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Hustings reveals five crucial issues in key Cambridge city battleground

When Cambridge goes to the polls on Thursday to elect 15 city council seats, Queen Edith's ward will be a key battleground.

One seat per ward is up for grabs at the election, plus an extra seat in East Chesterton following a resignation.

Queen Edith’s is an area of Cambridge that is changing fast. It bears the brunt of traffic entering the city, and is home to Addenbrooke’s Hospital and the fast-growing Cambridge Biomedical Campus. Labour, which controls the city council, is hoping to take over what has been a Lib Dem stronghold.

Candidates gathered last Friday for a hustings event at which a packed public gallery quizzed Green candidate Joel Chalfen, Conservative Manas Deb, Labour’s Dan Greef, and Lib Dem Colin McGerty. Here are five issues that arose at the event.

■ ‘Beds in sheds’

Like many parts of the city, property prices are very high in Queen Edith’s, and many developers and private home owners are capitalising by squeezing in more homes.

Labour’s Dan Greef said he would oppose “anti-social developments” in the ward. Green candidate Joel Chalfen also said he opposed excessive development.

Lib Dem Colin McGerty said Queen Edith’s is suffering from “uncontrolled development” as the city expands, which is being “forced on residents” against their will.

“We need to build communities, not just jobs,” he said.

■ Burglaries

Queen Edith’s and Trumpington bore the brunt of a “significant spike” in burglaries at the beginning of the year, police told the Cambridge south area committee this week.

Conservative candidate Manas Deb said that, if elected, he would work with South Cambridgeshire MP Heidi Allen and the police and crime commissioner Jason Ablewhite to tackle burglaries in the area and keep residents safe.

Manas Deb said: “I have taken this up with (South Cambridgeshire MP) Heidi Allen and the police and crime commissioner Jason Ablewhite, and we are working on the issue.”

■ Biomedical Campus growth

The expansion of the campus affects the whole city. Whether it’s the influx of jobs, the associated traffic, or the prestige of having global giants calling Cambridge home.

Labour’s Dan Greef said he would not allow the area to become “collateral damage” to the expansion of the campus.

Green candidate Joel Chalfen said AstraZeneca arriving was a “sweet pill” that could have damaging effects for the area. He said the company had to make sure they mitigated any impact on the environment from traffic.

According to Lib Dem Colin McGerty, residents feel the businesses on the campus have done very little to reach out to the community. Conservative Manas Deb said big companies coming to the campus ought to help cover the cost of transport infrastructure schemes.

■ A new railway station at Cambridge South

Funding for a new railway station in the south of the city has been deemed a priority to address potential traffic problems on the horizon.

Conservative Manas Deb said he would work closely with combined authority mayor James Palmer to get a new station at Cambridge South delivered before 2022.

“A train station at Cambridge South would solve a lot of the traffic problems on the Biomedical Campus. Having light rail and an underground will also help,” he said.

■ Children’s centres

There have been protests and demonstrations all over the city after funding for children’s centres in various locations was withdrawn.

The candidates all said they opposed the withdrawal of funds.

Labour’s Dan Greef said: “It is about stopping national cuts that are affecting our ward, such as children’s centres cuts. I do not believe in localism on this issue because children need help everywhere.”

The count takes place on Thursday night. View all candidates, party statements and follow election live at cambridgeindependent.co.uk.

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