At Cambridge City Council’s West-Central Area Committee on the 10th of December 2009 councillors rejected a proposal to contribute public funds to the reinstatement of the railings around the Round Church in central Cambridge.
Councillors had rejected the idea at previous meetings and expressed annoyance at being asked to consider it again. Council officers were recommending the project be approved and a sum of £7,800 (50% part-funding) for the project had been listed as “approved” in the meeting’s papers.
The main reason councillors gave for their not spending the money was that the problems which it had been said the railings were intended to tackle, of drunks using the area an leaving excrement in and around the site, ought be tackled by the police rather than by putting up railings.
Councillors said they would hope to solve the “ASB” issue through the police priority which they had set earlier in the meeting.
I think the councillors made the right decision to not spend public money on this project, and to ask the police to deal with the problems.
Cambridge Blue Badge Guide Allan Brigham used the open forum section of the meeting to speak against the installation of the railings. He said they would create a barrier. Mr Brigham said he had written a book on cast iron railings so was a fan of them in general; but said the answer was not to close down areas in response to issues.
Cllr Hipkin was the only councillor to support the railings. He said that he didn’t accept Allan Brigham’s argument on the grounds that: “some of the most pleasant spots in Cambridge have railings round them”, Cllr Hipkin didn’t give an example.
Also during the open forum, Martin Lown spoke on behalf Christian Heritage, the tenants of the Round Church. He said there were problems with excrement and urine during the day and night on the site. He said the proposals were for railings which would not be overly tall or heavy. He said the aim was to make the site more secure and said the gates would be open from dawn to dusk. He said the proposals would blend in with the churches and colleges in the city centre. He told the meeting his proposals had the support of the Cafe opposite, the Cambridge Union and the Police.
Cllr Knightly contributed to the debate from a different angle, saying : “The low wall to sit on would be a sad loss”
The round church is owned by the St Andrew the Great Church.
This was only an application for the money; if the church decides to go ahead with the project with other funding then the matter will presumably return to the West/Central Area committee as a planning application. However councillors have now on two occasions made their opposition to the installation of railings clear.
The church, which now houses an exhibition and film, offers free entry to Cambridge Residents.