In his speech in Birmingham on 04 Jan 2022 he name-checked the county, but the transcript says the city.
Above – the Leader of the Labour Party said “biopharma in Cambridgeshire” (At 11m35s)
…although the transcript from the party’s website reads as:
“Labour would create 100,000 new start-up businesses and new hubs of excellence building on existing strengths such as video gaming in Dundee and biopharma in Cambridge.”Transcript of speech 04 Jan 2022
Are we talking the City of Cambridge as per the City Council’s boundary? i.e. the one that hasn’t changed much since the mid 1930s?
Or are we talking Greater Cambridge as per the City Deal/GCP? (Effectively Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire). Or are we talking the original Cambridge County as per the red-shaded are below?
Above – Cambridgeshire’s original shire councils from the 1888 Act that created county councils
Or are we talking about the economic region that Prof John Parry Lewis identified in his Cambridge Sub-Regional Report of the early 1970s?
Above – John Parry Lewis’s study area.
Or are we talking about what might be the boundaries of a new unitary council based on what the Royal Commission on Local Government 1966-69 came up with, something launched by Harold Wilson’s Labour Government?
Above – proposals for new unitary councils for Greater Cambridge & Greater Peterborough from 1969.
If Sir Keir Starmer wants to ensure that the hub is a success, [Questions: What criteria will be used to measure success, and what will be the points on the scale to decide whether it is successful or not?], then he needs to make sure he has policies for the things that underpin that hub.
In Cambridge’s case this includes:
- Strong local government with boundaries, structures, revenue-raising powers, and legal powers to manage what will be huge demands from wealthy corporations. (I explored some of this here)
- A radically-overhauled public transport system that yes, not only includes light rail underground but also links up to the surrounding villages and towns – in particular those that currently have no rail/light rail service such as Chatteris, Saffron Walden, and Haverhill.
- Water resources – this is an already water-stressed area. Nothing gets built without new water resources. Where are they going to come from and when?
- Leisure – Is Cambridge going to be a city where everyone works and no one plays? We already have a significant social and civic infrastructure deficit. We are long overdue a large concert hall and an additional municipal swimming pool. It’s not just Cambridge that has this problem. Nearly two-thirds of the local council leisure estate is ageing and past its replacement date.
- All built up and no large public open green spaces? The current system of development planning is making it all but impossible to reserve large open plots of land for park land and green space. Cambridge Great Park is a wonderful idea, but the system of land ownership makes this difficult to deliver. What’s the plan?
But it’s not just Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, or East Anglia – noting Transport East has their big transport consultation out. Later in the Spring Mayor Dr Nik Johnson will publish his first proposals for his Local Transport & Connectivity Plan for Cambridgeshire & Peterborough. All of this needs to be part of a co-ordinated and planned overhaul for local government in England. Otherwise it will look to the wider public that wealthy Cambridge is pleading for extra money that other areas say they don’t get. The reality is that Cambridge’s public sector organisations are banned by the present Government from taxing the industries and firms that are making fortunes out of the city. That’s why we are the most unequal city in the country. And successive Conservative Chancellors have shown little interest in dealing with it. Can Sir Keir deliver on improving public services and building on economic success while protecting the environment and reducing inequalities?
It’s a big ask.
If you are interested in the longer term future of Cambridge, and on what happens at the local democracy meetings where decisions are made, feel free to: