Friday, 30 September 2011

E-Cops - Your Weekly Update 30-SEP-2011


On Thursday, 29th September, we received a report of burglary in a dwelling in Stonefiled, Bar Hill. Police were informed and located a man in his twenties trying to gain entry into property via the back door. Police carried out the necessary checks on this man and discovered that he had permission to be there. The man used to live at the property and had returned to collect his possessions.

There has been a report of criminal damage to the Parish Council notice board in Bar Hill. It is unknown exactly when this occurred, but it has been some time this week. It is believed that youths playing football could have damaged the notice board. If you were in the area and saw this happen, please let me know.

I have had reports of youths playing football in the green area close to Bar Hill Primary School, where they climb the fence to get their football back. I have come across these youths during my patrols and have advised them to ask the care taker of the school if they need to get their football back and not to climb the school fence. This is for their own safety and to prevent any damage to the fence.

On Thursday, 29th September I carried out speed checks opposite Hollytrees in Crafts Way, Bar Hill. As a result four motorists were seen travelling in excess of the speed limit. Warning letters for speeding will be send to the home addresses of the registered keepers.

I have had a report of drivers parking on the zigzag lines outside the Primary School in Dry Drayton. During my patrols I have paid passing attention to this area and have advised a number of motorists regarding their parking, although I did not come across any illegally parked vehicles.

On Wednesday, 28th September I carried out speed checks in Scotland Road, Dry Drayton. As a result 2 motorists were seen travelling in excess of the speed limit. Warning letters for speeding will be sent to the home addresses of the registered keepers.

I hope this information is useful, if there is anything that may need my attention in your village, please contact me either by telephone or simply by replying to this email.

Kind Regards
PCSO Bujar MANI
Histon Neighbourhood Policing Team

Have Your Say On Bus Changes In Cambridgeshire

News release from Cambridgeshire County Council relating to Bus Subsidy changes. No mention of the fact that the Council was forced to embark on this review or face a "Judicial Review" of its decision (that had already been taken) to cut 100% of Bus Subsidies - this would have left Cambridgeshire Residents to take the worst bus cuts in the entire Country.

Nope. No mention of any of that.

"Cambridgeshire Future Transport" is being talked about a lot lately - but it's still not exactly clear what it will mean for people trying to get from Village A to Village B. Bar Hill to Cambridge I think will see minimal changes as I'm pretty sure that the our bus services here fall into the 80% category that doesn't require any County Council Subsidy.

Anyway, here is the Press Release with details of how to participate in the review;

"Residents and bus users are being asked to have their say on proposed reductions to subsidised services and the introduction of more locally targeted initiatives

The public consultation, which is also asking various interest groups and bus users to comment, is part of the Council's overall budget planning process.

The County Council's Cabinet has agreed that a review of last year's budget decision to cut the £2.7 million that is currently spent on subsidising bus journeys in Cambridgeshire over the next four years should take place.

It also agreed the Cambridgeshire Future Transport project should go forward. This could see £34 million spent by different public services on supported transport combined and used to create better targeted local services, designed with the help of communities.

The project looks to find alternative and more community-led solutions to providing transport to meet local needs and mitigate changes made to subsidised bus services where possible.

Letters are going out to interested groups and local councils as well as posters on buses encouraging people to have their say. An online questionnaire is available at www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/busreview

The majority of bus services in Cambridgeshire (about 80%) are provided by commercial operators without subsidy. However, the County Council subsidises some bus services which bus operators are unable to operate on a commercial basis.

In the future, this may not be possible due to reduced overall grants to councils from Government and increased costs of services. The County Council needs to make cumulative savings of around £540 million over the next five years and some of these savings have to come from the transport budget.

This review is being carried out as part of the council's budget planning process, ensuring the authority consults widely and seek views on not only the principle of making the cuts but also on the impact of specific route changes. The Council is also looking back at the routes that have already been cut, gathering feedback on how this has impacted communities in these areas.

Alongside this work, the Council is working hard with operators, community transport providers, local councils and businesses as part of the groundbreaking Cambridgeshire Future Transport project.

This aims to look at innovative ways of providing transport and to focus this more on community and local needs. This could be through the expansion of community transport or developing completely new forms of demand-led transport.

Cambridgeshire County Councillor Steve Criswell, Cabinet Member for Community Infrastructure, said: "Your views are an important part of this process to help us decide on how we implement the financial savings and where possible find local solutions. We urge people to have their say so we can plan properly and design new transport initiatives to help meet the needs of our communities."

Paper copies of the questionnaire are available by:
The closing date for the questionnaire is Friday 9th December 2011."

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Working Party Backs Lib Dem Fears Over Failing Road Network


A working party set up to explore Liberal Democrat concerns about the county’s deteriorating road network has supported their claims.
 
The Cambridgeshire County Council review group released its interim report yesterday (Monday, September 26) and acknowledged that money is being spent on cheap maintenance instead of proper structural work.
 
Last year the council spent just over half of the £12.5 million the government has handed out for road maintenance.
 
And over the last five years it has invested no more than 75 per cent of the funding in the road network.
 
“This had led to roads crumbling across the county,” said Kevin Wilkins, Shadow Cabinet Member for Planning, Enterprise and Environment. "The Conservatives running the county council prefer to see our roads and pavements get worse and worse than abandon their extremist view to freeze Council Tax.
 
“We cannot allow this to go on. We are heading for huge costs in the future. We have to embark on a proper road maintenance programme rather than the reactive work which is taking place at the moment. Additional investment now will make savings in the long-term.”
 
The interim report accepts that 25 per cent of the county’s unclassified roads and footpaths are in need of maintenance along with four per cent of A roads and seven per cent of B and C roads.
 
Insurance claims against the council for incidents relating to poor road conditions have almost doubled in the last five years from 347 in 2006/07 to 627 in 2010/11 at a cost of more than £800,000.
 
The review group recommends that a formal programme of maintenance should be adopted with a separate ring-fenced budget to solve the problems in three years.

Huppert Tells Government Rail Increases "Too Much To Deal With"



Cambridge Liberal Democrat MP Julian Huppert took the case of Cambridge’s long suffering rail commuters to the heart of government today (Thursday, September 15) saying massive ticket increases of eight per cent were too much for them to deal with.
 
Julian, Co-chair of the Liberal Democrat Transport Committee warned Transport Minister, Philip Hammond that prices are a major factor in determining whether people use the railways.
 
And he said that, despite the Lib Dems arguing for rail fare increases below inflation, the government had pushed prices up to three per cent above inflation. 
 
Julian raised the issue during Transport Questions in the House of Commons today (Thursday, September 15).
 
He said: “The government has gone for increases three per cent above inflation which means an eight per cent increase in rail and a seven per cent increase in London Transport. This is simply too much for people to deal with.”
 
Mr Hammond was unrepentant saying: “We will have to increase rail fares by three per cent in real terms in the next three years in order to protect our major investment programme of rolling stock, electrification and new infrastructure that the country needs.
 
“It is a tough decision but it is the right decision.”
 
Later Julian said: “Cambridge commuters were penalised time and time again by the Labour government which increased rail fares above inflation every year. We cannot continue on the same path and except people to use our rail network.
 
“People are struggling to make ends meet and they are being punished financially for trying to get to work. 
 
“The Lib Dems argued for increases below inflation to give commuters a chance and to encourage people to see the rail network as a viable alternative form of transport. Increases at this level will not encourage people to use the trains.
 
“This level of increase cannot be sustained year after year; something has got to give.”  

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Farmer Joins Fight Against Tory Ban On Wind Farms


A tenant farmer, whose parents started their 52-year-old business following a £100 win on the football pools, has joined the fight to save plans for wind farms on county council land.

George Munns, who runs a 21 acre smallholding at Westmoor Farm in Chatteris, had planned to build a medium sized wind generator on his land.

But his plans fell apart when county Tories put a hold on allowing wind farms on council land and threw away almost £1 million a year in extra revenue.

Liberal Democrats have called in the decision to the county council Cabinet on Monday (September 26) and George will attend the meeting and join the protestors.

Wind turbines were planned for four sites – Chatteris, Farcet, Littleport and Coveney - on Farms Estate land owned by the council.

Conservation has always been a key consideration for George and he has won top awards under the Countryside Stewardship scheme. He believes his wind turbine would complement that.

In a letter to Cabinet George said that his plan for the wind generator was well-supported by the Farms Estate team.

“Often in the past this farm has led the way with new ideas; the team were keen to see this farm at the forefront and set an example to the rest of the estate,” he said. “In light of this absolute support I commissioned an extensive feasibility study for a medium size wind generator.

“I was astounded and dismayed to learn that the councillors had decided that a blanket ban on wind generation was to apply with immediate effect on the whole of the county Farms Estate. Worse still the ban extended to schemes which were already initiated such as ours.

“I implore you please to reconsider this blanket ban on wind generation and allow your smallholders to access a level playing field alongside farmers from the private sector.”

Cambridgeshire County Council Shadow Cabinet member for Planning, Enterprise and Environment, Kevin Wilkins said: “It is blatantly obvious that the Tories don’t take climate change seriously and therefore refuse to commit to tackling it. But perhaps what is even more disturbing is that they are preventing other people from taking action to protect our environment.

“George should be congratulated for his commitment to conservation and his farm is testament to that. He has invested hard earned money in a project which would bring great benefits not only to his farm but the county generally and yet he has been stopped in his tracks.

“The decision to put a hold on wind farms on county council land is ill thought out and makes absolutely no sense. I hope the Tories will rethink their decision and allow George and other tenanted farmers the opportunity to invest in this alternative energy source.”

Monday, 26 September 2011

E-Cops - Your Weekly News 26-SEP-2011


On Friday, 16th Sep, there was a travellers gathering at Bar Hill, they were encouraged to move on by us and have currently located at Cambridge Services in Boxworth, leaving Bar Hill approx 17:30.

Is believed that they came from Grantchester as a group and accessed some private land entering the golf course just before Thruffle Way in Bar Hill and set up a camp there. The gate at the golf course was unsecured and made it easier for them to enter the premises without causing any damage, after they had left Menzies Hotel has been advised to take measurement to secure the premises.

There has been a further incident report today relating travellers in Bar Hill, a thorough area search was conducted by myself and PS Rogerson, there was no trace of any travellers in Bar Hill area.It should not be possible for them to return to Bar Hill, but please monitor developments and let me know if any action is taken.

On Thursday, 15th, Sep I carried out door to door police surgeries at The Brambles, Bar Hill. I consulted with a high number of local residents that live in the area, and I am pleased to announce that we only had positive feed back from this area.

Apart from the above, Bar Hill has been crime free this week.

I hope you find the information of some use, if we can assist you further please do not hesitate to contact me via e-mail or by phone.

Please call 999 should you see any suspicious activity regarding vehicles and persons and 0345 456 456 4 with any other information.

Kind Regards

PCSO B. MANI
Histon Neighbourhood Policing Team

Fight To Give Part-Time Students A Fairer Deal Under Loans Scheme


Cambridgeshire County Councillor, Belinda Brooks-Gordon is fighting for a fairer deal for part-time university students under the government’s education loans scheme as the government’s Education Bill is debated in the House of Lords today (Wednesday, September 14).
 
She has teamed up with Baroness Sal Brinton, former Cambridgeshire County Council Liberal Democrat leader to make sure part-time students are not discriminated under the scheme.
 
For the first time, part-time students are eligible for loans to pay for their education; but they have to start repaying those loans after three and a half years before they have completed their courses.
 
And the system for accepting repayments will not be in place until 2016 meaning that students who become eligible to pay in 2013 will have to wait three years and fear their loan may start accruing interest.
 
Cllr Brooks-Gordon and Baroness Brinton, who were both mature students at Cambridge’s Churchill College, are fighting to get changes to the Education Bill to address the issue.
 
“I am determined that part-time students, many of whom are single parents, mature students or disabled, should not be discriminated against in this way,” said Castle Ward Cllr Brooks-Gordon, a Reader at Birbeck College, London.
 
“I took my degree as a single parent with two children and would not have had an academic career without my university education. I am determined that students should get the best possible deal in these difficult times.”

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Parking review could tackle hospital overflow parking


A parking review, which could tackle the problems of staff parking for free in residential streets around Cambridge’s Addenbrooke’s Hospital, has been welcomed by Cambridgeshire County Councillor, Geoff Heathcock.

Cllr Heathcock, who represents Queen Edith’s, has long campaigned for a solution to six day parking in streets around the hospital which causes problems for residents.

Now a parking review of the south of the city will be carried out by Cambridgeshire County Council at Trumpington on September 19.

“This is long overdue but the real proof of its worth will be to come forward with real solutions," said Cllr Heathcock.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Cancer Warning Poses Challenge For New Health Organisation


Leading Cambridgeshire County Councillor, Geoff Heathcock, has expressed his concerns that the rising number of cancer and chronic diseases could significantly challenge the county’s new health organisation.
 
Councillor Heathcock, Shadow Cabinet Member for Health spoke out after warnings from the World Cancer Research Fund that serious illnesses threaten a public health disaster.
 
He said: “This is a timely warning and comes on the same day that GPs are being told to pull back from allowing sufferers to have a cancer scans. There is clear inconsistency of approach here; cancer caught quickly need not be a death sentence.
 
“This warning from the World Cancer Research Fund is extremely worrying and poses significant challenges for Cambridgeshire’s new health organisation which is due to take over in spring 2013.”

Monday, 19 September 2011

mySociety: New Website Launched >> FixMyTransport.com

After a lot of very hard work the mySociety team (the people behind other successful websites such as TheyWorkForYou, WhatDoTheyKnow, ElectionLeaflets, etc) have just launched a new website that aims to allow users to report problems with their journeys on public transport.

If you'd like to make use of the new service it can be found at;



Sunday, 18 September 2011

Heathcock Concerned About Changes To Stroke Patient Care


Cambridgeshire County Council Shadow Cabinet Member for Health, Geoff Heathcock, has expressed his concerns about changes to the way stroke patients are treated.

Under a review of stroke services in Huntingdonshire, patients may no longer be sent to Huntingdon’s Hinchingbrooke Hospital in the first instance.

Instead, they would go to Cambridge’s Addenbrooke’s Hospital or Peterborough City Hospital and would be transferred to Hinchingbrooke Hospital when their condition stabilises.

Cllr Heathcock is worried that, if given the go-ahead, the move would cost an extra £160,000 to pay for ambulance transfers and further care and rehabilitation.

Cambridgeshire Primary Care Trust has launched a consultation today (Monday, September 12) into the option which has come out of the Review of Acute Stroke Services in Hunts.

Cllr Heathcock supports the suggestion but says critical questions remain unanswered.

He wants to know how the additional costs will be funded and how the ambulance service will cope with the additional pressures.

Also he is worried about the impact the proposals could have on friends and relatives, especially those from rural West Huntingdonshire and those who cannot drive.

“How will they get to Cambridge or Peterborough in the evening when public transport is sparse or non-existent?” he said.

“I absolutely agree that in the early hours after a stroke, high quality expertise has to be readily available. But I worry about families living in very rural communities on the borders with Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire and the additional pressure on the ambulance service.”

Friday, 16 September 2011

BHA: Being On The Offensive/ March for a Secular Europe


Last week the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ruled that a Phones4U advert featuring a winking Jesus and the headline ‘miraculous deals’ was ‘mocking and belittling’ Christianity. It is not the first time an advert with references or images related to Christianity have been banned for potentially causing ‘serious or widespread offence’. In the past adverts featuring pregnant nuns eating ice cream and curling tongs symbolising a ‘new religion for hair’ have all come under fire.
The blasphemy law was abandoned in the UK in March 2008. However, the UK is far from being truly secular. The BHA’s support of the Secular Europe Campaign is just one of the ways we are trying to make sure that everyone can enjoy freedom of religion, and freedom from religion.

But while the New Statesman reports that ‘the ASA has been taking an increasingly strict, some would say humourless, line on suggestions of religious offensiveness’ the BHA is well-aware of the ASA’s low tolerance threshold when it comes to deciding what may offend, and has had to censor some of its advertising to avoid outright bans, and that is no laughing matter.

From ‘faith’ schools to Bishops in the House of Lords and children being turned away from Scouts and Guides because it specifically excludes atheists from admission into their organisation, the BHA is working towards fairer society based on shared human values.

The march for a secular Europe is this week, and it is supported by people from all over the world and from all beliefs and religions, as well as those with none. We are going to be there to stand up for human rights, and we hope that you will be too.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

E-Cops - Your Weekly Update 13-SEP-2011


Another very busy week for me, I have spent most of the time in Bar Hill this week dealing with crime enquiries relating to two vehicles being broken into over the bank holiday period.

The two vehicles broken into were parked unattended in Menzies Hotel car park, Bar Hill. During the hours of darkness unknown offenders have managed to gain entry and have stolen unknown items. I have thoroughly investigated this crimes, unfortunately due to insufficient evidence the crimes remain undetected.

I also have spent a considerable amount of time dealing with a number of incidents relating to bilkings from Bar Hill Tesco Petrol Station, as a result I have so far gathered evidence through CCTV, and am still in process of identifying offenders responsible for those bilkings.

As part of my monthly plan, I managed to carry out some speed checks on Wednesday, 31st August, in Crafts Way, Bar Hill. As a result, one motorist was seen speeding in excess of the speed limit. This motorist was spoken to regarding their speed through the village, and will also be sent a warning letter.

On Wednesday, 31 August, PCSO Baugh and I carried out door to door police surgeries in Hanover Close, Bar Hill. We consulted with all the local residents that live in the area, and we are pleased to announce that we only had positive feed back from this area..

On Sunday, 28th August, there was a report of suspicious activity at the Industrial Estate, Dry Drayton. Two men were seen in the Industrial Estate in a vehicle and as a result of police investigation there were no offences revealed.

Please be aware that churches nearby in Willingham and Over have recently been targeted for lead thefts which have been removed from the roof during the hours of darkness. May I ask that you all be extra vigilant over the coming months and please report any suspicious activity near your local churches. If residents decide to walk their dogs we are encouraging them pay passing attention to their local churches helping to give a presence. Please remember that churches are very vulnerable to this type of offence and any presence whether its the police or local residents will be a great deterrent to stop future crime. The police will also be increasing patrols in these areas.

I hope you find the information of some use, if we can assist you further please get in touch with us either via e-mail or by phone, and we will do our best to help.

Kind Regards

PCSO B. MANI
Histon Neighbourhood Policing Team

Guest Post: Gamlingay Division Councillors Report – South Cambridgeshire District Council & Cambridgeshire County Council – September 2011

Always interesting to see what is going on in the rest of South Cambridgeshire. This guest post is from Sebastian Kindersley District and County Councillor for Gamlingay;


Broadband
Everyone must be delighted to see the announcement from the County Council that it intends to pursue superfast broadband provision in rural Cambridgeshire. The situation is however at an early stage. Approval has been given by the County’s Cabinet for up to £20M prudential borrowing, but this amount is being reduced by grants amounting to £8.5m. There is also a possible additional £4M. This comes from the government backing down over the cut to the LPSA reward grant. (fyi Those of us who knew what LPSA stood for have forgotten…) There is a debate as to what this is to be used for as it was originally promised to District Councils for projects that in some cases were actually completed; and not unreasonably the Districts want reimbursement as do the third party organisations involved - we have an outrageous example locally of having purchased a new Connexions Bus which can't be used as no funding to staff or run it!

In any case, the County Council argument is that things have moved on and we should use the money for what they see as a ‘big and bold’ idea. I'm all for it but I don't think it should be funded by cash effectively stolen from the Districts.

With any luck BT and other providers will do what they did with the launch of Broadband and that is to actually provide the service - especially as two South Cambs exchanges won the Race to Infinity competition. They just need a kick up the backside from local govt to make it worth their while. We shall see!

A428 Caxton Gibbet to St Neots/Black Cat Roundabout
There is the murmuring of a campaign to get funding for the remaining dualling of the A428 from Caxton Gibbet to St Neots or better yet the Black Cat roundabout on the A1. There are some positives about this. Firstly from an entirely local point of view it would make rat-running through Waresley, Gamlingay and surrounding areas very much less attractive to drivers and would deliver some relief to residents of – for example – Mill Street Gamlingay. Further it would remove the hellish junctions at Eltisley (you will know which one if ever you’ve used it!) to name but one.

More importantly perhaps from the County’s perspective it would be considerably cheaper than the A14 proposals and would take a great deal of traffic off the A14 – which could perhaps open up Northstowe as a viable development opportunity (which is certainly isn’t right now!). For the general economy it would be a plus and for the environment it could be a plus.

But how to pay for it? Facing an unpleasant reality it has to be accepted that Cambourne is now a very sustainable settlement which it would be logical (if not desirable) to see as the basis for any strategic housing development in this area. Bourn Airfield is a brownfield site immediately adjacent to Cambourne. The first tranche of 3,300 homes in Cambourne delivered the dualling from Cambridge so (in addition to development in St Neots) one can see where S106 cash might be used. Anyway you are probably well ahead of us here…if you have views on this we would be very pleased to hear from you.

Cambridgeshire Guided Bus
To the sound of pigs nosediving into the ground the Guided Busway finally opened this summer. Initial reports are positive and that must be welcomed. However, a number of residents have complained to us about having to queue for tickets especially in the morning as machines were broken or slow. Can you please keep us up to date with any problems you are facing as A LOT of your cash has gone on this project and so there’s an extra reason to get it right.

South Cambs Empty Homes Grant Initiative Scheme
Do you have or do you know someone who owns a house or flat in South Cambs which is long-term empty? Nearly 1000 homes are not being used at the moment – and we have 4,800 families waiting for housing. South Cambs in partnership with King Street Housing Society are piloting a grant scheme the purpose of which is to provide financial assistance (through S.106 affordable housing contributions) to help bring back long-term empty properties into use to meet local housing needs. Grants are awarded at the Council's discretion in return for properties being let through the Council's Private Sector Leasing Scheme at an Affordable Rent. Please have a look at the guidance notes on www.scambs.gov.uk

Provision for Travellers
By the time you read this who knows what may have taken place at Dale Farm in terms of evictions and direct action. As regular readers know, South Cambs has made extensive provision for Travellers and Gypsies over the year – which has created a certain honeypot effect on the area. Ironically quite a few illegal Dale Farm residents own permitted sites at Smithy Fen, Cottenham which are empty… Both the settled community and the travelling community have difficulties finding housing and that’s one of the reasons it’s been so important to apply planning law equally and fairly to both and that’s certainly what we have done at South Cambs.

Lupin Field Gamlingay
As one might have guessed, the owner of the Lupin Field is now investigating submitting a planning application to develop it.  Apparently they were not aware of the public outcry when the vegetation was stripped off it. If you feel strongly about plans to develop it you need to make sure that your concerns do not go unnoticed.  Gamlingay Parish Council will probably be discussing this at their October meeting – remember you can go along to make your points at the start of all PC meetings.

Community Nursing and Health Visiting
Community nursing and health visitor services in Gamlingay are now being run for us by a provider based in Essex with, apparently, little experience of providing community health services.  It is obviously hoped and expected that we shall continue in this ward to receive the high level of care that we are used to. We do however, have concerns regarding cuts in numbers of staff and the greatly increased workload that some of our very dedicated nurses are having to take on.  If you share our concerns or have difficulty in accessing support please do let us know and we shall press our MP whose responsibility health is to Take Steps.
Pinpoint parents conference on 20 October 2011 - 'Putting parents in control?'

Cambridgeshire's first (at least for some time) Parent Conference is being held on Thursday, 20 October 2011 from 9.30am - 3:00pm at the St Ives Corn Exchange.  Adrian Loades, Director of Children and Young People's Services has given us his full support and has agreed to be a speaker. There will be other speakers and guests from health, education, social care and the voluntary sector as well as parents. There will also be  information displays, taster workshops, chill out zones, refreshments, and much more. Please put the date in your diary, book your place with Rebecca and watch this space for more information. This event is open to all parents, carers and workers who want to work together to improve services for families in Cambridgeshire. Don't miss out. Book today by phone 0751 741 9761 or email rebecca@pinpoint-cambs.org.uk.

Community Transport
South Cambridgeshire District Council has produced a booklet detailing all the community transport schemes in the area and how you can access them.  Traditionally they were used to take older people to hospital and so on but will now take just about anybody anywhere – much welcomed with the reduction in bus transport.  Copies of the booklet are available on the South Cambs website, at the parish council office/Doctor’s surgery in Gamlingay and from all other parish councils in the area.
Gamlingay MUGA

How exciting that the new Multi Use Games Area at Gamlingay Village College is nearing completion.  You will remember that this is being funded by South Cambs DC from a dual facilities grant which means that is there for the benefit of the schools and the community.  We had to fight very hard to keep this grant both when the council were making cuts a couple of years ago and when the future of GVC was in doubt more recently.  The facility should be up and running by the end of October so we look forward to seeing everyone making full use of it!

Renewable Heat Premium Launched
The Government has launched the Renewable Heat Premium Payment scheme to help householders across the country with funding towards the cost of installing renewable heating systems.  The new £15 million initiative, now open, will support up to 25,000 installations.The following technologies will be available through the scheme:

  • Ground Source Heat Pump - £1,250 grant (for homes without mains gas heating). 
  • Biomass boiler - £950 grant (for homes without mains gas heating). 
  • Air source heat pump - £850 grant (for homes without mains gas heating). 
  • Solar thermal hot water panels - £300 grant (available to all households regardless of the type of heating system used). 

Householders will need to ensure they have basic energy efficiency measures in place before applying.  Management of the scheme will be undertaken by the Energy Saving Trust and from today an information line and website will go live to provide people with more information. Householders can call 0800 512 012 or visit www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/RHPP

Grants will be available on a first come, first served basis and the scheme will close on 31 March 2012.

Casework
Your Councillors are here to help you. Please do feel free to contact us with comments, questions, problems or complaints. We hope we can help but if we can’t we are likely to know someone who can!

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Health Board Decision - "A Sad Day For NHS Democracy"


Cambridgeshire’s Shadow Cabinet Member for Health, Geoff Heathcock, has labelled a decision to allow only three elected councillors on the county’s new health board, “a sad day for democracy in the NHS”.
 
Cllr Heathcock spoke out after the county council’s Tory-run Cabinet rejected calls from Liberal Democrats for five county councillors and one councillor from each of the five district councils on the new Health and Wellbeing Board.
 
But the Tories pressed ahead instead with two Conservative county councillors and a solitary district councillor.    
 
Councillor Heathcock said: “This is a sad day for any real attempt to bring meaningful democracy into the NHS. Contrary views on health policy and commissioning of service decisions will be diluted by the time they reach the board.
 
“The Cabinet simply doesn’t understand the concept of an inclusive board with proper representation from across the political spectrum. The board will be run and dominated by officers, which of course is how they like it."
 
There was only limited discussion during the Cabinet meeting on the issue where it was suggested that district councillors views could be heard at local network meetings.
 
“This is simply not good enough,” added Cllr Heathcock.
 
The new board will oversee the spending of up to £800 million a year and have responsibility for public health throughout the county and play a major role in social care. It is being set up under the NHS health reforms and is designed to give local people more say on their services. Other members will be drawn from council officers and health officials.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

County Tories Rob Voluntary Projects To Pay For Broadband


Community projects throughout the county have been put at risk after £4 million intended to support them is being used to bail out the county council’s finances.
 
The government’s Local Public Sector Award grant should have been used to help voluntary organisations provide community schemes across the county.
 
But instead it has been taken by the ruling Conservative-group on the county council who claim they need the money to pay for high speed broadband across the county.
 
They had already intended to go-ahead with the scheme and fund it from various funding sources, including county council reserves. But instead they have decided to use the money intended for the voluntary sector, leaving question marks hanging over the future of projects, many of which were designed to promote healthy living, help the homeless and tackle unemployment.
 
Cambridgeshire Liberal Democrats are appalled by the move and have accused the Tories of ignoring their national party’s “Big Society” and gutting the voluntary sector.
 
Lib Dems are worried because they say, at a time when the voluntary sector is experiencing unprecedented demand, it is imperative for local councils to continue to support charitable work.
 
Cambridgeshire Lib Dem Kilian Bourke said: "Nationally David Cameron eulogises the Big Society but locally Nick Clarke's Conservatives are gutting the voluntary sector.  Many of these projects would still be viable with some support; at a time when the voluntary sector is experiencing unprecedented demand it is imperative that local councils continue to support their charitable work."
 
"It is not clear why the Conservative districts are going along with this.  Giving this money to the County Council will not actually result in one more broadband cable being laid, it will only offset the county council's accounts at the expense of the voluntary sector. Why have these groups not been properly consulted?"

Monday, 12 September 2011

Bar Hill to Leave South Cambridgeshire!


The Boundary commission has published it's proposed changes across Cambridgeshire in order to make MP's constituencies roughly balanced with somewhere between 72,810 and 80,473 electors. At the same time the number of constituencies (and therefore MP's) will be reduced to 600, in England this will mean a reduction from 533 to 502.

Whilst Cambridge remains unchanged in the proposals here in South Cambridgeshire the changes are pretty significant: In conjunction with St Neots (currently in Huntingdonshire) and roughly Gamlingay, Cambourne, Hardwick, and Bar Hill from South Cambridgeshire we will be forming a "new" parliamentary seat.

For a commission apparently aiming for "minimal change" this does seem to be quite significant in our area.

Across the rest of Cambridgeshire the changes are;
  • two seats in Peterborough (North & South) will include wards of Huntingdonshire and Fenland
  • Huntingdon takes in Chatteris
  • The remains of South Cambridgeshire District teams up with Queen Edith's
  • The whole of East Cambridgeshire District joins with the 4 wards of Newmarket to become a cross-county seat with Suffolk
  • March and Wisbech join Downham Market to form a cross-county seat with Norfolk
What effect these changes will have, if they go through - consultation is scheduled to start soon - I'll leave up to the papers to crunch the numbers and produce the interesting pictures. Given that South Cambridgeshire and all other seats in Cambridgeshire were Conservative (with the exception of Cambridge) and Cambridge is unchanged I predict the only significant areas of interest will be around South Cambridgeshire and the new seat.


Huppert Calls On Government To Get Tough On Tax Dodgers


Chancellor, George Osborne will be asked how he plans to reduce tax dodging today (Tuesday, September 6) when he is questioned by Liberal Democrat Cambridge MP, Julian Huppert.
 
During Oral Questions in the House of Commons, Julian will ask Mr Osborne what steps he is taking to reduce tax avoidance by large organisations and wealthy individuals.
 
Julian’s question comes just days after the Swiss government agreed to tax money held by UK taxpayers in Swiss bank accounts while still hiding their identities.
 
The deal is expected to see £5 billion a year handed to the Treasury by the Swiss authorities.
 
“This is certainly progress, but this is only the tip of the iceberg,” said Julian. “Wealthy individuals and large organisations are finding loopholes in the tax laws and banking money offshore to avoid paying.
 
“This is money which should be going into Treasury funds but some are getting richer while others are struggling.
 
“Families and individuals across the country are facing a hard time trying to make ends meet as we try to put the economy back on its feet and address the huge debt left by Labour. We have been told ‘we are in this together’, therefore the government must act now to make sure that there are no exceptions.”

Sunday, 11 September 2011

County Council Accused Of Failing To Protect Rare Wildlife


Conservationists are concerned that Cambridgeshire County Council is endangering rare wildlife by its failure to cut roadside verges properly.
Sixty seven roadside verges across the county have protected status and they need cutting in the autumn to preserve the balance of wildlife at a cost of £13,000 a year.
But Cambridgeshire County Council is refusing to cut more than a one metre band of the verges. It claims if more needs to be done parish councils must take on the work and pay for it.
Conservationists claim that, unless the verges are cut correctly, the loss of grassland species recorded over the past 10 years will not only continue but accelerate.
Cambridgeshire Wildlife Trust Conservation Manager, Martin Baker, points out that road verges represent a significant proportion of the county’s grassland habitats which are rich in various species. They support a range of nationally scarce wild plants including some restricted in the UK to a small area of Cambridgeshire, Essex and Suffolk such as Moon Carrot, Sulphur Clover and Crested Cow-wheat. 
Cambridgeshire County Councillor, Tim Stone, who represents Duxford, has taken up the case calling on the council to fulfil its responsibilities.
 He said: “Wildlife native to English hay meadows live in these protected habitats. Failure to cut the verges to their full width in the autumn would have really serious consequences for them. The county council has completely failed to carry out its responsibilities - and all for £13,000.”

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Heathcock Fears Lives Could Be At Risk From Inadequate Fire Cover


Leading Cambridgeshire Fire Authority member, Geoff Heathcock, fears residents and fire-fighters could be at risk from the inadequate level of cover across Cambridge.

He claims, despite assurances from a senior fire office in response to his concerns, he is still worried about the level of cover even before possible cuts to the service are implemented next year.

Cllr Heathcock raised his initial concerns after two serious incidents which took place in under an hour recently. Of the 13 fire stations in East and South Cambridgeshire, only four which were not directly involved in the two fires, could guarantee a crew.

Geoff said "This only confirms my worst fears that the service is too lean and lives and property are potentially extremely vulnerable. It is even more worrying that this is the present situation before possible cuts to the service are introduced in Burwell, Cambridge and Gamlingay in 2012.”

“I urge everyone concerned to challenge our MP's as a matter of urgency on the drastic measures facing our fire service. What is happening poses unacceptable risks to the public and our fire-fighters.”

Friday, 9 September 2011

Tories Go Cold On Wind Power And The Climate Change Fight


Cambridgeshire Tories have reinforced their lack of commitment to the climate change fight by going cold on wind power.
 
They plan to put a hold on allowing wind farms on Cambridgeshire County Council land and blow away almost £1 million a year in extra revenue.
 
The move comes just months after they deleted tackling climate change as a strategic objective.
 
On Tuesday, Cambridgeshire’s County Council Cabinet will decide whether to go-ahead with the deferral despite lining up developers for four sites across the district – Farcet, Chatteris, Littleport and Coveney – where wind farms were to be built on Farms Estate land owned by the council.
 
Lib Dem Shadow Cabinet Member for Climate Change, Sarah Whitebread said: “This makes absolutely no sense. At a time when the county council is struggling to make ends meet and crucial services across the county are being cut back, this development would have brought in much needed extra money.
 
“This decision came as a complete bolt out of the blue. There can be no obvious reason for it other than a change in political direction and a climate change skepticism brought about by the new leader.
 
“If we are serious about protecting our environment and fighting climate change, we should be doing everything we can to promote renewable energy. And even if the Tories cannot see the benefit on environmental grounds they must see the financial gain that this project offers.
 
“I hope that they will reinforce the council’s commitment to tackling climate change by allowing future wind farm development.”

Alcohol Support Services Must Remain A Priority


Alcohol support services for patients and their families must remain a priority under NHS reforms, Geoff Heathcock, Liberal Democrat Shadow Cabinet Member for Health on Cambridgeshire County Council says.
 
He has called on the government and local authorities to make sure services are retained when GP commissioning is introduced in 2013.
 
Cllr Heathcock has spoken out following the news that Cambridge’s Addenbrooke’s Hospital has seen over 10,000 admissions in a single year resulting from alcohol.
 
“These figures are disturbing and they put an unacceptable strain not only on the accident and emergency department but other specialist units,” he said.
 
“We must make sure that when GPs start commissioning services in two years time the services needed to support suffers and their families remain a priority.
 
“I am horrified by the level of need which is identified in the Addenbrooke’s Hospital catchment area.”

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Guest Post: BHA: Faith Schools- Just Say No (Polly Toynbee)


On Monday the first state-funded religious ‘Free Schools’ open.  I am writing to you to ask for your help in fighting the growth in these and other state-funded ‘faith’ schools. Last year, with public support, we managed to raise a year’s funding for our ‘faith’ schools campaigner. We need to do the same this year and I hope you can help us do it.

Please click here to give a donation in support of this vital work.

For the past four years the BHA has employed the UK’s only dedicated campaigner against ‘faith’ schools. This campaigner, currently Richy Thompson, works hard to oppose their discriminatory, divisive nature in the media, to government and in support of local campaigns across the country.

There are still over 7,000 ‘faith’ schools in England and Wales, and this number is rising at an alarming rate. The number of new ‘faith’ schools being established has accelerated over the past year, with the number of religious secondary schools in England rising from 18 to 19 percent across 2010 – nearly a fifth of all secondary schools. The figure for primary schools is much higher.

Worse, with many existing schools converting to Academies and the first new Free Schools opening next week, we actually face a growing threat. Increased ‘freedom’ in practice means increased ability to discriminate. ‘Faith’ schools are gaining more control over their curricula, which they now entirely set themselves. Those that cannot currently discriminate in their admissions criteria are often gaining the ability to do so. And teachers at Academies and Free Schools are not required to hold qualified teacher status.

For the last twelve months our staff have been working tirelessly on our education campaigns. The Academies Act 2010 completed its passage through Parliament, and the Education Bill has begun its journey. We have worked with the All Party Parliamentary Humanist Group to bring amendments to both Bills, and ensure a proper debate is held over the continuing role of religion in our education system. We have briefed parliamentarians on religious education, collective worship and sex and relationships education. We have responded to consultations on the curriculum, on the English Baccalaureate and on admissions, ensuring the humanist voice is prominent in all these.

Increasingly we are focussing our efforts on local campaigns, as decision-making powers shift towards local areas and we now have a regularly large number of campaigns on the go at any one time. In the past our campaigner has been working on at most one or two local campaigns at any one time. But Richy is currently working with eight groups against individual proposals for new ‘faith’ schools, and against proposals for shutting down community schools to make way for them.

The BHA has launched a launched a major new fundraising drive to support its ongoing campaign in opposition to state-funded ‘faith’ schools, and fundraise for this post for the next year. I would be delighted if you would join me in making a donation, which you can do at http://justgiving.com/nofaithschools. If you’re a UK taxpayer, please do also indicate that the BHA can reclaim Gift Aid on your donation so that we can reclaim 25p tax from HMRC for every £1 you donate.

Best wishes and thanks for all your continued support,
PollySignature
Polly Toynbee
President, British Humanist Association

NHS "Fines" Fail To Help The Vulnerable


Leading Cambridgeshire County Councillors have hit out at the NHS for “fining” Cambridgeshire more than £1.3 million in the last three years for delays in getting patients out of hospital and back into the community.
 
Shadow Cabinet Member for Health, Geoff Heathcock and Shadow Cabinet Member for Adult Social Services, Fiona Whelan, says the system simply moves cash around the NHS achieving nothing.
 
“This makes absolutely no sense,” said Cllr Heathcock. “The county council’s Adult Social Services are paying huge fines to the NHS for delays in discharging hospital patients back into the community.
 
“Moving money in this way from one partner to another is a waste of money and time and does nothing to deal with the substantive issue which is whether appropriate follow up care packages are available.”
 
Cllr Whelan added: “It is a well-known fact that people recover far quicker if they are in their own homes. But hospitals cannot let vulnerable patients leave if there is not suitable care in place for them to go home or there are not residential places available.
 
“Charging the county council in this way just means less money available to be able to help these people. That is complete nonsense and achieves nothing.”

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Cambridge MP Votes Against Controversial Health Reforms


Cambridge Liberal Democrat MP, Julian Huppert today (Wednesday, September 7) voted against the government’s controversial health reforms saying there was still “too far to go”.

He said that, despite his party vastly improving the legislation in the Health and Social Care Bill, there was still much work to be done before he could give it his support.

He added that he hoped the legislation could be fixed by the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords; but he would wait for evidence of that.

“This legislation is very much improved from Andrew Lansley’s original,” he said. “The Lib Dems have done an excellent job in bringing it closer to what it should be – but there is still too far to go.

“I hope the Lib Dems in the House of Lords will be able to fix the problems. But until I see proof of that I cannot support it.”

He added that one of the problems was evident in the way the Conservative-run Cambridgeshire County Council had decided to have just three councillors - all likely to be Conservatives - on the new Health and Wellbeing Board.

“This has happened in Andrew Lansley’s own back yard,” said Julian. ”This is not the way to make our NHS more democratic and accountable. They are not serious about their promises.”

Friday, 2 September 2011

Cambridge MP Julian Huppert Fights To Retain Status Quo On Abortion


Cambridge MP Julian Huppert is fighting to retain the right of women considering abortion to make their decisions based on medically accurate information and not biased guidance.
He has tabled an amendment to the Health and Social Care Bill which will protect the status quo allowing women to make their choice based on medical evidence.
Julian is worried that if an amendment tabled by MPs Nadine Dorries and Frank Field were to be supported it would open the way for religious based groups opposed to abortion to counsel women and prevent other organisations, such as Marie Stopes and the British Pregnancy Advice Service, from offering counselling.
He said: “Women considering abortion do not do so lightly and they need medically accurate information to help them make their choice; but it has to be their choice and not governed by an organisation which has its own agenda.
“The present system which allows women access to evidence-based guidance works, therefore I cannot see why we need to change it. I do not want to see us opening the door to anti choice organisations which could prevent women making their own decision on such a momentus issue.”
Julian’s amendment is supported by abortion groups. 
Julian’s amendment reads: “the Board must ensure that all organisations offering information or advice in relation to unplanned pregnancy choices must follow current  evidence-based guidance produced by a professional medical organisation specified by the Secreatry of State.”

Thursday, 1 September 2011

A14 Junction 32 (Histon) to Junction 31 (Girton): Westbound Repair Works - Reminder!

Just a reminder that tonight and tomorrow night the A14 will be closed westbound between Histon and Girton tonight and tomorrow night between;


8.00pm and 6.00am Thursday night
8.00pm and 8.00am Friday night

There will be a diversion in place, Emergency vehicles are not affected.