Susan van de Ven

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

Community Newsletter

by Susan van de Ven on 28 November, 2021

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The half-hourly train is coming back

We’re delighted to report that after many representations to GTR, the half-hourly weekday train service is set to resume for Meldreth, Shepreth and Foxton Stations on December 12th.   This service had been suspended due to a severe workforce shortage resulting from Covid, but the situation has improved enough to bring it back.  We’re really grateful to GTR for paying close attention to our small station services, and to rail users for making their voices heard.

We do need to see ridership figures rise to make the service truly sustainable – hopefully this restoration will allow that to happen.

Mission Ready Children’s play area – toys needed

Our friends at Bassingbourn Barracks are appealing for donations of new/second-hand toys for 1-8 year-olds for a weekend play area, to support young families living on site. Can you help?

Please contact: Major Jonathan Ryan, Welfare Officer,, or Duty Welfare: 07814785634. 

Jon writes, “The continued support from the local community is greatly appreciated by all at Bassingbourn Barracks.”

Free Holiday Activities and Food Programme

A child receiving Free School Meals due to low income may be eligible for a free 16-hours holiday activity programme, and food programme. All details here:

A10 Underpass: first tidy-up

We’d like to thank the Melbourn Science Park contractor, SDC, for offering and organising to cut vegetation way back at the Meldreth A10 underpass, as a first step toward improving the general environment there.  Sally Ann and Susan are working with our councils and the Community Rail Partnership on a broad plan to smarten things up, in a similar way to what has been done at our local rail stations.

Dog Café every Tuesday 10-12 – Melbourn and villages Timebank

You may already be aware that the Melbourn Timebank is back up and running with lots of good opportunities for sharing favours and mutual support – whether walking a dog, helping in the garden or picking up a prescription.  The Timebank reaches from Melbourn into surrounding villages and a number of regular social events allow people to meet up – including the Tuesday morning Dog Café at the Dolphin Pub 105 High St Melbourn. To find out more, please see:

Expanded Melbourn Hub

The newly expanded Melbourn Hub has been officially opened.  All welcome to pop in and find out about all the activities going and to enjoy this beautiful public space, have a coffee, lunch or a take-away, or check out a library book and borrow a laptop.  The Hub hosts Citizens Advice every Wednesday from 10-12.  For opening hours, room hire and more:

Are you concerned about being able to live independently at home?

Lots of support is in place to help people live independently, at home.  If you think you could use some extra help – for example if you’ve been in hospital or experienced an illness – please feel free to ring this County Council number where calls are fielded and then directed to someone who can provide advice and point you in the right direction:  0345 045 5202. 

Oil Club – household heating oil, best prices

A reminder as we move into proper winter that our local bulk buying household heating oil club is still up and running.  We work with a local supplier to get best prices on the day.  There’s no joining fee and no requirement for repeat orders.  An annual rebate is received each year and donated to a community group – this year’s donation went to Home-Start.

Our supplier is Jeremy Cole, Agricole Oil – you can contact him on Tel 01954 719452 or 07860 904 045, or,

Community support funding

Here are three funding opportunities – we’d be glad to provide further information.

County Council’s Cultivate Grants – grants of £2,000-£15,000, encouraging local networks where people help themselves and each other:

District Council Community Chest – up to £1K, apply any time:

Arnold Clark Community Fund:

This winter, grants of up to £1,000 for community groups and local non-profit organisations are being offered through the Arnold Clark Community Fund to help them continue their important work which may be at risk due to the pandemic. The focus for this round is on foodbanks, toy banks, poverty relief, housing and accommodation. The deadline is 31 December 2021.

Tower Close Bassingbourn resurfacing

It’s good to report that our dedicated Local Highways Officer has managed to get Tower Close resurfacing onto a very competitive action list. Works are expected imminently.

Litlington Road path – siding out for Bass Belle Ten Miler

Thanks to our Local Highways officers who have arranged for the overgrowing vegetation along the Litlington Road footway to be cut back in advance of the Bass Belle Ten Miler scheduled for November 28. 

Old North Road overhanging vegetation

I’ve asked the Local Highways Officers for assistance in getting the long length of overgrown trees between Swinnell Court and Bellevue Farm on the eastern side of the road cut back; this is being actively followed up with the private landowner.

Little Lane Melbourn works – happening!

Lots of detailed work was completed on Little Lane signage back in the summer, aimed at making vehicle drivers aware of the diminishing width of Little Lane as it goes along – and hopefully to prevent further damage to rooftops and boundary walls lining the lane.  Works have been ordered and should be done by the time you read this.

20 MPH schemes

A number of South Cambs villages, including Melbourn and Bassingbourn, are putting in grant applications for partial 20 MPH zones designed to enhance safety for those who would like to get around the village on foot or by bicycle – with particular emphasis on children making their way to school.  The steady increase of traffic through our villages seems to have reached a trigger point for new measures that favour safer streets, cleaner air and exercise built into the daily routine. 

The funding sources include the County Council’s Local Highways Improvement Schemes and national government’s Active Travel scheme grants. 

Foxton Travel Hub design changes

Following further public consultation, the Foxton Travel Hub design plan has seen significant alterations, with the size of the car park reduced from 500 to 200 spaces.  The plan retains a passenger lift and footbridge and adds a village bus service.  This will be discussed at the Meldreth Shepreth and Foxton Rail User Group on November 30, and goes to the Greater Cambridge Partnership Board for decision on December 9.

High quality public transport choices, with culture change to greener choices

This is a subject that has been discussed for many years now – how to manage traffic in and out of Cambridge, and how to fund a bus and public transport network that will give really good choices about travelling other than by car.  Back in 2009, the County Council voted cross-party to usher in the then government’s ‘Transport Innovation Fund,’ which would have funded the outlay for a bus and public/active transport network, to be supported long-term by revenue generated from a peak-time congestion charge in and out of Cambridge.  In the event, the ‘TIF’ never materialized because the money to deliver the investment could not be found.

Today there is more at stake, due to the climate crisis and increasing pressures on access in and around Cambridge.  Please follow this link for information about the new proposed ‘Making Connections’ scheme, and the opportunity to give your views. The consultation closes December 20.

How to report a faulty streetlight

Not all street lights are owned and operated by the same council, unfortunately – most are County, some are District and a very few are Parish-owned.  On the positive side, faults are easy to report.  Here are the County and District fault reporting links – either one will tell you how to identify the street light and what to do next.

County lights:

District lights:

Extreme weather and household flooding

We’re aware of four homes in our area that have been affected by repeated property flooding during recent extreme rainfall events, and we are working with the County Flood and Water team on preventive action. Please feel free to contact us for further information, or if you want to report internal property flooding directly, please do so via this link:

Flood reporting – Instructions and Data Protection – Self (

‘Extra help’ from Anglian Water

Recently we met with Anglian Water to discuss system capacity issues in our area.  Key points learned:

The Unflushables

Common-sense advice from Anglian Water – which can prevent problems at your own property and the wider system!

Every year, Anglian Water clears around 40,000 blockages from our sewers alone. 80% of these blockages are completely avoidable but cause the more pollutions in the environment than anything else.

In the kitchen:

  • Used water is the only thing you should put down your sink. 
  • Used cooking oil should never be poured down the sink. Instead recycle it or compost it at home.
  • Use kitchen towel to absorb cooled liquid fat from cooking pans and trays
  • Leftovers, peelings and food scraps should never go down the sink. Use a sink strainer to stop them going down the plughole and empty into the bin or food waste bin. Peelings can be composted at home.

In the bathroom:

  • The three ‘Ps’ (pee, poo and toilet paper) are the only things that should go down the loo
  • A bin is the best place for all your unflushable waste. Put one by the loo, so nobody’s tempted to flush rubbish.
  • Put wipes, cotton wool, floss, sanitary products and cotton buds in the bin.
  • Sink strainers are good at catching hair that could otherwise block the plughole in your shower or bath.

Thakeham and the South Cambs Local Plan – your voice needed

If you are concerned about Thakeham’s unconventional methods of lobbying government for a new South West Cambridge new town, please respond to the Greater Cambridge Local Plan First Proposals consultation, which runs until December 13. 

This is the accountable and democratic planning process for our area and is built on principles of strategic infrastructure, climate change and water.   

The ‘ First Proposals’ do not include the land required for Thakeham’s new town.  So, if you support the proposals as they stand, please respond to say so!

County Council budget – big numbers

County Council budget preparation County Council committees are now considering options to address the Council’s budget shortfall. The financial situation the new Joint Administration inherited included a gap of £22.2M between spending plans for 2022/23 and the resources available. We have already reduced this gap to £19.5M, and are developing proposals to enable a balanced budget to be presented to the Full Council in February.

The overarching themes for the Council’s Business Plan are:

• Economic recovery

• Prevention and Early Intervention

• Decentralisation

• Environment & climate emergency

• Social Value

• Efficiency and effectiveness of Council services

South Cambs District Council budget: top ten

UNISON has highlighted SCDC’s position as one of ten councils nationally not having to make cuts:

COVID-19 Overview

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough are now an Enhanced Response Area for tackling Covid-19. The new status took effect from 1 November and will last for at least through the first week of December and is allowing the Council to push for additional support to:

  • Accelerate and target 12-15 vaccination roll out to key areas and schools where infections are highest.
  • Accelerate booster vaccinations for eligible groups who have had their second vaccination more than six months ago.
  • Increase vaccination rate in areas with the lowest uptake.
  • The Councils will also enter into further discussions with the Department for Education about additional measures it can use in schools. In the meantime they will continue to:
  • Encourage secondary school teachers or pupils who are household contacts of positive cases to take daily lateral flow tests.
  • Advise schools that face coverings should be worn in secondary school communal areas, and that meetings should happen virtually where possible.
  • Encourage anyone who is a household contact of a positive case to take daily rapid tests, until a negative PCR test is received.

And for the general public:

  • Recommend wearing face coverings in crowded and enclosed areas where you come into contact with people you do not usually meet.
  • Remind people to get their vaccinations, test regularly and particularly before attending events, meet with others outside their households in well ventilated spaces and wash hands regularly and well.

Vaccinations for children, booster, and testing:

All information for Cambridgeshire in one place:

This weekend: Walk-in vaccine event at The Guildhall, Cambridge

The Guildhall in Cambridge’s Market Square will play host to a walk-in vaccination centre this coming weekend. Open from 10am to 6pm on Saturday 27 and Sunday 28 November, the CCG will be offering eligible people the chance to get COVID-19 vaccinations, including first doses, second doses and their booster (if it has been at least 182 days since their last vaccination). No appointment is required.

Eligible people aged 16+ can simply put on a mask and walk into the Guildhall to get their vaccination. The walk-in vaccination clinics are intended to provide the opportunity for as many people as possible to get vaccinated ahead of the festive season. Some social media graphics to promote the event are attached. You can find out more about where you can walk-in or book your COVID-19 vaccination by visiting

Reminder – Covid support available

  • The Government has extended the financial payments available to help people self-isolate, until the end of next March. These payments support people who will lose income as a result of having to self-isolate and will struggle to pay their bills or buy food and essentials.
  • A Household Support Fund (originally the Winter Support Grant) is now up and running – more information here:

Cambourne Christmas Market

Cambourne will be hosting a Christmas Market on Sunday December 5th – all details here:

Bassingbourn Village Market

Bassingbourn will be hosting a Village Market on Saturday December 4th, around the Parish Church, from 10 to 12 noon.  Please come and sample the many stalls now in preparation.  The Mince Pie Bake Off will be judged at 11am. Bring along your three pies to join in. The exhibition of all the entries for the Bassingbourn Environment Group’s Art Competition will be in the church, and the prizes announced at 11.30am.

Meldreth Christmas Tree festival this weekend

The much-loved Meldreth Christmas Tree Festival is back on this weekend, November 27 and 28.  Arrangements will be a little different this year with careful Covid spacing and a one-way system around the church – but the lights and loveliness will be the same.

Zoom Cuppa Surgeries Wednesdays 5-6PM

If you’d like to meet with your councillors by Zoom, to bring any concerns or ask any questions, please come along to our weekly Wednesday Zoom Cuppa Surgery, 5-6 PM. Please contact Sally Ann for a link:

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.  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

Sincerely yours,

Sally Ann Hart, District Councillor for Melbourn, Meldreth, Shepreth and Whaddon, Tel 07791 233303

Jose Hales, District Councillor for Melbourn, Meldreth, Shepreth and Whaddon, Tel 01763 221058

Susan van de Ven, County Councillor for Bassingbourn, Melbourn, Meldreth and Whaddon,, Tel 07905 325574

Peter McDonald, County Councillor for Shepreth, Foxton, Heydon, the Chishills and the Duxford Division villages,, Tel 07912 669092

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