Susan van de Ven

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

Whaddon report

Whaddon Parish Council September 2018, County Councillor Report

Police presence in villages – my report from a meeting with Police:   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.  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:  Crime mapping at Cambridgeshire Insight. https://cambridgeshireinsight.org.uk/;

Report a crime on-line (and anonymously, if desired) https://www.cambs.police.uk/report/Crime

Train Services update:    On the basis of user feedback, the Meldreth, Shepreth and Foxton Rail User Group and Community Rail Partnership, a representation has been made to the Inquiry by the ORR (Office of Rail and Road) and the Parliamentary Transport Select Committee.  To address the key question of viable commuting lifestyles to and from our stations, and the restoration of the full timetable, a meeting with GTR has been agreed next month. The next Rail User Group meeting is September 3rd, Shepreth Village Hall, 7:30PM.  All reports are posted at www.meldrethsheprethfoxtonrail.org.uk

Buses:  It may be worth knowing that the Stagecoach 26 bus running from Royston through Melbourn, Shepreth, Foxton and Harston has now been replaced by the Stagecoach ‘Busway A’, part of the Guided Busway network and running all the way to St Ives via Trumpington Park and Ride, Addenbrooke’s, Cambridge Station, Cambridge North Station.  This is a commercial service and offers free travel for bus pass holders.

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 make money, with an estimated target figure of £108K per year.  Now we see that income has totalled only £4K, and usage of the service has plummeted by 54%.  This is a good example of desperate measures as financial support to councils continues to vaporize.

[NOTE:   A small correction to my report:  £16 K earnings (not £4K) against target of £108K.  Usage down 54%.   The council committee voted to ‘review in March’ but not to discontinue the current arrangements.]

Children’s Centres – another example of desperate measures:  Every month I request an update on progress to downgrade Bassingbourn and Melbourn Children’s Centres – Bassingbourn essentially disappearing as we know it, and Melbourn much reduced.  The change at Bassingbourn should have taken place on April 1st but this has been repeatedly delayed pending formulation of a plan on how to serve families in the area with new arrangements.  Five months on I’ve received almost no information, and my latest request received no reply at all.  I have lodged a complaint with the Portfolio Holder and senior officer and hope to have some news for you next month.