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Liberal Democrats demand ‘urgent action to replace anti-terror barrier’ on King’s Parade

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Roxanne De Beaux of Camcycle negotiates the new King’s Parade barrier. Picture: Keith Heppell
Roxanne De Beaux of Camcycle negotiates the new King’s Parade barrier. Picture: Keith Heppell

The leader of Cambridge City Council, Lewis Herbert, has suggested that the long-term design of the newly installed anti-terror barricade on King’s Parade look better than the current offering - as the Liberal Democrats demand that the barrier be “urgently” replaced.

“I’ve always had the view that we need to have additional public art between King’s Parade and Quayside,” Cllr Herbert said. “The permanent installation needs to be something the city can be proud of, and the council will be working to achieve that.”

He added: “What we don’t want in Cambridge is a debate about whether the barrier is needed, because we cannot ignore safety advice.”

Anti-terror infrastructure has also been installed in York, Windsor and Edinburgh using similar traffic orders to that received by Cambridge authorities. The resulting barricade has scarred the city’s most iconic street and kicked off an all-week outcry.

Cambridge Liberal Democrats “are demanding that the council now takes urgent action to replace the metal barricade with a better option that does not endanger local cyclists, better addresses the security concerns in the area and which is more sympathetic to the important heritage site”.

Lib Dem spokesperson Cllr Jamie Dalzell said: “It is deeply frustrating that none of the concerns we raised at several council meetings last year have been listened to and the Labour group have pressed ahead with this poorly planned project.

“Whilst we fully appreciate the need to respond to the concerns of our police services regarding the security of our city, the new barriers have raised safety concerns for everyday road users without adding any additional protection to the vulnerable site around the famous Corpus clock. At the same time, with a year spent debating the issue, the Labour Council have also failed to find a solution that is more sympathetic to its surroundings.

“We take the stewardship of our historic city very seriously and we hope that the Labour party will now admit their mistake and support our plans to quickly replace these temporary barriers with a better long-term solution.”

Confusing - two-way arrows ‘could easily be misinterpreted to mean that it is a two-lane throughfare’
Confusing - two-way arrows ‘could easily be misinterpreted to mean that it is a two-lane throughfare’

A test of how the design would work when the gate is shut seven days a week between 9.30am and 7pm showed that it is impossible for a cargo bike and a bicycle to pass through the security barge mounted in the street and on the pavement near King’s College. The two-way arrowing marked on the road on either side of the gap could easily be misinterpreted to mean that it is a two-lane throughfare, whereas in fact all it means is that cyclists can go in both directions. No give way sign is apparent.

Getting the Camcycle cargo bike ridden by the cycle campaign group’s executive director, Roxanne De Beaux, through the barricade on its own proved difficult enough, because the ancient cobblestone guttering takes up half the allotted space between the barricades. The cobblestones are uneven and slippery when wet.

“The gap is too narrow for two-way cycling and for the level of cycling traffic we have here it’s going to be confusing,” Ms De Beaux said at the barrier. “As well as that, pedestrians will spill off the pedestrian area when it’s busy, into the gap, creating safety concerns for cyclist and pedestrians. People will spill into the cycling lane.”

Anti-terror barge on King’s Parade is plain ugly
Anti-terror barge on King’s Parade is plain ugly

Camcycle has concerns about the way the design was implemented, in particular the tight 1.2m gap for cyclists when the security gate is bolted shut during the day.

“The process was not one we considered a consultation,” said Ms De Beaux. “We just submitted some objections. We had seen the design but saw the implementation as a fait accompli. We spoke at a meeting about it. We know some councillors spoke in favour of having better access for cyclists.

“We kept getting similar replies to our requests, saying this was the design that had to be put forward. It didn’t seem at any time that it was a design that could be changed. But the point is that in Sydney Street there’s a gap in the gate of 1.5m, so wider than the 1.2m gap on King’s Parade, and the Sydney Street one is probably not wide enough for the amount of traffic that goes through.”

Meanwhile, the opening and closing of the gate at 9.30am and 7pm seven days a week will be undertaken by the council.

“It will be the responsibility of the normal parking enforcement team six days a week,” Cllr Herbert said, “with back up from city council staff, so we will open it when needed on Sundays and bank holidays.”

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