Elections

Local elections (City), May 2018: West Chesterton

Summary: Elections to Cambridge City Council in May 2018
Polling date: Thursday 3rd May 2018
Ward:
Candidates
(by surname):
  • Jamie DALZELL  (Liberal Democrat)
  • Mike HARFORD  (Conservative Party)
  • Clare KING  (Labour Party)
  • Shayne MITCHELL  (Green Party)

Questions for West Chesterton ward candidates (9 questions)

Jump to question:  1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9 

# 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?

Jamie DALZELL
(Liberal Democrat)

I cycle to and from work along Milton Road each day and currently ride a recumbent tricycle. Trikes are bit wider than normal bikes and therefore it has highlighted access issues to me. I also have to be especially cautious around parked vehicles due to my lower field of view.

My partner commutes between Suffolk, but has a conventional bike for evenings and weekends around Cambridge.

Although we do not have kids, I am a school governor and my partner is a teacher and therefore we are both acutely aware of the scrapes younger cyclists can get themselves into. Young cyclists can lack experience and, sometimes, consideration. It is therefore very important that we have safe cycle paths along key routes to schools.

Mike HARFORD
(Conservative Party)

I do cycle about town. I enjoy seeing families cycling together and exercising as people of all ages. However I am very aware of safety. My wife as a pedestrian and also a good friend have had injuries due to irresponsible cyclists . This area must be addressed . Cyclists with impunity cycle through banned areas. I would have local laws using traffic wardens to fine those whom break the law and endanger others which covers other cyclists and especially those with toddlers aboard.

Clare KING
(Labour Party)

All the family cycle and I expect most children brought up in Cambridge do. Mine are grown up now and walking or cycling is still their main mode of transport. One of mine was recently cycling 8 miles to and then from work outside Cambridge every day until he changed jobs to work in the city. Over the years we've had our fair share of accidents as well - one came off his bike because of a pothole and broke his arm, another had his cheekbone smashed by a cyclist without lights riding into him at speed unfortunately. I've come off as well. The state of the roads and of some cycleways is a real concern because of the lack of maintenance and I'm not always convinced that the hew ones are much better as they seem to deteriorate very quickly.

Shayne MITCHELL
(Green Party)

I've cycled all my life as my only or mains means of transport. Cambridge originally, London for some years, Italy (Rome far more pleasant and safe to cycle than Cambridge, believe it or not), Cambridge again.

When I lived in northern Italy (Ferrara), the younger members of the family I stayed with, aged ten or so, could easily and safely cycle to their grandmother on the other side of town BY THEMSELVES. Quite impossible here. But it needn't be.

It is an indictment of Cambridge transport policy that a major concern for us in our child's choice of sixth form was the danger or otherwise of getting there by bike (e.g. Impington = intimidating roundabout to cross over motorway).

# 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?

Jamie DALZELL
(Liberal Democrat)

I fully support these principles, and they are very important for a number of key projects around the ward, such as Milton Road, Mitcham’s Corner and Arbury Road. I was therefore concerned that shared usage pavements were being discussed again at the last Milton Road Local Liaison Forum and I will be working hard to ensure that the scheme includes the level of segregation envisioned by the resident led ‘Do-optimum’ proposals.

There is also a great opportunity to develop Mitcham’s Corner (as raised later), and I think any longer term plans for a redevelopment of the area must seek to provide space and parking for cyclists.

Mike HARFORD
(Conservative Party)

I fully support the idea of separate cycling zones and equally safe walking areas. All this should be structured in the upcoming environmental plans. Obviously this must be done within reasonable financial resources. So I do support your objectives.

Clare KING
(Labour Party)

Yes, it's a useful Guide. Mitchams Corner needs completely changing in line with the Mitchams Corner SPD.

Shayne MITCHELL
(Green Party)

Yes, support it. Shared space is intimidating and unpleasant for pedestrians and small children, especially if your balance isn't as good as it used tone - somebody coming up unexpectedly makes you jump. Also, alas, too many cyclists cycle too fast and too close to pedestrians.

Milton Road is the obvious place. Why not "do a Hills Road" on it - decent wide cycle lanes, narrower car lanes in middle, which automatically slow traffic.

Chesterton Road also needs decent wide cycle lanes, especially between Mitcham's Corner and the big Chesterton roundabout. (It could be a beautiful Continental-style boulevard. Trees down the middle?)

# 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?

Jamie DALZELL
(Liberal Democrat)

I have been canvassing residents across our area for a number of years now, and conflicts between different road users is a common topic of conversation. I therefore agree that effective policing and enforcement would be welcomed by residents across the city.

With mind to their increasingly limited resources, as a Councillor I would encourage police to focus their efforts on targeting the most dangerous issues across our area, identified based on both data and the knowledge of our local community.

At the same time, as a community we also need to be supporting the police in their role of enforcement by demanding better planning and building awareness of considerate and safe driving and cycling.

Mike HARFORD
(Conservative Party)

I enthusiastic endorse this view as already outlined. I was a County Councillor on Highways some time ago. Safety must always be a priority . I may not be popular by saying that motorists should not always take the blame.

Clare KING
(Labour Party)

I think it would be extremely useful to have the data, yes and it's also useful to address perception. Knocking on doors across the years, as those of us standing for election do, gives a useful insight into the concerns of a wide range of people. Close passing, especially by large vehicles like buses, fear of being doored (I share that one and always try to be careful passing a parked car!) and, from a fair few elderly or less mobile residents, concerns about thoughtless cycling frequently come up.

Shayne MITCHELL
(Green Party)

Agree. Would particularly like to see the police do something about the many moped riders who zoom around especially in the evening, without silencers and accelerating hard around circuits in the town. Somebody is going to get killed. From what I have read (hopefully changed?), the Police at most "talk to" those found doing this.

Lights - would like to see the many car-drivers with only one headlight working fined!

Taxi-drivers. Unfortunately there seems to be a culture of dangerous, aggressive taxi-driving (and parking) in Cambridge. This needs addressing urgently, both in education and enforcement. A role for the City Council taxi-licensing department.

Fully support the Police campaign to stop drivers overtaking too close. Was grateful to Cam Cycling Campaign for pushing for this.

# 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?

Jamie DALZELL
(Liberal Democrat)

This is a key issue in West Chesterton, with a large number of schools in the area, including a high concentration of pupils on Gilbert Road. This has led to many residents noting issues during the school drop-off, especially when cars wait on double yellow lines creating significant dangers for other road users. With further expansion of the local school, it is very important that proper enforcement helps resolve the issue, with enforcement of double yellow restrictions at key times. This would hopefully improve safety and therefore encourage more pupils in the area to cycle into school.

Cycle parking is also an important factor for making it as easy as possible to cycle to school and it’s obviously very important that we ensure that plans for new or expanding schools include ample space for young cyclists to park up.

As well as providing a safe route to the school and easy place to park, it’s important that we help build knowledge and confidence through schemes such as Bikeability. Also, lots of research shows that parental engagement is key to outcomes in school and I believe the same is true for cycling; I would keen to support schemes that support and encourage parents in cycling down to school with younger pupils so that they can build the confidence to travel independently in the future.

Mike HARFORD
(Conservative Party)

Absolutely agree. I used to cycle to school. This is a health issue . Prevention of obesity comes to mind for a start. Loads of Chelsea Tractors clogging up roads is not good. However I think children could form small groups going to school together. I think parents have concerns about sex offenders and maybe a reason they don't cycle?

Clare KING
(Labour Party)

I have been a school governor and a Chair of Governors, a parent and someone who lived next door to a school for many years so congestion problems caused by parents driving children to school and insisting on parking as close as possible have always been very much to the fore. Schools have a real role to play in this as well and the lessening of local accountability through academisation has definitely been a backward step. Getting parents to take responsibility for their own behaviour is important though not easy to achieve. Schemes like Bikeability training for children need to have their funding protected.

Shayne MITCHELL
(Green Party)

Yes to all those.

Covered cycle parking essential. Wet seats are horrible.

Parents should not be allowed to drive onto school premises at beginning and end of day to drop off/pick up their children. Some schools, astonishingly, allow this, and the cars are mixing with (small) children on foot

# 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?

Jamie DALZELL
(Liberal Democrat)

As a liberal, I think a key issue in planning is the over-centralisation of these decisions which reduces accountability and engagement. I would be keen to see more planning decisions brought back to Area Committees so that local communities would have greater leverage on decisions and would also have more motivation to attend these key meetings. I think this would significantly improve outcomes.

At the same time, planning decisions still need a robust legal basis and I would be keen to work with local officers to ensure that we have a solid foundation from which to reject unacceptable proposals whilst minimising the risk of expensive legal battles.

As noted, the issues around cycling provision have not been helped since the cycling officer left. I was in correspondence with them regarding a number of pinch points in the Cambridge North Area cycle network. Since they left without being fully replaced, there has been delays in resolving those issues (such as dreaded ‘pram arms’ blocking marked cycle routes). I am very keen to see a full-time role recruited.

Mike HARFORD
(Conservative Party)

I understand what you say but any planning must take account of all interested parties. To have a separate cycle planning officer would not help you. You already are lobbying well as are others. It is important to have good Councillors and officers to make good judgements. Unfortunately the quality of all these is often lacking.

Clare KING
(Labour Party)

I think City and County officers need to work closely together on planning applications and have more joined up thinking across, in particular, the County Council Highways, especially on major schemes. CL1 springs to mind where better solutions have to be retro engineered.

Shayne MITCHELL
(Green Party)

Reinstate full-time cycling officer.

Planning system opaque and biased in favour of applicants. Needs better and clearer publicity about planning applications at the site they are being made for. The existing system - a boring small A4 cryptic sheet with small print, attached obscurely near site - seems designed to avoid notice.

# Question 6

Protected junctions where walking and cycling traffic are fully separated from motorised traffic have been proposed by Cambridge Cycling Campaign for junctions being rebuilt by the Milton and Histon Road GCP projects. Which junctions do you think would benefit from similar safety improvements within the Cambridge area?

Jamie DALZELL
(Liberal Democrat)

As a regular cyclist on the road, I am keen to ‘Do Optimum’ proposals for Milton Road and as a Councillor I would work hard to continue to support residents in the ongoing tug-of-war between the resident-led plans and the original GCP corridors.

It would also be great to see such principles extended further across Cambridge to further improve the cycle network. Mitcham’s Corner (discussed later) could be improved significantly for cyclists, and I would be keen to explore options to better protect cyclists along Elizabeth way, especially on roundabouts. Currently the additional width encourages high speeds from motor vehicles, when instead it could be used to provide greater protection for cyclists.

Mike HARFORD
(Conservative Party)

I agree with your campaign. Anything that keeps cyclists and pedestrians away from motorists is preferable especially in Cambridge.

Clare KING
(Labour Party)

I'd like to see both the Mitchams Corner SPD and the Eastern Gate SPD actually implemented which would tackle two of the major problem areas. A lot of the principles for better cycling and pedestrian infrastructure are also good placemaking but too often the County Highways focuses solely on engineering solutions about how to get vehicles through 'efficiently' instead.

Shayne MITCHELL
(Green Party)

All of them!

Roundabouts are particularly problematic and scary. Better replaced by traffic lights.

Interestingly (and counter-intuitively), it wouldn't necessarily "impede traffic flow". I am ancient enough to recall the roundabout which used to be at the junction by Parkside Swimming Pool. Because so many cyclists and pedestrians had been injured, it was replaced by traffic lights. Intriguingly, it actually got quicker and easier to use the junction - there was much LESS of a queue! (I lived near there, and used it every day before and after.)

# Question 7

All-day free parking by commuters on residential streets increases traffic on already congested roads. This has an impact on cycle safety. Many times cars are parked on pavements or across dropped kerbs, making access difficult for people with disabilities or pushing prams. How would you solve this problem?

Jamie DALZELL
(Liberal Democrat)

Where necessary, residents-only parking can effectively reduce commuter parking and help residents. There are a number of resident only parking zones being proposed in West Chesterton and I have been helping our local County Councillor in consulting with local residents to ensure that the plans will work before moving into formal consultation.

However, so far these schemes have been approached in a piecemeal way without obvious reference to other projects or in anticipating future needs. For example, Herbert and George Street are very narrow and yet have somehow ended up at a narrow corner of a zone (when such streets are more easily managed by being central to a zone). This then creates delays and issues in implementing restrictions, even when many residents are keen to reduce parking in the area.

A clearer overall strategy for consulting upon and implementing parking restrictions is needed in order to ensure such schemes are designed effectively and flexibly and have sufficient support to be implemented.

Mike HARFORD
(Conservative Party)

I am very strong on this. I used to live in Kensington where parking is very restricted between residents and paid parking. I would have this in all areas in Cambridge. Off Mill Road London commuters park there to avoid paying at the station. Parking on pavements is a difficult one to prevent. It is reasonable for people who live in the area to have space for a car.i In the same way I support your idea to have one space in every street for cycles. Unfortunately the area was not built for cars. However on a positive note in the future car ownership will seriously reduce due to new motorised technology so in time all will gradually get better.

Clare KING
(Labour Party)

I'd like to see a wider use of the sort of verge/pavement parking ban which King's Hedges city/county councillors have used in several places across the ward - most recently in King's Hedges Road and Ramsden Square because it has proven very effective at reducing pavement and verge parking and it's not expensive to implement.

On resident parking schemes I don't believe these can be imposed on neighbourhoods and they must be decided by those who live there. I'd like to see the County Council be more flexible and open to considering variations on proposals than they appear to have been so far.

Shayne MITCHELL
(Green Party)

I loathe parking on pavements. It impedes or blocks progress for pedestrians, is ugly and dangerous (cars driving on and off pavements, often some distance, fast, along the pavement), and trashes our beautiful paving stones, where they survive. It also gives out the clear message that cars are more important.

We need a system like London, where pavement parking has been illegal for decades. (Government has just announced proposal to gather evidence on possibility of extending London system to rest of country - great.)

What is particularly objectionable and dangerous is the officially condoned and sanctioned pavement parking in Romsey, which makes using the pavements difficult to use for everyone, and impossible if you have a buggy/wheelchairs. It needs to be gradually removed, changing the parking back to one side only, as it was until quite recently.

In West Chesterton, the official pavement parking on Milton Road pavement, from Mitcham's Corner to the roundabout, created some six (?) or so years ago, is crazy. In places it makes the pavement about a foot wide (east side near roundabout). It blocks visibility. It looks hideous. It is dangerous. It creates a lawless feeling, a sense that it's fine parking on the pavement anywhere. It's quite unnecessary - nearly all the houses along there have space for at least one car in the drive. (And in the odd place there isn't, since when has there been an automatic right to park outside your house?)

Residents' parking. I am not convinced by the argument that it should be introduced in order to stop commuters parking. The raison d'être of residents parking seems to have completely changed. The point until now was to give residents in Victorian and older streets, with no off-road parking, which were being completely taken up by commuter parking, a chance to park. It seems strange to introduce residents' parking on streets where houses have driveways or space to park one or more cars, and residents don't need to park on the street.

It also seems needlessly divisive. The people who are commuter parking might well like to live in Cambridge, and not have to drive in, but they may well have had to live outside Cambridge because houses are less expensive there. They might prefer to use public transport - but it may well not be good enough, so they have no choice but to drive.

Those of us who live in Cambridge, in the streets proposed for residents parking, are already fortunate to be able to live close to the centre, and close to bus routes/railway We probably have space to park at least one car in our driveway, and don't even need the residents parking.

It is the public highway, after all, not the private domain of those of us who live here.

# Question 8

The eastern section of Arbury Road near Milton Road is narrow, filled with parked cars creating a cycle safety hazard, and speeding traffic far above the 20mph limit. How would you propose to create safe cycling conditions along this part of Arbury Road, for instance by extending the new cycle lanes?

Jamie DALZELL
(Liberal Democrat)

I try not to be completely negative and I would note that the new lanes on Arbury Road do provide better access to two local schools and therefore will hopefully help encourage more pupils onto bikes as discussed earlier.

However it is disappointing that the new lanes fail to meet 2.1m width guidelines and, as other observers have noted, a cycle route is only as good as its worst section and therefore the Arbury Road scheme has been significantly undermined by the failure to address the integration with major routes along Milton Road.

I believe that these issues have been exacerbated by the City Deal’s failure to finalise plans on Milton Road due to the disastrous first proposals and the long battle for something better by local residents. Without knowing what we are plugging into, it is difficult to move forward with confidence on Arbury Road.

However, if elected, I would be keen to consult with residents and the City Deal to resolve this. I think there are two main options; we either seek to split cycle routes away from Arbury Road before the narrow sections, and join up with routes on Woodhead Drive (through grounds of North Cambridge Academy) and Leys Avenue/Road, or we do seek to extend cycle lanes whilst finding parking solutions for residents on the road. Such a strategy could trial different options prior to permanent implementation to test for unintended consequences (and potentially allow for more radical traffic controls).

We should not just 'do optimum' for Milton Road, but for the entire North Cambridge transport network.

Mike HARFORD
(Conservative Party)

Some parking restrictions seems the best way.

Clare KING
(Labour Party)

It is very narrow and the state of the road doesn't help because of having to avoid very poor surfaces. I tend to get off my bike and walk it along the pavement at that point which is a good indicator of how safe I feel on that part. It's also part of the main route into Cambridge or across and down Union Lane and into the city that way. Restricting parking on parts of it would help give more space.

Shayne MITCHELL
(Green Party)

Arbury Road runs north-south - I guess you are thinking of the southern end?

Yes, intimidating and dangerous. Enforce speed-limit. Remove on-road parking, perhaps gradually. Remove pavement parking outside shops near junction. Extend cycle lanes.

# Question 9

The Greater Cambridge Partnership plans for Milton Road will create protected cycle lanes, however Mitcham's Corner is not currently within scope. The current gyratory system is dominated by vehicles and remains a barrier for safe cycling and walking. How would you like to see this area redeveloped?

Jamie DALZELL
(Liberal Democrat)

I understand that the gyratory was originally built before the A14 and helped heavy duty vehicles travel through Cambridge on their way to ports east of the city. As noted by the Friends of Mitcham’s Corner, times have changed and there is fantastic potential to develop Mitcham’s corner very differently.

I am very excited about the idea of cutting the gyratory and implementing a low speed environment which would be vastly improved for cyclists and pedestrians. The ideas are articulately explained in the Mitcham's Corner Development Framework, which I would be keen to support.

I recently had the pleasure of attending a workshop exploring this idea which used a detailed Minecraft model to engage younger residents in planning. It was a fascinating exercise (partly because I’d never played Minecraft before) but it was not surprising to see younger people looking for green spaces, better access to the river and great community facilities.

Sadly such plans will be more difficult to achieve than they were a few years ago, as derelict buildings have been taken up by shops again. However I think we should be ambitious for Cambridge and seek investment to deliver such transformative projects.

Mike HARFORD
(Conservative Party)

I often drive around this area ans agree it is obviously tricky for cyclists.If I'm on a bike I avoid it. A solution is certainly necessary but looks very costly. I really can't take a firm view now without all facts and more professional input.

Clare KING
(Labour Party)

As said above, Mitcham's Corner needs to have the SPD carried through to implementation. It's currently a pretty hostile environment for anything except vehicles and I strongly believe placemaking should be at the heart of transport planning. It's also important that the Milton Road plans tie into future changes to Mitcham's Corner so joined up thinking by the Greater Cambridge Partnership is important. It's an chance to make this a far more people friendly and greener place and a much better 'entrance' to the core city.

Shayne MITCHELL
(Green Party)

Remove "gyratory" scheme - Cambridge's very own Hyde Park Corner, and almost as scary. You see virtually no one cycling there. Far too intimidating.

20 mph limit

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.