Appeal to honour couple

Last week I read the very sad news that a homeless Cambridge couple – Jimmy Sinclair and Kim Reid – had died by the river near Jesus Green. I didn’t know the couple, but when I saw a picture of Jimmy via the Flack website a couple of nights ago I realised that I recognised him as he was a familiar face around Mill Road; and when I showed Mr Mill Road the picture, he realised it was actually Jimmy & Kim he had bought a copy of Flack Magazine from on Mill Road just a couple of weeks before and he remembered chatting to them.

Flack MagazineJimmy and Kim had planned to get married later this year and Kim’s family want to honour the couple by burying them together, so at the end of last week Flack appealed for donations in order to help the family afford the burial and funeral costs. I had planned this blog post to be about the appeal and to let people know how to donate, but there has already been a fantastic response and in just a couple of days they have been successful in raising the full target amount of £2,500. Although the appeal itself is now closed, if you would like more information please visit the Just Giving page and if you would like to support local Petersfield-based charity Flack then please visit their website. You can of course also support Flack by buying your copy of their monthly magazine from their friendly vendors in locations across the city – including Mill Road.

Summer Event & Carnival this weekend!

The Petersfield Area Community Trust (PACT) are holding their Summer Event this Saturday on Norfolk Street, starting at midday and running through until 5pm. There’s lots to see and do on the day, including live music, street art and exhibitions, cheerleading, belly dancing, sports, facepainting, a treasure hunt and a Carnival Parade.

PACT Summer Event 2013 poster 2

There will be a charity auction, where you can bid for the chance to win a days motorbike training, a Dell computer, a year’s free swimming or even a gallon of ale; and also a tombola, with prizes including meals for two, event tickets and a full body Swedish massage! All the prizes have been donated by local businesses, including The Dobblers and Kymmoy as well as Mill Road’s Nutters Hair Salon and Tulip Restaurant (more information and a full list of prizes can be found on the PACT website). There will also be various workshops throughout the day, including a hula hooping workshop led by Siana – winner of Petersfield’s Got Talent 2012 and Bling Ya Ting 2013 – and a session run by Cambridge Community Circus. For the full line up of events, performances, workshops and activities, please see the PACT website.

The PACT Team are still keen to hear from anyone who can help out on Saturday – whether setting up, stewarding during the day or helping clear up afterwards. If you can spare a couple of hours on Saturday, please email pactcambridge@bigfoot.com. Whether you fancy your chances in the silent auction, want to see some local art, try your hand at hula-hooping or enjoy some live jazz, the PACT/Norfolk Street Summer Event looks like it will have something for everyone!

Spring is in the air…

It may be a somewhat grey day today, but there have been some glimpses of spring recently. Never one to leave home without my camera, I’ve taken some colourful photos over the last few weeks – in both Petersfield and Romsey – and have posted most of them on the facebook page. In case you’re not on facebook, here they are for your viewing pleasure…

We’re cool

Mill Road is one of the coolest places to live in Britain, according to an article in this weeks Times newspaper. Described as having a “vibrant array of independent shops and a strong community spirit”, Mill Road came in at No.26 in the top 30 list – beating the Somerset town of Glastonbury by one place, but coming just behind Brixton in south London. First place went to Hebden Bridge in Yorkshire.

The article describes Mill Road as “the frontline for town and gown” before going on to say that it “divides smart Petersfield, a favourite with university staff, from homes in Romsey built for railway workers” – as detailed on Mill Road’s wikipedia page. Though having lived in the area for a long time, I’m not so sure this ‘divide’ is still in existence today.

Mill RoadThose of us that live, work, socialise and shop around Mill Road will already know what a great place it is – not just Mill Road itself, but also the local side streets and their exciting goings on. There’s far too much to list in this particular blog article, but it’s probably worth mentioning that Mill Road was part of the very first Eat Cambridge festival, earlier this month, and the first Romsey Art Festival will be taking place in the area in August. Also the Mill Road area was recently the location for the video to Mikill Pane’s new single – Good Feeling (released this week).

That’s just a little taster of some of the things happening around here. As you may find yourself saying, there’s something about Mill Road… .

Good feeling about Mill Road

One of my Twitter friends posted a link a few days ago to a music video that was shot on and around Mill Road – Good Feeling by rapper Mikill Pane; and if you were listening to the Sunday Breakfast Show on Cambridge 105 Radio this morning, you’ll have heard me talking to Brian & Chris about it.

Much of the video is filmed on Tenison Road and you can clearly see Bolton’s Warehouse in the background and the Rice House Chinese take away, as well as scenes filmed at Anglia Ruskin University (and you may even recognise some of the students who turn up at the house party later on in the video…). There’s also a
two-second clip inside one of the local shops, which I think is Mace on Mill Road – it’s only a very short clip but I’m pretty sure I recognise the fruit ‘n veg layout just inside the door (!).

Video courtesy of YouTube.

Given that his debut EP (released in 2011) was called The Guinness & Blackcurrant, I was a bit surprised not to have heard of Mikill (pronounced Mike-Ill) Pane before – those of you who know me will know that this is my alcoholic beverage of choice! But I really like this track and having now listened to some of his other stuff, I suspect – and hope – we’re going to be hearing a lot more of him. He has collaborated with the likes of Ed Sheeran (who he has supported on tour), Rizzle Kicks, Example and Paloma Faith, and last year performed at Reading and Leeds on the BBC Introducing Stage. His debut album Blame Miss Barclay will be released later on this year. For a taster of some of his tunes, check out his website.

Anglia Ruskin students are currently voting for their university to win a gig with him, if you want to help them you can visit the event’s facebook page – it would be great to get him along to Cambridge and if ARU win I hope they’ll open the gig up to locals as well, as I suspect there’s quite a few of us who’d love to see him live. Good Feeling is released today – 17th March – and is available via iTunes. I also see on his website that if you buy one of the Good Feeling T-shirts you get the EP download for free.

Those of you following me on Twitter will know that I post about local gigs and events; and I’ll also be putting an events section on the website (going live soon!) to keep you up to date with goings on around Mill Road. It feels like there are interesting things happening here musically at the moment and this video certainly helps put Mill Road on the music map. As my Twitter friend says “We’re now officially hip”!

Many hands make light work…

I’m normally the first to wince at early mentions of Christmas (so please accept my apologies!) but this is in fact a call out for volunteers to help organise this years Mill Road Festive Lights. The lights themselves aren’t installed until November, but the planning and organisation can take many months…

SnowflakeThis involves fundraising, planning, publicity and liaising with local traders, through to health and safety, installation, the switch-on event and take down after the festive season. In previous years this has been carried out by a handful of dedicated people giving up their spare time to make it all happen. But it is hoped that this year a larger committee can be formed – and of course with more people to share the load this should hopefully mean less work for everyone.

SnowflakeThe lights normally include decorations on the large trees on the Petersfield side of the bridge as well as the giant snowflake lights that can be seen along the length of Mill Road. Though there’s scope to expand on this and look at other lights and locations (there have been suggestions that Romsey could do with some more lights this year…) and there’s also of course the switch-on event.

SnowflakeGetting involved with a local project like this can be a great way to meet others in the community as well as be part of something that is appreciated by many and benefits the local area. If you’re interested in helping out with organising the Festive Lights, please contact Ceri Littlehcild – Mill Road Co-ordinator (millroadcoordinator@gmail.com) – and she’ll put you in touch with the existing team. You don’t need any previous experience, just some enthusiasm and a bit of time that you can commit over the coming months.

Local Plan for Mill Road

RomseyCambridge City Council are currently consulting on sites within the Local Plan area and asking all residents to make any comments they want to by Monday (18th February). The specific document that refers to sites (both available and future ones) within Cambridge is the Local Plan: Issues & Options 2 – Part 2 document. If you’ve already had a look, you’ll see that there are various sites in the Mill Road area that are under discussion. These include the Travis Perkins site on Devonshire Road (p 43), the Ridgeons site on Cromwell Road (p 49), 315-349 Mill Road (p 67) and the Mill Road Council Depot (p 45).

For the Mill Road area I would like to see some more green space, we have a particular lack of it in Petersfield and some of the sites could be used in whole or part to achieve this as well as have some usable community space. We also have a shortage of realistically affordable housing in the area and I think with the right design and considerations we need to look at residential developments on some of these sites. We have the opportunity to shape the future of the area and make sure that whatever happens to these sites fits with what the community wants and needs.

Argyle Street Housing Co-operativeMany of you will know my fondness for co-operatives and the role that I have played at Argyle Street Housing Co-operative (ASH Co-op) over the years. ASH Co-op is proposing that a fully mutual housing co-operative be built on the Mill Road Depot site and I think this could be really great for the area. It would provide affordable, sustainable housing (for people of all ages) which would be run by its residents and be community led. I see from the Local Plan document that there are potential issues with the site, such as access, cycling provision and a lack of green space in the area – I think a housing housing co-operative on the Depot site would be able to address all these issues and provide space that the whole Mill Road community could share. Having lived at ASH for some years, I know the many benefits that co-operative living can bring – such as having a real say in your housing, being part of a friendly community (I know all 90 of my neighbours here at ASH!), training to help run the co-op (which is also very useful in employment terms), experience of managing projects and equipping people with tools they can use to play an active and participative role in the wider community. For more information about what is being proposed, please visit the ASH Co-op website. Also here is a link to an article in the Cambridge News last year, that gives an insight into co-operative living.

If you want to comment on the housing co-operative idea or indeed any part of the Local Plan, please visit the consultation page on the City Council’s website. It explains how you can respond online or complete a form to deliver by hand. However you respond, make sure you do it by the deadline – 5pm on Monday!

Poster Competition!

PACT The weather may still be a little (actually a lot!) chilly, but hopefully you’ve already put Saturday 22nd June in your diary – it’s the date of the Petersfield Area Community Trust Summer Event. Set up in 1997, Petersfield Area Community Trust (PACT) is a local group that aims to foster community spirit and provide a support structure and communication network for Petersfield. Run by volunteers, they meet regularly and campaign on a range of issues, such as open spaces, planning, community facilities, youth issues and older people’s issues. Their first Summer Event was in 2001 and takes place annually in the Norfolk Street area.

The 2012 Summer Event winning poster, by Paul R. Sargent.PACT are holding their next event planning meeting on Wednesday 20th February at 5pm, at the Box Tree Café on Norfolk Street and the team would love to hear from anyone who can spare a few hours to help out, whether as part of the organising team in the lead up to the event or on the day itself. This years Summer Event will run from 12-5pm and includes: a charity auction, crafts, facepainting, Cambridge Community Circus, salsa, art, morris men, St Matthew’s School and a range of dance activities, as well as the winner of last years Petersfield’s Got Talent contest.

PACT have launched a competition to design a poster for the Summer Event and the closing date for entries is this Friday, 8th February. This is a great opportunity to get creative and the winning design will be featured on all the publicity – including in local media – and the designer will also receive a small prize. More information about the competition and a (optional) template can be found on the PACT website. Entries can be submitted by emailing them to PACTcambridge@bigfoot.com or by delivering/ posting to: Petersfield Area Community Trust (P.A.C.T.) c/o 168 York Street, Cambridge, CB1 2PY.The competition is open to all ages.

Time to get creating – good luck! 🙂

Mill Road exhibition

Exhibition posterToday I went along to the Council’s Mill Road Exhibition  at Bharat Bhavan. I was immediately offered a lovely hot cup of tea – which was very much appreciated given the cold weather! There were a number of stands with information about many of the local community and residents groups in the area, as well as proposals for a traders association; and in the middle of the room was a giant map of Mill Road where people could jot down their ideas on sheets of tracing paper (which could be placed over the map) There were also some beautiful paintings and drawings of Mill Road by a couple of local artists.

Exhibition boardsIt was great to see lots of ideas from locals and there were all sorts of suggestions ranging from peoples ideas for more green space around Mill Road and a regular local market through to thoughts on the 20mph zone and improving the area for cyclists. I spoke to Ceri (Mill Road Co-ordinator and organiser of the event) and she told me that it had been well attended over the two days – and judging by the many post-it notes I saw this was most certainly the case! I jotted down my ideas, which included widening the pavement on the northern edge of Mill Road on the town side of the bridge (opposite Arjuna, Fagito’s, Nip-In et al) as it’s not currently wide enough for two people to pass each other without one of them having to step into the road. I’d also like to see cafes and shops being allowed to have tables and chairs outside (even if just one or two tables) as this would give people more of an opportunity to interact with and chat to each other and make the area even more welcoming in the summer months.

Exhibition boardI also drew a design for a new housing co-operative which could go on the site of the Mill Road Depot (which is moving at some point in the next few years). This is an idea that was suggested by a number of  people in the Local Plan consultations last year and I think it would really work for the whole community – especially as there’s a huge lack of affordable housing around Mill Road. I envisage something like a mixture of flats for single people and couples, and houses for families (little or no shared housing) on the back part of the site (furthest from Mill Road); this would have lots of green space and could house around 150 people. There would also be plenty of shared community space and at the front of the site a meeting area/hall that the co-operative would share with the whole community for free, as well as an upstairs area that could have free/low cost office space for local businesses/home-workers. There would also be a large outdoor area that could host community events such as barbecues, regular markets and other community activities. Bharat Bhavan, Regent College and other non-council buildings would of course be retained. By their very nature co-operatives are green and sustainable communities that are self-run, so the community would have the opportunity to shape and innovate their own housing and community space. In fact I suspect this deserves a blog post all of its own (!) so more on this another time.

I was glad I went along to the exhibition and I now have lots more ideas for Mill Road. If you missed out you can contact Ceri (millroadcoordinator@gmail.com) for more information. I will write another blog post soon about what will happen to the ideas and how to submit any other suggestions you may have. I think the exhibition was a really good idea and it has given people the chance to have real input into their local area.

Ideas for Mill Road…

There will be an exhibition on Mill Road later this month open to traders, residents and anyone with an interest in Mill Road. It is being organised by Ceri Littlechild – Mill Road Co-ordinator – and the main focus will be to look at forming a traders association for the area.

Bharat BhavanRather handily, the event is being held at Bharat Bhavan – which is right in the middle of Mill Road. If you haven’t been to Bharat Bhavan before, it’s the beautifully ornate red-brick building just next to the railway bridge (Petersfield side) and is currently home to a Hindu shrine. Various community groups also use the space and it used to house Mill Road Library (which closed over fifteen years ago). In fact Bharat Bhavan probably deserves a blog post all of its own, but I digress…

Exhibition posterCeri is keen to hear from both traders and residents what they think of the idea of setting up a traders association for Mill Road and their suggestions for how it could work. Part of her role involves developing an action plan of projects that will help promote and enhance the area and she is also keen to explore ideas for improving Mill Road in general. The exhibition will include a Great Table (the idea of 5th Studios, based at the nearby Dales Brewery) which will be an aerial view map so that people can visualise and discuss ideas; and the Cambridge Association of Architects will also be on hand to meet locals between 10am and 3pm on both days. There will also be exhibition stands with more information about Mill Road and some of its existing residents/community groups (there are many, and I hope to blog about each of them over the coming months…) as well as the Mill Road History Project and information from Visit Cambridge (the Council’s tourist information service).

Mill RoadThe event will be across two days – Friday 18th and Saturday 19th of January – and will be open from 9am to 7pm on both. I shall definitely be popping along at some point (probably the Saturday) and am keen to see the aerial map as it will help with imagining how some of the ideas could look if they were put into practice. If you’d like to find out more then you can contact Ceri by email (millroadcoordinator@gmail.com) or if you’re free on 18th/19th January then just drop in and say hello to her!