.
*I support making the triangle of grass downstream of the car park, between the carpark and the first house, more open and encouraging its better use – it is currently scrubby and unused.
*What about some short term (hours, not days or even a whole day) public visitor mooring, with signs pointing those visiting by boat to the local shops.
*It would be good to get some new substantial trees in such as an oak or a horse chestnut. I think the scrubby plants between the trees, and the nettles could be removed.
*I think the tourist information sign giving information about the bumps could be kept, or even refreshed, perhaps the Stourbridge fair could be similarly covered?
I am looking forward to some rapid progress here, it is incredible such simple things take so long in this city, even after the primary decision to do something has essentially been taken.
Update: Seven days on, having had no reply or acknowledgement I printed a copy of the above and posted it though Cllr Liddle’s door. I noted that if the lack of response was due to her @cambridge.gov.uk email address not yet functioning almost two months after the election, which I am aware is the case for Cllr Todd Jones then those councillors affected really ought to get the problem solved. I also noted that I do not believe emails should be given any less weight than hand written letters or other lobbying routes.