Just because there are no big infrastructure projects being discussed is no reason not to pay attention to what is going on at the Assembly.
Even though there are no agenda items relating to any of the big infrastructure projects this month does not mean that we should not be paying close attention to what is going on so please do still attend the meetings. Here are the things which I will be focusing on:
The Smart City Management Platform Progress Report:
When this was presented to us in February it looked really exciting and most interestingly was promising reductions in congestion of between 10 and 15%. What we have here in phase 1 is much more limited in its scope and in its outcome. I shall be asking why.
Smart Cambridge : First Steps towards Intelligent Mobility:
I am astounded that one of the recommendations is to spend £30 000 on a study about 'why people make specific transport choices in Greater Cambridge area'.
First, I cannot believe that this work has not already been done bearing in mind that we are being asked to support bus lanes because they know that people will choose to travel by bus - but now it seems they don't.
Secondly it is an astonishing amount of money for something which I think I could write for them over a weekend. Having said that, Edward Leigh tells me it is more complex than I might think.
His advice is that you talk to people who have made a modal shift and ask them why they did so. So I shall be suggesting this amongst other things.
Report on GCCD Skills Service:
This piece of work is being overseen by the LEP who I believe are being paid quite a lot of money (I shall ask how much). I have asked for Form the Future who are delivering much of the work to be present but as yet I have not heard if they will be. I am also interested in how few (i.e none) engineering apprenticeships have been undertaken.
I will also be asking - yet again- for the data about how many local apprenticeships are completed rather than how many are started. I feel that the target should be 420 completed apprenticeship not just 420 started apprenticeships.
Delivery of 1000 extra new homes on rural exception sites:
This item is my biggest concern. It looks as though they have finally acknowledged that they will not succeed in delivering 1000 houses on rural exception sites before 2031 (I did tell them on quite a number of occasions as this amounts to 10 houses in every one of our 100 villages).
The key thing about rural exception sites is that the housing is exclusively to meet local need. What it seems from the papers (but I may be wrong) is that they are now going to include the affordable housing on all those sites in Waterbeach and Barrington which are unwanted, unplanned speculative sites which have come about purely because the local plan has been suspended and which local people objected to but which a planning inspector sitting in Bristol approved. What I suspect this means is that the housing will not be exclusively for local housing needs - but I shall try to clarify this.
I shall be asking some questions about how much the awful design guide cost and why we need yet another expensive officer to support the Director. How many is that now?
Delegated Power Safeguards:
This is an odd mishmash of 2 issues. One is the delegation of power to the Executive to make all decisions which would have been taken by a Highway Authority.
The other element is about how the Local Liaison Forums work. Having attended the Coton LLF it is easy to see what is wrong with this model of community engagement. The most ridiculous thing was that the agenda was made up of a large number of resolutions which were read out.
The rather junior officer then read the authority's rebuttal and then it was debated. The huge audience was highly articulate, engaged and made excellent points but all pointless because the authority had already spoken so there was no way of influencing the response and so it was all for nothing.
The LLF chairs are to be invited to speak to the Board and Assembly but in all honestly what will this gain - the decisions have been made and the people ignored?
This is becoming more and more like the Greater Cambridge DONE Deal