Proposal to radically re-shape Queen Edith’s put forward

The independent Local Government Boundary Commission for England (LGBCE) has suggested new ward boundaries for the city which will radically reshape Queen Edith’s with respect to the county council – and perhaps, eventually, the city council too. An eight-week public consultation on the recommendations begins today and will end on 6 July 2015. Read on for the full story.

As we know, the city is divided into 14 wards, of which Queen Edith’s is one. The County Council has 69 councillors, of which 14 come from the city, so it’s very straightforward: each city ward (such as Queen Edith’s) elects and sends one councillor to the County Council. Currently ours is Amanda Taylor. The separate City Council has 42 councillors, so each of the city’s 14 wards elects and sends three councillors there. All very neat.

However, populations change, of course, and it’s necessary to redraw boundaries every few years to keep ward sizes about the same. For example, there’s massive development going on in neighbouring Trumpington through this decade. At the same time, the County Council has decided to “slim down”, and the LGBCE has suggested that it can create suitably fair new boundaries across the county if the council reduces its numbers to 61. This would mean a reduction in the number of councillors from the city from 14 to 12. While dividing the city into 12 equally-populated areas should be achievable, the astute amongst you will notice that it will be difficult to send councillors to a 42-strong city council under this arrangement. So we may end up with different city and county council ward boundaries, as happens in many other cities, or the city council may have to change to match, perhaps reducing to 36 councillors.

Here then are the sizes of the proposed new wards:

numbers

You’ll see that the proposed new wards are wildly different in size now, but are planned to be of comparable populations by 2020, which seems like a good plan. Trumpington, with all its new development, goes from an area with half of the population of some others at present, to within 10% of the average by five years’ time. However, Queen Edith’s stays at that bottom end of the scale throughout, which we’ll come on to.

As an aside, does this all matter? I believe it does. In drawing up new boundaries, the problem is that areas of the city take their identities from their council wards. It matters to many Queen Edith’s residents if they’re shuffled off to either Trumpington, Coleridge or Cherry Hinton, and the same applies to our neighbours. They feel their roads are part of a certain area. For Queen Edith’s, which doesn’t have a “village centre”, the ward boundaries are an important identifier of community. This is where a remote organisation drawing up new boundaries usually goes wrong. And with the proposals for a new-look Queen Edith’s, I think that indeed, it may be going wrong here.

Before we study the actual roads and places of interest which will be affected if the proposed new boundaries are implemented, let’s look at the changes to the general areas covered by the three “south area” wards (below). You’ll see that the LGBCE is proposing to cut off Queen Edith’s from most of its existing border to the open countryside to the south:

SOUTH-AREA-SHAPES

One of the most impressive comments made to me by any of the prospective councillors in the recent election came from Joel Chalfen, who said that Queen Edith’s needed to find an identity, and this might be as a ward which gradually transitions from the countryside to the city (unlike our neighbours, which have more abrupt changes). This reorganisation loses that, as becomes clear when we put the boundaries on the map:

qe-all-new

Now we no longer have Queen Edith’s acting as an entranceway to the city; instead, it’s just a nondescript administrative sliver of land.

So what have we gained and lost under these proposals? In the west (below), we gain Hills Road College, the Belvedere development next door, and The Marque development opposite. However, we lose our half of Long Road; Luard Road and Sedley Taylor Road; (rather bizarrely) the west side of Hills Road; the Perse School, Long Road College and the UTC; and – most dramatically of all – the Addenbrookes’ site.

QE-WEST

In the centre, we gain the south side of Cherry Hinton Road, St Margarets Square and Lilac Court, but we lose the Wort’s Causeway area. The Cherry Hinton Road proposal is inconsistent with what happens the other side of the Budgen’s roundabout, but it’s the Wort’s Causeway proposal which troubles me the most. What interest will a Trumpington councillor have in Wort’s Causeway – a very important area in developmental terms?

QE-CENTRAL

Finally, in the east, we gain the Limekiln nature reserve and chalk pit (which are obviously part of Cherry Hinton), as well as Greystoke Road. We also gain a huge area of uninhabited open land to the east.

QE-EAST

You’ll have gathered that this is all most unsatisfactory, in my opinion. The proposals rip the entire shape out of the community for administrative convenience. Others may have different priorities to me, but mine are, in order:

1. Return the Wort’s Causeway area to Queen Edith’s;
2. Return the west side of Hills Road to Queen Edith’s;
3. Return Luard Road, Sedley Taylor Road to Queen Edith’s;
4. Return Limekiln Road and everything to the west to Cherry Hinton;
5. Bring all of the south side of Cherry Hinton Road, and the small estates off it (such as the one opposite Cherry Hinton Park), into Queen Edith’s, as they all identify with, and use, the schools in Queen Edith’s.

I’m not really happy with losing Long Road and Addenbrooke’s hospital to Trumpington, but with the main approaches to the biomedical campus turning to the west, I can see the argument.

Now, this would considerably expand Queen Edith’s, but you’ll see from the table above that Cherry Hinton is scheduled to have an electorate of over 1,000 more than Queen Edith’s, and Trumpington is about the same size. So making the changes above would probably result in Queen Edith’s being the biggest of the three, and Cherry Hinton falling back to the size currently envisaged for Queen Edith’s. Trumpington would be noticeably smaller, it’s true, but with the expansion going on there, I believe that the potential additional workload on councillors there would justify this.

I’d be very interested to hear other residents’ comments below.

The official announcement of the proposals is here, and this links to the consultation form where you can have your say. The in-depth report for the county is here. It would be great if as many residents as possible could contribute, whatever your views, if only to show the Local Government Boundary Commission that we do care.

14 Replies to “Proposal to radically re-shape Queen Edith’s put forward”

  1. Not including Wors Causeway (and proposed development on it) does seem daft, as does including the far side of Limekiln Road, which would also put the proposed expanded part of the peterhouse technology park into QE (but not the rest of the park), which is even dafter.

    I can see some logic in finessing the line down Cherry Hinton and Hills roads in order to get the numbers right. A line down the middle of the more major roads makes a nice geographical area, but equally having houses on opposite sides of the road in different wards seems a little odd too, so putting the line down the backs of houses one side of the road is reasonable.

    So I agree that the proposed area is not geographically/socially coherent. One could dicker over exactly what’s in/out after fixing the two obvious daftnesses.

  2. As a resident of a small estate opposite Cherry Hinton park, I strongly support your comments in Priority no.5.
    Being south of the busy Cherry Hinton Rd makes us naturally lean towards Queen Edith facilities and opportunities – we’d like to have a voice in shaping those.

  3. I also agree. The new QE boundary is geographic nonsense and creates a diverse and incohesive unit. I think Queen Edith’s primary school would have come up with a better solution than this!

    Trumpington has spread to an area which clearly identifies with QE, while QE has stretched to an area which would logically look towards Cherry Hinton as its centre.

    I think it’s back to the drawing board for this, with the added instruction that lines would best be drawn along back gardens rather than down the middle of roads!

    Thanks for putting this out there! (Netherhall Way resident.)

  4. > What interest will a Trumpington councillor have in Wort’s Causeway – a very important area in developmental terms?

    Agreed – potentially very damaging for the work many have been involved in re campaigning to keep the Green Belt in this area … with my conspiracy theory hat on (!) I reckon that’s why they want to lump WC into the Trumpington ward.

  5. We have only recently moved to Queen Edith’s Way and I was delighted to discover that our house, at the Cherry Hinton end of the road, is in Cherry Hinton ward. This means we get to vote in Cambridge parliamentary elections, not South Cambs. I also feel part of Cherry Hinton, as I walk ther to the local shops, library and doctor’s surgery. So, personally, I woukd not support any boundary change which moved us into Queen Edith’s ward.

  6. I am confused! You are saying that Trumpington is growing at a huge rate – due to those horrendous housing complexes – and yet the new lines take a huge chunk of Queen Edith’s and pulls it in to Trumping ton , making it even bigger! Why? Leave it as it is and just give them more councillors!

    The big blocks of the existing plan make more sense than stringing out the boundaries. Admittedly, the line along Cherry Hinton Rd is odd but as I am on the Cherry HInton side of Netherhall, I would dispute your comment that all residents of Queen Edith’s Way identify with Queen Edith ward. Once the kids left school, there was no reason to go there!
    I am involved in Cherry Hinton on many different ways and regard it as a village with a strong centre and a great community spirit! Queen Edith’s is just a collection of houses sub divided in to various streets and estates but with no heart or centre! It depends on the schools and churches. No other community spaces or library.

    I don’t want to be part of Queen Edith’s and certainly don’t want to see it stretched out like this. Makes no sense at all but then common sense does really apply when it comes to any form of local government – the ’40 dwellings per hectare’ Cambridge new build policy is what has turn Trumpington from a village into two split communities -old and the new out of town build, costing an average of £450,000 for one of those little boxes…..so someone is making a lot of money – I know, I lived there before moving here 22 years ago!

  7. Chris,

    The new boundaries as proposed are ill conceived. I will make a formal representation.

    One comment I have to you is that I believe Queen ediths does have a focus. The new pub with the adjacent Doctors, row of shops, schools and church, make the area a local centre.

  8. Chris

    An issue I would add is that I believe the Trumpington Councillor objected to the QE newsletter. Hardly a good start to Trumpington representing part of QE.

    David

  9. So, we all get stressed-out about new boundary lines and the way they will [inevitably] displease far more people than they will please because the “County Council has decided to slim-down.” Well, we need to get a message to them and say thanks, but no thanks, and we do not remember when we were consulted about this brave New World into which you are going to launch us. I do not mind winching my political colours up the flag-pole: I live at the Cherry Hinton Road end [the cheap end!] of QEW and I have been a labour supporter since I moved to this incredible, beautiful, City about…. 25 / 30 years ago, when Robert Rhodes James [I think] was the MP. MP’s and councillors come and go and I consider it a huge privilege to be allowed to vote for the City MP, [as QEW is patently in the City], and to have a local labour councillor in Mark Ashton. I do not want to live in another ward [and some would possibly not want me voting in their ward, either], and I certainly do not want to vote for an MP that is not the City MP – that would be perverse – a bit like a load of Scottish born MP’s going to Westminster and calling the shots on what comes to pass in…….. England!
    Take care all and please fight the good fight for all of us
    Thanks

    1. As the current Queen Edith’s county councillor, I’m reading all the above comments here with interest. The review is being done by the Boundary Commission, a government agency, and the consultation is taking place now. So please send your views to them to make them count.

      The county isn’t changing its size, but there will be fewer county councillors – twelve for Cambridge instead of fourteen. This means we will have more people to serve and bigger areas to look after. I’m happy to welcome anybody to Queen Edith’s, though I think some of the proposals before us fail to take into account community identity.

      The Boundary Commission’s primary concern is to achieve roughly the same ratio of voters to councillors throughout the county, based on projected future growth, but they also need to hear about natural communities.

      I fully sympathise with those who anticipate that the changes to the divisions will lead to changes in their parliamentary constituency, and with their desire to vote in the Cambridge constituency. That’s something that most people in Queen Edith’s would prefer too!

      Please send your views to the Boundary Commission by 6th July. It’s really important that they hear from as many people as possible.

  10. In any ward it is important that the voters feel connected to their Councillor. Elongated wards are at a serious disadvantage compared to compact wards in gaining this feeling of belonging and knowing that their councillor is interested in their problems. Firstly with an increase of 30% housing that is proposed for Cambridge by 2030, the proposed reduction in Councillor numbers mean in effect a 20% reduction in representation. There will be more income from the increased population supporting at least a maintenance of Councillor numbers. If a reduction in representation is backed by the community, then it is essential that our civil servants design compact wards so that the voters feel connected to their Councillor. The new elongated wards proposed for Queen Edith and Trumpinton Ward are disastrous examples of how voters interests have been completely overlooked for numerical simplicity. How could a Councillor cover the interests of an elongated band of people separated by miles and with totally different needs. One boundary even goes straight through the middle of a new house showing how much care has been taken.

  11. Putting the Worts causeway area into Trumpington would be a great ;pity..
    The Wulfstan Way shops, churches, pub, bus stop area is a natural centre and should remain so,

  12. 1: Worts Causeway and Alwyn Road are an integral part of Queen Edith’s ward. The plans only confirm the official line on points 2 and 3 below.
    2: The proposed housing development in this area is unsuitable with dreadful consequences (gridlock, lack of sufficient community facilities, environmental degradation), and the thin end of the wedge on the question of Green Belt development in general.
    3: Queen Ediths’s should be part of the Cambridge constituency. Our concerns are irrelevant to South Cambs.

  13. Thank you so much, Chris, for such a clear exposition of the latest boundary proposals.
    I say ‘latest’ because I was a city councillor for Trumpington for many years and so this is not the first time I’ve had to look at pros and cons like this.
    If I lived in Queen Ediths I would be seriously concerned, and I share the worries expressed about councillors who have to look after elongated wards as I did, especially after we ‘lost’ Sedley Taylor and Addenbrooke’s in exchange for streets between Station Road and Parkers Piece.
    I’m sure that Trumpington councillors would do their best to look after Worts Causeway, especially as the new Southern Fringe developments may result in new residents using new facilities on Clay Farm, but it seems to me that QE residents have an important neighbourhood focus along Wulfstan Way that should not be undermined.
    If a trade is required (and that is usually how these things work) I would suggest that it could work quite well for residents in Sedley Taylor, Luard Road, and that stretch of Hills Road to return to Trumpington.
    I know that local residents’ associations and councillors of all political persuasions will be entering the debate, and hope we can improve on the Boundary Commission’s suggestions. We did last time!

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