Azara Blog: Cambridge ruling elite ponder trying to make Cambridge more attractive

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Date published: 2007/04/30

The Cambridge Evening News says:

An exciting new vision of what Cambridge could be like by the end of the decade has been conjured up by community leaders.

They believe the ancient city needs to adapt itself to the demands of the 21st Century and become more vibrant, more accessible - and safer.

This could involve emulating the success strategies of other top European cities, such as Barcelona, including making Cambridge livelier in the evening, revamping the market square and launching an Edinburgh-style arts festival.

And action must be taken to tackle the growing problem of crime and anti-social behaviour.

The wide-ranging blueprint for Cambridge in the years ahead has been drawn up following a brainstorming workshop organised by the city centre management team.

It was attended by 90 representatives from the business community, education, local councils and voluntary groups.
Among the ideas that came out of the workshop were:

Cambridge is not Barcelona. And it's not just that the weather is worse. (Although global warming has helped here.) It is also that the main residents of the city centre are students. The Grafton Centre area is as close as you get to a real part of town near the city centre. The vast majority of families live further afield. And, conversely, apart from pubs, there are few residential areas of the city with any sort of night life. Basically, England is not very good at urban planning. Go to Barcelona or Paris if you want to see how it should be done.

The city centre is definitely not "family friendly". (And most people obnoxiously mean "two adults, N children" when they talk about "families" but of course any household with more than one person in it is a family.) In particular, the city purposefully makes it as difficult and as expensive as possible to get into the city centre if you want to drive in. And the main problem at night in the city centre is not the lack of street lighting, but the fact that there are hordes of drunken yobs, just like in most other towns in England.

The one decent idea in all of this is that perhaps Cambridge should have some kind of "intellectual" festival. Certainly the city should try that out before trying to become "European Capital of Culture".

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