Mark Lloyd on Government by Committee at Cambridgeshire County Council

committee08:07 Tuesday 13th May 2014
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

[P]AUL STAINTON: Let’s get into the committee system that Cambridgeshire County Council are adopting today. They voted to abandon the local government cabinet model in May last year. Later this morning roles within the new system will be allocated. It’s proven to be a controversial decision, inciting Leader Martin Curtis to hand in his resignation. This is an edited excerpt from Martin Curtis’s blog, which has been voiced by one of our journalists.
VOICEOVER: “As I stand down as Leader of Cambridgeshire County Council I thought I would end my term of office with a series of articles which highlight where I think Cambridgeshire is on a service by service basis, and explain the concerns about why the change of direction forced on the Council is not good for you the Cambridgeshire resident. My view has always been that the decision to implement committees as the response to moving to no overall control was wrong. The decision to move to committees was made at the first full Council meeting after May’s election, with 39 out of 69 councillors newly elected. More than half of the Council had no experience of working in a county council. In those circumstances, nobody could convince a reasonable person that it was a well thought out decision, but it was one that practically ties us to a committee system for five years. So if it doesn’t work, the decision made in haste without any depth of thought leaves you the council tax payer stuck with a failing system for the next five years.”
PAUL STAINTON: That’s Martin Curtis’ words voiced up by one of our journalists. Not a big fan it’s safe to assume. He describes it as a decision made in haste without any depth of thought, and he claims it’s a system no longer supported by the majority of the Council. However we heard earlier from Catherine Staite the Director of University of Birmingham’s Institute of Local Government Studies. She says there are pros and cons to each system, and the success of the Council will depend on how councillors work with officers.
CATHERINE STAITE: A lot of backbenchers have got frustrated in the cabinet and scrutiny system, feeling that they as local members don’t have the amount of say that they would like to have, and therefore they feel that by spreading the power across committees, that would give more people opportunities. I think that does work to a certain extent, but I think a local authority the size of Cambridgeshire is an enormous business. It requires strategic leadership, and there’s a risk that if you spread the power out too widely, it would take too long to make a decision.
PAUL STAINTON: That’s Catherine. Well joining me in the studio now is Chief Executive of Cambridgeshire County Council Mark Lloyd. Mark, morning.
MARK LLOYD: Good morning.
PAUL STAINTON: Nice to see you. Is this true democracy at work now, or are we going to be in some sort of state of paralysis as is the fear?
Continue reading “Mark Lloyd on Government by Committee at Cambridgeshire County Council”

A14 Spittals Upgrade Cancelled

spittals17:23 Tuesday 4th February 2014
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

[C]HRIS MANN: The U-turn on the proposed improvements to the notorious Spittals Interchange, Junction 23 of the A14 at Huntingdon, has been branded ludicrous by local businesses. The Cambridgeshire Chamber of Commerce say excuses for cancelled works no longer hold water with them. Well I’ll be talking to them in just a moment or two, but first of all let’s see what reason the Highways Agency has given for this latest decision. The Asset Development Manager, the man who made the decision, is called Alan Kirkdale.
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A14 Sensors Data Collection And The Internet Of Things

driver07:12 Friday 4th October 2013
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

[P]AUL STAINTON: Now the A14 will become the first road in Britain to host a new type of wireless technology. A mile long stretch of the road from Felixstowe to Cambridge will be fitted with sensors which will be able to send information directly to drivers. it’s called white space technology, and a Cambridgeshire company called Neul has been picked to work alongside the Department of Transport in trialling it. Tracy Hopkins is from Neul. Morning.
TRACY HOPKINS: Good morning Paul. And good morning to your listeners.
PAUL STAINTON: This is not wi-fi as we would know it, is it? It’s slightly different isn’t it?
TRACY HOPKINS: It’s not wi-fi at all.
TRACY HOPKINS: It’s .. white space if you like is the gaps in the spectrum where the analogue television used to live. So it’s totally new and totally different.
PAUL STAINTON: What does it do?
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A14 Toll Road Not Certain Under Labour

election17:07 Monday 23rd September 2013
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

[C]HRIS MANN: The future of one of our most important road links has been thrown into doubt by the Labour Party. The plan to replace a busy stretch of the A14 through Cambridgeshire with a toll road has been put out to consultation. Many respected organisations have expressed their concerns. Here’s Stephen Joseph from the Campaign For Better Transport.
STEPHEN JOSEPH: The effects of putting on this toll haven’t been thought through. The evidence from tolls elsewhere, from the M6 toll road, is that actually there’s quite a lot of diversion. People go quite a long way not to pay a toll. So our concern is that the A14 road won’t solve the problems on the A14, and it might make things worse over a much wider area.
CHRIS MANN: Well now Labour says it could scrap the plan if it wins the next election. MP Maria Eagle the Shadow Transport Secretary has been speaking to BBC Look East’s Andrew Sinclair at the Labour Party Conference in Brighton. And here’s what she had to say.
MARIA EAGLE: Well I’m concerned about the potential, in a small and densely populated island, of the capacity for people just to go off, increasing congestion on other routes. And so I think that they’ve got to be careful. What they’ve come up with isn’t at all convincing. It’s not convincing that it would be better, or that it would work. And so I think that we would certainly be wanting to have a look at whether or not what they’re proposing is the right way forward.
ANDREW SINCLAIR: Would you go as far as to say you would scrap the toll road if you win the next election?
MARIA EAGLE: Well I think we need to look at how far they’ve got – there are things getting delayed out of the Department for Transport – and let’s see in detail what they’re proposing, and whether or not we think it would work. I think there’s some unconvincing evidence. For example the M6 toll has never made money, and people just use other roads that are nearby. So I think we need to have a close look at whether what they’re proposing will actually do what they say it does, and whether it will work. We will certainly do that.
ANDREW SINCLAIR: Can I just ask you a bit more about this congestion business? Because your concern, from what I gather, is that it will just lead to congestion on other roads. I just wondered if you could explain what your concern is really.
MARIA EAGLE: If we look at what’s happened where we’ve had tolls like the M6 toll, everybody just stayed on the old M6, and they run up onto other roads, many of which aren’t designed for heavy traffic. And so you get displacement, you get more congestion, you get worse air quality. So I think we need to look at whether their proposals would actually work. And I don’t think they’ve been very convincing so far. And so I think we would have a close look at how far they’ve got, what they’re saying, whether or not it would work.
ANDREW SINCLAIR: The Government says it will be a very low toll, about a pound, one pound fifty for every car, the hope being that everyone will want to use the toll.
MARIA EAGLE: The evidence of toll roads, the M6 toll for example, people avoided it. So I think we have to have a look very closely at what they’re proposing, and see whether or not we think it will work. (UNCLEAR) have to do that when we get to the Election. I don’t think that they’re going to have got very far with this by the time we get to the Election. So it will give us an opportunity to have a closer look at what the right way forward is.
ANDREW SINCLAIR: But if a toll road isn’t they way forward, how do you afford the improvements for that road?
MARIA EAGLE: Well look I think we need to have a close look at the entire situation. The thing is they have allocated money for improvements to roads, and new road building. I think we need to do this in the context of the entire programme that they’re proposing, not just deal with a road one at a time. certainly I don’t expect them to have got very far with this, and so that does give an opportunity to have a proper look at the right way forward.
ANDREW SINCLAIR: And so you’re saying that they could easily afford it if they really wanted to.
MARIA EAGLE: No. What I’m saying is I’m not convinced by their proposals, and that I’m perfectly willing to have a proper look at the best way forward for the A14, and some of these ideas more generally, once we get to the Election.
CHRIS MANN: That’s Maria Eagle, the Shadow Transport Secretary talking to BBC Look East’s Andrew Sinclair. .. Let’s bring in Cambridge’s Labour Party Candidate, that’s Daniel Zeichner, who is live from Brighton at the Party Conference there. Daniel, hello to you.
CHRIS MANN: Let’s try and flesh this out. What exactly is Labour saying? You’d scrap the whole plan, rethink the whole thing?
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A14 Toll Comments – Steve The Trucker

lorry08:48 Monday 9th September 2013
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

PAUL STAINTON: Our milkman Jethro says “Road tax money Paul has always gone into a central pot to finance the country” he’s talking about the A14 of course. “Rumour has it that it will be abolished altogether soon and toll roads will become an unavoidable norm“. A bit like France where it takes an inordinate amount of time to get anywhere. You stop and you start and you stop and you start. This from Gerry who says “I live in Fenstanton Paul. I use the A14 regularly. A few thoughts here on the proposed tolls. I cannot believe the solution to the A14 congestion is just to charge people to use it. It solves nothing. It just pushes traffic back onto the back roads and adds some extra money to the coffers. It’s a ridiculous idea. What are the lorry drivers going to do?” says Gerry. Well let’s speak to one. Steve the Trucker’s here. Morning Steve.
STEVE THE TRUCKER: Hello Paul. How are you?
PAUL STAINTON: I’m alright. Are you going to pay the toll?
STEVE THE TRUCKER: No. No I’m not. No.
PAUL STAINTON: What are you going to do? Continue reading “A14 Toll Comments – Steve The Trucker”

Bourn Airfield Development Debate

dev_map07:22 Friday 6th September 2013
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

[P]AUL STAINTON: Campaigners opposing plans to build over 3,000 homes on Bourn Airfield say they’ll protest tonight outside a Council exhibition in the village. The proposals are part of South Cambridgeshire District Council’s Local Plan, which is currently being consulted on. Des O’Brien is the Chairman of the group Stop Bourn Airfield Development, and is joined by Cllr Tumi Hawkins, the LibDem councillor who represents the area of Caldecote. Morning. Morning to both of you. So what’s the problem then Des with this development?
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UKIP Call For A14 Referendum

highway_robbery17:42 Tuesday 16th July 2013
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

[C]HRIS MANN: The question of funding for an A14 upgrade reared its rather ugly head again today at a full Cambridgeshire County Council meeting. Beforehand, Paul Bullen the Deputy Leader of UKIP on the County Council said  a referendum needed to be held before the Council agreed to any contribution of funding. But Council Leader Martis Curtis said it was vital that work on the road is not delayed. He joins me in the studio now. Hello Martin.
MARTIN CURTIS: Good afternoon Chris.
CHRIS MANN: And also the UKIP Leader Peter Reeve. Hello Peter.
PETER REEVE: Good afternoon .
CHRIS MANN: The end result Martin was the vote was …?
MARTIN CURTIS: It was overwhelmingly rejected.
CHRIS MANN: Ok. Peter Reeve. Why do you think it was a good idea? Continue reading “UKIP Call For A14 Referendum”

Upon A Peak In Darien

vasco_nunez_de_balboa17:40 Thursday 4th July 2013
BBC Radio Cambridge

CHRIS MANN: Last week the Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander announced the start date of the A14 upgrade has been brought forward to 2016. But just how feasible is that? Pat Hanlon is Senior Lecturer in Transport Economics at Birmingham University, and joins me now. Hell0 Pat.
PAT HANLON: Hello. Hello.
CHRIS MANN: So, 2016, optimistic?
PAT HANLON: Possibly, but three years is still quite a long time. Had a check on other projects which have been road projects, and for instance Junction 19, the renewal of that on the M1. That had its public inquiry in March 2013, with a start date some time of January to March 2014. So although that’s not anything like as big as the upgrade to the A14, I think that we’re in the time scales that you’re looking at for public inquiries. Three years is possible, but they might be a little bit tight when you recognise, public inquiry perhaps .. Continue reading “Upon A Peak In Darien”