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 23 February, 2021

ZOOM CUPPA SURGERIES: BRING YOUR QUESTIONS, 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: Sallyannhart@riskingonpurpose.com. 

Break-out rooms will be arranged, to match you up with the councillor you’d like to speak to.

INTRODUCING SALLY ANN HART

Sally Ann Hart is a community focused Melbourn Parish Councillor and a familiar face at the Melbourn Hub, who hopes to stand in the upcoming SCDC by-election for the Melbourn Ward – which includes Meldreth, Shepreth and Whaddon.  Find out more about Sally Ann here: https://www.riskingonpurpose.com/news/a-new-adventure/

MANAGED DECLINE – WATER RUN-OFF ALONG THE A1198

Thank you to all those who have persisted in reporting the water run-off problem that has caused erosion of footway and the A1198 road surface, creating recurrent dangerous potholes, icy conditions and general deterioration.  The Highways team is as you know stretched in terms of funding and officer capacity to deal with the proliferation of faults across the network, resulting in a delay of many months in getting attention to this problem.  As you know, this situation of ‘managed decline’ has been with us for a number of years now and is getting worse.

Highways reports: ‘It’s been agreed that the Highways contingency fund will allow the construction of a chamber in the verge to capture the spring water on the A1198. The water will then be piped directly into the existing highway drainage system and should not then emerge above ground and damage the highway.  Patching works to repair the damaged road surface will also be include as part of these works which should be completed before the end of the financial year.’       

NEW TOWN PROPOSAL: LEAFLET TO DOWNLOAD

Thanks to a local resident who has kindly prepared a new information leaflet about the proposal to build 25,000 homes here. It is available to download and share at http://www.swcag.org.uk/news-and-events

If you’d like to join the South West Cambridge Action Group email update list, please simply write to info@swcag.org.uk.

NEW TOWN PROPOSAL: WHO DECIDES?

We’re often asked, ‘Who has ultimate decision-making power on the proposed new town?  South Cambs District Council or National Government?’

The concern is that the developer is openly seeking an exceptional national development channel that would bypass the South Cambs District Council planning process, the standard process that everyone must follow and which is transparent and embedded in public consultation.

Thakeham now promise to submit a bid in the South Cambridgeshire Call for Sites by Easter, following pressure from the Leader of the Council. It will be a very late submission but the Council is legally obliged to accept it for consideration. Ultimately, District Council planning decisions are subject to appeal, with rulings made by an independent Planning Inspector (appointed by Government).

The exceptional national channel in the form of what’s called a ‘development corporation’ remains a major concern. We submitted a Freedom of Information (FOI) Request to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, in order to understand any relationship between the ‘Cambridge development corporation’ included in Rishi Sunak’s budget last year, with the Thakeham proposal. The FOI was turned down on the basis that it would be a ‘distraction’ and ‘not in the public interest’ to release the information. This is being appealed.

The fact that Thakeham has over the past few years made donations to the Conservative party in excess of £400K ‘makes it somewhat challenging’, in the words of a local resident, ‘to understand how decisions are made.’

The FOI response and everything else that’s been learned so far is posted at http://www.swcag.org.uk/news-and-events

SPEEDING TRAFFIC: WHY IS IT NOT ENFORCED?

For some years now it has not been possible to get active Police support for local traffic enforcement, including speeding.  The Police say they lack the resource to do so, and that they must prioritize new trends in crime including cybercrime and modern slavery.  Increasingly, local communities through parish councils must take initiative and bear significant costs toward highways infrastructure designed to force traffic to slow down.  Any application to reduce a particular speed limit requires, ironically, Police support – though the winning criteria involve ‘self-enforcing’ speed limits. 

A rare opportunity for effectively slowing down traffic through villages comes about via the Melbourn Greenways scheme, which will see the enhancement of current cycle/walking paths along the A10 between Royston and Cambridge. Both Foxton and Melbourn villages are earmarked for 20 mile-per-hour speed limits along their High Streets, supported by appropriate ‘interventions’ to encourage changes in driver behaviour.  The changes will be subject to public consultation. 

More about the Melbourn Greenway here:

BASSINGBOURN BROADBAND FOLLOW-UP

A number of questions have been received about current ‘Full Fibre to the Premises’ (FTTP) options in Bassingbourn, following our last enewsletter.   

The private company County Broadband is currently active in Bassingbourn-cum-Kneesworth with the aim of establishing FTTP in every street.  County Broadband is also currently active in Abington Piggots, the Mordens and Litlington where take-up has been strong; also in Harston and Haslingfield.  Recent activity in Whaddon, Meldreth, Shepreth, Newton, Fowlmere and Thriplow resulted in go-ahead for FTTP build out in those villages.

Interest in Bassingbourn has fallen short, with a significant number of roads standing to be left out of the build.  The challenge for the scheme now is to attract enough interest in the way of pre-orders to justify serving the village.

As for the prospect of Openreach FTTP coming to the rest of the village beyond the very localized schemes in Tower Close and the top of North End, Openreach says there is currently ‘no plan to upgrade this area’.  This has been double checked with the County Council’s Connecting Cambridgeshire team, and currently there are no other prospective providers on the horizon that Connecting Cambridgeshire is aware of. 

Susan is working with a small group of Bassingbourn residents who have come together to champion current opportunities for FTTP, as well as accurate infomation.  Please contact her if you’d like to support their efforts.

RAPID FLOW TESTING AVAILABLE

These rapid tests are for key workers and people who cannot work at home, and who have no Covid-19 symptoms – or ‘asymptomatic’.

The County Council is offering these tests because we know that around one in three people who are infected with Covid-19 have no symptoms and could be spreading the disease without knowing it. Broadening testing to identify key workers showing no symptoms will mean finding positive cases more quickly, which helps break chains of transmission.

Tests are offered at no cost to the public and the process of taking a test takes on average 15 minutes from arrival to departure. The site serving you is at The Hub, High Street, Cambourne, South Cambridgeshire, CB23 6GW. The site is open 8am to 8pm, Monday to Saturday. To book a test, people need to visit www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/rapidtesting

The council is also reminding everyone who takes a test of the support that we can offer to anyone who needs help to isolate. More information about this support is available at www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/selfisolationsupport

BYWAY 10/FOOTPATH 24, BASSINGBOURN TO MELBOURN

60 tonnes of planings have now been secured by County Highways for use along Byway10/Footpath 24, to alleviate access problems caused by impassable mud and ruts and directly affecting residential properties along the byway.  Depositing the planings and levelling them out has now taken place.   

FLY TIPPING

South Cambs District Council reports that there has been no significant increase in fly tipping since the introduction of pre-booked visits to the County Council’s Household Waste Centres. Tipping is incredibly annoying especially as we all pay for it to be collected via our Council Tax. Officers always sift through the rubbish and very often find personal information they can use to track the perpetrators. South Cambs always prosecute.  If you see fly tipping, please do report it straight away – it’s easy to report fly-tipping on-line:

https://forms.scambs.gov.uk/REPORTENVIROCRIMEWASTEINYOURAREA/launch

WHAT DOES MY COUNCIL TAX BUY?

Rubbish. It’s quite an issue. When you put out your bin it is emptied by South Cambs (which has the duty to collect) and the bin lorry takes it to Waterbeach where it is processed by contractors employed by the County Council (which has the duty to dispose). The contractors (via a PFI) can do what they like with the rubbish – recycle (and sell), compost the organic waste or ultimately to tip into landfill (at a cost to you of £94.15 per tonne Landfill Tax). This is what happens now.

However, Cambridgeshire has declared a Climate Change Emergency and so we need to think about changing the way we treat rubbish from ‘linear’ (where you and I ‘take, make, use, throw’) to ‘circular’ where we keep resources in use as long as possible extracting maximum value from them.

This has all sorts of implications as we head to 2050. For example in 2023 you can expect to see the potential roll-out of a deposit return scheme, legislation introducing mandatory separate food waste collection and extended producer responsibility for packaging coming into force – no more coconuts wrapped in clingfilm!

By 2035 we expect to have less than 10% of our rubbish going into landfill. So your Council Tax will not only continue to pay for the collection and disposal of your rubbish as it does today but it will also need to fund the new processes and kit required to reduce our consumption, increase our recycling/reuse and to do our bit to protect our planet from more of our rubbish.

OUR FIRE AND RESCUE SERVICE

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabularies and Fire and Rescue Services undertook an inspection of the Service to see how it was dealing with the pandemic and they came away “impressed” with how the service responded to the pandemic effectively, and how the health and wellbeing of our people was put at the forefront of decision-making. 

While the service maintained its functions of prevention, protection and response it also provided additional support to the community. It used its wholetime firefighters to respond to emergencies, and used the increased availability of its on-call workforce to provide extra support, especially to its local ambulance trust. This meant the people of Cambridgeshire were better supported through the pandemic. Firefighters helped out with driving ambulances, training staff to drive ambulances, face fitting masks to be used by frontline NHS and clinical care staff working with COVID-19 patients, and welfare visits to the vulnerable who were shielding. Resources were well managed, and the service’s financial position was largely unaffected.

CAMBRIDGE WATER TREATMENT WORKS

South Cambridgeshire District Council and Cambridge City Council are urging local people to get involved in the next stages of the design and planning for a new plant, which Anglian Water says will support the local ambition towards net zero carbon, and also deliver wider benefits for people and wildlife.

Anglian Water have announced that the preferred site for their new plant is an area north of the A14 between Fen Ditton and Horningsea.

The proposed relocation would allow a new net zero carbon facility, meeting exemplar environmental standards, to replace the existing plant which is near Cambridge North railway station. This will unlock opportunities for future development on that site, as well as providing for planned growth in places such as Waterbeach New Town. The project means that no additional treatment facilities would be needed at the new town as wastewater would be treated at the new plant.

MELDRETH STATION BOOKING OFFICE: TEMPORARY TWICE-MONTHLY SATURDAY CLOSURES

Govia Thameslink Railway has indicated that Meldreth Station booking office will be closed, on a temporary basis only, for two of every four Saturdays from 27 February, during this lockdown period when passenger numbers are very low.  As number begin to rise, the booking office will reopen, and indeed will play an important component in rebuilding passenger confidence.   We don’t know if the closures will fall on alternate Saturdays – so please check the Meldreth, Shepreth and Foxton Rail Facebook page for up-to-date information.  Our station master Bern Parsons always gives us as much advance notice as possible on any alterations to the usual schedules.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/meldrethsheprethfoxtonrail

PASSENGER BENEFIT FUND & MELDRETH SHEPRETH AND FOXTON STATIONS

We’ll be seeing a few improvements to Meldreth, Shepreth and Foxton Stations shortly, as a result of the Passenger Benefit Fund – a sort of financial compensation to stations affected by the 2018 timetable meltdown.  The bureaucracies involved here are dazzling, and in the end, while rail user feedback was gratefully received, it was the Dept for Transport that decided how the funds will be allocated. 

At Meldreth, we understand that toilets will be refurbished and that we’ll see improvements in platform seating and waiting shelter – though no detail as yet.   At Shepreth and Foxton Stations, we should see improvements to information screens, platform seating and waiting shelters, and also landscaping in the Shepreth car park area.  Hopefully, further detail will be available soon.  In any case, at last we seem to have action coming up.

PATH TO MELDRETH STATION – WHAT’S HAPPENING?

There’s work happening behind the scenes to bring to fruition an improved path connecting Melbourn to Meldreth Station, and also, a ramp for access to the London platform. 

The easy bit has been the generosity of a local business, Melbourn Science Park, in instigating a significant developer contribution to the project, in conjunction with its planning application to expand their site.  Added to the developer contribution from the 199 homes development off New Road, the money needed for the project is there! 

Everything these days seems to take a very long time, due to the maze of rules and regulations and individual bureaucracies needed to come together – in this case Govia Thameslink, the Department for Transport and Network Rail, to agree the ramp specifications which must marry up with path specifications.  The path can then be delivered by Cambs County Council, working with local landowners. 

NEXT RAIL USER GROUP MEETING

The next Meldreth Shepreth and Foxton Rail User Group takes place April 6th, 7:30PM.  Please contact railusergroup@gmail.com if you’d like the link to join this virtual meeting.

CENSUS 2021

Census 2021 takes place on March 21st. Prepare for a blizzard of publicity! Please reply as soon as you can as otherwise you will be faced with constant reminders and potentially a knock on your door asking for your completed form.

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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