Elections

Local elections (City), May 2018: Abbey

Summary: Elections to Cambridge City Council in May 2018
Polling date: Thursday 3rd May 2018
Ward:
Candidates
(by surname):
  • Naomi BENNETT  (Green Party)
  • Nicky MASSEY  (Labour Party)
  • Nicky SHEPARD  (Liberal Democrat)
  • David SMITH  (Conservative Party)

Questions for Abbey ward candidates (7 questions)

Jump to question:  1   2   3   4   5   6   7 

# 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 yourself?

Naomi BENNETT
(Green Party)

We are a small family of three adults . All of us have cycled in the past but none of us cycle regularly now.

We live on a busy main road where we know there have been cycling accidents (including one death) recently.

Bike theft has also been a problem for us.

Nicky MASSEY
(Labour Party)

We love cycling along all the dedicated cycle routes in Cambridge especially, and love going on "adventures" into the countryside by cycling along the guided busway cycle tracks.

I dont drive myself, so I either walk or cycle everywhere, and therefore my two youngest children also cycle. We love cycling and the freedom it gives. My eldest has dyspraxia and therefore has been unable to ride a bike, but his balance is improving and so I have hope that he too will cycle. My husband cycles to work every day along Hills road cycleway.

I do worry when cycling on some roads like parts of Newmarket road, and there is more that needs to be done to protect cyclists. I myself have come off my bike twice due to road traffic, and my husband has been knocked off twice also. This does mean I worry a lot about the safety of my children and worry about them cycling independently.

Nicky SHEPARD
(Liberal Democrat)

I cycle as much as possible in my work activities, and as my children get older we increasingly cycle as a family. However, the road surfaces and cycle routes in Abbey are poor and there isn’t a route that feels safe to get from home to the City Centre. As my children approach secondary age, I am very aware of the less than adequate routes to secondary schools in our area, as children are typically expected to cycle independently at that age.

I am constantly worried about younger and older people, or those with reduced mobility riding on the routes in Abbey, as the road surfaces are broken and poorly maintained, many are sloped and both shared bus-lanes and shared pavement are very unsafe and unpopular.

David SMITH
(Conservative Party)

I have lived in Cambridge since 1981. I have been a car driver and cyclist throughout this time. Most of my city journeys are by bike. I prefer to cycle to work for cost and flexibility reasons and I get the added benefit of daily exercise. My children are grown up now but they did cycle when in Cambridge. My main worry for all is the separation between car and other road users and in relation to bike potholes, which are quite dangerous.

# Question 2

A key aim of our organisation is enabling more people to cycle, by the provision of protected space for cycling away from traffic, not shared with pedestrians, thus reducing traffic and providing transport choice. This best-practice is outlined in our guide, Making Space For Cycling, endorsed by all national cycling organisations. Do you support these principles, and if so, where could they most effectively be applied in your ward?

Naomi BENNETT
(Green Party)

I support these principles . I would also add that it's important for cyclists (and potential cyclists) to have access to information about existing cycle routes and safer routing options. For example, when I moved to Cambridge, I didn't know anything about Abbey's network of footpaths or that I could cycle along the Wadloes loop to avoid a chunk of Newmarket Road . I have an old Cambridge Cycling map but it's now out of date and out of print.

I think that the biggest problem for Abbey residents is Newmarket Road which is very busy and has lots of places that we all want to visit on or near it. Newmarket Road does have cycle lanes but both the on and off road ones are shared and far from pleasant. Your question 6 mentions this too.

Nicky MASSEY
(Labour Party)

I do endorse these principles, and in fact my comment above above worrying about the safety of my children when they cycle shows this. If my children had the space to cycle safely, wide safe cycle lanes for example then I would worry less. I also agree that the space should not be shared with pedestrians, shared spaces are not safe for people with disabilities, segregated cycle lanes are the better option in my view where it is possible to do so.

Newmarket road could benefit from added and better cycle lanes, and Wadloes road as currently you have to cycle on the pavement, because the current cycle lane is not fit for purpose. (I address this in Q6)

Nicky SHEPARD
(Liberal Democrat)

Abbey has been very much forgotten in recent years, and any developments to road infrastructure carried out in a piecemeal way. The best practice set out in ‘Making Space For Cycling’ is a clear outline for how to approach future changes. The original plans for the City Deal (Greater Cambridge Partnership) included re-designing Newmarket Road, and this could have allowed for off-road cycle paths rather than the shared bus routes we have today. Unfortunately, Newmarket Road seems to have been pushed off the list for the city deal, so it will fall to Abbey’s councillors to fight to put this back on the agenda. I commit to doing this, as well as working with developers where possible, to ensure any new infrastructure meets the needs of the whole community.

David SMITH
(Conservative Party)

The best-practice is outlined in‘Making Space For Cycling’ is fully supported by me and, where feasible, should be the starting point when considering improvements to road infrastructure. See my answers below for ward specific thoughts.

# Question 3

Safe use of the roads is a major issue. Our view is that traffic policing, of all groups of road users (cyclists, drivers, etc.), should become a greater police priority, and that this should be evidence-based, namely based on the relative levels of danger presented by each such group. What are your thoughts, and where would your priorities be?

Naomi BENNETT
(Green Party)

I would like to see more emphasis on changing road user behaviour through education, signage and speed restrictions. I have focussed on one area which is safe overtaking.

For example, a city wide 20 mile per hour speed limit would be less confusing for out of town drivers and reduce the temptation to overtake cyclists.

Many of our city centre cycle lanes are narrower than the safe overtaking margin . Drivers need to be told this through driver education and reminded through road signs. Drivers could be incentivised to view a short safety webinar by being offered a park and ride voucher.

Nicky MASSEY
(Labour Party)

Traffic policing of all road users must be a very important police priority. All users of the road need to follow traffic laws, for example in the case of vehicles overtaking cyclists and what the Highway Code has to say about that. In terms of cyclists and their use of the road, if they are not made to feel safe, then they will not want to cycle, at least not on the road. It should always be born in mind by all concerned that vehicles have the potential to kill as well as injure, and indeed seriously injure, whereas cycles will really only have the potential to injure pedestrians in any common sense approach.

Nicky SHEPARD
(Liberal Democrat)

I fully agree with taking an evidence-based approach, in terms of relative danger as well as in terms of the amount of impact that can be achieved. I was very interested in the ‘Operation Close Pass’ recently launched by Cambridgeshire Police and I’ll be interested to see the effects long term. I agree that cyclists need to take responsibility, and cycle education needs to start earlier, so that all new cyclists are aware of the highway code.

Any police priority has to be around stopping people from taking action which could harm others.

David SMITH
(Conservative Party)

I fully support the ‘Position paper on responsible legal cycling’. The principle of targeting any crime based on evidence versus resource is common sense. There are wider issues of targeting all traffic-related crime, which might improve law abidance generally if enforcement were visible on the streets. I feel that there is a lack of ownership i.e. dropping children off as school and parking illegally – the Council say it is a police problem and the police say it is a Council problem. I think there should be a permanent visible traffic force in Cambridge enforcing traffic law.

# Question 4

We are keen to see more children being able to cycle safely to school independently. Ideas from our members to assist this include protected space for cycling, parking/pickup bans 200m of schools, cycle parking. What measures would you suggest?

Naomi BENNETT
(Green Party)

Our one school is on a busy main road that intimidates many adult cyclists and has a very small catchment area . Given the choice between a primary school child walking for ten minutes on the pavement and cycling for 5 minutes on the road, I think most parents would opt for walking. It may be better to focus on Abbey secondary school children who have to travel outside the ward to get to school .

Nicky MASSEY
(Labour Party)

I am also keen to see less children driven to schools and more encouragement of cycling to get children to and from schools. There is not a senior school in Abbey ward and therefore children do tend to cycle to Coleridge and other senior schools they attend, and they cycle to colleges as public transport is too expensive (I am campaigning for a "student fare" for ages 16-18).

Better cycle routes will help persuade more children to cycle to school safely. Pick up / drop off do need to be better and safer. Maybe where possible having a separate exit for cyclists from school could also be one option. Encouraging parents to park at park and ride sites would also help as less vehicles near to schools, and of course a better public transport service. We are THE cyling city and we need to encourage the next generation of cyclists to be able to achieve less air pollution, healthier outcomes and less traffic.

Nicky SHEPARD
(Liberal Democrat)

As above, safe cycling education needs to start sooner, and include details about the highway code. Recent cuts to County Council funding mean that some children in Abbey will be finishing primary school without any cycle training provision. Obviously, parents have a responsibility to teach road awareness as well, but safe cycling is such an important life skill, it should be taught at primary school.

Most schools already have double yellow or no stopping zones outside them, but cuts to policing budgets mean these are no longer policed. I know that the area around Abbey Meadows is chaos in the morning. This needs to be addressed so that children can safely approach by bike. Additional provision of safe cycle parking would also help at all of our schools.

David SMITH
(Conservative Party)

Please see my answer above regarding ‘permanent visible traffic force’.

# Question 5

Our volunteers spend a lot of time scrutinising planning applications for failures such as lack of secure cycle parking, poor access, failure to fund nearby improvements to make the roads safer, and so on. Many of these things get let through by officers and Councillors in clear contravention of the Local Plan. The lack of a full-time cycling officer makes this situation even worse. What are your main concerns about the planning system, and how would you seek to make improvements?

Naomi BENNETT
(Green Party)

I think that recent changes to planning law and financial pressure on councils have made it harder for councils to negotiate with developers and meant that the financial commitment that the council can get from a development in the form of s106 development or community infrastructure levy is stretched even more thinly. We have seen a practical example of this with the underwhelming Station area development.

I think that it would be good to turn Section 9 of the local plan which deals with cycling into a template or checklist that developers, planning officers and councillors could all use so that it's easier to assess whether a proposed development makes the grade . Use of the checklist could be encouraged by permitting the developer to display a "cycle friendly" badge of approval or score on the marketing material for the development.

Nicky MASSEY
(Labour Party)

The lack of a Local Plan is a significant challenge at the moment. We are still waiting for the Inspector to pass the Emerging Local Plan and when that happens we can get on with a better system of high quality policy driven analysis of developer applications. Officers and Councillors make a judgement on any particular application on the basis of the policy environment into which it is to be delivered. If there is a lack of policy in any particular area, or if on balance there are mitigating factors to be weighed against any perceived lack delivery, then they are duty bound to make that judgement. I would like to more attention paid to the use of larger bicycles for carrying children and shopping and also those suitable for disabled people in relation to movement routes to, from and through application sites, and also for parking of those bicycles on site in designated cycle parking.

Nicky SHEPARD
(Liberal Democrat)

I have worked in the housing industry and I know that developers, on the whole, want to create safe and vibrant communities. In my opinion, more can be done to work with developers and community members earlier, to ensure that things like cycle access, parking and community provision are part of their plans for developments. Proper provision of cycle or community officers and a suitable number of planning officers is necessary to ensure that planning applications are processed efficiently and within the outlines of the Local Plan.

David SMITH
(Conservative Party)

I am afraid I have little experience of planning. I am not certain that an officer dedicated to cycling is the best way forward. I would prefer to have an officer who has responsibility for all types of road user including cyclists equally.

# Question 6

Between Ditton Meadows and Coldham's Lane is a cycle route that runs along Wadloes Road and Barnwell Road, parts of which date back to the 1930s. However, it is in bad shape, with a crumbling surface, and is repeatedly interrupted by driveways and side roads. And then the Newmarket Road roundabout completely disconnects both halves of the route, leaving people with no decent and safe option to get across. How would you propose to fix the problems and create a safe walking and cycling route along this north-south axis?

Naomi BENNETT
(Green Party)

Unfortunately, these aren't the only problems with this route. Residents have mentioned poor lighting , cycle way abruptly petering out into roadway , absence of convenient crossing points both at the Newmarket and Coldhams Lane roundabouts to get to Sainsbury's and lack of linkage to popular destinations such as Addenbrookes and Netherhall School. There is also an inconvenient tree at one end. Some residents were only aware of the Barnwell Road part of the path.

The biggest single improvement that could be made would be to have well sited zebra crossings near both roundabouts . This is under the control of the County Council rather than the city council . The crossings would also be useful to local shoppers .

Nicky MASSEY
(Labour Party)

The first thing to say about a route along a north-south axis is that the Chisholm Trail is planned nearby and that is due to be delivered soon. County Councillor Joan Whitehead last year won £4,000 funding from the County Council's Local Highway Improvement fund to improve safety at the Barnwell/Wadloes/Newmarket Road roundabout by changing the configuration of the lanes. Work on this project is ongoing and, if elected, I will work alongside Cllr Whitehead in pushing the County Council to see this important task through.

However, it would be ideal, when progressing this project, if the County Council take the opportunity to look at movement of people and cycles in this area more generally, and that it and the Greater Cambridge Partnership assess the potential for unlocking possible strategic funding by joining up the Wadloes Road/Barnwell Road cycle route with the Chisholm Trail so a) it meets up with the Ditton Meadows portion of the phase one route in the north, and b) link up with phase two of the Chisholm Trail where it is proposed to connect with Coldham's Lane. To that end I would lobby the GCP to get this route onto a long list of cycle projects for the next tranche of funding for 2020 to 2025 from central government and depending on it’s relative merit to other schemes I would push for it’s inclusion on the final list. What I would keep in mind is that most cycleway schemes are so much cheaper that changes to roads it seems that any cycleway scheme probably delivers so much more for any relative expenditure as compared to roads.

Nicky SHEPARD
(Liberal Democrat)

I agree that the cycle route along Wadloes Road is in bad shape and the priority at the junctions is unclear. I would push for this to be resurfaced, including either some kind of ‘cats eyes’ or other technology to give light along the path during winter months. The access from the river path also needs to be improved, so that cyclists do not have to double back on themselves to join the main path, or cut across the grass.

The roundabout at Newmarket Rd and Barnwell Rd is one of the most dangerous in the county, and documented as being especially dangerous to cyclists, which is one of the reasons why I have been campaigning for more than two years for improvements to this junction. Travelling north on Barnwell Road on the cycle-path, cyclists are pushed out onto the road just before the roundabout, and southbound cyclists are pushed into a fenced crossing, then the cycle path resumes across the road. I would like to see improvements to this junction to mean that cyclists can cross the roundabout safely, and also so the north/south axis route is continued into Barnwell Road and along the ring road.

David SMITH
(Conservative Party)

I went out and cycled this route yesterday (21/4/2018) as well as looking at the East Road/Nemarket Road roundabout. I am a little surprised about the description of the route above. Yes it must have been put in some time ago and looks very tired but in general it is better than many areas of Cambridge have. It does seem strange the segregated side swaps over on either side of the Newmarket Road roundabout and of course negotiating the roundabout without dealing the motorised vehicles involves going a little way down the road to use the traffic light crossing. The roundabout at the end of Coldham’s Lane is also a nightmare for cyclists. If resources were to be spent I would ask for a study into how to improve both roundabouts.

# Question 7

The Eastern Gate SPD proposals include a very welcome proposal to remove the unfriendly 1970s roundabout joining Newmarket Road with East Road. It was intended to be funded by developments in the area. However, despite the many new buildings, this is not happening because the Councils have still not undertaken a proper study providing more finalised plans. How will you move this forward?

Naomi BENNETT
(Green Party)

I would start by asking for an update on the plan and the timetable and for details of any problems preventing the Councils from moving forward. I would continue to ask questions until I understood the situation and would then shape any further action plan accordingly. For example, I would want to look at whether the expected funding had been raised from the new developments bearing in mind the rule changes mentioned in my answer to question 5.

Nicky MASSEY
(Labour Party)

This roundabout is not good for cyclists and many others besides. Pedestrians have to negotiate a complicated and unsafe underground system of underpasses, as indeed cyclists are meant to do. However, many cyclists use the roundabout above although this is not a very safe route. The slopes that are meant for cyclists are very steep and not easily used by all cyclists unless they dismount. Disabled cyclists are not always able to dismount, and as for many disabled pedestrians, especially those using wheelchairs, then the junction is inaccessible as the slopes are just too steep. This roundabout and the associated circulation routes for different users are from another age of urban planning and put quite simply not fit for purpose. I for one will be at the forefront of those pushing for change in this area.

Back in 2014, Labour City Councillors, including Abbey Cllr Richard Johnson, managed to ringfence £50,000 from County Council strategic transport funds for a detailed study of the Eastern Gate SPD proposals, so to assess how they can be realistically delivered.

I understand that, despite numerous attempts to seek clarification about how this money was used, the County Council have not brought this work forward, probably because of lack of officer capacity due to cuts, and the fact that much attention has been taken away from projects with a long-term goal so to deliver GCP first tranche schemes. (Work to improve Newmarket Road traffic movements, such as a four-way junction where the roundabout current is situated, is on the list of the second tranche of GCP schemes --( funding is of course dependent on delivery of the first tranche of schemes.)

Nicky SHEPARD
(Liberal Democrat)

Newmarket Road and The Eastern Gate area need desperate improvement. However, much of the recent improvements have been huge, tall and very much against the wishes of local residents. As councillor for Abbey I would commit to pushing forward the plans for Newmarket Road, ensuring that it is included in either the Greater Cambridge Partnership or Combined Authority plans as a priority for improvement. I would also like to see significant increases in planting, trees and other measures to improve the biodiversity and air quality along this key route.

David SMITH
(Conservative Party)

I cycled over there and took some photographs yesterday (21/4/2018). This is by far the most difficult looking problem I observed. The obvious thing to do is insist that a study take place. I fear that the answer will not be a cheap solution if a good result for cyclists, pedestrians and vehicles is to be reached. In the short term I am wondering the alternative routes east/west and north/south which avoid the roundabout could be better signed and improved.

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.