Melbourn Parish Council, April 2018, County Councillor Report
Traffic diversion June 2/3 weekend: The Highways officer coordinating the A10 resurfacing works has asked if the parish clerk, any interested parish councillor, a Bury Lane Farm representative, Skanska and I would like to meet with him ahead of the diversion to discuss points of detail that could help with avoidable problems.
Pot holes: At the 20 March full council meeting I seconded a motion to take strategic initiative in augmenting funding to deal with highways maintenance, as the current situation is one of ‘managed decline.’ To the surprise of many, the chairman of the Highways Committee insisted that the current state of our roads is simply a bit of end-of-winter nuisance and that Cambridgeshire is the leader in the East of England in dealing with highways maintenance. The motion was lost.
Last year, Cambridgeshire Highways received 7,500 pot hole reports. In the first three months of 2018, 9,000 reports were made. It’s vital to report pot holes and any other highways faults on the County Council’s Report a Fault website, in order to maintain an accurate public record. Years of under-investment in the highway network, plus the current disastrous state of local authority finance, combine to make a perfect storm. Our local highways lead officer recently toured most of village with Cllr Hales and me to see the extent of the problem in Melbourn.
Flood Avoidance Tour: Highways came out to Melbourn in April to keep a preventive eye on avoidable problems that result from blockages in the drainage network. Continuing action is needed at Back Lane/London Way, Orchard Way near Maple Way, and possibly new work along Trigg Way. It is usually very localized reporting that provides the clue to a network problem. These to be actioned by Highways.
Back Lane Trees: Recently, six trees were taken down by County Highways in Back Lane Melbourn – this was due to disease. We are offered six replacement trees, to be planted where the parish would like. May I please ask the Parish Council where they would like these placed? It was noted that the six taken down were probably self-seeded, and it isn’t necessarily the case that six new ones should be put in exactly the same place.
Community Transport minibuses under threat: Royston & District Community Transport has a small fleet of minibuses, including a 16-seat low-floor model, provided by the Department for Transport – and has raised funds for running costs and maintenance. Now the Department for Transport is looking to radically change licensing arrangements for community transport providers running minibuses, meaning they would need a commercial operator’s license, and their volunteer drivers would need professional qualifications, costing thousands. This means that a whole range of activities using RDCT’s minibuses is under threat. The DfT is currently in consultation on community transport operations and it would be very helpful to RDCT if local residents could write to them saying that they value RDCT minibus services. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org saying just that – by May 1st. In the meantime, RDCT is critically short of minibus drivers right now – if you or anyone you know would be interested in being a minibus driver, please contact them.
128 Bus: redesignated as the 127, and new timetable: The Cam Vale Bus Users Group has been working with the bus operator and the County Council on timetable revisions for the combined 127/128 bus service. Special attention has been given to ensuring linking up with the 26 bus and the new Great Northern timetables. The aim is to distribute the new timetable, and bring it into force, as close as possible to the introduction of the new train timetable on May 20.
Buses: now the Mayor’s remit: The Mayor and Combined Authority are the new county Transport Authority. The Mayor’s Bus Review, announced in November, should finally be starting soon. Meanwhile, the County Council has firmly stated that its current round of bus subsidies, with another stay of execution running until April 2019, marks the end of its financial contribution to supporting bus services. The Cam Vale Bus User Group will continue to be a local voice for bus users.
Selling off County Council Estates behind closed doors: As I’ve been reporting, the County Council is running out of money and can no longer take proper care of people or infrastructure. At the same time, it has one of the most extensive land holdings of any council in the country. To make new money it has created its own commercial development company, with which to commercially develop some of its land holdings. This new company is currently known as ‘This Land.’ Sales of county-owned land to This Land take place through the Commercial and Investment Committee, comprised of democratically elected councillors but whose papers are largely confidential. With the County’s Chief Finance Officer and Chief Legal Officer also serving as Board Members on This Land, there are obvious questions of conflict of interest.
Many County Council land holdings are in sensitive places in our villages: including part of Melbourn Recreation Ground. You can see County land holdings on the County website under ‘Maps’ on the home page at www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk.
Duke of Edinburgh students helping out: Through Melbourn Village College, the Meldreth, Shepreth and Foxton Community Rail Partnership and A10 Corridor Cycling Campaign are now enjoying support from five Duke of Edinburgh volunteers – litter picking and watering the flower tubs at the stations and helping to bring younger people who would like to be cycling safely to college into the Cycle Campaign’s work on the Melbourn-Royston pedestrian cycle link.
Meldreth Station new platform shelter: It looks like the promised new shelter for Meldreth’s Cambridge-bound platform is going ahead. There’s a months-long lead time but the starting gun has been fired. This has come about via lobbying from the Meldreth, Shepreth and Foxton Rail User Group.
New Train Service: The new timetable coming into force on 20 May is described as the biggest change in rail services for decades: we are part of ‘Thameslink’ territory and will be connected up to a far greater network throughout the Southeast than ever before.
Locally we will have twice hourly trains all day, Monday-Saturday (except 11AM-noon due to the Cemex goods train!), and an hourly service Sunday. All trains will be eight carriages, Tube style, with much more vestibule room. Trains will depart on a completely new schedule on a massively complex grid – details on the Meldreth, Shepreth and Foxton website..
As part of the phased roll-out of the new service, from May 20 until December 2019 our trains will continue to terminate at King’s Cross, but thereafter will run via St Pancras, providing onward service to Blackfriars, London Bridge, or Gatwick from Meldreth, Shepreth and Foxton.