Puffles’ Twitter Lists – The Cambridge Twitteratti?


Time to add to the list of people in my locality that I’ve stumbled across over the past year.

My original list of Cambridge-based Twitter users is here, and dates from November 2011. It’s now 2013, and things have evolved. One thing that stands out from that list is the number of political types that used Twitter – many of whom still do. Science, local journalism and local community activists are also noticeable by their presence in that list too.

Again, this isn’t a comprehensive guide of every single person that uses Twitter in Cambridge. I’m covering people that I’ve either met or who have appeared on Puffles’ Twitter feed.

“So Pooffles, any more political types to mention?”

Twitter activity in South Cambridge is relatively mute compared to the north of the city. In the wards of Cherry Hinton, Trumpington (of Baroness Trumpington fame), Queen Ediths and Coleridge, there are hardly any councillors that are regular Twitter users. Much of the Twitter-spats tend to involve ward councillors in the northern and central wards, and then mainly around local council election time.

Outside of Cambridge but on the county council are Conservative councillors Samantha Hoy and Steve Tierney who with Andy and Tim (my webmasters) have formed a critical core of local Conservative Twitter users. This in my view is what Cambridge Green Party need to aim for in order to establish a firm stable local social media presence.

For the Liberal Democrats, Rupert Moss-Ecchardt (who stood unsuccessfully for Police and Crime Commissioner in Cambridgeshire) and County Councillor Sarah Whitebread are both active – county councillors being up for re-election this May. Which makes for an interesting contest in Cllr Ian Manning’s East Chesterton seat as he seeks to hold off a challenge from ex-LibDem councillor and now Labour candidate Claire Blair. This one will be worth watching.

With Labour, aside from Ann Sinnott, an activist who has been tweeting regularly, it’s their students that seem to be picking things up of late, with the likes of Martha Morey, Greg Hill and Sean Keeley beginning to make their presences felt, along with Labour Youth rep for East Anglia, Conrad Landin. (Alex Mayer is the National Policy equivalent) Furthermore, there are the authors of Cameraderie – 100 years of the Cambridge Labour Party Richard Johnson (the other one – there are two), and Ashley Walsh. I got my own copy – it’s a superb read and one that will interest other political parties and historians too. Essentially it reads as a social history of Cambridge the town, as Richard and Ashley scoured the archives to tell a compelling story of the city I grew up in, but of which the tourist brochures never tell you about. Regarding other student societies – Greens, Conservatives & Liberal Democrats, feel free to add your presences in the comments field below as you’ve not made yourself aware to Puffles!

“Now that lolitics is out of the way, what else has been happening?”

Well…not quite. As I mentioned in my previous blogpost, the Cambridge public policy field is growing. Not least because of the work of Cambridge Public Policy and the Cambridge Centre for Science and Policy. Ditto with CRASSH Cambridge – the University’s humanities research centre, where Ruth Rushworth and friends can be found. Furthermore, we have the YouGovCam think tank and the Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership.

What stereotypically used to be a Sir Humphrey type coming back to his alma matter’s MCR for a chinwag with Harlequin, Jeroboam and Aurelian over some port and cheese, now no longer the case. The doors of this side of Oxbridge are being prised open. At the moment they are big enough for dragon fairies to slip through, but the direction of travel is clear: More of these events are being made open to the public – as the likes of The Wilberforce Society and Cambridge Zero Carbon Society (facilitated by the lovely Emily Scott) have demonstrated recently. With more people taking to digital and social media, and more people live blogging and live tweeting, people are able engage with and challenge those speaking at policy-related events in Cambridge. Which is no bad thing.

We also have a number of top academics with firm opinions to share too. One of them I used to work for in my civil service days – Dr Henry Tam. If you want to know anything about community development policy, he’s one of the experts being a former senior civil servant with the policy lead in this field for both the Home Office and the Department for Communities and Local Government. On education policy, Dr Sandra Leaton-Gray is essential following. My interest in her work stems in part from being a school governor, having gone back to my old primary school to help out now that I have a little time to spare.

There is also an incredibly vibrant community of science communicators in Cambridge – one that I’d love to see the local media feature much more of. Following an invitation from Andrew Holding of (amongst other things) Cambridge Skeptics (one for atheists, agnostics, humanists and people who are not fans of institutionalised religion), I took Puffles along to the Cambridge final of Fame Lab UK. There I met four amazing science communicators – Djuke Veldhuis, Hayley Frend (who used giant jellybellies to explain how to target cancer), Ginny Smith, and the eventual winner Catherine Carver. Not surprisingly with so much talent in the city, we are seeing the continuation of the Cambridge Science Festival – this year’s being in March, followed quickly by Cambridge Word Festival in April.

Local media

I had the pleasure of meeting Lizzy Buchan of the Cambridge Evening News recently. Interestingly, not long after meeting Lizzy, her boss, the newspaper’s editor Joanne Tynan appeared on Puffles’ radar. Ditto Rachel Extance who leads their digital operation.  “I-didn’t-do-it-nobody-saw-me-do-it-can’t-prove-anything” (just in case Puffles appears on the front page for the wrong reasons!)

Cambridge was recently slammed as a clone town, which was why Anne Prince commenced the Independent Cambridge project. As an aside, the wider problem is how to manage the vast numbers of tourists, and what the wider strategy is for the city that can bring landlords (mainly the universities but also pension funds) on board. If tourists coming to Cambridge expect the place to be like the home of Mr M Mouse and Mr D Duck, we’ve got a reputation issue. My home town isn’t a theme park. People live here, study here and work here too. I also see dotted around various places Cambridge Edition too. I’ve also spotted Octavia Sheepshanks, a columnist at Tab Cambridge.

On the radio we have Julian Clover of Cambridge 105FM who is interested in all things media and tech, which means a number of local social media types – such as Julian Huppert, end up being interviewed by him. I tend to avoid local mainstream commercial radio these days though. Too many adverts, too limited a range of music.

Tweeting venues

I’ve noticed a number of venues have also started taking to Twitter of late too. The Junction (run by Aimee Warboys and friends) stands out for me as my local venue of convenience – I first started going there in the mid-1990s. Old skool is me.  We even have a tweeting bookshop – Heffers, which regularly puts on speaking events too. In the heritage area – we’ve got LOTS of old stuff here – our museums are even tweeting! (Marie Kennedy and Liz Hyde I’m sure have something to do with this!) You’ll have heard of the Fitzwilliam Museum which has the really interesting ancient and medieval items – including the knight in shining armour and Egyptian coffins, but the museum of the people is Cambridge Folk Museum. We also have the new Cambridge Science Centre – which is also on Twitter.

Education beyond Cambridge University

Many moons ago I did an evening class at Long Road 6th Form College – a superb A-level history course in 1999. Long Road has, in my view been using Twitter extremely effectively, mixing news from the college to the views of its students. As a local, this gives me a real insight into what happens at the college. The next step in my view for the schools and colleges is to see how they can use social media to both showcase the work that they do, and to encourage their students to engage with the institutions that run our city. For example the number of students that use public transport surely makes Cambridge Future Transport and Cambridge Cycle Campaign essential following for sixth formers across the city. Vice-principal Mike Bryant tweets here. They will soon be joined by the University Technical College in the very near future as a next-door neighbour. I note that Long Road’s rivals – Hills Road Sixth Form College (where I did most of my A-levels) is yet to get onto Twitter. Cambridge Regional College – where I did my teacher training in late 2011 on the other hand, is on Twitter – as is the Parkside Federation which runs two schools locally and has a sixth form attached to it. Even its library has its own Twitter feed! (As does the County Council’s library service – Puffles LOVES libraries and is sometimes seen at Rock Road Library)

More institutions?

Well at least Cambridge University Hospitals is tweeting, even if they’ve chosen to give it to the Comms and PR people. Hence tweets are mainly in broadcast mode rather than engaging with conversations. Keeping an eye on them (because they have a statutory duty – and soon to be rebranded as ‘healthwatch’ by Lansley’s Bill) and county-wide healthcare provision is LINkCambs. Interestingly we also have the editor of Nursing Times – Jenni Middleton – living locally.

Tweeting for the police alongside CambsCops is Hayley Morris. We have a couple of tweeting police officers too – including Sgt Rogerson & PC Steve Gedny. Can we get a few more on? Ditto with fire fighters at Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue.

In the charity and community sector we have the Romsey Mill close by. Institutionally there is the Cambridge Citizens’ Advice Bureau, VSO CambridgeCambridge CVS, which in my book could all be brought together. Alongside that, there is the very interesting student-run/backed Cambridge Hub – encouraging Cambridge and Anglia students to reach out to the rest of the community. Puffles put the local voluntary sector under the microscope when attending the Cambridge CVS AGM. There is huge potential here, but at the moment I feel we’re not on the path to realising and unleashing it.

Less institutions, more community societies include my old dance club Cambridge Dancers’ Club – one for those who want to learn ballroom, salsa and rock’n’roll dancing. They have new beginners classes starting four times a year and three black tie dancing balls a year too. Between autumn 2002 to spring 2010 I went to every single one of those black tie balls. Again, in an ideal world I’d like to find those dancing shoes and take a group of people along to some of their classes.

There is also the vibrant young professionals network JCI Cambridge where Jen Little and friends do wonderful things for young people and local charities too – such as sky-diving! Cambridge Past Present and Future too is less an institution and more a wide community group, getting local residents out and about to find out and care about our local history as well as our futures – hence bringing council consultations to wider audiences.

Mill Road

There are various things happening on, in and around one of Cambridge’s most diverse of streets. Mill Road Cambs blog is one, Mill Road Co-ordinator is another (run in part by Pamela Wesson, who I met at a Net-Squared Cambridge (where we promote using technology for social good) gathering recently), and new local music, art gallery and coffee venue Hot Numbers is a third. On Mill Road, something social media-wise is slowly but surely coming together. Watch those spaces mentioned above!

Other friendly faces

On the art side of life is Diana Probst who I bumped into on Twitter via the “#CambsHour” hashtag. Samantha Ridler-Ueno is another Cambridge student that I bumped into at Lord O’Donnell’s lecture in Cambridge.

In the charity and voluntary sector is Diane Morrison who works her socks off for local homeless charity, FLACK. Locally too there is Natasha Rutter who I met through Teacambs, Ceri Jones – one of the brains behind some of my digital video guides, and doing comedy and science, the people of Brightclub Cambridge. I’m also going to give Cambridge Women’s Football Club a mention too – they are looking for sponsors for their players if you’re interested. I’m also interested in getting a group together to watch them play. The problem is their home ground seems to be in Ely at present. A shame the city cannot provide something locally that’s more suitable.

There are many more people I’d like to add, but I’ll save that for a third instalment. In the meantime I’ll finish off with a recommendation for a very talented young musician – Grace Sarah, who was featured on BBC Look East recently. She’s brilliant.


2 thoughts on “Puffles’ Twitter Lists – The Cambridge Twitteratti?

  1. I did a term or two with CDC, but rapidly found it pushed out by other things. Would still love to learn, though I probably have even less time now! Fascinated by your Strictly tweets on Saturdays (though I don’t have a tv, so not watching along).

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