Sarah Brown

Former Councillor for Petersfield Ward

Area Committee changes reduce residents’ chance to have their say

Monday, July 14th, 2014 by Ian Manning

Cambridge Liberal Democrats fear sweeping changes to the City Council’s area committees could seriously reduce residents’ say in decision making.


The changes mean that the Labour ruling group intend to reduce the frequency of area committees by over 30 per cent a year.


Lib Dems fear this will severely impact on residents’ opportunities to hold their councillors to account.


Councillor Rod Cantrill said: “This is a backward step for the City Council. It will mean the loss of local decision making and more decisions will be taken behind closed doors in the Guildhall.


“Cllr Lewis Herbert, The leader of the Council indicated at the Council’s Annual Meeting that the Labour ruling group intended to ‘refresh’ Area Committees – this step highlights that the new ruling group intend to do the opposite and ‘suffocate’ Area Committees


“Area committees provide an environment for residents to speak without feeling intimidated which they sometimes feel when attending meetings at the Guildhall.”


Cllr Mike Pitt said: “Labour has wasted no time in making this move which will lessen residents’ involvement with the City Council. They have taken this decision without consulting residents who will be directly affected by these proposals.


“I hope that it is not a sign that Labour are being arrogant with the democratic power the residents of Cambridge have entrusted them with”


Monday, April 14th, 2014 by Ian Manning

For more info on open source, see: Note: This site is not affiliated with or endorsed by the Open Source Initiative

Cambridgeshire County Councillor, Ian Manning is encouraging open source based tenders for the council’s future back end systems.

The move would build in flexibility and potentially save on expensive licence costs.

Cllr Manning, who represents Cambridge’s East Chesterton on the county council, became aware of the idea through his membership of the Local Government Shared Services (LGSS) joint committee which runs the council’s shared services collaboration with Northamptonshire.

Currently, the Councils in LGSS have several “Enterprise Resource Planning” (ERP) systems in place and are looking to upgrade and replace them all with one platform.

“It’s great that the organisation is consolidating its offering – which will take LGSS from strength to strength,” said Cllr Manning.

“I’m concerned about the overall cost of the current solution, and feel that open source alternatives could provide a better, cheaper, and more flexible alternative.”

Cllr Manning is spearheading the adoption of more open source software across the Council’s IT platforms, and is looking to hear from organisations that provide commercial level support for those systems.


[1]  The tender can be found here:

[2]  Government policy encourages councils to adopt more open source software instead of commercial software

Sarah Creates Free Swimming Lessons for Kids Who Can’t Swim

November 22nd, 2013 by Sarah Brown

Lib Dem Councillor, Sarah Brown, who heads up public health, sports and leisure and children’s services on the City Council, has been busy putting in place a new initiative aimed at teaching disadvantaged children to swim.

Parkside Pools

Sarah outside Parkside Pools

Figures show that increasing numbers of children reach secondary school age unable to swim two lengths of a pool, or at all. This is especially prevalent amongst children from poorer families, children with certain disabilities, and some ethnic minority groups.

“When I heard about the increasing number of children who couldn’t swim, I was shocked”, said Sarah.

“Swimming is a vital life skill. Not only is it a fantastic way to keep fit and healthy, and great for mental health, but knowing how to swim can also save your life.”

“I’d just taken over running the council’s swimming pools, public health and children’s services, and I thought that there must be something we can do to help.”

Bringing together council officers from public health, the council’s play service (ChYpPS) and leisure management, Sarah asked them to work together to develop a scheme to target those children least likely to have strong swimming skills and deliver free, targeted swimming lessons tailored specifically towards them.

“We have contact with children from all communities and backgrounds through ChYpPS, we have a responsibility for public health, and we have 4 swimming pool sites, including a custom built learner pool at Kings Hedges”, said Sarah.

“Working with our new leisure partners, GLL, who manage our pools for us, and other partners we’re going to get kids swimming who otherwise would likely never learn”

The new scheme is expected to be up and running early in 2014.

Lib Dems push for flexible working to witness the tour de france

Thursday, November 7th, 2013 by Ian Manning

Cambridgeshire Lib Dems want the county council to give their full-time staff flexible working to allow them to attend the Tour de France when it passes through Cambridge and South Cambs next summer.

As the race is due to visit the area on Monday, July 7, it could be difficult for full-time workers to take time off to watch.

Cambridgeshire County Council staff and managers should be given flexible arrangements to attend the event, they say. And they want the county council to encourage other businesses to do the same.

They have put forward their idea in a motion to the council recognising the “excellent working relationship” between the county council and Cambridge City Council which secured the third stage of the 2014 race for Cambridge and South Cambs.

Councillor Ian Manning, who represents Cambridge’s East Chesterton on the county council said: “This is a unique opportunity for the people of Cambridgeshire and it would be a real shame if they were to miss out on witnessing this historic event when flexible working could allow them to attend.

“I hope the county council and other businesses across Cambridgeshire will find ways to allow their staff to enjoy the event and be part of history in the making.”

Bike Revolution coming to a college near you

Friday, October 18th, 2013 by Amanda Taylor

Cambridgeshire County Council has teamed up with Ben Hayward Cycles of Cambridge and Outspoken to organize four ‘Bike Revolution’ events in sixth form colleges in Cambridgeshire, to promote safer cycling.

Students can take their bikes along for a free Dr Bike maintenance check and to get a set of discounted bike lights fitted. Other fun activities include pedalling your way to a fruit smoothie and competitions and challenges on bicycle related issues that aim to educate as well as entertain. Here is a picture of Harry, a Hills Road student, who kindly let me take a photo of him pedalling like fury to produce a delicious fruit smoothie.

The County’s Cycling Team was offering information and taking the opportunity to consult about the proposed improvements for the Perne/ Radegund Road roundabout, as well as canvassing for other suggestions of cycleways that needed improvement.

Next week, there will also be the chance to find out more about the 2014 Tour de France stage that is starting in Cambridge. Be outside the Senate House at 12 noon for an exciting announcement about the route!

Bike Revolution was at Hills Road VI Form College today, very busy. Next week it will be at Long Road on Tuesday and CRC on Thursday next week.

  • 16th October (10:30 – 13:30): Huntingdonshire Regional College
  • 18th October (11:00 – 14:00): Hills Road College
  • 22nd October (12:00 – 15:00): Long Road College
  • 24th October (11:00 – 14:00): Cambridge Regional College

Cambridgeshire Liberal Democrats: why we called in the Park & Ride charge introduction

Friday, September 13th, 2013 by Ian Manning
This week the Liberal Democrat group at Cambridgeshire County Council called in the Cabinet’s out-of-the-blue decision to introduce a £1 charge at the five Cambridge Park and Ride sites, on the grounds that there had been no public consultation, nor any assessment of potential adverse effects such as displaced parking in residential areas and a lower take-up of public and sustainable transport.
As a result the matter has now been debated by the council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee, chaired by the Liberal Democrats, which in turn has recommended that Cabinet reconsider its decision.
Six key facts
1)  The Park and Ride facilities were designed to reduce traffic in Cambridge City, by encouraging people to ride buses and bicycles and leave their cars outside of town.
2)  The proposed parking charge would be on top of the bus fare, which is £2.40.
3)  Stagecoach pays £2 for each bus load that leaves Park and Ride. This ‘Departure Charge’ hasn’t risen since 2001, though the Stagecoach bus fare itself has gone up.
4)  The council is currently consulting the public on its flagship ‘Transport Strategy for Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire‘, which is geared to workable, sustainable transport networks in order to avoid costly gridlock congestion in and around Cambridge, as population rises.
5)  There has been no analysis of the use of the Park and Ride sites and their contribution to an integrated public transport network. Generally, it has been found that multi-ticketing on a single journey is a disincentive to using public transport.
6)  Coincidentally, the Guided Bus out-of-court settlement, which leaves the taxpayer with a £33 million bill, was announced a few days before the Park and Ride charging proposals were published. The parking charge proposals, which would raise £1 million per year, don’t apply to the Guided Bus Park and Ride facilities in St Ives and Longstanton.
If revenue needs to be raised from Park and Ride sites, we think the council should first be exploring retail options and looking at a greater contribution from the bus operator, which does well out of Park and Ride but is enjoying unchanged departure charges.

Julian Huppert: Why I voted against military intervention in Syria

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013 by Ian Manning

Julian Huppert, MP for Cambridge, writes:

“It is probably the most important decision an MP will ever make – should we take our country to war? It clearly has massive implications not only for those on the ground in the country under attack but also for the safety of our own military personnel and ultimately our own people.

There is no denying that the situation in Syria is absolutely horrific. Civilians are suffering almost daily atrocities. It is one of the worst humanitarian disasters, with around two million refugees. The use of chemical weapons on a civilian population has been terrifying.

But I am not convinced that going in unilaterally and launching a military attack would have been the right approach. Is it up to us to act as global police, without international agreement?

How could we take this course of action when it was certainly not obvious that bombing Syria would have prevented further use of chemical weapons or made life better for its people? Our action could have made things considerably worse, especially if we killed civilians ourselves. And there was always the risk that Britain’s involvement could lead to retaliatory action on the ground. That’s why I voted against the military intervention, to stop this happening.

I was pleased that both the government motion and the very similar Labour alternative failed. Both of them led on a path that would lead to military intervention without international approval, and both were dangerous. Both David Cameron and Ed Miliband treated the UN as a sideshow, making the same mistake that Tony Blair and Labour made over the Iraq war. 

The most important thing now is that Britain puts every possible effort into diplomatic attempts to end the civil war and, in particular, the use of chemical weapons. Bombing Syria is not the answer – ending the conflict is the way to go. “

A Million Jobs …and counting!

Friday, June 28th, 2013 by craigwhittall


Since 2010, more than one million jobs have been created in the private sector. We are proud of the role that the Liberal Democrats have played in directing government investment into job creation and training.

We are now focusing our efforts on improving this record and delivering a million more new jobs as we continue to build a stronger economy for the future.

Jobs for Young People

The coalition government has already delivered 1.2 million apprenticeships for young people since 2010. The Liberal Democrats are now campaigning to double the number of apprenticeships being offered.

Jobs in Manufacturing

Manufacturing is the key to a sustainable economic recovery in Britain. Under Vince Cable at the Dept for Business, Innovation and Skills, we have directed an extra investment of over £5.5 billion into high-tech manufacturing, science and renewable energy.

Jobs across the UK

Liberal Democrats have long argued that we need to rebalance the economy away from our reliance on London and South East England. That is why we have also set up the £2.6 billion Regional Growth Fund initiative, to help create businesses, jobs and economic recovery in every part of the country.

Jobs Building Britain

The coalition is using £15.3 billion of investment into our infrastructure to build a stronger economy for the future and to create thousands of jobs in construction right now.
For more information on the Liberal Democrats’ record in creating one million new jobs, and to find out how many new jobs are being created near you, visit the Million Jobs website:

I Will Stand With Residents on Their Concerns About Future Access to the Mill Road Depot Site

June 27th, 2013 by Sarah Brown

This is the speech I gave at Full Council in June, 2013, opposing access to any future housing development on the Mill Road Depot Site via Hooper Street:

Mr Mayor, I’d like to address an issue of significant concern to lots of the residents I represent.

During the issues and options consultation for the new Local Plan, a comment came in from Cambridgeshire County Council’s highways department concerning possible future development for housing on the City Council’s Mill Road Depot site.

Sarah Will Oppose Access to the Depot Site via Hooper Street

Sarah Will Oppose Access to the Depot Site via Hooper Street

Specifically, the comment was that, for any potential development, “access should not be via Mill Road”.

Mr Mayor, the site in question is bounded on one side by Mill Road, on another by the railway line, on a third by houses on Kingston Street, and on the fourth, the only plausible access other than Mill Road, by Hooper Street.

This led a number of local residents to conclude that the County Council were suggesting that access to any future residential development should be via Hooper Street. Indeed, it’s difficult to see how they could have intended to suggest otherwise.

I find it strange that the County Council seem to think that an existing access which is in constant use by city council vehicles at all hours of the day would not be suitable for a level of traffic which would likely be lower than exists at present. However, that is a small thing when considered against the utter absurdity of sending all traffic for such a development down narrow roads such as Hooper Street, Sturton Street and York Street.

Mr Mayor, I am glad to see that the draft Local Plan, in Policy 23: Mill Road Opportunity Area, has sensibly rejected the County’s suggestion. Accessing that site via the narrow streets in the north of Petersfield ward would be unsafe and entirely unfair to the people living there, and were such a scheme to come forward I would certainly be robust in representing the residents’ concerns and opposing it.

My Speech to Council on the “A14″ Motion

April 18th, 2013 by Sarah Brown

This is the speech I just gave to Council on Cllrs Bick and Ward’s A14 motion.

Madam Mayor, I want to speak to the safety issues mentioned in part (a). I am not against safety improvements to the A14. I am not against work which will improve its throughput as well as its safety.

Madam Mayor, the problem I have is with us being asked to financially support a piece of large and expensive infrastructure when much cheaper things which can address some of the safety and capacity issues, which have been shown to work elsewhere in the county, and in other countries, have not been tried.

I had the misfortune of driving round the M25 near Heathrow last week, which, and this may come as a surprise to the members of the Campaign for Real Asphalt opposite, was very congested despite being 12 lanes wide. As a result, the variable speed limit system was in force. It had dropped the speed limit to 40mph and while this wasn’t perfect, it did have the effect of facilitating a throughput of traffic which would have ground the road to a halt if everyone was trying to accelerate at 70mph.

I’m also familiar with the Italian Autostrade from Bolzano up to the Brenner Pass. This is a road which, due to space constraints imposed by mountains on either side, is limited to 2 lanes in each direction. It’s substantially longer than the A14 within Cambridgeshire, and like the A14 it carries a very high number of heavy goods vehicles as well as a lots of private traffic, which is trying to go faster. The road is extremely twisty and has dreadful sight lines for a motorway. It is, in my experience, a much more challenging problem than the A14.

The Italian government has taken the simple and inexpensive step of forbidding HGVs from the overtaking lane. This is used on roads elsewhere in the UK. Indeed, it’s also used on the A14 much further west.

Madam Mayor, before jumping up and down and demanding money this authority would struggle to afford to fund the Nick Clarke Memorial Turnpike, I wonder why the leader of the County Council has not pressed for considerably less expensive measures first. Madam Mayor, I will admit that they might not work, but if the last few decades have taught us anything about road building it’s that trying to build our way out of congestion doesn’t work, is harmful to public transport, and is harmful to the environment.