South Cambridgeshire District Council to trial a 4-day working week

It will be interesting to see what the results are. (Above – detail from a British Railways Poster before the modern day South Cambs District Council was invented, and before Cambridgeshire County Council was extended to cover Fenland & Huntingdonshire)

You can read their announcement here. See also the Cambridge Independent here, and The Guardian here.

“This is just another example of woque-leftie-madness!!!11£$&”

I think it’s part of a wider study that involves researchers at a number of universities, including the University of Cambridge.

“As I was saying, this is vital cutting edge research involving top researchers from the best institutions in the world – and we are proud that our University a leader in such things!”

Working whilst exhausted isn’t good for anyone

I found out the hard way – burning out just over a decade ago – and I’ve not recovered. Looking back on it now, the idea of commuting to London and back, losing 3 hours a day every day sounds crazy. Why do we do it? Why have we built our social and economic systems to make this lifestyle acceptable?

“Are they being paid more for less?”

The leader of East Cambridgeshire District Council had a number of questions to put to her counterpart at South Cambridgeshire District Council – note both are party political opponents.

…but outside the party-political exchanges, there will be questions that will need addressing in the longer term assuming this is the direction the economy and society goes in.

In principle I don’t have a problem with this. I see a four day week as being part of a wider radical overhaul of our economies and societies (local, national, global) that we need to undertake urgently to deal with the climate crisis. That means using fewer new raw materials to make less stuff/reduce consumption, reduce waste, reduce the amount with throw away, and instead re-use and repair more.

The reasonable question Cllr Anne Bailey raises – and is one that all employers will have to deal with, is ensuring the benefits don’t fall disproportionately on the well paid. One policy that could do this is the concept of pay ratios – where the highest paid person in an organisation cannot receive more than a certain multiple of what the lowest paid person gets. The New Economics Foundation recommends a ration of 20:1. Basically if the lowest paid person in a firm gets £10,000 per year (or whatever the f/t hourly equivalent is), then the highest paid person cannot receive more than £200,000 per year. This ensures that there is greater equity in the sharing of the wealth generated by the organisation – mindful of the extreme inequalities in society.

Just remember though: This is a pilot. It might not work! And it might come up with some things that the researchers did not predict.

In big letters so you remember.

Transport on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus – an announcement

They published a 52 page report here. But it missed the transport bit. So I asked them for it.

Click on the link here, see the top-right cloud icon that says download? The transport section is that bit. It’s a consultancy report by Atkins.

Note the assumption changes since the 2018 report

The one that stands out? Papworth.

This was a big deal in the early stages of the City Deal in the mid-2010s. It should have been in place by the time Royal Papworth was in place. It wasn’t, and isn’t.

More locally, there are a couple of successes – including the Chisholm Trail

Note they are expecting ***big things*** from both Cambridge South Station and a proposed Cambridge South East Transport busway

Which is why evaluation matters.

After all, go back half a century to the opening of Elizabeth Way Bridge and we find pollution issues raised. Which is what happens when you build roads in an era of few pollution controls and leaded petrol.

July 1971 via Mike Petty / Cambridgeshire Collection

Above: “Already the bridge and approach roads have been called the worst possible thing, from a pollution point of view, to happen to the West Chesterton Area for many years”

And that was before they built the A45 (now the A14) and things have hardly improved!

“So, what is being prioritised for the Biomedical Campus?”

This from p13 of their report, they went though a prioritisation process based on a series of criteria (read p13) and the results were as below:

Above – “Newmarket” means the Park and Ride on Newmarket Road, not the town east of the city where the race horses are.

There was The CAM Metro planned in 2018. What have they said about it?


“The withdrawal of the Cambridge Autonomous Metro is predicted to lead to an additional 16,830 highway trips in 2031, compared to the predictions in the 2018 study. When compared to the target to reduce highway demand to 2017 levels by 2031 this leaves a deficit of 4,662 highway trips to reach the target.”

p14 of the Atkins Report.

Note there is no mention at all of any tram, light rail or other metro outside of the defunct CAM Metro. I’m still in favour of the Cambridge Connect Light Rail. I’m not shifting on that vs what is currently proposed.

Inevitably the Congestion Charge part of the GCP plan has gone down badly – and inevitably the Conservatives are going against it too, even though under their watch 4 years was wasted – and the GCP was signed off by their Chancellor and Cities Minister, along with Deputy PM Nick Clegg. As I’ve mentioned before, all three parties bear some responsibility for this. Labour and Lib Dems had a mandate for change in 2021 that they did not use.

Anyway, it’s the weekend – and Parliament’s back on Monday. Next week will be an eternity in politics.

Food for thought?

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:

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