Action Plan to improve city centre access

MOVING AROUND Cambridge city centre will be easier for wheelchair users, disabled people and those pushing prams, thanks to a new measures agreed Cambridge City Council.
Initiatives will address problems described in a review of accessibility in the city centre that was commissioned by the council earlier this year. This found that areas of central Cambridge are difficult to get around for some people.
Problems include street furniture, A-boards, street trading, badly parked bikes, licensed and unlicensed activities all creating clutter. Pavement width, obstructions and poorly maintained paving are also contributing to the difficulties.
Councillors have now approved a plan to:
·         Tackle street obstructions with a new approach to A-board advertisements, in consultation with Cambridge Business Improvement District (BID) and city centre businesses. This will see a new policy developed on these types of adverts, a voluntary removal campaign and potential enforcement measures, as a last resort, where voluntary removal has been unsuccessful;
·         Improve publicity on how to report abandoned and/ or badly parked bicycles that are blocking pavements, with continued city ranger inspections to target problem areas;
·         Develop a City Centre Public Realm Strategy that will look at existing street furniture and opportunities to remove or replace it where appropriate. This work will be done in consultation with City Deal partners including the county council to review longer term options for improvements such as using S106 developer contributions;
·         Review, before the end of this year, working arrangements between the city and county councils and Cambridge BID to make sure that work, projects and money for the city centre are being co-ordinated to best effect;
·         Support for a group that has already been set up to look specifically at punt touts and street peddlers.
Cllr Carina O’Reilly, Executive Councillor for City Centre and Public Places, said: “I’m pleased to give these improvements the go-ahead because it’s really unfair to pile up obstacles in front of people who already find it hard to get around the city centre.
“All of these measures will help to ease access around the city centre and that’s good news for everyone.
“We’ll be talking to businesses about what’s in it for them because we will need them to work with us. I’m confident that they will be keen to do that because what’s good for their customers must be good for them too.”
The council will work with the county council and Cambridge BID to deliver the action plan. A progress report is scheduled for early 2016.
Cllr O’Reilly approved the action plan today (9 July) at Community Services Scrutiny Committee.
Cllr Gerri Bird is the lead councillor for disability matters and will be working with other councillors and officers to make the city centre more accessible.
Notes for editors
1.     The review report was produced by Beacon Planning and was presented to councillors at Community Services Scrutiny Committee on 19 March. It covered the parts of the city described in the council’s planning blueprint, the Local Plan, as the historic core and the Grafton. Car access, parking and cycling were not included in the scope of the work;
2.     As well as ease of movement around the city centre the scope of the review was extended to look at the use of signage and way-marking, street advertising and the licensing of restaurant and café street furniture;
3.     Discussions were held with Cam Sight, the county council, Cambridge BID, the universities and other organisations to look at their role in improving accessibility. The budget for the review was £8,000;

4.     Reports presented to council committees are available on the council’s website:;

5.     Contacts
Cllr Carina O’Reilly (Labour Group), Executive Councillor for City Centre and Public Places, email: carinaoreilly@gmail.comtel: 07791 227953

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