A Cambridge City Council website

Cambridge City Council

Council and democracy

Home > Council and Democracy > Issue

Issue - meetings

Public Questions Time

Meeting: 02/03/2023 - Council (Item 8)

Public questions time


A member of the public asked the following question:


      i.         Can you please confirm whether Labour Councillors will be whipped into voting for the congestion charge, proposed in the Greater Cambridge Partnership’s Making Connections public consultation, or will they be allowed a free vote and will residents know if the Council will be in favour or against the charge?


The Leader of the Council responded with the following.

      i.         No decision had been made with regards to the Making Connections Survey in terms of the final scheme or if the scheme will go ahead.

    ii.         A total of 24,000 people had completed the survey and hundreds of stakeholder groups; would be disrespectful to comment and make assumptions while the responses were being analysed.

   iii.         There were negative connotations to the role of a party whip but the Labour group were a democratic socialist party and the whip was about the collective decision as a group.

  iv.         Decisions were discussed robustly, and it was up to the Group to determine what the collective position was.

    v.         There would not be a formal council vote on this issue as Cambridgeshire County Council as the Highways Authority would have the final vote.

  vi.         The City Council held a seat on the GCP Board through Councillor D.Baigent. Once the consultation results were published the Labour Group as the ruling group would instruct the GCP Board representative on how to vote once a group decision had been made.


Supplementary public question:

      i.         Members of the public were looking to the Council for their position on the matter of the congestion charge. It mattered to residents to know their Councillor’s opinions and if residents were being supported in their own decision making.


The following statement was read out by the Head of Legal Services on behalf of a member of the public:


      i.         We are seeing increasing numbers of privately owned e-scooters and illegally modified bicycles in the city.

    ii.         I see dangerous use of these vehicles daily, numerous near misses, and several accidents.

   iii.         It is illegal to ride an e-scooter anywhere on the road or in public spaces - apart from the Voi hire scooters. The privately owned ones often aren't speed limited, don't have two independent braking mechanisms, ability to indicate etc.

  iv.         The modified bikes are more scary - often travelling at 40+ mph on footpaths and on 20mph limited roads.

    v.         I'm not sure if the people buying and using these vehicles know that what they are doing could result in them getting 6+ points on their driving license and a fine (although those who obscure their faces when riding probably do). They are certainly becoming more socially acceptable, for example on the school run.

  vi.         Could the Council run an information campaign, spelling out that the use of privately owned e-scooters in public spaces/roads is still illegal, and that there are regulations around modifying bicycles for use on the road?

 vii.         There were plenty of examples of information leaflets from other councils online.


The Executive Councillor for Recovery, Employment and Community Safety responded with the following:

      i.         Acknowledged there was a vast array of e-scooters being used around the city and was aware of several issues raised by residents concerning these vehicles.

    ii.         The matter was regularly discussed at Area Committee meetings with the relevant officers.

   iii.         Appreciated the comments made by the member of public concerning safety, particularly at night.

  iv.         The Council promoted safe, sustainable, and legal travel but it was clear that there were serious issues which needed to be addressed.

    v.         It was not just an issue for Cambridge but across the country.

  vi.         Welcomed the suggestion of a publicity campaign which the Council could commit to. For the campaign to be effective, the Council needed to work with external agencies such as the Cambridge Vision Zero Road Safety Partnership, the Combined Authority, Cambridgeshire County Council, and the Police.

 vii.         The Council had held an officer meeting in November 2022, with all relevant organisations which reviewed issues arising from e-scooters and mopeds and assigned actions to tackle these issues. Would go back to the group to suggest an engagement and information campaign.

viii.         Important to note that those drivers delivering food were paid on the number of deliveries which encouraged unsafe driving; needed to be careful when singling people out, needed to look at the businesses behind them and their terms and conditions.






Meeting: 23/02/2023 - Council (Item 3)

Public questions time


Members of the public asked a number of questions/statements, as set out below. Councillors answers are included where given.


Question 1

      i.         Was pleased that there would be no further development in Greater Cambridge in the next Local Plan period unless / until suitable infrastructure was put in place to provide for a sustainable water supply.

    ii.         Questioned whether there was a sufficient water supply for development in the current Local Plan period.

   iii.         Noted that the Environment Agency had advised that any further water extraction would cause environmental damage. Noted that the Greater Cambridge Planning Service had advised that this issue had been taken into consideration when the current local plan was adopted.

  iv.         Noted that 600 people had objected to the development of housing at Northstowe due to issues regarding ground water and South Cambs District Council’s decision was challenged.

    v.         Raised concerns regarding a contract for environmental consultancy services, which were paid for but not delivered. Advised that when they raised concerns their organisation came under Police scrutiny. Expressed concerns about the way in which the Police conducted their enquiries and how concerns about this were handled. 


Question 2

        i.       Challenged failings in the Council’s vision, commitment and actions for the city.

      ii.        Asked for consideration to be given to what made Cambridge a world-renowned place to live and visit, its historic environment of building, spaces, trees and landscape setting. These qualities were not mentioned in the Council’s vision for Cambridge and no reference was made to maintaining them.

    iii.        These qualities did not feature in the ‘Cambridge Rich Picture’ current consultation ‘Putting Residents and Communities at the heart of the Conversation’.

    iv.       Expressed concern that the ‘Cambridge Rich Picture’ did not address as part of its vision the challenge of how to work within environmental limits. 

      v.       Felt the Cambridge Rich Picture and the Local Plan should explicitly address the challenge of reconciling current and projected growth with environmental capacity.

    vi.       Questioned what had happened to the City Portrait.

  vii.        Asked when the Council would recognise that sustainability was about more than just carbon and biodiversity, environmental capacity was fundamental and that what made Cambridge special was a key element of sustainability.

 viii.        Asked when the Council would consult on the draft City Portrait on the doughnut model and if a consultation was not going to be undertaken, why.


The Executive Councillor for Finance, Resources and Transformation responded:

      i.         ‘Our Cambridge’ was the transformation programme for the City Council which needed to consider resident’s views. The ‘Cambridge Rich Picture’ was a tool that the council was using, which was being delivered by external consultants and would contribute towards a new vision for the city.

    ii.         The ‘City Portrait’ was being developed in conjunction with the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority. Cambridge Econometrics was the company awarded the contract to undertake the City Portrait work. Confirmed that consultation would take place. 

   iii.         Agreed that sustainability was about more than just carbon and biodiversity, environmental capacity was fundamental and that what made Cambridge special was a key element of sustainability.

  iv.         Noted that the Executive Councillor and Officers would be happy to meet with the public speaker outside of the meeting to discuss further.


Supplementary question

i.               William Morris set the pattern for the building conservation movement.

ii.             Wanted the historic environment to get recognition. The Arc project and the Oxford-Cambridge Partnership environmental principles did not mention the historic built environment.

iii.            Was pleased that the net zero pilot project had been awarded to the council in the Ross Street area and that the council had been successful in its bid for the social housing decarbonisation fund. Questioned to what extent the council would take on board the historic character of the buildings and particularly traditional construction methods. The Council’s ‘Retrofitting Your Home’ guide did not mention the parts set out in PAS 2035 which covered traditional construction or the need to employ professionals with knowledge of traditional construction.

iv.           Wanted the council to use those projects to comply with PAS 2035 requirements to get people that were appropriately qualified and also because of the skills shortage to use these projects to get training happening in traditional buildings repair, refurbishment and retrofit.

Question 3

i.               Expressed concern that 4 of the 12 budget proposals would result in significant service change and involved housing, anti-poverty action, refugees and asylum seekers and the homeless. These budget proposals would affect the most vulnerable people in society.

ii.             Referred to budget proposal S5103 to reduce the homelessness prevention grant and noted that there could be a disproportionate impact on those from ethnic minority groups.

iii.            The Council committed to providing site provision with South Cambridgeshire District Council and other organisations.

iv.           Asked why there was no funding for a transit site for the Gypsy Roma Traveller community set aside in this year’s budget.

The Executive Councillor for Equalities, Anti-Poverty and Wellbeing responded:

i.               Explained the difference between transit sites, negotiated stopping places and permanent sites. Felt that focus should be on permanent site provision alongside negotiated stopping provision.  Transit sites were long-term temporary sites and required similar levels of investment and provision to permanent sites.

ii.             In partnership with South Cambridgeshire District Council and Cambridgeshire County Council, the City Council was leading on the establishment of two officer working groups to identify appropriate negotiated stopping sites. A member group involving all three authorities was also being established. The groups would also be looking at potential permanent sites, which would be informed by the Gypsy Traveller Accommodation Needs Assessment (GTANA) once published.

iii.            Acknowledged that the GTANA had been delayed but site provision options were being worked up in the Greater Cambridge area. 

iv.           The Local Plan would look at appropriate Gypsy Roma Traveller policies and site provision.

v.             Felt it was difficult to develop a budget proposal until a site had been identified. Wanted to focus on site identification. Once site(s) were identified, work could then be undertaken to develop a budget bid / proposal.

vi.           Discussions were taking place around identifying locations for potential transit sites and it may be that negotiated stopping places could be managed within existing resources.

vii.          Noted that the Executive Councillor would be happy to meet with the public speaker outside of the meeting to discuss further.

viii.        The Executive Councillor for Housing advised that the Homeless Prevention Grants had not been cut, £50,000 per annum had been ring fenced for the contract regarding winter provision for rough sleepers.

Supplementary question

i.               Had been raising the issue about transit site provision since 2020. Asked when a timeline for when a site, permanent or transit, would be provided.

ii.             Questioned if the Council could provide a traveller site as had experienced difficulties elsewhere when going through the planning process.

iii.            Also raised the issue of the change in the 2015 definition of traveller and the impact this would have on the number of people who needed to be provided for. 

Question 4

i.               Just over two years ago over 7000 people called for the re-opening of the wonderful, busy, thriving eclectic 7 day a week market.  A market which contained traders who had continued to work during the covid 19 pandemic. 

ii.             Traders set up their own delivery service in addition to working on the market so that people who were not able to get to the market could still be supplied with fresh fruit and vegetable and fish.

iii.            The market was busy on Saturday and Sundays but during the week stalls were empty.

iv.           Expressed concern regarding budget proposal II5138 to remove the traders’ rebate.

v.             Felt the Council should do more to pro-actively support and promote the market or else the traders would go elsewhere. 

vi.           Felt the council should remove the current requirement on weekend traders to take a pitch during the week. Weekday stalls which were paid for but not filled were a blight on the market. The reduced charges on Mondays and Tuesdays had not been effective in attracting new traders, because weekend traders had taken up the spaces.

vii.          Asked the Council to:

a.    put money into cleaning and re-furbishing the market

b.    promote the market via an inviting and informative web site

c.    discuss with the traders what they need for our market to thrive again. 

The Executive Councillor for Environment, Climate Change and Biodiversity responded

i.               Did not feel that the market was failing and noted that as well as the project to renovate the market/market square to ensure the long-term future of the market, the council had been investing in the market recently e.g. each stall had a new canopy, there was a project to improve the electrics and the health and safety of the market during the day and when it was closed.  

ii.             Noted there had always been difficulties to fill all the stalls throughout the week and noted that Mondays to Wednesdays were the quietest days.

iii.            One of their first decisions as an Executive Councillor was to lower fees at the beginning of the week to try and attract more traders.

iv.           The requirement for weekend traders to also have a stall during the week was to help increase occupancy on the quieter days.

v.             Acknowledged that since the pandemic, occupancy numbers had not picked up and Monday - Wednesday were still the quietest days. The Market Team had been exploring other options to increase occupancy.

vi.           Noted that there had been a move generally across the city centre to move away from retail to hot food businesses. There was a self-imposed limit for hot food stalls on the market and this was due to be reviewed.

vii.          The market was promoted on the radio, in posters and by local media. Officers would look into the suggestion of a web site.

viii.        The market was cleaned throughout the day, 7 days a week by the Streets and Open Spaces Team.

ix.           It was proposed as part of the market square project to re-lay the flooring which would make it more accessible and easier to clean.

x.             Acknowledged that relations between the council and traders had become strained followed the temporary closure of the market for public health reasons just before the second lockdown. Felt that relations were now improving. 

xi.           Noted that work was being undertaken on an updated Litter Strategy.

Supplementary questions

i.               Noted reference by the Executive Councillor to the number of hot food stalls which had helped the market on Saturdays and Sundays but this also created problems as the fat from the hot food stalls spread.

ii.             Felt the eclectic nature of the market had been lost due to the number of hot food stalls.

iii.            Clarified that they did not mean that the market was failing now but with the Council’s attrition and when traders went elsewhere that was when the market may fail.

iv.           Felt the litter issue was related to the number of hot food stalls.

v.             Referred to Ely’s website for their market and thought something similar could be done for Cambridge.