by Susan van de Ven on 18 December, 2017
We are writing to you, as councillors and campaigners for our interlinked cluster of villages, to keep you informed of local issues involving the District and County Councils. If you would prefer not to receive this email newsletter, please reply asking to be removed from the distribution list. If you know of someone not receiving this newsletter who would like to do so, please ask them to contact email@example.com,firstname.lastname@example.org, or email@example.com.
BE A COUNCILLOR?
Next May will see South Cambs District Council elections in all wards, and parish council elections for many villages. We’ll be putting the kettle on at the Elin Way Community Room, Meldreth, on Saturday 3 February, 3-5PM, for anyone who’d like to come along and find out more about what being a councillor entails. Susan is inviting parish, district and county councillors from several villages in our area to be on hand for an informal chat. All welcome!
Philippa writes: “Over the last few weeks I have had the pleasure of meeting other councillors from around the country and have been particularly inspired by one young councillor who cut his public service teeth participating in a local youth council and who has gone on at the age of 23 to be both a District and County Councillor.
I am pleased to report that Meldreth Parish Council agrees with me that political engagement and empowerment is too low among the younger members of our community. Next month’s parish council agenda will include an item on setting up youth council, perhaps taking its geographical remit to the new district ward boundary, with a view to it feeding back its ideas and recommendations to its constituent parish councils. I have now also taken the idea to Shepreth Parish Council, and will be suggesting the same to neighbouring parish councils in the next couple of months.”
PART-TIME LOCAL JOB: COMMUNITY RAIL PARTNERSHIP
A new paid role is being created to support the Meldreth, Shepreth and Foxton Community Rail Partnership. This will be a locally based part-time role – details here.
DECEMBER 20th DEADLINE: MELDRETH, SHEPRETH AND FOXTON RAIL LINK TO CAMBRIDGE NORTH
If you’re a new commuter to Cambridge North Station, you may or may not know that the new Thameslink timetable coming in next year is set to break the direct link from our stopping stations to Cambridge North. Though the change required at Cambridge will be easy (connecting to frequent onward services) it would of course be best if the service ran directly through (and this is temporarily the case at the moment). The deadline for responding to the Thameslink timetable consultation is 20 December – all informationhere.
DON’T MISS THE BUS! CHANGES FOR THE 127/128?
Thanks to everyone who supported the Cam Vale Bus User Group in Bassingbourn on December 4th (meetings rotate between Meldreth and Bassingbourn) to consider proposals from the operator to make the service run closer to time. The 128 and 127 buses, which serve Meldreth, Melbourn, Shepreth, Whaddon, Bassingbourn and villages west, are part of the same council subsidy package. The proposal is to run just one service, called the 127, through the area. Please respond to the consultation by Monday 18 December or contact Susan if you can’t make the deadline.
Meanwhile the subsidy for this and other council-supported buses runs out in September. Intensive efforts are being made to extend this to April 2019. We are in a transition period whereby the County Council is acting as custodian for what is now the Mayor’s Transport Authority powers and budget. In the Mayor’s review of bus services (which will cost £150K – yes that’s just the review), an active bus user group will help to make the local case. If you’d like to join the Cam Vale Bus User Group email list, please let us know.
MELBOURN AND BASSINGBOURN CHILDREN’S CENTRES: STILL NO INFORMATION
The County Council is still unable to offer any information on how services will be offered in Bassingbourn, and what changes to expect in Melbourn, following the decision by the Conservative ruling group to cut nearly £1 million from children’s centre spending. This is of enormous concern to young parents and families who rely on support they currently receive at a critical time of life. Please don’t hesitate to contact any of us with any questions or concerns.
PHILIPPA’S CROSS-CHANNEL SWIM FOR HOME-START
Philippa writes: Home-Start Royston and South Cambridgeshire is a charity with their premises in my ward of Meldreth. They do amazing work supporting and improving outcomes for families in our community and depend on fundraising efforts for much of their activity. Their work has sadly become even more vital following the recent County Council decision to axe many of our children’s centres, which hits the most isolated and vulnerable among us. When I attended the AGM early in the autumn I was inspired to help this terrific charity and conceived the idea of setting myself this very real challenge – I am the world’s slowest swimmer!
The Channel is 21 miles at the narrowest point, so 33769.2 metres. The pool at McSplash is 20 metres in length and I am committed to swimming a mile each time I go, so 85 lengths each visit. Admittedly there will be no ferries to avoid, but I am learning a lot about “wetiquette” which is when you are and aren’t allowed to overtake… Please see the fundraising link here.
BASSINGBOURN SCHOOL CROSSING
More meetings and discussions have taken place about what might help to ease a very bad situation without a clear solution. If you’re wondering what it’s all about, please try crossing the road at the staggered blind junction of South End, North End, High Street and Brook Road at morning peak time – with children in tow. A site meeting with the Highways safety engineer, whose approval is required for any new measures, will take place on 20 December, when it is hoped to pin down a useful response on possible mitigation measures.
Meanwhile another set of meetings is taking place at the primary school, in relation to traffic flows into the school and means of reducing pressures. That’s a lot of meetings seeking to make a bit of a difference.
VOLUNTEER DRIVING: ROYSTON AND DISTRICT COMMUNITY TRANSPORT
RDCT are always looking for volunteer drivers – might you be interested? Travel expenses are reimbursed. Please call David or Pru on 01763 245228.
SAMBOR’S THOUGHTS AND NEXT A10 CYCLE MEETING
With the pedestrian/cycle path in Harston nearing completion, attention has now turned to securing funding for a Melbourn-Royston link. With support from Melbourn Village College student Sambor Czarnawski-Illiev, who presented his student cycling survey to the Greater Cambridge Partnership Board meeting last month, the Board has now commissioned a business case for the link – to be considered at the GCP’s January and February meetings. You can read Sambor’s account of participating in local democracy here.
The campaign’s AGM will be held on 31 January, 7 for 7:30-9:00PM at Sartorius Stedim, opposite Royal Mail on the Royston Industrial site. All welcome.
‘GREENWAYS’ CONSULTATION: VILLAGE CYCLE LINKS
Those who have been following the County Council’s adventures on developing cycle paths, through grants from the Department for Transport, will know that grant funding has been contingent on meeting the ‘travel to work’ requirement. In other words, grants are given where there are significant clusters of employment centres, and there is an opportunity for significant modal shift in commuting to work. It is on this basis that the A10 corridor has successfully attracted funding.
Now a new concept, ‘Greenways’, is being explored in South Cambridgeshire, whereby a multitude of walking/cycling corridors link up villages and Cambridge. There is every opportunity to help shape thinking – for example, why can’t Bassingbourn and Whaddon link up with a walk/cycle path to the A10, perhaps via Mettle Hill or Ashwell Stret? There are several opportunities in the last week of January to learn more and feed in your ideas, including 25 January, 5:30-7:30PM, Melbourn Hub – or for more information see here.
STATION FOOTFALL FIGURES
For a comparative look at most recent footfall tallies provided by Railfuture East Anglia, noting that Cambridge Station in the last year saw 11,424,902 passengers arriving or departing.
Royston 1,438,338 +3.4
Meldreth 269,934 -2.9
Shepreth 110,756 +4.6
Foxton 92,908 +5.3
MELBOURN DIVISION OIL CLUB: PLEASE NOTE
An Oil Club member has contacted us to say, and our bulk buyer Agricole has confirmed: ‘For some while I have not been receiving the “invitation to order” emails from Agricole, nor did I get a reply to my e-mail informing them of this. I have now phoned them and been told that they have been having trouble with emails to and from btinternet.com They think that bt is blocking e-mails on the basis that such bulk messaging must be spam. Those who use btinternet.com email should be made aware of this; if emails are not being received, they should phone about the 20th of the month for delivery early in the following month.’
The numbers to call: 01954 719 452 / 07860 904 045 – and if you aren’t a member of the Oil Club but would like to learn more, this is the right contact point.
LOCAL PLAN RESOLUTION? NOT YET!
Jose and Philippa report: It looks very much as if the six-week public consultation on the Inspector’s modifications will not now take place until after Christmas. Depending upon how soon it starts, there is every possibility that any resultant approved Plan – assuming there are no modifications of the modifications following the consultation – will not get the required seal of Full Council approval (assuming it passes the vote) until after the local elections in May, as purdah will start in the third week in March.
All this means that we are still unable to demonstrate a five-year housing land supply, and applications and appeals for an indefinite time will be able to take this very persuasive factor into consideration.
AFFORDABLE HOUSING QUOTA
Some time ago, South Cambs and a few other councils negotiated a dispensation to the government’s imposition of planning guidelines exempting housing developments of >2 and <11 dwellings (or £1,000 sq/ft) from needing to provide a 40% affordable element. The Local Plan Inspector has looked at this and has given the definite indication that this dispensation needs to be revoked on the grounds that it is discouraging housing delivery of small developments by small building firms. The Council anticipates that planning permissions in this category which have not yet been implemented will be sought to be renewed without any requirement for 40% affordable and has calculated that 350 affordable dwellings in South Cambs will be lost to this policy reversal over the life of the Local Plan until 2031.
CITIZENS’ ADVICE BUREAU: REMINDER FOR FREE ADVICE!
North Herts and District Citizens Advice Bureau holds a free drop-in service on the first and third Thursdays of the month at the Melbourn Hub – 9:30-12:00.
VICTORIA PLUMB: HISTORY LESSON?
In seeking to understand how Brexit is playing out in our own community, Susan visited Cam Valley Orchards to learn how the business is adapting. The story is here.
We’d like to thank our MP Heidi Allen for supporting Amendment 7 in the House of Commons last week, to ensure a Parliamentary vote on the final Brexit deal.
DROP-IN ADVICE SURGERY
Our monthly surgeries are at Melbourn on 1st Mondays and Bassingbourn on 3rd Mondays, all 3-4PM. Please note that in January, the Melbourn date moves to January 8th, and there will be no Bassingbourn Surgery – resuming to normal in February. Meanwhile, please contact us any time with any questions or concerns and we’ll do our best to help.
ANY ITEMS WE CAN HELP TO RAISE?
We would be delighted to address any concerns you may have, or help raise awareness of issues affecting our community via this newsletter.
WHAT WE STAND FOR
The Liberal Democrats exist to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society, in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community, and in which no one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity.We aim to disperse power, to foster diversity and to nurture creativity. Learn more about or join the Liberal Democrats at http://www.libdems.org.uk
Philippa, Jose and Susan
Philippa Hart, District Councillor for Meldreth and Shepreth
firstname.lastname@example.org, Tel 01763 261255
Jose Hales, District Councillor for Melbourn, Heydon and the Chishills
email@example.com, Tel 01763 221058
Susan van de Ven, County Councillor for Bassingbourn, Melbourn, Meldreth and Whaddon