This blogpost will be out of date by the time you finish reading it…

…because of the pace of events happening in Westminster.

When the captions on BBC News are like this, surely time is up?

Above – from the BBC News livestream at 9:44pm earlier this evening.

And that’s still 45 minutes to Newsnight! (Who will be there to defend the Government?) And who will be doing the breakfast TV and radio media rounds in the morning? And who will be doing BBC Question Time this time tomorrow?

“Popcorn time?”

You’ll have seen the memes and gifs but some of us of an older generation will recall the soundtrack to the same name. I was today years old when I discovered it had a dance that went with it.

For some reason I had always assumed Popcorn was a 1980s record but it was one of the first tracks to be recorded entirely using a synthesizer.

‘And now follows a party election broadcast by an opposition party’

Noting that the Labour Party had started using footage from the media of their Conservative opponents describing the state of things, along with headline announcements from journalists, I wondered…

A few minutes later, Labour cut out the middleman and just went straight to this.

They’ve even had to make a new Wikipedia Page!

I assume it’ll be a bit like a live rolling news page and amended as stuff is corroborated and updated.

I spend the evening at a local council forum and all hell breaks loose politics TV land.

Cambridge East Forum – one of several jointly run by the city and district councils to ensure residents get to have their say on the new developments being built on the edge of Cambridge where the City and South Cambridgeshire boundaries meet. The first problem I had was fatigue. Either I spent today being useful or I went to the meeting. I could not do both.

Above – can you see the fatigue in my eye? That was me trying to take a nap so I could function at the forum meeting. This is the bit of me that people rarely see.

But I had recharged enough to book a cab there and back. Normally I’d have caught a bus into town and taken a bus out. But the venue has only just been built and not on the bus networks. It’s the new Marleigh Community Centre. That wasn’t the only problem either. On the way up, the taxi driver told me about the problems he had seen with the new development as we had a discussion about local history. I reminded myself to put those points to the developers. But then we had ‘mini chaos’ when I arrived. The venue had no wifi and a very poor mobile signal, so I couldn’t live-tweet images. And such was the echo in the main hall that no one could hear the speakers!

Above – we ended up moving from the large hall into the foyer.

“Hang on – they’ve only just built the damn thing!!!!”


“Why is there no acoustic dampening in this hall?”

Cllr Naomi Bennett (Greens – Abbey Ward)

An understandably furious local councillor for the neighbouring ward, Cllr Bennett, like the rest of us found out how unsuitable the hall was for community events involving presentations. Furthermore, there were city, district, and county councillors covering all four of the political parties represented on the councils. This – alongside the Greater Cambridge Planning Service planning officers who were there means this will be followed up. It has to be.

The consultants and the architects responsible for the building design – in particular the acoustic performance of the hall – must be held accountable. It simply is not fit for purpose as a hall. You can’t really blame the councillors for this one. This is the sort of thing that professionals skilled in the field should be designing out. One thing councillors should ask of those involved is how the learning from this will be fed back into their future designs – and how they will ensure other developers and councils don’t experience the same problems.

Me asking too many questions.

“Some of us live lives of quiet desperation – sometimes that desperation can no longer stay quiet.”

From the Japanese film Shall We Dance

This applies to me when I want to ask questions at public meetings after spending too long in my generally solitary existence. This was the first chance in a very long time that I had an opportunity to put questions to planning officers and developers about issues of community facilities, green spaces, and public transport. Which I did – and had to be told I had asked a lot of questions at the very end. Which is my bad.

Ultimately I wanted to get some things on public records for officers to take away and come back with formal responses on their website. Then leave it to others to follow through with. For example the proposals for the future phases of Marleigh (East Cambridge, between Newmarket Road and the River Cam) along with the Land North of Cherry Hinton development, were not included in the diagrams for new bus services published by The Greater Cambridge Partnership earlier this week. (You can see the map and consultation documents here).

Above – detail of the map of proposals for new bus services from the GCP

The Marleigh development is where the P&R label is, and the Land North of Cherry Hinton is just below-left of the Teversham label. Officers and councillors later clarified that this diagram does not incorporate the arrangements for the new developments – which includes “Section 106” planning conditions requiring developers to subsidise new bus services to get them up and running. When the developer for the latter development mentioned the proposed secondary school, I mentioned the very busy Newmarket Road crossing and that many children from Marleigh and Abbey would be crossing it to get to the new secondary school – that part of our city still currently lacking such a facility. I also said that the Citi 3 service terminating at the P&R would make it easier for residents in my bit of South Cambridge to get to the ice rink by public transport.

Anything else?”

One of the planning officers gave a succinct exposition of how complicated our governance structures were – with city and district councils, county council, Greater Cambridge Partnership, Combined Authority, and then having to manage a host of privatised/contracted providers that they had little day-to-day influence over. I commented that this was a splendid take on how over-complicated our governance structures are in Cambridgeshire, and invited the councillors to consider how to simplify those structures.

…noting on privatisation, history has something to say about that – these publications the last millennium.

Above: Assessing privatisation in the 1980s

There’s an extended project for students (eg in history or politics) on comparing these with how things have turned out!

“We’ve had the fourth Conservative prime minister in six years…That is a disgrace”

Victoria Derbyshire on Newsnight just now.


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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