Susan van de Ven

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

Community Newsletter

by Susan van de Ven on 26 March, 2021


Sally Ann Hart, local campaigner and Melbourn parish councillor, explains:

“Until four years ago, district ward and county division boundaries fit together fairly well, but county boundary changes mean that is no longer the case and Shepreth falls into two separate geographies:  So the Melbourn District Ward (for the upcoming South Cambs District Council by-election) includes Melbourn, Meldreth, Whaddon and Shepreth. 

But for the County Council, Shepreth now sits in the ‘Duxford Division’, together with Foxton, Fowlmere, Heydon, Great and Little Chishill and many other villages stretching all the way to Hinxton – this is represented by Cllr Peter McDonald. Meanwhile, the ‘Melbourn and Bassingbourn’ County Division includes Meldreth and Whaddon, and this is represented by Susan van de Ven.


A petition has been set up by Anthony Browne MP.  It asks South Cambridgeshire District Council (SCDC) to exclude Thakeham’s South West Cambridgeshire New Town proposal from its Local Plan.

At the present time Thakeham has yet to submit a proposal to SCDC, so there is no proposal to consider.  It had agreed to do so by Easter but this now appears to be delayed.  The ‘Call for Sites’ closed two years ago but by law, late plans can still be submitted until a very late stage, even now – and by law, SCDC must accept late submissions. 

As the Local Planning Authority, SCDC is required by law to consider all planning applications according to statutory processes   If it fails to follow those processes it exposes itself to potential Judicial Review, which in turn can become the basis for appeal by the applicant (in this case Thakeham).  It is common for speculative developers to seek avenues for appeals, as we’ve seen in Barrington (Cemex) and Melbourn (New Road 199).

Ultimately the Local Plan must be signed off by an independent Inspector, who is appointment by the Government.   And the Housing Minister has the power to override a Local Planning Authority decision.

Thakeham continues to maintain that it is openly seeking national development channels – new government created channels that sit above and apart from Local Authority processes – to achieve their objectives.  These are part of a general trend by Government to centralise planning powers away from Local Planning Authorities. 

Government controlled national development channels could include a ‘Cambridge Development Corporation’ as mentioned by Rishi Sunak in his 2020 budget, or the recently published Oxford to Cambridge Arc, which indicates four ‘opportunity areas’ along the East West Rail central section between Bedford and Cambridge – though these areas have not yet been identified. 

The South West Cambridge Action Group is seeking to understand how far national channels have been pursued by Thakeham, and to what extent they may have been discussed with Government ministers and their departments.  To that end, several key Freedom of Information requests have been denied, on the basis that information would be a ‘distraction’ and ‘not in the public interest.’   Those FOI responses can be found at

Further helpful context setting out the national and local contexts, and the control of decision-making, can be found in this 23 February letter from SCDC Leader Bridget Smith to Anthony Browne. 


Local elections will go ahead on May 6th, including the Melbourn Ward by-election, all County Council seats, the Police and Crime Commissioner and the Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. 

If you’d like to vote by post, you need to download, print and scan and email your postal vote application, which is due no later than 11 working days before May 6th – please do so here:


‘Cambridge Resignalling Project’:   Network Rail is consulting on upgrading Meldreth Rd, Shepreth, level crossing to a full barrier, which would bring a waiting time similar to that at Shepreth Station, and significantly impact traffic flows and air quality.

While the Shepreth Station full barrier system was installed largely in response to a serious trespassing problem there, relating to people rushing to catch their trains, we’ve not been made aware of any trespassing problem at the Meldreth Road crossing.  Indeed the introduction of a full barrier could introduce a trespassing problem.  We’ve have been told it will be very hard to prevent the upgrade from happening, but feel the proposal needs to be looked at very carefully, because risk is calculated according to narrow criteria relating to rail not highway.

Consultation closes April 11.  This will be discussed at the Rail User Group meeting on April 6th.


The Council subsidized 127 bus, running between Royston, Bassingbourn, Whaddon, Meldreth and Melbourn, as well as Litlington and the Mordens, is morphing into a commercial service and will shortly be relaunched as the number 17.  This is quite remarkable in any area that has relied on council subsidy for so long, due to lack of commercial interest, and means the operator, A2B, sees potential for growth.  A good relationship has been built up through the Cam Vale Bus User Group.

There will be some minor tweaks to the current timetable, and very encouragingly, the bus will resume service to the top of North End Bassingbourn following the County Council’s close attention to resizing the island at the traffic triangle – bringing public transport back to an otherwise remote part of the village. The bus will no longer need to loop around the Fillance for turning purposes; it will also serve Spring Lane and the GP surgery as part of its official route.  All should be good to go just after Easter, pending approval of the route alteration by the Traffic Commissioner.  It will be important that the service is well supported. 


No doubt many people will have noticed a lot of work happening by the side of the road at Kneesworth, just south of the A1198 mini roundabout, a few weeks ago.  The water run-off that has been wreaking havoc for such a long time, causing damage to the pavement and road, turns out to have come from the old village water pump.  Thanks once again to parish councillors and residents who have been assiduously reporting the problem over a long period of time.  A huge relief to have this work done, which took the last of the County Highways contingency budget for 2021.


The systematic gulley emptying exercise of every highway drain in specially identified routes is underway, following months of discussion and preparation.  Where a drain is missed out, a plan is in place for a return visit.  Phase two will follow later in the spring, when any persistent pooling around drains will see jetting. Phase three will involve investigations underground where problems have not cleared up.  The overall exercise is a new step for Highways and we’re very glad to be hosting it as a pilot area.


Thanks to Highways officers for organising, and to residents of Beechwood Avenue, Elm Way, Ash Grove, Maple Way and Cedar Close for helping to clear the road of parked cars over these past two weeks in order to allow work to proceed on repair and surface dressing of the road surface.  There will be a gap before the lines are repainted, in order for the dressing to settle.  New markings will then be added to indicate the cul-de-sac section of Beechwood Avenue.


The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group, which is responsible for organising the Covid-19 vaccination roll-out, can help with troubleshooting anomalies, for example house-bound residents still waiting for their vaccinations.  Please feel free to contact Susan – as a County Health Committee member part of her role is liaison with various Health Service partners.


If you are an EU citizen living in the UK, please note that June 30 is the last day you can apply for Settled Status in the UK.  This is very important, as the advocacy group ‘The Three Million’ explains:

“The Government’s Settled Status Scheme started during March 2019. EU citizens who need to, must apply by the end of  June 2021. If EU citizens do not have a legal basis to remain in the UK after Brexit, they will become unlawful residents and face problems with, for example,  applying for jobs, accessing the NHS and renting homes. EU citizens who already have Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) do not need to apply for settled status, although they may want to in order to gain Withdrawal Agreement rights (such as family reunion rights, and the ability to leave the UK for 5 years rather than 2 before losing status).”  Information on how to apply is set out clearly here:


As a result of an investigation into the tenancy awarded in 2017 and investment of £185k of funds from the County to his farm, the Deputy Leader of the County Council Cllr Hickford has resigned and left his farm. This is the statement from the Leader:

“On Tuesday February 23rd I received a long and complex report which was the culmination of the Manor Farm Audit. The subject of the report largely concerns the Deputy Leader Cllr Roger Hickford’s occupancy of Manor Farm, Girton as a tenant of Cambridgeshire County Council’s Farms Estate. 

The contents of the report are confidential at present, for legal reasons in order for the Audit and Accounts committee to fully consider and discuss the matter. But having read the report I had two meetings with Cllr. Hickford to consider implications for the Council, outside of the remit of the committee.

Subsequent to those meetings Cllr Hickford has asked me to accept his resignation as my Deputy leader and as a member of the Council with immediate effect. I have accepted his resignation and confirmed this to Chief Executive Gillian Beasley. I have also thanked Cllr Hickford for his years of service in his role as a Councillor and the support he has given me over the years as my deputy leader.”

A report into the granting of the tenancy and subsequent actions were reviewed at the March 5th Audit & Accounts Committee. The timetable is here:


The campaign ‘Build Your Family’ encourages LGBT+ potential adopters and foster carers to consider expanding their family and sharing their life with a child or young person, either permanently through adoption or more short-term through fostering. The campaign seeks to tackle some common misconceptions surrounding the process and raise awareness among people who identify as LGBT+ of the adoption and fostering parenting routes that are open to them.

There are around 745 children and young people in Cambridgeshire who need foster carers and the greatest need is for teenagers and brothers and sisters. LGBT+ Adoption & Fostering week is organised by New Family Social, a charity that supports LGBT+ Adopters and Foster Carers across the UK. 

More information on fostering: call 0800 052 0078, email or visit; or for information on adoption please call 0300 123 1093.


Cambridgeshire County Council and Peterborough City Council have launched the ‘Laptops for Children’ campaign in partnership with the Youth Panel, Cambridge Digital Direct, Cambridge 2030 and the Cambridge Culture Foundation, aimed at purchasing laptops and 4G routers for vulnerable young people.  Around 8,000 children in the region do not have use of a computer or broadband, meaning they cannot access lessons and online resources, putting them at risk of falling behind with their studies.   For more information on the campaign and to make a donation visit our GoFundMe page.


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


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: 

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


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.


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

   Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>