Sunday, 26 July 2009

Shocking state of the grass tennis courts

I don't know if anyone has tried to play tennis recently on Jesus Green. If they have, good luck to them.

You will be lucky to get on one of the two hardcourts, which are constantly occupied by foreign language students tapping the ball to each other. This is fine but you will never get tired doing this, so such games can last hours and students have not compunction to get off after half an hour if people are waiting.

The lines on these courts have not been painted this year and are therefore hugely worn out and barely visible. There is also no winder on the net so it has inevitably lost tension and sagged below the required level. This leads to people making rather pathetic efforts to raise the net just so they can have a game (either attach winders or supervise the courts and have someone raise the nets when required, if that is the approach).

Then there is the terrible state of the grass courts. These are the worst they have ever been. I played a few decent matches on those courts two years ago, but the persistent neglect by the council means they are now unplayable. The ball bounces unevenly and jags off the surface at unpredictable and strange angles. This is part of grass court tennis (as McEnroe tells us at Wimbledon) but for every bounce. The nets are also badly damaged and the fences vandalised, encouraging footballers to play on it.

This is because there is virtually no maintenance of the courts. They are mowed to an acceptable level, but there is no pre-season care (rolling or spiking, which is essential) which means the court can never be flat. Street Scene say this is because there is no roller (an excuse put forward for the proposed scrapping of the Hobbs cricket pitch), but really there is no will to get the courts up to a playable level. Offers for volunteers to take over the maintenance were ebuffed due to health and safety reasons.

Sadly it's time to scrap the grass courts. These were great fun for many years but are just too awful to play on anymore. It is a shame to lose the city's last grass courts but, in truth, we have already lost them because they are so bad.

Bring on the proposed £80K pair of hard courts so at least tennis fans can get have a chance of getting a game. 

Friday, 10 July 2009

Midsummer Fair problems and police action

This was a letter sent by Inspector Ian Lyons regarding the latest Midsummer Fair

Dear residents,

I am Inspector Ian lyons from the Cambridge City reactive policing teams. I have the responsibility of looking after community reassurance during the forthcoming Midsummer Fair from Wednesday,24th June 2009 until Monday, 29th June 2009.

It is paramount for me to hear what your concerns are regarding this summer fair, in particular the way it affects you or your local community. Once aware of these problems I can address them with you and take positive action.

So far feedback from residents shows concerns around the following:


      General disorder in the neighbourhood


      Loud parties causing disruption to the community after the Fair has finished.


      High volumes of traffic and parking issues




A lot of work has already been done with organisers and other partner agencies to minimise these issues. These include joint high visible patrols throughout the periphery of the Common.

For the fair site itself, this is subject to a planned police operation which has been refined over many years to deal with incidents on the site.

The fair can also have a wider effect on the local community & because of this we will have additional staff on duty many of whom will be your local officers, & the Rural Community Action Team. Whose role is to deal with the issues that affect the wider community. Please be assured that new police powers relating to alcohol based disorder will be used to direct people to leave the area in fitting circumstances - failure to do so may result in their arrest.


During the week leading up the fair the city council event management will be on site. They will hold daily meetings on the site at 10:00hrs  to which community representatives are invited to attend, the local police officers & community support officers will also attend. There will be signs placed out when community support officers are patrolling the area & I would urge you to make contact with them if you see them, any information will be greatly appreciated by them.


If you have concerns relating to a parking , then 'Legion Parking' can be contacted on 01223458500. Having already spoken to the Contract Manager of Legion, I have been assured that there will be an increase of patrols from their officers throughout the week.


During the week please feel free to use e-cops to pass messages to the Neighbourhood Officers. When the fair has finished, I would appreciate it if you are able to give the Neighbourhood Teams some feedback as to your general concerns relating to the Fair. Through this I will then be able to look ahead for next year.


Many thanks,


Ian Lyons

T/ Inspector


Jesus Green lock

Repairs to the Jesus Green lock are currently taking place and will run until the end of July.

River manager Phillippa Noon has asked JGA members to suggest ways to improve the lock island garden. If anyone has ideas, then please email us and we will send on the comments to her

Letter from Phillippa Noon

With reference to our brief conversation following the Jesus Green Stakeholder liaison workshop at the Wesley Chapel on 20 April, I can now confirm that the Conservators are due to suspend navigation through Jesus Lock for the period Friday 19th June to Friday 31st July inclusive.

During this period of closure, the old wooden v-doors will be lifted out and taken to a specialist workshop in Halifax.

There, they will be copied by craftsmen using new oak timbers, thence returned to the lock in late July.

A mobile crane is to be used to perform the lifting operations, positioned beside Jesus Green Lock-Keeper’s House.

In order to ensure public safety during operations, we have requested a public footpath closure along the frontage of Jesus Green Lock-Keeper’s House and Jesus Green footbridge on the following dates:Wednesday 24 June 2009, 8am to 6pm Tuesday 28 July 2009, 8am to 6pm.

We have allowed a generous time ‘window’ however, it is most likely that both footpaths will be reopened before the end of the afternoon.

Fencing will demarcate the site working area and signs will be in place to re-direct pedestrians and cyclists. Clearly, the footpath closure on both days will have an impact upon local residents and we should be grateful for any assistance which you might lend us in communicating this closure to local residents.

Pedestrians and cyclists wishing to seek access to and from Chesterton Road will have to use alternative river crossings (Victoria Bridge or Magdalene Bridge). Standard footpath closure notices will be displayed, in accordance with the County Council’s requirements, in due course.

Finally, the lock gate refurbishment project offers us with the opportunity of reviewing the design of the garden on the lock island. If the Residents’ Association has any views on the planting scheme, we should appreciate your feedback. Thank you for your attention and assistance.

Yours sincerely

Dr Philippa E. Noon

River Manager

EDF Energy depot latest

The JGA was delighted when the council threw out plans by EDF Energy to install a storage depot on the green near Park Street (see below)for at least 18 months.

But the work has to take place and there needs to be some viable storage alternative.

The JGA had suggested EDF Energy use the car park of the empty DWP building on Carlyle Road. EDF Energy seemed very keen on this site, but the DWP does not want to relinquish the building for this use, although the building has been empty for some time.

Other sites have now been identified on Madingley Road, but these are not exactly convenient and could be therefore unsuitable. If EDF cannot find a site, it could conceivably use emergency powers to gain control of an area of public land for its uses (not sure what legislation they would use but there must be something like this possible)

In the meantime, the council have prepared a report on ownership and public land issues relating to the green. This report is much welcomed as it helps to clarify some of the issues that relate to this application.

It was presented to the community services scrutiny meeting on June 25.

Report by Alistair Wilson to Cllr Julie Smith on proposed use of Jesus Green by EDF Energy 


Non-Key Decision 


1. Executive Summary  

EDF Energy is seeking to use part of Jesus Green for a temporary site  compound for works required at Thompson’s Lane sub station. Jesus Green  is owned by the City Council, and is registered common land. For EDF to be  able lawfully to use Jesus Green for this purpose, it would need: 

i) Planning consent; 

ii) Consent from the Secretary of State under Section 38 of the 

Commons Act 2006; and 

iii) The City Council’s consent as landowner.  


This report asks the Executive Councillor whether the Council should give its consent as landowner to this proposed use of Jesus Green.  


2. Recommendations 



The Executive Councillor is recommended to refuse permission for the use of part of Jesus Green by EDF Energy as a temporary site compound.  


3. Background  


Planning Application 

3.1 EDF Energy made a Planning Application (09/0087/FUL) on the 12th February 2009, through their agent MLM Consulting Engineers to use part of Jesus Green for a temporary site compound for works required at Thompson’s Lane sub station.  


3.2 The application proposed a site compound to be in place for eighteen months, in connection with work to renew the electricity substation in Thompson’s Lane. The application proposed the area be surrounded by a 2.4m-high plywood hoarding, to be painted olive green. Within this would be space for storage of materials and plant, ten car or van parking spaces, and four demountable buildings in two stacks of two, to provide office space and 


Report Page No: 2 toilets. At the south-west end of the site, a lay-by for delivery vehicles would be created alongside Park Parade, separated from the trees by a post-and- rail fence. The whole area would be surfaced with hardcore.  


3.3 At the end of the period of work on the substation, the site area would be recovered with topsoil and seeded with grass, and the whole avenue of cherry trees to Jesus Lock felled and replaced with new flowering cherry trees. 


3.4 This was a valid planning application accompanied by the correct certificate of ownership, and it was considered by the City Council in the same way as any other planning application. 


3.5 The Planning Officer recommended refusal. 


3.6 The application was refused by the Development Control Manager acting under delegated powers on the 9th April 2009, and the letter of determination was sent the same day.  EDF have the right of appeal 


Pre Planning Application Considerations 

3.7 Previously EDF have worked on Jesus Green to lay cables which they have statutory powers to carry out this work.  A payment was made with this way leave agreement, to permit the work.   These statutory powers do not extend to placing a compound on Jesus Green in connection with works at another location. 


3.8 Other sites considered before making the planning application include Jesus Green on the eastern side adjacent to Victoria Avenue, this was discounted due to disruption to traffic, the route taken from the site to Thompsons Lane, and for arboricultural reasons.  


3.9 A vacant site at the top of Castle Hill, was discounted as it was too small. 


Status of Jesus Green 

3.10 Jesus Green is designated as Common under the City of Cambridge 

Act 1985, Part II, Section 7. As registered common land, Jesus Green has 

special statutory protection and the land could not be used as a compound 

without the approval of the Secretary of State, under the Commons Act 

2006. EDF indicated on the 19th March 2009 their intention to submit an 

application under Section 38 to the Secretary of State.  


3.11 The City Council owns Jesus Green and therefore has the same rights 

as other landowners, subject to not interfering with public rights that attach to 

common land. Therefore, the City Council’s consent would be needed for the 

proposed use by EDF even if the latter obtains planning consent and 


Report Page No: 3 

consent under the Commons Act. Subject to statutory powers (such as 

compulsory purchase), the City Council is entitled to refuse or permit the 

use, or access to, Jesus Green for purposes unconnected with its status as 

common land.  


City Council considerations 

3.12 The City Council has to decide as landowner whether it will or will not 

permit this use of the common regardless of whether the Section 38 consent 

can be obtained. 


3.13 The proposal to use Jesus Green as a temporary compound will have 

significant impact on users and their enjoyment of the amenity.  There is no 

balance to drawn as the strategic importance of work to the substation has 

not been detailed.  


3.14 The Friends of Jesus Green have discussed this proposal at an 

Extraordinary General Meeting and are opposed to the use of part of Jesus 



3.15 Representations to the Planning application were received from: 

• Park Street C of E Primary School 

• Park Street Residents Association 

• Save Our Green Spaces Cambridge 

• Savills acting on behalf of St John’s College 


3.16 The representations can be summarised as follows: 

• Loss of open space of recreational importance 

• Harm to the character and appearance of the conservation area 

• Loss of trees, including a memorial tree 

• Difficulty of ensuring proper restoration of the Green afterwards 

• Other sites could be used, such as Park Street car park 

• Work should have been undertaken before 24 Thompson’s Lane 

was developed 

• Site is Common Land 


EDF Consideration post Planning Application determination 

3.17 EDF and their Agent are currently considering the car park of Henry 

Giles House 73-79 Chesterton Road as a suitable alternative. 


Purpose of report 

3.18 This report is brought to Community Services Scrutiny Committee to 

determine whether or not the City Council will permit the use of Jesus Green 

for a works compound for EDF work. 



5. Background papers  

The following background papers were used in the preparation of this report: 

• Report by the Planning Officer in relation to 09/0087/FUL 

• Correspondence from EDF 

• Correspondence with Friends of Jesus Green 



Jesus Green working party visit 15.6.09

Two JGA members attended the council's second Jesus Green working group on June 15.
This was a chance for those involved with the green to have their say on how the green can be improved. The JGA was the only key stakeholder present, although representatives from the rowing association, cam conservators, beer festival, councillors Tim Bick, Mike Dixon and Julie Smith and several council officers were there.

The JGA feels more encouraged by the approach being adopted by the council. Officers say this is now 'not HLF led' - this could mean the 'grandiose' schemes criticised by members in the past are no longer the priority of the council (as there is no money for them). 
However, it could mean the council are still keen to pursue the individual projects one-by-one, rather than hoping for a mega-transformation of the green.
After the hiatus of the HLF, we are now glad the emphasis can return to proper maintenance of the green and the improvement of existing facilities.

The meeting heard how there will be better cross departmental cooperation at the council to ensure better maintenance, while there will be four inspections a year, in which defects will be identified for fixing. Street Scene officers were also at the meeting and seem to keen to continue their excellent work caring for the green, with the JGA requesting extra bin collections in the summer

Jesus Green Association making a difference

JGA treasurer Richard Price spotted a hole in the swimming pool fence on July 6 in preparation for a meeting with council officials for the Jesus Green working party forum.
After reporting it to the council, the hole was repaired the following day. Although a small thing, it shows how reporting incidents (even to the JGA) can get them sorted. Stopping people breaking into the pool is important not just on safety grounds, but because they then get bored and tend to smash the place up.
The JGA would like to thank Ian Ross and his team at the council for acting so swiftly in this matter and would urged members to continue reporting problems.

£250 grant for JGA

After jumping through many bureaucratic hoops, the JGA has been offered a grant of £250 by Cambridgeshire Community Foundation. This is a body which adminsters community grants for the city council.
The money will be used to cover the general running costs of the JGA, including hiring rooms for meetings, publicity materials for said events, update of the website and various other running costs.
The grant pushes the JGA's meagre savings to a more acceptable level, although it's running total is, I believe, less than £400. This means the issue of subscription can be deferred for a while, although there is still much to recommend it. In short, the association would have more money to expand its activities, would be less dependent on outside bodies and it would also increase a sense of ownership among stakeholders.
On the downside, it would reduce membership and would be a hassle to collect given the city-wide nature of the group.
One of the requirements for accepting the money is that publicity materials must contain an agreed statement outlining the involvement of the CCF. A small price to pay for cash gratefully received from the JGA.