Cambridge’s population rises to above 145,000 in 2021 Census

The rise is even greater for the City of Peterborough – designated a third generation Newtown in the 1960s, now at 215,000

Which makes both cities two of the fastest growing settlements in the country – with the economic drivers including agri-tech and manufacturing for Peterborough, and life sciences and ‘knowledge intensive’ industries in Cambridge. The global nature of these industries and the time it takes to educate and train the highly skilled professionals that work in them means inevitably that people will have to come in from other parts of the country, if not the world, to work in them. Which in part explains the present Government’s ‘levelling up’ policies to rebalance the economy away from London & the South East.

The Census 2021 headline results

You can have a look at the headlines and the data at

Above – from Cllr Sam Davies MBE (Ind – Queen Edith’s, Cambridge City Council)

You can compare Cambridge’s 2021 figures with past census figures by Cambridgeshire Insight here, and explore their other data sets (including Peterborough) at

Action on infrastructure now becomes urgent

Yet as I’ve said many times before, Cambridgeshire & Peterborough – and local government in England generally, do not have the governance structures to enable that urgent action. Nor do we have a high calibre of ministers or MPs collectively to make the policy and legislative changes to enable such actions to be taken.

“Cambridgeshire County Council cannot serve North Cambs and Cambridge City at the same time – it must go.”

Me on 20 Oct 2017

Even after the 2021 super-elections, I remain of this viewpoint.

I will make the point again that the Cambridge sub-region needs a light rail network to serve it. (See ). Furthermore, Peterborough could do with a similar light rail network.

I’ve played around with G-Maps and outlined some concepts below with the proviso that it would be for local residents to significantly improve upon both the concepts and also work on the detail with the responsible authorities, looking not just at the individual loops, but the network concept as a whole. This matters because when the loops are put together, they share rail lines and transport corridors with each other and with other transport modes – eg A-roads or national and suburban rail lines. Remember two of the main objectives include:

  1. Significantly reducing the number of cars and the amount of freight on the road
  2. Significantly improving connectivity by public transport and active transport

So this will involve co-ordinating bus services with the towns that have light rail stops, as well as building new cycleways and paths that, as with the Gtr Cambridge Guided Busway, can act as service roads for repairs and emergencies.

Some examples for the Peterborough sub-region

Take one possible ‘loop that could link Peterborough with towns in North Cambridgeshire – using a walking route to get some idea of the total distances involved.

Above – from G-Maps: A conceptual Peterborough and North Cambs light rail loop.

Another might look westwards from Peterborough.

Above – from G-Maps: Linking Peterborough with Corby, Rutland Water, the industrial works at Ketton, and Stamford.

Another loop might involve Peterborough looking north-eastwards

Above – from G-Maps – linking Peterborough to parts of South Lincolnshire and potentially a gateway to West Norfolk. Although an extention to incorporate King’s Lynn & Downham Market might be a bridge too far.

“Could Peterborough have already built such a transport infrastructure network?”


When you look at the proposals from the 1966-69 Royal Commission on Local Government in England (the summary pamphlet is here) and look at the map below, the picture looks very different to the geographical area of Peterborough we see on the Combined Authority boundaries that ministers brought in back in 2016 – significantly different to what 1966-69 had. You can read the full report of the Royal Commission’s proposals here should you want to steady yourself for nearly 400 pages of local government reform policy!

This is why local history matters.

I won’t go over Cambridge again as many of you will be familiar with the issues in previous blogposts. (See here if you want a recap).

Transport, housing, and environmental limits to growth

I’ve mentioned/moaned repeatedly that Cambridge is a city with a globally-recognised name that is governed like a large market town. You’ll never get bored of this until our structures are overhauled.

Above – from Smarter Cambridge Transport

So, what are the opposition parties proposing?

Keir Starmer: If you don’t change your views, you won’t succeed

The Leader of the Labour Party on 28 June 2022 in the New Statesman

Above – The Labour Leader has formally scrapped the 2019 Manifesto, to the dismay/delight [delete as per your viewpoint] of party members and supporters.

With Party Conference Season coming up in three months, expect some new policy announcements not just from Labour but also the Liberal Democrats and The Green Party – all of whom have made gains in either by-elections at council and parliamentary level, and also at the local elections earlier this year.

Not that any political party should do what I tell them – I’m not a member so what right do I have. But I’ll be on the lookout for anything that involves overhauling the outdated and obsolete structures, systems, boundaries, powers, funding, and working cultures of local government and local democracy. Simply throwing more money at councils whether through competitive funding bids (As the Tories are doing – Whitehall and The Treasury’s ways continue!)

Over to you.

On the many consultations

As Cllr Sam Davies MBE notes in her blogpost here, we have a significant amount of public consultations (few of which feel ‘joined up’ policy-wise) currently taking place that will shape our medium-term future. So keeping up with all of them is a challenge. I also begin my term as a Patient Governor at the Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Foundation Trust on 01 July. If you’d like to help keep tabs on what’s happening with doctors, dentists, and mental healthcare in our city and county, please consider becoming a free member.

Although I missed out on becoming a Patient Governor at Addenbrooke’s by just 100 votes, there will be a number of new vacancies in 2023 (see here). If you want to become a free voting member, you can join the trust (Cambridge Universities Hospital Trust) here. I’m intending to re-stand. If you have ever been treated at Addenbrooke’s you can select the ‘Patient Member’ as an option. And they need people to advocate for them in local and national government circles – especially on transport and housing. (Recall last month’s headlines here. )

So thank you for your continued support and encouragement on my efforts to try and scrutinise what’s happening in and around Cambridge.

If you’d like to make a small one off donation, please see

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