Bassingbourn Parish Council May 15, 2018, County Councillor Report
Children’s Centre: While I’ve asked to be kept fully up-to-date, there is nothing new to report – and yet the last we heard, the children’s centre is due to close at the end of July. The Council has always said that services would be provided ‘in a different way,’ but still hasn’t figured out what that means. A political decision was taken to make drastic changes to children’s centres around the county, but without any plan. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with any questions – these are always helpful to me in holding the council to account.
The Rouses: As indicated last month, the Battle for the Rouses is not over. A key follow-up question to recent fast-changing events: What about the 99-year lease of a large part of the site to the parish, which would protect at least some of The Rouses from large-scale development? The answer was that the lease was part and parcel of the prospective 10-unit scheme that had been brought to attention at the January parish council meeting, by Mr Conrad. So, the County Council would not offer the parish a 99-year lease without the ten-unit scheme. Moreover, the Council could still put in an application for that scheme; and it would be up to the parish to decide whether this is something that, on balance, would offer it a favourable compromise.
Meanwhile, as explained last month, there was a lingering concern that the council’s new commercial development company, ‘This Land’, had rejected any notion of the 10-unit scheme and was insistent on the 26-unit scheme. Nigel Cathcart and I have been working to persuade the council that this would never be acceptable to the parish, based on what residents have been telling us so emphatically.
We are waiting to see what might happen with the Local Plan, as different scenarios have different implications. Pressure is being put upon the Inspector to expedite its adoption, which would close the window for all speculative planning including the Rouses.
Practical Solutions Group: At the time of writing, I’m pleased to say that the first meeting of the new Bassingbourn Practical Solutions Group takes place on May 16 at Bassingbourn Village College. This group will meet once per term, and combine BVC students and staff, the Primary School, County Council Youth Services, our local PSCO, a parish council representative, and Nigel Cathcart and me as your district and county representatives. The idea will be to scope out new ways of supporting children and young people in the village, as well bringing older and younger generations together.
Cam Vale Bus User Group: We have been contacted by a new organization, the Cambridge Area Bus Users Group, which is looking to bring county bus user groups together under an affiliation with Bus User Groups UK. Within Cambridgeshire, the idea is to persuade the Mayor to use his unique franchising powers to bring transformational change to bus services in our county, and critically, in rural areas. An inaugural meeting is to take place on June 2nd in Cambridge – if anyone would like to participate, please do get in touch.
Meanwhile, I’m aware that there are strong concerns about the proposed timetable changes for the 127/128 service, which have been discussed at our User Group meetings since November. I’ve asked the council officers if those changes can be put on hold; unfortunately, this is not possible, but the operator has said that the changes can be reviewed in six months.
Pot holes: The spate of pot holes at the entrance to Tower Close exemplifies everything that’s not working about County Highways maintenance. Clearly, they are reported on the council’s reporting website (you can go onto to the public map and see all the red dots), but at the time of writing this report there are still no sprayed paint marks around them to signify that they are down for repair. They were there last summer when we toured Highways hot spots around the village with our local highways officers. For what it’s worth, I’ve included Tower Close in my question to the Annual General Meeting of the County Council – Item 16(b) in the May 15 papers. This is a department that has nowhere near the resource it needs to carry out the works it knows need doing. My criticism is not for the officers (who on top of their own jobs are also covering unfilled vacancies) but political decisions that have stopped the flow of funding to essential services.