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 27 September, 2019

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Community Newsletter September 2019

BEECHWOOD AVENUE TRAFFIC MEETING 29 OCTOBER

Our growing villages are seeing an inevitable increase in traffic, with intensified flash points giving cause for concern.  Beechwood Ave Melbourn rat running and turning out of the A505/New Road junction have prompted local residents to seek improvement measures.

Even big development planning conditions have not addressed these hot spots, in spite of strenuous arguments from your councillors.   County Highways budget is under severe pressure, with government giving one-off grants to fill a few pot holes but not addressing the need for support for proper annual maintenance funding.  

Nevertheless, Highways officers have helped us with ideas and we’re inviting residents to come along a public information meeting at the Melbourn Hub on 29 October 7:00PM. 

WATER: LOW RIVER AND STREAM LEVELS

Exceptionally low water levels this year have put the spotlight on precious natural resources at a time of climate change.   The Rivers Shep and Mel, and Whaddon Brook, are important wildlife habitats and greatly loved local amenities.  

Cambridge Water are working together with the Cam Valley Forum and the Environment Agency on strategic long-term planning, as low rainfall and a steady population increase present unrelenting challenges to a sustainable system.

Thanks to everyone who’s been in touch, including young people wishing to take up volunteering with local river restoration groups like Friends of the River Shep and the River Mel Restoration Group.  

DRAINS: NO ANNUAL MAINTENANCE

While it goes against logic, due to County Highways’ slim maintenance budget, annual drainage no longer takes place and those drains that get cleared are done on a reactive basis, usually on the basis of someone having logged a blocked drain complaint on-line, here.

https://www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/residents/travel-roads-and-parking/roads-and-pathways/roadworks-and-faults/

 In Meldreth the Flood Avoidance Subcommittee annual drainage tour resulted in High Street and North End gullies being jetted and cleared. Similarly, in Melbourn an order has been lodged for High Street jetting and we’ve asked for assurance that the Back Lane junction is included.   

A10 NOISE FOLLOWING SURFACE DRESSING

Eighteen months ago the A10 was given a surface dressing, for the purpose of extending the life of the road by about ten years.  The grade of material used was deemed the most advantageous for an A-road, but this has resulted in higher noise levels for drivers and nearby residents.  We’ve received complaints especially from people living near the Melbourn bypass but also from parts of Shepreth.   

The same exercise has been replicated on about a dozen roads around the county, and two have resulted in noise complaints, including at Papworth.

We raised the matter with County Highways, who asked their contractor Skanska to carry out detailed noise monitoring – this took place in July.  Because noise levels were not measured before the surface dressing was applied, it’s difficult to measure any change in noise levels so far. Nevertheless, County Highways accept that there is a problem, and have agreed to return in March to ascertain whether, with further bedding down, there has been any improvement.  If noise disturbance remains problematic, the remedy would be a new ‘dressing’ with a different material (which would initially cause renewed noise disturbance before it beds down), or a more permanent type new surface layer.  Any remedy would cost money, and would have to compete with the many demands on Highways’ limited budget.  A noise barrier is not an option because County Highways cannot afford maintenance costs.

So, essentially, Highways accept there’s a problem and will ask their contractor to monitor it; and they are willing to consider a remedy if required, but can’t guarantee funding.  One could reasonably ask, why bother?    We think it’s important to log what needs doing so that there’s a public record enabling the case to be made for more funding.  Looking after our infrastructure seems a no-brainer but the system isn’t working.

A NEW ‘TEMPORARY’ PARK AND RIDE AT HAUXTON – 2200 CAR PARK SPACES

A site for a new Park and Ride has been approved by the Greater Cambridge Partnership, though it still requires planning permission.  It’s on the south side of the M11 junction in Hauxton and is officially called Cambridge South West Park and Ride.  This will hold 2200 car park spaces, and has been required by the Mayor to be ‘temporary.’  Details here.

FOXTON TRAVEL HUB CONSULTATION – 750 CAR PARK SPACES

This proposal intended to persuade people to use the rail service at Foxton Station. Consultation runs until October 21st

Please do respond to the consultation.  Local public consultation events on October 8, 6-8PM, Foxton Village Hall and October 16, 6-8, Melbourn Hub.  All information including response form is here.   https://www.greatercambridge.org.uk/foxton-travel-hub-consultation/

RAIL AND CYCLE CAMPAIGN MEETINGS

The Meldreth, Shepreth and Foxton Rail User Group meets October 9, 7:30-9:00, Shepreth Village Hall.   An agenda will be posted here.

The A10 Cycle Campaign meets October 16, 7:30-9:00, Foxton Village Hall.  An agenda will be posted here.

Both meetings will consider the Foxton Travel Hub consultation, as it relates to rail users and cyclists.

EAST WEST RAIL NORTHERN ROUTE UPDATE

In response to local questions, CamBedRailRoad Chair Cllr Sebastian Kindersley reports: “We were expecting a Preferred Route Announcement on the EastWest Railway by the Summer Recess. This has now passed, and the current turbulence both at Westminster and in relation to the now-doubtful HS2 would indicate not a lot of announcing about railways anytime soon. However, EWR have written to CamBedRailRoad telling us that our Northern Option (St Neots – Cambourne – Northstowe to Cambridge North) is being assessed following the end of the public consultation.

“We are seeking clarification on the timings of announcements and the detail of the assessment. This is important because communities are living with a cloud of doubt about the eventual routing which is blighting land, property and lives. We are also in discussion with a wide range of organisations about a possible joint approach to any future legal action and have engaged a well-known firm of solicitors to work with us. More about our work here.” 

CAM VALE BUS USER GROUP MEETING NOVEMBER 12

Ever since 2010 when the County Council Conservative administration declared it would remove all bus subsidies, each year has seen a fight to retain funding for what’s left of our diminishing bus network.   The 127 still connects our villages to Royston, but follows a circuitous route to save money.  And it’s expensive for what is just a short hop as the crow flies.

Our Bus User Group hears residents’ concerns and makes the case for lifeline transport.  The Mayor, now in charge of transport, has acknowledged the need for better rural transport, but as yet no solutions have been offered.  The Cam Vale Bus User Group meets next on 12 Nov, 7:30-9PM at the Limes, Bassingbourn. 

A1198 SPEED LIMIT: WORKING ACROSS VILLAGES

With the reopening of Bassingbourn Barracks, the number of people living and working along the A1198 has increased, putting the spotlight on this challenging stretch of road.  Susan has been coordinating collaborative working between the Barracks, Police and Bassingbourn and Whaddon Parish Councils for an application to reduce the A1198 speed limit, with Whaddon as lead applicant.   The case will be argued to a Highways panel.  If successful the speed limit will be reduced to 30MPH.

CAMBRIDGESHIRE RECYCLING CENTRES: NEW E-PERMIT SCHEME FOR VANS AND TRAILERS

Cambs County Council is to introduce a van and trailer e-permit scheme across Cambridgeshire’s nine household recycling centres (HRCs). Starting in October the scheme will allow the Council to better regulate the use of vans and trailers at HRCs helping to ensure only household waste is delivered to sites.  Any resident planning to visit an HRC with a van or trailer should obtain an e-permit using an online system beforehand. These e-permits will be limited to 12 visits per year. To allow larger household and garden jobs, there will be an exemption to the scheme for trailers up to 1.5m (5ft) in length (excluding the towing mechanism bar) and 570-litre capacity.

Between 2012/13 and 2016/17 there was a 20% rise in waste collected at tips. The County evidently thinks that this is because unlawful trade waste is being disposed of at HRCs, which is ultimately at a cost to the council tax paying residents of Cambridgeshire. It could also be because householders can’t put old TVs etc in their bins which are often full. The result of this scheme is likely to be a big increase in fly-tipping.  The link is here.

SUPPORT FROM MIND CPSL AT THE MELBOURN HUB

Melbourn Hub has been chosen by Mind CPSL as a venue to host their weekly ‘Good Mood Cafe’. Starting on Friday 27th September, people can benefit from an informal weekly session within the Hub’s Bookmark cafe, to offer wellbeing support from Mind CPSL professionals. People don’t have to be in a good mood to come along but the objective is that everyone should leave feeling better than when they arrived. The session will be held every Friday afternoon between 2pm and 4pm, open to anyone and is free to attend.   

The Hub is also a host venue for Mind CPSL’s weekly ‘Open Door’ sessions to be held soon in the Hub’s Austen room, where people who feel overwhelmed and need some space and tranquillity can come. These two-hour sessions also offer guidance on self-help techniques to ‘ground’ people and help them feel better both in the moment and in the future. Attendance is free. For more information call Mind CPSL on 0300 303 4363.        

DEMENTIA FRIENDS AT THE HUB

Melbourn Hub customer Davina Biswell has personal experience of dementia within her close family and as a result has been collaborating with the Hub to bring about more awareness and support for those living with dementia and their families.

Dementia touches so many people and local support is generally poor. Following the success of the Virtual Dementia Tour Buses provided this year, the Hub is now running a monthly Dementia Friends Cafe where family can accompany their loved one to connect with others over coffee and cake and to enjoy activities led by a professional. The next Dementia Friends Café dates are October 12th, November 16th and December 14th, 2.30-4pm. Attendance is free.

BIODIVERSITY AND SCHOOL FUNDING: SOUTH CAMBS COUNCILLORS UNANIMOUSLY SUPPORT

In July, the Lib Dem controlled District Council passed two motions, both unanimously supported:

The first aims to double the area of rich wildlife habitats, tree cover and accessible green space in South Cambs laid out measures including the development of a mandatory biodiversity net gain policy and directing developers to use the Developing Nature Toolkit to use in planning new developments, as well as identifying areas for tree planting for carbon sequestration, flood management, air quality improvement and other environmental services.

The second instructed the council to make representation to the Secretary of State for Education and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, calling for them to take action to reverse, in full, the real-terms cuts to per-pupil school budgets since 2015 – meaning schools in South Cambridgeshire would receive £3,837,946 additional funding in 2020 – and fix the historic underfunding of Cambridgeshire schools by putting in place genuinely fairer funding through the National Funding Formula. Though the District Council is not directly responsible for education, schools are an important part of the communities they represent and the funding pressure they are under is beginning to damage those communities. 

TRACKING PAST FINANCIAL MISMANGEMENT

The Council’s Audit and Corporate Governance Committee has received a damming report about the previous administration’s management of the Council’s finances. After taking control of the Council last year, it was found that the Council’s accounts were not in a fit state to be audited. This extraordinary and unacceptable situation was made worse by a failure to ensure that corrections requested by external auditors were carried out. The errors go back over several years of Conservative control of the Council. Unfortunately, this means that the audit of last year’s accounts and that of the year before cannot be closed before the autumn, though we have put measures in place to ensure this doesn’t affect the setting of the budget for next year.

PRIORITY: WE NEED MORE COUNCIL HOMES

A priority in the District Council’s Business Plan is to bring forward housing that is truly affordable, including doubling the number of energy-efficient Council homes built each year. Within the last year, 44 new Council homes have been completed in Gamlingay, Great Abington, Longstanton and Waterbeach (a mixture of affordable rent and shared ownership properties). A further 91 Council homes are now being constructed in Caldecote, Balsham, Great Abington, Waterbeach, Hardwick and Foxton and there are plans for more in the pipeline.

The District Council bought 144 new Council houses last month (81 at Northstowe and 63 at Sawston) for £24m, which is great news.  The money comes from the reward government gives us for building new market homes – New Homes Bonus as well as the receipts we get from people acquiring their council houses under the Right to Buy Scheme.  We aim to build or acquire over 70 council houses each year and so far have exceeded our targets.

LAUNCH OF THE VILLAGE SURVIVAL GUIDE

The Prince’s Countryside Fund has recently published The Village Survival Guide, a manual featuring case histories, checklists and practical advice including grant funding. The guide is intended to help those of us living in the countryside to utilise the talents available in our own communities to tackle some of the social and economic challenges we face. The guide covers topics including how to set up shops, pubs, and hubs; rural housing; transport; business development; digital infrastructure; and how to get help when you need it. There is also a Village Sustainability Top 10, which looks at the key things’ communities must do to safeguard their future viability.  Read the online version of the guide here

PORT DUXFORD

We never thought of South Cambs as having any ‘ports’ mainly because we are so far from the sea. However, Duxford and Cambridge airports are considered to be ‘ports’ and this means that SCDC will have to start to staff them with environmental health officers once Brexit has happened.  The reason for this will be to ensure that no food stuff enters the country which is not permitted by our own laws. The cost of this to the taxpayer is not yet known.

BREXIT AND SETTLED STATUS

Both SCDC and CCC have a duty to disseminate information.  Only about a 1/3rd of eligible EU citizens in the UK had applied for Settled Status.   A Government sponsored advert has been removed from the air waves for being misleading in saying that the process was very straight forward.  It is actually rather complex – South Cambs and Cambridge City are planning a joint approach to helping people complete their applications.  Please keep an eye on our websites and also on .Gov website for updates.  If you are struggling, then make contact urgently with your councillors.  

VOTER REGISTRATION

South Cambs District Council has recently sent letters to all homes in the district to ask them to confirm the names of people who are eligible to register to vote. Please respond! They need a response even if there are no changes and have to send someone to households who do not respond to chase response by law. Contact: elections@scambs.gov.uk or 03450 455 214.

CAMBRIDGE ICE RINK

It’s time to get your skates on as the new ice rink in Cambridge is now open.  The company building this had quite a lot of money from the University but SCDC was able to make them a large loan when they overran their budget due to finding lots of unexploded bombs on the site (which is on the old military airfield run by Marshalls in Cambridge). South Cambs District Council made the loan because we felt that this would be a significant attraction to the residents of South Cambs. Let us know what you think of it.

ANY ITEMS WE CAN RAISE?  ANYTHING WE CAN HELP WITH?

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.

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.   Join the Liberal Democrats here http://www.libdems.org.uk

Sincerely yours,

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

Philippajoyhart@gmail.com, Tel 07811323571

Jose Hales, District Councillor for Melbourn, Meldreth, Shepreth and Whaddon

jose@josehales.me.uk, Tel 01763 221058

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

susanvandeven5@gmail.com, www.susanvandeven.com, Tel 07905325574

Twitter: @susanvandeven

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SusanSouthCambs/

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