Susan van de Ven

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

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Whaddon report

Whaddon Parish Council – District and County Councillors Report, April 2019

Local Plan: We’ve forwarded to you maps of the County Council’s submissions to the Call for Site exercise.  These have not yet been published, but all submissions will be able to be viewed here:

East West Rail :The question of whether or not the County Council itself should have declared an interest at the meeting of the Economy and Environment Committee on 14 March, when a preferred route option was voted on, has been lodged with the Monitoring Officer, given that the Council was at the same time making submissions in the Local Plan Call for Site exercise – clearly the submissions for Whaddon and Bassingbourn align well with the southern route options.

Community Rail Partnership: We’ll be holding an annual meeting in the autumn for all stakeholders.  Whaddon is one of the nearest parishes to the three stations; currently four parishes make a financial contribution to the funding of the project officer post that enables the CRP to carry out its work.  Might this be something that the PC would like to consider?  Our Project Officer would be delighted to visit a PC meeting to explain more about the CRP’s work, which includes working with schools, local businesses, and strategic transport consultations, including funding opportunities toward safe pedestrian and cycle routes to our stations.

A CRP relaunch event will take place 24 May 11AM, Shepreth Station, followed by refreshments at the Shepreth Plough.  Our MP will be cutting the ribbon.

Meanwhile the CRP is looking for businesses, families or local organizations to sponsor a tub on the station platform at Meldreth – is this something Whaddon PC might consider?  This involves replanting the tub twice per year and helping to look after it.  We usually have a team of Duke of Edinburgh student volunteers helping with the watering.

Bassingbourn Barracks: The site entrance is in the process of redesign due to safety concerns– Susan has taken this up with County Road Safety. In particular, the turn into the site coming from Kneesworth and the A1198 is not well signposted. A response from Road Safety is expected soon.

Empty Homes: South Cambs is planning to increase the council tax on houses that have been left empty for a significant amount of time. The Council offers a lot of help to landlords and owners of empty homes to help them get them back into use, but now has the option to significantly increase council tax where there are no convincing reasons for them to remain empty.

Currently the owners of homes that are left empty and substantially unfurnished for more than two years must pay an extra 50% on top of the regular bill. Following the full Council meeting, the 50% premium will be replaced by the following arrangements:

  • Homes that are empty for two years or more will be charged double their regular Council Tax (i.e. an additional premium of 100%). This will come into effect from 1 April 2019
  • Homes that are empty for five years or more will be charged a 200% premium on top of their regular Council Tax. This will come into effect from 1 April 2020
  • Homes that are empty for ten years or more will be charged a 300% premium on top of their regular Council Tax. This will come into effect from 1 April 2021

Currently in South Cambridgeshire, there are 100 properties that have been empty for between two years and five years. There are 41 homes that have been empty for between five and ten years. There are 39 properties that have been empty for more than ten years.

The number of council houses built by SCDC to double: This follows the Lib Dem administration’s decision to prioritise providing affordable homes – the aim will be to build 70 homes per year .  The administration will also insist that from 2020 new homes are built to higher environmental standards, meaning reduced carbon emissions and lower energy bills for householders.

Parking on Pavements Inquiry: The Transport Select Committee has launched an inquiry into the matter of parking on pavements.  Please see the link below and feel free to contribute your views – the closing date for written submissions is 14 May.

Solar Panels at Waterbeach Depot: SCDC has installed a large array of solar photo voltaic panels on the roof of the waste management depot at Waterbeach. The money to do this has come from a fund resulting from the business rates from the large number of solar farms in the district. This initiative will generate income for the council which it can invest in other green enterprises. The solar panels will generate around a quarter of all the electricity the building uses.   This follows on from a recent Council commitment to work towards the ambitious target of making South Cambridgeshire carbon-neutral by 2050, as well as a purge on single-use plastics at the authority.

Ofsted of CCC’s Children’s Services:  Cambridgeshire County Council’s Children’s Services has recently been assessed by Ofsted, who have downgraded the council’s children’s services from ‘good’ (in 2014), to ‘requires improvement’ less than five years later.  This is not a ‘vote of confidence’ in the quality of Children’s Services in Cambridgeshire, as described by the County’s own press release, but a clear sign that the quality of children’s services has moved in the wrong direction.

Removal of Computer Charges in Libraries

The £1 charge for computer access, introduced in May last year 2018, was part of a package of measures trialled to ensure computers are available for those who most need them and to generate more income for the library service to ensure they remain financially sustainable for the future. However, the anticipated income generation didn’t happen, and now the charge has been dropped.

We hasten to add that the Library Access Point at the Melbourn Hub has never charged for use of its laptops (and internet access is free to all at the Hub).

Community RePaint:  A partnership with CCC, Cambridgeshire Community Reuse and Recycling Network (CCORRN) and Amey has collected and treated over 500,000 litres of paint in the last 8 years. The scheme collects used paint from Household Recycling Centres where it is sorted, tested and re-manufactured so that it can be resold or donated into the community.   The scheme has a range of re-manufactured emulsion paint and chalky furniture paint in a host of great colours for great prices. So, if you are thinking of redecorating, upcycling or know of a community or school project that needs paint, why not visit CCORRN (located in March) or follow them on Facebook. You can recycle paint at Thriplow (but not at Royston).