The local authority boundary means that Cambridge City Council covers most, but not all, of the urban area, and at 4,070 hectares is a physically very small local authority. Cambridge City is completely surrounded by the more rural district of South Cambridgeshire, and in a two-tier setting, a number of key services are also provided by Cambridgeshire County Council. Despite its small size Cambridge has a major influence on the surrounding area and is the centre of a much wider travel to work and housing market area.

Cambridge lies approximately 50 miles north of London, is at the heart of a number of key growth corridors and is well connected to London by road and rail – this has a significant influence on the economy and demography of the city.

Cambridge is home to the world-class University of Cambridge, which is also a major employer and, alongside its colleges, land owner and developer in the area. Internationally renowned Addenbrooke’s hospital is also located in the city and is now the epicentre of a rapidly developing bio-medical campus. The city also hosts the Cambridge campus of Anglia Ruskin University, with its own expertise in areas such as applied science.

Cambridge is a key growth engine for the UK economy. The combination of a well-connected location, a world-leading research university, an attractive setting and an entrepreneurial ecosystem have created a science-based innovation cluster in and around the city over the last 50 years.

This now includes a number of world-leading companies in ICT and life sciences. As a result, the area has in recent years been characterised by low unemployment, high GVA per worker and high skills. The Covid-19 lockdown has had a significant impact on some sectors of the local economy, particularly the city centre tourist-and-visitor-related economy, and the hospitality and retail sectors.

Prior to Covid-19 lockdown, the city received 7 million visitors each year, drawn by its architecture, museums, open spaces and cultural offer. The city provides culture and leisure facilities for the surrounding sub-region, and in recent years has seen a thriving night-time economy. These have all brought great benefits to the city, but also put pressure on council services, to maintain a well-managed, clean and pleasant setting for residents and others.

Housing affordability is a real issue for the city and this pressure forces those who cannot find suitable, affordable housing in the city to live further out, and then travel back in to the city to work. Prior to Covid-19 lockdown, around 50,000 people commutedinto the city each day, contributing to over 200,000 vehicle movements in and out of the city each day. This level of commuting can exacerbate issues around congestion, which in turn create poor air quality in parts of the city.

Our communities experience both great wealth and real poverty – Cambridge has been identified as “the most unequal city in the UK” by the Centre for Cities with a Gini coefficient of 0.46. In response, the Council invests heavily in housing, community services and an Anti-Poverty Strategy that seeks to understand and address these issues head-on and in partnership.

Centre for Cities - Cambridge
Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Economic Review
Local Authority Health Profile

The Council’s response to Coronavirus

Like all Councils, much of our focus in 2020 has been on managing the impacts of coronavirus and lockdown on our services and our communities. We have had to close some services and assets (including our cultural and leisure facilities, and our events programme) for much of the year, and have redesigned how others are delivered in order to be Covid-safe.

We have also put a major effort into working with our partners and our communities to support the most vulnerable residents, facilitating mutual aid groups in all our neighbourhoods to play a hugely impressive role in this response. We have also worked more closely than ever with the business community to pay over £23m of business support grants and to rebuild the vibrancy of the city centre safely.

We will continue to work through the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Local Resilience Forum structures with Public Health and other partners to manage response to the virus and recovery from its impacts. Our aim is to keep Cambridge safe for those who live, work, study and visit here and to ensure that we learn from these experiences to build a stronger, more resilient, greener, healthier, fairer and more inclusive Cambridge for the future.

Outline Coronavirus Recovery Plan

A beautiful place to live and work, Cambridge is an historic University city and market town with high quality architecture and attractive open spaces. It is also a city of national and international importance, being home to a world-class university and a globally renowned hub of research, innovation and knowledge-based industries including information technology, telecommunications and life sciences. Cambridge is at the heart of a buoyant sub-region which is an area designated for major growth in employment and housing, and is intrinsically linked into the Oxford-Cambridge Arc, a major area of focus for Government.

The population of Cambridge is estimated to be over 131,000. This is forecast to increase to 151,800 by 2031 as a result of new developments. The council is working in partnership with other local councils and partner organisations to manage the planning for 47,500 new homes in the county. This has major implications for the way that the city council delivers its services in the future.

The council is committed to supporting sustainable growth of the city in housing, jobs and community infrastructure.

We have a clear vision to lead a united city, ‘One Cambridge, Fair for All’, in which economic dynamism and prosperity are combined with social justice and equality. It is a vision we will share and develop, working with our citizens and partner organisations, and which will guide our role in supporting the recovery of the city from the impacts of Coronavirus.

The City Council employs around 830 staff directly as well as delivering services through others who are based in our shared services and arm’s length partnership arrangements. As an Investors in People employer, we are committed to developing and supporting our staff through effective leadership and continuous improvement that supports the Council’s vision. We are an accredited Real Living Wage employer and an award-winning Living Wage champion organisation. In addition to the Real Living Wage we pay a Cambridge Weighting to bring the minimum pay rate to £10 per hour.

In addition to the traditional district council services, the City Council provides or commissions a comprehensive range of leisure and arts and community development activities, including through a £1m annual community grants programme. These services include: swimming pools and sports facilities, an internationally renowned Folk Festival, a number of free open air events in our parks and open spaces and a range of community centres. We have our own housing stock and are landlord to 7,000 council homes. We are able to fund and deliver this broad range of high-quality services partly through income derived from our extensive commercial property portfolio and other fees and charges. The council’s turnover is c. £155 million each year across the General Fund and Housing Revenue Account. We will need to keep the strength of these income streams under review as the city feels the economic impact of Coronavirus.

We have significant capital investment plans including the redevelopment of the council’s Mill Road depot site and the rebuilding of Park Street car park. We also have a building programme to deliver 500 council houses funded through the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Devolution Deal.

Increasing levels of partnership working, an ongoing drive for greater efficiency and a clear focus on good customer service mean that we have developed new models for service delivery, driving change and different ways of working. We have recently created additional capacity to lead and manage the continuing transformation of council services, including through digital customer services. And are developing a programme to embed new ways of working within the Council and with our communities as we build a more co-operative and collaborative approach to tackling poverty, climate change and other major challenges with our academic, business and community partners.

The council has a number of shared services with other councils and the following services are delivered in two- or three-way partnerships:

With South Cambridgeshire District Council

  • Greater Cambridge Shared Waste Service
  • Greater Cambridge Shared Internal Audit
  • Shared Director of Planning and Economic Development
  • Greater Cambridge Planning Service
  • Payroll

With South Cambridgeshire District Council and Huntingdonshire District Council:

  • 3C Building Control
  • 3C ICT
  • 3C Legal
  • Home Improvement Agency

With Huntingdonshire District Council

  • CCTV




Cambridge City Council’s Web Site
Corporate Structure

Vision, Plans and Budget

The Council has a clear vision to lead a united city, ‘One Cambridge – Fair for All’, in which economic dynamism and prosperity are combined with social justice and equality.

Please follow the links to information about us, budget setting and key plans and policies:

Cambridge City Council’s Vision Statement
Cambridge City Council’s Corporate Plan
Annual Report 2019
Climate Change Strategy 2016-21 (under review)
Anti-Poverty Strategy
Current Cambridge Local Plan
Emerging Greater Cambridge Local Plan
Leader’s Business Budget Briefing 2020
City Council Budget
Housing Revenue Account
Medium Term Financial Strategy

Political Management

The decision-making system is neither a cabinet model nor a pure committee system but a hybrid one based on Executive decision making and pre-scrutiny committees.

Cambridge City Council is composed of 14 wards, with three councillors elected in each ward making 42 city councillors in total. The current makeup of the City Council is:

• 26 Labour councillors
• 12 Liberal Democrat councillors
• 1 Independent councillor
• 3 vacant seats

The Council has been Labour controlled since 2014. Before that it was controlled by the Liberal Democrats. We usually have elections by thirds but following changes to our ward boundaries to reflect differential population growth in recent years, there will be all-out city council elections on 6th May 2021 (the first time that this has taken place since 2004). We will then go back to elections by thirds in May 2022.

The council is used to robust political debate and scrutiny.

The Executive

Cllr Lewis Herbert Leader and Executive Councillor for Strategy & External Partnerships
Cllr Mike Sargeant Deputy Leader – Statutory
Cllr Anna Smith Deputy Leader and Executive Councillor for Communities
Cllr Rosy Moore Executive Councillor for Climate Change, Environment & City Centre
Cllr Mike Davey Executive Councillor for Finance & Resources
Cllr Richard Johnson Executive Councillor for Housing
Cllr Katie Thornburrow Executive Councillor for Planning Policy & Open Spaces
Cllr Nicky Massey Executive Councillor for Transport & Community Safety

Committee Structure

Partnership Working

The Council is an active partner in a range of partnerships which brings significant additional benefits to the people who live, work and study in our area, especially when partners pool resources and skills to achieve a common aim.

Greater Cambridge Partnership

The Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP) which is the partnership for delivering the city deal for Greater Cambridge. The partners are Cambridge City Council, South Cambridgeshire District Council, Cambridgeshire County Council and representatives from local businesses, colleges and research facilities in the area. This agreement with Central Government promises up to £500 million worth of funding over the next 15 years subject to GCP partnership successfully completing gateway assessments. Government has recently confirmed that the GCP has been successful in its first gateway assessment, securing the second tranche (£200m) of funding for 2020-25.

The Greater Cambridge City Deal aims to enable a new wave of innovation-led growth by investing in the infrastructure and skills that will facilitate the continued growth of the Cambridge Phenomenon. It acknowledges the region’s strong track record of delivering high value growth and seeks to support those existing, and new, businesses in achieving their full potential.

Greater Cambridge Partnership

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority

We are part of the only two-tier devolution deal in the country- the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority oversees a devolution deal worth at least £770m. The Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough was elected in May 2017. One of the Council’s key priorities is to deliver at least 500 new council houses using a grant of £70m we negotiated as part of the devolution deal to meet affordable housing need in the city.

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority

Cambridge Community Safety Partnership

The Cambridge Community Safety Partnership brings together a number of agencies concerned with tackling and reducing crime and antisocial behaviour in Cambridge. The partnership’s key role and actions are detailed within the Community Safety Plan and the agencies which make up the partnership meet at a strategic level to agree issues such as funding plans, priorities and performance.

Cambridge Community Safety Partnership

Other Partner agencies

Cambridgeshire Constabulary
Cambridgeshire & Peterborough CCG
Cambridgeshire County Council