Melbourn Parish Council September 2017, County Councillor Report
Third Party funding for highways projects: It is becoming more difficult to take first steps on small highways schemes that County Highways is unable to support. The Local Highways Initiative (LHI) is one route, and the other is third party funding, which is premised upon a 100% contribution and now requires a payment of £250 simply to start discussion. This is the result of continuing austerity cuts, exacerbated by continuing council tax freeze.
Back Lane and Greengage Rise: We’ve heard from a Water Lane resident who is understandably concerned about traffic in Back Lane between Water Lane and Greengage Rise, where work commuters from the Industrial Estate appear to be parking. My first thought it that yellow lines need to be explored. Whatever we do, we will need to generate our own ideas and unless we get an LHI grant, the PC will need to pay. For a start, may I suggest meeting on site together to discuss? I’m afraid that this sort of problem is going to become more widespread.
County Council new special responsibility posts: The County Council administrations has created new generously remunerated ‘Area Champions’ whereby a councillor acts as champion for an entire district, even though they are not elected to do so. The Area Champions are paid a special responsibility allowance of £5K per year. It is not clear how they work for the parishes and I have not been contacted by the champion for our area.
Bus User Group and Community Transport: The 128 bus service has now moved to a new operator under a new contract. Unfortunately, we were not warned by the County Council that fares would be rising so dramatically. This has been very difficult for those without entitlement to a bus pass. The council says that fares have not risen for many years, and ‘should probably have risen more.’ As stated in my comments regarding the Marley application, there is no clarity on continuing council subsidy after April 2018, due to continuing austerity cuts and council tax freeze. The next Cam Vale Bus User Group meets 27 Sept 7:30PM, Elin Way Meldreth Community Room.
Meanwhile the Dept for Transport has issued new guidance for community transport providers that inhibits their potential to provide group lifts on a regular basis. This comes at a time when councils are reducing subsidies to run basic bus services, and community transport providers are trying to step up to the plate to help people who are left stranded. But by upgrading the service they provide, to meet need, community transport providers are entering new territory that the Department for Transport is now looking to regulate more stringently. This is because the Department for Transport is being asked by other transport providers (taxi and bus companies) for a level playing field of regulation. This is understandable but doesn’t sort out lack of transport.
Meldreth Shepreth and Foxton Rail User Group meets next Oct 4, 7 for 7:30, at the Meldreth Elin Way Community Room, and will be attended by Govia Thameslink and Network Rail. Thanks to a grant from the Association of Community Rail Partnerships, new weatherproof tubs will be installed at Meldreth Station next month, and we’ll be having a station garden party on 28 October, 2PM, at Shepreth Station – everyone welcome. Finally, our Community Rail Partnership is on the point of signing off papers to form a new community interest company, to provide a sound legal and financial basis for the partnership. More details next month.
Children’s Centre consultation: As you know, as a result of this year’s council tax freeze, the County Council needs to make an additional £5 million in cuts. The proposed scaling down and redesign of children’s centre services will provide £1 million of that sum. While we are reassured that services will not be cut, it is unclear how things will actually work at Melbourn. Please could I urge Melbourn Parish Council to respond to the consultation, which closes end of this month.