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Petition 2

Meeting: 13/02/2020 - Council (Item 52)

Kings Parade Barrier

A petition has been received containing over 500 valid signatures

stating the following:

 

The new anti-terrorist barrier which has been installed in Kings Parade is a hazard for cyclists and pedestrians and a blot on one of Cambridge's most iconic streets. When it is closed, it blocks a major cycle route and will lead to more conflict between pedestrians, cyclists and drivers.

While there is much support for an extension to the city centre traffic-free area, this barrier is a clumsy and heavy-handed way to achieve it. The project has shied away from prior scrutiny and challenge, from which a robust but sensitive, safe and proportionate solution could have been adopted. Given the time taken in planning this barrier, a sympathetically designed and functionally safer installation should have been sought to avoid the major problems that are now visible to all.

We call on Cambridge City Council to conduct an immediate review of the Kings Parade barrier in order to urgently commission alternative arrangements and replace the current barrier without delay.

 

Minutes:

The Mayor exercised her discretion to permit a member of the public to ask a public question regarding the Kings Parade barrier petition in advance of Public Question Time.

 

The member of the public raised the following points:

i.  She had a background in teaching Bikeability to children and adults in Cambridge and also did guided rides for British cycling.

ii.  She was shocked when she cycled through the Kings Parade Barrier, if she had to do a risk assessment on it, it wouldn’t pass. She questioned if a risk assessment had been undertaken.

iii.  She questioned if the risks to cyclists were greater than the risk behind the reason why the barrier was put into place.

iv.  Any cycling infrastructure should be a positive provision and should reduce delays and risks to cyclists. 

v.  Any single cycle track should be 1.5m, she had measured the track and this was 1.16m. It had arrows going both ways which indicated it was a two-way track. A two-way track should be 2.5m, this was 1.16m. Of the 1.16m, 48cm were cobbles, a drainage grill and raised kerb. Therefore the workable space for cycling was 1.05m.  If she had to take children through this barrier she would have to walk them through.

vi.  This route was part of the national cycling route 11, which was a big route through East Anglia and it was blocked by this barrier.

vii.  Cyclists had to queue to come through the barrier.

viii.  The council would have to respond if anyone had an accident, it would be dealt with under ‘slips and trips’.

ix.  The barrier was dangerous.

 

A petition had been received containing over 500 valid signatures stating the following:

 

The new anti-terrorist barrier which has been installed in Kings Parade is a hazard for cyclists and pedestrians and a blot on one of Cambridge's most iconic streets. When it is closed, it blocks a major cycle route and will lead to more conflict between pedestrians, cyclists and drivers.

While there is much support for an extension to the city centre traffic-free area, this barrier is a clumsy and heavy-handed way to achieve it. The project has shied away from prior scrutiny and challenge, from which a robust but sensitive, safe and proportionate solution could have been adopted. Given the time taken in planning this barrier, a sympathetically designed and functionally safer installation should have been sought to avoid the major problems that are now visible to all.

We call on Cambridge City Council to conduct an immediate review of the Kings Parade barrier in order to urgently commission alternative arrangements and replace the current barrier without delay.

 

Mr Levy presented and spoke in support of the petition and made the following points:

i.  Was not objecting to the principle of closing off Kings Parade, making it traffic free was in many ways a desirable objective. Acknowledged the impact on neighbouring properties as well as St Marys Church, this was a problem already faced by nearby premises and solutions had been found.

ii.  Did not disagree with the security services basic conclusion about the risks of terrorism. It was difficult to know the extent of the threat or to assess the proportionality of the solution adopted as the assessment had not been shared outside of the ruling group on the council.

iii.  The security services identified a threat to one of the most popular tourist attractions in the country. This was why it should have been addressed in a sensitive and thoughtful fashion.

iv.  A solution was required for all who continue to pass through whether they are visitors, workers, or residents on foot or on bikes.

v.  When the access from Trinity Street was closed off some years ago these factors were considered and a suitable solution being the barriers between Great St Marys Church and the Senate House were put in place. This was effective and relatively unobtrusive. It blocked access to vehicular traffic without impeding access for pedestrians and cyclists. These barriers were designed to control the flow of traffic and not terrorist incidents, however they only need an additional bollard to achieve that objective as well.

vi.  It appeared that a lot of time was spent considering a solution, presumably to include design work and assessments, including a full health and safety assessment.

vii.  Consideration must have been given to the large crowds which gather in front of the Corpus Christi clock.

viii.  Consideration must have been given to pedestrians and two lanes of cyclists using the gaps in the barrier.

ix.  He would like to see the health and safety report which must have considered the above concerns which were raised at the time and were apparently deemed to be unimportant.

x.  On the face of things, it looked like time was taken to come up with a good solution. Must have been aware that suitable barrier designs existed nearby and in many other places.

xi.  The Government Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure had published an integrated security guide which covered this issue and offered guidance on solutions. 

xii.  Questioned the design of barrier in the unique location that it is in.

xiii.  Asked for the barrier to be looked at before accidents occurred. 

 

Councillors debated the issues raised for the allocated 15 minutes.

 

The Executive Councillor for Finance and Resources made the following comments in response to the debate:

i.  The City Council were not the highway authority, this was Cambridgeshire County Council, the City Council had been working closely with them in preparing the installation.  The County Council undertook a full road safety audit on the City Council’s behalf and although concerns were raised regarding the unevenness of the road, the County Council said it was satisfactory.

ii.  He acknowledged that this was not the best solution and had already made a commitment to publicly engage on the long-term solution.

iii.  Other cities had installed this type of barrier particularly those with high numbers of tourists.  This included York, Canterbury, Stratford, Windsor and Edinburgh because of the risk of a threat. The risk was of terrorists driving down pedestrians who were on pavements. This threat could not be ignored.

iv.  Inconvenience was not as important as public safety.

v.  Responding to the threat was the primary focus of action in installing the barrier.

vi.  Many local stakeholders wanted to see the protected area expanded. The area around the Corpus clock where crowds formed was a particular point which had been raised and was a valid point.

vii.  Removing the traffic travelling along Bennet Street, Trumpington Street to the junction of Silver street was a better ambition.

viii.  The needs of disabled drivers needed to be recognised. The delay in the installation of the barrier was due to the relocation of the parking bays on Kings Parade used by disabled drivers.

ix.  The barrier which had been installed was temporary, it was not embedded in the ground and because it was so big and strong it could withstand a terrorist attack.

x.  Committed to reviewing the need and design of the barrier.

xi.  The permanent barrier would have two gaps, one for each direction.  The width of the barrier was limited to prevent vehicles being able to drive through it.

xii.  Were currently monitoring the impact of the barrier and were beginning to explore a permanent scheme with the Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP).

xiii.  Committed to working with residents, businesses, residents and other stakeholders to design a better solution.

xiv.  Would bring the issue back to the Strategy and Resources Scrutiny Committee.

 

The member of the public raised the following supplementary points:

  i.  Lived in a cycling city this was not Edinburgh.

  ii.  She was not interested in the political debate she was interested in safe cycling.

  iii.  1.05m was dangerous and not adequate.  There were four sets of cobbles, grill and raised curb.

  iv.  She would be interested to see the safety audit and risk assessment.

  v.  There was nothing to say that bicycles cannot go backwards and forwards. There was nothing to say who had priority. Could plaster over the gap so it wasn’t dangerous. Could stop people parking altogether and could put up a sign to say no motorcycles can go through the barrier.

  vi.  Asked that this would be made safe before someone had an accident.

 

The Executive Councillor confirmed:

  i.  The road safety assessment was available and he would ensure that it would be sent to the member of the public.

 

Members unanimously resolved that the Kings Parade barrier would be referred back to the Strategy and Resources Scrutiny Committee.