The City Deal is no more …

greater Camb part… because it’s been rebranded as the Greater Cambridge Partnership and there was a meeting to launch this new brand last Thursday.

The meeting itself caused some hoohaa when it became apparent that it was an invitation only meeting which led to some describing it as a ‘secret’ meeting at which deals might be done in private. They need not have worried. Many of the invitees didn’t seem inclined to go and little of substance was  presented.

I was invited and I did attend and I came away without any real confidence that what began as the City Deal project and its focus on ‘shovel ready’ schemes some 3 or 4 years ago is going to be any better or more successful in its new guise.

The City Deal has been in danger of imploding for some time as it’s demonstrated an inability to get to grips with the need to develop ideas which will describe the Cambridge of the future and then to develop plans to implement them. There’s been some progress with regard to cycle paths but they’re hardly going to define a Cambridge which leads the way in terms of innovative transport solutions.

So finally to avoid the implosion we’ve got a rebrand with some new people but can we be sure that it won’t be the same old story?

The evening itself began with the ‘vision’: working together to grow and share prosperity and improve quality of life, now and in the future. That’s a pretty miserable and uninspiring vision for me. Hardly something which’ll get me out of bed in the morning.

We then got presentations on transport (nothing new but sadly the same old map which ignores the B1049), housing (limited ambition), skills (some progress) and smart (sic). At the end of the last item we got a Camb U Prof extolling the advantages of tunnels and then in the Q&A this seemed to be the one idea which united everyone even though it seemed to be technology as a solution looking for a problem to solve.

Finally we got a video. Not sure why because it just seemed like a PR video to me extolling Cambridge as a good place but hardly helping progress towards the delivery of a vision.

So that’s all it is: a rebanding. What a waste of money.

As a follow up I’ve been in touch with the new but interim CEO (Rachel Stopard) and will be meeting the transport guru to address the B1049 oversight.

There’s more info on the new website http://www.greater cambridge.org.uk. There’s a link to the video!

2 comments

  1. Thanks for going, David, and for your report. I assume the rebranding is trying to say: “We misjudged this whole thing, mistakenly thinking just a few existing council officers could mastermind the whole project, and now we’re getting in place the sort of team we should have had from the start, we want to distance ourselves from what went before”. It’s an expensive and unimaginative way to do this, however, which only a public sector organisation spending somebody else’s money would do.

    My biggest worry, however, is that they appear to be trying to salvage something from the huge amount of money already handed to consultants, which in turn means not revisiting the misguided principles issued to those consultants in the first place. Genuinely starting again would mean such a loss of face for certain individuals that it’s unthinkable — yet we can all see that is what’s needed.

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    • Generally agree but at last there’s some new people involved. I’ve been in contact with the interim COE and the new transport lead has go back to me and I’m meeting him shortly.

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