Background: How did we get to here?

One of the things my time in Whitehall taught me was how little power and influence local councils and councillors have on the things that happen in Cambridge. The pace and scale of the economic boom, and the growth of ‘brand Cambridge’ mean that the public and civic infrastructure is now hopelessly outgunned by the scale of financial power wealthy interests can bring to bear on a city as small and unique as ours.

Despite the best efforts of a number of hard-working councillors, council staff, residents associations and community activists, we’ve seen some monstrosities go up across Cambridge – the developments around the railway station being particularly depressing for their blandness. We’ve been left with the phallic towers at end of Hills Road railway bridge, gated communities in a part of town that was previously a stable community (I grew up here) with low crime rates.

What does business as usual look like?

A worst case scenario is that the massive financial interests will kill the city that is making it money – at the expense of the communities that live here. Family homes will be bought up and artificially sub-divided for short-term lets. The result of this is an even more destabilised community as people living for the short term have less of an incentive to put down stable roots. Not that you will see proponents for ‘flexible labour markets’ including these costs in their economic models.

Although the area has become an extension of Kings Cross St Pancras – I used to be one of those commuters spending over £5,000 a year on public transport fares alone, we can still take action to ensure Cambridge doesn’t become a ‘London-by-the-punting-station’ dwelling. We can also take action to ensure that Cambridge doesn’t become a place where housing is taken up by the cramming colleges and language schools at the expense of local residents. It’s also unfair to blame the young people that go to such colleges and courses for this predicament – as I will explain later.

Finally, too many people that are essential to Cambridge functioning as a city are being priced out of the city, or priced back into their parents or families’ homes. I’m one of them. Having struggled with mental health anxiety-related issues, I can no longer work full time. Hence unless I make a better recovery than of late, the prospect of me having my own place in the near future is very low. And I’m in my mid-30s.

Cambridge City Council’s role:

  • Convening
  • Co-ordinating
  • Influencing
  • Leveraging

The challenges:

Society is going social, yet democracy is declining

Conversations on how to solve Cambridge’s problems seem to be happening all over the place, but the political bureaucracy is being bypassed.

People want action, not squabbles in silos

This is a plan to help you become more informed about local issues and decisions.

This is a plan to inspire, energise and unleash the power of the people of Cambridge – even those of you that do not have the vote. Just because you have do not have a vote does not mean you do not have a say.

This is a plan to breathe some much needed passion and fire into local democracy…and who better to launch it than…a DRAGON!


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