Susan van de Ven

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

Community Newsletter

by Susan van de Ven on 5 June, 2020

Keeping Safe – Coronavirus Community Support Groups continue

Public Health advice on the importance of continued vigilance against Covid-19 infection and contagion, especially for those who are shielding and at a moment when the ‘R’ rating is still at a concerning level, means that continued support for many people in our communities remains firmly in place for basic tasks of food and essential supplies shopping, prescription collections, and contact and friendship.   Please contact us any time and we can link you up with neighbourhood volunteers. 

Test and Trace responsibility delegated to Local Authorities

We are being urged by government to support a new NHS Test and Trace programme which will aim to track every case of Covid-19 in our communities.  Cambs County Council as local public health authority has been given responsibility for managing testing and tracing in schools, care homes, work places and other settings where outbreaks are more susceptible.  The council’s brief is to develop that system by the end of June, at which point more information will be available.  For now, everyone is being asked by government to follow this three-step plan:

  • Step 1 – If you have one or more of the symptoms of Covid-19 – a fever, a new continuous cough or a loss of taste or smell – you and the people you live with are asked to immediately self-isolate.
  • Step 2 – You then should book a test on the NHS coronavirus website and if you don’t have internet access dial 119. You are asked not to leave home for any other reason. If you test positive, you will then be contacted by the NHS Test and Trace service within 24 hours.
  • Step 3 – If you do test positive, NHS Test and Trace will help you establish who you have been in contact with and might have infected. This could be members of your own household already isolating or someone you have been within 2 metres of for more than 15 minutes. You will also be given clinical advice and support for dealing with the virus. NHS Test and Trace will then contact those contacts anonymously. If you are one of those contacts, you will be advised to isolate for 14 days, even if you don’t have symptoms or feel perfectly well. If you developed symptoms, you would be asked to get a test.

Please note that against these directives from government, there is much concern about mixed messages and loss of public confidence in the wake of exceptions made for Dominic Cummings, and many questions to be asked about capacity at very stretched local authorities, including these put to Cambs County Council’s General Purposes Committee.

Support for businesses during Covid

Business owners should be aware of business rate relief and other support schemes to help them through this difficult time. South Cambs District Council has been actively supporting local businesses adversely affected – more information here

And if you have unresolved concerns please contact SCDC Business Lead Cllr Peter McDonald to find out what support might be possible – Peter’s contact details below. 

Home schooling and IT provision: Don’t throw away your old computers!

Schools and colleges have met an unprecedented challenge in adapting their teaching provision in the wake of Covid lockdown and continuing restrictions.  A new spotlight has been cast on inadequate home IT provision for children on home study.  Where parents and children need to study and work on-line, minimum IT household provision isn’t sufficient.

The Meldreth Community Screenbank has been established to refurbish second-hand computers for deployment to Melbourn Village College students for home use.  This has been made possible by volunteer technicians and electricians.  Thanks to the many people who have made good quality donations. 

Screenbank is also providing IT for elderly isolated people who want to get set up on line for shopping and social contact.

Changed circumstances and Free School Meals

Cambs County Council writes: “For many families, the Coronavirus outbreak has meant a change in financial circumstances. If your circumstances have changed, and you have school aged children, you might want to consider whether you meet the criteria for free school meals.  If you think you might qualify, do complete an online application at  to receive an instant response. 

If you have previously applied or been eligible for free school meals, you do not need to re-apply, as the council will continue to re-check your entitlement each month and will notify you should you become re-eligible.  Once your eligibility has been confirmed, your child’s school will inform you of their own specific provision arrangements directly.  If you have any queries in relation to free school meals entitlement please contact the council’s Education Welfare Benefits Team on or telephone them on 01223 703200.”

Community Meals

Melbourn Coronavirus Community Response is running a nutritious meals service to homes of children on free school meals, in which every person in the household is delivered a meal once per week.  The idea came from a furloughed chef and works through Melbourn and Meldreth Primary Schools and Melbourn Village College.  South Cambs District Council have assisted with licensing and many local people and businesses have generously donated to the scheme.   New grant funding has now become available via SCDC to roll the scheme out to other villages.

Food banks and Care and Share

Melbourn and Meldreth are running food banks, and Bassingbourn is running a Care and Share food provision service.  Please free to contact us for more information, or use these direct contacts:

  • Melbourn Tel 263303 Option 1
  • Meldreth: 07592355279
  • Bassingbourn: 07961108781

Mental Health Support 

The NHS website specifically says: “It’s important to know that support is available, even if services seem busy at the moment because of Coronavirus.”

  •  This provides a range of materials to support and assist people with their psychological wellbeing, including educational and self-help articles and peer-to-peer support via forums. Adults are also able to receive help from qualified counsellors via drop-in or scheduled online chat sessions.
  • has extended its mental health helpline – Lifeline – by five hours, which is now available on 0808 808 2121, from 2pm to 11pm. 
  • to connect people with activities in the local community that promote positive mental wellbeing.

Stay alert! 

New national government policy on local authority planning enforcement, including extending hours on building construction sites, is set out here

HGV traffic policy review

County Councillors are being informally canvassed for opinion on the prospect of reviewing the council’s HGV policy and advisory map, due to the outdated nature of the policy and consideration of resources going forward. 

HGV traffic is of huge importance to local communities especially in more rural areas.  Village roads are often used as shortcuts by HGVs, causing damage to roads and pavements, compromised safety for other users including pedestrians, village traffic congestion and compromised air quality. 

The council policy adopted ten years ago states that the council lacks the financial resource to adopt new Traffic Regulation Orders to introduce new legal Weight Restrictions, and refers to the necessity of Police enforcement to make restrictions meaningful. Police presence is now the exception not the rule.  Susan would welcome any feedback.

The existing policy and the advisory map here.

Cycling since Covid

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought about dramatic new thinking on local transport, with a new and urgent emphasis upon independent active travel:  cycling as utilitarian transport is to be promoted and supported, with new government funding (£250 million) dispersed throughout the country – £2 million has been allocated for Cambs and Peterborough. 

It has been remarkable to see roads often free of traffic, with a dramatic and visible increase in cycling, by all ages and abilities, and all in cleaner air.  The health benefits of cycling have never been so much in the public spotlight.  Please consider signing the ‘Spaces to Breathe’ open letter from the Cambridge Cycling Campaign.

Ivy Farm Bridge and rights of way

Susan has been working with colleagues in Royston, where current work to divert Footpath 17 in conjunction with the new Redrow development should lead eventually to the creation of a right of way over the Ivy Farm Bridge. This is a painstaking work in progress.

The bridge is owned by Hertfordshire County Council.

Greater Cambridge Partnership Gateway Review: success

The GCP has successfully passed its government ‘Gateway Review’, meaning that a next tranche of funding (£400 million) has been allocated for the next phase of the GCP’s work on infrastructure development – including housing, skills and transport.  Details here

Foxton Travel Hub

The Foxton Travel Hub goes to the Greater Cambridge Partnership this month, favouring the Southern Option.   The proposal does not include a bridge or underpass and leaves an awkward connection between the proposed car park and the station. The paper is in the Agenda Pack here.

Melbourn Greenway decision

The A10 Corridor Cycling Campaign has been working to support a successful outcome to consideration of the Melbourn Greenways scheme at the GCP Executive Board meeting on June 25th.  The Greenway scheme holds the potential to improve and complete segments of the A10 Cambridge to Royston route, in particular a cycle/pedestrian link between Melbourn and Royston.

The paper is the last item here.


South Cambs District Council has promised to collect our green bins at least monthly in the phased return to normal service.  If possible, they will collect every other week, so we are asked to put our green bins out fortnightly and they’ll do their best.  Please do check the SCDC live updates on next bin collections

Recycling Centres

The County Council writes:  “When the sites re-opened on Monday 11 May, the decision was taken to delay access to permit holders due to concerns over the time it would take them to unload these larger capacity vehicles, affecting levels of traffic and the ability to adhere to strict Covid-19 social distancing measures on each site.

Following the weekly review of the service we are satisfied that, while the sites have been busy, there is enough capacity to gradually extend their use to permit holders.  Access will initially be only allowed for permit holders that pre-book visits via an online booking system that went live on Monday 1 June. The first visits for vehicles requiring permits will take place from Wednesday 3 June.

Link to online booking system and instructions.

The online booking system for permit holders is a temporary measure and will allow us to stagger access for these vehicles at each site throughout the day, helping to limit queues and ensuring continued access to everyone who needs to make an essential visit to their local HRC.  We have contacted all residents that hold permits by direct mail to inform them of these arrangements so they can book a slot at an HRC to use one of their 12 permitted visits.

Rail Services

Adapted rail services in the Covid-19 outbreak has moved from a ‘Sunday schedule’ to a ‘Saturday schedule’ – remaining hourly for the time-being. Please always check before you travel. The Meldreth Shepreth and Foxton Community Rail Partnership website links to live services and also to government advice and guidance on ‘essential travel’.

Bus Services

We’re advised always to check with the operator before planning trip by bus, as many services remain curtailed. 

The 128 service continues to operate on a normal schedule in Melbourn, Meldreth, Whaddon and Bassingbourn-cum-Kneesworth.  However, new practice due to Covid protections includes:  hand sanitizer provided for use by passengers when boarding;  exact change only accepted for fare-paying passengers;  only 9-10 passengers per vehicle permitted.  A number of seats must be marked off for no occupancy.

For up-to-date timetable information on the Stagecoach Busway A service, connecting Royston to Melbourn, Shepreth, Foxton, points in Cambridge and north to St Ives, please see here.

Fostering a child

The County Council is urgently appealing for people to come forward as foster carers: “These are uncertain times, and even more so for children in care.  Cambridgeshire has over 750 children and young people who need loving, stable and supportive homes. As long as you are over 21 and have a spare bedroom then we want to hear from you.  You can be retired, unemployed or living in rented accommodation – we will support you every step of the way. Don’t worry about contact as we will progress your enquiry through video or telephone calls making sure we keep you safe.  Get in touch with us on our website or call us on 0800 052 0078.”  Please note that foster carers are remunerated for their expenses.

Innovate and Cultivate Grant Funding

Cambridgeshire County Council is pleased to announce that the next deadline for Innovate & Cultivate Fund applications is 1st August 2020. One-to-one pre-application advice will be offered on 16th and 25th June.

The aim of the fund is to support initiatives that strengthen our communities and reduce pressure on County Council services, thereby giving a return on investment. Council services that are inviting applications are adult social care and children’s services.   The fund is open to voluntary, community and social enterprise sector organisations based in and outside of Cambridgeshire, and public sector organisations in Cambridgeshire. Please note that projects serving Peterborough residents are not eligible.

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.

Upcoming application deadlines:

Pre-application advice:  We encourage organisations to talk through project ideas before submitting an application.  Bookings are now open for one-to-one telephone advice appointments on Tuesday 16th June and Thursday 25th June between 9:30am-1:30pm. These 15-minute appointments must be pre-booked and are available on a first come first served basis. Please book here.

Applications and further information about fund priorities and criteria may be found on the Cambridgeshire Community Foundation (CCF) website. CCF can answer questions about applying for the fund

Competitions for children and young people

The Meldreth, Shepreth and Foxton Community Rail Partnership is hosting gardening, writing and art competitions for children and young people – open till July 21st

Whaddon Fact Sheets

Lockdown has produced some silver linings, including a series of beautifully illustrated local history Whaddon Village Factsheets by David Grech, available on the Whaddon website’s history page.  These have been designed with home study young people in mind, but have universal appeal.

Anything we can help with?  Issues we can raise?

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

Sincerely yours,

Peter McDonald, County Councillor for Shepreth and the Duxford Division villages,, 07912 669092

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

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