Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Huppert meets school staff in fight for better funding

Cambridge MP Julian Huppert will meet head teachers, school governors and other education officials on Friday (May 20) in his fight to get more government funding for schools across the county.

Julian will discuss the issue with members of the Cambridgeshire Schools Forum with the intention of lobbying the government for a better deal for the county under the new national funding formula for schools.

Cambridgeshire schools are among the worst funded in the county with each pupil receiving £438 less a year than the national average. If the county were brought into line, Cambridgeshire County Council would have an extra £34 million to spend.

Julian said: “The education of our children is of paramount importance and an extra £34 million would make a real difference.

“Our schools have suffered from serious underfunding dating back to the 1980s and perpetuated by Labour. We cannot allow this to go on. The government must give Cambridgeshire a fairer settlement and bring the county into line with others across the country.”

Earlier this year, Julian received a promising reaction from Education Minister, Michael Gove to his call to review the county’s grant allocation. Responding to a question from Julian in the House of Commons, Mr Gove said pupils should not be treated so unequally.  

“It was clear from his response that Mr Gove recognises the problem,” added Julian. “This is encouraging and I will do everything in my power to push the government to act.”

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

E-Cops - Your weekly update

On Thursday, 19th May we received a report of vehicle nuisance in Little Meadow, Bar Hill. Report related to a group of youths in a vehicle who were playing very loud music and possibly drinking. At the time the incident was reported the police carried out an area search but the vehicle was not found. This incident occurred between 22:30 and 23:30 hrs, I am very interested to know who these youths are, if you have any idea who they are please do get in touch.

On Sunday, 15th May between 01:00 and 02:00 hrs, there was a report of criminal damage to a fence in Hillcrest, Bar Hill. I carried out initial enquiries regarding this complaint but was unable to find any evidence that could assist in identifying the offender. If you were in the area at the time and saw this incident, please get in touch.

We are looking for volunteers to come forward and join the Bar Hill Neighbourhood Watch Scheme. Our next Neighbourhood Watch Launch meeting will be on Wednesday, 8th June at 19:30, Bar Hill Council Offices. If you interested please feel free to come along.

This week I conducted a police surgery at the coffee morning in Dry Drayton Village Hall, I consulted with a number of residents, and am pleased to say there were no concerns raised.

Our Special Constabulary Inspector Andy Coleman carried out speed checks in Scotland's Road, Dry Drayton this week as a result one motorist was issued with a speeding ticket.

Histon Neighbourhood Policing Team

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Mapping the UK

I just thought I'd bring to your attention a new link I've just added on the very left of the this site (Bar Hill Electoral Division (from MySociety). This new link shows the division of Bar Hill on Google Maps.

This information comes courtesy of the MySociety group of projects. More information on this specific area is available here.

I find it staggering that this information is not freely available and that, as a country, we're reliant on volunteers to put together a map of the electoral divisions in the UK in a way people can easily use (here, for example, is a link to all the Parish Councils covered by the Bar Hill Division, and here an individual map of the area covered by Dry Drayton Parish Council). If this information was freely available people would use it but if it's hidden away in some Government database then I feel that the effort that goes into collecting and  updating this information (that we are all paying for) is being wasted.

Congratulations to the MySociety team for publishing this information, given the success of FixMyStreet, WhatDoTheyKnow and the Number 10 petitions websites you have to wonder what they will do next!

Monday, 16 May 2011

E-Cops - Drunk youths smashing bottles in Bar Hill area

On Friday, 7th May approximately 21:30 hrs, we received a report of a rowdy nuisance incident. A group of youths were walking in Appletrees drinking and smashing bottles on the ground creating a mess.

I was on duty and on patrol with my colleague PCSO Smith, and we were not far from the location of the incident when we were called to deal with the job, after we carried out an area search for these youths we were able to locate them in Crafts Way, Bar Hill. Four of them came from Cambridge city, only one of them was from Bar Hill.

I carried out the necessary checks on these youths with our control room, and none of them were known to the police, I confiscated the alcohol they had left on them, gave them suitable words of advice, and moved them on.

On two of them I also decided to send them both a letter to their home address, what we call ''GAP letter'' guardian awareness programme, making the parents aware of their children's behaviour when they are out and about. 

On Saturday, 8th May, we received a report of a dwelling burglary in Dry Drayton. There was a birthday party in the location, 3-4 men have turned up uninvited, and gatecrashed the party, these men only stayed for approximately 15 minutes, they distracted the guests whilst there and is believed that they have stolen several items from the address when they left. Police weren't called straight away as unknown of the items missing at the time, due to the party involving 30-40 people.

On Tuesday, 10 May I was engaged in road safety measures using a home office approved laser speed device in Crafts Way, Bar Hill. Only one driver was seen exceeding the speed limit through the village. This driver has had a warning letter posted to their home address this time. 

On Saturday, 8th May we received a report of theft of two bird tables from the front garden of an address in Pheasant Rise, Bar Hill. One of these tables has since been recovered. I would like to advise you that thefts are taking place from house gardens in Bar Hill, and not to leave any valuable items on display whilst your house is left unattended.

Finally for Bar Hill, at the beginning of March a warrant was executed in the village and a quantity of controlled substances were discovered along with the possession of an unauthorised firearm (CS spray). PC Reeves has since charged two persons with offences related to this warrant.

I also have been very busy dealing with crime enquiries in Girton over the past two weeks.

We have had 6 crime reports from the Co-op from beginning of May 2011. After spending a considerable amount of time investigating these shopliftings I am pleased to say that we have now managed to identify suspects for all 6 of these crimes.

2 Of these shoplifting were committed by two females who are well known to the police. PC Reeves is now dealing with these suspects. 

The other 4 shopliftings were committed by a white man 25 years old, this suspect is also wanted on warrant for other thefts that he has been committing all over Cambridge, we also have now got an address for this suspect and he will get a visit from the police in a very short period of time.

Kind Regards
From PCSO 7009 MANI
Histon Neighbourhood Policing Team 

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Open Eco-Homes events, June 10th, 18th & 26th

Local environmental charity Cambridge Carbon Footprint is once again organising a series of Open Eco-Homes days in and around Cambridge in June.
Fifteen eco homes open their doors on Saturday 18 and Sunday 26 June to share their experience with solar panels, green sedum roofs, high-efficiency insulation, wood-burning stoves, ground source heat pumps and much more…
To choose homes to visit and find out how to book, log on to http://www.openecohomes.org
Booking is essential and spaces do fill up quickly, so don’t delay.
To start it all off, there will be a LAUNCH on Friday 10 June with a Question Time event, chaired by City Council leader Sian Reid. A panel of experts will be answering all your questions, and you can chat with the eco home owners over wine and refreshments.
Visit http://www.openecohomes.org for more information.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Bar Hill Library Meeting 12th May @ Bar Hill Church

For those of you who wern't able to attend the meeting at the Church it was very well attended, several times additional rows of chairs had to be added as more people arrived. Elected representatives for Bar Hill for the district, parish, and county councils were in attendance.

The meeting was hosted by Mike Hosking and Christine May from Cambridgeshire County Council. On everyone's chair at the start of the meeting were two documents; the Future of Cambridgeshire's Library Service (available as a PDF here), and Bar Hill Library Profile (available as a PDF here).  The format of the meeting was a short presentation (the documentation for which I'm trying to source) followed by a long question and answer session where everyone was given the opportunity to ask questions and have the two officers provide the best answers they could (given the limited amount of information available).

The main parts of the presentation were;

  • The County Councils commitment to supporting the local community after the library has been converted. This support would include providing the same amount, range, and quantity of stock, free access to the library management system, free broadband internet, a degree of support, training, and advice, and maintenance of the buildings.
  • In return for this the County Council is expecting the community to provide a significant contribution to local running costs, either a contribution towards the costs of staffing or volunteers, and a commitment to maintain the current performance standards and quality.
  • The next steps following this meeting will be the continuation of dialog in the coming months, putting together final proposals, establishing the trust, advertising and appointing the chair of trustees, consultation on opening hours, and the introduction of self service.

The question and answer session raised many issues and due to the number of issues raised (not to mention the speed of my typing!) this is only a very brief summary. Questions start the bullet point, answers are in italics;

  • How does the Public Libraries act affect these proposals? Current proposals do not include and closing of libraries, that will be a decision of Councillors if they prove to be unavoidable. However the act specifies the quality of service, not that the County Council must provide 100% of the funding.
  • Why is Bar Hill Library in the bottom 13? Because of the lack of deprivation in the local community. It is *not* about the local libraries performance.
  • 7 of the "at risk" libraries are in South Cambridgeshire. Bar Hill is a hub library because people come here to Tesco from other villages. There is no mention of the income from the post office in the figures. The library review is being careful to ensure that there are no gaps in provision and that while there is some rent paid by the post office the actual amount is commercially confidential and so isn't included in the figures
  • Squeezing the post office for more money could endanger the post office. The Council is working with the Post Master and are looking to increase space in the building for the Post Office to allow it to increase it's income and therefore increase it's rent without increasing the risk
  • Impact of the Northstow development. Northstow has not been taken into account in any way as it's future (and timing) is not know. It was revealed that Northstow would have a community facility which would include some sort of library provision
  • Concern was expressed that the charitable trust was being rushed. The plan for the trust is complex and it will not be just for libraries but will also include Adult Learning and Heritage. The trust will be completely independent. An advertisement for an interim chair will be posted in the next couple of weeks, the chair will oversea the creation of the trust and the appointment of trustees (who will then re-elect a chair). All trust positions will be unpaid. Trust will save on rates (with cooperation of District Councils for additional rate relief). Mike Hoskings will retire prior to start of trust and a new CEO will be appointed
  • How will volunteers be trained? The Council recognises that volunteers aren't a no-cost option. The Doorstep Service was also cited as an example of an existing service associated with the libraries that is run by volunteers. Existing staff will be trained on managing volunteers and this will be added to their role
  • Where will volunteers come from? Volunteers probably also already doing something. How will you engage the 1/4 of the village who use the library? The questionnaire found that 1,800 people said they would volunteer, this demonstrates support, a "good number" will probably volunteer, looking for very committed people. As a result of the publicity around the consolation people are already coming into  libraries asking how they can volunteer. Volunteer roles will be advertised on the Do-it website (click here). It was also pointed out that the existing Library Access Points (LAPS) have all survived 8 or 9 years running on a voluntary basis
  • Why waste time and not use staff? Volunteers add capacity, working alongside staff, not seeking to replace staff with volunteers, based on cost. Advice and support for volunteers means they aren't expected to be free
  • How many trustees and what criteria are you using? Fear was expressed that the trust will be dominated by retired managers and businessmen with no empathy with communities. We will need businessmen as trust will have 9m turnover, looking for board of 10 or 12 people, task of interim chair will be to select trustees, all roles will be advertised, hopefully CEN will run a feature publicising this
  • How will people with a full-time job be able to volunteer? They can help fundraising or join friends groups
  • Business jargon associated with trust. Are trustees paid? How many jobs will be shed? Can't answer last part of question as it's not clear, 40 jobs are expected to shed from library service, some small  reductions planned in front line services, but most will be back office, trying to protect front line service delivery is a priority. 9 full time employees was the figure mentioned, but a hope was expressed that this could be reduced.
  • What are the requirements for trustees? Surely at least one member must be an expert in the field the trust deals with, accountant is useful sometimes, smaller committees are better, chairman is unpaid, what about other trustees? Who will choose trustees from those that apply? Who are trustees accountable to? None of the trustees be paid, they will receive expenses, no reason expenses shouldn't be published. Interim chair to appoint trustees, other trustees will then choose chair, initial appointment made by portfolio holder, MH and his boss rod Craig
  • Why three trusts? Trust needs sufficient turnover to become viable, multiple income streams
  • There are five districts in Cambridgeshire, how will they be represented on the trust board? There is no guarantee that each district will be represented
  • How much will be saved by staff reductions? Staffing reduction figures are only estimates, pension rights, length of service will all affect the total saving from reductions
  • How about paying for books? The 1964 public libraries act very clear, borrowing of books must be free, there were subscription libraries that were charging 10 years ago but these were not public libraries
  • What is the cost of installing and maintaining self service machines? What space is required? There is a one off capital investment to install self service, maintenance charge is small, where they have been introduced they have been integrated into existing desks and use very little space. Approximate cost is £7k per library to install machine, reliable and will last a number of years. As an example of how they help a self service machine would mean that when the Post Office is open in bar hill the library could also be open with the self service machine running
  • Some concern was expressed that unsuitable services would be shoehorned into libraries. For example moving housing services into Peterborough central library led to the library service being dominated and was generally thought to be unsuitable. Maybe out of hours for other services, Council will sit down with parish council and friends groups to sort out details.
  • What about the individuality of each of the libraries? We need to look at the features? Primary school really used library a lot, encourages people from other villages, what about marketing the library, signs,etc? How are you assessing features of local community? What are you doing? Encouraging to hear of the use, these meetings are part of it, comments will be recorded tonight and will be added in. Marketing is quite poor, hopefully trust will improve it, active borrowers are quite good locally. Wealth of detail from each of the meetings, although we run the service it's your service and probably the only county council service you can choose to use
  • People don't want to change. Would you prefer we talked about how they will change? Are we saying what you want us to say? We are determined to keep libraries open, but the budget is being cut and we can't ignore it. Its how this community wants to respond to that. Evey community is different. This meeting is the start of the dialog
  • Raised some interesting issues, issue boils down to library has to cost less, or make more. Friends group buys furniture, 15k per year would mean raising the precept, what can our residents do tomorrow to help keep the library? Sum is 200k across the 13 libraries, roughly 15k per library to keep service operating as it is, residents don't have to do anything tomorrow but must talk to friends group or parish council, there might be different options. Issues elsewhere are around galvanising volunteers, thinking about how they organise it, some places are agreeing a figure onto the parish precept, some places fundraising, determine who in the community the county council should liaise with?
  • Without the work done relocating the post office all those years ago the Post Office would be closed, architects plans for changes are being urgently considered. Can the County confirm? Yes can confirm, moving forward on building changes as soon as possible. Building wastes a lot of space, roof wastes energy, building in good site but needs some work doing
  • Sharing premises seriously compromises security of library stock and computers. Large number of enthusiastic library users, should be careful about short changing the children. Unique and precious stock would be protected, general stock is not of great monetary value, entirely right to think of children, when gone libraries are very difficult to bring back which is why these consultations are so important
  • Services for children, so important, volunteers not the same as training professional staff. Best option to maintain funding to employ the brilliant staff across the county, self service investment frees up staff to help people more
  • Concerned with self service, don't want to visit the library with an impersonal self service machine. Already widely used, people already book books at 3am from their own computer. Self service works in central library
  • Benefactors? Money needs to be for the foreseeable future, having worked in local government for a very long time and seen the changes to national policy if we are out of this in 5 years time he will be surprised. Benefactors need to understand that the commitment will be ongoing in order to keep the libraries open
  • Central library has become impersonal. Central library took 10 years to refurbish, best analogy is between village shop and supermarket. Central is one of busiest libraries in country, nearly 1m visitors per year
  • An ex-volunteers stated that they were well trained and well versed in what happened when he was one. Providing library is headed by qualified librarian trained volunteers with a passion for the service will be good. Very few trained librarians working in Cambridgeshire, volunteers delivering the housebound service are highly trained, housebound volunteers are of all ages
  • Why not encourage unemployed to volunteer? No restrictions on who could volunteer, some things coming forward to encourage people on long term unemployment to volunteer, some concerns around the time taken to train the staff if they are just going to leave
  • Would volunteers going into home by CRB checked? Yes, all volunteers are crb checked

Next County Councillor John Reynolds, the local Conservative representative, said a few words about the need for a vision for the future, the financial mess we're in, encouraging use, and some example of how volunteers could be best used.

Finally Councillor Sir Peter Brown, the Conservative Cabinet Member and portfolio holder for Libraries, thanked everyone for coming, said every suggestion would be considered, and stressed the importance he sees in working with the local communities.

NOTE: The questions/ answers above are from the notes I made at the meeting and so I might have missed things, but hopefully not anything that would affect the understanding/ meaning behind either the question or the answer. I'd welcome corrections and clarifications if anyone would like to submit them either as comments or to me via email.

Friday, 13 May 2011

Cambridgeshire's Music Service Saved Following Successful Campaign!

The County Council Music Service which runs the county’s Youth Orchestra, four music academies and music lessons for thousands of children has been saved after a campaign run by the Lib Dems with parents and music teachers.
The County Council had planned to siphon the government music grant of £670,000 but the money will now be kept for music provision for local children.
Cambridgeshire Lib Dem Deputy Leader, Peter Downes, is a past chair of the Cambridgeshire Youth Orchestra. He said: “There is clear evidence for the beneficial effect of music-making on children’s general development as well as their specific musical skills. Cutting money for music is short-sighted and counter-productive at a time when we are committed to raising standards for young people.”
Area music academies run by the service also provide the opportunity for children of all ages and abilities to perform in groups. The four academies provided ensembles for players from Grade 1 – 8 in classical music, jazz, folk music and samba bands.
These academies are free for children whose schools buy tuition from Cambridgeshire Music Service and available for all other children at a modest termly fee.

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Future of Bar Hill Library Meeting @ 7pm in the Church

Just a brief reminder that tonights meeting on the future of Bar Hill Library will start at 7pm in the Church.

Details of Bar Hill libraries assessment are available from the County Council website (click here, PDF).

Come along and lend your support!

Monday, 9 May 2011

Government tackled over rising train fares and complex ticketing

Cambridge Liberal Democrat MP Julian Huppert has tackled the government over rising train fares and the complex ticket pricing system, asking whether its new rail franchise scheme will help commuters.
He sought assurances from Transport Minister, Philip Hammond, that he would take steps to ensure that rail fares under the new scheme do not rise “at the huge rates we have seen recently and start to level out”.
Julian also asked whether the fares scheme would be “simpler and easier to understand”.
Mr Hammond agreed that the fares system had been “incredibly complex and passengers had been facing a high level of fares”.
“The only way we can tackle the high level of fares is to make our railway more efficient,” he said. “We are determined to do so.”
And he added that the government would soon be receiving and publishing the review Value for Money on the Railway, carried out by Sir Roy McNulty to identify the factors pushing up costs on the UK rail network.
Julian said: “I am encouraged that the government is committed to making our railways more efficient and in so doing, hopefully making the hugely complicated fares system simpler and easier to understand for passengers.
“We have faced massive rises in ticket prices in recent years and in many cases, passengers’ salaries have failed to keep pace. In fact, the increased cost has meant that many have effectively taken a pay cut just to get to work while at the same time travelling on services which are overcrowded and at times, unreliable.
“They should not be expected to have to put up with this. I hope the review will give the government a clear indication of what needs to be done to improve our railways and give us better value for money.” 

The Future of Bar Hill Library

Cambridgeshire County Council has organised a meeting to be held on the 12th May at 7pm at the Church to discuss the future of the local library as it is on the "at risk" list that was recently published.

The more people who attend and show their support for this local service the better and now is the time when the library needs the support of it's local community the most.

CORRECTION: This article has been updated since it was originally produced to reflect a change to the organisers of the event which was inadvertently attributed to another group.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Election Result in Bar Hill 2011

The election results from both the District Council and National Referendum are now available from the South Cambridgeshire District Council website (here) and are reproduced below;

Congratulations to Roger who polled more than 50% of the vote (a case when AV wouldn't have mattered!).

Breaking the results down by Share of the vote gives us;

Broadly speaking the results followed the national trend with the Labour party picking up the "anti-government" vote and with the Conservative vote dropping. A slight consolation locally is that compared to the election of four years ago (see here) our "share of the vote" remains practically unchanged.

On a personal note this has been an interesting campaign, my first campaign since moving to Bar Hill, and I'd like to join Peter in thanking those that supported and worked with us. If you'd like to join us for future campaigns please get in touch!

Saturday, 7 May 2011

AV Referendum Result

The results of the AV referendum have been published (and are available here from the South Cambridgeshire District Council website).

Needless to say the result locally followed the National trend with local residents rejecting a change to the Alternative Vote for Westminster Elections.

The overall result was 35% in favour of the change and an overwhelming 65% against.

It's a disappointment to be sure and I'll post slightly more detailed analysis after I've had a chance to go into the campaign in a lot more depth. Suffice to say the Yes campaign spectacularly failed to get it's message across which meant that a lot of people didn't even hear any point of view other than the No campaign.

The official result was;

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Yes to AV: 9 Hours to go

When you look back on today, what do you want to remember?

In just nine hours, the polls will close and with that this generation's chance to win electoral reform will be over. Will you look back with pride at your involvement in this campaign, or regret that you missed your opportunity to make a difference?

Right now, AV is still within our grasp, but we need you to help make it a reality. Find your nearest campaign centre and help us get out the vote:



Willie Sullivan
Head of Field Operations

P.S. If you can't get to an activity or office, make calls from home:

Make Calls from Home Donate Find your nearest campaign event.

Vote for Change, Vote for Peter Fane

Our candidate for the election is Peter Fane (pictured on the left with Liberal Democrat County Councillor Andy Pellew).!

Peter is a surveyor and freelance consultant on public policy, specialising in rural development and renewable energy. He was Director of the British Agricultural Bureau in Brussels in the ‘90s and a Director of the Government’s Countryside Agency until its abolition in 2006. He has lived with his family in Dry Drayton for the last eight years, where he is also a parish councillor. He has been actively involved in promoting the village plan, working with neighbouring parish councils (including Bar Hill) in promoting the case for an off-road cycle path to Madingley and West Cambridge to secure a safe route for cyclists from all three villages to the Coton junction and to West Cambridge.

Peter Fane says “my experience in politics and elsewhere in Europe has led me to favour a new style of politics, where politicians from different parties set out their differences before the election but work together after the election to deliver the best possible service for the public. The coalition government’s commitment to 'Localism' – or community politics as we have long favoured in the Liberal Democrats – will mean more opportunities for local communities to decide their own priorities on planning and local services”.

Peter accepts the need to reduce the public sector deficit, to ensure Britain is not lumbered with unsustainable debt as is now the case in a number of other European countries; but this sets a real challenge for local government, and increases the need for those elected to local government to focus on the services which really matter – like local transport and access for all.”

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Lib Dems reveal Tory plans to phase bus cuts around election

A new timetable of bus subsidy cuts have been worked out by the Tories to avoid potentially damaging their county council election campaign.

Instead of cutting the buses year on year over a four year period, they have revealed that the next cuts will take place this autumn followed by a two year break to avoid the sensitive election period.

Once the 2013 election is over, the Tories will cut the rest of the bus subsidies under their plan to save £2.7 million.

The change of plan has been revealed by Cambridge Liberal Democrats and comes just weeks after the Tories’ new leader, Nick Clarke took charge.

The original plan was to cut the bus subsidies in four tranches, in 2011-12 (£654k), 2012-13 (£510k), 2013-14 (£900k), and 2014-15 (£900k).  The Conservatives have so far cut only part of the first tranche, which mostly consisted of evening and weekend services, rural services in West Hunts, and the city shuttle bus. 

They now plan to combine the remainder of the first tranche with the whole second tranche most likely taking place this October.

There will no bus cuts for the following year and a half until the Cambridgeshire County Council elections have taken place after which the remaining 60 per cent (£1,816,000) will get the chop.

Lib Dem Transport Spokesman, Kilian Bourke said: "The cuts we have seen so far are nothing compared to what is coming. This October we will see roughly twice as much subsidy disappear, and that will still only be 40 per cent of the cuts to bus services. There will then be a year and a half gap until the county council elections are over before the remaining 60 per cent is cut."

"Nick Clarke needs to stick to his manifesto promise and stop these cuts, instead of timing them so as to save his Conservative colleagues' skins."

The national Save Our Buses campaign has singled out Cambridgeshire's bus cuts as the worst in the country and may even be subject to a judicial review.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Focus on Bar Hill (Election Leaflet)

Your local team has been working hard delivering our election leaflet across Bar Hill and the surrounding villages. The leaflet itself is available online here (via Real-time election leaflet project) or by clicking on the two images below;

If you'd like to join the local team or help deliver to your street or village please get in touch with Peter on 07802 256 861, or via email at peter.fane@eurinco.eu

Two days to go!

2 Days to Go: Your Chance to Change British Politics for Good

Pint at the pub or a coffee in a cafe?

It's not difficult to pick between two, but what happens when you have more options? Well that's the problem facing voters across the UK today, now that we all have many more than two candidates to choose from in General Elections, and AV is the only fair answer.

The NO2AV campaigners think that AV is too complicated for voters like you. Well I'm sick of politicians telling us we are too stupid to understand AV. We're actually quite clever! If we can follow cricket, snooker or an EastEnders plot, I reckon we can handle voting with AV.

I'm going to prove this in the final Yes to Fairer Votes Referendum Broadcast, aired tonight at 5.55 on BBC Two.

No need for you to wait though - you can watch it right now, then share it with everyone you know who thinks AV is complicated. It's as easy as 1, 2, 3!
Watch Dan Snow show how simple AV really is
I'm proud to live in a country where we are free to make our own choices; but under the current system, that freedom of choice doesn't extend to the voting booth.

Under FPTP, two-thirds of our MPs that are sent to Westminster, even though the majority of their constituents voted against them.

The referendum on Thursday is our chance to change all that - the winner under AV is the candidate that the majority are happy with. What could be fairer?

Watch my video about how simple AV really is, and share it with everyone you know. Every vote you win could be the one that decides the future of politics in the UK.


AV isn't complicated, it's as easy as 1, 2, 3.

With thanks,

Dan Snow
Make Calls from Home Donate Find your nearest campaign event.

Monday, 2 May 2011

Taxpayers could pay £71m as guided bus total almost £187m

The spiralling cost of building Cambridgeshire’s Guided Busway is expected to reach almost £187 million and taxpayers cost be left to pick up a staggering £71 million.

Liberal Democrats have revealed the final figures just days after contractor BAM Nuttall handed over the project to Cambridgeshire County Council two years late.

The figure includes the cost of rectifying outstanding defects and fighting the case through the courts.

It is broken down as follows:

  • £151,154,389 for the Potential Final Account to the Employer – BAM Nuttall’s settlement figure on handover.
  • £29,680,331 for non-contractual costs including land and supervision.
  • £5 million allowance for legal costs.
  • £1 million plus for rectifying outstanding defects – although this is only a (cautious) Lib Dem estimate as the actual figure has not been calculated.

The county council has £92.5 million from central government plus £23.5 million anticipated income from developer contributions making a total of £116M to payfor the busway.

This leaves it almost £71 million short which could be left for the taxpayers to fund if the county council loses the court case. Although losing 100 per cent of the court case in unlikely, the figure shows the scale of risk which keeps growing.

Lib Dem transport spokesman, Kilian Bourke said: "The cost of the busway just keeps creeping upward.  When is it going to stop?"

"The Conservatives promised the scheme would come in at £116M and that "not one penny of taxpayers' money" would be spent on it. Now we learn that the global cost of the project, including lawyers' fees, will come to £187 million and that the local taxpayer will be liable for up to £71M if the Tories lose the court case outright.

"This is unlikely to happen but the scale of the risk is monumental and losing even part of the case could leave taxpayers massively out of pocket. i just hope the Conservatives' gamble pays off and they win the case hands down."