Thursday, 15 September 2011

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!