by Susan van de Ven on 20 April, 2018
Liberal Democrat Community Newsletter
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.
ELECTIONS MAY 3rd: PARISHES AND DISTRICT COUNCIL
Elections take place for all our district wards under new boundaries, and parishes where enough candidates have come forward to trigger an election, including Meldreth. Philippa and Jose are standing for the new Melbourn Ward, which includes also Meldreth, Shepreth and Whaddon. If you’d like to ask them any questions, their contact details are at the end of this newsletter.
9000 POT HOLES IN THREE MONTHS
What’s happening to our roads and pavements?
We’ve been overwhelmed with reports of pot holes: tyre blow-outs, falling off bikes, near-misses by swerving drivers, and so on. Last year, Cambridgeshire Highways received 7,500 pot hole reports. In the first three months of 2018, 9,000 reports were made. Shoddy repair work shouldn’t count but does.
What can you do? As annoying and frustrating as it is, please go on-line and report every pot hole in your street.
This will create an accurate public record – and you can see straight away where you have contributed to the public map. Decision-makers will no longer be able to say that this is just a bit of nuisance.
Have you blown a tyre or wrecked your bike? Then please lodge a request for reimbursement for damages. The PDF form is at the bottom of the fault reporting page.
And if you want to moan at someone or want help reporting, please drop in at one of our advice surgeries or contact us anytime. Thanks for your help in setting the record straight.
COMPLETELY NEW TRAIN SERVICE STARTS 20th MAY
The new timetable coming into force on 20 May is described as the biggest change in rail services for decades: we are part of ‘Thameslink’ territory and will be connected up to a far greater network throughout the Southeast than ever before.
. Locally we will have twice hourly trains all day, Monday-Saturday (except 11AM-noon due to the Cemex goods train!), and an hourly service Sunday. All trains will be eight carriages, Tube style, with much more vestibule room. Trains will depart on a completely new schedule on a massively complex grid – details on the Meldreth, Shepreth and Foxton Rail User Group website: google meldrethsheprethfoxtonrail.
As part of the phased roll-out of the new service, from May 20 until December 2019 our trains will continue to terminate at King’s Cross, but thereafter will run via St Pancras, providing the direct service to Blackfriars, London Bridge, or Gatwick from Meldreth, Shepreth and Foxton
NEW PLATFORM SHELTERS: SO FAR SO GOOD
While the wheels move slowly, it looks like the promised new shelters for the Meldreth and Foxton Cambridge-bound platforms are going ahead. There’s a months-long lead time but the starting gun has been fired. This has come about via lobbying from the Meldreth, Shepreth and Foxton Rail User Group.
SHEPRETH LEVEL CROSSING: CLOSED MAY 5-14
As has been reported via the Meldreth, Shepreth and Foxton Rail User Group, the road barriers at Shepreth Level Crossing are being changed to a full barrier system on account of safety concerns – the half-barriers allow easy nipping through when a train is fast approaching, and the crossing sits on a bend with poor visibility. Rail replacement services run between Letchworth and Cambridge, for two of those days: Sunday May 6 and Sunday May 13. We attended the Network Rail information session on 18 May but were disappointed that it was arranged last minute, with insufficient time to reach parish newsletters. The Meldreth, Shepreth and Foxton Rail User Group is lobbying hard for the unofficial car park to be returned for local parking use as soon as these works are completed, to alleviate parking problems in the station vicinity.
FLOOD AVOIDANCE TOURS, MELDRETH AND MELBOURN
Highways came out earlier this month with local Flood Avoidance committee volunteers, to tour to keep a preventive eye on avoidable problems that result from blockages in the drainage network.
In Meldreth, urgent work will take place at the Stocks, Malton Lane and the High Street near Elin Way, while in Melbourn work needs to continue at Back Lane/London Way, Orchard Way near Maple Way, and possible new work in Trigg Way. It is usually very localized reporting that provides the clue to a network problem, so please always get in touch with any concerns.
Meanwhile, especially in Meldreth where so many watercourses are to be found, please note that any property owner with a drainage ditch running through their land or alongside their boundary is obliged to keep those channels clear – more information on ‘Riparian Ownership’ is available from the Parish Office.
WHADDON’S WHITE LINES
An urgent request to Highways for white lines on Whaddon’s many sharp road bends made two years ago, then repeated last year – was met with a ‘yes of course’ but still no action taken. Highways have apologized, and with luck the white lines will be coming soon.
MELBOURN BACK LANE TREES
Recently, six trees were taken down by County Highways in Back Lane Melbourn – this was due to disease. We are offered six replacement trees, to be planted where the parish would like. This will be brought to Melbourn Parish Council on Monday.
HELP KEEP ROYSTON & DISTRICT COMMUNITY TRANSPORT’S MINIBUSES!
Royston & District Community Transport is a charity providing lifeline transport for people who’d otherwise be isolated. RDCT has a small fleet of minibuses, including a lovely 16-seat low-floor model, provided by the Department for Transport – and has raised funds for running costs and maintenance. Now the Department for Transport is looking to radically change licensing arrangements for community transport providers running minibuses, meaning they would need a commercial operator’s license, and their volunteer drivers would need professional qualifications, costing thousands. This means that a whole range of activities using RDCT’s minibuses is under threat.
The DfT is currently in consultation on community transport operations and it would be very helpful to RDCT if local residents could write to them saying that they value RDCT minibus services. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org saying just that – by May 1st. Many thanks.
In the meantime, RDCT is critically short of minibus drivers right now – if you or anyone you know would be interested in being a minibus driver, please contact them.
VOLUNTEER DRIVERS NEEDED FOR LUNCH CLUB TO GROW
Every Thursday at Vicarage Close, Melbourn Mobile Warden Scheme runs a lunch club for mature villagers. Current members come from Melbourn, Meldreth and Shepreth. A cooked lunch is provided and the chance to meet with others to chat. The club could increase its membership but needs more volunteers to drive people – most of whom are mobility impaired. If you could spare a few minutes at around 11.30am and again at about 1pm on some Thursdays to drive, please contact Jeannie on 07808 735 066.
WILL THE MAYOR RIDE THE BUS?
The Mayor and Combined Authority are the new county Transport Authority. The Mayor’s Bus Review, announced in November, has yet to commence. Meanwhile, the County Council has made it clear that its current round of bus subsidies, with another stay of execution running until April 2019, marks the end of its financial contribution to supporting bus services. Over to the Mayor.
NEW 127/128 BUS TIMETABLE
The Cam Vale Bus Users Group, comprised of Bassingbourn, Whaddon and Meldreth residents, has been working with the bus operator and the County Council on timetable revisions for the combined 127/128 bus service. Special attention has been given to ensuring linking up with the 26 bus and the new Great Northern timetables. The aim is to distribute the new timetable, and bring it into force, as close as possible to the introduction of the new train timetable on May 20. Please get in touch if you’d like to receive Bus User Group news.
POLICE COMMISSIONER BUILDS AN EMPIRE: AND WHAT ABOUT COMMUNITY POLICING?
The Home Secretary has accepted the ‘independent’ assessment of the Police & Crime Commissioner’s proposal to take over running the Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Fire & Rescue Service. This is another blow to local democracy – a well-run organisation with elected members from across Cambridgeshire & Peterborough at the top now becomes an adjunct to a political role which – one might think – has plenty to occupy itself already just with policing. Especially as we seem to have lost a police presence in the villages.
It has also been confirmed that Police & Crime Commissioner is decommissioning all the rural police stations and actually closing some. Warranted Officers will now ONLY be based in the four major stations at Parkside, Huntingdon, Peterborough and Ely – nowhere in South Cambs.
We continue to receive reports of incidents where fraudsters are phoning people pretending to be police officers, Microsoft, the telephone preference service or bank staff. They will try to convince their victim to give their bank details or withdraw large amounts of cash. This is a scam!
The police, banks and building societies will never ask you to do this. If you ever have doubts about someone phoning you, hang up, wait at least 5 minutes to ensure the line has been terminated and call the company back on an official number (check your bank card or a statement), never call the number the fraudster gives you. Further advice can be found at www.actionfraud.police.uk. To report fraud – call 999 if it is happening now, or 101 if it’s already happened.
SELLING OFF COUNTY ESTATES, CONFIDENTIALLY: THE ROUSES, BASSINGBOURN
As we’ve been reporting, the County Council is running out of money and can no longer take proper care of people or infrastructure. The council is rich in land – it has one of the most extensive land holdings of any council in the country. So, to make new money it has created its own commercial development company, with which to commercially develop some of its land holdings. This new company is currently known as ‘This Land.’ Sales of county-owned land to This Land take place through the Commercial and Investment Committee, comprised of democratically elected councillors but whose papers are largely confidential. With the County’s Chief Finance Officer and Chief Legal Officer also serving as Board Members on This Land, there are obvious questions of conflict of interest.
Be aware – many County Council land holdings are in sensitive places in our villages: including a great deal of land in Whaddon and part of Melbourn Recreation Ground. You can see County land holdings on the County website here.
The Rouses, Bassingbourn, which forms part of the village’s core green space, is one example. Please see here for the latest update on The Rouses.
NEW ROAD MELBOURN
Hopkins Homes, developers of the housing site in New Road, were observed by local residents to have started work on the site recently in spite of not yet receiving planning conditions consent from Cambourne. The developers had assured residents that they would be a compliant and considerate developer so this was a very disappointing start. Jose immediately alerted South Cambs planning enforcement officers and requested a stop notice which was duly issued against the developers. Jose is monitoring the situation.
MARLEY ETERNIT APPEAL, WHADDON ROAD MELDRETH
This is being determined by written representations and the deadline for submission of these has been extended to 3rd May. Philippa suggests that should any resident wish to make a representation, they should send their submission giving this reference APP/W0530/W/17/3186104 to this email address: email@example.com.
Philippa reports that Planning committee members at the April committee meeting were told to work on the assumption that that SCDC’s housing land supply stands at 4.8yrs. The District Council is supposed to have a five-year housing land supply at all times and this is why the Local Plan has been suspended for much of my four year term. There has been no indication from the Planning Inspector as to when she is likely to submit her judgment on the modified plan.
REFERALS TO PLANNING COMMITTEE
Many parish councils and councillors have been frustrated in the past two years by regular refusals of requests for planning applications to be decided by the planning committee at South Cambs District Council. There is no log of local member requests and so only anecdotal evidence that local members’ requests are routinely denied. Apparently once a 5-year housing land supply is secured that there will be more opportunities for applications other than the commercial, large speculative ones to be heard by the committee.
It is understood that there will be a review of the scheme of delegation for the new combined planning service after April when the councils will look again at the types of applications which can be decided by officer delegated powers. Parish Councils will be involved in this review.
PLANNING AUTHORITY IN DOUBT
Jose and Philippa report: South Cambs has exceeded the threshold on quality of decision making at which they can be designated as a planning authority. This means that we are at risk of losing our status as a planning authority because we are judged to be so poor at making correct decisions. The threshold in question is that no more than 10% of planning appeals must be over turned by the planning inspector. We are one of 14 authorities in this position. It is now up to government whether they decide to remove our status and take over our planning role. If this happens then the council also loses the revenue from planning applications even though they still have to do all the work.
We are also told that there will be a review of the scheme of delegation for the new combined planning service after April when the councils will look again at the types of applications which can be decided by officer delegated powers. Parish Councils will be involved in this review.
PARISH CHURCH BASSINGBOURN LETTER – OOPS
It has come to Susan’s attention that a strongly worded letter published in the Bassingbourn Village Voice about the future of the parish church was incorrectly attributed to her. As this issue has nothing to do with the County Council, it is something Susan has not become involved in. The editor and the true author, a different Susan, will be providing corrections in the next issue.
LITTER PICK THIS SUNDAY 2PM: A10 SHEPRETH/FOXTON
Ahead of the first grass cut on either side of the pedestrian/cycle path, a few local residents have have decided to spend an hour or two clearing litter. If you can spare some time to help, please come to the A10 layby just north of Shepreth Fowlmere Road. High viz jackets, litter pickers and bags will be provided, but please bring gloves.
MELDRETH BOWLS CLUB: OPEN AFTERNOON
The Meldreth Bowls Club Annual Open Afternoon will take place at 2pm on Sunday 29th April – all welcome!
FIVE NEW DUKE OF EDINBURGH VOLUNTEERS HELPING OUT
Through Melbourn Village College, the Meldreth, Shepreth and Foxton Community Rail Partnership and A10 Corridor Cycling Campaign are now enjoying support from a total of five Duke of Edinburgh Volunteers – litter picking and watering the flower tubs at the stations and helping to bring younger people who would like to be cycling safely to college into the Cycle Campaign’s work on the Melbourn-Royston pedestrian cycle link.
ORPHAN FLOWER TUB LOOKING FOR AN ADOPTER
All the tubs at Shepreth Station are planted up and looked after by volunteers. There’s a new orphan tub on the elongated platform, that needs adopting. Would you be up for helping out? If so, please contact Susan.
CRUISE SHIP VARIETY SHOW 20 & 21 APRIL, 7:30PM
At Meldreth Village Hall, in aid of the MindEd Trust: Entertainment from the Melbourn Amateur Dramatics Society. Tickets are available from the Melbourn Hub and cost £20 per person, including wine and canapes.
SHEPRETH WILDLIFE PARK RESIDENTS DAY, 9 MAY
“Please join us at the wildlife park on Wednesday 9th May all day. We will be inviting all Shepreth residents and businesses to receive free entry throughout the day, with behind the scenes keeper talks and animal feeds. We will be open late until 7:30pm and look forward to seeing you then. Please bring a utility bill for entry.”
DROP-IN MONTHLY ADVICE SURGERIES
We are at the Melbourn Hub, usually every first Monday of the month, 3-4PM. With the May Bank Holiday, May 8 instead of May 7.
Susan is at the Limes Community Room, High Street Bassingbourn, every third Monday of the month, 3-4PM, though the May surgery will take place on May 14.
Or 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 07811323571
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
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