Susan van de Ven

Liberal Democrat County Councillor for Bassingbourn, Melbourn, Meldreth and Whaddon Learn more

Meldreth, Shepreth and Foxton Community Rail Partnership

by Susan van de Ven on 9 October, 2017

As I’ve been reporting to parish councils, much work has been taking place on upgrading the governance of the Meldreth, Shepreth and Foxton Community Rail Partnership.  I’ve provided this background:

Community Rail Partnerships receive support from the Department for Transport and have access to grants for community projects.  CRPs should be consulted on transport-related projects, for example the rural travel hubs project. The Meldreth, Shepreth and Foxton CRP is an overarching group with a strategic outlook, and the Rail User Group sits under it to deal with day to day train service issues.

While we are often working in frustration on rail related issues, parishes benefit from what the CRP has been able to nurture and keep in place: 50% student rail discount for sixth formers (a unique arrangement nationally), greatly reduced parking charges at Meldreth and free at Shepreth, continuation of the Meldreth booking office, and according to British Transport Police a significantly lower rate of crime and anti-social behaviour than we would expect at stations with similar footfall.  The CRP has good lines of communication with the rail industry and arrangements with local business that reduce the number of cars needing to access the stations, for example the shuttle minibus operating from Melbourn Science Park and the discounted entry at Shepreth Wildlife Park for customers arriving by train.

Given that the train service itself will greatly increase from next year, with new problems and opportunities, the CRP seems important to maintain.  Therefore, last year funds were raised toward the establishment of a part-time paid post to help manage a growing workload.  The CRP decided to establish a community interest company (CIC) to provide an accountable financial and legal structure.  To this end, South Cambs District Council (which is a member of the CRP) has provided professional advice in the establishment of a CIC, agreed to initially host the CRP paid post to ease the administrative burden, and agreed to contribute £5K per year for two years toward the post, which will top up the funds committed by Meldreth, Melbourn, Shepreth and Foxton Parish Councils and Govia Thameslink (£700 each).

The CIC Articles should be signed shortly, and the part-time paid post will be advertised next month.   At the same time, the CRP’s terms of reference will be refreshed to reflect these changes. Working in cooperation with parish councils is fundamentally important and an invitation to join the partnership will be sent out as soon as all these administrative jobs are completed.

Hopefully, these changes will make the Community Rail Partnership a well-supported and sustainable endeavour that brings benefit to the local community.

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