Susan van de Ven

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

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November Community Newsletter

by Susan van de Ven on 9 November, 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 philippajoyhart@gmail.com, jose@josehales.me.uk or susanvandeven5@gmail.com.

A SNAP ELECTION – AND YOUR RIGHT TO VOTE BY POSTAL OR PROXY

Yes, it’s election time again, and in spite of the unseasonable time of year there’s a strong head of steam coming from the South Cambs Lib Dems and Parliamentary Candidate Ian Sollom. http://www.sclibdems.org.uk/ian_next_mp

If you are unable to get to the Polling Station on December 12th and wish to register for a Postal or Proxy Vote, there’s a simple form to download here.  https://www.scambs.gov.uk/elections/voting-by-post-or-proxy/  Please note that the deadline is 11 working days before the election for a postal vote, and six days for a proxy vote. 

If you’d like to get involved in helping with the campaign in any way, there’s plenty to do – please just get in touch with any of us.

MORE POWER TO THE MAYOR?

It is rather extraordinary to note that Government has written to the Mayor confirming the Prime Minister’s “commitment to levelling up the powers of city region mayors and their combined authorities across the country.”  What does this mean for us? 

It means that the Mayor is being asked to take on a number of extra powers. These include (but are by no means limited to): Local authority duties and functions relating to young persons or young adults being in education, employment or training, Duty for provision of shops and recreation grounds, Strategic planning, Functions of Homes England including powers of land acquisition and disposal, Promotion of road safety, Functions to improve public health – the list goes on.

Some important issues here:

Firstly, devolution and the creation of the Mayoralty was supposed to bring power to the lowest common denominator – meaning us, the people. Here the Mayor is being offered a wide range of duties currently run by the County Council. As more and more powers are invested into the hands of one person our local democracy can only wither and disappear.  Secondly the County Council is investing huge quantities of public money into a new HQ at Alconbury Weald. Why? It should be clear by now that there is no certain future for the County Council.   Thirdly, how is one person – even if they were brilliant and efficient – able to have at their fingertips full control of all of these disparate and complex issues in order to make decisions that up to now have required a full democratic process? 

1st ORWELL SCOUTS: A10 LITTER PICK

Thanks to the First Orwell Scouts who did a big litter pick along the A10 cycle path from Foxton Level Crossing south to Fowlmere Road, Shepreth, on a rainy October 26 afternoon. They want to do it every year! 

‘BIG CONVERSATION’ – LOCAL NHS SERVICES FACING THE BIG SQUEEZE

Bit of a worry, because it’s so important: The Clinical Commissioning Group, which commissions our NHS services, is asking for our priorities in a climate of extreme financial pressure.  In their words:

“The CCG is responsible for NHS healthcare provision to 980,000 people across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough and has around £1.3 billion available each year for this. Although £1.3 billion may sound like a lot of money, this works out at just £1,125 per patient. A single trip to A&E costs the NHS £73, a GP visit comes in at £46, and just one night in a hospital racks up a cost of £1,722 – meaning the CCG faces big financial challenges in trying to commission all of the region’s NHS healthcare at just £1,125 per capita.”

The next and nearest consultation event is in Cambourne on November 12, The Hub, High St, Cambourne, CB23 6GW.  Or, you can go on-line to find out more and provide your views – until December 20th. https://www.cambridgeshireandpeterboroughccg.nhs.uk/get-involved/the-big-conversation/

NHS SERVICES ALONG COUNTY BORDERS

We’ve raised this in the past – people living in Cambridgeshire but registered at a surgery that is based over the county border and within a different Clinical Commissioning Group geography, making access to specialist services a bureaucratic challenge.  If you find yourself caught out, please feel free to get in touch and we can help direct your concerns.  Note that while three Royston surgeries are part of the Cambridgeshire health administration, Bassingbourn surgery is not.

BEECHWOOD AVENUE TRAFFIC MEETING

A residents’ meeting was held at the Melbourn Hub on 29 October to discuss rat running through Beechwood Avenue.  With a growing village population and anticipation of hundreds more vehicle movements in the near future, as well as use of Beechwood Avenue instead of Back Lane as routing for commercial and Heavy Goods Vehicles visiting the Melbourn Industrial site in Whiting Way, residents in the area, including in numerous connecting residential streets, are rightfully concerned. 

The meeting was attended by 80 residents, chaired by Susan and supported by Jose, Philippa and County Highways Officer Joshua Rutherford.  Observations and agreed actions will be conveyed to Melbourn Parish Council’s November meeting, as well as to the Melbourn Futures Group which is taking a strategic look at traffic issues.  It was recognized that the whole of the village quadrant between New Road and the High Street is affected, and that any potential remedial action needs to avoid displacing problems elsewhere.  

Some simple and some more complex actions were proposed and agreed for exploration – from improved and new road markings, to 20MPH speed limits, to advisory weight limits (underpinned by a detailed traffic survey), to a village walking campaign, and a traffic liaison group with local businesses to encourage avoidance of residential streets.  It was confirmed that a 17-tonne weight limit already exists on New Road, and County Highways will now investigate its enforcement – this should in theory be an important tool. 

A complete lack of Police enforcement on traffic issues was a thread of concern running through the discussion, because introducing any new restrictions requires Police support.  Similarly, the ‘laughable’ Road Safety budget for important remedial safety work, was noted.

If you live in the Beechwood Avenue area and would like to be added to the mailing list for updates, please let us know.

WALKING BUS FOR BASSINGBOURN?

Traffic along Bassingbourn High Street and Brook Lane at school run time – you’ve got to see it to believe it.  As part of the effort to persuade people not to drive to school if at all possible, in order to reduce the number of cars on the road, a walking bus for children to make their way safely to school on foot is being explored.  The School Crossing Patrol Officer, the Primary School Headteachers, County Council, Susan and local resident champions are all in support.  If you’d like more information, please contact Bassingbourn Primary School on 01763 242460.

MELBOURN PRIMARY SCHOOL: JUNIOR TRAVEL AMBASSADORS

Melbourn now joins Meldreth and Barrington Primary Schools in the Junior Travel Ambassador scheme, which exists to promote safe walking to school and active travel.  Meldreth and Barrington JTAs have worked closely also with the Meldreth, Shepreth and Foxton Community Rail Partnership to promote public transport use and citizenship, and have been effective local voices for active travel.  The JTA scheme is funded by Cambridgeshire County Council as Public Health Authority.

PARKING ON PAVEMENTS: CONFLICTING MESSAGES FROM CAMBS POLICE

Contrary to communication from the Police at a July Parish Council Liaison meeting, when it was suggested that reporting pavement parking three times would result in Police action, the following Police communication has now been received.  This is in the process of being challenged by SCDC.  The Police are now saying:

“There is no longer an ethical case to focus police resource on parking when there is, immediate and growing violent crime and safeguarding to issues tackle.

–        Whilst our increase in officers will be focused on these serious matters it will mean some extra time can be given to matters such as parking. Remember however time ‘on the beat’ is precious and over 101 parishes remains a challenge

–        PCSOs are often perceived as having very simple front-line roles, this is not the case, a good deal of their time is spent helping officers tackling priority issues such as risks to young people, the elderly and vulnerable.

–        22

[traffic]

interventions is positive, but proves the rather useless nature of enforcement, as over time we have proven without doubt that enforcement makes no long term difference.  Whilst seeing tickets on windscreens is satisfying for a moment in time a new way must be found to tackle this issue, we have tried to be innovative and offer some alternative ideas.

–        We have worked with SCDC who have similar challenges with balancing resource, budgets and officer’s time against what is a persistent but low risk issues.”

We’ll keep you updated.  Finally, the Police ask that reporting for non-emergency matters be made on line.  https://www.cambs.police.uk/

CAMBRIDGE WATER BURST MAIN: NORTH END MELDRETH A BIT MUDDY NOW

We were surprised to learn that following a fairly spectacular burst water main at College Farm bend, North End Meldreth, Cambridge Water Company had failed to notify Cambridgeshire County Highways.  Damage to Highways infrastructure naturally resulted from flooding – including deep silting up of drains.  The road was partially closed off with a one-way traffic signal system in place for quite a few days while repair to (not replacement of) the under-road pipe was undertaken.  As soon as Highways was notified by local residents, a site visit was immediately made, and clearance of blocked drains ordered and carried out.  We’ve asked Highways to ensure that a complaint is made to Cambridge Water about failure to communicate.  Several weeks on, paths remain covered in mud – this too has been raised by County Highways with Cambridge Water Company. 

A1198 REPAIR WORKS AHEAD OF RESURFACING

Residents along the A1198 at Ermine Street will shortly be notified of a planned road closure, for approximately three nights from November 27, in order to carry out patching and preparation works ahead of resurfacing in 2020.  The closure will take place at night, from 8PM-6AM, and involve a diversion route.   

BUS NEWS

Several items to report: 

  • The Cam Vale Bus User Group Nov 12 meeting at The Limes Bassingbourn has been rescheduled for the new year – date to be confirmed. 
  • Cross-border bus services: Excellent contact has been established with North Herts District Council’s transport officers on a range of common transport concerns, including bus, train and cycle links.  South Cambs and North Herts colleagues Cllr Sebastian Kindersley and Cllr Steve Jarvis and I will be meeting with council bus officer representatives from both sides of the border to ascertain if and how we can pool resources to improve cross-border bus services.  
  • Busway Service A (Royston-Melbourn-Cambridge-St Ives): Susan has asked Stagecoach for an update on this service’s performance.  Stagecoach have responded to say that they are looking to enhance their services, and to introduce some new vehicles to the fleet, and will be holding a public consultation event soon – details to be shared as soon as available.  We had been alerted to a local rumour that the service through Melbourn was to be demoted, but have double checked with Stagecoach and this is not the case.
  • Busway A stop along the A10 at Fowlmere Rd, Shepreth junction: Following the Cam Vale Bus User Group’s request to Stagecoach, this stop is to be reinstated with immediate effect.  The County Council, in turn, will be looking to reinstate bus stop poles.

TRAINS: E-TICKETS AND MORE

Train journeys from our local stations can be made via e-ticketing.  Please note that paper tickets bought at the Meldreth Station booking office make a difference to keeping our manned office in place – so do please buy from ticket officer manager Bern Parsons whenever possible!  In addition, for promotional deals and complex journey best prices, please use Meldreth Station booking office.

Thetrainline app  https://www.thetrainline.com/ is a good place to buy a train ticket that provides a swipe-able bar code for tapping in and out on journeys originating or terminating at our local stations.  This app is set up to process rail card discounts, unlike the GTR app (next item).

The Govia Thameslink Key Go Smartcard  will be available for journeys from Meldreth, Shepreth and Foxton to Cambridge and points north, in the next few weeks.  This is already available for travel south (the glitch being that Cambridge Station is operated by another train operating company, Greater Anglia, and their systems haven’t talked to each other until now).  Pedestals for Key Smartcard activation exist on both platforms at all three of our local stations.  This is a work in progress still with some limitations:  A season ticket can be uploaded onto the card and stored electronically, but the Cambridge Student Connect card for 16-18 year-olds cannot be uploaded electronically – a paper ticket continues to be required.

A debit or credit card is linked to the ‘Key Go’ card for tapping in and tapping out on journeys.  The cheapest fare for that journey will be applied.  However, for now, Railcards (16-25s, Senior Railcard, Network Card, etc) cannot yet be applied to the fare calculator.   

The Key Go card is currently only applicable to Thameslink network journeys, but the expectation is that it will be applicable nationwide on all networks. 

A Key Go card is currently available on-line only; the prospect of selling it at Meldreth Station is being explored.  Please visit here.  https://www.thameslinkrailway.com/tickets/the-key-smartcard

Cambridge North Station services: Unfortunately, as expected, the December 2019 timetable sees an end to this through journey; passengers travelling from Meldreth to Cambridge North will now need to change trains at Cambridge.  This is due to platform capacity issues and an increasingly busy and competitive timetable.  The Rail User Group has lobbied hard to retain the through service for obvious reasons; this is disappointing news but we will keep at it, as the timetable is always a work in progress with two updates every year (May and December).

Semi-fast service to London – The Rail User Group is still lobbying for the return of a semi-fast London service from Meldreth Shepreth and Foxton at peak time.

Passenger Benefit Fund:  Details are beginning to be announced – a full report is due soon.

EXORBITANT STATION CAR PARK FINES

The Meldreth, Shepreth and Foxton Rail User Group is tackling head-on what it considers to be exorbitant station car park fines at Shepreth, Meldreth and Royston, and intimidating pursuit of fines by the debt collecting agency subcontracted by the car park subcontractor.   The Rail User Group would be grateful to hear from anyone who has been caught out by such an experience: please contact railusergroup@gmail.com.

SWITCH OFF YOUR ENGINE WHILE QUEUING – WHY NOT?

The Meldreth, Shepreth and Foxton Community Rail Partnership has helped leverage funding for minor highways improvements at Shepreth Level Crossing, which if the Department for Transport allows it will include advisory signage for queuing drivers, asking them to turn off their engines to reduce emissions.

This is a question that comes up too for Foxton Level Crossing and junctions with traffic signals.  There’s no rule saying you can’t switch off your engine!

FOSTERING A CHILD

The County Council is trying very hard to dispel some myths around fostering, as we always need more foster families who are willing to help with the 600 or so children in care at any one time in Cambridgeshire. Fostering is a hugely rewarding role – have you ever thought about it? 

In particular, one myth is that foster carers do not receive any support with their work. However, all of our foster carers receive a generous allowance as well as 24-hour access to support and training with an allocated fostering social worker who is the main point of contact.

In fact, the only requirements are that prospective carers are over 21 and have a spare bedroom! You can be single, married, in a civil partnership, in rented accommodation or retired.  For more information on fostering (and adoption), see here. https://www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/residents/children-and-families/fostering-and-adoption/

CHARGING FOR CARE

Cambridgeshire County Council is once again consulting on proposed new charges for people receiving adult social care services—in some cases the same charges it consulted on two years ago, which service users overwhelmingly rejected. The consultation runs until Sunday 15 December 2019: www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/chargingforcare-yoursay

MODERN-DAY SLAVERY: IT HAPPENS RIGHT HERE

In her role on the Local Government Association Safer Communities Board, South Cambs District Council Leader Bridget Smith has been hearing from the Commission reporting on Modern Day Slavery. This is happening on all our doorsteps and is often difficult to recognise.  Even more concerning is to hear that some people in prison are actually victims of slavery rather than perpetrators of crime. An example would be young people arrested for County Lines drug running, but who are actually being controlled through fear and coercion by organised crime gangs. The Commission will be demanding better support for victims, more robust punishment of the criminals and improved means of identifying modern day slavery. In South Cambs we know to keep a close eye on agricultural work gangs, tarmacking enterprises and car washes. Bridget was told that if you are paying under £6.50 for your car to be washed it is unlikely that people are receiving the minimum wage. If you have any concerns it is vital that you report it. Here is the way to do it:

Telephone call 101 – www.cambs.police.uk/report – Textphone 18001 101 or anonymous reporting Crime Stoppers on 0800 555 111

A NEW HOUSING APPROACH AT WELLCOME GENOME CAMPUS

Proposals to significantly expand a world-renowned genome campus have been backed by South Cambridgeshire District Council and will provide extra employment space and homes for staff.  The District Council meeting on 24 October supported an outline planning application to provide a further 150,000sqm of space for employment, conferencing and supporting facilities at the Wellcome Trust’s Genome Campus in Hinxton. There will be up to 1,500 homes for campus-based staff, 30% of which will be affordable.

The Wellcome Trust want to build on the scientific foundations of the campus to become the international centre for scientific, business, cultural and educational activities arising from genomes and biodata. It is estimated that around 4,300 new jobs will be created by the expansion of the campus.  The proposal also includes land for a new school, a nursery and community facilities and provides public open spaces and allotments. There will also be shops and food and drink outlets, new cycling and walking paths, road crossing points and alterations to local roads including a new roundabout on the A1301. A fitness centre and health centre are also included in the plans.

Cutting-edge genome and biodata research is carried out by around 2,500 people who currently work at the campus, which the Wellcome Trust says is now getting full. The site currently has around 75,000sqm of employment space and conferencing facilities.  The campus is proposed to be opened up to provide public access, which would enable surrounding communities to use a range of open space and facilities.  Any questions, please contact Philippa or Jose.

‘INNOVATE AND CULTIVATE’ GRANTS FOR COMMUNITY GROUPS

The County Council’s next deadline for Innovate & Cultivate Fund applications is 1 February 2020. A pre-application advice session will be held on Tuesday 10 December, 9:30am-12:30pm at the William Collyn Community Centre in Girton. Please book here.

The aim of the fund is to support initiatives that strengthen our communities and reduce pressure on County Council services in adult social care and children and families.  The fund is open to voluntary, community and social enterprise sector organisations based in and outside of Cambridgeshire, and public sector organisations in Cambridgeshire.

 There are two funding streams: a ‘Cultivate’ fund for smaller projects that build community support networks and an ‘Innovate’ fund for bigger, bolder and more innovative initiatives.

The council is also launching Cultivate Seed Fund Projects that can help people to remain independent and active within their community, encourage volunteering and complement more costly Council services.  Projects include Timebanks, Good Neighbour Schemes, Dementia-Friendly Communities and Men’s Sheds.  See our webpages for details.

Upcoming application deadlines: 1st February 2020 – Cultivate grants (£2,000 – £19,000) and Innovate grants (£19,001 – £50,000) and 1st May 2020 – Cultivate grants only (£2,000 – £19,000)

Applications and further information about fund priorities and criteria may be found on the website. Cambridgeshire Community Foundation can answer questions about applying for the fund, at info@cambscf.org.uk.

‘PLANTLIFE’ CAMPAIGN: ON THE VERGE

‘Plantlife’ campaign has launched its new road verge guidelines which aim to fundamentally transform the management of the UK’s verges. The guidelines provide practical advice on how local authorities can fulfil their biodiversity duties whilst reducing management burdens over time, using real life examples of how good management is already being implemented on the ground. Over 700 species and nearly 45 per cent of our total flora are found on our road verges. 97% of our wildflower meadows have been lost since the 1930s, so these crucial habitats need to be properly managed. The less and later, two-cut approach suggested in the guidelines would replenish the seed bank, restore floral diversity, save councils money and provide pollinator habitat estimated to equal the size of London, Birmingham, Manchester, Cardiff and Edinburgh combined.  A County Council team of members is asking highways officers for a briefing on what differences these guidelines would mean for Cambridgeshire, and how the council is planning to implement them.

JUST A MOWER’S WIDTH: ALL THAT’S NEEDED?

Last year, Highways came along at special request to cut the fast-growing verge along the A10 cycle path in order to keep the track clear.  To be expedient, they cut just a mower’s width on the first run, and then came back a couple of weeks later to do the rest. 

With just a mower’s width, the path was clear and the longer grass acted as a shield from vehice headlamps – as well as providing an important habitat for wildlife.  A suggestion was made by one A10 cyclist that the advantages of just a mower’s length should be conveyed to Highways, as a win-win for path users, bugs and wildlife, as well as the council sweeper that gets rid grass cuttings, and of course the guardians of Highways’ slim budget.  This has now been done, and fits right in with the aims of the Plantlife project.

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/ o

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