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 8 February, 2021

HOW CAN WE BRING BACK MELBOURN POST OFFICE?

The suggestion was made that Melbourn Parish Council could take on the running of a Post Office for Melbourn.  Melbourn Parish Councillor Sally Ann Hart reports:

“Many thanks for keeping this question on the agenda. In response to the question ‘could Melbourn Parish Council’ provide a Post Office?’ the answer at present is sadly ‘No’.

“In order for a Parish Council to do what any individual can do, it has to have ‘General Power of Competence’ and the criteria for a parish council to obtain this if for it to have a Qualified Clerk, which Melbourn Parish Council does have, and two thirds of the available seats on the Council must be elected. MPC has 15 seats available, which means 10 have to be elected.  Because a number of Councillors have been co-opted since the 2018 elections, Melbourn Parish Council currently falls short of this requirement and the next round of Melbourn Parish Council elections are not until 2022!

“However, anyone willing to put themselves forward to run a Post Office could, in the first instance, bring this to the attention of the Parish Clerk. Anyone wishing to join Melbourn Parish Council should also contact the Parish Office.”

DRAINS: SURFACE AND FOUL WATER FLOODING

During January flooding we were alerted to a number of neighbourhood hot spots.  Shepreth and Meldreth have been particularly hard hit but emergency pumping out at hot spots in both villages has provided some relief.

Some Meldreth properties have been adversely affected by the Anglian Water foul sewerage system where, Anglian Water have explained, excessive rain run-off and ground water has infiltrated their network – hence the presence of the pumping lorry in recent days.  We’ve also been contacted by some Whaddon residents concerned about problems in what is a shared network.

Meanwhile, Anglian Water have agreed to meet with us once the current emergency situation has passed, to discuss long-term capacity on current infrastructure for the wider area. 

Please can we encourage anyone concerned about foul sewerage issues on their own property to contact Anglian Water on 03457 145145 – it’s really important to get this onto their list

And for any other flooding concerns please log here: https://www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/business/planning-and-development/flood-and-water/report-a-flood

Do please contact us if you have any concerns and we’ll do our best to help.

PLOUGHED OVER FOOTPATHS

We’ve received a number of reports of ploughed-over footpaths in our villages.  These should always be reported on the Highways reporting site: https://highwaysreporting.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/

The reporting page once filled out looks like this: https://susanvandeven.mycouncillor.org.uk/2021/02/01/ploughed-over-footpaths-what-to-do/#page-content

CORONAVIRUS:  I NEED HELP

People continue to catch Covid-19 and will still need to self-isolate. To help make sure that residents know about the support that is available to help them with this, South Cambs District Council will post a Coronavirus-related direct mail to all households from next week. This will contain an A4 flyer, produced by the Council, that details the financial and practical support available to people who need to self-isolate.   Information is also posted here: I need help – South Cambs District Council (scambs.gov.uk)

CLIMATE AND ENVIRONMENT FORTNIGHT

From Monday 22 February, South Cambs District Council will be marking Climate and Environment Fortnight 2021 with a series of free online events to help people think about how to live more sustainably, reduce carbon emissions and in turn help tackle climate change. 

This is designed for a variety of audiences – all information is here:

https://www.scambs.gov.uk/nature-and-climate-change/climate-and-environment-fortnight-2021-events/

FOXTON: CAR PARK OR TRAVEL HUB?

Continuing local concerns that the Foxton Travel Hub scheme could emerge as not much more than a gigantic car park were put to Greater Cambridge Partnership officers in a recent meeting for local parish councillors chaired by Peter McDonald.  The challenge was put to make this very significant investment work as a true ‘travel hub’, with all the connectivity the term implies. 

While the approved scheme is for 900 car park spaces, the GCP has indicated a reduced scope of 500 spaces in the first iteration.

Both the A10 Corridor Cycling Campaign and the Meldreth, Shepreth and Foxton Community Rail Partnership have actively participated in the ‘non-motorized user group’ discussions on the detail of pedestrian access between the car park and the station, in order to provide the knowledge and experience of local users.   A public consultation on the Foxton Travel Hub detailed design is expected in March.

NEW TOWN PROPOSAL: MINISTRY REFUSES TO RELEASE INFORMATION

The South West Cambridge Action Group (SWCAG) is working to see off proposals for a new town of 25,000 homes to replace our villages. 

A Freedom of Information (FOI) request to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has been denied, on the basis that information revealed would be a ‘distraction’ and that ‘it is not in the public interest to disclose this information at this time’. 

The request was for information relating to a Cambridge ‘Development Corporation’ – a government vehicle for creating new towns that bypasses normal planning processes.  SWCAG is seeking to confirm whether or not the Development Corporation is tied to the proposal by Thakeham developers.

In last year’s budget, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the setting up of a Cambridge Development Corporation, but did not reveal any details, including where exactly the new town would be situated. There has been no engagement, nor any timeline published.

The FOI response has been shared with Anthony Browne MP and is published for public information at http://www.swcag.org.uk/news-and-events.  The decision will be appealed.

BASSINGBOURN BROADBAND OPTIONS

Bassingbourn is being offered a chance to sign up for Full Fibre to the Premises by a private company, ‘County Broadband.’  This follows the recent experience of Meldreth, Shepreth and Whaddon.

The ‘Connecting Cambridgeshire’ project headed up by Cambridgeshire County Council is a publicly funded scheme seeking to ensure that all properties have an acceptable minimum broadband standard.  Connecting Cambridgeshire keeps track of and works with private investors in planning digital connectivity across the county, and commission work where private investors are not investing and where connectivity is falling below an acceptable minimum threshold. 

Bassingbourn finds itself in a unique situation, with three different areas of activity – the following information has been provided by Connecting Cambridgeshire:

Please feel free to contact Susan and she’ll be glad to help find answers to your questions.

A NEW ROOF FOR ST MARY’S CHURCH, WHADDON (Pictured)

Less than two years after the June 2019 theft of the entire lead roof of St Mary’s Church Whaddon, the parochial council’s fundraising effort for a new roof has achieved its goal, allowing plans to go forward for the installation of a new stainless steel roof – less vulnerable to future theft than a lead replacement, but with a similar life expectancy, so it should serve the building very well.   St Mary’s is a particularly beautiful Grade 1 structure and sits in the heart of the village community.  

Historic England, the Government’s Cultural Recovery Fund, Cambridgeshire Historic Churches Trust and the Amey Community Fund have all supported the effort, but the parochial council notes, ‘We couldn’t have got there without the support of the wider community and their generous contributions.’   Please see the Whaddon village website for further information: http://www.whaddon.org/st-marys-church

TRAIN SERVICE REDUCTIONS

Govia Thameslink Railway writes: “With the impact of coronavirus and the new national lockdown measures, our passenger numbers have fallen to around 15% of pre-Covid weekday levels. Additionally, the impact of coronavirus on our own crew availability, as colleagues may need to self-isolate or shield, means we must adapt our timetable to ensure we continue to deliver a resilient and reliable service for our customers.

“For introduction from 22nd February onwards, we have developed a revised weekday plan which will better match anticipated demand. The plan focuses on maintaining services earlier in the morning, later in the evening and at peak times, based on feedback from key workers and stakeholders. We have also aimed to maintain services for ‘school trains’ at suitable times in readiness for all students returning. Weekend services are not due to change, but engineering work continues which can of course amend the regular patterns. 

“As you will know, the area is currently served by three GTR service groups; “fast” Cambridge flyer services to King’s Cross, semi-fast Thameslink services to St Pancras International that call at Royston, and slow all-station Thameslink services to King’s Cross.  Of the three, the slow service to King’s Cross will reduce from half-hourly to hourly between Cambridge and Royston outside of peak and school times. Royston also receives calls from semi-fast Thameslink services.  

“Connectivity between Cambridge/Royston and the three community stations of Foxton, Shepreth and Meldreth will reduce to an hourly service outside of the peaks and school times.    We recognise this will mean that some customers will need to change their travel plans and will be doing everything we can to raise awareness of the timetable change. Individual journeys will be available to view in journey planners such as www.nationalrail.co.uk . 

“As ever, we would be very keen to hear from you on any aspect of this new timetable, and we will continue to review the service ourselves to ensure we best meet demand in the future.”

SOUTH CAMBS BUSINESSES – COVID GRANT FUNDING SUPPORT

Businesses in South Cambridgeshire can now apply for the latest round of Government financial help for closures during the post-Christmas period and through the Spring.

South Cambridgeshire District Council, which is administering the business grants, has opened applications for local businesses suffering from the most recent lockdown restrictions – Tier 4 restrictions from 26 December to 4 January, and the current ongoing National Lockdown.

There are several different Government grants available for these periods.

For the Tier 4 period in South Cambridgeshire, which ran for ten days immediately after Christmas, affected businesses (including non-essential retail, leisure, personal care, sports facilities and hospitality businesses) can now apply online for the LRSG (Closed) Tier 4 grant scheme.  The eligibility criteria and payments are structured in a similar way to previous grants given during earlier restrictions.

For the current National Lockdown, which started on January 5, three new schemes are now available. Businesses which applied for the Tier 4 grant do not need to re-apply but will be contacted automatically by the Council. Those which haven’t applied for earlier grants should fill in an online application form.

The new Local Restrictions Support Grant (Closed) Addendum: 5 January onwards covers the current 42-day period for business closures up until 31 March 2021, with one-off payments ranging from £2,001 to £4,500 depending on the rateable value of a business which must have been registered for business rates on 5 January 2021 and required by law to close.

Those receiving this grant will also be entitled to an additional one-off Closed Business Lockdown payment for the same 42-day qualifying restriction period which will range from £4,000 to £9,000 and will be paid automatically.

The Council is also receiving additional funding to allocate at its discretion under the Additional Restrictions Grant scheme and will make initial use of these funds to provide top-ups to those most in-need businesses in the District which are eligible for the Closed Business Lockdown Payment.

The application closure date for the new grant schemes is 31 March 2021 with final payments being made by 30 April 2021.

In the meantime, businesses can also still apply for various earlier grants via the Council website covering the following: Local Restrictions from November 5 to December 2; Christmas support payments for wet-led pubs (final applications must be received by January 31, 2021); and Tier 2 Restrictions imposed in South Cambridgeshire from December 2 to 25.

More information here:

Coronavirus information for businesses – South Cambs District Council (scambs.gov.uk)

GOVERNMENT RESTRICTS CONTENT OF PRINTED INFORMATION

As part of Coronavirus lockdown restrictions, Government has prohibited volunteer leaflet deliveries for anything other than public information, advertising, and distribution of charity shop plastic collection bags.  

Your local councillors are permitted to distribute information sheets and letters through letterboxes but these must not include any content that is critical of government policies and which could therefore be construed as party political.  

However, printed material that is critical of government policies can be put through letter boxes by paid Royal Mail delivery.

ZOOM CUPPA SURGERIES: JOIN US ON WEDNESDAYS 5-6PM

We can’t have face-to-face conversations these days but if you’d like to meet with your councillors by Zoom, to bring any concerns or ask any questions, we’re introducing a weekly Zoom Cuppa Surgery: Wednesdays 5-6 PM.

Please contact Melbourn Parish Councillor Sally Ann Hart for a link to any of our Wednesday Zooms, to start Feb 17: Sallyannhart@riskingonpurpose.com

And if you’d like to join us but can’t make these times, please just let us know and we’ll make an arrangement to suit. 

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 http://www.libdems.org.uk

Sincerely yours,

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

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

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

Peter.mcdonald@cambridgeshire.gov.uk, 07912 669092

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

jose@josehales.me.uk, Tel 01763 221058

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