Action on Jesus Green barbecues

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New signs have finally arrived for Jesus Green, explicitly warning visitors not to use disposable barbecues directly on the grass. The old signs weren’t as clear as this, meaning many picnickers didn’t realise that they weren’t supposed to use them.

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New signs on Jesus Green

 

Disposable barbecues are an issue because they leave burnt patches in the grass which are ugly and unsightly. Local residents have also said that on some days there’s a pall of smoke across the whole of the Green.

We don’t want to stop people having picnics, though. There’s probably no nicer place in the city to take a hamper down in the summer, or indeed a barbecue. I spoke to local councillor Dan Ratcliffe the other day about this – he lives just up the road. He told me that local residents don’t want to stop the Green from being enjoyed; they just care deeply about making sure it’s looked after.

So we’re looking at extending the number of barbecue stones and slabs on the north side of the Green, past the path and near the kiosk, with the help of the Friends of Jesus Green. They’ve been great and really generous with their time and energy – many thanks if you’re reading this. Hopefully the clearer signs will be a step towards sorting this issue so everyone can enjoy one of the city’s favourite open spaces.

Riverside – what’s next?

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Riverside in the snow with moored boats

We’ve had some good media coverage from the Cambridge News about the new regulation scheme for Riverside moorers, and I’ve had some really heartening emails from local residents. Some are just saying thanks for getting things moving, but more are telling me how much the moorers add to their community. It’s great to hear that, as there’s been a lot of tension between floating residents and non-floating residents (for want of a better description). I’m hoping that this will be the first step in building relationships on Riverside with a view to transforming the area over the next few years.

So what’s next? First, we’re making sure enforcement’s in place. City Council officers will be out regularly clearing rubbish over the next few weeks, and making sure that boat parts and other kit aren’t stored on the road. We’ve already had the graffiti cleared off the Riverside bridge, so the area should start to feel a bit less neglected. We’ll also be putting in place a proper system to ensure that we can remove derelict boats once the new regulation system comes in on the 1st of October.

We’ll be talking to the County again about parking in the area, and to local residents about their long-term ideas for Riverside. And we’ll be working very closely with the Cam Conservators to make sure that any boats that leave Riverside aren’t replaced by new moorings.

We don’t know yet whether we’ll have long term residential moorings at Riverside; we need to do a lot more work on access and other issues before we can decide that for certain. But in the meantime, the new regulation scheme should make sure that all the boats that are moored there are safe, and can be moved down to the pump out station so sewage isn’t dumped in the river. Meanwhile, the long term residential moorers on the river will have a bit of security for the first time without the fear that they could be evicted at any moment.

I’ll post updates here regularly as things develop, as well as making sure that all residents are kept up to date with what’s going on.

Swifts!

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I was absolutely delighted to see that swifts have finally begun colonising the Cambridge Swift Tower at Logan’s Meadow Local Nature Reserve in East Chesterton. This was an innovative public art project commissioned three years ago from London-based artist Andrew Merritt.

The Swift Tower at Logan's Meadow - photo by Keith Edkins

The Swift Tower at Logan’s Meadow

Swifts in flight - Source: Wikimedia Commons. Photo taken by Meteor2017

Swifts in flight

Local volunteers from Action for Swifts worked with the City Council and the artist to design the tower. Since the opening, recorded swift calls have been played over the summer months to attract young birds to take up residence and form a new colony.

Swifts have shown interest in previous summers but this is the first year birds have been seen entering boxes on both the front and back of the tower. Up to 10 birds are now regularly wheeling around the structure and creating the spectacle that was envisaged at the start of the project.

I love this project. Public art projects can be controversial, but this shows how contributions from developers can be used to really enhance an area affected by development and in this case a much-loved local nature reserve. The Swift Tower sits within an extension to the riverine Logan’s Meadow Local Nature Reserve, and earthwork to create a River Cam backwater and reed bed will begin very shortly.

Swifts return to the same nest sites every year. Unfortunately they’re declining, and one likely cause is loss of nest sites as buildings are renovated, insulated and rebuilt. The Swift Tower might eventually become home to a huge colony, but equally important it raises awareness of swifts and how Cambridge residents and visitors can help through preserving nest sites or putting up nest boxes.

Cambridge News – First Feathered Residents Wing into Swift Tower

Action For Swifts

Logan’s Meadow Nature Reserve