by Susan van de Ven on 1 May, 2021
Local government elections take place on May 6th, with all County Council seats at the ballot box, together with a by-election for the District Ward of Melbourn, as well as the Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, and the Police and Crime Commissioner.
Your local Lib Dem candidates are Sally Ann Hart for Melbourn Ward (including Meldreth, Whaddon, Shepreth), Susan van de Ven for Melbourn and Bassingbourn County Division (including Meldreth and Whaddon), Peter McDonald for Duxford Division (including Shepreth, Foxton, Chishills, Heydon). Aidan Van de Weyer who lives in Barrington is the Mayoral candidate, and Rupert Moss-Eccardt is standing for Police and Crime Commissioner.
Each contest has its own ballot paper and the Mayoral and Police contests are run on a proportional representation system that asks the voter for a first and second choice. Please note that you are not required to indicate a second choice if you don’t wish to.
New emergency proxy voting arrangements are in place to reflect the Covid-19 pandemic, allowing in some circumstances a proxy vote to be applied for up until 5PM on Election Day, May 6th. https://www.scambs.gov.uk/elections/voting-by-post-or-proxy/
Please remember, if you are visiting a polling station, to bring your own pen or pencil and to wear a mask. Any postal vote ballots can be dropped off at your polling station, if you have not already posted them.
The count will take place at the Imperial War Museum Duxford, with its well-ventilated large spaces.
Safety improvements along the A1198 between Kneesworth and Whaddon Gap have been pursued for a long time and there are hopeful signs of progress. Whaddon Parish Council, on behalf of all users of the A1198 and strongly supported by Bassingbourn Parish Council and our neighbours at Bassingbourn Barracks, submitted another Local Highways Improvement Grant application following last year’s unsuccessful attempt, and preliminary results are encouraging. Final decisions will be announced in May. The scheme would involve a speed reduction on this section of the A1198 to 40 mph, new road markings, and two new central islands to protect the main junctions.
Thanks to extensive work by Bassingbourn Parish Council, the quest to convert The Limes Communal Room – which is the old school building in Bassingbourn High Street – to a much-needed village hall is progressing step-by-step. A planning application is being considered and Susan’s letter of support is posted at https://susanvandeven.mycouncillor.org.uk/2021/04/19/supporting-a-new-bassingbourn-village-hall/#page-content
Our local bulk-buying household heating Oil Club, which exists to facilitate lowest available prices, gets an annual rebate from the supplier which is always donated to a local community group. This year’s rebate of £100 has gone to Home-Start South Cambridgeshire, Royston and Buntingford, with its office at Valley Farm Meldreth.
The most commonly identified needs by referred families are parent isolation and parental mental health problems. The overall service is recognised in Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire County Council’s care plan, but central government cuts to local authorities mean that the councils are no longer able to provide financial support.
If you’d like to join or find out more about the Oil Club, please ring Jeremy Cole of Agricole Oil on 01954 719 452 / 07860 904 045 or visit http://www.heating-oil-prices.co.uk/. To learn more about Home-Start’s work, please visit https://www.hsrsc.org.uk/
Volunteers from the Meldreth, Shepreth and Foxton Community Rail Partnership are working this Monday Bank Holiday to tidy up the long ‘Memorial Garden’ area at Shepreth Station, currently overgrown with brambles and blighted with litter. Thanks to Cambridgeshire County Council for organising a skip and to Network Rail for facilitating a safe environment on the day – and of course to our volunteers, who are willing to dive into the brambles and improve the environment for the benefit of all.
The East West Rail Company has at last announced its consultation on detailed routes for the new railway line from Bedford to Cambridge. This is a moment to thank all those who worked so hard to avoid the ill-thought-out Bassingbourn route. Instead, EWR will serve Cambourne – a significant population area currently without rail links – and now agrees that a new Cambourne Station should be situated on the A428, an important transport corridor for well-planned South Cambs population growth.
However, the line would then loop down to Toft, the Eversdens, Haslingfield, Harston and Shelford, to come up to a new Cambridge South Station, the conduit to the Cambridge Biomedical Campus. The proposal includes a series of 10m high embankments through the countryside – though the consultation does not include illustrations and those keen to understand the implications must draw their own conclusions. The proposal involves cutting through one of South Cambridgeshire’s only hills, between Barrington and Haslingfield. East West Rail tell us that a northern approach to Cambridge via Cambridge North Station did not score well in their appraisal, but details are not included in the consultation.
This is a national and regional infrastructure project with very local implications. Please have a look at and respond to the consultation, which concludes on June 9th: https://eastwestrail.co.uk/consultation
Latest information on Thakeham’s speculative proposal for a new town in and amongst our villages, including the presentation from our April public meeting and a set of Frequently Asked Questions, is available to download on the South West Cambridge Action Group website: http://www.swcag.org.uk/news-and-events. Do let us know if you’d like to be added to the email updates list.
Change comes slowly to Melbourn’s one-way streets, following a range of concerns reported to us last summer when Mortlock Street was temporarily closed. Refreshing line painting and faded signage should be relatively straight-forward in terms of reporting via the highways reporting site, and anyone can do this: https://highwaysreporting.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/
At Little Lane’s output junction with Orchard Rd, the No Entry line painting has been refreshed and new signage is awaited. Work is still needed in Meeting Lane, too.
Govia Thamelink Railway timetable planners have been working closely with the Meldreth, Shepreth and Foxton Rail User Group, and it is good to report that the half-hourly service for these stations– only first achieved in 2018 – will be restored in mid-May with the national timetable renewal. This helps to facilitate next year’s 16-18 year-old 50% student discount we have negotiated, which is unique to Cambridgeshire station users.
Network Rail’s proposal to introduce full level crossing barriers at Meldreth Road Shepreth would have enormous consequences, introducing new risk and environmental harm. The Community Rail Partnership’s consultation response can be seen here.
A great local resource is available here for anyone looking to expand their walking repertoire. These walks will take you around the villages served by our local train service, our local rivers, and via local eateries – a chance to explore new places close to home.
While it’s a painfully slow process, significant steps have been achieved toward the opening of the Ivy Farm Bridge to public right of way, through collaboration with Hertfordshire County Council which owns the bridge and has an opportunity to facilitate the rerouting of a key Hertfordshire path to join up with the bridge. Close contact is being maintained with Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Rights of Way officers as the push continues.
County Broadband, the private company investing in Fibre to the Premises in a number of South Cambs villages including Shepreth, Meldreth, Whaddon and Bassingbourn-cum-Kneesworth, have reported that enough take-up has now been achieved in Bassingbourn-cum-Kneesworth to plan roll-out in part but not all of the village. There will be an interim period where more pre-orders are possible, so that the connection fee is avoided once the build-out has taken place. The project is more advanced in Shepreth, Meldreth and Whaddon where initial build-out steps are underway. Thanks very much to residents in all the villages who’ve volunteered to be points of contact.
Free Covid-19 tests for home use are available to anyone not displaying symptoms of Covid-19, as part of the quest to allow society to open up safely. To order tests for home delivery, to collect tests from a local pharmacy, or to visit a test site, please see this NHS link for clear information: https://www.gov.uk/order-coronavirus-rapid-lateral-flow-tests
A great deal of local Covid-19 information is always available at https://www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/residents/coronavirus/coronavirus-covid-19-overview
Government regulations permitting virtual decision-making meetings over the whole of this past municipal year are due to expire immediately following the May 6th elections.
Virtual council meetings have allowed much greater inclusion as travelling long distances has not been required, and we’ve seen far greater public participation as a result. These meetings have been less polluting to the environment and less costly to the public purse. Meanwhile, Shire Hall in Cambridge, the long-time home of Cambridgeshire County Council, has now been closed and emptied, and will be redeveloped for other purposes. A new building at Alconbury, up the A1, is under construction. It will be more economical to run but has no viable public transport links and will necessitate a great deal of driving – cycling is not permitted on the A1.
If you’d like to meet with your councillors by Zoom, to bring any concerns or ask any questions, we’re running a weekly Zoom Cuppa Surgery: Wednesdays 5-6 PM. Please contact Melbourn Parish Councillor Sally Ann Hart for a link to our next Wednesday Zoom: Sallyannhart@riskingonpurpose.com.
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.
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.
Susan, Peter and Jose
Peter McDonald, County Councillor for Shepreth, Foxton, Heydon, the Chishills and the Duxford Division villages, Peter.firstname.lastname@example.org, 07912 669092
Jose Hales, District Councillor for Melbourn, Meldreth, Shepreth and Whaddon
email@example.com, Tel 01763 221058