Friday, 30 November 2012

Cambridgeshire Meets Adoption Thresholds


Cambridgeshire has again met the timescale thresholds in adoption for key performance indicators.

The county is doing better than the national average with 65 per cent of children in Cambridgeshire waiting less than 21 months between entering care and moving in with their adoptive family, compared to the national average of 56 per cent of children waiting less than 21 months for an adoptive family.  Its average length of care proceedings over two years is a week longer than the national average.

  • In the first six months of this year 16 adoptive families have been approved (35 families were approved last year)
  • 19 children have been placed for adoption in the first six months of the year, compared with a total of 22 children placed last year. 17 of the 19 children were placed with Cambridgeshire adopters.
  • 13 adoption orders have been granted since April 2012 (32 adoption orders granted last year)

The Government introduced the Adoption Scorecard earlier this year to measure adoption performance of local authorities to be published annually. The score cards for the year 2011 - 2012 are published today (30 November).

The scorecard measures Local Authority adoption performance against timescales highlighting key indicators for how swiftly local authorities place children in need of adoptive families.

Two key threshold indicators are measured in the scorecard. The first of these relates to the overall experience of a child who is adopted, measuring the average time it takes for a child from entering care and moving in with his or her adoptive family. The second key indicator measures the average time it takes between court authorising placement for adoption (granting a Placement Order) and a child being matched with an adoptive family,  identifying the proportion of children who wait longer for adoption than they should.
Cambridgeshire's partnership with Coram - a national children's charity and specialist voluntary adoption agency - was set up in September 2011 in response to the Government's call for local authorities to improve their adoption services, and is now well established.

Cllr David Brown, Cambridgeshire County Council's Cabinet Member for Children and Young People's Services said: "Based on the score card information, Cambridgeshire as an adoption agency is doing well currently, but we are not complacent and will continue to monitor our performance rigorously. Our practice is becoming more child-focused and we are very pleased at being able to recruit prospective adopters who are able to meet the needs of children waiting for adoptive families. We will continue to work closely with Coram to further reduce delay for children and for prospective adopters."

Low-Carbon Christmas And Planning 2013 In December (Cambridge Carbon Footprint)


We are running another thermal imaging camera training next Thursday, 6th December. This is a good opportunity to learn how to use the camera, and after the training you will be able to borrow the CCF one to have a look at houses in your community. 

Over the holidays, the CCF office will be closed from Monday 24th December to January 1st inclusive. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to everyone!

1. Carbon Conversation Groups starting in January

We are pleased to announce that we have three new Carbon Conversation Groups starting in January!

Transition Cambridge group: this group is for people who are involved with Transition Cambridge and who subscribe to the Transition Cambridge bulletin
Venue: Hills Road near the rail station

North Cambridge: an open group running in the evenings in north Cambridge
Venue: CCF office (Milton Road near the Westbrook Centre)

Trumpington: following our successful Warm Homes Trumpington event we are running a local Carbon Conversation course for anyone interested in attending
Venue: Trumpington Pavilion, Paget Road

Carbon Conversations is a series of six engaging meetings in which participants address climate change in a different way, focusing on values, emotions, lifestyle and identity as well as the basic facts of carbon emissions.

To learn more about Carbon Conversations, or to join an upcoming group please emailinfo@cambridgecarbonfootprint.org or phone 01223 301842.

2. CCF Stall at Mill Road Winter Fair 1 December

Saturday 1 December, 10.30am - 4.30pm, Ditchburn Gardens, Mill Road

We're returning to Mill Road Winter Fair this year! We’ll have lots of activities at our stall focusing on low-carbon living, so bundle up and come find us on Mill Road on December 1st, learn more about CCF, get a taste of our upcoming Low-Carbon Christmas event, or just to say hello!

We will be located in Ditchburn Gardens, which you can find on the MRWF map here . 

Volunteers are most definitely wanted! Contact stephanie@cambridgecarbonfootprint.org to add yourself to the rota. Shifts are available 10:30am – 12:30pm, 12:30pm – 2:30pm and 2:30pm – 4:30pm.

3. A Low-Carbon Christmas 4 December

Tuesday 4 December, 5 - 8pm, Ross Street Community Centre, Ross Street

Join us for a hands-on evening that will change the way you do the holidays! Christmas can be a time of high consumption and waste, but it doesn’t need to be: let CCF volunteers show you how to have a Low-Carbon Christmas.
Some of the activities we’ll have for you on the night:
Make your own Christmas crackers
Make some easy handmade decorations
Wrapping service (bring your gifts if you already have them!)
Ideas for upcycled and second hand gifts on display
Vegetarian Christmas dinner cooking workshop

This event is family friendly and hands-on! Drop-in at Ross Street Community Centre on Ross Street anytime between 5pm and 8pm. The event is free but local handmade gifts, cracker packages and refreshements will be on sale (cash only), and we always appreciate donations!

4. Thermal Imaging Training 6 December

Thursday 6 December, 7.30 - 9.30pm, CCF Office, Milton Rd CB4 1UY

A free training session in using CCF’s Thermal Imaging Camera – and interpreting the results. It’s quite easy to get pretty pictures, but it needs understanding to say what they mean!

When trained, you can borrow the camera to do surveys and identify thermal leaks. Donations to CCF are appreciated from people benefiting from surveys.

Training by Nicola Terry and Tom Bragg

To book your place email info@cambridgecarbonfootprint.org or contact the office on 01223 30184

5. CCF Winter Social 13 December]

Thursday 13 December, 7.30 - 10pm, Hills Rd area

Volunteers, supporters, staff and trustees of CCF, come and enjoy some nibbles and mulled wine while celebrating the successes of the past year. If you’re new to CCF, this is a great chance to meet other like-minded people!

Space is limited, so please book ahead with info@cambridgecarbonfootprint.org or 01223 301842.

The social will be held at the home of one of our trustees, off Hills Road. You’ll get the full address when you book.

6. Grow Your Own Year Round Workshop 7 January

Monday 7 January, 7.30 - 9.30pm, Ann Dowcra Room, Friends Meeting House, Jesus Lane

Whether you’re new to growing your own food, or a seasoned experimenter, this workshop led by expert grower Keith Jordan, is essential if you want to eat your own produce all year round. “Grow Your Own Year Round” will help you plan your garden and planting schedule so that you always have something from the garden to eat, no matter the season.

Space will be limited so please book ahead by emailing info@cambridgecarbonfootprint.org or calilng us at 01223 301842. All materials will be provided.

7. Welcome to our new CCF Coordinator!

We’re delighted to welcome Alana Sinclair as the new Cambridge Carbon Footprint Coordinator. She’s been volunteering with CCF, helping with events, and is in a Carbon Conversations group – together with her experience with public engagement in recycling and doing a Masters in Sustainability in her native Australia – you can tell we’re looking forward to working with her! You can reach Alana at alana@cambridgecarbonfootprint.org

I began volunteering with CCF because I'm interested in finding and promoting ways of living which are good for both people and the planet and I was impressed with CCF's approach to supporting individuals to make personal changes in just this area. Although climate change is quite often discussed in doom and gloom terms I'm firmly of the belief that moving towards sustainability is an opportunity to make positive changes and I'm very pleased to be working alongside individuals who are just as passionate as I am to make the most of this opportunity.

8. Smart kettles and social practices: can we design our way to sustainability or do we need to understand the meaning of what we do?

In a recent post on the Green Alliance blog Chris Sherwin argued that better design was the route to more sustainable behaviour. A more psycho-social approach suggests that understanding the meaning of what we do may be just as important.

Read more at www . rorandall . org

Golden Jubilee Artwork To Be Unveiled


A joint artwork by Cambridge’s Netherhall School pupils, residents and artist, Zoe Chamberlain to mark the Queen’s Golden Jubilee will be unveiled on December 11.

The 60-60 Jubilee bench in Wulfstan Way commemorates the royal event while at the same time remembering 60 years in the Queen Edith’s ward and looking to the future.

Cambridge City Councillor, Lib Dem George Pippas, who represents the ward, led a steering group to work on the bench bringing together the ideas of schoolchildren and residents.

Pensioners and youngsters from the area’s schools were given cardboard thrones to design and their work was exhibited in the city centre in October. Zoe then took some of the designs and incorporated them into the Jubilee bench.

It will be unveiled during the Christmas lights switch on in Wulfstan Way which will be carried out by the Mayor of Cambridge, Sheila Stuart. During the event carols will be sung by church and school choirs.

Cllr Pippas said: “We wanted everyone to be involved in this artwork which celebrates the Queen’s Golden Jubilee while at the same time remembering 60 years of local history and looking forward to the next 60 years.

“The whole community was involved in this project from start to finish. We even included school art students and representatives from the community, church and council on the panel which interviewed and selected our artist.

“It has been great to see everyone pooling their ideas and I hope the bench will be there for posterity and enjoyed for years to come.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Andrew Duff Calls For Urgent Clarification Of Barroso Blueprint


In a statement today (Thursday) reacting to the publication of the Commission's Blueprint for a Deep and Genuine EMU, UEF President Andrew DUFF said:

"I strongly welcome the fact that President Barroso has spelled out his thinking in advance of the December European Council. He is right to insist on rapid completion both of the two pack laws and the setting up of the single supervisory mechanism for Europe's banking sector.

"It is also good that the Commission has resurrected key elements of the banking and fiscal union which were in danger of being submerged by the antipathy of certain member states - the redemption fund, euro T-bills, the resolution mechanism and fund. The pooled deposit guarantee fund also needs its firm place on the Commission's agenda.

"However, in respect of treaty change I am not alone in being confused about the Commission's intentions. Mr Barroso appeared to be talking about two separate treaty revision exercises, which is surely a luxury Europe cannot afford.

"And the two phase timetable of 18 months and five years is distinctly odd. In 18 months both Parliament and Commission will close down for re-election. And if we have not already established a federal economic government for a fiscal union in five years time, the euro will be dead.

I am writing to President Barroso to seek further clarification on this matter, as well as to offer him and his colleagues the collaboration of the European federalist movement in bringing his blueprint to fruition."

Stop Means Stop - You're Putting Children's Lives At Risk


Cambridgeshire's school crossing patrol service has launched a campaign to target drivers who fail to stop or are rude and abusive to lollipop ladies.

The County Council's road safety team has received nine reports since April of motorists failing to stop and putting the lives of crossing patrols and children at risk. Other complaints included road users who:

  • Failed to stop
  • Drove around the patrol when they were on the road
  • Used abusive language
  • Threatened the patrol with physical violence
  • Trying to intimidate the patrol by loudly revving the engine while the patrol and children were in the road

Authorities in the eastern region are running their annual Stop Means Stop campaign to remind drivers that they are required by law to stop for school crossing patrols.

Failure to do so can lead to a £1000 fine and three penalty points. In cases where the driver has been in their vehicle and behaved in an antisocial manner, the police can issue a Section 59 notice which can lead to the vehicle being seized.

The Stop Means Stop campaign will be promoted with 6,000 car stickers, leaflets and posters sent to all reception year children.

Andy Swallowe, the County Council's School Crossing Patrol Service Manager said: '"School Crossing Patrol Officers play a vital role in ensuring school children are provided with a safe route to and from school They should be able to do this without fear of intimidation and threatening behaviour from inconsiderate motorists.

"Last year in the UK there were 7,000 reported incidents, which is totally unacceptable. Drivers must remember that if their car journey takes them through a patrolled area, allow extra time, slow down and be prepared and willing to stop when requested to do so by the School Crossing Patrol."

Anyone wishing to display a car sticker should contact 01223 699356.

Tories Obstructing Democracy Over Move To Challenge Services


Cambridgeshire Tories have been accused of obstructing local democracy over a move to allow communities to run council services.

Members of Cambridgeshire County Council’s Cabinet decided that the running of services can only be challenged every four years despite the fact that other local authorities across the county welcome challenges every 12 months.

The Lib Dem policy, the Community Right to Challenge, is set out in the Localism Act and it was anticipated by government that creative authorities would “welcome innovative ideas from communities about how services can be reformed and improved”.

Liberal Democrat Councillor, Michael Williamson, who represents Waterbeach said: “This flies in the face of the spirit of the Localism Act which aims to give communities a greater say in the services that affect them and a greater involvement.

“The Tories implementation of this policy obstructs localism and local democracy.”

The decision comes after the Tories rejected a Lib Dem move to make elected councillors more accountable to the public by dropping the number of signatures required on a petition to trigger a full council debate from 15,000 to just 3,000.

“Cambridgeshire Tories seem to go out of their way to make it as difficult as possible for the residents who elected them to have their say,” added Cllr Williamson.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Lib Dems Push Forward Drive To Give More Workers Living Wage


Contractors bidding to run Cambridge’s swimming pools and other leisure facilities are being encouraged to pay their workers the living wage.

The move by the Lib Dem-led city council comes after a decision to raise the lowest council pay to the current living wage of £7.45 an hour in recognition of the high cost of living in the city.

Members of the council’s community services scrutiny committee will be asked at their meeting on December 5 to change the council’s procurement process to include a desire for companies bidding for its leisure management contract to pay their workers the living wage.

The leisure management contract is the first contract up for renewal and it is hoped the council can include reference to the living wage in the tendering process.

Rod Cantrill, Cambridge City Executive Councillor for Art, Sport and Public Places said: “We are hoping that contractors employed by the council will follow our lead and pay their staff the living wage.

“The leisure management contract is the first contract coming up for renewal and it demonstrates that we are delivering on our promise not only to pay the living wage for our own employees but also to encourage others to follow our lead.

“We are committed to helping those on low incomes in these difficult times and we would hope our contractors would feel able to do the same. Paying workers the living wage is good for business; it shows a company’s commitment to its staff and, in turn reduces staff turnover.

“I hope all members of the committee will support this proposal as councillors of all parties did our motion on the living wage presented to full council recently. This will be a big step forward in getting a fairer deal for those on low incomes in the city.”

Have Your Say On Addenbrooke's Energy Innovation Centre Plans


Planners are asking residents to have their say on proposals by Addenbrooke's Hospital to build an Energy Innovation Centre on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus.

Cambridgeshire County Council is the planning authority for the proposals and is holding a consultation for people to learn more and make their views known.

A 'drop in session' will be held for local residents and others on Monday 17 December 2012, at the Long Road Sixth Form College (5.30 - 8.00 pm), Long Road, Cambridge. All comments need to be in by January 4.

The EIC is designed to fulfil the role currently undertaken by the existing Addenbrooke's Hospital boiler and incinerator. The proposals say it is also designed to manage the future expansion of Addenbrooke's Hospital and the Biomedical Campus.

The development would reduce the Hospital Trusts' carbon dioxide emissions by 47% and energy costs by 50%.

Addenbrooke's have applied for the flexibility to operate 24 hours per day and 365 days per year, although in practice the plant will operate as required in order to meet heat and electricity needs.

The plant, located on a site of approximately 0.7 hectares on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus, adjacent Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge (south west of Robinson Way and east of Francis Crick Road), will comprise:

  • a combined heat and power unit generating between 6.8 and 7.5 megawatts of electricity; and a heat recovery steam generator generating approximately 2 megawatts of heat; 
  • two biomass boilers each of generating approximately 3 megawatts of heat (initially fuelled by waste woodchip products, but with the capability to be flexible in the future with respect to fuel feedstock); 
  • a clinical waste incinerator generating 1.6 megawatts of heat from processing 350/kg/hour of clinical waste; and three dual fuel conventional steam boilers, one generating 4 megawatts of heat and two generating 10 megawatts of heat. 
  • A 'tugway' (underground passageway) will provide a link between the EIC and Addenbrooke's Hospital, allowing clinical waste to be brought to the EIC without using the roads. 

The EIC building will have a gross external footprint of approximately 2,500 square metres, with a service yard adjacent of some 2,200 square metres. The single building will be located on the eastern side of the site. It would have a saw-tooth roof to provide an opportunity for photo voltaic cells in the future. There would be three stacks (chimneys) extending above the roof level of the building, which would be 60 metres above ground level. The existing chimney will be retained as it forms part of the ventilation system for the Hospital.

Cambridgeshire County Councillor Ian Bates, Cabinet Member for Growth and Planning, said: "This is an important project for Addenbrooke's and we want people to make sure they learn about the plans and have their say if they want to. Please attend the drop in session to learn more and make your views known."

A decision is expected to be made at Cambridgeshire County Council's Development Control Committee in spring 2013.

People can have their say by:


The plans can be seen online at http://www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/environment/planning/applications/ (quick search on reference C/05009/12/CW)

Lib Dems Welcome Action On Commuter Parking


Cambridge residents plagued by commuter parking near their homes are being encouraged to have their say on new Traffic Regulation Orders designed to solve the problem.

Householders living in the city’s Queen Edith’s have struggled to get in and out of their drives because patients and visitors to Addenbrooke’s Hospital have been parking in their streets to avoid car park charges.

They have also faced problems from students parking outside their homes to attend the nearby sixth form colleges.

Lib Dem campaigners Cambridgeshire County Councillor, Geoff Heathcock, who represents the ward, and Amanda Taylor from Holbrook Road have been fighting for parking restrictions.

Finally, Cambridgeshire County Council has advertised the Traffic Regulation Orders, which include yellow lines for several roads including Greenlands, Baldock Way and Godwin Close and the consultation will run until December 17. There are proposals for 20 streets.

Amanda said: “We have been asking the county council as the highways authority to review parking in the area for the last 20 years; finally something is starting to happen.

“Clearly this is a major problem for people living in this area and I am impressed with the number of people who have taken the time to go to the parking plan exhibitions.

“The plans have no progressed as far as we would have liked but at least there are some yellow lines being proposed and we are pleased we are making some headway.

“Please have a look at the proposals and if you support them, do your bit to make it happen by making a written representation to Cambridgeshire County Council.”

Further details can be found on Amanda’s website at www.amandataylor.focusteam.org

A14 Challenge Study "Output Three" Published

The Department for Transport have published an (old) report that was used by the Minster prior to the announcement of the packages of A14 improvements earlier in the year.


The two documents are PDF's, and provide an insight (over a hundred pages!) into the proposed A14 improvement packages (including tolling) that the Government is proposing.

While not light reading Bar Hill crops up a few times, notably at 2.3 which mentions a new Park and Ride in the Bar Hill area, similarly 2.5 speaks of changes to the Citi 5 bus service for our area (although things get better for Bar Hill residents those in the surrounding villages don't seem to get quite as good a deal!), 2.8 has a new suggested timetable as a route plan (see below);

2.12 seems to suggest we're in line for greatly improved public transport, 2.16 has an interesting table of bus usage on the Citi 5 (both clockwise and anti-clockwise)

Of course there are no guarantees but I'd encourage anyone interested in the "A14 improvements" to read these documents as they give you some idea of exactly what the department is thinking rather than what they're going to do.

It will be interesting to see which (if any) of these proposed variants goes forward.

In the second document sketches 3/4 involve improvements to the Bar Hill A14 Junction.


E-Cops - Lead Flashing Theft


Between 18th November at 23:00, and 19th November at 07:00, a theft of lead flashing took place in Foxhollow, Bar Hill. At stated dates and times unknown offender/s have gained access to a property extension and have removed approximately 20ft lead flashing.

We believe the same groups of offender/s have been operating in Bar Hill in the last few weeks. All access to the affected properties have been gained via alleyways and footpaths and possibly using ladders. Please keep a look out for any suspicious males walking around Bar Hill footpaths, especially those pretending to be window cleaners.

On 21st November at 13:00hours, two incidents took place in Bar Hill. A man driving a ford focus in white was seen in the area approaching people and offering gents and ladies gold watches for free.

If you have information regarding any incidents and feel you can help please contact us on 101 or call Crimestoppers, an independent charity, anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Regards

PCSO Bujar MANI
Histon Safer Neighbourhood Team

Monday, 26 November 2012

Cambridge MP Julian Huppert Praised For Campaign For Fairer Energy Tariffs

Julian Huppert MP

MP Julian Huppert, who has been campaigning for lower energy bills for Cambridge residents, has welcomed moves to make energy companies legally obliged to give their customers the best deals.

His efforts to get fairer energy tariffs for his constituents have been praised as the “type of consumer support measures so welcome by ordinary people” which “create goodwill”.

Julian has supported schemes such as The Big Switch which encourages and helps customers to find better energy deals and encourages energy providers to offer more competitive tariffs.

He said moves to bring forward legislation in the forthcoming Energy Bill to help consumers finding the best deal is an important step forward but safeguards need to be put in place which will prevent energy companies raising their lowest tariffs.

One resident, so impressed with Julian’s campaigning on the issue, said: “I'd like to thank you for your positive stand on many issues that concern me. It may please you to know that you have turned a life-long Labour voter into one who will vote for you at the next general election."

"These type of consumer support measures are so welcome by ordinary people, and they create goodwill so thank you," another constituent said.

Another said: “Ensuring fairness of tariffs for the less well-off in society is the sign of a compassionate society."

Julian said: “The Lib Dems have already begun to introduce reforms and improvements to help households find the lowest tariffs available to them. And we have an agreement with energy providers to provide information on bills to indicate if a customer is on the cheapest tariff which is an important step.

“The new legislation in the Energy Bill, to make it a legal requirement for companies to give their customers the best deal is welcome but we must have further safeguards in place to make sure companies don’t simply raise their lowest tariffs.

“These are difficult times and people are struggling to meet rising energy costs. And the vast range of different energy tariffs are confusing; it is very difficult for consumers to know whether they are getting the best deal. Companies need to do so much more to help their customers find the tariff that is right for them.”

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Bar Hill Community Market NEXT SATURDAY (1st December, 10:30am to 2pm)


Just a quick update on behalf of the Bar Hill Community Market which will be taking place this Saturday (1st December) at the Bar Hill Octagon and in the next door Church.

Please come along and help support your local community.

Stalls will include fruit and vegetables, home-made cakes, jewellery, greetings cards, sweets and other confectionery, locally made jams, knitted items, patchwork, bags, wooden crafts, and other beauty products.

There will also be opportunities for raising funds for local projects.

Refreshments will be available and (Weather Permitting!) there will also be a BBQ.

If you wish to be part of the market and have your own stall please contact either or the organisers;

  • Karen Austen 01954 781085, or 
  • Sue Gadsby 01954 200875

Saturday, 24 November 2012

E-Cops - Watch Scam


There is an organised group of males committing fraud across Cambridgeshire and beyond. They are selling cheap items such as watches, jewellery and leather jackets at grossly inflated prices to vulnerable, often elderly members of the public.

Their M.O. is to engage members of the public in conversation, usually by asking for directions (often but not exclusively to Newcastle, London or Stansted), then pleading for help by saying they need money for petrol. The victim is then offered items to buy, so the situation appears to be a “win-win”. The males will sometimes embellish the story by firstly asking for directions and then stating that their ATM card does not work. Other minor variations in M.O. are:

  • Offering to sell 1000 Lira in bank notes in exchange for cash, before then offering watches for sale.
  • Giving watches away to thank the victim for their kindness in giving directions, before then asking for petrol money.
  • Agreeing a price for a watch but then demanding more money.
  • Accompanying members of the public to ATMs to get cash for the items.

These con artists often “trade” at large, out-of-town supermarket car parks, service stations or retail outlets, but have been known (especially more recently) to work from smaller towns and villages across the county. It is predicted that in the lead up to Christmas the number of offences will increase.

Please be aware that any persons selling goods in the street or from a vehicle need a Street Trading Licence (Pedlar’s licences only apply to house-to-house selling and would be invalid for street sales).
Persons with a licence must have this “clearly and publicly displayed” – without it they are not entitled to trade.

Can I ask that you pass this on to vulnerable members of your family and advise them not to accept watches or part with any money in this manner.

If you have information regarding any incidents and feel you can help please contact us on 101 or call Crimestoppers, an independent charity, anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Regards

PCSO Mani Bujar
Histon Safer Neighbourhood Team

Friday, 23 November 2012

Andrew Duff urges Cameron to Save EU Funding for popular EU Project In East Of England: 'False Economy'

Andrew Duff MEP
Speaking in Brussels today (Friday), Andrew Duff, Liberal Democrat MEP for the East of England has appealed to Prime Minister David Cameron not to single out the 'EU Connects' programme for savage cuts.

"EU Connects is proving to be highly popular in our region. Local economic partnerships (LEPs), universities, local government and the voluntary sector are all taking full advantage of the funding available from the EU to assist with capacity building and project development for much larger application for EU grants and loans. The EU is complex and looks even more complicated than it really is. EU Connects helps people to fully exploit the advantages of EU membership and to improve the region's previously poor take-up of EU funds.

"Given that the EU Connects spending of only £250,000 is at present over-subscribed in the East of England, all its MEPs and MPs should speak up to stop the prime minister making savage cuts to this strategically key programme in particular.

"To date, EU Connects has prepared bids for EU funding of over € 2.8 million. Bids of € 726,000 have so far been approved - and several more significant bids are pending. Life-long learning and vocational training are particular favourites, as well as projects in public health and wildlife conservation.

"Mr Cameron should know that cutting EU Connects is an entirely false economy."

Speaking more generally about the controversial EU budget talks, Andrew Duff added:

"The UK government is coming across as being penny-pinching, failing to understand that spending at the EU level brings huge benefits in terms of cost efficiencies and economies of scale, as well as being critical in Europe's common effort to deepen the single market at this time of deep financial instability and economic recession.

"Liberal Democrats are determined that Britain should finally make up its mind to stay in the European Union and to work to make a real success of our membership. Those who toy with leaving should say where they want us to go."

Connections Bus Project - Report to Bar Hill Parish Councillors

The full report is available (via Google Drive) here. Unfortunately the report does not make encouraging reading for our (the Parish Councils) involvement with the service going forward - they just simply don't seem to be able to attract a significant number of people to use their service in Bar Hill.

It's not clear exactly what the cause of the issue is but here in Bar Hill we seem to be averaging only half the number of users for each session compared to other communities.

It's very difficult to know what exactly to do going forward, but in my view as a Parish Councillor we should only be using public money to provide a service that is a) being actively used, and b) cannot be provided commercially. Whilst we are providing only a relatively small amount of money (approx. 3.5k) it's quite clear from the report that the service is moving further away from commercial viability rather than getting nearer to it - the amount of money we'd need to buy in the same level of service looks set to increase year-on-year.

Of course it's silly to say that any proposals from the Connections Bus Project should be dismissed out of hand but they would certainly need to be treated with some healthy scepticism given our past experience and I think a key factor in getting any further grants would be showing a workable way of getting more people to use the service (maybe situating it in the lay-by near the Skate Park?).

£1bn Academies Overspend Shows Gove Got His Sums Wrong

Cllr Peter Downes

A leading Cambridgeshire Liberal Democrat has called for the Education Secretary, Michael Gove, to reconsider his future after a £1 billion overspend in the government’s flagship academies school programme.

Peter Downes, Shadow Cabinet Member for Education on Cambridgeshire County Council and a former secondary school head, claims Mr Gove should 'consider his position' after figures also revealed that the government will not be able to recover £350 million of the overspend from local authorities.

The figures have been released by the National Audit Office and support Cllr Downes' fears that the whole academies policy was carried out without any serious assessment of the financial implications.

“This policy is creating extra costs for our education system at a time when the country can ill afford it,” he said. “These figures prove my concerns that the programme for converting schools to academies is costly and unsustainable as well as being divisive and unfair.

“The whole academies policy has been carried out without any serious assessment of the financial implications. Academies have been paid more money than they need with the sole intention of persuading schools to seek academy status so as to demonstrate the ‘success’ of this policy.”

The academies programme is a key element of the government’s plans to reform the school system and more than 40 schools across Cambridgeshire, mainly secondary schools, have already converted to academy status.

'We fully understand and support the wish of all heads and governors to do the best they can for their pupils and students. What we do not accept is central government policies that increase the unfair distribution of resources between schools,'' said Cllr Downes.

“There is no popular support for a reform of the education system on this scale but there is a need to reduce the performance gap between the highest and the lowest achievers. The Lib Dems' Pupil Premium was one way of tackling this and is already helping disadvantaged youngsters in schools across the country.

“But the academies policy is fragmenting our education system at a time when it is already under financial pressure. This is a policy which was ill-thought out, not only as an overall concept but also in the burden it is creating financially. It is time for Mr Gove to accept he got it wrong.”

Cambridge MP Huppert Secures Debate Calling For Life-Saving Skills To Be Taught In Schools


MP Julian Huppert helped to secure a debate calling for every child to leave school knowing how to save a life.

Julian has been working in partnership with the British Heart Foundation (BHF) and Resuscitation Council UK (RCUK) on their campaign to see Emergency Life Support (ELS) skills taught in secondary school classrooms across the country.

The campaign has been promoted through a television advert with former Chelsea footballer turned hardman actor, Vinnie Jones who demonstrates hands-only CPR to the Bee Gees tune “Staying Alive”.

Yesterday (Thursday, November 22) a House of Commons debate took the campaign a step forward as Education Minister, Elizabeth Truss agreed that “the ability to save a life is one of the most important skills a young person can learn”.

The campaign calls on the government to include life-saving skills as a mandatory part of the school curriculum to ensure all students are taught the skills which would help save a life.

In September, Julian delivered a petition with the BHF and RCUK to Downing Street with more than 100,000 signatures of support. Now fellow MPs have recognised the public call to teach children these essential skills and have debated the issue in Parliament.

Julian said: “In a week when Vinnie Jones is back on our screens teaching people what to do in an emergency, it’s only fitting that we turn our attention to England’s schoolchildren.

“Stepping in and helping to save someone’s life in an emergency shouldn't just be left to the hard men. By teaching life-saving skills in schools, we could put hundreds of thousands of new life-savers on the streets each year.

“Every second counts in an emergency, so I’m supporting the campaign to make life-saving skills part of our children’s education - it could be the difference between life and death.”

Vinnie Jones, said: “I didn’t learn CPR until I filmed the advert for the British Heart Foundation last year. CPR should be taught in schools as part of the curriculum.”

People can find more information about the campaign at bhf.org.uk/lifesaving.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

European Elections Should Determine Make-Up Of Next European Commission


European political parties should nominate candidates for the position of Commission President according to a resolution adopted today by the European Parliament by a margin of 316 to 90 votes.

The aim is to enliven interest in the next European election campaign by giving voters a concrete stake in the outcome which will not only elect Members of Parliament but determine the head of the EU executive.

Guy Verhofstadt, ALDE group leader, said :
"Given falling turnout in successive European elections and spreading euro-scepticism it is essential that the legitimacy of the Parliament is strengthened by higher voter participation. It is natural that there should be a connection between how people vote and the person who heads the EU executive. "

Andrew Duff (Lib Dem, UK), ALDE spokesperson on the committee of constitutional affairs added:
"The nomination of party champions as candidates for the Commission Presidency, as well as the drawing of members of the college from the Parliament, follows the logic of the Lisbon Treaty - whereby Parliament will elect Mr Barroso's successor."

"Success will be measured in how the personalisation and dramatisation of the election campaign captures the public imagination: fuelling debate about serious issues in front of the next Parliament such as the character of the Commission, the pace and depth of integration, the size and shape of the budget, and the size, indeed, of Union membership."

"Parliament has backed my proposal to advance the date of the next European elections from June to May which will enable the newly elected MEPs to fully scrutinise and vote on the candidates nominated for Commission President before the summer recess so that the approval process does not drag on for 6 months or more, like last time, delaying the ability of the new Commission to get to work."

Parliament also backed a call to ensure that gender balance is achieved in the college of commissioners by approving an ALDE amendment calling for each Member State to present both a male and a female candidate for consideration as commissioner.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Digital Agenda: EU And US Sign Joint Declaration To Make The Internet Safer For Kids

European Commission Vice President for the Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes and the U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano have today signed a Joint Declaration in London, committing to make the Internet a safer and better place for children.

In the Declaration, Vice President Kroes and Secretary Napolitano:
  • agree to implement joint campaigns on the occasion of an annual Safer Internet Day. As a first step, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security intends to participate in the EU’s Safer Internet Day for young people on February 5, 2013.
  • commit to contribute to international cooperation in fighting child sexual abuse online in the immediate future. This will build on existing work by the Virtual Global Taskforce and Interpol on law enforcement collaboration to combat child sexual abuse worldwide. International cooperation is essential if we are to be effective in fighting child sexual abuse online.
  • acknowledge that parents and guardians need to trust the content and services their children access and commit to continue working with industry and other stakeholders so that parents and children can make informed choices online.
This declaration complements other European Commission initiatives to keep children save and confident in the digital world. These include the EU Strategy for a safer internet and better internet content for children and teenagers presented earlier this year (see IP/12/445) and a Commission-brokered coalition of top tech & media companies to make the internet a better place for our kids. see IP/11/1485)

Background: The groundwork for today's declaration was prepared by the EU-US Working Group on Cyber-security and Cyber-crime. This was established in the context of the EU-US Summit of 20 November 2010 held in Lisbon (PRES/10/315) with the aim to tackle new threats to the global networks upon which the security and prosperity of our free societies increasingly depend.

Within the European Commission, Vice-President Kroes is responsible for cyber-security and Commissioner Malmström for tackling cyber-crime. Within the United States, the Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, Department of State, Department of Commerce and other federal entities collaborate to help strengthen cyber-security and fight cyber-crime.

Useful links

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Cambridgeshire Police Commissioner Election Results

The ballots have been counted (those that weren't spoilt!) and the results are in. Here's the result in the first round;
PCC Results, 1st Round

The first thing to note is that the two round "alternative vote" system (yes, I know - after all the stories you've heard about AV!) would, providing your second choice made it into the final two, allow you to vote for someone else in the first round.

Looking specifically at South Cambs results you'll see that Sir Graham Bright (the eventual winner) managed to poll almost 30% of the electorate in the first round - for an election with 7 candidates this was actually a pretty high number. Sadly my ex-colleague on the County Council (and the Liberal Democrat) candidate Rupert Moss-Escardt only pulled in 11% of the vote with Labour's Ed Murphy getting 16%.

Overall the Conservative and Labour candidates, with the most votes, made it though to the next round. The results in round 2 were;
PCC Results, Second Round
Now this is where, because of a poorly chosen electoral system (again - what's with us picking them?), if your first or second preference was either Labour or Conservative your vote didn't count. But you have to follow the rules of the game you're playing so there's no sense moaning about it. Would full AV have been better? Yes. Are the Tories likely to give it to us? Hell no.

Looking at the result it's interesting to see that, despite all the talk of a UKIP-Tory pact Sir Graham didn't pick up UKIPs 14,000 votes, in fact he didn't pick up more than half of them (if you assume he would have picked up some from elsewhere).

Having said that of course he didn't have anything to worry about being very safely ahead of Labour!

I guess we'll see what happens over the next few years but clearly given the low turnout people aren't expecting a lot!

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Fall In Jobless Figures Welcomed By Cambridge MP Julian Huppert


News that Cambridge’s jobless figures continue to fall and more young people are finding work has been welcomed by the city’s MP, Julian Huppert.

The number of unemployed people in Cambridge was 1,608 - 109 lower than the same period last year. The number of young people without work also fell in the last month.

Julian said: “I am delighted that the unemployment figures continue in the right direction. This is encouraging news and shows that businesses are growing in confidence and creating jobs. The weeks leading up to Christmas should see seasonal jobs created which will bring more prospects for those still seeking work.

“Falling youth unemployment figures are good news for our young people as well. These have been tough times for those trying to get a foothold on the job ladder and I am confident we will continue to see opportunities for school-leavers and graduates. Apprenticeships have been growing in Cambridge and I hope more and more companies will sign up to this excellent initiative.

“We have been fortunate in Cambridge to have fared better than most during this economic downturn, but that doesn’t make it any easier for those people who still find themselves without work and my sympathies go out to them. These are extremely difficult times but I hope good news is just around the corner for those still searching for jobs.”

County Steps Up Campaign For Fairer Funding For Schools


A campaign to secure a fairer system of funding for Cambridgeshire's schools continues as the county's schools receive their draft budgets for 2013-14.

As a result of national changes, some primary and secondary schools in the county will see significant reductions in their budgets compared with the previous year.

The main reason for the changes is that the Government is moving from a local formula for funding - developed with Cambridgeshire Schools Forum to reflect the circumstances of the county's schools - to a nationally prescribed formula with limited local flexibility.

Other nationally enforced changes include a requirement for schools to contribute towards each statement of special educational needs, which will result in an additional commitment for a large number of schools when compared to the current system.

Cambridgeshire County Council has been supporting the county's schools in lobbying the Government for many years to secure a fairer system of funding for the county's schools, including sending a delegation of students and teachers to meet officials from the Department for Education.

Cllr David Harty, Cabinet Member for Learning, wrote to Education Secretary Michael Gove last month expressing his 'severe concerns' about the likely impact of the new funding arrangements on school budgets.

"We remain acutely disappointed that Government have not progressed their fair funding proposals within the education reforms. The impact of not having honoured this commitment leaves Cambridgeshire as one of the lowest funded authorities in the country.

"The current funding changes have been rushed and pay insufficient regard to the needs of Cambridgeshire's schools and pupils.

"We will be working with our schools to help them lessen the impact of any potential drop in funding, and to this end have issued draft budgets three months earlier than usual. But we will continue to call on the Government to bring forward their fair funding proposals as soon as possible, to enable all children to have an equal and fair start in life," he said.

Cambridge MP Julian Huppert Backs Campaign To Save Naked Scientist


MP Julian Huppert has backed the campaign to save The Naked Scientist Radio show calling on leading figures in the BBC to save the region’s only science based programme.

Julian has written to BBC Chairman, Lord Patten and Head of Regional and Local Programmes in the East, Mick Rawsthorne saying the decision to axe the show in January is “short-sighted and poorly evidenced.”

“In a region home to one of the world’s best universities, as well as numerous technology and biotechnology institutes and companies, many people, myself included, are stunned by the level of disregard being shown in regards to areas of interest for local inhabitants,” Julian said in his letters.

“The programme has won eight awards, including the Kohn Medal and this year's Society of Biology communication prize. As a podcast it's achieved over 30 million downloads in the last five years. This clearly shows that ‘The Naked Scientists’ has a clear audience and purpose to serve, and it would be an outrage for the show to be discontinued without adequate evidenced reason from the schedulers.

“If the planned changes to the schedule go ahead, there will be no science based programming in our region at all.

“The show is the only one of its kind broadcasting on local radio in the country, and will end all of the specialist science coverage across the region in one blow.”

Julian said later: “This is an incredibly ill-though out and short-sighted decision at a time when the Lib Dems have succeeded in getting the government to show real commitment to science.

“We have made headway in pushing science and technology to the top of the government’s agenda. And we are giving our top science graduates incentives to share their skills with schoolchildren by taking up teaching posts so that we can encourage our younger generation to excel in science.

“But the decision to scrap this programme sends out the opposite message – that science is not of interest to anyone across this region.”

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Radical Reforms On Parental Leave And Flexible Working Welcomed


MP Julian Huppert has welcomed radical reforms which will allow both parents to share up to a year’s leave after the birth of their child.

The changes will deliver a long-held Liberal Democrat commitment to make parental leave more flexible, allowing fathers to play a greater role in raising their children.

They will also help mothers to return to work at a time that’s right for them, creating more flexible workplaces to boost the economy.

The new proposals were announced by Liberal Democrat Leader and Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg and extend the right to request flexible working to all employees, to give greater choice and freedom to workers and businesses.

Julian said: “These reforms make absolute sense. By giving people more flexible working arrangements we can make it easier for them to fit work around their busy lives and take time off when they need it. This is really important after the birth of a new baby when routines are disrupted and it’s often difficult to find that work life balance.

“These reforms signal one of the greatest advances for equality in recent years allowing fathers to play a much more hands-on role with their children and give mothers the chance to return to work when it suits them.

“I hope it will encourage more employers to attract and retain women in their businesses and prevent women feeling they have no option but to drop out of the workforce when they start a family.”

Friday, 9 November 2012

US Election Special: Supper Club 16th November


Have you booked your tickets yet? Only one week to go ... !!!

The South Cambridgeshire Liberal Democrats South Rural Campaign Group would like to invite you to the following Supper Club:

AMERICAN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION SPECIAL

‘The US Election in Historical Perspective’

Speaker:
Dr John Thompson,
Fellow,
St Catharine’s College,
Cambridge
With super-sized home-made supper, bar and raffle

Friday 16th November at 7PM
Foxton Village Hall Pavilion, Hardman Road, Foxton
(Foxton Rail Station – seven minute walk)

Tickets £15

Contact:
Would you like to receive invitations to these sorts of events direct to your inbox? We have a discussion and communication list for South Cambridgeshire Activists (which includes members and supporters) - if you'd like to join see here;


http://lists.libdems.org.uk/wws/info/scambsactivists

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Council Teams Secure European Funding For Employment Support Project


European funding has been secured by teams at Cambridgeshire County Council for an employment support project.

The IMPRESS project (Innovative & Meaningful Post Recruitment Employment Support Services) is funded by the Interreg 4a 'Channel' programme and will work with 10 partners in the UK and France, sharing knowledge to offer support and guidance to long-term unemployed people who have gained employment and face barriers to maintaining it.

IMPRESS will engage with employers to improve staff retention, provide better skills opportunities, develop practical approaches to improve the performance and retention of individuals at work and create strategies for certain sectors to understand what works best for both employers and employees. The project will be delivered across Cambridgeshire by teams from Library Learning Services and the Adult Careers Service.

Cambridgeshire County Council's Cabinet Member for Learning, Cllr David Harty said 'We believe that our involvement in the IMPRESS project will help us to take the Council's priorities further by moving away from what is often a focus on unemployment and remedial action into something longer-term and for the benefit of individual employees, sustainable employment and growth'.

Scientist Swaps Lab For Commons In MP Pairing Scheme


Dr Gerard Briscoe from Cambridge University swapped the lab for the Commons when he joined MP Julian Huppert for a week in Westminster.

The visit was part of a unique science pairing scheme run by the Royal Society – the UK’s national academy of science.

During his visit, Dr Briscoe shadowed Julian to learn more about his work and gave him a behind-the-scenes insight into how science policy is formed as well as an understanding of the working life of an MP.

He attended a meeting of the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee, Prime Minister’s Question Time and met Professor Sir John Beddington, Government Chief Scientifc Advisor.

Julian will return to Cambridge University with Dr Briscoe, probably in the New Year, to learn more about his work in sustainable computing which is concerned with both the use of information technology in achieving sustainability aims and the impact of information technology on our environment.

Dr Gerard Briscoe said: “I have become increasingly interested in the communication of research in terms of policy, both generally and specifically with regards to my research into sustainability. So, it was extremely useful to gain direct experience from policy professionals who can share their understanding of how research can best interact with and inform policy.”

Julian said: “The science pairing scheme is extremely valuable in giving working scientists the opportunity to see how their work can influence policy while at the same time giving MPs the opportunity to learn more about the research being carried out in the lab to tackle some of the challenges we face today.

“Dr Briscoe is working at the forefront of information technology and how it fits into our developing world and I am looking forward to learning more about his research.”

The Royal Society’s MP-Scientist pairing scheme aims to build bridges between parliamentarians and some of the best scientists in the UK. Over 200 pairs of scientists and MPs have taken part in the scheme since it was launched in 2001.

Sir Paul Nurse, President of the Royal Society said: “We live in a world facing increasing challenges that can only be addressed with a clear understanding of science.  From climate change to influenza outbreaks, GM food to nuclear power, our MPs have to make decisions about complex issues that will affect the lives of all those in the UK and, in many cases, more widely throughout the world.  This means that MPs and scientists have a responsibility to engage with each other to get the best possible scientific advice into public policy making.”

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Council Leader Welcomes Views On Budget Priorities

Cllr Tim Bick

Cambridge City Council Leader, Tim Bick has welcomed the results of a residents’ consultation which will play an important part in the council’s spending and saving priorities for the coming year.

Fifty residents took part in a series of in-depth focus groups scrutinising council services and discussing challenges facing the city.

The results will be used by councillors in making decisions on how to set the council’s budget for 2013/14.

Cllr Bick said: “This thoughtful report provides a welcome backdrop to our budget deliberations. The council's on-going emphasis on basic universal services, support for the vulnerable and getting the big things right for the future of the city are all strongly reflected in views from the focus groups.

“It is good to see a high level of awareness of the dilemmas the council faces in a time of tight resources. And it’s re-assuring that people's minds are working rather like ours on some of the implications.

"There are some interesting challenges, which I am sure will get picked up in our debates. Personally, I was pleased to see the impetus that this gives to the council's focus on root causes that underlie anti-social behaviour and the push for better cycling provision - which is a priority we share with the county council."

The full budget consultation report can be found here: http://www.cambridge.gov.uk/ccm/content/consultations/residents-surveys.en

Campaign To Clean-Up Banking Industry Gains Cambridge MP's Support

Julian Huppert MP

MP Julian Huppert is backing a national campaign calling for a clean-up of the banking industry to put customers before bankers.

The Big Change Campaign has been launched by consumer magazine Which? and pressure group 38 Degrees to improve the professional standards of the industry following multiple banking scandals that have destroyed consumer confidence.

Julian has signed a Commons’ Early Day Motion supporting the campaign and calling on the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards to make sweeping recommendations for improvement.

The EDM also calls for bankers to comply with a code of conduct and says they should be punished for mis-selling and bad practice. A return to banks for customers not bankers is needed, it says.

A survey by Which? revealed that 67 per cent of people believed bankers were unlikely to lose their job if they lie or cheat. A similar number believed bankers were unlikely to be sacked if they failed to comply with industry codes of conduct, delivered consistently poor service or received a high number of customer complaints.

Julian said: “This survey shows that most people still have little or no confidence in the banking industry to regulate itself. A profession, which once commanded immense respect on the high street is seen now as unethical and untrustworthy.

“We need sweeping reforms to root out bankers who are driven by profit and bonuses rather than the desire to put the customer first. There has to be major changes to banking culture and practices so that the industry can regain the status it once enjoyed and customers can be confident that they are getting the best service.”

Monday, 5 November 2012

Cambridge MP Acts To Stop Human Trafficking And Torture In Sinai


MP Julian Huppert has called on the government to act against human trafficking and torture in the Sinai region of Egypt.

Julian, newly appointed co-chair of the Lib Dem Parliamentary Policy Committee on Home Affairs, Justice and Equalities is worried by the appalling reports of human rights abuses at torture camps set up by smugglers of migrants and asylum seekers.

He wrote to Defence Minister, Philip Hammond urging him to make sure that a UK delegation of military personnel and field experts travelling to Egypt to advice on security issues in the Sinai region addresses the issue.

“Once taken hostage, prisoners are subject to long periods of physical abuse and torture, ransoms demanded and prisoners killed if release is not paid for,” said Julian. “The location of these camps is known and it’s reported that currently around 200 Eritrean hostages are being held in northeast Sinai.

“I’m sure you’ll agree that this situation demands urgent action and I look forward to your assurances that this issue will be treated as a priority by the delegation.”

Human Rights Watch has received numerous reports in recent years of organised criminal groups detaining asylum seekers and migrants in Sinai for extortion before allowing them to complete their journey to Israel.

Under President Mubarak, law enforcement officials failed to intervene to protect the victims despite the fact that Egypt has a strong anti-trafficking law.

Julian hopes the UK delegation can raise the issue with Egypt’s new government so that it can rescue victims of trafficking and end the abuse.

“It is paramount that combating human trafficking and torture in Sinai is seen as a vital issue to be raised by this delegation,” said Julian. “Migrants and asylum seekers are suffering horrific abuse at the hands of people purporting to help lead them to safety.

“This delegation must act if we are to help these people and make sure Egypt enforces its anti-trafficking law so that these practices come to an end.”

Sarah Named On Pink List For Second Year Running


Cambridge City Councillor, Sarah Brown has been named among the most influential lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in Britain for the second year running.

Sarah is named at number 34 in the Independent on Sunday Pink List of 100 people.

The list is topped by Olympic boxer, Nicola Adams and includes TV presenter, Gok Wan and singer, Will Young and illusionist, Derren Brown among other famous names.

Sarah, who represents Petersfield on the city council and serves on the executive of the Lib Dems national LGBT group, said: “I am delighted to be included in this list for the second year running alongside some high profile people.

“That’s why the Pink List is so valuable; it recognises not only the work of the A list celebrities but all those activists across the country working for LGBT people.

"I have worked hard this year on marriage equality, transgender healthcare and other LGBT issues.

“There has also been real movement on equality issues thanks to Lib Dems in government. Former Equalities Minister, Lynne Featherstone has worked tirelessly for LGBT people and we have a great foundation going forward."

Digital Agenda: Commission Decision paves the way for 4G in Europe

European Commission
The European Commission has today decided to add another 120 MHz to the radio spectrum portfolio for 4G technologies, such as LTE (Long Term Evolution), around the 2 GHz band. This band is currently solely used for UMTS (Universal Mobile Telecommunications System) wireless communications, known as 3G networks. The Decision makes it mandatory for Member States to open the relevant spectrum by 30 June 2014 at the latest, and lays down harmonised technical conditions to allow coexistence between different technologies. On this basis the EU will enjoy up to twice the amount of spectrum for high speed wireless broadband as in the United States, namely around 1000 MHz.

The Commission's decision means mobile operators will have more opportunities to invest in improved mobile networks, which benefits the whole economy, and consumers will, over time, enjoy faster data transfers and more broadband services. Greater access to spectrum for 4G technologies will make a substantial contribution to the Digital Agenda broadband target of universal EU broadband coverage of at least 30 Mb/s by 2020 (see IP/10/581, MEMO/10/199 and MEMO/10/200).

European Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes said: "This extra spectrum for 4G in Europe means we can better meet the changing and growing demand for broadband. I want to see Member States acting swiftly to change existing licenses. We all win from faster wireless connections in Europe."

The Decision enforces the harmonised liberalisation of the 2 GHz band (1920-1980 MHz paired with 2110-2170 MHz) in all Member States, avoiding internal market fragmentation in the future use of this band.

Introducing flexibility of use in spectrum bands by removing technology restrictions offers a cost-effective way for deploying advanced wireless infrastructure in response to market demand.

Background

Radio spectrum is an extremely valuable but increasingly scarce resource. Its socio-economic importance has dramatically increased as wireless services such as broadband access and the 'internet of things' become pervasive through all domains of business and society. Industry sources predict that global mobile data traffic will increase by 26 % annually by 2015. By then, more than 7 billion phones, tablets and other mobile devices will be connectable to the Internet.

Exploding wireless data traffic alongside insufficient vacant spectrum calls for a smarter approach to spectrum management. This must include better utilisation of spectrum bands already being used, for example through removing technology restrictions and spectrum sharing.

The paired terrestrial 2 GHz band (1920-1980 MHz paired with 2110-2170 MHz) has been traditionally used by UMTS communications (3G networks) as a result of the so-called UMTS Decision adopted in 1999, which launched the coordinated and progressive introduction of UMTS across the EU by 1 January 2002.

In implementing the Radio Spectrum Policy Programme, and in particular meeting the target of at least 1200 MHz for wireless broadband services, running the spectrum inventory as well as flexible and shared spectrum use are priorities of the EU spectrum reform to stimulate innovation, efficient use and investment.

Therefore, the Commission Decision mandates the flexible use of the 1920-1980 MHz and 2110-2170 MHz band for electronic communication services in the EU based on advanced wireless technologies, such as LTE and further advanced technologies. Industry developments show that these technologies are increasingly capable of offering 30 Mbps to many users at the same time, thus giving consumers access to high speed broadband at competitive prices.

The Commission is also considering a follow-up measure on the unpaired terrestrial 2 GHz spectrum (1900-1920 MHz and 2010-2025 MHz) which is currently allocated to use by UMTS networks but remains unused throughout the EU. Such an initiative will aim at ensuring efficient use of the unpaired bands that is most beneficial from an economic, social and environmental point of view by considering alternative applications to terrestrial mobile broadband and taking into account existing rights of use. In this regard, the Commission has already issued a Mandate to CEPT (European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations) to study suitable applications and develop appropriate technical conditions and sharing arrangements.

Useful Links

The Commission's Decision

UMTS Decision
Radio Spectrum Policy Site
Mandate to CEPT on the unpaired terrestrial 2 GHz band
Neelie Kroes' website
Follow Neelie Kroes on Twitter

Deputy Mayor Officially Opens New Bridge


Cambridge’s Deputy Mayor, Paul Saunders officially opened a new bridge between the city’s Gough Way and Cranmer Road on Saturday (November 3).

The bridge, funded under Cambridge City Council’s Environmental Improvements Scheme, replaces an old narrow bridge which residents have used for many years to walk into the city.

It was installed after a request from the Gough Way Residents Association and is wider than the old bridge allowing it to be used not only by walkers and cyclists, but families with pushchairs, cycle trailers carrying children and mobility scooters.

Cambridge County Councillor, Lucy Nethsingha, who represents Newnham, arranged for the Deputy Mayor to open the bridge.

She said: “It looks lovely, but more importantly allows many more people to use the route into town. The path saves over a mile for those walking and cycling into the centre. The narrow old bridge meant many residents were prevented from using the route; this is a great improvement."

Deputy Mayor, Paul Saunders (Right) And Cllr Lucy Nethsingha (Front Centre)
Join Residents For The Official Opening Of The New Bridge

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Bar Hill Community Market ** TODAY ** (10:30am to 4pm)


Just a reminder on behalf of the Bar Hill Community Market which is taking place today at the Bar Hill Octagon and in the next door Church.

Please come along and help support your local community.

Stalls will include fruit and vegetables, home-made cakes, jewellery, greetings cards, sweets and other confectionery, locally made jams, knitted items, patchwork, bags, wooden crafts, and other beauty products.

There will also be opportunities for raising funds for local projects.

Refreshments will be available and (Weather Permitting!) there will also be a BBQ.

If you wish to be part of the market and have your own stall please contact either or the organisers;

  • Karen Austen 01954 781085, or 
  • Sue Gadsby 01954 200875

Friday, 2 November 2012

Royal Mail Workers Must Have Clear Communication - Julian Huppert MP



MP Julian Huppert has called for clear and thorough communication between Royal Mail managers and workers as anxiety grows about the planned closure of the Cambridge sorting office in Clifton Road.

In a letter to Royal Mail Chief Executive, Moya Green, Julian said: “I am worried that current employees are being caused considerable anxiety about lack of certainty about their futures. There is clearly and urgent need for clear and thorough communication between managers and employees.

“I’d be very grateful for your assurances that everything is and will be done to communicate clearly and promptly with employees during this period of uncertainty.”

He said he shared Cambridge City Council’s concern that the closure would have a detrimental impact on postal services.

The council passed a motion at its full council meeting last Thursday (October 25) expressing concerns about the loss of 200 jobs, reduced service quality for residents and the fact that it would add unnecessary lorry traffic to the A14.

Julian wrote to Ms Green after meeting Royal Mail Lead Collection and Deliveries Manager for Cambridge, Ricky Macaulay early this month to discuss the proposed closure.

He said later: “This is an extremely stressful time for the people employed at the sorting office. They have been left not knowing whether they will have jobs in the new year and lives are on hold. It is imperative that the Royal Mail management give them as much information as they can to keep them in the picture.

“I am sure Royal Mail will give this matter very careful consideration and I hope that it will come to the conclusion that the Cambridge sorting office is too vital to lose.”

Cambridge MP Welcomes Decision To Abandon BAS Merger


Cambridge MP Julian Huppert has welcomed the news that the proposed British Antarctic Survey merger has been abandoned allowing BAS to remain independent in the city.

“I am delighted,” he said. “This is the right decision to safeguard the UK’s polar and climate research and protect its international reputation.

“The uncertainty over whether BAS would be merged with the Southampton-based National Oceanography Centre was badly hitting staff morale and threatening BAS’s global standing.

“If this merger had gone ahead it would have damaged the vital links BAS has with other organisations and send out a signal that its role was being downgraded. I can understand the benefits of the two organisations working better together but this forced merger was not the way. Now we have to fix morale and focus on developing the critical research it undertakes.”

Julian had been campaigning against the merger, holding meetings with BAS representatives, NGOs and businesses and he had lobbied members of the Natural Environment Research Council which was proposing the merger and ultimately made the decision.

He also submitted his views as part of the merger consultation and gave evidence to the Parliamentary Science and Technology Committee.

The news comes as the Antarctic Bill gets its Second Reading in the House of Commons today (Friday, November 2).

Julian is a co-sponsor of the Bill which ratifies international agreements on the environment and scientific co-operation into UK law.

Scientists from the Cambridge-based British Antarctic Survey have undertaken the majority of Britain’s scientific research in the Antarctic for over 60 years sharing the continent with scientists from over 30 countries.

“BAS is so crucial to the future of science and the protection of this vitally important part of the planet,” said Julian. “The decision that has been made today will ensure that BAS’s vital work can continue. This is an excellent day for the future of polar research.”

Thursday, 1 November 2012

County Council Leads The Way In The Show Us You Care Campaign


Council leaders are helping to lead a campaign calling on the Government to address the crisis in funding elderly care which threatens the council's ability to fund key services.

The rising cost of providing care and support to a rapidly growing ageing population, combined with the growing cost of delivering other statutory responsibilities like social services and concessionary travel, will soak up almost all of council spending.

The figures, based on conservative estimates, show that unless the funding crisis is addressed, a £153 million funding shortfall will exist by 2017-18 between current estimates of the amount of money available to Cambridgeshire County Council to provide its full range of services and the predicted cost of maintaining them at the levels wanted. Core funding from Government has reduced from £140 million for 2010/11 to £107 million for 2012/13, with further reductions expected.

The analysis is part of a wider report by the Local Government Association (LGA), which represents 373 councils in England and Wales. It warns that in order to manage a £16.5 billion shortfall that councils across the country may face by the end of the decade, funding for many service areas may have to reduce significantly.

Cambridgeshire County Council is joining forces with the LGA and calling on the Government to ensure local authorities are not placed in that position by providing adequate funding to support adult social care services and giving councils access to the resources needed to deliver the services expected of them by local residents.

Cambridgeshire County Council's Leader Cllr Nick Clarke said "The 28 per cent cut in the amount of money councils receive from central Government between 2010/11 and 2014/15 has contributed considerably to this situation. We're calling on the Government to do more, otherwise all our residents will suffer as a consequence as we look at other council services in order to address the crisis in adult social care funding. We need an immediate injection of money into the adult care system to meet rising demand in the short term, alongside a major revision of the way it is paid for and delivered in future."

Cambridgeshire County Council's Cabinet Member for Adult Services, Cllr Martin Curtis said "We're looking at a potential gap of £2.9 million between the money available for providing adult social care services and the predicted cost of maintaining them in 2012/13 - and this will continue to widen as the years go on. We are working hard to deliver services that promote good health and positive wellbeing to help to reduce the increasing demand, whilst maintaining personal dignity and providing value for money for the county's tax payers. But this will not be enough, the Government need to act now to address this situation for the benefit of all of our residents."

Residents are also encouraged to join in the campaign, go to www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/showusyoucare

[CCF] Warm Homes In November


Do come to our big home energy event in Trumpington on November 10th - there is something for everyone, whether you live in Trumpington or not: DIY and "no cost energy savings" workshops, films made with local residents, house visits, talks from sustainability experts, children's activities. With energy prices constantly on the rise, this is not to be missed!

In mid-November, we are delighted to have Molly Scott Cato discuss the role of local economies in the progress towards a more sustainable lifestyle. A few days later, on 20th November, we'll have a practical introduction to one side of local, sustainable communities, as our expert panel shares their experiences in starting a community garden.

1. Warm homes in Trumpington: something for everyone! 10 November

Saturday 10 November, 10am - 4pm, Trumpington Pavilion, Paget Road, Cambridge CB2 9JF (map here)

Free event on energy-saving in older houses. It's true that we are focusing on the post-war housing in Trumpington for this event (and we hope a lot of Trumpington residents will attend!), but non-Trumpington residents will also find a lot to interest them in this comprehensive home energy day.
talks from sustainable architect, Anne Cooper of award-winning AC Architects, Justin Smith from the City Council on how the council can help you and the latest on the Green Deal, and Sara Berenger of Aran Services on insulating older houses (both cavity wall and solid wall)
workshops on DIY home energy-saving improvements and ways you can reduce your bills and carbon emissions at no cost
home visits (booking essential) to three homes in the area with energy experts Anne Cooper and Alex Rice of Green Tomato Energy
interactive eco-house, energy bike and other activities for children
stalls with experts from Aran ServicesMidsummer EnergyGreen Heat
showing of four films made with local residents on energy-saving measures in their homes (see two of the videos here

You can see the programme of talks and workshops herethe schedule of visits here. You can just turn up for the talks and workshops on the day, but booking is essential for the home visits, as there are only 21 places in total. Priority will be given to Trumpington residents until November 5th, after which anyone can book, on a first-come-first-served basis.

The event is free. Tea and biscuits will be available for 50p all day, courtesy of local residents. Donations to help cover our costs are appreciated, but not essential.

To find out more, or to book a house visit on the day, contact the office (01223 301842 between 10 and 3.30) or email info@cambridgecarbonfootprint.org
2. The Bioregional Economy, a talk by Molly Scott Cato 15 November
Thursday 15 November, 7.30 - 9.30pm, St. Philip’s Church Centre, 185 Mill Road

When ecology meets economics…The Bioregional Economy

A public talk based on the new book by renowned green economist Molly Scott Cato

A strong local economy is important to sustainability, but how large is a local economy, how self-reliant can it be, and what resources will still need to be imported? A bioregional economy explores these questions while challenging the values of the current global economic system, putting people and locality before profit and growth. Join Cambridge Carbon Footprint and leading Green Economist Molly Scott Cato as she sets out a visionary account of what a bioregional approach to the economy would mean — and how to get there from here.

Molly Scott Cato is professor of Strategy and Sustainability at Roehampton University, Green Party spokesperson on economics and a Director of Transition Stroud.

3. Starting a Community Garden 20 November
Tuesday 20 November, 8 - 10pm, Wesley Methodist Church, Victoria Avenue, Cambridge

The benefits of community gardens are boundless: they provide fresh fruit and veg close to home, bring together neighbours, attract wildlife and beautify neighbourhoods. But starting one can seem like a big task: how do you find the land and get permission to use it? What do you plant so that everyone gets a share? How do you organise watering and weeding duties? Join our panel of community gardening experts to hear the answers to these questions as well as ask your own.

Panelists:

Keith Jordan, Community Worker for Abbey Action and Grow-Your-Own Expert

Anna McIvor, Co-founder of Romsey Town Community Garden

Stephanie Ferguson, Growing Spaces Project Coordinator for Transition Cambridge

Reserve your place by booking ahead. Please email info@cambridgecarbonfootprint.org or call 01223 301842.

4. CCF Stall at Mill Road Winter Fair 1 December
Saturday 1 December, 10.30am - 4.30pm, Ditchburn Gardens, Mill Road

We're returning to Mill Road Winter Fair this year! We’ll have lots of activities at our stall focusing on low-carbon living, so bundle up and come find us on Mill Road on December 1st, learn more about CCF, get a taste of our upcoming Low-Carbon Christmas event, or just to say hello!

We will be located in Ditchburn Gardens, which you can find on the MRWF map here . 

Volunteers are most definitely wanted! Contact stephanie@cambridgecarbonfootprint.org to add yourself to the rota. Shifts are available 10:30am – 12:30pm, 12:30pm – 2:30pm and 2:30pm – 4:30pm.

5. A Low-Carbon Christmas 4 December
Tuesday 4 December, 5 - 8pm, Ross Street Community Centre, Ross Street

Join us for a hands-on evening that will change the way you do the holidays! Christmas can be a time of high consumption and waste, but it doesn’t need to be: let CCF volunteers show you how to have a Low-Carbon Christmas.
Some of the activities we’ll have for you on the night:
Make your own Christmas crackers
Make some easy handmade decorations
Wrapping service (bring your gifts if you already have them!)
Ideas for upcycled and second hand gifts on display
Vegetarian Christmas dinner cooking workshop

This event is family friendly and hands-on! Drop-in at Ross Street Community Centre on Ross Street anytime between 5pm and 8pm. The event is free but local handmade gifts, cracker packages and refreshements will be on sale (cash only), and we always appreciate donations!

6. CCF Winter Social 13 December

Thursday 13 December, 7.30 - 10pm, Hills Rd area

Volunteers, supporters, staff and trustees of CCF, come and enjoy some nibbles and mulled wine while celebrating the successes of the past year. If you’re new to CCF, this is a great chance to meet other like-minded people!

Space is limited, so please book ahead with info@cambridgecarbonfootprint.org or 01223 301842.

The social will be held at the home of one of our trustees, off Hills Road. You’ll get the full address when you book.

7. CCF book group 5 November
Monday 5 November

If you don't feel like going to the fireworks, our popular book group is meeting again on Monday evening to discuss Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point. We meet every two months in people's houses and share food as well as discussing the books. Recent books have been: "Meat, a benign extravagance" by Simon Fairlie and "The Far North" by Marcel Theroux. If you are interested in joining this group, email info@cambridgecarbonfootprint.org

We welcome new members!

8. Join us as we start our second year of Eating Local!
For the next month some of us will be (mainly) eating local food, so do join us or follow us on our blog! You can dip in and try this for as long or as short a time as you want - let us know how you get on! It is much easier and more enjoyable than you might think and there are some wonderful squashes and autumn fruits around at the moment. To find out more, visit our website or contact Bev on bev@cambridgecarbonfootprint.org.

9. Volunteer for our Low Carbon Christmas event!

CCF will be running a Low Carbon Christmas event on 4th December and we need lots of hands-on volunteer help between now and then to get ready!

We’ll need lots of people who can:
Collect materials for us at home (like wine corks and toilet roll tubes) and bring them to the office
Lend us some of your favourite upcycled/second-hand gifts that you've made for someone else or that you've received for display at the event.
Attend a prep evening on 22nd November (please let Stephanie know you're coming) to help make a stock-pile of decorations, gifts, crackers and wrapping materials for use and display at the event.
Attend the event itself on 4th December to help attendees make their own decorations and crackers, and to staff a wrapping station. All training on these jobs will be given at the prep evening or at the event itself.

If you’re keen to be involved with any of these aspects, please email Stephanie (stephanie@cambridgecarbonfootprint.org) so she can give you more details!

10. Poster officers wanted!
Feedback from our events consistently shows that posters we put up to advertise our events get noticed. We're looking to expand the number of volunteers who can help us put up posters for our events, as well as find new places to post them!

If you can put up posters once or twice a month in a particular area of the city (such as Mill Road), or a big workplace like the Cambridge Business Park or Addenbrooke's Hospital, please email stephanie@cambridgecarbonfootprint.org. We can help you figure out where you can post in your area if you're not sure already and posters can be sent to you by snail mail or as a PDF attachment if you have colour printing capabilities.





11. The denial of despair – does unacknowledged despair compromise action on climate change?


We’re used to talking about the denial of climate change but are we seeing another kind of denial at present – the denial of despair?

Read more at www . rorandall . org





12. The Black Fish Speaker Tour 3 November


Saturday 3 November, 5.30pm, Sidney Sussex College, Mong Hall, Sidney Street

Join the co-founder of The Black Fish, Wietse van der Werf, for an evening of information and inspiration. Learn about the growing problems created by industrial overfishing and the creative ways in which The Black Fish is turning the tide.

Our oceans are dying. Overfishing is one of the major issues facing the world today and illegal fishing activities are damaging eco-systems and pushing species to the brink of extinction.

Emerging from some of the more established conservation organisations, a group of people founded a new organisation in 2010 named The Black Fish. Within a couple of years this initiative has grown into an international marine activism movement, with numerous victories already under its belt.

Free entry

13. Cafe night - woodland management 15 November
Thursday 15 November, 7.30 - 9pm, CB1 Cafe, 32 Mill Road

Vince and Louise, volunteer wardens at Hardwick Wood owned by the Wildlife Trust will come and tell us about their experience. They manage the wood to encourage wildlife and also produce a large amount of sustainable wood products. The aim is to replicate the traditional coppice management in parts of the wood, which makes it better for wildflowers, lots of insects, and a greater variety of birds and bats etc. They produce firewood, some charcoal, garden sticks and structures etc. and deliver to customers around the area to raise funds for the Wildlife Trust. There has also been some much larger tree-felling work by professionals to supply timber for buildings etc.

Vince and Louise will also invite you to join them on one of their work days to get some practical experience. After the talk the next work days are 17th November and 1st December.

14. Green Enterprise 26 November
Monday 26 November, 7.30 - 9.30pm, Friends Meeting House, Jesus Lane


Michael Evans will share the story of Green Tide Turbines and the challenges they’ve faced in developing ways to generate renewable power from rivers and estuaries. Michael is an experienced entrepreneur who’s clearly innovative about financing his ventures: Green Tide turbines started as a crowd funded charity! As usual in Green Enterprise events, the evening will be participative and will include plenty of time for discussion with the speaker and other participants

Cost £5

Cambridge Carbon Footprint
www . cambridgecarbonfootprint . org
01223 301842

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