Melbourn Parish Council County Councillor Report July 2018
Question to County Council: I’ve submitted this formal question to the July full council meeting, following a local resident complaint about the County Council’s rejection of his compensation claim:
‘Given the state of ‘managed decline’ of the County Highway network, which is reflected in the dramatic jump in numbers of pot holes reported and compensation claims made thus far in 2018, should the County Council be reviewing and increasing its network inspection schedules?’
NHS Funding Boost and us: I reported to you last month on the responsibility of the Council’s Health Committee to scrutinize various aspects of NHS funding. Shortly thereafter there was a national announcement of an NHS funding boost. I’ve queried whether this would offer some relief to the County Council’s Public Health budget – PH responsibilities now sitting with local authorities. It would appear that the NHS funding boost excludes Public Health, so our task will be to find about £700K in ‘savings,’ also called ‘disinvestments,’ for 2019-20. This affects the delivery of public health contracts in our community. Of course we try to identify waste and save money that way, but after so many years the reality now is increased ‘targeting’ – deploying funds to the most extreme need first.
Police community support, in response to local rise in crime: The Neighbourhood Police Panel meetings no longer exist and policing is clearly being done in a ‘new way.’ South Cambs now has one police station, which is located in Cambourne and is closed Tuesday-Sunday. Opening hours are Monday 10-3. The phone number is 101.
Anyone on the Ecops mailing list will have noticed the rise in reported incidents of crime in South Cambs villages over the months. I’ve been personally contacted by the victims of two local violent assaults this past spring, both concerned about lack of visible police presence in the villages. Other councillors in other South Cambs villages have also raised concerns. I’ve asked for a briefing to answer residents’ concerns and have been offered a meeting in early August. I will report back.
Trains: It’s a given that our community is largely built up around the availability of rail services; its importance cannot be overstated. The Meldreth, Shepreth and Foxton Rail User Group meeting at the Melbourn Hub on June 27 was attended by about 70 people. While it provided none of the answers we wanted (when will things get better; how will the range of rightful compensation due be properly addressed), it was important in keeping our three stations on the radar of all those in positions of responsibility. Please see attached an early July update; regular updates are posted on the Meldreth Shepreth Foxton Rail Facebook page and website.
Update 23 July
Response from council to my question in item 1 above:
Response from Councillor Mathew Shuter Chairman of Highways and Community Infrastructure Policy and Service Committee:
Assessment of the overall condition of our roads over the past 10 years shows that they are in a broadly steady state condition, largely as a result of the extra investment that we have made. The existing situation is therefore not one of managed decline.
In common with numerous other counties, Cambridgeshire’s roads suffered extensive damage following the severe winter of 2017/18. As is reflected across the country, this has resulted in the formation of an exceptional number of potholes. Council officers and Skanska colleagues have worked together closely to address this issue and significant progress has and continues to be made.
Inspections of the county’s roads for dangerous defects are carried out at intervals as set out in the approved asset management policies. It is these inspections that constitute a key part of the Council’s defence to third party claims. In addition to these safety inspections, the network is constantly monitored by the Local Highways Officers.
The work to address the exceptional situation following last winter has involved Local Highway Officers making an increased number of site visits. This has enabled investigation of reported potholes and marking for repair in accordance with our approved standards.
Where there are a number of potholes in close proximity, officers’ work with Skanska colleagues to assess for suitability for the Dragon Patcher. This has helped the effective and efficient repair of increased numbers of potholes, especially in rural areas.
In addition to these reactive pothole repairs, the Council continues to make significant investment into planned maintenance works, in accordance with the Authority’s asset management policies. It is this planned, preventative work which will help stop the formation of potholes and will continue to prevent the overall deterioration of the network.
Trains: The Meldreth, Shepreth and Foxton Rail User Group and Community Rail Partnership has produced a response to the July 15 timetable, a copy of which has been sent to the parish council. Essentially, we welcome the stability of the past week but are pressing for key gaps to be rectified.
Highways volunteers: Another local resident has offered, and followed up, to strim a key local footpath.
Community Sweeper pilot: This has been going very well, with a few test runs in the past month by our team of four volunteers, led by Tim Stebbing and including two residents from Royston and one from Foxton. A significant portion of Melbourn was tackled, and the team reckons that for one reason or another it had been up to four years since some areas had last been done. The team has also swept the A10 path all the way up to Harston. Thanks to Wyevales for helping out with storing the vehicle when needed.