Elections

Elections to Cambridgeshire County Council 2017: Gamlingay

Summary: Elections to Cambridgeshire County Council, May 2017
Polling date: Thursday 4th May 2017
Division:
Candidates
(by surname):
  • Alison ELCOX  (Independent)
  • John GOODALL  (Labour Party)
  • Sebastian KINDERSLEY  (Liberal Democrat)
  • Heather WILLIAMS  (Conservative Party)

Questions for Gamlingay division candidates (5 questions)

Jump to question:  1   2   3   4   5 

# Question 1

What experience do you and your family have of cycling? Do you have any different concerns about younger or older family members cycling than you do for yourself?

Alison ELCOX
(Independent)

I cycled all over Oxford as a student, but not that much since. There was a period when I cycled to the station to get to work in London, but since children I have needed the car – I had three children under two years old at one point! Cycling for the children has been recreational rather than a means of getting from A-B, this is the downside of living in such a rural area and even then we had to get into the car to get to the safe cycling. My youngest goes to Comberton Village College and there is no way I would allow him to cycle from Arrington to Comberton down the A603, however there is a footpath through the Wimpole estate, then through to Little Eversden, then a footpath that almost makes it to Comberton, if improved this could be an acceptable route, and I think such an approach is probably the way forward for cycling in rural areas.

John GOODALL
(Labour Party)

I cycle within 1 mile of where I live. No other family members cycle.

Sebastian KINDERSLEY
(Liberal Democrat)

It's just me, I'm afraid. My cycling experience is average. Obviously different ages deliver different concerns - which is why safety on cycle ways and properly built and safe cycle routes are so important. I do know, however that confidence is the key, rather than age. Safe routes give confidence - whatever your age.

Heather WILLIAMS
(Conservative Party)

Unfortunately due to surgery that I have had on my back I can no longer cycle. My mother and father in law cycle locally for short journeys within our village and have not come across any problems.

# Question 2

What challenges do people face in your area that prevent them from cycling, especially children and those using cycling as a mobility aid, and how will you address them?

Alison ELCOX
(Independent)

Potholes and narrow rural roads I believe are a major deterrent to cycling locally. Passing a cyclist in a car is always stressful as I can never be sure they are not going to swerve in front of me to avoid a pothole! I have only been knocked off my bike once – I swerved to avoid a bus that pulled out without looking and a police car hit me - embarrassment all round! Secondary school children in this Division go to Bassingbourn VC, Comberton VC, Gamlingay VC or Stratton Upper School. Now if we could provide safe cycling through improved footpaths/cycle routes for teenage children to get to school by bike, they will hopefully stay on their bikes as they get older, with all the added health benefits. Specifically the footpath (which is used as a cycle path by school children) from Litlington to Bassingbourn needs substantial improvement and lighting for the Winter months for both walkers and cyclists.

John GOODALL
(Labour Party)

I cycled when I lived near the Dutch border in Belgium and in Vienna. I don't like cycling around Gamlingay as traffic travels far too fast to be on the road. My cycling in Vienna was either on very quiet roads or on pedestrian/cycle tracks next to the river where there wasn't any traffic. In Belgium and the Netherlands, cycles had a separate lane next to a pedestrian track. So I do not like cycling here because I have been spoilt by seeing much superior provision.

Sebastian KINDERSLEY
(Liberal Democrat)

The new Gamlingay division has even less provision for cycling than the old division given that we are losing Parishes immediately adjacent to Cambridge which had a sporting chance of getting funding via the City Deal, S106 etc. Within villages cycling should be possible (to get to school, for example) except that quite a lot of them suffer badly from rat-running itself caused by lack in investment in the road network. However we have been working to get some cycle lane provision (£10k into a feasibility study for a Gamlingay - Potton link from S106 for example) and I always have a list of simple things that can help with mobility issues - dropped kerbs being an important one for the disabled. They do require funding so the list gets longer rather than shorter.

Heather WILLIAMS
(Conservative Party)

The Gamlingay division is a very rural division and most cyclists are using country lanes. I have raised concerns about the paths that connect our villages for example guilden to steeple, litlington to bassingbourn with particular concern to these as they are roads that children take to get to school. Many parents drive their children to school because they do not think there is adequate facilities to walk or cycle. I do believe that if the inter village links were improved with particular priority put on where local facilities are shared (e.g. Schools, post offices) then we would see more people walking and cycling.

# Question 3

Which aspects of current City Deal proposals do you support, and what additional measures which have not been officially proposed do you think should be explored?

Alison ELCOX
(Independent)

I didn’t vote for the City Deal as the expectations v. the money offered were just not going to match and in order to get the next tranche of money the original spend would have to show a quantifiable economic improvement. I believed there would be too many conflicting requests for the money and it would be so easy for the Government to say ‘sorry you didn’t spend wisely, you can’t have any more’. The pressure on the City Deal executive to achieve is really quite high.

It seems so short-sighted to place the majority of the new housing so far out of Cambridge and then try to find a sustainable way of getting those people to work. My own Residents’ Survey indicates quite strongly that currently people will not use long distance cycle routes (we’re talking 10-15 miles) to get to work. The proposed housing is in the wrong place and if placed closer to Cambridge with safe cycle routes directly into Cambridge, or to the park and rides, people would be far more likely to use them as the routes would take them where they actually want to go. Encourage people back onto their bikes first on shorter routes then the long distance routes will naturally follow.

John GOODALL
(Labour Party)

There are three groups that need space separated from road traffic. Pedestrians, low speed cyclists and high speed cyclists. Pedestrians and low speed cyclists can share a wide pavement, but separate spaces are obviously to be preferred. Tow paths along the river could be shared by cyclists and pedestrians, but the paths could have two marked lanes and each lane marked for pedestrians or cyclists.

Sebastian KINDERSLEY
(Liberal Democrat)

I support the need for substantial investment in sorting out the issues in Cambridge and therefore welcome the funding. I also support the imaginative proposals coming from nearly everyone EXCEPT the City Deal itself. The entire City Deal system is undemocratic, generally working with ideas out of date in the 80s and utterly contemptuous of residents and communities. If the CD has its way we will end up with another series of vanity projects costing millions which will be money (from us, the taxpayer, by the way) that could be far better used to deliver better and more relevant infrastructure. The refusal of the CD Board to even contemplate option 6 for Cambourne - City until shamed into it is a classic example of how badly it's going - ignored simply because it was an idea that didn't cost millions and didn't come from any of the politicians involved. Presumably the same unimaginative approach is being taken on the other Cambridge radial routes. It doesn't take much sorting either - put funding into removal of pinchpoints (eg the bridge on Barton Rd Bridge Haslingfield costed at £40k in 2013) and immediately you open up a cycling route. Put funding into connecting villages adequately and the call on road space drops. The list is long......

Heather WILLIAMS
(Conservative Party)

I welcome many of the proposals made from the city deal in particularly those related to housing as this is an area of key concern in south Cambridgeshire. I agree that congestion in Cambridge is a challenge that needs to be tackled and I believe that this requires a combination of approaches. With the Gamlingay division bordering both Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire I believe that from this areas perspective improved rail links are vital, along with improving pedestrian/cyclist routes to the stations. I believe that it is a cultural shift that is required to reduce traffic long term. If children are used to traveling in cars alone, they will then continue this practice as adults. I believe that if the city deal looked at improving cycle paths or footpaths on school routes then this would make parents more comfortable in their children cycling to school. Those children will be used to cycling/walking and the cultural shift changes from always being in a car to a mixed method of transport. I also think that part of the city deal funds could be spent on cycling classes for children in schools so that they are confident and safe while cycling.

# Question 4

Which junctions in your area need to be improved to increase safety for people cycling, and how what can be done to fix them?

Alison ELCOX
(Independent)

The Odsey junction and the Tadlow junction are a nightmare for cars but I can’t say I’ve ever seen a cyclist trying to negotiate them; personally I’d think twice before cycling on the A505; quite a few of our rural junctions have visibility issues, but because they have, drivers have to be extra vigilant so cyclists are not necessarily disadvantaged.

Cyclists who are also car drivers are a completely different breed from those who don’t drive, some non-driving cyclists especially in Cambridge urgently need instruction on the basics - for instance which way you go around a roundabout! I’ve seen several near misses with cyclists going the wrong way. Education of non car driving cyclists would be a very useful exercise, I believe this does happen in Cambridge and should be extended if at all possible. This begs the question of whether it is the junction or whether it is the cyclist that causes the problem and I think you do need to take a sensible view before acting on the results of this survey.

John GOODALL
(Labour Party)

There isn't any provision in my area for cyclists, so all junctions are potentially unsafe. In Sandy, cars park in the cycle lanes approaching the A1. In Park Avenue Bedford, a cycle lane is marked on the outside of parked cars, when a safer solution would be a cycle lane inside the parked cars.

Sebastian KINDERSLEY
(Liberal Democrat)

The new Division includes the infamous A505 junction at Odsey which is no doubt familiar to us all. Every Parish has difficult junctions but out in the villages (as opposed to the slightly city-centric tone of the question!) the key issues are less actual junctions but more provision of safe routes, preferably off-road. A good example locally is the new extension of the footway along Potton Road The Heath Gamlingay which will take residents safely into Everton (and its Primary school). This small extension is largely funded by the Parish Council - not just Highways. Most Parishes are not in that position to fund even quite small schemes. Another issue is geography - eg Croydon Hill is simply not safe for cyclists and an attempt to buy a small stretch of woodland adjacent to it (to provide at least an off-road section up the Hill) sadly was outbid at auction. So we are always thinking about how cyclists, pedestrians and riders can be better catered for throughout the area.

Heather WILLIAMS
(Conservative Party)

There are no particular junctions that I believe stand out as a cycling concern, tho many are an issue for motorists such as the tadlow junction in the b1042 and the odsey junction on the a505. I would however welcome a cycle path along the a505, a603,a1198 and b1042 such as the one proposed for the a10. These roads are main roads to cambridge and many other villages, they are the quickest routes but many would feel uncomfortable cycling on such busy main roads and I believe a separate cycle path alongside these roads would make people feel more comfortable.

# Question 5

What measures would you support to boost cycle commuting into Cambridge? For instance, the City Deal Greenways proposal, reuse of old railway alignments, or new bridges over main roads?

Alison ELCOX
(Independent)

The Greenways project is a brilliant idea but probably a bit before its time. The A10 cycle route has been a great achievement but I don’t see that many people using it on a regular basis. My own survey on long distance cycle routes gave figures indicating 2/3rds of the respondents would not use them at all.

So what’s to be done?

Encourage people onto their bikes by providing short safe easy cycle links to places they actually want to go – railway stations, the post office in the next village for instance or a shop, school, and to the new bus hubs that haven’t quite taken off yet.

Assess our network of footpaths to see if any could sustain a cycle route beside them as our rural roads are just too narrow for any sort of cycle lane.

People will not get out of their cars unless they want to, and I wouldn’t want to force people by means of a congestion charge or workplace parking levy. Even though cycling has so much benefit, people don’t like to be forced, it is self-defeating, people rebel.

Drivers need to respect cyclists and cyclists need to respect drivers, I’ve seen both parties guilty of believing they own the road and deliberately annoying the other. The most common complaint I hear is ‘they have a cycle path, why don’t they ** use it and stop slowing down the traffic’. It’s education, encouragement and a change of attitude that is needed and then when we actually have a cycling population, once the teenagers have got used to cycling to school safely, and mothers have a safe route for their children to follow behind on bikes to the local shop or playground, the Greenways project can be brought forward with proper support rather than councillors feigning support for the purposes of this survey, I suspect, but not really meaning it and the public just not really interested. Neither of our surveys I suspect are entirely accurate, your respondents are probably already cycle friendly people and mine are probably over 40 years old, live in a rural area where the car is king as there is no sensible alternative.

Absolutely yes to Greenways – but not for several years, you’re beating your head against a brick wall until attitudes have changed. Bringing it forward now to the detriment of other infrastructure projects is not financially feasible and will not in my opinion improve the local economy enough for the City Deal to receive further funding.

John GOODALL
(Labour Party)

Cyclists should be separated from trafic fumes as much as possible. The City Deal Greenways proposal looks good, but there is a need for an all transport plan that incorporates public transport (both road and rail). Have a look at Vienna's public transport system which can carry bicycles!

Sebastian KINDERSLEY
(Liberal Democrat)

Very happy with all of those suggestions. Howevere, this is what I wrote about the Greenways project for my Parish Councils: "The Cambridge City Deal has come in for a lot of criticism not least because it has not really given much thought to how ‘non-motorised’ users could better access Cambridge from the surrounding villages. In order to deflect some of this criticism the Executive has dreamed up the “Greenways” project, which is an idea to create a network of 12 routes radial routes like the spokes of a wheel. “Non-motorised users” covers cyclists, pedestrians, those in wheel-chairs and horse-riders. The communications keep stressing this project is currently only at the concept stage – and they aren’t kidding.

No routes have been set in stone, some may not go ahead at all, others may be changed considerably, and the surfaces and signage need to be considered carefully. “Please consider this as just the very early stages of a 5+ year project” we are urged. Furthermore, because the project has to date only been at the concept stage, it has to date been too early to consult with local communities, Parish Councils, residents, local interest groups etc. But, over the next two years, that process will start.

The exact project plan is still being worked on, but may stretch from now to 2021. As if this wasn’t all wishy-washy enough it is also too early to assess the total project cost, but it might be in the region of £10m+, and there is no clear idea where any of this might come from although there is an expectation that the City Deal’s Tranche 2 money (for 2020–2024) will pay for most of it.

Now this is an admirable idea. We’re all for it. But why does it have to take second place to - for example – Cambourne West already paying c£9m S106 monies into a Cambourne Busway which has no general agreement and no route? Why is it such an obvious poor second place in the City Deal’s mind? And why is everything so very uncertain with lovely aspirations and airy-fairy plans that might or might not happen?

Many villages have been crying out for better cycle routes to the City for years, and for better walking and equestrian routes. Many villagers want to cycle to work, study or leisure activities, and this project will enable them to do so, and encourage more as well. That will take some cars off the roads and aid congestion for those people who still wish to drive, and help buses as well. The health and pollution benefits are obvious. And yet – maybe some time in the future…..why not now? "

Heather WILLIAMS
(Conservative Party)

I believe that given this division is one of the furthest away from cambridge itself that a combination of improving cycle links to local rail stations and then improving rail links into cambridge would be the most effective way of getting people to not commute by car to cambridge. By car from many parts of the division it takes 30 mins to get to cambridge if no traffic and I don't believe many people would consider cycling the whole way to cambridge and back each day for work, but I do believe they would cycle to train stations if there was an adequate train service and safe cycle routes to take.

Camcycle is a non-partisan body. All candidates are given an equal opportunity to submit their views. Information published by Camcycle (Cambridge Cycling Campaign), The Bike Depot, 140 Cowley Road, Cambridge, CB4 0DL.