Susan van de Ven

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

Community Newsletter

by Susan van de Ven on 26 November, 2023

Liberal Democrat Community Newsletter Autumn 2023

Ivy Farm Bridge Bassingbourn: aiming for a safe crossing over the A505

This collaborative project led by Herts County Council, to benefit Royston, Bassingbourn and Litlington, is working to create new rights of way to allow access from both sides to the Ivy Farm Bridge, which is owned by Herts County Council and was originally built to accommodate farm traffic only.  The bridge is the first toward Baldock after the A1198/A505 roundabout.

Following a very positive public consultation response last year, Herts and Cambs County Council officers are now working on details around land requirements and private land acquisition. 

If all goes well, a new right of way would lead south parallel to the A505 and join up to the existing footpath 17 toward Litlington. The aim is for this to have bridleway status, enabling cycling.  It is suggested that a second walking route be provided, heading NE northeast parallel to A505 and linking to the existing footpath 18.   For now, this would be footpath status only due to land ownership issues which would be complicated to sort out.

Any new paths would require fencing off from the field, as well as hedging.  Many thanks for support from Bassingbourn Parish Council and the offer of practical assistance from the Bassingbourn Environment Group and Zero Carbon Collective.  Hoping to be able to update further, soon.

Melbourn-Royston cycle/pedestrian bridge over the A505

The Greater Cambridge Partnership has approved funding for this project, which must still acquire planning permission and will require a public consultation. If all goes well, it is estimated that construction would take place in 2026. 

The off-road path from Melbourn would be entirely on the east side of the A10, and a cycle/pedestrian bridge over the A505 would be situated just to the left of the A10 roundabout, landing on the existing path that encircles the Twigden estate. 

Numerous third-party financial contributions have been offered over the years, including from Royston Town Council, Johnson Matthey, TTP, and a consortium of partners facilitated by AstraZeneca.  Some further funds from developer contributions in Hertfordshire are a possibility.  The core funding is central government transport infrastructure funding designated specifically for better sustainable transport options in the Greater Cambridge area.

Foxton Travel Hub ‘Paused’

This project has now been put on the back burner, as part of a Greater Cambridge Partnership reprioritization of schemes necessitated by very significant inflationary pressures that have reduced the value of available GCP funds.

Cam Vale Bus User Group meeting & 17 bus service Update

After local lobbying for the case, the Mayoral Combined Authority has agreed to keep the number 17 bus funded for another year. It has also recommended that ways of encouraging passenger uptake, including optimizing connections with the 26 bus connecting Royston to Cambridge, should be pursued. 

To be discussed at the next meeting of the Cam Vale Bus User Group early in the new year.  Please let Susan know if you’d like to join the mailing list.

Melbourn-Meldreth Wonderpass – on the look-out for volunteers

The hundreds of people who took part in some way in the creation of the wonderful Wonderpass murals may remember the aspiration to create a Wonderpass volunteer group to help keep things in good nick.  We’re now at the stage of forming that group, to look out for any weeds or debris that may need removal; and simply having a saunter through on a regular basis to keep an eye on things.  If you’d be interested in taking part in some way, please contact any of us.

Melbourn Child and Family Centre

There’s lots on for young families at the Child and Family Centre, next door to Melbourn Primary School – all of which you’ll find listed on Facebook at ‘South Cambridgeshire Child and Family Centres.’  Some sessions have a very small charge but anyone on low income will not pay.  All sessions include self-weigh facilities. Regular activities include:

  • Stay and Play: 10.00 – 11.30am weekly. For children aged 0-5. Activities based on the 50 Things to do Before You’re Five app.
  • Mini Movers 1.00 – 2.30pm weekly.  For mobile babies aged around 9 to 18 months, focusing on activities that encourage physical development.
  • Midwife Clinic, weekly. By appointment only.
  • Young Parents Group 1.00– 2.30pm weekly. A play session designed for young parents aged 25 and under with children aged 0-5 years.
  • Baby Group 1.00– 2.30pm weekly. Meet other parents and parents-to-be and access support and advice from the Child and Family Centre team. For non-mobile children.

Any questions, please ask us!

Connections Bus Melbourn

The arrival of the Connections Bus in Melbourn, which provides a mobile Youth Club for young people on Tuesday evenings between 7-9PM, has proven a huge success.  The bus is parked in the front drive of Melbourn Village College and is free for young people ages 11-16.  The Connections Bus is charity-run with core funding provided by Melbourn, Meldreth and Shepreth Parish Councils for Melbourn Area Youth Development (MAYD).  No need to book – just turn up ready to take part and enjoy.  More about the Connections charity here:

Thanks to MAYD for all their hard work to make this a reality.

Post-16 education/training transport

Are you or is someone you know struggling to access post-16 education or training due to lack of transport options?  Sadly, there is no statutory obligation for the local authority to provide transport, however there is a limited amount of discretionary support that we’d be glad to help explore.  

Free Christmas Holiday Scheme places

Would your child like to attend a fully funded Holiday Scheme this Christmas, where fun experiences, a meal and snacks are included?

Children in receipt of income-related free school meals are eligible to attend a participating scheme for up to four days.

Please visit the County Council webpage for details and eligibility criteria:  and any questions can be sent to

Supermarket vouchers continue

Cambridgeshire County Council’s supermarket voucher scheme will continue to operate for all eligible families in Cambridgeshire until the February 2024 half-term using the Household Support Fund from the Department for Work & Pensions, and additional funding provided by the Council.  

Eligible families are sent regular voucher via email or text. These can be used at a choice of ten supermarkets. The voucher scheme has been a huge success since it was introduced and appreciated keenly by families struggling in the current financial climate.

Could you be receiving benefits that you’re not aware of? 

South Cambridgeshire District Council is making a big push to raise awareness of benefits entitlement.  It’s estimated that around 25% of benefits go unclaimed.  Here’s an easy-to-use on-line Benefits Calculator:

Healthwatch Primary Care access survey

Healthwatch is running a survey asking for people’s experiences of accessing Primary Care services, such as GP services.

This survey, which will remain open until 17th December, is being conducted independently by Healthwatch Cambridgeshire and Peterborough with the support of NHS Cambridgeshire & Peterborough – who understand how important local access to health services are, and are keen to hear your experiences, feedback and thoughts on ways in which you currently access local GP services and how these could be improved:

Please note you are welcome to fill out the form whether your surgery is registered in Cambridgeshire or not. Thank you!

Rail Station ticket office closures – not happening

Government has announced a welcome abandonment of its plan to close Meldreth and Royston ticket offices.

Mobile Assistance Teams

A new service is underway at Meldreth, Shepreth and Foxton stations, for anyone who may need mobility assistance embarking or disembarking.  Our train opertator GTR writes:

Mobile assistance teams are in place to provide you with assistance at some of our accessible stations when they are unstaffed and there are train services scheduled to call there, including:

  • Assistance with getting on and off the train
  • Assistance around the station and to the platform
  • Assistance with luggage
  • A guiding arm if you are blind or visually impaired
  • Boarding and alighting with wheelchairs/powerchairs, scooters and mobility aids
  • Assistance to and from connecting train services and onward transport such as bus, tram and taxi within the station area

If you choose to book and your journey involves travelling to or from one of our stations served by a mobile assistance team, we will arrange this as part of your booking. If you chose not to book your assistance, then you can also arrange assistance upon arrival at the station by:

  • Pressing the “emergency & assisted travel” button on a station Help Point
  • Calling our freephone number: 0808 168 1238 (only to be used for emergencies and immediate assisted travel support at the station)
  • Texting us on 07970 511077

Whether you chose to pre-book your assistance or prefer more flexibility, where possible we recommend arriving 20 minutes before your train’s scheduled departure time. This is so we can make sure arrangements are in place at your destination (or interchange) station such as the availability of staff and lifts.

Needless to say, Meldreth has step-free access only on the Cambridge-bound platform.  When you book a journey to or from Meldreth Station, arrangements will be made for a lift from Shepreth or Royston Stations to cover the otherwise impossible leg of the journey.

Civil Parking Enforcement

If Parliamentary approval goes forward at the end of November, South Cambridgeshire will see the beginning of new era in which certain types of parking enforcement are handled by a new Civil Parking Enforcement service.  This would be funded for the first five years by the Greater Cambridge Partnership. 

The plan would be for a settling in phase from mid-December, a 6-week period when Warning Notices are issued (no fine payable), then from 1 February 2024Penalty Charge Notices issued where restrictions are in place (single and double yellow lines). 

Civil Parking Enforcement Officers would not have powers to enforce all restrictions. Those enforcement responsibilities remaining with the police include obstructive parking, dangerous parking, footway parking where there are no restrictions in place, and parked in a cycle lane where there are no restrictions in place.

Peat and clay damage to roads

As a result of our changing weather patterns one-third of the county’s roads are affected by peat soil or clay soil damage. The County Council has launched a plan to tackle the deterioration to keep road users safe and protect rural communities and local businesses. Underlying peat or clay soil causes damage to the road network when it subsides, shrinks and expands according to weather conditions and seasonal changes; this causes deterioration, undulation and cracks and potholes.  

Most of these roads are in the north of the county but locally this includes Wimpole Park Road and Malton Road in Orwell.  Funding of up to £5 million per year will be needed to manage the affected roads effectively and mitigate the impact of road deterioration on top of an initial investment of an estimated £300 million to carry out major repairs and reduce the need for further road closures and disruption – but that funding is not clear. 

Reporting flood issues

• You can report general and ongoing flood issues affecting your home or property at

• You can report highways-related flooding (blocked road drains, sewers, gullies, for example) at

Emergency sandbags

The DistrictCouncil has a limited supply of sandbags that can be delivered to domestic properties that are at imminent risk of flooding only, and not as a preventative measure days or hours in advance of potential flooding. This is aimed specifically at our most vulnerable residents and only intended for people who have no friends, family or neighbours who can assist them fast enough or in advance. Bearing this in mind, residents requesting sandbags during normal office hours should call us on 01954 713 000 or email 

For emergencies outside of normal office hours contact our out of hours number for Environmental Health Emergencies on 01253 501 055.

Gritting volunteers

Anyone interested in volunteering to help the council grit Cambridgeshire during the winter months is invited to visit the council’s website to find out how they and the local community can get involved.

Thank you to neighbouring District Councils

As has been in the news, SCDC is trialling a ‘Four-Day-Week.’ This means that while the council itself runs five-days per week plus emergency out-of-hours, staff are adopting new more focused way of working, each covering the same workload as before but over a four-day period.  Thus far the trial has seen staff recruitment and retention improved, money saved through less reliance on more expensive agency staff, sickness levels dropped, and greater productivity.  The trial is set to run till the end of March.  Sadly, the trial has attracted what other councils across the political spectrum describe as bullying from central government.

Minister Lee Rowley  has repeatedly demanded the trial be stopped and has not responded to multiple invitations to visit South Cambridgeshire to learn first-hand the reasons for the trial and how it’s going.  He has now served a ‘Best Value Notice’ on the council, a tool designed to monitor underperforming councils, which SCDC is not.  SCDC has received strong support from other local authorities across the political spectrum, including all five Suffolk district councils, and SCDC’s partner in Shared Services. Cambridge City Council.  More information can be found here:  Four-day working week trial – South Cambs District Council (

In the recent cabinet reshuffle, Mr Rowley was moved to a new role involving Michael Gove’s ‘Cambridge 2040’ programme – his aspiration for a massive expansion of the Cambridge area.

Support Home-Start at Christmas

The Big Give Christmas Challenge is a fundraising initiative that supports a wide range of charitable causes. By donating to Royston, Buntingford and South Cambridgeshire Home-Start’s ‘Critical Home-Visiting Support – Fragile Families’ campaign, you can help provide weekly, tailored support to local families facing challenging times.

Between 28 November- 5 December donations could be doubled if our target is reached. So, if you’re considering donating, please do so during this period.

Or buy your Christmas cards from Home-Start at their office at Unit 6, Valley Farm, Station Road Meldreth, SG8 6JP.  £3.95 for a pack of ten. Pay by card, cash or cheque. Open M-F, 9-4.

Zoom Cuppa Surgeries Mondays 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 Zoom Cuppa Surgery, on Mondays from 5-6 PM. Just let us know if you’d like to join and we’ll send you the link.

Anything we can help with?  Issues we can raise?

We would be delighted to talk with you any time – our contact details are below.  We can also help you raise awareness of issues affecting our community via this newsletter. 

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 and District Councillor for Bassingbourn and Litlington, Tel 07905 325574

James Hobro, District Councillor for Foxton and Fowlmere,, Tel 07768706670

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

   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>