Tuesday 28 March 2017

Arbury Road Cycle Lane - Completely at a loss now

So they've started replanting. For reference, see this post. And then this one.

Its been done that quickly. Because it has to be, its a desperate mad dash at the end of the season for replanting. Past the end, really - its a crazy time to be doing this.

It seems like every time I post about this I'm posting with 'whats done is done' and then coming up with more suggestions to fix things. I've done that all the way through but its not changed a damn thing. And I don't know what to do now.

The thing about Kings Hedges, the thing with this part of North Cambridge, is that generally speaking its a lot more relaxed than much of the rest of Cambridge. How shall I put it... The resident demographic here isn't entirely dominated by aged NIMBYS. Seriously, the pester power of Kings Hedges residents is a fraction of that of Milton Road residents - we've seen a battle royale down there over a few relatively bland specimen trees rather than a constructive discussion on how to get a better planting scheme. So for the most part Kings Hedges doesn't get the same attention as elsewhere, because it hasn't got the same 'pester power' as other parts of the city. Its the closest thing Cambridge has to a working class ward - people for the most part tut and move on rather than get involved in local projects.

So here I am, following my own advice and engaging constructively to get a better planting scheme, and I think I've been taken for a complete mug. The replanting has been done with extraordinary haste, apparently with what they could get rather than what they'd choose to order locally, because its being rushed at the wrong time of the year. And not clearly within the remit of the consultation, without real sensitivity to the ecology or history of the site. 

And now? A good chap at the County/City Deal who's phoned me to say lets meet and talk about what to do? Now? NOW? I just don't get it. What do you want to do now? Are we really going to discuss what kind of fence you're installing as a temporary measure to keep people from trampling it down? Sorry, like, I don't care what kind of fence. Why would anyone care about that? I mean, we could discuss whether there's any scope in specifying under-planting, but I just don't trust them to do it. At all. Why would I? They were discussing options for replanting the hedge having already bought plants to put in, why would I believe them now? Does such even make sense until we see the replanting scheme?

I can't any longer see a compromise position between what they've done, how they've done it, and getting a planting scheme that fits culturally, historically and ecologically. 

The folk at City Deal seem to assume that this is about me wanting to be heard. It isn't. Its about getting the best outcome such that in future I can, hand on heart, tell other people in the Greater Cambridge area to trust them to deliver high quality infrastructural improvements while taking local concerns into account. After this? Don't trust them. Get every facet, every detail, every last bit, on paper before even agreeing to fill out the consultation forms. You can't trust them. Don't even think about it.


EDIT: Text of email just sent to Chief Exec of City Deal. She emailed to say that one of the cycling folk there would ring me and ask to meet. I just can't see whats left to discuss.

Thanks Rachel. xxxx did call me, but what is there left to discuss? The complete removal of old hedging following a road line over 200 years old (precisely whether these sections were among those straightened in the 1700s is hard to ascertain) really needed to be explicit in the consultation, and it wasn't. Then the farce of pretending that what plants might be ordered could still be influenced AFTER the plants were already ordered, that order being for a mixture that isn't sensitive to local ecology or the history of the site. And thats at the very tail end of the planting season so the order is from a nursery hundreds of miles away (so unlikely to be local cultivars of the plants) - this scheme seems to be about what plants could still be bought, not whats good for the site.

xxxx is a good guy, but I just can't see a compromise position between where we are now and a solution that fixes the replanting scheme. I'm open to suggestions, but I see little left to be positive about here. With the scheme where it is now I'm not immediately able to think of any way to restore faith in the City Deal being sensitive to such concerns in the future. Right from the start I was asking about under-planting so establish a more diverse hedgerow and I did suggest various trees of particular relevance to the history of the site - it seems awfully late in the day to talk about that after the hedge has been planted, and unless the management plan is sensitive to such (which I doubt) then thats also unlikely to be successful.

Sorry to be so negative, but I'm really at a loss to see what engagement with City Deal has achieved here,


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