Friday, 28 October 2011

E-Cops - Weekly Update 28-OCT-2011


Its that time of year again - HALLOWE'EN!

We wanted to remind you of a few tips you can take to ensure you have an enjoyable Hallowe’en -
· Ideally children trick or treating should be accompanied by an adult.
· Children should stay in groups, make sure at least one person has a mobile phone on them and not go out too late.
· Children should tell someone where they are going, what route they will be taking and what time to expect them back.
· Not everyone wants to get involved in Hallowe’en and we ask children and parents to leave residents not wanting to take part in peace.
. We do ask that shops do not to sell and parents do not give out eggs or flour to young people, as these can cause damage if thrown at people, vehicles
or property.

As it’s that time of year we will be increasing our patrols to prevent any anti-social behaviour and to ensure the safety of those involved in the Hallowe’en festivities.

If you have any issues or concerns during Hallowe’en, let us know on 0345 456 456 4.

You can now download the free 'No trick or treat here' poster at http://www.cambs.police.co.uk/crime prevention/advice/advice.asp?ID=160

PCSO Mani was on foot patrol in Bar Hill on Sunday 23rd October, and following a report of a rowdy incident at The Fox Public House, he continued his patrol at the skate park. While there, he came across a group of approximately five older youths who walked off when they were approached. One member of this group was seen throwing a bottle into some bushes nearby and was questioned by PSCO Mani. This male was clearly intoxicated and became abusive towards PCSO Mani and refused to leave the area when asked to do so. PS Rogerson also attended and asked the male to leave the area several times, however this was again refused and both officers were met with aggression. The male was arrested for being drunk and disorderly in a public place. He has been charged and will soon be in court for this offence.

I am pleased to say that there have been no other reported crimes within Bar Hill since your last e-cops update.

Kind regards
PC 2207 Claire Reeves

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Lighter Later: Time To Get This Moving Again!

Since our big win in parliament on that snowy afternoon last December, we've been quietly (and not so quietly) marshalling political support and building our coalition of supporters while we wait for the Daylight Saving Bill to move to the crucial committee stage in parliament.

This process is never exactly speedy, but there's a lot at stake here. We can't – and won't – wait forever.

We know from experience that supportive MPs (with the occasional nudge from switched-on constituents like you) can be incredibly effective in pushing this issue up the agenda and building support in parliament.

So here's the plan first ask your MP if he'll support the change (Cambridge MP Julian Huppert has publicly supported the change, South Cambridgeshire MP Andrew Lansley has not) and then if they do support the change ask them if they will help work and make this bill a government priority.

Let's get things moving: write to your MP now

Every month this bill sits on the back burner is another month of wasted daylight and wasted opportunities – for better road safety, energy savings, jobs in tourism and a healthier, happier lifestyle for us all.

We've come a long way, and thanks to your amazing work, the prospects for clock change are the best they've been for a generation.

Ministers are working on lots of different bits of legislation at the moment, but it's time the government gave the Daylight Saving Bill a chance to move forward.

We have hundreds of allies in parliament – let's make the most of it!

Until next time,

Daniel Vockins
Campaign manager, Lighter Later

P.S. Want to find out more about the road safety aspect of lighter evenings? Here's a date for your diary: our friends at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents are holding a Twitter Q&A (@RoSPA #clockchange) with chief exec Tom Mullarkey on Wednesday 26 October from 12:30pm. Check out Tom's blog for more details.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

NO to 25% Pay Rise For Councillors ...




The number of signatures on the online-petition has now passed the 700 mark with at least 400 more people signing the paper version. Have you signed yet? The petition link is available here;

http://noto25percent.com

If you'd like to sign the paper-based petition the Liberal Democrats will be in the markets of Cambridge and Ely this Saturday if you can come and visit us.

We are encouraging people to download, circulate, and return the paper petition forms wherever they can. This is a cross-party effort supported by members of the Trade Unions, as well as Councillors from across the political spectrum; Labour, Green, UKIP, as well as Independents. There are two versions attached - one with our (Liberal Democrat) logo and one without.

Don't let them get away with it ... help us reverse this unjust pay rise.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Savage Cuts In Fire Cover If Council Tax Is Frozen Warns Bell


A potential Council Tax freeze will lead to savage cuts in emergency fire cover a leading Cambridgeshire County Councillor has warned.
Nigel Bell, Liberal Democrat leader on Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Fire Authority claims the authority faces a stark choice of how to fund an  £800,000 spending gap – either cut front line services or raise council tax.
“The latest government offer, to freeze Council Tax below inflation, is effectively a cut in income next year and each year after that,” he said. ”The Council Tax freeze last year has already created a 2.5 per cent hole in our finances when the freeze grant ends.”
The authority has identified £4.2 million in fire service cuts and the latest financial projections indicate they will need to make up to a total of £5 million in cuts over four years.
“We are currently facing a stark choice in how we fund the remaining £800,000 expenditure gap,” added Cllr Bell. “It can be found either by cutting front-line services or by raising Council Tax.
“If we do freeze Council Tax for this year, however, it would be disastrous, as the option not to cut front-line services will have disappeared. We would be starting the following year from a lower baseline and Council Tax capping would prevent us raising rates sufficiently to even keep track with current inflation running at over five per cent.”
Liberal Democrats members of the fire authority have opposed the proposed front-line cuts which include the closure of fire stations, the cutting of fire appliances and a reduction in fire-fighter numbers.
Cllr Bell said; “If we increased Council Tax by an extra one per cent a year above the current 2.5 per cent level agreed by the fire authority, there wouldn’t be the need for any cuts to front-line services.
“A recent survey across the county by the Fire Brigade Union showed that people in the county overwhelmingly supported the small extra rise required, of 1-2p a week, in Council Tax to protect front-line services.
"We must reject the government’s freeze grant as we cannot put people’s lives at risk to keep Council Tax rises well below inflation.”

25% Allowances Increase for County Councillors ...


At the last meeting of Cambridgeshire County Council the Conservative Group, including local County Councillor John Reynolds, voted to increase members basic allowance by a staggering 25% (from £7,610 to £9,500), the allowance for the Conservative leader of the Council from £22,246 to £28,500, and allowances for every member of the Conservative cabinet from £11,659 to £14,250.

At a time when hard-working officers across Cambridgeshire are taking pay freezes or even pay cuts, at a time when services are being scrapped, and experienced Council employees are being replaced with inexperienced, but keen, volunteers now is clearly not the time for a such an inflation-busting rise.

The Liberal Democrats have opposed this change from the start; voting against it at Full Council and are now campaigning to get this change reversed;


Over 400 people have signed this petition (which was only launched on Saturday) calling on Councillors not to accept this rise. Please join them and circulate this link to anyone you think might share your views.

For a full list of Councillors who voted in favour of this measure please click here.

Monday, 24 October 2011

'Make A Difference Day' Celebrating Community Service Volunteers


This year's 'Make A Difference Day' will highlight how volunteers can tackle loneliness and isolation at a special fair held at Cambridge Central Library on Saturday, October 29.

The Volunteer Recruitment fair is being held by Cambridgeshire County Council Library Service together with Volunteering Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.

The free event will celebrate community service volunteers and will give people the opportunity to find out more about volunteering in their local area or opportunities in Cambridgeshire County Council and other organisations.

The event is being held in the Central Library, Cambridge from 10am to 2pm in the third floor conference room.

There will be staff on hand to talk to and more information can be found at;


Sunday, 23 October 2011

Cambridge MP Calls For Change In Law To Help Disabled Bus Passengers


MP Julian Huppert will today (Tuesday, October 18) back a move in the Commons for a change in the law to allow some elderly and disabled people to use concessionary bus passes on Dial-a-Ride.

He has a Private Members' Bill under the '10-Minute Rule' which argues that some people with complex mobility problems, who are entitled to Concessionary Travel Cards, cannot board buses easily and hence make use of them.

They rely on community transport, such as Dial-a-Ride, but under the present law they cannot use their travel cards on those services and have to pay.

Julian wants a change in the Concessionary Bus Travel Act to allow a person who relies on community transport services to be able to use their travel card to travel for free on those services.

He said: “Concessionary Travel Cards are designed to make it easy and affordable for the elderly and disabled to travel by bus. This is an excellent scheme which prevents social isolation allowing people to go shopping, attend appointments and meet up with friends.

“The scheme falls down, however, when people have complex problems which mean they cannot board the buses. This is where community transport proves invaluable; but they have to pay extra for that under current law.

“A simple change to that law would give these people the free travel to which they are entitled but on a service that suits them.”

Saturday, 22 October 2011

E-Cops - Weekly news 22-OCT-2011


We have had a further report of criminal damage occurring in Thruffle Way, Bar Hill, between Thursday 20th October, and Friday 21st October. It is believed this took place during the hours of darkness when unknown offender(s) have thrown a tin of white gloss paint over the garden fence of a property in this location. We are appealing for information regarding this crime. If you have any information about this incident, please contact me.

On Thursday 20th October, there has been a report of theft from a motor vehicle. Unknown offender(s) have gained entry into a vehicle parked in Tesco car park and have removed the tax disc.

On Sunday 16th October, there has been a report of criminal damage to a Police vehicle whilst in The Fox car park. Offender has grabbed the handle and used his weight to snap the handle. The offender was arrested and charged with criminal damage.


If you wish to report any other crime, suspicious behaviour or activity please ring 0345 456 456 4. If you believe that a crime is in progress please ring 999. I also welcome anyone to contact me on bujar.mani@cambs.pnn.police.uk if you wish to let me know of any issues you may be experiencing.

Thank you

PCSO 7009 B. MANI
Histon Neighbourhood Policing Team

Cambridgeshire Families: Keeping You Informed


Local parents are being asked for their views on information for families as part of a consultation by Cambridgeshire County Council.

The research ties in with Parents' Week this week (October 17 to 24) - which has the theme Family Friendly... what's the story?

Research has suggested that families sometimes struggle to find the information they need. This could be related to childcare, education, health, behaviour - anything around families and parenting. The problem can be even worse for parents with a child with special educational needs or disability, who often find they have to search hard for information that is often inconsistent.

The results of the survey will be used to develop the information provided by the Council to support families to make informed decisions for themselves and their children. A more specialised consultation with parents of children with special educational needs or disability will begin on 1 November.

Cambridgeshire County Council's Families Information Team manager, Rachel Knight said:  "In order to get a reliable idea of the information needs of families in Cambridgeshire, we need as many people as possible to complete the survey. It will take about 20 minutes and 10 respondents will win a £20 high street shopping voucher."

The survey can be completed online until 30 October at http://tinyurl.com/6dh2ksy and can also be found at www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/fis.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Temporary Speed Reduction During Safety Improvement Work On The B1050


A temporary 40 mph speed limit is being introduced on a section of the B1050 to improve safety and to allow riverbank strengthening work to be completed.

The surface of the road deteriorated because of the underlying soil conditions and the riverbank needs to be stabilised before repair and resurfacing work can be carried out between the Bridge Farm lay-by and the A1123 roundabout.

The undulating road and the existing 60 mph speed limit has caused problems for high sided vehicles passing on the narrow road and for drivers using the road at higher speeds. The lower speed limit is being introduced to help overcome the problems.

Steel piling is being installed to improve the stability of the bank and further improvement work to the riverside carriageway is planned in future years, subject to funding being available. Specialists are currently working to establish the best long term solution to prevent further failure of the road.

Secondary School Application Deadline Approaches

Parents of children due to start secondary school in September 2012 are being reminded that the relevant forms must be completed and submitted by the end of this month.

The Secondary Application Form - and Supplementary Information Form if required - must be submitted to Cambridgeshire County Council by 31 October 2011.

Information and guidance about how to apply for a place is available in the Next Steps - Admission to Secondary School: a guide for parents 2012 - 2013 leaflet. This publication is available from Cambridgeshire County Council's website at: www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/admissions, where parents will also be able to access the online application facility, or download a paper copy of the Secondary Application Form

If parents submit their applications late, there is a real risk that their child will not offered a place at one of their preferred schools, as other children's applications (those received by the 31 October deadline) will be processed ahead of theirs.

For further information, e-mail admissions@cambridgeshire.gov.uk or log onto the County Council's website at:

Monday, 17 October 2011

Big Society or Waffle? - Voluntary Sector Funds Pocketed by Tory-Run County Council

Many residents in our villages do regular volunteer work, and make a huge difference to isolated people who need help in their day-to-day lives.

The Care Network helps to coordinate many of these efforts: supporting community car schemes, luncheon clubs, mobile warden schemes, and so on. Funding for the Care Network comes from government and is channelled through the County Council.

Whether you are on the giving or receiving end, you will know that these schemes are part of the fabric that holds our village communities together. Of course, this is exactly what we are told the ‘Big Society’ is all about—something the County Council apparently supports.

But, in an alarming twist, government funding earmarked for Care Network projects is being retained by the Conservative-led County Council for other projects This includes £49,500 for community car schemes—ironically, at a time when the County Council has made a 100% cut to bus subsidies and has suggested that community transport schemes should take up the slack. Such contradictions are difficult to understand.

The Care Network is not alone. Other community projects watching their money diverted away by a crafty council include the Connections Youth Bus, which provides a mobile youth service across South Cambridgeshire villages and is ever more important following the County’s slashing of the youth services budget.

Everyone knows that local authorities are looking for extra cash, but pocketing government grant funding intended for already-planned community projects is simply wrong. Susan and County colleagues will be using the ‘call-in’ right to have the decision reviewed.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

E-Cops - Your weekly news 16-OCT-2011

We have had a report of criminal damage occurring in Thruffle Way, Bar Hill between Wednesday 12th October, and Thursday 13 October. It is believed this took place during the hours of darkness when an unknown offender(s) has thrown a tin of white gloss paint over the front door and windows of a property in this location. If you have any information about this incident, please contact me.

Between Sunday 8th October, at approx 13:30, and Monday 10th October at 07:30 October, there was been a burglary in the City Crematorium, Dry Drayton where an unknown offender(s) entered a garage and stole various items. I have completed the relevant enquiries but unfortunately, due to the lack of evidence, the crime has now been closed.

On Monday 10th October, there was a report of burglary at the Menzies Hotel, Bar Hill. An unknown offender(s) has forced entry into a storage unit and removed various items of equipment.

This week I have focused my patrols and door to door surgeries in Bar Hill, and I am pleased to say all was in order.

On Thursday 13th October I attended the Dry Drayton Village Hall coffee morning to chat with members of the public about any concerns or issues that may have.

I also carried out speed checks in Scotland Road, Dry Drayton on the same day and I am pleased to say no motorists were seen travelling in excess of the speed limit.

Kind Regards

PCSO 7009 B. MANI
Histon Neighbourhood Policing Team

Residents To Have Their Say On New Cambourne Secondary School


Cambridgeshire County Council is asking residents to comment on its plans to build a new secondary school for Cambourne as a consultation is launched this week.

Plans for the new school will be on display on Wednesday 12 October between 2pm and 8pm at The Hub, Cambourne Community Centre, High Street, Cambourne.

Planning Officers from the County Council will be on hand at the event to answer questions, particularly about the planning process and how local residents and other members of the public can have their say on the proposed development.

The new school is intended to take some of the burden from nearby Comberton Village College which will be full by 2013.

The site for the new school lies between the north-western edge of Lower Cambourne and Swansley Wood Farm.

The proposal includes the construction of a two storey school building including a gym and sports hall, a dining area, a main hall, an activity studio as well as general purpose and subject-specific classrooms and hard play areas and sports pitches

Councillor Ian Bates, Cabinet Member for Growth and Planning at Cambridgeshire County Council, said: "I would like to encourage as many local residents as possible to come along to this event so that they can have their say on this important proposal. If you can't make it on the day, you can always comment on the proposal by email or send a letter to the County Council's planning team."

Members of the public have until Monday 24 October 2011 to comment either by email to planningdc@cambridgeshire.gov.uk or by letter to Box 1213, Shire Hall, Cambridge, CB3 OAP. The proposal is likely to be decided by the Council in the new year.

The full planning application can be seen on the County Council's website at: 

www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/environment/planning/applications

and follow the links.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Buses: Cut First, Ask Later


The County Council has paid a heavy price for its cavalier decision last February to cut 100% of bus subsidies.   No research had been conducted on people’s transport needs, and there was no plan in place for those who lack transport of their own and would end up stranded, though the council said it expected Community Transport to make up the difference.

In May an application for Judicial Review was lodged against the Council on several grounds, including lack of consultation.  In July the Council’s bid for £5 million from the government‘s Local Sustainable Transport Fund was denied, specifically on the basis that the Council had gone too far in its cuts.  The government refused to fill in the gaps.

In order to make the Judicial Review go away, the Council has been forced to consult on residents’ transport needs—something the Lib Dems have been pressing for all along.

It is now doing so, though the consultation is being run primarily via the council’s website:

http://www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/transport/around/buses/busconsultation.htm

Unfortunately the web version does not allow you to view the entire document before starting to respond.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Lib Dems Victory In Fight For Wind Farms


Cambridgeshire Liberal Democrats are celebrating victory after a Tory decision to ban wind farms on county council land was sent back for a rethink.
 
Liberal Democrats had called-in the decision by the Tory-controlled Cabinet on Cambridgeshire County Council which they claimed reinforced the ruling group’s lack of commitment to climate change.
 
The decision, to put a hold on wind farms on council-owned Farms Estate land, came despite four tenant farmers having worked with the county council and invested money on wind turbine projects.
 
Cambridgeshire County Council Shadow Cabinet member for Planning, Enterprise and Environment, Kevin Wilkins said: “"It is good news that councillors from across the political spectrum backed the Lib Dem call for a rethink on the ban on wind power on county
council land.
 
"The blanket ban on wind power is absurd and particularly unfair on the council's tenant farmers and I am relieved that the scrutiny committee agreed.
 
"I hope that the Leader of the council will put aside his own hostility to the well-established science of climate change when reconsidering the policy at Cabinet."

Saturday, 8 October 2011

E-Cops - Your Weekly News 08-OCT-2011

We have had a report of suspicious activity in the High Street, Dry Drayton this week. On Thursday, 7th October, at approximately 02:10 in the morning, a group of 4 youths (three males one female) were seen walking from High Street, Dry Drayton towards Pettitt's Lane. They were seen trying car door handles trying to gain eatery. These men were also seen looking into properties. If you saw this happen, please get in touch, any information will be useful.

On Saturday 1st October, we had a nuisance report from Bar Hill Village Hall, The Spinney. Just after mid night a group of youths were outside making a rather loud noise. Police were notified and located these youths, and moved them on.

Over the past week we have had reports of criminal damage to the Parish Council notice board. I have made the relevant enquires relating the damage, as yet we have no witnesses, did you see antything? I believe that the damage was caused by youths kicking a football against the board, I have spoken with a number of young people that play football round the village, and have strongly advised them to be aware of the damage they could be causing.

On Friday, 30th September I carried out speed checks in Scotland Road, Dry Drayton. As a result no motorists were seen travelling in excess of the speed limit which is good news!

Please be aware: people have been calling door to door across the neighbourhood pretending to be from "talk talk" (phone and broadband company), they ask to use your phone to call in your details, and call a premium rate number costing the bill payer up to £35 a min. Do not let these people in or use your phone, if they call at your door call 999.

I am working through this weekend and you may see me out and about on foot patrol, please feel free to stop and chat to me if there is anything you want to raise with me.


Kind Regards


PCSO Bujar MANI
Histon Neighbourhood Policing Team 

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Solar Power - Coming To A School Near You!

The 10:10 campaign, dedicated to helping people reduce their carbon emissions, is currently developing a new project called "Solar Schools".

This new project allows individuals and businesses, for as little as £5 each, to sponsor new solar panel installations for their local primary or secondary schools. In the words of the founder; "The idea is simple: we help schools get their own solar panels by giving them tools to raise money from the local community. This cuts their carbon emissions, generates long-term income via the Feed-in Tariff and provides a brilliant educational resource for the pupils."

The beta project is far from complete but they are already asking schools to register for the 2012 programme.

If there is a school in your local area that would like to register please direct them to;

http://www.solarschools.org.uk/registerinterest/

If you'd like to find out more, or sponsor one of the existing schools in the scheme, then please visit the URL;

http://www.solarschools.org.uk

NOTE: The nearest school registered with the scheme to Bar Hill is Newnham Croft Primary School (5km away) - http://www.solarschools.org.uk/newnhamcroft/


Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Lies, Damned Lies And Statistics



New government research* released last week has found that non-religious people are just as likely as religious people to participate in society. Contrary to what is often endorsed by mainstream press and supported by government policy, religious people are not more likely to be active in the community and Christians are less likely than others to mix with people from different backgrounds and beliefs. These findings are further evidence against the mistaken idea that is increasingly advanced by religious leaders and Government representatives of the 'Big Society' agenda.


The research found that in terms of civic engagement and formal volunteering in 2010-2011, there is almost no difference in participation between those with no religion (56%) and Christians (58%) – a continuing trend since 2007. The proportion of Hindus and Muslims participating in civic engagement and formal volunteering is the lowest of all religion or belief groups, at 44% respectively. Overall, there seems to be no significant difference between participation between those with and those with no religion.


However, also released recently was research commissioned by the Catholic Church focusing on the effect of the Pope’s visit on the public. Although widely reported as favorable for the Church, this research shows that the Papal visit had little effect on people’s own personal spiritual values. When asked the question ‘Did the Pope's visit put you more in touch or less in touch with your own personal spiritual values?’ 4% of people responded that they were more in touch, with 91% stating that there was no change. What was not so commonly reported is the 4% of people said that the pope’s visit put them less in touch with their own personal spiritual values. While few media outlets reported findings from the Government’s research positively in relation to atheism, the findings from the Church’s survey were reported in statements like those in The Independent that “Opinion poll findings released by the Roman Catholic Church show there has been a rise in the level of religious belief in this country following last year's papal visit.”


For humanists, it is important that we continue to promote our contribution to society, and ensure that as a collective group we are recognised for the roles we take in the community in order to ensure equal representation and treatment in the media, society, and in the law.


*The Citizenship Survey: April 2010 - March 2011, was published by the Department for Communities and Local Government on 22 September 2011.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

“Law And Policy Outdated For LGBT Community” - Cllr Belinda Brooks-Gordon


Gay couples are being failed in some areas of social policy and the law, Cambridgeshire County Councillor, Belinda Brooks-Gordon told a Stonewall LGBT fringe event at the Liberal Democrat Autumn Conference.

She said there have been legal cases where judges had treated same sex relationships very differently to others committing the same offence.

Dr Brooks-Gordon was invited to speak on the issue Ensuring LGBT Representation in Public Life. She has written extensively on sexuality as a policy issue and explained how the last government had left in place policy areas that need to be corrected.

“Same sex couples are being discriminated against under our legal system,” said Dr Brooks-Gordon. “Current law and social policy has not been updated to represent these people in modern society.

“It can also be extremely traumatising when transsexual people have to get divorced when they change sex and then have a civil partnership. We need to look closely at how we can overcome these obstacles.”

Dr Brooks-Gordon spoke alongside the Liberal Democrat’s London Mayoral candidate, Brian Paddick, MP Stephen Williams, Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader, Simon Hughes and Stonewall CEO, Ben Summerskill among others.

Councillor Gives Up Shadow Cabinet Role For Career


Leading Liberal Democrat Councillor, Fiona Whelan, has stepped down from her role as Shadow Cabinet Member for Children and Adult Social Care to concentrate on her career.
 
She has been succeeded by Councillor, John Batchelor, who represents Linton and is a member of the Cambridgeshire Police Authority.
 
Cllr Whelan, who represents Hardwick, took the difficult decision to give up the role because she wants to return to her legal work.
 
She said: “I thought long and hard about giving up this role because there is so much work to be done in the area which deals with some of the most vulnerable members of our society.
 
“But it is also very demanding and I want to pick up my career. I am delighted that John has taken this portfolio and I know he will do an excellent job.”
 
Cllr Batchelor said: “Fiona has been an extremely valuable member of the Shadow Cabinet and her expertise will be missed.
 
“I feel privileged to be given the chance to take over knowing that I can always call on her wealth of knowledge in this field.
 
“Children and adult social care has been an easy target whenever the Tories have looked to save money and balance their books. There is much work to be done to protect these services which are vital to our communities.”

Monday, 3 October 2011

"Change Law On Prostitution To Protect Women" - Cllr Brooks-Gordon


Cambridgeshire County Councillor, Belinda Brooks-Gordon has called on the government to change the law on prostitution for groups of women working together as protection from violence.
 
She spoke out at the Liberal Democrat Autumn Conference in Birmingham saying it is vital the police target resources in the right direction to catch violent men rather than prosecuting working women.
 
Cllr Brooks-Gordon supported the motion Tackling Violence Against Women put to conference by MP Tom Brake and Baroness Sally Hamwee, Co-chairs of the Home Affairs, Justice and Equalities Committee.
 
But she said that although the motion mentioned prostitution, it did not deal with it fully.
 
She wants to see the law changed so that two or three adult women who choose to work together in the sex industry for mutual protection cannot be prosecuted. And violence against sex workers should be treated as a hate crime, she said.
 
She added that the last Labour government acknowledged that women working together for safety should be allowed and the Home Office accepted that “women should not sell sex alone”.
 
But the government then reversed its position despite evidence and expert opinion, she said.
 
“The harm reduction evidence is overwhelming from academic research,” she said. “But the last government relied on flawed studies from organisations with vested interests, for example on trafficking.
 
“The financial savings of this safety measure would be significant. Assets recovery was a political motivation for the last government not affording women this safety in legislation. The Home Office stated that asset recovery would raise revenue with which to fund other harm reduction policies. But that didn’t happen.” 
 
Cllr Brooks-Gordon added that, by contrast, the tax law recognises self-employed women in the sex industry. High Court judgements in VAT cases recognise that workers in escort agencies and lap dancing clubs work have the right to for themselves.
 
She reminded party members and supporters that there is public support for this move following the London Slutwalk in June which attracted around 5,000 marchers.
 
“The last government let these women down badly,” she said. “We can do so much better.”

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Heathcock Questions Future Of Southern Cross Watchdog


Leading Cambridgeshire County Councillor, Geoff Heathcock wants a meeting with Health Minister, Andrew Lansley to discuss the future of the health watchdog criticised over the collapse of the Southern Cross care homes.

Cllr Heathcock, Cambridgeshire County Council's Shadow Cabinet Member for Health has called for a meeting with the South Cambridge MP to find out what the government plans to do about the structure, staffing and inspection regime of the Care Quality Commission.

His concerns come after a Parliamentary report which revealed that the CQC was set up with an impossible working brief but failed to raise the alarm when its rates of inspection of health and social providers fell by 70 per cent in the second half of 2010/11.  

He said "It's absolutely appalling. We have seen over recent months, high profile cases surrounding care homes in the UK and some hospitals. There has been a gradual reduction in the confidence of the regulator to do its job uncovering high standards of care and wrong doing.

"While this has been going on I want to know what has been happening here in Cambridgeshire. Is the system robust enough to have prevented abuse or death in the Health Secretary's back yard?"

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Councillor Gains Party Conference Backing For Student Fight


Cambridgeshire County Councillor, Belinda Brooks-Gordon has won support from Liberal Democrat conference delegates for her fight to get a fairer deal from the government for part-time students.
 
She teamed up with former Cambridgeshire County Council Liberal Democrat leader, Baroness Sal Brinton to put a motion to the Birmingham conference to ensure part-time university students were not discriminated against under the new education loans 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 delighted that members and supporters gave their support to this fight,” said Councillor Brooks-Gordon, a Reader at Birbeck College, London.
 
“Under the government’s proposals, part-time students, many of whom are single parents or disabled, are being discriminated against. I want to make sure that all students are getting the best possible deal to allow them to accept places on higher education no matter what their circumstances. With the support from conference, we have taken a major step forward in getting this Bill changed.
 
“I took my degree as a single parent with two children and would not have had my career without my university education.”
 
Baroness Brinton said: “Part-time students make up almost half of all students. The Government’s higher education policy means that for the first time since fees were introduced, they won’t pay a penny up front.
 
“Without a doubt, this will encourage people who wouldn’t otherwise have been able to afford it, to come back to education.
 
“But we can still go further. Liberal Democrats supported calls to ensure both part-time and full-time students are eligible to begin repayments at the same time.
 
“This will ensure part-time students are treated fairly, create a level playing field and promote wider participation in our universities.”