Lib Dem councillors call on Labour to withdraw threat to grazing on city commons

(Picture credit: Cambridge News)

Liberal Democrat councillors are calling for Labour-controlled Cambridge City Council to pull back from changes which could jeopardise the grazing of cattle on its riverside urban green spaces – including Midsummer Common. 

They have tabled an emergency amendment to the council’s budget which is due to be decided tomorrow night (Thursday) to abandon the proposed withdrawal of its call-out service to rescue distressed cows which fall into the river, which saves only £8000 a year. This follows evidence that the independent graziers had not been properly consulted on the change and would affect their ability to continue grazing their cattle on Cambridge’s public commons.

Cllr Katie Porrer, LibDem spokesperson on Public Open Spaces and who also represents the city centre area including Midsummer Common, said:

"These cows are such an important and unique part of Cambridge and contribute to the biodiversity of our city. It is extremely disappointing to find out that local graziers were offered their contacts for 2021 without being warned that this service was no longer available out of hours. The council receives government farm subsidies as a result of this grazing and it avoids grass mowing costs, yet is planning to charge the same fees this year despite the service reduction. The charges are already higher than for many other local fields.

"To risk losing the cows now and alienating our local graziers seems like a major mistake. They provide a valued local amenity to our community and the cattle are admired by young and old, whether residents or visitors and they contribute to biodiversity. It’s always a highlight to take my child to see them as they appear on the commons each year and to watch them each time we walk there.

"I am also aware that this reduction in service may leave animals in distress, as graziers cannot guarantee to be available 24/7 to drive into the city centre to rescue them at short notice. This is what the Pinder service currently provides. Our commons are shared spaces with people enjoying the space, exercising and walking dogs and this can inevitably create some conflicts which have lead to cows ending up in the river. A proposed ramp on Midsummer Common will certainly make the recovery of cows easier but they will still need help to use it, as it will only be in one place.

"We urge Labour councillors to support our request to remove this saving from the budget and to support our local graziers in keeping their cows on our commons for the future."

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