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An item quoted in Mike Petty's Looking Back column in the Cambridge Evening News:

Some things never change? Date of the article...

Public safety

A special report in the CEN 8-Mar-1996 highlighted the fear felt by Cambridge University students at night and the apparent lack of appropriate response from the City Council: no visible progress on CCTV and blocking specific schemes such as lighting for the path out of the back of Trinity College towards student lodgings in Grange Road. The latter was because it would "spoil" that part of The Backs - yet the Council installed similar anti-attack lighting further down the river on Midsummer Common in the early Nineties.

Lighting has been donated by Trinity College to the City Council on a trial basis for Garret Hostel Lane, replacing the College's shuttle bus service, in the hope that this alternative route to lodgings will be satisfactory.
(Varsity 1-Nov-1996)

Meanwhile City Centre traders have set up the Cam-Link radio network to warn each other of problems (principally shoplifting), which is proving to be a success (CEN 2-May-1996). Some pubs belong to a similar 'phone network, also successful.

The Police keep advising women not to walk alone at night, particularly on Midsummer Common.


City Centre residents have long complained about non-residents taking up parking space: this has led to widespread residents' parking schemes and was part of the justification for the tow-away scheme.

Residents' parking schemes have proved very effective, allowing residents access to parking throughout the day.

The Cambridge Traffic Subcommittee extended residents' parking restrictions to most of the Sturton Street/Norfolk Street/St Matthews Street area in October 1996, despite great opposition from the residents and advice not to proceed. There were 71 letters of objection and 5 supporting, with 4 objecting petitions. Yet the local Councillor Ben Bradnack (Labour) said most residents supported the plan.
(CEN 2-Mar-1996)

It was a similar story with the adjacent Gwydir Street area: the Council surveyed the residents, producing a clear "no" (according to the residents and the CEN), sat on the idea for two years and then implemented it anyway.

In effect the Council is imposing a car tax on selected parts of the city. Each household paying Council Tax could be entitled to one free permit, as a matter of principle. As things stand, it seems likely that by about 2002 all areas of the City without off-street parking (essentially the more central, pre-20th-century areas) will have residents-only parking.

Leisure survey

The City Council's Leisure Services' survey of needs was published in July 1996. The survey in December 1995 was via 12,000 questionnaires - 1,310 were returned.
The various age groups gave as top priority: (CEN 7-May-1996)

The resulting strategy is now available as a glossy brochure and a summary is on the Web.

Newmarket has a population of about 16,000 and three large nightclubs, open till 2am. Cambridge has a population of over 108,000 and no true, large nightclubs, as yet... see Grafton Centre Nightclub. Since then the Po-Na-Na Group has open a "dance-bar" on the first floor of the former Joshua Taylor building and a nightclub downstairs at the Pitt Club, Jesus Lane. Another nightclub opened in Market Passage.

Another leisure survey was carried out in May 1998, this time slanted towards wider considerations such as sports facilities, public parks and support for art & culture bodies. Swimming featured heavily.

A Deprived Area

The Government's rules for determining deprived inner-city area status have come up with the result that the centre of Cambridge (and The Other Place apparently) is deprived - due to the high number of multiple-occupancy (student) dwellings.

Most people would say this defies common sense but we shouldn't knock it - initiatives such as bids for Lottery money are more likely to succeed now.

A detailed survey of Cambridgeshire revealed much deprivation in villages in terms of the facilities available (Deprivation and Disadvantage in Cambridgeshire). E.g. out of 100 parishes in South Cambs., half have no shop, 67 no GP surgery, 28 have no Post Office. 20 have none of these. A pub - a real one, not a pub-restaurant or youth bar - is another vital part of the community, currently under grave threat from big breweries and pub chains.


Date of the article

August 1897