Back to basics

First published in the Cambridge Independent newspaper in May 2017

Aren’t you just loving the 2017 election season? In the local elections, we had weeks of talk about headline-grabbing transport infrastructure projects. Most candidates stated an ambition to solve the region’s transport woes – but if we’ve learned anything from the Greater Cambridge City Deal so far, it’s that big civil engineering solutions are costly, contentious and cumbersome to deliver. It would have been good if candidates had been able to focus on cheaper and more effective short-term ideas to reduce traffic levels.

Let’s think about reducing school run traffic for a moment. We need to offer families  Continue reading “Back to basics”

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Left hand, meet right hand

First published in the Cambridge Independent newspaper in November 2016

It’s notoriously hard to keep track of the various development initiatives in ‘Greater Cambridge’ because of the plethora of local government agencies involved: Cambridge City Council, South Cambs District Council, Cambridgeshire County Council and of course the Greater Cambridge City Deal all have their sticky fingers in the tasty pie that is the Cambridge Phenomenon.

You might think that these agencies would be diligently working together to solve Cambridge’s problems but this week has thrown up another example of the left hand and the right hand apparently working at cross purposes. South Cambs District Council is Continue reading “Left hand, meet right hand”

Lessons have been learned?

This article was first published in the Cambridge Independent newspaper in October 2016.

Successful businesses are built on the maxim “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it”. So imagine for a moment that one of Cambridge’s world-leading businesses instituted a project which overran its budget by 40%; its timeframe by 120%; and got some really poor client satisfaction ratings. What would it do next? Well, management would want to investigate exactly what went wrong. They would ask clients for feedback and might even apologise. And above all they would want to avoid making the same mistakes again.

Now let’s look at a real-life example commissioned and implemented by Cambridgeshire County Council. The Hills Road cycleway project had an original budget of £1.2m and nine months’ duration; so far it has cost £1.7m and taken 20 months. And what are ‘management’ (County Councillors and senior officers) doing about it? The answer Continue reading “Lessons have been learned?”