Susan van de Ven

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

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Community Newsletter

by Susan van de Ven on 10 July, 2019

Liberal Democrat Community Newsletter July 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 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


The national conversation on ‘doubling nature’ as one of the best ways of tackling the Climate Emergency is being replicated at local level.  We were delighted to hear the challenge for large-scale tree planting raised by a member of the public at a recent parish council meeting: ‘How can our village contribute to the call to multiply the number of trees in the UK?’ 

Doubling Nature is a stated intent of South Cambs District Council, which points out that Cambridgeshire is one of the poorest counties nationally for trees – and sets out for helping to change that.

The Woodland Trust has planted over 43 million trees and offers free trees to schools and community groups.


This Greater Cambridge Partnership consultation is about improving off-road walking, cycling, scootering and other Non-Motorized User travel between Cambridge and Royston, and notably a dedicated path and bridge along the A10 and over the A505 between Melbourn and Royston.  Funding is possible because of the prevalence of employment sites on both sides of the county border and the opportunity to increase travel to work by active travel and sustainable means.

Please respond to the consultation which people living in villages along the A10 corridor will have had through the letterbox, or respond on-line here:


The same need for a safe crossing over the A505 at the junction with the A1198, near Tesco and connecting directly into Kneesworth and Bassingbourn is raised with equal urgency by local residents who need to access Royston on a regular basis, especially for work.  It is a short and very manageable walk but while there is a roadside path, one must cross the A1198 and the A505 roundabout itself – the roundabout sited in Hertfordshire.  Susan is working with colleagues on the Hertfordshire side of the A505 to understand where opportunities might lie. 


Work is now well underway to advance the possibility of a speed limit reduction along the A1198 between Kneesworth and Whaddon Gap.  Susan organized a recent meeting of Whaddon and Bassingbourn Parish Councils, Bassingbourn Barracks and the Police, with support from Highways, to understand how best to achieve this via the Local Highways Improvement Scheme.  A bid will be submitted next month.


Lately we’ve received an increase in contact from residents of Beechwood Avenue Melbourn, which is used as a short-cut to the Saxon Way Melbourn Industrial Site.  There’s further concern about potential traffic patterns to and from the new housing developments off New Road, adding to pressure along what is a residential road, unfit to serve as a main throughway.

Please do let us know if you are experiencing problems, or if you have specific ideas for addressing the issue.  This will be taken up by the Melbourn Futures Group.


At the Parish Liaison meeting last month many parish councillors and clerks expressed frustration about the lamentable figure presented of 22 parking enforcement notices issued in the whole of South Cambs this year. Obviously, that fails completely to address the problem that many of our villages are facing.

The District Council has been under pressure from the Police and Crime Commissioner to agree a civil enforcement scheme for the district and it is surprising that he has failed to accept that the legislation prevents us from doing this and that responsibility for parking enforcement will have to remain his. The problem is that the council may not use council tax to fund such a scheme. It can only be funded from money earned from parking i.e. car parks, fines, residents’ parking schemes – but the District Council has  no car parks and no residents’ parking schemes in South Cambs and knows that income from fines would fall far short of the significant amount that would be needed to fund a district-wide scheme.

The Police have reiterated that if regular offenders are reported to them three times they will take action. We suggest we put this to the test and if it fails that you let us know. On the subject of pavement parking there has been some discussion at government level about legislating but as things stand it is at the discretion of the police whether they issue a penalty notice or not. The advice we have had is that they will do so if the gap is not large enough for a wheelchair to pass through.


Local NHS services are commissioned by the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), whose population area at 950,000 people is one of the largest in the country.  But it is the third lowest nationally in terms of funding.  Its unique pressures include a rapidly growing population that is not calculated into its funding formula, which is set by national government.    

Our CCG is spending more than it can afford and must make £33 million in savings this year. ‘Difficult decision’ look set to see the end of financial support to the voluntary sector, especially pertaining to services for older people, as well as some NHS services.  A decision has been deferred until July 16.  The following illustrates the scale of what is at stake:

Cease funding or decommission the following:

• RSS Ophthalmology – triage service Cambridge

• Evolutio – Ophthalmology triage service Peterborough

• DMC – Dermatology – GP practice-based dermatology service Cambridge

• Dial-a-Ride – Cambridge City

• Joint Emergency Team – admission avoidance scheme

• The Stroke Association

• The Alzheimer’s Society: 21 dementia clinics to close

• The Carer’s Trust Cambridgeshire & Peterborough, Norfolk

• The Health and Wellbeing Network

• ECHIS (The Evelyn Trust Evelyn Community Head Injury Service)

• Oliver Zangwill centre, Cambridge

The CCG would seek to renegotiate service provision and/or payment for the following:

• The Care Network

• Cambridgeshire Hearing Help

• ACES Ophthalmology (Peterborough service)

• MEC (Minor Eye Conditions service)

• Concordia ENT service

• Sawston Microsuction service

• ENT GP Special Interest service (Hunts)

• Dermatology GP Special Interest service (Hunts & Wisbech)

• Diagnostic Healthcare (nee Excel)

• Global Diagnostics ultrasound (Cambridge)

• AQP Dexa scan (multiple Providers) bone density service

• Specsavers Direct Access Audiology – Cambridgeshire

• Inhealth Audiology – Peterborough hearing aid assessment and provision

• AQP Vasectomy (Various Contracts)

It will be recommended that the CCG continues to fund:

• The East Anglian Children’s Hospital

• BPAS (British Pregnancy Advisory Service)

IVF services discontinued: The CCG will also be reviewing its 2017 decision to pause Specialist Fertility Services or IVF, and the recommendation will be that it does not reinstate service provision (as opposed to continuing suspension and reconsidering when financial position improves).  Meanwhile Government which has not corrected the funding formula is strongly condemning those local authorities forced to cease IVF services.

We join all who are urging Government to correct our health funding formula and properly support NHS services. Until then, ordinary people will suffer the consequences.


The Melbourn Hub now in association with Dementia Friends, looking to establish a support group this autumn, open to all.  Please contact the Centre Manager or Jose for more information. 


Local charities from Melbourn and surrounding villages will be showcasing their work and activities at the Hub on Saturday 13 July, from 12PM: Drop in to learn more about Timebank, Home-Start, the WI, Nicola Emerson Trust (young adult deaths), U3A, Melbourn Dynamos, Dementia Friends, East of England Ambulance and more.   Tai Chi demonstration, live music by young singers from the area, photographic project, food.   Any queries or ideas please contact Centre Manager or Jose.     


The Post Office is looking for someone to run the Melbourn Post Office, as part of an existing business. Installation funding, plus training and support, is available.  If you’d like to know more, please contact Anthony Bayley on 07872 816008 or  Learn more about running a post office here,  Or see the Melbourn advert on the Melbourn Parish Council website here.


The Meldreth, Shepreth and Foxton Rail User Group will shortly draft a submission to Govia Thameslink Railway, based on feedback from rail users.  The Meldreth, Shepreth and Foxton Community Rail Partnership is able to attract some match-funding for some of the projects people have asked us to put forward, which widens the scope of what can be achieved.  Updates will be posted at


Advice from the CCC Definitive Maps officer who believes that the kissing gate has been in its current position since the 1950s.  Advice has been provided on acquiring permission for its removal, and the probably ownership of the gate, as part of the process in seeking to replace it with a staggered gate or bollard, in order to improve pedestrian access to Meldreth Station. 


Thanks to both Whaddon and Meldreth Parish Councils ad Aurora Meldreth Manor School for stepping up to sponsor garden tubs at Meldreth Station.  Any other local businesses, families or individuals who would like to do the same at Meldreth, Shepreth or Foxton Stations, please get in touch with the Community Rail Partnership via Susan.

And thanks too to our new Duke of Edinburgh volunteers and Meldreth Primary School children who are helping to keep the flower tubs watered over the summer.  All offers of help gratefully received!


Thanks to gentle pressure exerted from Melbourn Science Park at recent Rail User Group meetings, and to Govia Thameslink for organizing the redecoration of Meldreth Station Waiting Room a bit sooner than planned.


The redesign of King’s Cross Station in time for the 2012 Olympics was welcome, but the most serious work for a well-functioning railway that would have benefited from attention at the same time was the untangling of tracks leading to the station itself.  The infrastructure has come to the end of its life and must be replaced/upgraded. This necessitates a series of scheduled works that includes the weekends of July 13-14 and August 24-26.  Please check the Govia Thameslink Railway website if you need to travel on these dates for details of bus replacement services.


Stagecoach have launched a Busway public consultation, which is a great chance to comment on the current service running from Royston through Melbourn, Shepreth and Foxton, on to Trumpington Park and Ride, Addenbrookes, Cambridge Station and stops all the way to St Ives.


South Cambs has recently launched this scheme, which has been running in Cambridge since 2001. The first plaque was unveiled yesterday at Girton College to honour its two principal founders, Barbara Bodichon and Emily Davies, who were pioneers in providing education at degree level for women in this country. South Cambridgeshire residents are now being encouraged to nominate a person or event

for commemoration.   For further details and nominations criteria, please see here.


Electric powered bin lorries? Some of you will have seen reports in the local media of the Waste Service (SCDC and City) investigating switching to electric powered bin lorries. The current fleet meets the highest environmental standards for diesel engines but the trucks only manage 4-6 miles to the gallon and the fleet of 50 bin lorries and 18 street sweeping vehicles costs around £46,000 every four weeks to fuel. The cost of their replacement by electric powered vehicles is high and the two councils are exploring how this might be best achieved.

Green energy initiatives – SCDC has pledged to generate 25% of its income from investments by the end of this administration. If we can do this and also tick our Green to the Core pledge then all the better. Green energy, be it battery storage, solar, EV charging points or others are all possible future investment opportunities for the Council. To this end, Philippa attended the Cleanpower and Smart Grids Conference in Cambridge earlier this week.


The planning service at SCDC is merging with Cambridge City Council. The new shared planning is the first service area to receive the ICT hardware and telephony for the Council Anywhere Programme which will enable its staff to work between two offices but also out in the community. There is a national shortage of planners and areas of the planning department are running high vacancies: much is being done to recruit more planning officers but it has meant that some applications are failing to meet target deadlines and also that planning officers have not been as available to residents as they would like to be. Philippa is working hard with colleagues to improve the service.


We know that some residents have experienced long wait times trying to reach SCDC by telephone. The Contact Centre has also been dogged by staff vacancies and difficulties in recruitment but it is hoped that it is now back on track. We are committed to putting the customer first and this means giving our residents plenty of choice in how they communicate with the Council. As we’ve reported previously, if you are able to get online, please do check out the mysouthcambs Portal on the website homepage – once you are registered, which only takes a few minutes, you can contact the Council online for a wide range of reasons, ranging from reporting fly-tipping, booking a planning officer appointment, making a complaint or maybe even paying a compliment!


SCDC Streets Service write:  Our service is provided by 11 staff covering works teams and 5 LGV sweeper drivers. We cover 106 Parishes over 901.6 Square Kilometers, servicing 156,705 residents We empty 1003 Litter bins and 704 dog waste bins per week approx. We sweep 1,186,125 meters of adopted roads require sweeping and 56,893 meters of adopted paths require sweeping.

Phase 1- Streets Team. Traditionally we had several groups of staff covering the SCDC area performing separate individual tasks and criss-crossing the district with no clear round structure or accountability. The works teams have now been restructured into five zone teams. The purpose of remodeling the works teams was to achieve improved efficiency and work area accountability. To achieve this, we have devised five works team zones covering all of the SCDC service area and consolidated bin and dog waste rounds with other work team tasks such as litter picking, fly tip removal, dead animal recovery and other adhoc streets tasks.

We now have two streets operatives/vehicles dedicated to each of the five zones, within each zone the team of two are responsible for all works tasks within their zone. The improvements we expect to see from the smaller zones (previously four) are that we respond proactively not reactively to fly tips, litter and waste bin emptying with an emphasis on improving overall service to residents and decreasing complaints and service requests. Each zone’s assigned operatives can work individually in a single vehicle to cover a greater area of a zone or combine efforts for larger tasks such as fly tip removal or safety critical tasks that requires multi operatives present.

Phase 2 – Mechanical sweeping. Traditionally our three large sweepers and two small sweepers covered the SCDC area predominantly on a reactive basis and there was limited monitoring of sweeping locations or forward schedules routes. Therefore, work has been undertaken to remodel the mechanical sweeping teams in to five work zones. Up to a maximum of five mechanical sweepers will operate each given zone for two weeks before moving onto the next zone for two weeks moving around the zone map in a clockwise direction.

The benefit of this system is very valuable as it ensures that each zone receives a full two weeks of cleaning up to five times per annum and from that a schedule can be produced and published advising the public on which weeks of the year their area is due to be swept. Whilst we visit each zone five times a year it’s important to note that this does not mean a zone within its entirety will be cleansed, each area will be assessed and cleansing will be performed on a as required basis including targeting hotspot areas. Adding the zoned structure ensures that the sweepers are clear on their works areas and the tasks within those areas which will consist of deep cleaning of arterial routes as well as general sweeping tasks. Other parish or works team tasks can also be scheduled throughout the year to correspond with the mechanical sweeping schedule to aid clean ups and joint working.

Further sweeping efficiencies are also being sort by the siting of two skips into the community to enable our smaller sweepers to be able to tip off without returning to the land fill site enabling a second load. For both works teams and mechanical sweepers we expect that there will be an acceptable level of deviation from zones to take into account the need to act responsively to unforeseen situations that may arise or seasonal demands. This deviation time has been factored into both teams work plans within each zone.

Streets enquiries should continue to be emailed to: as opposed to an individual officer as this ensures during times of absence or leave enquiries can be handled promptly by the team. On reporting or enquiring about a street issue it is important beforehand to have a detailed location of the report as well as any photos or supplementary information that can aid handling of the enquiry. We have asked when the specific timescales on this and when the timetable for street sweeping will be available.


The national tables showing Council Tax & Business Rates collection have just been published and South Cambs has retained its place as 3rd best in the country at collecting Council Tax. From total Council Tax due of £114.2m, we had just £716k outstanding at the end of the financial year. For Business Rates, we’ve improved on our position of 26th in the previous year, to achieve a placement at 16th nationally. Business Rates collection rate was 99.5%,compared to 99.4% for Council Tax, with just £404k outstanding at the end of the financial year from a total charge o nearly £88.4m.


South Cambs is top nationally for SAP ratings in the Housemark tables (energy efficiency in council houses) and second for rent collection. The new administration pledged to double the number of new council houses it builds from the inherited target of 35 per year to 70 per year and this work is well on track and likely to be exceeded this year.


On the South Cambs website is Council Leader Bridget Smith’s new blog which will hopefully keep you up to speed on some of the many things she is doing these days.

The success of South Cambs over the past year has meant that its local members are being asked to help out with many projects and issues across a much wider geography. The most important of these is Bridget’s new role as the political lead for the environment for the OXCAM Arc. In simple terms this is our version of the Northern Powerhouse – an economically vibrant area with huge potential, in government’s eyes, to grow the national economy. The risk is that more jobs and more houses damages both the environment and the quality of life for people already living in the Arc. Bridget’s role will be to ensure that every opportunity to improve the environment and consequently our quality of life is taken and exploited to the full. Bridget has also been elected as the Lib Dem spokesperson on Safer Communities for the Local Government Association.


Local Transport Plan: The Combined Authority is consulting on the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough LTP.

It is disappointingly road-focused when there is the opportunity to push for better sustainable

transport links and better public transport. We know that building bigger roads just encourages more cars on to them especially when there is no alternative.  Please do take part in the consultation to share your views:

South Cambridgeshire’s Share of Affordable Housing: Part of the Devolution Deal was £100m for affordable housing to be targeted at areas where housing was least affordable. Using this criteria, South Cambs should have had a fairly large chunk of the money in the form of grants. However, the Mayor has ring fenced £40m for a rolling fund of loans, about 90% of which has so far gone to East Cambs, where the Mayor lives.  

A505 ignored: The Mayor has put forward the A10 north for government funding and refused SCDC’s plea to also put forward the A505 which already exceeds its limited capacity.  SCDC Leader Bridget Smith had previously persuaded the CA and the Mayor to develop a project confined to upgrading the junctions on the A10 north at a cost of about £40m, rather than the A10 north dualling, costing £500m, which the Mayor favours – both projects now submitted.


We are sure you share our anger and disgust at the theft of the lead from the roof of Whaddon Church. Philippa has been in touch with the Church Wardens to suggest grant-funding organisations which might be able to help and we hope as many local residents as possible will go along to Whaddon Church Fete on Saturday 13th July to show support and solidarity.


Rebecca Willers writes: ‘We are planning on opening up the park to the residents on 11th August between 4-7pm.  This will be the same as we have done in previous years, where we give free entrance to all visitors who present our reception team with a utility bill to show that they live in the village.’


If you might be interested in becoming a volunteer driver for Royston and District Community Transport, which provides lifeline lift for people in our community who cannot access private or public transport for essential local trips, please contact RDCT to find out more. Ring 01763 245228 or email


We would be delighted to address any concerns you may have or help raise awareness of issues affecting our community via this newsletter.  And any questions or concerns, please contact us any time – details below.


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.   Join the Liberal Democrats here

Sincerely yours,

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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