By-election in my neighbourhood – Should Puffles stand?


Sue Birtles, until recently the Labour Councillor for Queen Edith’s ward has stood down to concentrate on fighting the South Cambridgeshire seat for the 2015 general election. So…should Puffles stand? Should I stand in my own name? Should refrain from standing and organise hustings instead?

News of the by-election is here. If there was a ward other than Coleridge I was going to stand for in the Cambridge City Council elections in May, it was Queen Edith’s. I live by the ward boundary and am a governor at a local school in the ward. See the archive of the earlier campaign here.

What are the issues?

Addenbrookes Hospital

This is an issue that never seems to go away – one of the biggest issues being commuter parking in residential neighbourhoods around the hospital. It’s something that continues to come up at South Area Committee meetings, and never gets resolved.

Unsuitable development

Queen Edith’s is on the edge of Cambridge. The Green Belt is inevitably vulnerable as the city expands – even more so from predatory developers. Hence concern about the Worts Causeway development – see here. Some of the new buildings in South Cambridge are hideous – here’s an example. Queen Edith’s has a lack of community facilities – it still doesn’t have a pub for example. (We await the reopening of the long-closed ‘The Queen Edith’)

Improving the main secondary school

Netherhall school’s leadership failed to respond substantively to repeated correspondence from Cambridge City Council councillors.

Not long after the latest Ofsted inspection (see here), the school announced new leadership arrangements (see here).

This contrasts with the approach Coleridge Parkside school took – they embraced outreach from the city council. The result? Councillors and council officials are regularly engaging with the school and recently ran a local public policy workshop with students there. See their report here.

Community action

South Cambridge has the skills, talent and the people to have a much greater positive impact on our city than we are currently having. One of the biggest barriers to this is that our institutions are not working collaboratively. They are not sharing resources or information nearly as well as they could be. As a result, community facilities are under-used, and people are perhaps needlessly isolated. Young people are less able to take advantages of opportunities on our doorstep, and ultimately we’re not reaching our potential. This I we can change.


Standing for election requires a huge commitment and also costs money that at present I don’t have. Also, last time around the only local resident helped me on Puffles’ campaign. As things stand, neither of us are in the greatest health. Oh – and I’ll also need a different set of proposers as it’s a different ward. Unlike last time, I can’t stand alone.

Other parties standing

Cambridge Conservatives – I expect Chamali Fernando and team to sink their teeth into this one given that South Cambridgeshire Conservatives are still selecting their PPC. Queen Edith’s sits within Cambridge City Council boundaries but is in the South Cambridgeshire Parliamentary Consitituency.

Cambridge Labour – The ward with the massive Addenbrookes Hospital in it, Labour will want to hold onto this seat given the emphasis the NHS will have on their general election campaign.

Cambridge Liberal Democrats – Traditionally a safe council seat for them, Sue Birtles broke through a couple of years ago, defeating longstanding city councillor, Cllr Amanda Taylor (who won the following year for the same ward but for Cambridgeshire County Council). This might be seen as a ‘weather vane’ campaign for the 2015 clash between Julian Huppert and Daniel Zeichner.

Cambridge Greens – Traditionally dormant on this side of town, will they try to follow up a strong showing numerically in the European elections? A campaign here could raise their profile and flush out a few new activists.

Cambridge UKIP – This will be their first test following their announcement they intended to contest every ward seat in Cambridge following a successful East-Anglia-wide showing in the Euro-elections – although they were beaten by The Greens and Conservatives into 5th place in Cambridge. (And beaten by Puffles in Coleridge!)

National Health Action Party

They have a Cambridgeshire Twitter account at @NHA_Cambs with a view to standing in South Cambridgeshire in the 2015 general election, but will they stand in the ward that Addenbrookes is in?


4 thoughts on “By-election in my neighbourhood – Should Puffles stand?

  1. It’ll be interesting to see if the Conservatives make an effort. The party in Queen Edith’s could meet inside a phone box nowadays, but in a by-election without distractions elsewhere, they might parachute in a more interesting candidate (like they’re planning to do in South Cambridgeshire) and round up the troops from across the city in support. After all, Queen Edith’s was Conservative once, and with some of the most expensive property in East Anglia, looks from the outside like somewhere they should really put on a better show in the future.

  2. Parachuting is exhilarating! However, there are some restrictions on parachutes for local elections. To stand in a city council election you must either live or work in the city – as well as persuade 10 residents of the contested ward to nominate you.

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