Read about the fence removal in Cambridge News
The Friends are celebrating the removal of over 330m of barbed wire fence on the common. The fencing was a serious hazard to dogs and walkers on the common and probably dated from a 1980s City Council grant for tree planting. The barbed wire was erected to protect the trees from cows, but never removed, preventing open access to about 0.4 ha of greenspace for 30 years [ a football pitch is 0.6 ha ]. Open access as well as grazing on the common is a “commoner’s right” enjoyed by all Cambridge citizens.
Chris Smith, Chair of Friends of Coldhams Common explained what had happened : “My dog Lucy had serious throat injuries from cutting herself on the fence, resulting in a vet bill or more than £300 for treatmment. At least one other dog has had similar injuries, and the barbed wire was rusty and at the head height of a small child. This spurred us to take action.
We spent in all at least three years with the council campaigning for its removal. Legal advice indicated that the council had no lawful authority to have the fence up and prevent open access to this land. Although the council were always very positive and friendly, there was prevarication and ultimately the spur to the fence removal was the threat of legal action and publicity by Cambridge Evening News. There is more illegal or derelict historic fencing on the common scheduled to come down, and at least two blocked footpaths we are working on.
Historically the common was seen as an extended park and became cluttered and subdivided by fences; significant sections have been taken by council developments. Our vision is of a natural and beautiful protected open greenspace. As well as the barbed wire, we have worked with the council to remove derelict signs and tree cages, install dog poo bins, and to remove gates and regularly mow grass paths to help access. Things are improving with City. We look forward to working with them in the next few months.”
Paradoxically another mature area of tree planting, also scheduled for fencing removal after 30 years and to allow access, is proposed to be bulldozed to construct the Chisholm Trail by the County. We are determined to protect the natural beauty of the common as an open green space and prevent piecemeal loss.”
The new access to the woodland has been greeted positively by walkers on the common, many of whom – due to the fence – were not even aware that this area was public land.
Local Abbey resident Brian Croll said “I’ve just experienced walking Sammy my dog on the common where the Friends lobbied to get the fence removed. Well done to the them – it’s so much better now for us to walk in the woods. Keep up the good work.”
The following comments are based on the Cost Benefit Analysis for Chesterton Bridge and released under FOI 7177 made by Chris Smith on 14/11/16. The report is dated 6/10/16 conducted by WYG in October 2016. This has not been listed on the council website, but is published here : foi_7177_app1-cost-benefit-report There is also a covering letter (FOI_7177_RESPONSE foi_7177_res-council-response).
The Cost-Benefit Modelling as presented appears to have used incorrect figures and underestimated costs and overestimated benefits.
The model itself appears unsuitable under Treasury Green Book guidance, since no allowance is made for environmental impacts nor for a QRA.
Nevertheless the model – even including the most optimistic parameters and non-economic “health” and “ambience” benefits – still shows the scheme costs far more to build than the benefits ever are – close to 40 to 1 – costs to benefits i.e. spend £40 get £1 back. We think in reality the ratios will be far worse. The benefits for congestion are minimal.
Due to the adverse effects caused by the scheme on the environment and landscape, the scheme would need to demonstrate both sustainability and overriding public benefit to proceed. We do not believe that this is the case, and that the scheme is unsustainably economically and environmentally. Continue reading
A very nice and concisely put case as to why the present route choice is the worst one available :
We have a new petition online, which asks for the City council to more carefuly consider the application for the northern Chisholm Trail. Find our more and sign it here. The reason why – heavy environmental impacts and near absence of supporting information, whilst avoiding cheaper and more logical alternatives – a familiar City Deal formula.
The Cambridge Cycling Campaign have launched a petition attacking our right to raise these impertinent questions. We reply to their petition below.
The following is our response as made on 7/10/16.