How will councillors help Cambridge and surrounding areas to thrive?

Cambridge Doughnut logo

Cambridge Doughnut asked candidates ahead of May 6th elections

Cambridge Doughnut envisions a new way of rebuilding the Cambridge economy following the pandemic to better meet the challenges of the 21st century, so asked candidates what issues they would prioritise in the aim to create a fairer, more sustainable city for all.

Cambridge Doughnut, a Cambridge-based community group working to support the regeneration of the Cambridge economy based on Kate Raworth’s Doughnut Economics principles, organised a digital “hustings” for political candidates contesting in the May 6th elections. Our questions covered issues that mattered to the residents of Cambridge while also considering the reality of the climate emergency we now live in. 

Cambridge Doughnut strives to foster an economy that supports the needs of all people while helping sustain the planet for future generations, using Raworth’s approach to build a society which is both socially just and sustainable. Launched in September 2020 Cambridge Doughnut have grown to over a hundred members in a little over six months. By asking candidates how they would help achieve the dual goals of social justice and environmental protection, the hope is to educate them in the principles of Doughnut Economics and its potential to transform administrative planning. 

Candidates from all key political parties standing for the Cambridge City elections replied to our call and their signed responses can be found in full here: Questions to Candidates

Cambridge Doughnut also wrote to candidates standing for the Cambridgeshire County Council and neighbouring district council elections; received a response from the Green Party Candidate for Cambridgeshire County Council in Abbey, and a collective response from South Cambs Greens at the time of writing. 

The following were the questions posed to candidates:

Ambitious growth plans for this most unequal of cities usually focuses on high-tech, bio and pharma industries – boosting opportunities for incomers, the already advantaged and the highly qualified.

1. How will you ensure the new Local Plan alongside council initiatives improves the living standards of the less privileged and those for whom ‘affordable housing’ is not affordable?

2. How will you seek to ensure the city as a whole delivers what’s needed to address the climate and ecological emergency (climate emergency was declared by the city council and Parliament in 2019)?

3. Will you work for (and how?) passage of the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill?

For the 100-and-growing residents from Cambridge and surrounding areas who are part of Cambridge Doughnut, the motivation to run a digital “hustings” was two-fold: firstly, to receive a public commitment from candidates on where they stand on the above issues, and secondly, to encourage them to adopt principles from Doughnut Economics in planning, following the path taken by other cities around the world, including Amsterdam and Brussels. Closer to home, Cornwall Council identified the Doughnut model as a useful framework to assess the impact of policies.  

David Stoughton, a member of Cambridge Doughnut, said, “While there is some good intent when it comes to narrowing the wealth divide or tackling climate change, urgent demands and party politics tend to override better motivations. Without an unambiguous statement of belief and intent it is impossible for voters to hold our representatives to account, and this is what we hope to achieve.” 

Acknowledging the limited influence councillors have in changing national-level policies, fellow member and long-time resident Geraint Davies adds, “We are interested to hear the links candidates make between the big picture and the local Cambridge system. Are they referring to national political stances or do they have aspirations for local change? Are they making system-level connections between local issues? Are they connecting environmental protection with societal change? The responses indicate to some extent candidates’ alignment with the principles of Doughnut Economics. If you are interested in these principles and believe they are important in creating a fairer and more sustainable society, you can use the responses to steer your votes.”

At Cambridge Doughnut, the intention is to make Doughnut Economics a more central theme in the political dialogue, and we want to continue to work with councils and the successful candidates to promote a better understanding of Doughnut Economics and of ways to implement it locally.

What is Doughnut Economics? 

In her 2017 book Doughnut Economics, Oxford economist Kate Raworth laid out a new way of looking at economics based on the priorities set out by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The Doughnut’s social foundation (the centre of the Doughnut) sets out the minimum standard of living for all covering basic rights like food, water and access to healthcare. The Doughnut’s ecological ceiling (the outside edge) comprises the planetary boundaries within which we must live to preserve our world – a stable climate, fertile soils, healthy oceans, a protective ozone layer, ample freshwater and biodiversity. 

Get Involved

Cambridge Doughnut are inviting residents and local organisations to join their efforts to help make the city of Cambridge and surrounding areas a thriving place for all. To find out more click here or email cambridgedoughnut@gmail.com.

Local Election Hustings

Petersfield Hustings took place on Sunday 25th & Monday 26th April 2021

Did you miss the Petersfield Hustings? Fear not. You can catch up, view the recordings and read all the answers which candidates gave to local residents’ questions.

Graphic of ballot box with voting slip about to be inserted

The Hustings Team hopes that the questions and answers will all help inform voters of the views of the Petersfield candidates, before casting their postal ballots – or voting in person.

There have been two zoom-based Petersfield Hustings:


For full information on the four elections in the fifth month on the sixth day see Elections 4-5-6…

The government has confirmed that all EU citizens who are registered to vote in the UK will be able to vote and stand for election at these polls. For further details see Elections in 2021 on the Cambridge City Council website here.


All Petersfield candidates were sent these six questions:

  1. Please provide a 200-word maximum personal statement on why you are standing in these City Council elections plus a photo.
  2. In which part of Cambridge do you live?
  3. Whether or not you are resident here, please briefly describe your connection(s) with Petersfield.
  4. What  are the three issues most needing Council attention in Petersfield?
  5. What are your own three practical goals for serving Petersfield, if elected?
  6. Local government is about service delivery; if elected, on which issue(s) would you most prefer to co-operate with Councillors of other Parties?

Answers were received from three of the four County candidates and from 10 of 12 City Candidates. You can read the candidates’ responses here.

Those who live, work, volunteer or study in Petersfield were invited to submit questions for the Hustings – a stunning total of 73 questions were received, both via email and via Chat during the Hustings.

Similar questions on important topics of key local interest were amalgamated to generate five questions posed to participants at the County Hustings and four questions posed to participants at the City Hustings.

Then hustings were attended by 150+ participants, from both within Cambridge and beyond (see ‘locations of participants’ listed on the recordings page).

The 25 ‘extra’ County Questions &  16 ‘extra’ City Questions from the Petersfield Community have been sent to all Candidates for each election – including those candidates who did not take part in the live events – candidates have been encouraged to also respond to as many as they wish, for uploading to our website. Responses to the ‘extra’ questions received by midnight on May 5th 2021 will be uploaded. Read the responses here.

The Petersfield Hustings website provides:


Not sure if you live in Petersfield? It’s complicated. The Petersfield County Division and the City Council Ward are not coterminous. They are mainly the same, but differ around the edges. The map shown here originally, was for the City Council (only) up to the date of the election. This has since been corrected with the two maps below.

Click on the map to visit the City Council’s Ward Boundary Review page, and map.
Click on the map to visit the County Council’s My Cambridgeshire page

In order to generate the map, you will need to select the My Maps tab, then open the ‘Council and Democracy’ menu in the sidebar.


Questions for the County Hustings focussed on these public services:

  • adoption & fostering
  • care for  the vulnerable & elderly
  • education
  • libraries
  • policing matters
  • parking issues
  • pavements & potholes
  • roads and traffic management
  • large-scale strategic planning
  • street lighting

Questions for the City Hustings focussed on these public services:

  • benefits
  • bins/recycling
  • City centre & Market Square
  • community centres/events
  • graffiti & litter
  • homelessness & housing
  • parks & open spaces
  • local planning
  • public toilets
  • refugee/asylum
  • rivers/mooring
  • tree services

The Petersfield Hustings were supported by:

And arranged by:

  • Piete Brooks (Hustings Technical Host)
  • Valerie Neal (Hustings Co-Host)
  • Helen Weinstein (Hustings Chair)

Accolades received

To all involved in Petersfield Hustings, Would just like to say, for the record, how brilliant the 2 ‘husting’ evenings have been and how illuminating I personally have found them. Have really made me think hard, as a ‘floating’ voter, and I am so grateful for all the efforts of all involved. Long may they continue into the future! Now I have a real dilemma to sort out before the 6th May! ….Very best wishes to you all

Sue Cox (Trustee, Petersfield Area Community Trust)

Huge thanks for organising the hustings. A really helpful event…. Very grateful to you for your hard work.

Chair of a Petersfield Residents Association

Congratulations….I thought it all went very well and your entire team performed flawlessly. Altogether a success.

Vice Chair of another Petersfield Residents Association

Thanks for a really well organised event.  I’m looking forward to tomorrow evening too.

Petersfield resident

Excellent question!!

Petersfield resident, in Chatstream during Live City Hustings

Excellent set of questions chosen.

Petersfield resident, in Chatstream during Live City Hustings

What you have put on is really important for local democracy

City Council candidate

Thank you for (co-)organising the Hustings and for all the flexibilities around the participation. This is a great initiative!

City Council candidate

Thanks, for creating this site and uploading all information! It looks really professional and it is a real model for local democracy.

City Council candidate

Thank you for everything. It is perfect. 

County Council candidate

Thank you for this comprehensive summary of the hustings. It looks as if it will be a fantastic event.

Campaign Organiser for one of the Cambridge parties

Beautiful Indian stonework under threat

Former Bharat Bhavan Temple carvings in old Mill Road Library “to be taken down and skipped”

Piero, Mill Road Traders Association Ambassador, writes…

I am launching an appeal to save this beautiful carved stone being skipped.

These pictures are from the former Bharat Bhavan Temple located in the Old Library on Mill Road.

Since the County Council got it back in its possession, there has been work set in progress to restore the fabric of the building, unfortunately all this carved stone is destined to be taken down to be skipped. I feel that this a completely sacrilegious act to destroy such beautiful work.

I believe it is worth at least £80,000 as it took thousands of hours of work from many sculptors from India and was shipped all the way to Cambridge.

I am appealing to Cambridge City Council and Cambridgeshire County Council to use those carved stones in a memorial, I already have in mind three locations in Mill Road where it could be placed as a memorial.

We must protect diversity and cultural identities in Mill Road. We haven’t got much time as work begins on Monday 29th March.

The cost for it to be taken down professionally and stored is only £3,000. Mill Road Traders Association can contribute part of the cost but we’d like the community to encourage the authorities to support this project. Mill Road Traders’ Association have also set up a crowdfunding page Save Bharat Bhavan carvings on Mill Road on GoFundMe with a target of £3,250.

If you would be interested in supporting us or have any questions or concerns please email millroadtraders@gmail.com.
Or phone/text/WhatsApp 07909 611 776.

Piero d’Angelico

UPDATE 1 (Sunday 4th April 2021) We have reached the target – thank you! Every additional £ we receive now will go towards the important task of re-homing this piece of Cambridge heritage and not just safely dismantling and storing them. 

Piero d’Angelico

UPDATE 2 (Saturday 10th April) We have had so many emails and phone calls from people who want to help and we are very thankful to you all! 

The funding goal has been raised to £6000 to reflect the installation costs of the carvings, which may also include a heritage plaque telling their story, as well as lighting which changes colour for specific events such as Diwali or the Mill Road Winter Fair. You have all made this happen, with people in Mill Road, Cambridgeshire, and across the country pitching in to help – but please keep passing on our message as every £ helps! 

(It is possible that this number may rise again, but every £ donated helps us do more to save, preserve, and respect this piece of Cambridge heritage.)

Piero d’Angelico

Note: as of Friday 23rd April 2021 at 17:30 the money raised stood at £5,260 


And now, this stunning development…

Mill Road temple carvings sold for £1 ‘worth half a million’

Cambridge Independent, Friday 23rd April 2021, by Alex Spencer

Beautiful carvings from a former temple that were sold to a Cambridge hairdresser by the county council for £1 could be worth as much as £500,000.
Read the full article, here.

Piero D’Angelico with the carvings Picture: Keith Heppell, on the Cambridge Independent website

Our Web Editor adds…
For those wishing to learn more about the background to the library, the temple and its repossession by Cambridgeshire County Council please read on and explore the links below.

The library was built by Cambridge City Council, but passed to the ‘new’ Cambridgeshire County Council under the two-tier reorganisation brought in by The Local Government Act 1972 on April Fool’s Day 1974.

Mill Road Library, from the Capturing Cambridge website

For a brief history of Mill Road Library, click the image above.


For how the reasons behind the County Council’s repossession and the current work, see Debbie Luxon’s report and Frank Gawthrop’s comments.

The 5000-strong Cambridge community fighting against eviction by Debbie Luxon, Community Reporter, Cambridge News, 12th October 2019.

The Indian community organisation that took over the library were granted a 25 year full repairing lease on a peppercorn rent in exchange for maintaining the building fabric. This building which is grade 2, listed was considered a financial liability to the County so this was seen as a zero cost way of maintaining the structure.

Unfortunately the lessees did not spend any money on external maintenance in 10 years allowing water to enter the building and cause extensive damage. The City Council which is responsible in law to ensure listed buildings do not fall into disrepair served notice on the County Council about the deteriorating state and the County sent in surveyors who have estimated the repairs to be in the region of £300,000.

The community association having had free rent declined to pay so the County obtained a court order to regain possession. They may have spent a lot of money on carved statues but they have left local council tax payers with a huge bill.

The lease was held by a company limited by guarantee. This is a fairly usual way that community groups take on financial obligations as it protects the members from any personal claims.

Having cost local tax payers in the region of £300,000 I, for one, think enough public money has been spent already on this failed project. If private individuals want to contribute that is fine and appropriate. If these carvings are valuable they are the property of the company limited by guarantee which leased the building. What are the directors doing about this?

Frank Gawthrop, on Nextdoor.

Elections 4-5-6…

Four elections in the fifth month on the siXth day…

image of ballot box bearing the word 'vote'

Cambridge will next go to the polls on Thursday 6th May 2021, to vote in four different elections.

The government has confirmed that all EU citizens who are registered to vote in the UK will be able to vote and stand for election at these polls. For further details see Elections in 2021 on the Cambridge City Council website here.

Deadlines for May 2021 elections
  • Friday 9 April: Candidates announced
  • Monday 19 April, 11.59pm: Deadline to register to vote
  • Tuesday 20 April, 5pm: Deadline to apply for a postal vote
  • Tuesday 27 April, 5pm: Deadline to apply for a proxy vote
Are you registered to vote?

If you’re not yet registered to vote, it’s time to rectify that, especially if you’re a local resident who frequently debates some of the hot topics of local concern, in comments on this website, or on social media. And why not check that your neighbours, family and friends are also registered to vote?

Has someone new moved into your street? Why not pop round and let them know when bin days are and how to get residents’ and visitors’ parking permits, and, check they know how to register to vote, online?

Will it be safe to go to the polling station?

Cambridge City Council are working to make sure that polling stations will be Covid-secure for polling day, with measures in place to ensure you and the polling staff remain safe. (Read more.)

Could postal voting be more convenient?

You can vote from the comfort and safety of your own home. Postal votes are available for anyone who would prefer to vote that way. Full details can be found on the Electoral Commission website. And don’t forget to send your vote in early! If you’re concerned about the risks of voting in person at a polling station this could be the solution for you. You can also apply for a proxy vote, where you ask somebody else to vote for you.

Does your friend or neighbour work irregular hours, which might make voting in person difficult? Could your cousin, who delivers goods all across the country, be stuck all day at customs in Stranraer, or in lorry-park in Kent? Encourage them to register for a postal vote.

And, don’t forget, every resident who doesn’t vote, hands greater influence to those people who always vote.
And their preferred candidates might not be yours…

What elections are happening?
  1. Cambridge City Council elections
  2. Cambridgeshire County Council elections
  3. Cambridgeshire Police and Crime Commissioner election
  4. Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority Mayor election
And what do these all do?
  1. The city council are responsible for planning, building more council homes for rent, for emptying the bins, cleaning the streets, helping homeless people off the street, and much more.

    The whole city council must be re-elected. (It’s usually only one-third of the council each year, but some ward boundaries have changed.) Each ward has three councillors. You have three votes which can all be for the same party or split according to which candidates you think will do the best job. You cannot list them as 1st, 2nd 3rd choice.

    The current city council has a Labour majority, with a sizeable Liberal Democrat opposition. For many years there has not been a single Conservative elected to the city council.
  2. The county council is responsible for fixing the roads, filling the potholes, schools, libraries, children’s services, adult social care, the fire service (through the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Fire Authority) and much more. The county council have responsibility for the current restrictions on Mill Road bridge. They also have (currently unused) powers to introduce penalties for drivers who block the pavements outside of Mill Road’s shops.

    The whole of the county council is re-elected every four years. Each division has one councillor. You can vote for one candidate. You cannot list a 2nd choice.

    The current county council has a Conservative majority, with the Liberal Democrats forming the main opposition. For many years there has not been a single Conservative elected to the county council, from within the city’s boundaries.
  3. The Police and Crime Commissioner has responsibility for oversight of the Cambridgeshire Constabulary.

    You can vote for two candidates: your 1st choice and, if you wish, a 2nd choice. This means that you can vote for the candidate you really want, and use your 2nd choice to help block the candidate you really don’t want.
  4. The mayor of the Combined Authority, works with our local councils, the Business Board (Local Enterprise Partnership), local public services, Government departments and agencies, universities and businesses to grow the local and national economy. The Combined Authority has taken over from the county council as transport authority. The mayor has powers under the Bus Services Act 2017 to improve bus services.

    You can vote for two candidates: your 1st choice and, if you wish, a 2nd choice. This means that you can vote for the candidate you really want, and use your 2nd choice to help block the candidate you really don’t want.
Isn’t this all rather complicated? And what about the Greater Cambridge Partnership?

Yes it is complicated, even more than you might think. And you don’t get a direct vote to the Greater Cambridge Partnership, the local councillors who you elect appoint decide which of them will sit on the board.

Venn diagram showing overlapping local government responsibilities in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough

And, if you’re considering ignoring these elections as ‘unimportant’ or because ‘I don’t know enough about the’, let us reiterate…
Every resident who doesn’t vote, hands greater influence to those people who always vote.
And their preferred candidates might not be yours…


There have been a number of controversies concerning Cambridgeshire County Council, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority, Greater Cambridge Partnership, the Cambridgeshire Police and Crime Commissioner in particular. These have been covered in local press, TV and radio reports, with some reaching the national press. As a non-aligned community group it is probably inappropriate for us to air these ourselves.

But this doesn’t apply to our readers and followers. Our comments section, below, is open to you. We will not, however, allow libellous allegations and, to protect yourself, you would be well advised to link to an on-line newspaper report.

Census: Count Me In

Census day is 21st March 2021.

But you can fill in the Census 2021 online as soon as your pack, with your access code, has dropped onto your doormat. And you can still do it for a while afterwards.

By taking part and encouraging others to do the same, you’ll help make sure our community gets the services it needs.

poster linking census to environment

Cambridge City Council and Mill Road Bridges are supporting Census 2021 because we want all parts of our diverse ‘Community of Communities’ to be recognised in Office for National Statistics figures; for Cambridge’s population to be reflected for what it is, a vibrant and unique place; and for our local councils to get the funding local people need.

poster linking census to education

The Census is online by default and now most households will now have received a Census 2021 pack with their access code.

If someone you know has difficulty getting online, contact the local Support Centre on 01223 300407 or by email at help@cambridgeonline.org.uk for support.

You can also ask for help from the Office for National Statistics Contact centre helpline0800 141 2021, or the Language helpline – 0800 587 2021 (open 8am to 8pm during the week and 8am to 1pm on Saturdays).

If you know anyone who needs a paper copy of the Census form, you can request a paper copy of the Census form here.

And, if you are a student in Cambridge, and you’re Right here, Right now (cheesy old skool ref) make sure that you complete the census, too.

poster to remind students to fill in the census