Had a leaflet through the door about the Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP) Sustainable Travel Zone (STZ)? If you don’t know what that is, well, take a look at the home page of this site by clicking here.

Not had a leaflet? Have you been to an event? Not heard about any events? Angry about the “wasting of public funds” in printing propaganda that is being dropped through letterboxes by the GCP? Mad that you’ve not seen notice of events on anything other than Social Media?

Angry about the STZ proposals you had heard nothing about until now? Did you not find them behind a sign saying “beware of the leopard”? Sorry, that last bit will mean nothing to those who haven’t heard of Douglas Adams. The Zone always knows where their towel is.

Stop being angry. Stop shaking fists in the air and getting uptight about it. It doesn’t help. Whatever your feelings are over how the GCP advertises the consultation, public events, and internet webinars, or not, take a breath.

Politicians love the ‘angry’ mob. It gives them something to point at and say, “we just can’t talk to them; they don’t listen.” They do it all the time. It prevents getting to the heart of the matter.

Don’t get mad. Get even.

Play their game.

Let people know about the consulation.

Ask questions, listen to the answer and note it down. Ask for their name. Ask a follow-up question if you have one, and note down the answer.

If they quote a statistic at you, ask for the source of the data. Can you have a copy of it, or can they tell you where to look it up?

Ask if you can video the question and answer. If they say no, whip out some paper and a pen. Better if two of you note the response, to be sure you recorded the same thing. Pop the date and time down on the note too. Politicians don’t like a public record, which can be read back to them.

If they don’t answer a direct question, note down they refused to answer or said they don’t know. If they don’t know, ask them to find out before the next event or webinar and that someone will be along to ask the question again. Ask the same question at a different event, if the answer differes from before, question it. Ask who is right, them or the person you asked last time.

Take a look at the proposals, is there somehting that doesn’t make sense to you. Ask how what is proposed will make things better for you. Spot somthing which seems counterintuitive, ask them, ask if others think the same. Feed that back in the consultation.

Put your quesion and answer on Social Media, see if others had the same answer. If not, ask those at the presentation or webinar whis is the right answer. Apply pressure, gentle pressure.

You can click here to start an e-mail to the GCP to ask them a question, and it will even put the subject line in to save you the effort.

Always be calm and civil. It’s unnerving to a politician when they cannot rile you. It means you know how to play the game too. Insulting them shows the politician they are winning the game. Don’t let them.

It is hard not to get annoyed. This is a very divisive proposal. It will cripple some, and others will see nothing by roses. But calm you must remain.

How did we get here?

The situation with the whole GCP City Deal thus far is very few people have engaged within the previous consultations. The Zone means tiny, compared to the population of the area the GCP cover. A whopping 0.79% of the population got involved. This is either by design or knowing the it’s apathy of people toward such things. To quote member of the GCP “The Silent majority” need to get involved.

Because of this, and of the actions of those who do vehemently agree with this agenda, no alternative voice has been heard. No one has been asking why consultations have been moving steadily to this point. No-one has been challening the decisions thus far.

Everyone complains about everything. It is a national pastime. Turnout at elections is low. The “they don’t listen, what’s the point” and “my single vote/response won’t make a difference” mantra prevails. This is the politicians’ wet dream. The smaller, well-organised groups who are keen to push an agenda quietly engage with the politicians and get their way over time. They know how to play the game, and play it well. There is a reason why groups like CamCycle atteneded and acted as advisors to the GCP’s Citizens Assembly. The group of 53 people who represented you, the people, to support and shape the proposals in hand.

After that revelation, calm down, stop shouting, and sip your glass of perspective and soda.

So onto how to get even.

Complete the consultation. Complete a petition if you wish too. Put up posters, hand out leaflets, let people know what is proposed.

Be civil in the comments and feedback spaces Be concise, and explain how the proposals will impact you and your neighbourhood. Don’t get mad or abusive. A fellow human has to read them all and code the answers in the free text into quantifiable areas. If you have a better or alternative option to the ones proposed, provid them. If you feel a question is too leading, you can ignore it. The Consultation becomes public record in the end, what is in it cannot be hidden and stuffed into the back a drawer.

Get others who have not heard about the consultation to have a look and complete the consultation. If they need help with the technology side, help them out.

If you have elderly relatives or friends, help them. Explain what it’s all about, ask their view, and sit and complete the consultation with them.

Have friends and family outside Cambridge who visit, or work here. Let them know about it. Ask them to complete it.

Spreak to tradesman doing work for you, have they heard?

If people say they have heard they are exempt, or it doesn’t apply to them becuase… challenge that. The Zone’s own Exemptions, discounts, and reimbursements page is taken from the GCP’s own published data. They have already starting amending some elements verbally when pressured. This is riases confusion and attempts to change the narritive. If it isn’t in black and white, or from a source that can’t be referenced, the Zone ignores it.

Ask your local councillor if they support the proposals. Do they agree with the facts and figures presented? Ask when they are next up for election and if they will be campaigning in support of the scheme. Does their party support the proposals, will they vote against their party?

Apathy and anger is not your friend here. Calm engagement is the key here.