Friday, 24 March 2017

Arbury Road Cycle Lane - Its all gone wrong...

You might be aware that I've been, largely, supportive of the Arbury Road cycle lane scheme.

I mean yeah, there were better ways to do this. We could have had a cycle lane of the same or higher quality in a much larger space, within a gnats whisker the same length, and not had to remove more than a few feet of mature hedgerow. But that isn't how how the City Deal roll, so I set out my constructive support of the scheme on the basis that we re-plant hedgerow that is locally sensitive. I discussed with them the age and mix of species currently present, alongside what is and can be successfully used locally based on traditional land uses, local ecology, local geology and soil type, and historic culture. The hedge has been poorly managed over many years, but its still an historic boundary in an area of the city that is, after all, called Kings Hedges, so its worth getting it right. I even contacted the county archaeologists to find out whether there is any concern in excavating a boundary of this age (its an old road and very likely an ancient route, connecting Arbury Camp to Chesterton along the line of an old mill way). Bluntly, there wasn't any more I could do.

Taking my bike campaigning helmet off for a moment, I'm going to don my foragers cap. I pick and use a lot of wild food, and I blog about this far too infrequently. Foraging isn't quite the same as growing food, the ethos is being able to go to the same sites year after year to gather wild mushrooms, fruit or greens sustainably. You have to concentrate on doing no harm because you want to go back again next year and the year after. So if you want to know whats in your local hedgerows go and ask a forager - I promise you, they've been eyeing up all the local hedges for years learning what grows well there, what doesn't, and how different management strategies that are employed impacts upon what grows and how. A forager can tell you, at a glance, whether a hedge is a healthy, species diverse mix that will be good for wildlife or if its just a row of bushes. A forager will probably be able to deduce information about former land use practices from whats growing in the hedge, and how its growing. So where there's a synergy of replanting a hedge to restore an historic boundary in a sustainable, practical manner that also facilitates a better cycling environment? Well I had to get into it.

It turns out that I achieved, well, nothing. They'd already bought the plants during the time I was having the discussions with them. So why have that discussion? Why waste my time and effort in a discussion you know to be futile? They've included two species really unlikely to thrive and which therefore play no part in local ecology (and are therefore not usually components of hedgerows in this area), and a toxic one which is worryingly appealing to children to eat on a cycle route connecting primary schools. And the consultation that was on reducing or removing some sections of hedge? Its all dead, Dave. All of it. It hasn't been cut, trimmed or reduced. It has, in its entireity, been destroyed. To the root. Every part thereof. This isn't a reduction, its an act of total destruction in a desperate rush before too many birds try to nest in the doomed site.

I'm all for being positive about good schemes - and the cycle lane, and junction improvements, are sorely needed here, although I'm tearing my hair out at the fact that the final plans for this scheme have still not been published - how can you ask us to support or oppose a cycle lane scheme without giving us specifics about width and means of segregation along the whole length? But no cycle scheme exists in isolation and the risk here is that we lose any good will we might have had in other schemes by this one being done with a minumum of quite deceptive consultation, with no regard for local ecology. Putting the wrong plants in and stubbornly trying to keep them alive for a mimumum amount of time before they're out-competed by other plants better suited to the space is a stupid way to proceed, and to do so in a desperate rush at the end of the planting season (I'm reading 'financial year' here, it seems more likely) is just wrong. The expense is greater, and the risk of failure is greater. And you know who'll get blame from the local press? Cyclists. Its not even wholly a cycle scheme, but the visible cycle lane in place of the previously mature hedge next to the gappy replanted shrubs will be what people point at. 

The likely outcome here is that the spindle and alder buckthorn will struggle on for a while, at least for a year or two while they're being actively maintained and (crucially for the alder buckthorn) watered. And then they'll die off, as they're not suited to the site and soil (neither, when planted locally, thrive) and they'll be out-competed by other plants therein. Most likely that will include the dogwood, blackthorn and hawthorn which will do fat better on this site. The less healthy, struggling specimens will become the places people cross the road - that'll be where people will walk through and trample the hedge down. It'll very likely end up a gappy, ugly, inconsistent hedge. We'll be complaining in years to come to get it re-planted but by then the damage will be done - there won't be funding to re-plant with more mature plants to replace those sections, and any whips planted therein will again be trampled. Get this wrong, it'll very probably stay wrong. 

Or in other words, a 'native hedgerow mix' might be representative for the UK, but hedging isn't the same everywhere. This isn't an appropriate mix locally, either for the ecology or hedgerow culture.

If we get this wrong we jeopardize future schemes because people won't support cycle schemes if they can't trust those implementing them to come up with sensitive tree and hedgerow replanting schemes. This was so close to being an ideal opportunity to satisfy ecological, aesthetic and transport needs within the context the local culture of historic hedgerows. But its failing, because of the stubborn haste to progress with a scheme quickly rather than sensitively. 

And that is a desperate shame. Hand on heart, how can I tell the folk campaigning on Milton Road or Histon Road trees to trust Cambridge City Deal to do the right thing after this? How can I tell anyone, to trust them in any way, after this?

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Arbury Road, Hedge and Cycle Lane, 4.

Hi xxxxx,

I remember the consultation - and you'll recall that which hedges might be removed, when, and what and how would be replanted, were not a clear part thereof. '"Reducing sections of hedge" certainly does not mean the same thing as removing a large part of the hedgerow and replanting it, as I'm sure you'll agree. You can't justify not consulting properly on the wholesale removal and replanting thereof based on a vague premise.

If it was January before there was any consensus on the design for this stage of the Arbury Road scheme, with the removal of plants so late in the season, I'd question whether this is the right year to do it. As a cyclist (and active cycling campaigner) I'd also suggest that the final plans should first be shared before construction starts. Are they even available for viewing?

You've also not meaningfully consulted on the replanting scheme - few local people have had an input there, and I've only been able to do so myself by having spotted the coloured paint on the road.

So I accept that the city deal has approved this, but I've seen no particular to-and-fro between councillors and residents regarding the specifics of the approved scheme, and I've yet to come across anyone else who's had any input into the replanting. I'm also conscious that the last replanting scheme done on Arbury Road was botched from the outset, and promises from councillors (specifically Kevin Price) to look at replacing the lost bat-roosting habitat with roosting boxes on nearby flats came to nothing - most of the replanted hedge was poorly selected, poorly planted, and turned its nose up and died. I don't disapprove of cutting down what was a pretty awful row of leilandi, but its a great example of a rushed bodge job at the end of the season that avoidably ruined habitat without any mitigation by not consulting even the whole street that the hedge bordered. After that I'm not disposed to just believe assurances it'll all be ok!

I accept that if the scheme is to go ahead this year there's a real rush to do so, but I'm uncomfortable with the idea that doing so in a hurry is better than getting things right. For example getting the new plants in right at the tail end the planting season can easily go wrong if we have an early summer or warm spring - its a big ask keeping spring planted trees alive if they've had little time to put any roots out. And while I've got views on what should be re-planted based on the history, ecology, safety and further use of the site I do think that a specific consultation on that part of the scheme would be beneficial - and as there isn't time this planting season I'd choose to do so for next season.

While I'm entirely in favour of building cycle facilities on Arbury Road (indeed I think its vital we get a high quality facility along the whole length of the road if we're going to connect Orchard Park and Kings Hedges to key parts of the city such as the Beehive Centre), as I've not seen the final specs for what you plan to build on this section and as its being done in such a rush, I'm worried both about the replanting plans and the cycle route. I feel like we're rushing this for the sake of getting it done with insufficient consideration to the end results. It would be a huge shame to squander an opportunity to improve cycling, local ecology and aesthetics of the area, and it seems thats at risk.

One final note - its not a good time for taking cuttings of local dog rose yet, that'll be much more successful done a month or so from now. I'll do so when they're starting to bud, but I'll struggle for space to grow them on before planting them out. Can I give them to anyone at that point? I've also taken samples of violets, wild alliums and cuttings of ribes from the site, and I'll re-wild them back into the hedgerow probably next Spring.



Monday, 20 March 2017

Arbury Road - Hedge to Facilitate Cycle Lane, part 3

Things moving a LOT faster than I anticipated.

So rather than September for the hedge replanting, they want to do it NOW.

Which is a bit hurried, considering how long such processes usually take. Its not a lot of consultation period - but I'm determined to be positive and get this right.

I'll reiterate - if we're going to lose our old hedges for building a new cycle lane, I'll support that based on getting better hedges and better cycle routes. The two are not incompatible, but we've got to get this right.

So here are my last couple of communications with city deal folk...

Hi xxxx,

I eventually managed to have a chat with the SMR folk and they're happy that any archaeology under the hedge there is likely to be a bit deeper than the digging is going to go - there's quite likely to be something worth seeing at this end of Cambridge but its not likely to be disturbed by the current plans so while they'll probably have an (informal) look down the holes they've no need to get involved in the process. I'll keep them informed as to the timetable as it becomes clear.

Looking at the list of species - I would suggest that while the native mix looks good, I'm a little concerned by the presence of dogwood and spindle - neither are commonly used in hedging in Cambridge so I wouldn't call them at all locally appropriate, and while dogwoods do well pretty much everywhere spindle struggles in North Cambridge soil so I'd leave that out. The problem with dogwood is that the berries are among the few toxic ones that children have a tendency to chew on - not deadly but deeply unpleasant when it happens. The ornamental ones much favoured by the City Council don't usually get to the point of producing many berries, so they don't cause such a problem as they're cut right back to the stump frequently. I'm also curious to know the ratio of trees - presumably the bulk of trees planted will be hawthorn, what ratios do the other trees go in?

One common component of hedges here not yet included is dog rose - superb for wildlife so if that can be sourced too it would be a much more appropriate addition than spindle. Again, local biodiversity ought to be favoured (wild Rosa in the UK is a complicated genus, and there's a lot to be said for finding local strains) and I might struggle for space to take cuttings to naturalise them myself - if I can take cuttings, can you find somewhere to grow them on?

If you find birds nesting there (there are already blackbirds nesting in my front garden) will this project be pushed back? Presumably thats the purpose of the ecology search you've proposed?

Lastly, with regard to specimen trees, again to keep things 'local' I would suggest that in addition to the greengage and apple trees (varieties suggested tend to fruit early and not create a winter slip-hazard more ornamental Malus cause) locally common small/medium sized feature trees in hedges that are good for wildlife and look good are cherry plum, cherry, and rowan, and for a bit of fun if its possible to add service trees (such as already exist around the corner on Carlton Way) thats another thats great for wildlife. As for larger specimen trees (if they're planned) there's not really a heritage of 'big' trees at this end of Cambridge, most of the land having been open grazing/farm land until enclosure so there aren't many really old trees to base this on. One of the trees that surprisingly thrives here is Turkey oak - there are many large specimens in the woods on the other side of the guided bus route. So I'd go with those. Lime, plane and of course sycamore also do well here - but I'd suggest they're trees Cambridge also has lots of so I'd steer clear of those.

It'll be tough to get this under way so quickly, so I'll have another scour to see whats worth saving this afternoon,



Dear xxxx,

Text of last email I sent xxxx enclosed below.

Brief version - according to county Arcaheology folk anything remaining of the old field boundary ought to be buried quite deep like most of the rest of the interesting archaeology at our end of the city, but being archaeology enthusiasts and a couple of them living at this end of the town they're planning an informal look down the holes (like they did with the lighting scheme recently). There's no need for delays on their account, at least it doesn't look like it.

The plant list is pretty good with the exception of spindle and dogwood and perhaps alder buckthorn. Spindle isn't a traditional component of hedges in this part of Cambridgeshire - I can't think of an example in any old hedgerow in or around North Cambridge. This might be because the traditional uses of the wood aren't particularly common here, and it could be because its a tree that rarely thrives here - it does ok when you get South of Cambridge but on the ground up glacial clay subsoil we've got at the North end of the City it doesn't do so well. Dogwood does ok, but its also not a traditional component of hedging in this part of the city and, crucially, the berries are among the few wild berries kids will chew on and do themselves harm. I wouldn't put it anywhere near the route to a school. As for alder buckthorn yes, its sometimes in hedges North of Cambridge but its happier with wet feet - I can't think of any examples on well drained soil. You're therefore looking at excessive time and effort getting this one established so I'd avoid it.

As for replacing these, I've already suggested dog rose (a superb hedging plant and common here) and cherry plum (Prunus cerasifera - grows superbly as a hedging plant and common here). These plants combine practicality and tradition without any toxicity so there's a lot to be said for them. I'd also say that the Malus (Chivers Delight) and greengage (Cambridge Gage) needn't be thought of as specimen trees, they'll be happy in a hedge too - there's a gage that I believe to be Cambridge Gage there already, replacing with more would be fitting.

Lastly, I'm taking some samples of local undergrowth - the more interesting perennials rather than the annuals and biennials (which will be back, there will be loads of seeds in the soil) to establish in my garden for re-wilding. Nothing spreading, but it would be a shame to lose the snowdrops, violet and white violets, crow garlic etc. I'll have samples by Wednesday and I'll re-wild later, alongside other locally sourced wild plants that'll bring some diversity back. That'll take a year or two of adding in what I can get growing - I'd take it as a favour if you turn a blind eye to the technically illegal removal of wild plants (that are about to be destroyed anyway!).

By for now,

and then...

Much appreciated xxxx. Yes, I phoned Grant this morning because I'll confess I'm a little baffled by the pace of this - the previous consultation discussed trying to keep the hedging we have, and I did enquire from the cycling planning people at the County about this in Autumn and no decision had been taken. So to go from first sign of this (coloured paint on the ground) to digging out and replacing over the course of a few weeks seems very, very hurried. We've gone from no direct plan to remove and replace the hedging to having to specify plants for imminent replacement in a very short time and I do have some concerns that the first many residents will have heard about this would be in the letter dated the 15th - which, of course, most people won't have had time to look at until the weekend.

Thanks for taking input on replanting - I'm hoping that by getting this right first time we'll not have to continually patch the hedge up over the next couple of years, so getting species in there with a proven track record of performing well locally seems crucial to me,


Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Arbury Road - Hedge to facilitate cycle lane, part 2

There was a visit arranged to a supplier of relatively mature hedging plants on Monday. I couldn't go, but I sent off some questions - some for the supplier, some for the County Council. Basically the way I see it there's a good chance that we can get better cycle lanes along the next section of Arbury Road and that will, in turn, lead to more demand for a good facility along the whole length of the road.

But I won't surrender perfectly good, potentially historic hedging without getting things absolutely right, so here's the email full of questions I sent...

Dear (*),

I'm copying our County councillior in to this, because she's expressed an interest. I'll also put most of this online because, well, why not?

I've been wandering up and down the hedges on Arbury Road and I've got a few thoughts to add to my earlier blog post on the subject here:

By a fortunate/unfortunate happenstance (depending how you look at it) there was another mix-up at the City Council and they killed one of my hedges over winter, so I've been reading up on re-planting more mature plants recently, and I've been looking at companies like Elvedon. I'm also a life-long forager and hedgerow and conservation nerd, so since I moved to Cambridge back in '99 I've become quite familiar with the local flora and indeed with how feasible re-planting is. Obviously its never ideal, but I firmly believe that in this instance we've a great opportunity to make things better. Most of the hedges on Arbury Road haven't been well managed for the long-run, and down at the Nicholson Way end especially they're really rather gappy.

Which brings me to the questions, some of which are for you, and some for the folk at Elveden or someone else...

(1) Whats in Elvedens 'native mix' and how well does it line up with the list of locally appropriate trees I've outlined in the blog post linked above? Is this drawn from the list of other hedging plants they've got?

(2) Can we obtain some other trees to fill the gap between what Elveden supplies and what I've requeted? I'm especially keen to get some Cambridge gage in there, its a tree formerly cultivated very widely here, and it would be a shame not to replace the ones we'd lose from the current hedge. And Chivers Delight Apple is a tree so very much part of the history of North Cambridge it would be a crying shame not to sneak some in - this area was orchards at one point after all.

(3) Does the native mix contain any cultivars that would make good 'specimen' trees where space permits, and is that part of the plan?

(4) Whats the management plan for the hedge going forward? Do we plan to get it to a similar height or is there a plan to cut and lay it more as a traditional barrier? How do we envisage it in 10 to 15 years time?

(5) Is Elveden the right company to talk to about under-story planting to turn this into a more genuine multi-species hedge (which of course is way more valuable for wildlife) or would this be something to talk to the City and County Councils about, or even someone like TCV? Or is this something where you'd want community involvement in to re-plant with local biodiversity? There aren't currently many exceptional things growing under the hedge, but there's been the occasional example of upright hedge parsley and sweet cicely (common in many places, surprisingly uncommon in Cambridge).

(6) The route of Arbury Road is fairly old, and the hedge especially by Nicholson Way is an interesting relic in itself. I'm not sure how old it is, but Mere Way/Carlton Way/Stretten Avenue is a Roman Road and Arbury Camp (now under the school on Orchard Park) is pre-Roman, so its likely that Arbury Road has been a route used by people for a very long time indeed. Has the plan to dig here been cross-referenced with data from the county SMR? There's certainly a lot of well documented Roman era archaeology under the Kings Hedges area, I'd be un-surprised if digging this hedge turned up some interesting things. One would think that the age of Arbury Road might suggest there would have been a ditch by the hedge, which may have been excavated when the estate was built. If it wasn't, its definitely worth looking for, especially if the hedge is to be moved out further from the road into where the old ditch would have been. And as some of the other hedges in Kings Hedges retain just the occasional strange relic from eras gone by (there's a patch that frequently throws up Alexanders, Smyrium olustratum, a vegetable favoured by the Romans, on the rec ground behind St Laurences) can we perhaps reflect that in planning an under-story for the hedge?

Anyway, thats enough of a brain dump for now. Let me know your thoughts, and what can be done with Elveden.


Wednesday, 22 February 2017

New Hedge for Arbury Road, facilitating cycle lane

Hyper-local (Cambridge) interest post here. So if thats not your thing, walk on, you'll find this dull.

Brief version - cycle lanes will be extended further down Arbury Road, which may necessitate removal of the rather nice old hedge. It has been suggested that mature plants could be sourced to put in place, this being a site thats rather exposed to traffic but worth protecting to shelter homes from the main road and to retain wildlife habitat. I propose that re-planting should be conducted utilising local knowledge of what thrives in this part of Cambridge, with specific reference to the history of the site.

Longer version - Arbury Road is brutal. I mean, its a horrible road to cycle - it should be a quiet little suburban route but its not, the 20mph limit isn't observed there and councillors instruct the Police to target cyclists who seek refuge on the pavement (rather than motorists forcing them to do this) with the dogged determination only possible in those who've just not thought anything through. So if this means we really MUST move the mature hedgerows, then if thats what we have to do to keep people safe then so be it - but as a local interested in having a high quality local environment I'll engage to get the best results.

Now the hedge should be glorious, but it isn't - it hasn't been maintained very well and gaps haven't been filled. Its good wildlife habitat though - but we can make it better. There's some whispering that re-planting with mature-ish specimens may be possible, so I'm choosing to see this as an opportunity rather than a problem. We can certainly manage the site better than it has been done, and if the hedge is planted sensibly we could get a much, much better outcome than we have now. I think that should be the goal whenever we re-develop roads.

So, what do we want in our hedges in Kings Hedges? Here are my first thoughts...

(1) Hedging plants to create a suitable barrier

This is the backbone of hedging, urban or otherwise. A hedge is a structure to delineate a line, and if it can't hold its own in this regard its not fit for purpose. I would therefore propose that a large proportion of the hedge be hawthorn, alongside other native species that are common in hedgerows in this area - blackthorn, hazel, elder, dogwood and field maple. 

(2) Hedging plants of particular local interest

This part of Cambridge was once orchards, and you get the occasional remnant left in hederows, including this one - there's a greengage tree, probably Cambridge Gage, in the hedge, and there are a couple of plum trees that have the look of growing back from root-stock about them. I propose re-planting with more of these - the greengage is a very 'cambridge' tree and its particularly suitable to keep some here as a reminder of local heritage. I'd also add that apples are incredibly common in hedges in Cambridgeshire, so we should aim to add some crab apples to the mix and, most importantly, the one apple variety that defines North Cambridge called Chivers Delight - formerly one of Englands best selling apples, originating very near to here, and worth preserving locally. Cherry plum and bullace are also common in hedges in North Cambridge, far more so than in most areas, so I'd certainly want those represented too.

(3) Under-story planting

We lost a lot of local biodiversity when the Guided Busway was built, and this is an opportunity to bring some of it back. I'd like this project to encompass finding local cultivars of dog-rose, as well as black and red currants, gooseberries (all common on the overgrown old railway line before it was re-developed), alongside three cornered leek, crow garlic, cow parsley, sweet cicely (locally rare but found in this hedge occasionally) and other appropriate wildlife friendly plants. I'll be looking closely at the hedges along Arbury Road over the next few weeks to see what precisely is worth saving from the under-story.

(4) Specimen Trees

I think we all like the occasional tree in a hedge allowed to grow majestically big, and I see no reason not to plan for this. Such trees provide shade, stature and when mature offer a whole ecosystem in themselves. So we should plan for this now - currently the specimen trees close to those hedges are sycamore, but I'd favour linden or plane in this location - they grow at a manageable rate and respond well to pollarding.

I'll add images and further thoughts to this as I go... Bare with me, this is still thinking aloud, but I think the bare bones are here.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Dear PCC... (copy of email to Police Commissioner)

Dear Mr. Ablewhite,

I've decided to send my concerns to you by email rather than await a phonecall something like a month hence - in my experience planning a call that far in advance tends towards going wrong, and I think perhaps doing this in some written form might be better. A surgery appointment to talk to you in person before that would involve investing more than two hours travel time each way - a five hour round journey for a fifteen minute meeting doesn't immediately seem to represent a good investment in time.

Last November I reported this incident to the Police.

Now one would think that there would be an online reporting system for incidents like this - fill in a form, leave a link to the evidence, job done. But there isn't, and as I've previously been told that there isn't even a regularly checked email address I phoned 101. After a protracted delay I got through to someone who suggested I might come in to Parkside at the weekend with a text link to the video footage. She seemed most put-out at the idea I should want to email evidence, and that maybe if someone has taken to driving like a maniac through the centre of Cambridge its perhaps something to be dealt with with a certain element of urgency - perhaps contacting the driver and having a word quickly (while he still remembers what he did) would prevent him doing so again while further charges are prepared? In fact, couldn't this act be life saving? 

She hung up. I complained, an officer with badge number 8333 looked at this and accepted that such a request to relate evidence via. email isn't unusual and this could be done. Getting to this point wasn't easy though, and involved significant telephone tag with officer 8333.

I had also tweeted a link to this footage, which was then taken up by a local political blogger who shared it, and two local city centre councillors phoned a local police officer who in turn contacted me to say he'd seen this and was looking in to it.

So the route to getting this reported was phoning, failing, phoning again, complaining, tweeting, getting re-tweeted, someone else phoned a named police office who then got back in touch with me to say he'd look in to it. 

Officer 1594 said he'd had a word with the driver and would submit a file for consideration of crimes for prosecution.

Months passed, I enquired as to what had happened (I know that the wheels of justice turn slowly) and was told that the incident had been handled with a verbal caution (hence not even formally) and that "It was noted from your footage that numerous cyclists numerous cyclists were travelling the wrong way in the one way system, towards the driver of the car and you and this factor was considered to complicate further action".

Obviously I looked closely at the footage after this - I could see I'd been passed within inches in a two-way (for cycling) section, I could see the motorist mount the pavement perilously close to several pedestrians, I could see some very dangerous close overtakes of cyclists, the driver going through sections of road labelled for cars, taxis and cyclists only, four other cyclists on film expressing concern as to the drivers behaviour including two who confronted him directly before I said anything to him, the aggressively revving his engine in response to one of them and I could see that the driver was on the phone at the wheel of the car, and there are no examples of cyclists on road going the wrong way on the one way system. None. Not a single one. But even if there had been, it is entirely unclear to me why this ought to have any bearing on any of the motorists actions - another oncoming cyclist doesn't make mounting the pavement ok. 

I complained, and again found myself in an absurd game of telephone tag lasting another day. Eventually officer 1547 phoned and, well, was unsympathetic. I mean, he was keen to tell me that they wouldn't prosecute and wouldn't explain why - but agreed to go and look at the footage after I explained at length, and got back to me later saying that yes, they'd refer this on hopefully for prosecution.

At the core of this ridiculous, convoluted pathway of events is the simple reality of a motorist behaving in a shocking way, scaring the life out of people who were doing nothing wrong, genuinely endangering people. It has to be simple and easy to report such things, especially with clear video evidence, and it is imperative that our police service enables rather than confounds attempts to do so. In short, reporting a crime and getting it taken seriously needs to not be a matter of willpower. And at no point should there be reticence to prosecute over claims of someone else doing a tangentially related thing wrong in video evidence - a demonstrably incorrect claim at that.

Can I suggest that throttling the numbers on reported crimes by making it hard to get reports taken seriously, and cutting back on prosecutions by simply misrepresenting evidence reported to the constabulary are both shameful ways to behave - it isn't much to ask that clear video evidence be viewed fairly and acted on. May I further ask that you look in to this not simply as an operational but also ethical consideration - why should it take fortuitous retweeting and dogged persistence to get a crime taken seriously?


Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Cambridge Cops - Dreadful Response to Dangerous Driving

UPDATE: Well they called me up and started to explain why they weren't prosecuting. So I made a fuss because imho this footage is crystal clear. They went to have a look, tacitly admitted they'd been wrong, and are sending this off with recommendation to prosecute. What a bloody palaver - how the hell have I got to a point where I've got to pester the coppers to take action in clear, simple, direct video evidence like this?

Regarding this incident in November...

I was told at the time this was filed to the CPS. I was told yesterday it was dealt with by a verbal (hence not a formal) warning. That just isn't good enough, so I've sent this email (below) off, raised this with the PCC, and will push for better.

Dear (x),

I'm deeply worried about this.

There are no cyclists on road going the wrong way on any one way sections anywhere in the video. One is pushing a bike the wrong way on the pavement, one or two may be riding on the pavement. There are cyclists going the opposite way in front of Next there, but of course as you'll know that is two way for cyclists. I also fail to see how that would complicate things if prosecuting for close overtakes, driving on the pavement, going through a taxi/bus/cyclist only section, using the mobile phone while driving or just the sheer level of dangerous, aggressive driving. In fact I don't see why thats relevant at all - because some other people are doing a specified thing wrong (which is demonstrably untrue) its hard to prosecute him? That makes no sense, sorry.

How many times does the driver break the law in the video? The resolution is a verbal (i.e. informal) caution? Sorry officer, thats genuinely sinister - you've got rock solid video evidence of multiple laws being broken, and multiple members of the public visibly and audibly distressed by this but its not enough to prosecute him? I dob't believe that, and I don't accept it.

Please direct me to your process for reviewing this.