Susan van de Ven

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

Community Newsletter

by Susan van de Ven on 10 April, 2019

Community Newsletter April 2019

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, or


Local services depend on good governance and healthy public finances – and a full and well-supported workforce.  We sincerely hope that the outcome of the Brexit crisis supports, rather than undermines public services.

The County Council’s Brexit update is here:


Our local Citizens Advice, with free drop-in services at the Melbourn Hub and Royston Town Hall, can help with Universal Credit claims, and many other matters.  All information is here on their website:


The Youth Club offered weekly at Melbourn Recreation Ground Pavilion, delivered by community development specialists Groundwork, is going from strength to strength with two well-attended Tuesday evening sessions every week in term time for two different age ranges.  Years 7 and 8 meet from 6-7:30PM, and Year 9+ from 7:3-9:00.  The club offers a whole range of fun indoor and outdoor activities, as well as support and guidance.  It is free to attend, thanks to the willingness of parish councils to support our children in this way.  The next session follows the Easter Break, on 23 April.

Extra thanks to Melbourn Parish Council for hosting all the admin and building support costs involved in running what was in the ‘good old days’ before funding cuts, a key social service that we expected from the County Council.  For more information please contact Matthew Barnes-Smith, 07809 201099 or


The Bassingbourn and Melbourn Oil Clubs were set up to help get cheapest prices on household heating oil, by working with bulk buyer Agricole Oil.  There’s no joining fee and no minimum order requirement. Every year the club gets a small rebate from our supplier, based on the number of purchases made.  This is given to a community group providing social support.

This year’s rebate goes to supporting Young Carers at Bassingbourn and Melbourn Village Colleges – these are 11-16-year-olds upon whom a family or loved-one depends for care.  To find out more about the Oil Club, please contact our supplier Dr Jeremy Cole at Agricole Oil: 01954 719452 or 07860 904045. 


The Community Chest Grants scheme is available to voluntary and community groups wishing to improve the quality of life in South Cambridgeshire. They are small grants of up to £1,000 for one-off costs relating to a project or activity.  Please follow this link.


A recent first gathering at the Melbourn Hub proved beyond a doubt that a Dementia Friends group is something that local residents would very much like to see in our community.  Please contact Jose if you have any questions or ideas.  The Melbourn Hub is supported by the parishioners of Melbourn and is run on the spirit of ‘ALL welcome’ – if you’d like to visit, take part, volunteer in the café or help in any other way, you don’t have to live in Melbourn!


South Cambs District Council is increasing council tax on houses that have been left empty for a significant period of time. The Council offers lots of help for landlords and owners of empty homes to help them get them back into use, but now has the option to significantly increase council tax where there are no convincing reasons for them to remain empty. 

Currently the owners of homes that are left empty and substantially unfurnished for more than two years must pay an extra 50% on top of the regular bill. Following the full Council meeting, the 50% premium will be replaced by the following arrangements – all in effect from April 1.  Homes that are empty

  • for two years or more will be charged double their regular Council Tax (i.e. an additional premium of 100%).
  • for five years or more will be charged a 200% premium on top of their regular Council Tax.
  • for ten years or more will be charged a 300% premium on top of their regular Council Tax.

Currently in South Cambridgeshire, 100 properties have been empty for between 2-5 years. 41 homes have been empty for 5-10 years. 39 properties that have been empty for more than ten years.  Any questions, please ask Philippa or Jose.


With the Lib Dem administration’s decision to prioritise providing affordable homes, the aim will be to build 70 council homes per year – that’s on top of housing association homes.  The administration will also insist that from 2020 new homes are built to higher environmental standards, meaning reduced carbon emissions and lower energy bills for householders.


 SCDC has installed a large array of solar photo voltaic panels on the roof of the waste management depot at Waterbeach. The money to do this has come from a fund resulting from the business rates from the large number of solar farms in the district. This initiative will generate income for the council which it can invest in other green enterprises. The solar panels will generate around a quarter of all the electricity the building uses.   This follows on from a recent Council commitment to work towards the ambitious target of making South Cambridgeshire carbon-neutral by 2050, as well as a purge on single-use plastics at the authority.


Questions about conflict of interest in decision-making have been raised, as set out here.

There is in addition a question about the relationship between the County’s Local Plan Call for Sites submissions (see below) and its preferred route option for East West Rail, which has been raised and which we’ll report back on.


Cambridge City Council and South Cambridgeshire District Council have commenced work on the new joint Greater Cambridge Local Plan to provide a sustainable vision for the future of the area. This includes planning for new housing and economic development to meet our needs and protect and enhance our environment.   An early step in the plan preparation process is to gather information on what land is available and suitable for development. As a part of this work, a ‘Call for Sites’ consultation ran between the 11 February 2019 and 25 March 2019.

Cambridgeshire County Council, as landowner, submitted 64 sites as part of this consultation. These sites will be evaluated by both councils and it is highly likely that a large number of the sites will be unsuccessful.   Within the Melbourn and Bassingbourn Division, the Council has submitted a number of sites for consideration in Bassingbourn, Whaddon and Melbourn: Sites 46, 47, 48, 50, 51, 52, and ‘Site C.’

We have forwarded on relevant site maps to our parish councils, but annoyingly, while they are ‘in the public domain’ they are not yet published.  They are uploaded on Susan’s website:

Meanwhile, the Local Plan webpage is here – please note that you can login to consultation databases by area of interest, and more detailed including all representations will be available soon.


Whaddon, Bassingbourn and Meldreth all have active Community Speedwatch volunteer groups, which help to raise awareness of speeding in particular areas and provide helpful data on actual average traffic speeds – this is helpful in making the case for suitable traffic calming measures.  If you’d like to get involved, please see these links: (for Meldreth please use the parish clerk contact details)


The Transport Select Committee has launched an inquiry into the matter of parking on pavements.  In our villages, this is often raised as a concern where cars on pavements block pedestrian access, particularly when a wheelchair or pushchair is involved.  Please see the link below and feel free to contribute your views – the closing date for written submissions is 14 May.


Following the recent reopening of Bassingbourn Barracks, Susan has been to visit the team heading up its redevelopment as an MOD site dedicated to the training of British troops for overseas deployment, as well as their families living on site. Various concerns have been discussed, and many are shared by the wider community.  

  • The site entrance is in the process of redesign due to safety concerns. In particular, the turn into the site coming from Kneesworth and the A1198 is not well signposted – a response from the County Road Safety team is expected soon.
  • Students from the vicinity of the Barracks attending Bassingbourn Village College are expected to make their own way along the A1198 – a long and lonely route.  A request to revisit the assessment of route safety has been lodged.
  • Families living on the barracks site are isolated; bus options for young families are not brilliant and underscore just how much affordable local public transport options are needed. 


Following the reinstatement of a Baby Group in the former Children’s Centre premises, County Children’s Services made the decision to discontinue the group, which they explain had had only one attendee over six weeks.    Needless to say, this is very disappointing. However, the Friday Stay and Play Group is going well, which is good news: 10-11:30AM at the Bassingbourn Pre-School, adjacent to the Primary School (and exactly where the Children’s Centre used to be).

More information on ALL Child and Family Centres here:


‘Early Help’ is for everybody in the family: children, young people and adults.  It’s your choice whether you have it or not.  You might be worried about your child, or you and your family might start to experience some changes or difficulties that you just cannot manage by yourself.  Whatever it is, there are a number of ways that Early Help can support you and your family so that small problems do not become big problems.   You are welcome to contact the team on 01954 284672 , email, or look on Facebook for:


 The £1 charge for computer access, introduced in May last year 2018, was part of a package of measures trialled to ensure computers are available for those who most need them and to generate more income for the library service to ensure they remain financially sustainable for the future. However, the anticipated income generation didn’t happen, and now the charge has been dropped.

We hasten to add that the Library Access Point at the Melbourn Hub has never charged for use of its laptops (and internet access is free to all at the Hub).


A partnership with Cambridgeshire County Council, Cambridgeshire Community Reuse and Recycling Network (CCORRN) and Amey has collected and treated over 500,000 litres of paint in the last eight years. The scheme collects used paint from Household Recycling Centres where it is sorted, tested and re-manufactured so that it can be resold or donated into the community.   The scheme has a range of re-manufactured emulsion paint and chalky furniture paint in a host of great colours for great prices. So, if you are thinking of redecorating, upcycling or know of a community or school project that needs paint, why not visit CCORRN (located in March) or follow them on Facebook.  And if you have paint for recycling, please visit the Thriplow Recycling Centre.


Congratulations to the Meldreth litter pickers who tidied up the village just before the rain started on Sunday.  A Whaddon Litter Pick takes place on Saturday 20 April, 10AM at Ridgeway Close.


Thanks are due to Meldreth Futures Group for organizing new cycle racks, designed as flower planters, installed just opposite One Stop on the corner of Bell Close.  Meldreth Futures are always looking for community ideas, so please get in touch – contact details and more information here.


The Meldreth, Shepreth and Foxton Community Rail Partnership has been coordinating care of the flower tubs at our stations for many years now.  Would you or your local business like to adopt a tub?  That simply means planting it to look lovely for summer and winter, and helping out a bit to keep it watered as part of our team effort.   

And, if you or someone you know is looking for a Duke of Edinburgh volunteering slot, every year our station platform flower tubs benefit from a helping hand from Duke of Edinburgh volunteers and others.

Please feel free to contact Susan, who coordinates Meldreth, Shepreth and Foxton Station gardening opportunities.


We would be delighted to address any concerns you may have or help raise awareness of issues affecting our community via this newsletter. 


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 here.

Sincerely yours, 

Philippa, Jose and Susan

Philippa Hart, District Councillor for Melbourn, Meldreth, Shepreth and Whaddon, Tel 07811323571

Jose Hales, District Councillor for Melbourn, Meldreth, Shepreth and Whaddon, Tel 01763 221058

Susan van de Ven, County Councillor for Bassingbourn, Melbourn, Meldreth and Whaddon,, Tel 07905325574

Twitter: @susanvandeven


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