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Council leader Lewis Herbert declaring war on empty homes in Cambridge

By Gemma Gardner

Lewis Herbert on East Road in Cambridge . Picture: Keith Heppell
Lewis Herbert on East Road in Cambridge . Picture: Keith Heppell

Lewis Herbert will pledge to tackle the number of empty homes in Cambridge when he sets out his vision for the future at the city council's annual meeting tomorrow (Thursday).

The Labour council leader hopes to build on the work that has led to 100 empty Cambridge homes being brought back into use in the past three years.

He will also aim to make full use of new 2019 powers to charge double council tax on empty homes to encourage owners to bring them back into use. And he will pledge to examine whether the council’s housing company, set up in 2015, can be used to purchase and manage intermediate housing at submarket rents.

The leader will promise to “protect and develop the services our residents need” when he sets out his plans, but does acknowledge that there are “significant challenges to overcome too”.

He will set out his vision in seven parts, which will range from housing and future planning to making Cambridge safer and more inclusive.

“Our focus here is on our future plans that we want to deliver for Cambridge and its residents, our plans for our city of considerable magic from 2018 through 2020 and beyond,” Cllr Herbert will say.

For each of the seven parts, Cllr Herbert will set out a number of pledges. Among those is a promise to invest at least an additional £200,000 this year in anti-poverty projects and work to help digitally-excluded residents go online. He will also pledge to:

■ Increase secure cycle parking in locations across the city to encourage more people to cycle, including adding secure parking at community centres and ensuring provision in new developments;

■ Upgrade CCTV with more than 100 new cameras in the city centre and car parks, which would herald the first major investment in a decade;

■ Bring forward proposals to refurbish or redevelop Jesus Green Lido;

■ Engage young people in forums so they can have a say about services they care about, and on the future of their city;

■ Press the Combined Authority to introduce bus franchising and other improvements to limit bus fares; and

■ Undertake an assessment on making the River Cam corridor more accessible.

The meeting will also feature annual statements from other party leaders.


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