Susan van de Ven

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

Community Newsletter

by Susan van de Ven on 2 February, 2020

Zero Carbon Communities Grant: Local Winners

We’re delighted to report on two successful local applications for the first South Cambs District Council Zero Carbon Communities Grant.

Melbourn Village College students spearheaded the ‘Melbourn Community Refill Project’ that will see the installation of personal water bottle refill stations in public areas of the College, in an effort to do away with single use plastic water bottles on site.

The Meldreth, Shepreth and Foxton Community Rail Partnership has won funding to partner up with Govia Thameslink Railway for new secure cycle parking at Meldreth Station – GTR’s proportion having been won from the Department for Transport’s Cycle Rail fund.

Thumbs Up To Joining Cross-Border Bus Services

Following on from the recent Cam Vale Bus User Group meeting, with a full house at The Limes Community Room Bassingbourn, we’re delighted to report unanimous support from all those present for amalgamating the 127 and 90/91 bus services, running in Cambs and Herts respectively.

For the Bassingbourn-Litlington-Mordens area, this would mean a link for 127 passengers over to Baldock and Letchworth Stations in territory currently covered by the 90/91. On both sides of the county border, these are subsidized services – meaning that they are not commercially viable and depend on council financing. Nowadays Cambridgeshire subsidized bus services are never guaranteed funding from one financial year to the next. So, it’s hoped that this collaboration will make the services literally stronger together.

Various options for the new combined service were discussed, including one for connecting to Ashwell Station. Council officers will now look at the detail and get back to us on the most viable routing (viability also including most reasonable fares). The idea would be to commence the new service in July.

Meanwhile, the Combined Authority has agreed in principle to look at refurbishing and possibly installing new bus stops along much of the route of the current 127 line. An inspection will be undertaken shortly. Thanks to our colleagues in Hertfordshire for their extensive interest and initiative in collaborating on what is a vital rural public transport route for our area.

If you’d like to join the Cam Vale Bus User Group mailing list, please let us know.

Applying For a Bus Pass

Unfortunately, Cambridgeshire County Council no longer offers bus passes in paper form. To apply for a concessionary bus pass, you need to ring 0345 045 1367, or go on-line here:

The postcode field is designed to prevent non-Cambridgeshire postcodes from being processed through the system.  The postcode needs to be entered as three digits, a space, and then the last three digits, with the characters in upper case as it would appear on a postal address.  Do please get in touch if you’re experiencing any frustrations!

Volunteers Needed: Royston and District Community Transport

More volunteer drivers from Melbourn and Bassingbourn are needed by Royston and District Community Transport, which provides a vital service for those with no access to private transport or who need more than what our minimal bus service can provide. Please ring 01763 245228 to find out more about what being a volunteer driver entails.

‘Get Someone To Deal With Customs For You’

Advice provided about Brexit on the website is now found under ‘Transition Period.’ Our own local businesses have told us that this official advice is of limited value.

In the arena of customs, for example, advice from the UK Government is ‘Get someone to deal with customs for you:

This translates as ‘hire new staff to deal with new paperwork’ – a new cost. There are also new queries from European customers seeking reassurance and clarity, and who have the option to go hassle-free to other suppliers operating within the less-complicated EU.

Losing customers is a big concern for any business. Hundreds of small businesses in South Cambs were built upon frictionless trade with the EU and are being challenged with adapting to new, costly bureaucracy and lack of clarity about what the future holds.

Government Tells South Cambs How Many Houses It Must Build

The overall number of new homes required to be built in the Local Plan period is set by Central Government. If the Council proposes a Local Plan that doesn’t adhere to Government’s target, the Inspector is highly unlikely to approve it – opening the way for speculative developers, as we’ve seen so much of in the past few years when we had no approved Local Plan.

South Cambs and Cambridge City are now collaborating on the new ‘Greater Cambridge Local Plan,’ now at the Issues and Options stage of consultation which runs until February 24. Please take a moment to learn more and provide your comments on what is a thoughtful and engaging set of principles and a call for ideas:

Please note that it is not the business of the Council to promote any development sites. Rather, in preparation for the next Local Plan, landowners are invited to submit sites for development to the Council for consideration. Lots of sites have been submitted but only a small percentage will be successfully allocated in the Local Plan. This is a statutory process that happens for every Plan period.  

South Cambs District Council: Environmental Accolades

South Cambs District Council has been independently assessed as being the most successful council in the region for promoting the environment in all its activities and operations.

648 Empty Houses

There are currently 648 unoccupied houses in South Cambridgeshire – that’s quite a large village-worth! The Council gives advice and assistance to get property back into use – please get in touch if you’d like to know more.  

East West Rail: Preferred Route Announced

It was announced yesterday that the preferred route for East West Rail is Option E, passing through St Neots and Cambourne and then looping down to enter Cambridge from the south. The route would therefore not pass through a Bassingbourn corridor:…/uk-england-beds-bucks-herts-51312450

Potholes Take a Christmas Break Too

Thanks very much to residents and parish councillors for reporting pot holes and other highways problems on-line and alerting us to having done so. This really helps to get repairs into the queue sooner rather than later.

Unfortunately, we continue to exist in reactive mode with emergency repairs and no prospect of any change to the status quo.  Councils need much more funding and this depends on national government restoring appropriate levels of revenue funding support to local authorities.

As a cost saving measure, the County Council now requires its employees to take off the Christmas to New Year holiday period, which means that there’s no one in the office to process reports of Highways faults during that time. This causes a backlog in January.

Our Highways officers do their best in very difficult circumstances – and lack the resource to do their jobs to the standard they would like, and which people rightfully expect.

Beechwood Avenue Traffic Update

Our latest update following on Beechwood Avenue Traffic can be found here:

Melbourn Area Youth Night! Now On Mondays

Melbourn Area Youth Club has moved from Tuesday evenings to Mondays and is available for two age groups: 6-7:30PM for Years 7 & 8, and 7:30-8:30PM for Years 9 and up. This free club is open to all, though if it’s your first time, you’ll need to bring a parent along to sign you up.

This Youth Club is funded by Melbourn, Meldreth and Shepreth Parish Councils, and delivered by Groundwork – the County Council no longer funds youth clubs in South Cambs, due to lack of funds.

Any questions please contact Youth Club Sasha Austin-Seade, Groundwork:, Tel 07736 132291,

Facebook: @melbournyc, Instagram: @melbournyouthclub

Electronic Healthcare

Plans for digitizing many aspects of our health services have been set out by our local NHS ‘Sustainable Transformation Partnership’, a management group tasked with overseeing coordination of the many NHS partners that combine to provide our health care.  These plans are aspirational and not set out in any practical detail, and yet the intention is for digital transformation to take place quickly – the call having been issued by Health Secretary Matt Hancock. 

With the goal of reducing Outpatients face-to-face time by 30%, as patients we may be asked to engage in consultations by video link or email.  This will work for some but not others, given the lack of access to the necessary digital technology by a significant segment of the population.  At the County Council’s Health Committee which scrutinized the plans last week, Lib Dem councillors raised questions around cybersecurity and data protection, and the potential for the selling of individual health care data to commercial companies. 

Patients should also be able to access their records on-line, though even now many of our local health partners are unable to speak to each other digitally, because they use different systems – for example, Addenbrookes and Royal Papworth Hospitals.   And some GP practices are not signed up to the principle of making their own doctors’ notes available to patients on-line.

Meanwhile, new health apps like the ‘NHS App’ and ‘Doctorlink’ are appearing on the scene.  Only after one has registered is it possible to see what they’re about and to examine the fine print – raising more questions, including that of scams. 

Goals are ambitious, reflecting the urgent shortfall of resources seen across the NHS.

Under-Funded Special Educational Needs Versus Strapped School Budgets

The most significant recent decision by the County Council’s Children and Young People’s Committee has been to ask the Department for Education to allow the County Council to remove 1.8% of the main schools budget and put it in the High Needs Block to help meet the extra cost of providing for the increasing number and proportion of children needing extra help (and also to help pay off the £16 million deficit carried forward). This will mean, if approved, that the per pupil allocation in mainstream schools will go down by £50; this will have a significant and sometimes intolerable impact particularly on already perilous primary school budgets. We spoke to one primary school headteacher whose hours have already been reduced to four days per week as that’s all the school can afford to pay her.

More cash from government is desperately needed to support our schools.

A1198 Safety Improvements – a Small Toolbox For a Major Arterial Road

Whaddon and Bassingbourn-cum-Kneesworth Parish Councils are working hard for safer conditions along the A1198, using tools at their disposal – notably, the Local Highways Initiative scheme, in which parish councils bids for a share of County Highways funding to finance minor highways projects. A host of improvements is needed along the A1198 but there’s no large strategic funding available, so LHI scheme funding is being sought to deal with individual bits of a bigger problem. One funding bid is to reduce the speed limit along the A1198 between Whaddon Gap and Bassingbourn Barracks (requiring infrastructure adaptations including new traffic islands to change the nature of the road) and the other is to improve safety features at the Kneesworth mini-roundabouts.

Cambridge South Station

Consultation on the proposed Cambridge South Railway Station, which would serve Addenbrookes, Royal Papworth and the Cambridge Biomedical Campus, runs until March 2. This would be transformative to accessing jobs and health services. More information and a chance to respond can be found here:

Meldreth, Shepreth and Foxton Rail User Group 25 February

Results of a meeting with Network Rail at Foxton Signal Box, which controls the new full barriers at Shepreth Station, will be brought to the next meeting of the Rail User Group – all welcome, upstairs at the Melbourn Hub, from 7:30-9PM on 25 February. An agenda will be posted at

A10 Corridor Cycle Campaign 12 Februry

The A10 Corridor Cycling Campaign meets next on February 12th, 7:30-9PM, at TTP (The Technology Partnership), Melbourn Science Park. On the agenda will be path maintenance and the Melbourn Greenways scheme which proposes a number of improvements to the Cambridge-Royston cycle route. A decision by the Greater Cambridge Partership has now been delayed until June – decision-making meetings having been pushed back due to the General Election purdah period before Christmas. Do come along and find out how you can help make the case, and to raise any questions, concerns or ideas. An agenda will be posted at

Royston & Hertfordshire Growth and Transport Plan: Cycle Link Over the A505

Please take a look and respond to this new Hertfordshire County Council strategic Growth and Transport consultation that specifically envisages a cycle link over the A505, tying in with the Melbourn Greenway. The consultation runs until March 30. If you care about it, please respond!

Extended Closure: Archer’s Bridge (Riverside Walk, Shepreth/Barrington)

We have been contacted by County Highways to advise that the Barrington/Shepreth Road will be closed at Archer Bridge (Riverside Walk) between 24 February – 12 April, although this may alter slightly depending on weather conditions and water levels over the coming weeks.

‘Assessments and inspections have found the bridge to be substandard and requiring to be strengthened and refurbished to ensure the long-term survival of this Listed structure. We are therefore looking to carry out extensive brickwork and mortar repairs to the external faces and cutwaters of the bridge as well as installing a concrete saddle over the bridge to protect the arch. This will therefore require a full closure of the road and a diversion will be in place throughout the length of the works’.

The diversion route is via the Foxton rail crossing on the A10 which is less than ideal at the best of times. However, the County will install a temporary footbridge adjacent to Archer Bridge which will allow pedestrians and cyclists to be unaffected by the scheme.

Marshalls Relocation: Not to Duxford

It is disappointing to report that Marshalls have decided very reluctantly to drop Duxford as a potential relocation site for Marshall Aerospace and Defence. The most significant issue was that the airspace above any new buildings would, for safety reasons, have to become a no-fly zone. This, along with the existing restrictions over Duxford village, would dictate flight patterns that would put undue stress on historic aircraft airframes making any sort of aerobatics from the airfield virtually impossible. Marshalls remain confident they will be in a position to confirm a preferred relocation option during 2020.

Climate Change and Your County Council

Cambridgeshire County Council plans to increase its commitment to dealing with environmental and climate issues by proposing a new strategic objective in its business plan of ‘reaching a net zero carbon target by 2050’.

This is likely to include mitigating carbon emissions from our buildings and fleet vehicles – with a commitment to take all 69 of the buildings currently owned or occupied off fossil fuel heating by 2023 and to replace all fleet cars and vans with electric vehicles by 2025. Rather less specifically we will be ‘managing changes to infrastructure to manage the risk of significant climate change’ as well as looking after Cambridgeshire’s air, water and soil to ensure the future health of Cambridgeshire people, flora and fauna.

Construction Work Underway at Alconbury – New HQ for County Council

Construction has started on the County Council’s new Civic Hub (HQ) in Alconbury. The site is notable for its lack of public transport, which doesn’t chime well with the council’s new climate and environment goals. The Shire Hall site will be leased and developed into an hotel and office space by Brookgate, the CB1 (Cambridge Station area) and Cambridge North Station developers.

New Archives Centre, Ely

The archives held in Shire Hall basement have now been moved across into the repository of the new building at Ely, where they will be stored in environmentally controlled storage for the first time. Archive boxes are scanned by the archive team’s barcode scanning unit. The barcode system matches a historical document’s entry on the online database to that specific document’s location, thereby enabling staff to locate a document within seconds no matter where it may be stored in the new centre’s amazing seven miles of shelving!

Helping the Forces

A new mobile app has been launched to signpost members of the armed forces community in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough to support and advice in their area. The free ‘Forces Connect’ app is aimed at serving personnel, veterans, and their families who can now find local services and organisations offering support in just four clicks. To download the app, search ‘Forces Connect.’

Opportunity: Work with Children and Young People with Disabilities

The Community Support Service and CamPlay provide short breaks to children and young people with additional needs, aged 0-18 years, as part of the Cambridgeshire Local Offer for children and young people with disabilities.

‘We offer support in the home and community, Saturday clubs, community clubs and holiday clubs throughout the county of Cambridgeshire. We are always looking for enthusiastic staff to join our team. We are currently recruiting for both services on a relief contract basis. The flexible nature of the job provides a way of ‘topping up’ hours in holidays, after school, weekends and evenings. We also provide a comprehensive training programme and support in working with children and young people with a wide range of learning and physical disabilities, which are skills that can be brought back to your existing job. We are based in Huntingdon but have work available across Cambridgeshire.

‘If you would be interested in applying or have any questions, please get in touch on or 01480 379 800. We have ongoing recruitment with regular interviews, and you can visit to apply.’

Going to the Poles: Science and Politics of Polar Research

All welcome to a supper and talk by Dr Mike Prior-Jones, who works for Cardiff University, building instruments to study glaciers. He has made four trips to Antarctica, including spending the winter on a British Antarctic Survey station, and went on a scientific expedition to Greenland last year. He has a longstanding interest in the environmental sciences and the political and diplomatic reasons why governments choose to fund polar research.

He lives in Cambridge and is vice-chair of the A10 Corridor Cycle Campaign, which aims to improve provision for cycling and walking between Cambridge and Royston.

Friday 7th February at Foxton Village Hall from 7:00pm. Tickets £15, or £5 children or unwaged, Homemade Italian supper and dessert, licensed bar. Contact Susan at

Ode to Joy Tops the Charts

In celebration of decades of building peace, prosperity and collaboration across the European Union, Ode to Joy – the EU anthem– has apparently topped the charts, on this the day that Britain bows out.

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.  Any questions or concerns, please contact us any time – contact 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. Learn more about or join the Liberal Democrats at

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 07703 262649 Facebook:

Susan van de Ven, County Councillor for Bassingbourn, Melbourn, Meldreth and Whaddon, Tel 07905325574
Twitter: @susanvandeven

South Cambridgeshire – Liberal Democrats

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