Susan van de Ven

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

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Bassingbourn report

Bassingbourn Parish Council, September 2018 – County Councillor Report

 

  1. County Council services:

 

Buses: The subsidized 127 trundles on but even now we don’t know where the subsidy upon which it depends will come from beginning April 1, when County has said it will no longer provide bus subsidies and the Mayor is meant to take over.  The Mayor has said publicly that he supports franchising, but his consultation is not concluded and funding required to support franchising, let alone all the detail required to reorganize services under that model in time for April 1, has not been worked out. We’ll aim to hold a meeting of the Cam Vale Bus User Group meeting when we know more

Library computers:  Last year I reported on the County Council’s introduction of charges to use public library computers with internet access – previously a free service.  The aim was to generate income, with a target figure of £108K per year.  In fact, income has totalled only £16K, and usage of the service has plummeted by 54%.  This is an example of desperate measures as council finance continues to sink.

The Rouses:  At the time of writing, we are still waiting for the County Council to provide what has been requested in terms of a long lease, and for County Highways to respond to the planning application.

School Crossing:  I met up with James Hockley and Sarah Dixon on site over the summer.  At County, the lead officer has changed; we’ve asked the new officer to meet us on site to carry on the discussion about potential funding for safety improvements.  Things move slowly, but the crossing is not getting any safer and we are persisting.

Children’s Centre: I received an eleventh-hour brief update on changes at Bassingbourn Children’s Centre, with little detail. It would appear that details are being worked out, and that ‘outreach’ is still an aspiration. I would be grateful to hear from residents as to their experience, including any satisfactions or concerns. How are children’s centre services working for you?  I’ll be visiting the new manager soon to learn more.  Meanwhile, here’s the full text of what the council told me:

  • The Child and Family Centre will be moving out of their current building between the 21stand 30th August. Preschool will be taking over the site from the end of August.
  • The pre-school manager has agreed that the midwifery team will have an office base in the building every morning, clinic times and arrangements are still being discussed.
  • The Child and family centre will have access to deliver services from the building on a Friday weekly. We hope to co deliver this with pre-school staff with the possibility of handing this over as a community run group in the future. Family workers and Child and family centre workers will continue to be accessible through this group so there will be a contact point for families in the village.

 

Council response to my question on declining state of roads and paths:  As you know I submitted a question to the July full council meeting about the managed decline of the highway network, and whether CCC would increase its network inspection schedule.   The response states that inspection schedules need not be increased and claims that the Highway network is not in fact in a state of managed decline.  This came as a surprise!

  1. Other services:

Table Tennis at Bassingbourn Village College Sports Hall: I received a query from a local resident about the closure of the sports hall during evenings, affecting community clubs.  I put the question to the college and received this response, which they were happy for me to disseminate:

“We are really sorry that we have had to take the decision to shut the sports centre for the foreseeable future. We unfortunately had two members of our site staff leave over the summer and have not been able to recruit to these positions yet. We did think we had a plan to cover the locking and unlocking of the sports centre, but then that member of staff was sick, hence the short notice last week that it would be shut. We have advertised twice for a replacement for the evenings and have only had one applicant who we are seeing on Tuesday. It is not only the sports centre but we are currently having to shut the main school building earlier than normal each day. We have placed a notice on the lettings page of our website regarding the closure and we are working hard to try to open up as soon as possible.”

 

Village trains: While Meldreth Station services are stabilizing, services remain below what they were pre-May 20 and key morning peaks to London and from Cambridge are lacking.  The Meldreth, Shepreth and Foxton Rail User Group is meeting GTR in London at the end of September to press for improvements.   Meanwhile, compensation schemes are now being implemented, including for sixth form student season tickets.  The next Meldreth, Shepreth and Foxton Rail User Group meeting is October 3rd, Shepreth Village Hall, 7:30PM.

CamBedRailRoad: Shepreth Village Hall, Sept 25, 7:30: I attended one of the summer presentations to councillors by the Cam Bed Rail Road group (CBRR), which sets out an alternative option for the East West Rail line that would follow roughly the A428 corridor and serve existing and future settlements at St Neot’s, Cambourne and Bourn.   The window of opportunity to consider alternatives options is now limited.  There will be a public presentation at Shepreth Village Hall on 25 September, 7:30PM, to hear the CBRR presentation.

Police presence in the villages:  I wrote the following report before news broke on the modern-day slave gang uncovered in Kneesworth, which tragically illustrates the point made by the police.

The way Police services are delivered in the villages has clearly changed.  In recent years Police Community Support Officers were often out and about on village streets, and the quarterly Neighbourhood Panel public meetings meant that any interested residents had a chance to be informed about what was going on, and to convey their concerns in person to the Police.

That visible presence has gone.  Anyone who now subscribes to eCops will be aware of the daily reporting of incidents around South Cambridgeshire villages – some less significant but others giving cause for concern.   Last month I met with a Cambridgeshire Police Inspector to understand the reasons for change, and to seek reassurance that our community is not being ignored.  Key points:

  • Police priorities are domestic violence, modern slavery, sexual offences, child sexual exploitation, dwelling burglary. This involves focusing on issues of vulnerability and harm and shutting down criminal gangs.
  • Terrorism and cybercrime are dealt with by the Home Office.
  • South Cambs has a very large number of Neighbourhood Watch volunteers ‘who want to do more’ – suggesting that there is capacity for ‘community resilience’ via community groups.
  • The Crime and Disorder Partnership is the engine for district-wide problem solving and deals with hare coursing, fly tipping and ‘nightmare neighbours’.

Work in progress:

  • Better direct liaison with the parishes and councillors.
  • A quarterly on-line survey to be introduced via all channels including eCops, twitter, school student mail, etc – designed to facilitate anonymous reporting.

Useful resources:

The Police would welcome meeting the parishes to help impart these changes to ways of working, and also to make sure local concerns are heard. Please let me know if this is desired and I can help organize.