Cllr Gerri Bird
City and County Cllr for East Chesterton
My name is Gerri and I’ve lived in East Chesterton for over 30 years, so I know the area like the back of my hand! After ten years as a councillor I’m as committed as ever to fighting for local residents and am standing for re-election to carry on representing my community.
I was born in a Magdalene home in Cork and, after contracting polio aged 10 months, I stayed in hospital until I was seven. The nuns eventually tracked down my mum to Cambridge, where she was living, and brought me over to be reunited with her. Unfortunately that didn’t work out and I was taken to the Midfield Children’s Home in Oakington for fostering. Eventually I was adopted aged 12 and went to a mainstream school for the first time ever – St. Bede’s on Birdwood Road – where I learned to read and write. I left school at 15 and my life changed totally, giving me two daughters, eight wonderful grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
First elected in 2011, I’ve been an advocate for the rights of disabled people in Cambridge. That’s why I joined the Labour Party, because I wanted to help vulnerable and disabled people. I’ve been running a disability group in Cambridge for residents of the city for over 20 yrs, campaigned to save the toilets at Lion Yard when the Liberal Democrats wanted to close them, and in 2019 I was really proud to be named on the Disability Power 100 list as one of the most influential disabled people in the UK.
I love being involved in local politics because I’m helping people – I’ve got to know so many people in East Chesterton and they know me because of my wheelchair. I’m most proud of my work on getting suitable housing for disabled residents – 3 new homes in East Chesterton adapted for disabled people and parents with disabled children – and of our work supporting homeless people into longer term accommodation like the 4 new modular homes at Dundee Close.
Together with my fellow councillors, I’ve been working on reducing bike theft at Cambridge North Station, fighting for road safety improvements along Fen Road, and I’ve also worked with police and County Council officers to address speeding in the Ferry Lane area and secure better signage and enforcement.
Since Cambridge Labour took over running the City Council in 2014 we have done some fantastic work on building new homes – especially the 500 new homes being built as part of the devolution deal and the plans for a further 1000 by 2032. I’m especially pleased that a minimum of 5% of all new homes we build are fully adapted for disabled tenants. I’m also proud of our anti-poverty work – inequality is a big issue here in East Chesterton – and I know that residents have been really worried over the past twelve months about having enough to eat. We’ve been able, as a City Council, to support and fund a huge voluntary effort to keep Cambridge fed. The food hub here in East Chesterton has helped so many residents.
I’m the current lead councillor for disability and access, chair of North Area, Licensing and Planning & Transport Scrutiny Committees. I’m also vice chair of both Housing Scrutiny Committee and the Labour Group. I’ve also joined the working party on finding sites for the Gypsy Roma Traveller community.