This article was published in 1999, in Newsletter 23.

Consult the community

Top marks to the Cambridge Cycling Campaign for circulating to its members details of the Crime and Disorder Act (CDA) consultations and the Local Transport Plan. The CDA requires various agencies and the community to develop strategies for reducing crime and disorder (details from http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/cdact/cdaint4.htm), yet apart from one other hint (via Neighbourhood Watch) this member of the community would otherwise not have been aware at all of the consultation.

It is a pity that one cannot be as unstinting in praise for the way in which these consultations have occurred in this county. Both suffer from two major flaws which appear to have the effect of vitiating the whole process.

The first is that respondents are given no chance to grade the items they choose. In all the CDA response forms we were asked simply to tick 3 priorities. The person who finds 4 aspects equally crucial, or who feels that one is significantly more important than others, has no way to indicate this. And since the only way of assessing the results can be to ‘count heads’, it is virtually impossible for any issues specified in the ‘Other priorities (please specify)’ option to get into the subsequent discussions.

More serious is the fact highlighted by the Campaign: that the criminal activity probably most likely to affect the average family was entirely absent from the questionnaires. There is no reference to road traffic law enforcement, despite the fact that speeding, driving under the influence of drink or drugs, and general negligence, claim lives and cause grave damage every day. It may be, as a colleague suggested, that one reason for this is the difficulty of achieving a prosecution: the Crown Prosecution Service is notoriously resistant and sentencing is generally derisory. But if community consultation is to count for anything, surely it should be possible for us to press for a change in this aspect of official culture, and for safer streets as a result.

Dr Douglas de Lacey

Obstruction, or just unloading?

Travelling south along Hills Road recently, just past the Cherry Hinton Road junction, an articulated delivery transporter carrying several new cars overtook me and parked in the cycle lane beside a garage and car sales showroom, blocking my passage. I stopped and pointed out to the driver that that practice wasn’t allowed. He refused to budge and said he was quite within his rights to unload for ten minutes – he wasn’t even on a yellow line either.

What exactly is the law on this point?

Richard Fusniak