|In case you haven’t seen it, here is a ’new year’ notice circulated to us by the local Lib Dems …………………………………………………………………………………………………………….
1st of January 2023
As Christmas turns to New Year, Cambridge City Council is approaching some controversial decisions in its budget.
At risk of disturbing your festivities, I wanted to alert you to some of these – as there is an opportunity for residents to express their point of view before decisions are taken. Three items we have singled out are:
Closing Public Toilets These are an essential, if not glamorous aspect of what a council provides – because no-one else will! Labour councillors want to close the conveniences on Quayside (the only ones on the west side of the city centre), Chesterton Road (without any plan to improve the inadequate block on Jesus Green nearby) and Mill Road (where there are no nearby alternatives). They also want to limit opening to weekends on the recreation grounds at Chesterton, Coleridge, Romsey and Midsummer Common. In a city which thrives from its shoppers and visitors, how come public loos are such a low priority that when cutbacks are in the air, they come to the fore? Apart from their use to everyone on occasion, public loos are especially important to the elderly, pregnant mothers, those with disabilities, parents of small children and those making full use of public open spaces.
Reducing the Environmental Enforcement Team Where there are rules for the benefit of the community, there needs to be an effort to enforce them – or they don’t get taken seriously. This applies to dropping litter, fly tipping, controlling dogs in public places, lighting BBQs on the grass, punt touting and commercial ‘A’ Boards on pavements. Few could claim these are all well under control, but Labour’s proposal is to reduce the officers from 7 to 6 and have those remaining only patrolling in pairs. When you take account of the size of the city and the need for weekend and summer evening patrols, we can expect only negligible attention anywhere – including where we need it locally and across the rest of the city! This is another core council responsibility: cutting it back is sure to result in lower standards.
Discontinuing the ‘Big Weekend’ This free annual summer event on Parker’s Piece brings the whole city together in a way little else does. The way it integrates and celebrates the city’s Asian community through the ‘Mela’ is especially valuable. It is natural for the cost of the event to come under scrutiny in times like these, but it seems shortsighted simply to abandon it, without a serious attempt to seek sponsorship for it, or failing that, to commercialise it whilst avoiding high cost entry.
If you feel more thought is needed before these measures are agreed, please say so in the council’s consultation survey – focusing on Question 10. But do act now, as the opportunity closes on January 10th at noon. Go to: https://cambridge.citizenlab.co/en-GB/projects/draft-budget-2023-24