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Ideas for making Cambridge, UK a better city


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A few ideas to get people thinking and talking about how to improve Cambridge.

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Ideas for making Cambridge, UK a better city

  1. 1. Antony Carpen Public Policy & Social Media Tel: 07779 205270 Email: Web: Cambridge Community Development Ideas’ Slides
  2. 2. Background These slides contain ***lots*** of ideas that I would like to weave together into a big community development plan. The ideas are there for people to improve, pick apart, run with or completely dismiss. For ideas – hopes, dreams, aspirations are all they are. At the moment they are in no specific order.
  3. 3. 1) An adults’ ‘late starters’ orchestra Simple concept: Expand the Duxford Workshop (See to Cambridge, with the model of the East London Late Starters’ Orchestra. Book out a school/college. 3 morning sessions covering group instrumental and choral sessions and orchestra sessions, bringing together music teachers, those that gave up in childhood but want to return, and those that want to learn a new instrument from scratch & play music with others.
  4. 4. 2) A Cambridge Community Digital Learning Plan. I blogged about it at / - what should it contain and how could we deliver it so it covers both the essentials while covering a broad a spread as possible?
  5. 5. 3) A Community Action Summit Again, I’ve blogged about this at / - I’m hoping to pilot something with Transition Cambridge and the Cambridge Hub in early 2014, with a larger event later in the year.
  6. 6. 4) A Societies’ Fair Like what the students have, but for the community groups and community facilities across and beyond the City. I blogged about it at /
  7. 7. 5) A Hack Day Trying to bring together/co-ordinate all of the various ‘civic online resources’ together so that we don’t have lots of people doing different things. In particular improving and upgrading
  8. 8. 6) A venues’ booking system for community halls similar to hotel booking You know how you can search and filter for hotel rooms? Can we put together something similar for all of the community venues for Cambridge? Filtering for time, date, size, facilities required, location, cost etc. A ***very big*** ask – it requires all venues having the hardware, software and staff/volunteer training to make it work.
  9. 9. 7) Linking up the governing boards and PTAs of primary and secondary schools The aim of this is to link primary schools with each other for a variety of reasons including: -Smoothing the transition from primary to secondary school -Ensuring fewer event clashes eg fairs/fetes/bazaars -Wider publicity for events incl drama/music performances -Stronger cross-community links -Sharing skills & knowledge across governing bodies
  10. 10. 8) Having community notice boards at all supermarkets The simple premise of allowing people to advertise community events where people happen to be going to. This could also become the start of supermarkets providing support for events in their local communities too, creating an incentive for staff and customers to suggest groups and projects to support
  11. 11. 9) Science in the city – evening classes? Much is made of science and technology, but where are the opportunities for people to learn about science and technology in a social but structured format in Cambridge? Can we make it practical, stimulating and exciting while taking the exams out of it? After all, there are more than enough scientists to deliver it!
  12. 12. 10) Schools’ & FE colleges’ representation on council meetings This is at the ‘in principle’ stage at the moment – there’s huge potential for this with the current area committee set up, as well as with the structures of the UK Youth Parliament. I’m more interested in the ‘how?’ rather than the ‘should?’
  13. 13. 11) A sequential programme of civic education across the city Re citizenship education, secondary schools in particular could be encouraged to agree with councils/MPs/MEPs a series of actions/events for each year group. Eg: Year 7 – Visit from public services introducing their existence Year 8 – A visit to various public service buildings to meet the people who work there Year 9 – A visit to the town/guild/shire hall Year 10 – Work experience Year 11 – a politics’ question time event which they prepare in advance for.
  14. 14. 12) A single community web portal for Cambridge communities Easier said than done given the efforts that have already gone into Shape Your Place and existing autonomous efforts. Can we get something that combines with the vibrant community forums at ? If so, how? Could/should this be combined with the local newspaper?
  15. 15. 13) Reopening the old bingo building by Christ’s college as a music venue Easier said than done as this requires persuading the college, the police and local residents that it will be for an older clientele. At present, the city centre has little for those that don’t want a traditional pub/bar night out. It also means that without a critical mass of older people about on the streets, they can feel less safe.
  16. 16. 14) Persuading Cambridge University and colleges to be ‘good local citizens’ That means looking out for local residents’ needs – in particular those that have no connection to the university. See the old bingo building as an example. What concessions are colleges and Cambridge University prepared to make to create a city centre that is good for local residents as well as university members?
  17. 17. 15) Creating a culture of vibrant and informed local political debate Who is going to host the local question time events where the residents and citizens get to set the agenda rather than the councillors and politicians? We only seem to have these on around general election time. If you want to do something about voter disengagement, give people a reason to turn up and get engaged.
  18. 18. 16) Incorporating other public sector bodies into council & community actions Addenbrookes, Cambridge University, Hills Road & Long Road Sixth Form Colleges, the schools, Anglia Ruskin, I’m looking at you. Can we reverse the fragmentation of our public services so that at a frontline as well as a management level, people are communicating and working with each other ***for*** the community?
  19. 19. 17) Community notice boards on the trains’ side of the railways station There are some on the street side which are easily missed, but can some be put up where people are waiting? For example one by each of the coffee bars at the ends of platforms 1 and 4? For the simple reason being that ***this is where people are waiting*** - with time on their hands. In particular council consultations with shortcut URLs for people to access on smartphones & tablets on the train.
  20. 20. 18) Local agreements between libraries and local primary schools Encourage reading at an early age – in particular with children from low income families who may not be able to afford to purchase books outright. Create local cultures where schools and libraries are supported as being the hearts of local communities, reaching beyond the traditional communities of the parents & teachers.
  21. 21. 19) Synchronising bus and train times at rail stations In particular at Cambridge Railway Station, is there any chance that the buses that arrive just as a train pulls in can be held back to allow passengers to make a swift move from train to bus?
  22. 22. 20) Mapping community groups and assets This is one of the earliest actions I think needs to be undertaken: Can we get a baseline of where we currently are with community development? -Where are all of the venues that community groups can hire out? -Where are all the community groups that exist and how do residents get in touch with them/find out about them? Then we can start making progress on increasing their impact.
  23. 23. 21) Persuading language schools to be ‘good citizens’ This is actually about how language schools and their students interact with local residents, so it needs the input of all. The questions I have are: 1)What are the areas of existing tensions between residents and language students? 2)How can those tensions be reduced? 3)What are the opportunities that resident young people are missing out on re: interaction? 4)How can we overcome the barriers in 3)?
  24. 24. 22) Restore the organ in the Cambridge Guildhall Yes, it will cost £35,000 to restore the organ, and £25,000 to put some decent kitchens in there, but why not? (I got the figures from dge_guildhall_repairs_and) Can we set up an official fund-raising campaign for both, so as to transform the Guildhall and increase the diversity of events we host there?
  25. 25. 23) Restore the Victorian Tiles at Morley School, South Cambridge. They were taken down as part of County Councilfunded works in the late 1980s and they’ve been sitting in a secret location ever since. (I know where but am sworn to secrecy). Can the council help make good what has been a 25 year hole in a local Cambridge Community? Perhaps as a joint fundraiser?
  26. 26. 24) Parliament week events for young people I’m not too fussed about age or qualifications, but am thinking along the lines of having a Dunchester’s Millions half-day policy event run for potential civil servants (See That along with a Young Persons’ Question Time event, with 1 panel made up of student activists in political parties, & the second of elected representatives – council or parliaments.
  27. 27. 25) Links between employers & the Prince’s Trust Team programme Having done this programme myself (see is there something where employers interviewing and rejecting those with low skills and low confidence can refer them to the Prince’s Trust Team, with the offer of another interview if they complete the course? Is this something where employers can also sponsor some of their young staff with basic skills/qualifications to do elements of this programme too?
  28. 28. 26) Further education community enrichment programmes The larger sixth form colleges in Cambridge have them. Is there something we can do to get some level of co-ordination across the public and voluntary sectors with these so that institutions know when to expect young people looking for experience and placements?
  29. 29. 27) Consolidating and improving existing community and business networks Other than bringing them all into a big room and getting some skilled mediators & facilitators to smooth over difficult conversations? The list from 2011 at is ***massive*** - but isn’t there some duplication? Doesn’t the sheer number mean that impact is reduced if there is not the co-ordination & communication to go with it? If you’re new to networks in Cambridgeshire, where do you start?
  30. 30. 28) Have a rethink on where our community notice boards are The City Council has them, but what about surrounding areas? Who looks after them? To what extent do communities know how to use/access them? Furthermore, where are the best places to have notice boards? I’ve mentioned the railway station and supermarkets previously. With the council, could they double up?
  31. 31. 29) Improve how we connect business in the community networks with charities In particular moving away from some of the ‘big branded charities’ towards supporting local causes. Also, having a much wider and consistent structure for communications in our communities so that such networks can reach out to more people. This may include: -Actions around graduation/college leaving time -Having firms incorporating the logos of such networks in their adverts
  32. 32. 30) A city-wide skills-audit Always a tricky thing to do given the turnover of the population, but would it be a worthwhile exercise getting some robust data on a bi-annual basis where anonymously people can fill in surveys (with backing of employers) stating what skills they have and what skills employees think they need. Ditto with employers on what skills they think their firms/employees need. Then put these results to skills providers to tailor to their needs. Basically, can we co-ordinate things to get a decent evidence-base to work with?
  33. 33. 31) Consolidate and open up the voluntary & community sector I’m thinking about structures, systems, processes, cultures, skills and overall vision here. Why do we have a separate: & which is separate to ? How does this look to the general public & to students?
  34. 34. 32) Mainstream Addenbrookes & health service centres into community networks …because at the moment I have no idea where to start with Addenbrookes, despite having wandered into the hospital and looked on their websites too. There are individual groups such as the ACT Choir (see calling-all-choristers ) that do great things, but it’s not clear to those of us outside of health circles
  35. 35. 33) Co-ordinate and consolidate sport and leisure in the city Think of all of the sports clubs for example. Think of all of the facilities. If you wanted to get fit again but didn’t know where to start…exactly. Is there something we can do to take people through the processes, do the introductions to people etc to make the whole process less nerve-wracking for those new to sports/activities? Also, should there be specific times of the year where we have ‘festivals of sport & leisure’ where the clubs & societies come together to reach out to the city & beyond en masse?
  36. 36. 34) Standing lists/databases of volunteer speakers/workshop hosts for schools This would help with head teachers and teachers when planning their annual and termly schemes of work for their students and children. Part of the problem is the information gap: Not all schools may know who is on their doorstep, let alone know or have the confidence to get in touch with them. How can we overcome this? Basically but local.
  37. 37. 35) Rollerblading/rollerskating classes in the summer Because we have Romsey Rollerbillies ( on our doorstep and I have a pair of rollerblades gathering dust. Wouldn’t it be great to make more use of community assets that are our playgrounds – and generating much needed funding for schools as well as getting more of us active? Classes for adults as well as children.
  38. 38. 36) Community workshops explaining the planning system for buildings Because it’s not clear to the community how it works and all too often it’s too late for the community to intervene when it becomes clear a planned development is something they do not like. Think Wilton Terrace.
  39. 39. 37) Community welcome packs for new residents We’ve got lots of new homes going up and lots of people moving to the city. Can we have a brochure introducing people to all the community groups, services and activities going on in the city, encouraging people moving here to get involved?