Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Guest Post: Gamlingay Division Councillors Report – South Cambridgeshire District Council & Cambridgeshire County Council – July 2012

Cllr Sebastian Kindersley
(LD, Gamlingay)

The Gamlingay Division comprises the Parishes of Arrington, Barrington, Croydon, Great Eversden, Lt Eversden, Gamlingay, Lt Gransden, Haslingfield, Harlton, Hatley, Longstowe, Orwell & Wimpole.

Your Councillors are always ready to help. If you have any questions about these - or indeed any other - matters, please do not hesitate to contact County Councillor Sebastian Kindersley on 01767 651982 or skindersley@hotmail.com or write to the Manor Barn, East Hatley, SG19 3JA. District Councillor Bridget Smith is on 01767 650510 or bridget@glockling.com.

South Cambridgeshire Local Plan

The Issues and Options Consultation for how South Cambs develops to 2031 is running for 10 weeks from July 12th. Please respond! The District Council considered all the sites put forward for housing and for a new settlement and has whittled down the 300+ options. As predicted Barrington Quarry did not make it through the sift (although one of the questions relates to the Quarry as an important employment site) and as also predicted the usual suspects for both the new settlement and extensions to housing did – Waterbeach, Bourn Airfield, Cambourne…

Of some concern to us all are proposals that would extend Cambridge city out towards Haslingfield and Grantchester. At the full Council meeting that agreed the consultation there was a cross party effort to remove the proposed inclusion of land north and south of Barton Road. It is a site that has been refused numerous times before over many years. However, the Administration felt it was worth keeping in despite a widespread local backlash against it on the grounds that we have to show we have consulted properly. My retort is that consulting on a bonkers proposal is wasting valuable time and effort by us all (including officers) and shows an arrogant contempt for the most locally affected Parishes. We shall see!!!

The plan is available on www.scambs.gov.uk. Roadshows take place between 3pm and 8pm on the following dates (I have only included the local ones)
  • 18 July at Barton Sports and Social Pavilion
  • 19 July at Cambourne Business Park Marketing Office
  • 25 July at Bassingbourn Village College
  • 4 September at Gamlingay Village college
  • 5 September at Great Shelford Memorial Hall
Also discussed at some length was the proposal for a Sporting Quarter in the Green Belt forming a large extension to Trumpington Meadows. This was also deleted as it appeared to give a major landowner/developer an unfair advantage in the consultation process and it may have led residents to think that the scheme was a “done deal”. This is very much not the case, and again a cross party group of Councillors pressed for a simpler and fairer series of questions.

Council Tax Benefit Consultation

Yes I can hear your sigh. But this is a big deal – not least for the 6,868 South Cambs residents currently in receipt of CTB. The Government has changed the way this is funded from a central grant covering all the cash paid out to a localised system which will be capped and which is to be reduced by 10%. So all the local authorities have to plan for this. Those recipients of pension age, sole parents with children under 5 and some other small groups will be left untouched – that removes about half the claimants from the changes proposed. It means that the 10% cut (and the capping) disproportionally impact the remaining half who may see their CTB reduced by anything up to 55%.

The new rules however do allow the Council to make changes to who pays Council Tax so that more property could be paying Council Tax; and indeed more people. For example if you have savings of less than £16k you get to apply for Council Tax support. That may be reduced to £6k. The Council can also change the current discounts. So at the moment a second home discount is allowed of 10%. This could not only be removed but second homes could be subject to 200% council tax – i.e. if they are empty the owner pays double! The side advantage is that this would encourage use of the 600+ empty properties in South Cambs. And so it continues….The consultation runs from July 23 – 28 September.

Register of Interests

There has been much disgruntlement from Parish Councils about the onerous and overly intrusive nature of the new Register of Interests which – amongst other things – requires disclosure of a partner’s interests as well. Firstly – if you do not know your partner’s interests then you cannot be held responsible for failure to declare. We suggest to anyone still concerned that this is the best way forward. In any case a query to the Chief Constable has elicited the response that the Police have neither resource nor inclination to get involved with this. Personally I’d be quite happy to be arrested for failing to declare a partner’s interest as the ensuing publicity would certainly ensure a swifter reform of the new idiotic legislation than the trudge of lobbying MPs etc but I do agree breaking the law is not to be encouraged. Ahem.

And changes to Sheltered Housing…..

We recently attended an information presentation at Avenells Way Day Centre to discuss the new Sheltered Housing Service. The bottom line is that we are moving from care to support – a very different service indeed. This has been driven by a huge reduction in the County Council’s funding for supported housing services (itself a reduction from the Gov.). A team of 10 will support all South Cambs schemes - 1400 houses with about 33% of residents being eligible for support. Residents are assessed as to whether or not they need support and can appeal if they think they should have it but have been told they don’t qualify. Do let us know if you are appealing as we may be able to help. Care will be down to agencies and families but we all need to be keeping an eye out for our neighbours just in case anyone is falling through the support net.
Arrington Wind Mast
We have been advised by South Cambs that this application has been refused for a second time on grounds of aircraft safety and adverse impact on the landscape. Obviously an appeal may yet be lodged.
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! *****************************