Susan van de Ven

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

Community Newsletter

by Susan van de Ven on 22 September, 2020

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 know of someone not receiving this newsletter who would like to do so, please ask them to contact jose@josehales.me.uksusanvandeven5@gmail.com or Peter.mcdonald@cambridgeshire.gov.uk.

If you would prefer not to receive this email newsletter, please use the “unsubscribe” link at the bottom.

Covid-19 testing for school staff and the general public: capacity falls short

It was not long after schools reopened that the unavailability of Covid-19 testing for staff became a live issue across the area.   

We’ve pressed for dedicated and accessible testing arrangements for school staff, in order to prevent unnecessary and long staff absences due to self-isolation requirements when someone in the household develops any symptoms.  This lack is resulting in a considerable number of staff having to stay home and schools coming under additional pressure.

However, a significant gap in capacity in Covid test labs means the system simply can’t meet demand.  This is why it has been so difficult to secure a local test appointment – let alone create bespoke school testing arrangements.  

People are being urged not to seek a test unless they are required to do so, in order to protect limited capacity for those who are required to have a test and need it most – reminiscent of guidance around PPE during spring lockdown, when resource was so limited.

Public Health Intelligence team: Covid-19 updates

The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Public Health Intelligence team produces frequent detailed updates on Covid-19 cases and settings. You can find these the reports here:

https://cambridgeshireinsight.org.uk/coronavirus_cambridgeshire/cambridgeshire-and-peterborough-public-health-covid-19-reports/

A concerning rise in cases among young adults in the 18-30 age group has been logged in Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire, and while hospital admissions and deaths have been low, there is concern about transmission to the wider population.

New triage pilot at Addenbrooke’s

There is now a new pilot triage system at Addenbrooke’s Hospital launched to help make sure patients get the right care in the right place. From 9am to 9pm, anybody who attends Emergency Department (ED) without a referral from a medical professional, who hasn’t been brought in by an ambulance, or hasn’t called NHS 111 in advance will be reviewed by a senior clinician.

They will assess the patient’s symptoms and decide whether emergency is the most appropriate place for their issue. If the patient does not require care from the ED, they will be directed to call NHS 111 or to visit their GP or a local pharmacy.

This pilot supports the new national NHS 111 First initiative that encourages people to contact NHS 111 before going to an Emergency Department in order to ensure they get the right help at the right time.

Bus services and Addenbrooke’s

No doubt those who use the Stagecoach service are aware of fundamental changes that came into force on August 30, with the ‘Busway A’ service between Royston and Cambridge replaced by the 915. The new service runs between Royston and Drummer Street Station Cambridge, including stops at Melbourn High St car park, Shepreth near Dunsbridge Turnpike, Foxton Station Road and Trumpington Park and Ride for a short wait for anyone wishing to change to the ‘Busway A’ service from there to Addenbrooke’s. This means that the journey to Addenbrooke’s is now broken into two. The reason for the change – which has been replicated throughout Cambridgeshire – is the effects of the Covid pandemic upon public transport, both in terms of reduced users and revenue, and a reduced workforce. Stagecoach have told us they are looking at this as a temporary alteration and hope to build back.

Meanwhile, for those bus passengers disembarking at Addenbrooke’s, the Outpatients bus stop had been moved in order to accommodate an enlarged ambulance access to the Emergency Department. The good news is that the bus stop will be restored imminently.

North End Bassingbourn bus service

Thank you very much for feedback on efforts to reinstate the bus service at the top of North End, now that the traffic island has been redesigned to allow a turning circle, while still retaining direct on-street parking for residents – a compromise solution to what had existed previously, thanks to Bassingbourn Parish Council.

This redesign with the existing limited single yellow line marking should prove sufficient to keep the junction clear and allow a resumption of the bus service.   At the end of the day, whether the bus finds it can successfully turn will be the deciding factor – fingers crossed.

There are a few issues to settle still.  Meanwhile, should you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Clean stuff only in the blue bin please!

Please make sure that yogurt pots, tin cans, tomato sauce dispensers, fast food trays and anything else going in the blue bin are… CLEAN!

For a list of what goes in which bin:

https://www.scambs.gov.uk/bins/what-goes-in-which-bin/

Business recovery

South Cambs District Council has distributed over £25 million of government grants to businesses. The flow of money has now stopped but the Council now has appointed a team of four experts whose job it is to support local businesses in any way they wish – help with a planning application or a trading license or advice on business recovery and diversification and so on. The aim is to create a One Stop Shop at the council for all businesses regardless of size, and to give all business owners a single point of contact in terms of a real person with whom they can communicate. If you are a local business, please do sign up for the newsletter which contains updates on just about everything you could ever want to know as a business owner in South Cambs. Lots of information is available:

https://www.scambs.gov.uk/business/coronavirus-information-for-businesses/

County Broadband update

We’ve reported previously on the detail of the ‘County Broadband’ project to bring full fibre connections into individual homes and premises. County Broadband, which is an independent company, has been active in Shepreth, Meldreth, Whaddon and Bassingbourn, and there has been sufficient take-up of interest in Whaddon and Orwell to allow the project to go ahead. Connecting Cambridgeshire, Cambridgeshire County Council’s programme that seeks out and supports improvements to broadband connectivity for all, reports positively on this work.

You can support the prospect of bringing the infrastructure to your community, whether for yourself or others who may currently have very poor service and wish to have the option to access a significant upgrade, by ‘registering interest’ – in which there is no upfront payment, just an indication of general interest that helps form a village-wide picture and gets the ball rolling.

All the information is here: https://countybroadband.co.uk/. Please fill in your postcode and then link to ‘register interest’.

Poor broadband speeds on the edge of the village? Government funded top-up vouchers

The Cambridgeshire County Council Connecting Cambridgeshire team has launched a top-up scheme for rural gigabit vouchers – topping up the voucher value for those on the slowest speeds. Please, if you experience slow broadband speeds and live at the edge of the village, check this out:

Reporting abandoned vehicles

Please use the Cambs Police on-line reporting system for any abandoned vehicles:

https://www.cambs.police.uk/report/Vehicles

Park Close Bassingbourn

The state of the road in Park Close has been truly unacceptable for an interminably long time, and while this is readily acknowledged by Cambridgeshire Highways, they’ve not been able to find the funding to put the road into good condition. It’s frustrating and demoralising when random bits of pot holes get temporarily plugged but without any meaningful effect. Highways is allocated far too small a piece of the council funding pie to do the job it knows should be happening. We reported last month that annual drain maintenance no longer happens due to lack of funding, and these are worrying examples of what is called ‘managed decline.’

Road tax or vehicle tax? And then what?

It’s worth noting that ‘Road Tax’ was replaced by ‘Vehicle Tax’ in 1937. Vehicle tax is now based on emissions and revenue goes to the Treasury, not local councils – so this is not directly available for repairing roads. A seismic shift in government funding down to local authorities for road maintenance is needed but isn’t on the horizon, and we are literally stuck between a rock and a hard place. Nevertheless, relentless reporting is continuing, for which thanks to everyone who is taking the trouble to do so – and hopefully some genuine improvements to roads in dire need will come.

A reminder of the reporting link for highways faults – please do use it!

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

One-way streets in Melbourn

During works in Mortlock Street over the summer, several key residential streets including Norgetts Lane, Little Lane, Meeting Lane and Water Lane saw a concerning rise in driving in or out contrary to restricted access regulations, presumably as drivers looked for village cut-throughs. A number of helpful suggestions from residents have been given to the Local Highways Officer, and we hope to report back on remedial action in the near future.

Melbourn traffic surveys

Out of last October’s public meeting on Beechwood Avenue traffic cut-through woes, and recognizing that any potential new traffic-related measures need to take the wider village context into account, Melbourn Parish Council commissioned a number of traffic surveys at entry and exit points. Results of the surveys will soon be published on the parish council website, and next steps will be discussed at the forthcoming parish council meeting.

Planning

The Government has published a White Paper on Planning Reform that is causing some consternation amongst planning authorities. Although there are some serious issues with current legislation, and things could be made slicker and better from the customer point of view, generally Councils do a good job of protecting the places that need to be protected including the Green Belts, Conservation Areas, Heritage Assets and rural areas. The Government blames local authorities for restricting the speed of housing delivery, but in fact this is caused by developers who will only build houses as fast as they can sell them.

The new proposal is that areas will be designated for ‘growth’ and that very few application processes will need to be got through for building to commence. Councils such as South Cambs are gravely concerned that ensuring housing is built to high standards and is located close to jobs and facilities will be stopped, and the planning system reduced to a random race to the bottom. There is a wide-ranging consultation underway and we expect that the final legislation will look quite different from what is currently proposed – at least we hope it will.

‘Call for Sites’ & the new Local Plan

The “Call for Sites” is the first stage in the statutory process of creating a Local Plan – a responsibility of South Cambridgeshire District Council.

The process must be transparent and needs to identify as many potential opportunities as possible. Around 600 sites of varying sizes have been submitted by landowners across South Cambridgeshire in response to the Call for Sites. These have not yet been assessed or filtered in any way, and therefore have no planning status. It is a list of potential sites that may be used in the plan-making process, after the council has decided on what spatial strategy to use. This is the same process followed in making the current Local Plan. 

Following on from feedback received from the public during the Issues & Options First Conversation, there will now be a process of working out which of the spatial strategies will be selected for providing jobs and homes that are affordable for people in the district, whilst meeting our zero carbon and sustainable living objectives. Just as in the previous plan, where only a small number of submitted sites were selected – less than 10% – the district council envisages that only a very small number of sites on this list will be used in the plan. 

There will be further consultations with the public later in the process, to present and discuss the preferred spatial options. Until then, none of these sites has any planning status.

Lots of background and information here:

https://www.greatercambridgeplanning.org/emerging-plans-and-guidance/greater-cambridge-local-plan/first-conversation-consultation-and-call-for-sites/

Cambridgeshire County Council’s mobile libraries resume

The mobile library fleet is running again, with two new vehicles. The service returns on September 21 to its regular stops, but unfortunately access to the vehicle is limited to help keep staff safe, so customers will need to choose books in advance. To do so:

Please use the usual reservation service: https://cambridgeshire.spydus.co.uk

The new Select and Collect service allows you to request a collection of books based on your tastes:  

https://cambridgeshire-self.achieveservice.com/service/Select_and_Collect

Or by telephone on 0345 045 5225

Choose the mobile library as a pick up point, and order as far in advance as possible to ensure a selection is ready and issued for you to pick up from your stop – ideally a week in advance, but the service will do its best with forms received after this.

If you have any queries, email the team: MobileLibraries@cambridgeshire.gov.uk

Home-Start

Home-Start has been working very hard to support local children and families facing a particularly difficult stretch these past few months.

They’ve had to adapt their services to virtual and telephone platforms but, taking stock, feel they’ve been able to make a fundamental difference – indeed their service is often described as a lifeline service. They rely on donations and grants to make their service possible. Thanks for all the support that has been directed their way. To find out more including how you can help, please visit

https://www.hsrsc.org.uk/ or ring 01763 262 262.

‘Solar Together’

The County Council and District Councils have joined forces with Solar Together as part of the initiative to improve energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions.  Households and small and medium-sized enterprises can register for free and without obligation for the group-buying scheme, by visiting www.solartogether.co.uk/cambridgeshire. When they register online for their complete solar PV system, applicants will be asked questions about their house, roof, and electricity usage.

The County Council will then arrange an auction with pre-vetted installers on 6 October. The auction is a reverse auction, meaning the lowest bid wins. The winning bid sets the price for all solar systems and battery systems. All installers are pre-vetted and must comply with certain criteria to guarantee the quality of the offer.

After the auction, applications will receive a personal recommendation based on their registration details. They then have six weeks to decide if they want to take up the recommendation and proceed with an installation.

Solar panels turn sunlight into electricity. In order to use this energy, the panels mounted on a roof need to be connected to an inverter using cables. The Solar Together offer is for a complete service, including all equipment, survey, installation, monitoring and warranties. Afterwards households or businesses will automatically generate their own electricity from the panels on their roof.

Households that already have solar panels installed can also register to have battery storage added to their ex­isting solar panels to maximise the benefits of their system.

 For further information, please visit solartogether.co.uk/Cambridgeshire or  email cambridgeshire@solartogether.co.uk or call 0800 048 8259.

Government consultation on pavement parking

As part of its suite of measures to encourage active travel, the government is consulting on significant restrictions on pavement parking. 

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/managing-pavement-parking/pavement-parking-options-for-change

‘Meldreth Walking Friends’ and more

Capitalising on an age of renewed and new friendship at this unprecedented time, ‘Meldreth Friends’, which includes Meldreth Walking Friends, Meldreth Driving Friends and Meldreth Calling Friends, is taking shape: https://susanvandeven.mycouncillor.org.uk/2020/09/17/meldreth-friends/#page-content

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 – 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 http://www.libdems.org.uk.

Sincerely yours,
Peter, Jose and Susan

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.comwww.susanvandeven.com, Tel 07905325574

Peter McDonald, County Councillor for Shepreth and the Duxford Division villages, Peter.mcdonald@cambridgeshire.gov.uk, 07912 669092

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