Thursday, 28 February 2013

Julian Huppert MP Joins Parlympian To Back Disabled Kids' Charity


Cambridge MP Julian Huppert met Paralympic champion Hannah Cockroft MBE and pledged his support for a manifesto launched by charity Whizz-Kidz, at the House of Commons yesterday.

The ‘Generation Inspired?’ manifesto is based on a late 2012 survey the charity conducted of its young Ambassadors and their parents - asking them about their hopes for a Paralympic legacy, and their ideas to improve opportunities for young disabled people. A copy of the report and a petition to affect its recommendations were also taken to No.10 Downing Street.

Julian met with double gold medallist Hannah Cockroft MBE, who received her first sports wheelchair from Whizz-Kidz in 2007, as well as two of the charity’s young Ambassadors – both of whom aspire to compete in the Games in the future.

He said: ‘It was fantastic to meet Hannah and the Whizz-Kidz Ambassadors and hear about the charity’s valuable work providing mobility equipment and opportunities for young disabled people.  They do fantastic work locally in providing disabled children and young people with wheelchairs and with life skills through their work placements programme and wheelchair skills training.
‘It’s so important that the views of young disabled people shape plans for the Paralympic legacy and I am delighted to back Whizz-Kidz’s Generation Inspired manifesto.’

Hannah Cockroft MBE said: “The day I received my wheelchair from Whizz-Kidz changed my life. My hope for the legacy of the Paralympics is that more young disabled people will not just be inspired – but have the opportunities - to go for gold and succeed in whatever they want to do.’

In 2012, the charity transformed the lives of 2025 disabled children and youngsters in the UK by providing life-changing mobility equipment such as powered and lightweight wheelchairs, specialist sports wheelchairs and specially adapted bikes and trikes.

For more information about Whizz-Kidz’s work providing disabled children and young people a chance of a childhood and the skills for a bright future, visit www.whizz-kidz.org.uk.

Liberal Democrat MP Julian Huppert Visits Romsey Mill



MP Julian Huppert will visit Cambridge’s Romsey Mill tomorrow (March 1) to meet some of the young people there and discover how low levels of school funding are affecting the charity.

He will visit an arts session being held as part of an Alternative Education Programme called Step-Up which supports youngsters aged 14 to 16 who are at risk of exclusion from mainstream school.

Step-Up offers a range of courses and learning experience to help the young people re-engage with education and increase their confidence, skills and aspirations.

Recognised qualifications from an Arts Award to Sports Leadership and uniformed services are embedded in the courses giving the young people on-going opportunities for success and begin to realise their potential.

The Transitions Programme also works in partnership with schools to give vulnerable children who are most at risk of struggling, a smooth transition to secondary school. Year 6 classes go through Romsey Mill’s “Ready to Go” workbook and youth workers support smaller groups in more depth, addressing issues such as self-esteem, anxiety and making positive friendships.

Although many schools and colleges testify to the value and positive impact of Romsey Mill’s programmes they say they cannot afford to pay even the bare minimum to cover the charity’s costs, leaving a sizeable balance to be raised from other community sectors such as businesses or trusts.

Julian said: “Romsey Mill is doing an excellent job helping young people who are struggling to cope with mainstream education or just lacking in self esteem.

“But the low level of education funding for Cambridgeshire is obviously having an impact on the charity as schools struggle to contribute to their costs. These children need the help Romsey Mill can give them. It is vital if they are to receive a good education and realize their potential.

“I have been fighting to get the government to increase the funding for our county’s schools. This is not just about supporting mainstream education but also being able to offer the type of specialised help that Romsey Mill is giving so everyone has a fair chance.”

Neil Perry, Romsey Mill CEO said: “Romsey Mill is committed to helping young people overcome challenges so that they can fully engage with education and have a positive involvement in their community. Funding cuts are having a direct impact on our ability to deliver much needed specialised support for young people struggling on the margins of mainstream provision”.

FEB-2013: The Better Bus Area Fund (BBAF) And Local Sustainable Transport Fund (LSTF) Update


BBAF
What has been happening this quarter?
The Babraham Road Park & Ride site extension has now been completed, creating an extra 500 car parking spaces. The construction included widening the exit road, constructing an alternative drop off point and installing lighting & CCTV.

The conversion and introduction of new Real Time Passenger Information (RTPI) displays using General Packet Radio Service (GPRS)  technology (which has better coverage than radio-based PMR) is gathering pace, with four displays on Drummer Street & Parkside already installed and further displays on Regent Street and Bridge Street to be completed soon. Trials have also started using GPRS units on Whippet and Stagecoach buses since the end of January.

Stagecoach service extensions linking Ramsey and Chatteris with The Busway are now open for business and helping more people get into Cambridge.

What is coming up?
The project to reduce bus delays in St Andrews Street, Cambridge saw two very productive stakeholder workshops before Christmas. The clear favourite option for stakeholders, of using the Drummer Street taxi rank as a feeder rank for St Andrew’s Street, will be taken to public consultation in March.

Trials using audio equipment, which announce to bus users which stop is coming up, will start in April on selected Whippet and Stagecoach buses that use The Busway.

LSTF
What has been happening this quarter?
70 new cycle racks have gone in at Trumpington Park and Ride, double height cycle parking has been installed at Cambridge station, and more cycle racks have been fitted at the Busway stop in Swavesey, and Oakington Primary School. A further 160 cycle stands have been installed through the ‘Park that Bike’ scheme at local businesses and in community areas and more are planned at Waterbeach train station and Netherhall School

Improvements have been made to; a 150m shared foot and cycle path from Foster Road to The Busway cycle track; a 200m shared path which links Foster Road to Alpha Terrace and Fawcett Primary school; and to the cycle lane in Bateman Street, which links Trumpington Road to Panton Street.

Improvements are currently being made to the Thicket path, which links Houghton, Wyton and St Ives, with a new smooth all-weather surface. Work should be completed by the end of March.

Solar stud lights are currently being installed along the Busway maintenance track between Orchard Park and St Ives, helping the many cyclists and pedestrians who use it to see better in the dark.

Two bikes were donated to the All Ability Cycling group this month and officially handed over by Councillor Martin Curtis, the County’s Cycling Champion. The aim of the ‘All Ability’ cycling project is to create an all-inclusive ‘club’ at a safe off-road facility where people with and without disabilities can take part and cycle together as part of their community.

Since the LSTF award at end of May 2012 Travel for Work (TfW) have had 11 meetings with employers and had 14 new employers join the TfW network, meaning that they can reach 3000 extra staff! They have held 8 events since November with over 500 people in attendance, all working to encourage greener travel to and from work.

What is coming up?
The Cycle Challenge – Grab your bike and compete against other companies to see who can get the most members of staff to ride a bike for at least 10 minutes! Starting in May, it will last for 3 weeks and encourage companies all over Cambridgeshire to get on their bike.

Ten events for the ‘Cambridgeshire Festival of Cycling’ are planned to start in April running through to June right across the county. The events are jointly funded with the County’s Road Safety team and activities will include a bike try out show, free bike maintenance and a smoothie-bike.

Work on the Milton to Landbeach cycle path should start in the spring, which will improve access to the local Research Park.

The deadline for applications for funding for electrical vehicle charging points passed at the end of January. The applications are now being assessed and work will start shortly to install the charging points at businesses and car parks around the County.

Say hello to…
November saw new starter Bess Sayers, Paul Watkinson, Richard Hampton, Kelsey Collins, and Stewart Slaymaker join the Travel for Work team to support local businesses in encouraging more sustainable travel to and from work.

Aaron Blowers, Susan Rooke and Rikki Parsons joined the Cycling Projects Team in November to assist in the delivery of LSTF projects, and Paul Rawlinson joined the team in February as a Project Manager.

John Stanley and Stuart Duncan have joined us as Sustrans Bike It Officers to cover the Ely and Huntingdonshire areas. They work closely with 12 schools each and organise bike lessons, activities, and promotions. They then put in place a cycle champion to take the project forward.

Cambridge MP Huppert Welcomes Investment In City Manufacturing Partnerships


MP Julian Huppert has welcomed an investment of more than £500,000 in manufacturing for projects partnered by Cambridge University and a city-based business.

The money was announced today (Thursday, February 28) by Liberal Democrat Business Secretary, Vince Cable and supports more than 4,000 jobs.

Cambridge-based Granta Design is partnering a project involving an innovation cluster group led by a Derby-based company to enable the design of a light weight vehicles and other devices which would otherwise take place abroad. The project receives a grant of 212,500 and supports 1,396 jobs.

Cambridge University is working with an aerospace supply chain led by a Stockbridge company to develop high temperature resistant bearing steel for use in the aerospace industry. This project receives a £293,000 grant and supports 2,352 jobs.

Julian said: “These grants are helping organisations in Cambridge work with others across the country to safeguard and grow jobs. This is an excellent initiative which draws on the expertise we have in our city to support our manufacturing industries which are so vital if we are to rebuild our economy.”

The grants are part of the £78 million second round of the Advanced Manufacturing Supply Chain Initiative set up to make sure British manufacturing remains globally competitive.

Full details of both projects are:
Project Title: The Composites Innovation Cluster (CiC) Lead Organisation: Umeco Structural Materials (Derby) Limited

Cambridge partner: Granta Design Limited - Cambridge CB1 7EG (AMSCI grant £212.5K)Number of jobs: 1396 jobs

Detail: It will address market failures in the materials and innovation sector - enabling the design and manufacture of lightweight vehicles, structures and devices that would otherwise take place abroad.

Cambridge Project Title: Development of an Advanced High Temperature Bearing Steel Through the Aerospace Supply Chain Lead Organisation: Tata Steel UK Limited (Speciality & Bar)Location: Stocksbridge Works, Stocksbridge S36 2JA

Cambridge partner: Cambridge University (AMSCI grant £293K)Number of jobs: 2352 jobs

Details: The project will develop high temperature resistant bearing steel for use in the aerospace industry. At present, steel is a limiting factor, placing restrictions on load capability and fuel efficiency.

Hail Our Consultation On St Andrew's Street Taxi Rank Improvements


Residents are being asked to have their say on a £30,000 scheme to improve the St Andrew's Street taxi rank in Cambridge to ease congestion and increase safety for cyclists.

The new proposed changes follows ideas generated at workshops held by Cambridgeshire County Council and brought together all users, including taxi drivers, bus operators, cyclists and businesses.

Currently St Andrew's Street is one of the busiest roads in Cambridge and used by a large number of buses, deliver vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists and taxis.

However, due to its popularity taxis sometimes queue on the road which has caused concerns over safety and congestion problems in the area for cyclists and large vehicles, such as buses and the emergency services.

The County Council is proposing to keep the taxi rank at St Andrew's Street as it is, but prevent taxis from queuing onto the road should the taxi rank become full. Instead, taxis should wait at the under-used taxi rank around the corner on Drummer Street until a space in St Andrew's Street becomes available. Detectors would send information that space is available to taxis waiting in Drummer Street via a variable message sign.

The scheme will be funded by the Better Bus Area Fund (BBAF). The Department for Transport awarded the County Council £1.724million through the BBAF, a programme focusing on improving bus facilities in and around Cambridge. The money will be used to improve bus journeys, making travelling by bus more attractive and reducing pollution in Cambridge. The schemes will also help improve safety for cyclists and pedestrians, encouraging more people to walk or cycle.

Councillor Ian Bates, Cabinet Member for Growth and Planning, said: "Easy access to taxis in the city centre is vital for supporting the local economy, reducing congestion and helping those with restricted mobility. With the proposed improvements, we hope to reduce accidents, improve safety and ease congestion in the city centre. Resolving one of the bottle-necks will make bus journeys more reliable. Making it easier to get in and around Cambridge should also help boost the local economy and encourage jobs."

Local County Councillor Sarah Whitebread, said: "The problem of taxis over ranking along St Andrew's Street is one that urgently needs tackling to improve access for buses and safety for pedestrians and cyclists. Keeping a city centre rank is vital for many people living in the city, so I hope this solution will provide the best option for everyone. I encourage residents to fill in the consultation so that councillors can make an informed decision on the scheme later this year."

For more information on the proposals and to have your say, log on to: www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/transport.

The consultation starts on Monday 4 March and finishes on Friday 22 March. The results of the consultation and the views of those who use the area regularly will enable us to finalise the plans for the area.

New Temporary Home For Sawston Library Set To Open


Work to install a new temporary building is now complete and Sawston Library will re-open to the public on Wednesday 6 March.

From 6 March some changes to the library opening hours will also come into effect. This follows feedback from customers and analysis of library use last year which showed where hours could be tweaked to better suit demand.

Sawston customers will see the library open for an extra hour on a Monday and a Tuesday, both of which have proved busy days. On a Wednesday and Friday the library will close between 1-2pm but otherwise opening hours will stay the same.

New opening hours

  • Monday 2 - 6pm 
  • Tuesday  3 - 7pm 
  • Wednesday 10am - 1pm/ 2 - 5pm 
  • Thursday Closed 
  • Friday 10am -  1pm/ 2 - 5pm 
  • Saturday 10am - 1pm 

Cambridgeshire County Council's Cabinet Member for Learning, Cllr David Harty said "The new temporary building is able to provide as much space as the original building and house just as many books. We're sure that many Sawston residents will come along and visit their local library."

There will be an official launch of the new temporary building on Saturday 16 March.

Priorities Set By South Cambridgeshire Communities


Councillors have approved a set of priorities today (Thursday 28 February) to help continue to improve life for residents and businesses within South Cambridgeshire.

At a meeting of Council, when the budget was also agreed 2013/14, councillors debated the proposed plans which had been put forward following a consultation with residents and businesses to find out their current priorities and future aspirations.

Following a public consultation, councillors have approved three main pledges for the following year:

  • We will listen and engage with residents, parishes and  businesses to ensure we deliver first class services and value for money
  • We will work with partners to create opportunities for employment, enterprise, and world-leading innovation.
  • We will make sure that South Cambridgeshire continues to offer an outstanding and sustainable quality of life for our residents

To make sure the aims residents and businesses have helped set are achieved, a 30-point action plan has also been set. These main aims and goals were used to allocate the Council’s budget for next year.

The actions agreed build on successes over recent years including a new customer contact service saving taxpayers over £250,000 a year, work to ensure the council makes it as easy as possible for businesses to thrive in the district and plans to build hundreds of new council houses.

Cllr James Hockney, South Cambridgeshire District Council’s cabinet member for customer and corporate services, said: “The main aims and aspirations of our residents and businesses go hand in hand with the Council agreeing our budget for next year. We have listened to what people have said during the consultation and put them at its heart of what we plan to achieve. South Cambridgeshire is consistently recognised as one of the top places to live and work in the country, and one of our key aims over the next few years will be to continue to develop our local economy so we can help create more employment opportunities for our residents. We know there are still a number of challenges to address, such as the A14 and delivering the sustainable new housing people need, but we are fully committed to working with partners to tackle these."

Councillors Back Efficiency Savings Proposals As Budget Agreed

Councillors have backed plans to deliver efficiency savings equivalent to £12 per household as South Cambridgeshire District Council’s budget was agreed.

At the meeting of Full Council councillors voted in favour of proposals that would see the bulk of a 24% cut in central government grant funding absorbed by the Council through efficiency savings while services are still maintained.

The proposed budget – which was recommended by senior councillors at a Cabinet meeting earlier this month – detailed how less national funding will mean savings of around £17 per average band D household must be found over the period of the financial plan but committed to protect frontline services.

The first rise in council tax for three years was also agreed today, equivalent to £5 per year for an average band D home.

When presenting the report to councillors, Cllr Simon Edwards, the Council’s deputy leader and cabinet member for finance said he was proud of the fact the Council has one of the lowest council taxes in the country but said that freezing payments for a third year in a row wasn’t an option as cuts would be needed to frontline services and problems would be stored up for balancing the budget in future years.

Councillors reiterated today that investment in the future of the district was important to maintain the high quality of life residents currently enjoy and said that continuing to deliver good quality and value for money services remains at the heart of plans.

Later this year the first homes under the biggest building programme of new Council-owned homes for two generations will be completed. A newly launched arms-length company, South Cambs Limited, will also help the Council maximise investment in new homes so profits can be pumped back into council services, including more affordable housing.

Generating income from investments is one way the Council aims to ease the reliance on grant funding from government that councillors expect will continue to be reduced in future years.

The government offered local councils who chose to freeze council tax a two year grant equivalent to a 1% rise, but this short-term deal would mean an additional £7 per band D home would need to be saved in two years’ time. Previous freeze grants from government have been more generous which the Council has accepted.

The £17 saving per household over the period of the Council’s financial strategy is made up of reductions to national grant funding, pressures on providing services to thousands of additional homes as the district is one of the fastest growing in the country and the cost of inflation.

Cllr Simon Edwards, South Cambridgeshire District Council’s deputy leader and cabinet member for finance, said: “We have a proven track record of delivering sound financial management and high quality services for our residents and the budget approved by councillors will see this continue. We work hard to make sure we keep council tax as low as possible and despite being one of the lowest charging councils in the country we have pledged to deliver further savings through efficiencies. The small additional payment we are asking for from residents will mean frontline services they rely on are also protected.

“We are one of the fastest growing districts in the country and the corporate plan also agreed today sets the targets for us on what our residents and businesses want us to deliver so we can meet their future aspirations. In times where funding is tighter than ever before it is even more vital we make sure every penny of taxpayers’ money continues to work as hard as possible and an innovative approach will get the best possible results.”

Proposals presented to Council today:

http://scambs.moderngov.co.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=410&MId=5754&Ver=4

South Cambridgeshire District Council’s precept for 2013/14 on a band D property is £120.46

Savings required per average band D home are £17.

Savings met through £12 of Council efficiency savings and £5 rise in council tax.

The main areas of Council spend for 2013/14 are:
  • Environment services – including waste and recycling, environmental protection, public health and food safety – £5.7m
  • Planning and economic development – including conservation, building and development control – £2.5m
  • Finance and staffing – including administration of benefits for residents, and collection of business rates and council tax – £2.4m
  • Planning policy and localism – including Northstowe and other growth areas, sports and arts support and planning policy – £1.8m
  • Corporate and customer services – including costs of council meetings, Member allowances and elections – £1.6m
  • Housing – including homelessness, housing strategy and letting and advisory services – £1.3m.

New Orchard Takes Shape As First Trees Are Planted


A new community orchard will take shape in Heydon on Saturday (2 March) when members of the parish council together with local volunteers will plant the first trees, giving a new lease of life to an unused chalk pit.

Following a recent grant from South Cambridgeshire District Council, which helped get them started, residents have been clearing the area on the edge of the village in preparation for planting their new orchard.

A variety of cherry trees local to the area will be planted, providing fruit for the community in years to come.

The aim of the orchard is to strike a balance between creating space for healthy tree growth, wild areas for biodiversity and open outdoor space for local people to enjoy, which can lend itself to facilitate education in food, improve mental and physical health and encourage interaction with nature.

Cllr Ray Manning, South Cambridgeshire District Council’s Leader, said: “This is the second community orchard to be planted in as many weeks, which is fantastic.  It’s great to see underused land being used in such a positive way that will not only benefit the local community, protect local varieties of fruit and provide a crucial habitat for wildlife, but that will also protect the traditional orchard, which is such an important part of our local heritage."

South Cambridgeshire District Council is actively supporting local people to establish or restore community orchards and can help with guidance and funding.  For more information contact Ecology Officer, Rob Mungovan, on (01954) 713402.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Have Your Say: Improving Traffic Flow On St Andrew’s Street, Cambridge


St Andrew’s Street, in the centre of Cambridge, is one of the busiest streets in the city. Although access is restricted to most motor traffic, it is used by a large number of buses, delivery vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists and taxis.

What are the problems? 
The main focus for taxis is the rank in the lay-by in St Andrew’s Street. Often this rank is full and taxis sometimes queue onto the road to wait for space on the rank to become free.  This has led to complaints, adds to congestion in the area and reduces safety for others.

Over-ranking causes a number of issues:

  • obstructing wider vehicles, such as buses and emergency vehicles, passing along the road, 
  • narrowing the road space, leading to safety concerns, 
  • delaying buses from getting to and from stops, 
  • obstructing the pedestrian crossing point between the Lion Yard and Christ’s Lane, forcing pedestrians to cross between parked cars. 

What are the proposals? 
The County Council is proposing to keep the taxi rank at St Andrew’s Street as it is, but prevent taxis from queuing onto the road should the taxi rank be full. Instead, taxis should wait at the under-used taxi rank around the corner on Drummer Street until a space becomes available in St Andrew’s Street. Detectors would then send information that space is available to taxis waiting in Drummer Street via a variable message sign.


Operational arrangements will be agreed with taxi drivers to ensure they travel to St Andrew’s Street via Drummer Street. The Drummer Street rank will also serve as a normal taxi rank, with taxis being available for hire. This feeder rank will also reduce the need for customers to go to St Andrew’s Street to hire a taxi.

How the proposals developed 
To help improve accessibility and safety in the St Andrew’s Street area, options were discussed at two workshops last autumn with a range of stakeholders whose input has helped to shape the proposals outlined here. Options considered included closing the St Andrew’s Street taxi rank.

However, it was recognised that easy access to taxi services in the city centre is vital for supporting the local economy and helping those with restricted mobility. It was agreed that the rank should be kept, but that much better use should be made of the Drummer Street taxi rank, and that over-ranking taxis should be removed.

Timescales 
Please note, the timescales below are indicative and may be subject to change.
Consultation 4 – 22 March 2013
Implementation Autumn 2013

Funding – Better Bus Area Fund (BBAF) 
The scheme will cost about £30,000 and will be funded by the Better Bus Area Fund.

The Department for Transport awarded the County Council £1.724million through the BBAF, a programme focusing on improving bus facilities in and around Cambridge. The money will be used to improve bus journeys, making travelling by bus more attractive and reducing pollution in Cambridge. The schemes will also help improve safety for cyclists and pedestrians, encouraging more people to walk or cycle. Making it easier to get in and around Cambridge should also help boost the local economy and encourage jobs.

The BBAF schemes are delivered in partnership with South Cambridgeshire District Council, Cambridge City Council, Stagecoach East and Whippet Coaches Ltd.

Have your say 
Let us know your comments on the proposals via:
Email: transport.delivery@cambridgeshire.gov.uk
Post: Major Infrastructure Delivery team, Cambridgeshire County Council,
CC1211, Castle Court, Cambridge CB3 0AP
Phone: 01223 699906

Your feedback will help us improve our plans and shape the final scheme. Please let us
have any feedback by Friday, 22 March 2013.

For the latest information, updates and news visit:

www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/transport

If you would like a copy of this text in large print, Braille, on audio-tape or in any other language, please contact us on 01223 699906

Cycling Award for Coton Primary School

Coton Church of England Primary School will receive an award from charity Sustrans tomorrow, Thursday, after increasing the number of pupils travelling by sustainable transport.

Cambridgeshire County Councillor for Hardwick, Fiona Whelan, will present the Bronze Bike It School award, recognising the schools commitment to cycling. Students will also benefit from a free Bikers Breakfast and a Dr Bike session to provide maintenance checks to their bikes.

Cambridgeshire County Council and Sustrans, the sustainable transport charity, have been working closely with the school from 2010. Since then the school has seen the number of children cycling to school increase by around 13%, reaching up to 35% during cycle to school events.

The Bike-It projects are being funded from the County Council's Local Sustainable Transport Fund (LSTF) programme. This includes a range of measures aimed at 'Getting Cambridgeshire to work and school' by sustainable transport modes.

Cambridgeshire County Councillor, Martin Curtis, the County's cycling champion said: "It's great news, that Coton Primary School won this award and increased the number of students cycling to school. Children who cycle are healthier and can concentrate better in class. We hope to continue to increase the number of students cycling and congratulate them on their award."

Thursday, 28 February also marks the start of a three week cycle to school competition run by Sustrans known as 'The Big Pedal'. Children, parents and teachers across the UK are being encouraged to get on their bikes and scooters for the school run. Last year over 950 schools took part, from Cornwall to the Highlands, Belfast to East Anglia. The combined efforts of children all over the country travelled a total of 1,140,075 miles saving 59,021 gallons of fuel, equating to £368,484.

Malcolm Shepherd, Sustrans Chief Executive, said: "The average primary school journey is just 1.5 miles - the perfect distance to walk or cycle. Every year The Big Pedal helps tens of thousands of families rediscover the fun and freedom of cycling to school, getting fit and saving money at the same time. Evidence shows that children cycling to school regularly are more active and better learners - it's time for us all to get on our bikes!"

To get your school involved in the Big Pedal go to: http://bigpedal.org.uk/

Show Homes Open Door For Greener Future

Homebuyers can pick and choose their way to a greener lifestyle after show homes equipped with a range of optional energy generating and efficiency finishes opened their doors.

Prospective purchasers at a new Cambourne development can choose from a range of green extras when they buy off-plan, in exactly the same way that they can customise and upgrade kitchens, bathrooms and other aspects of their new home.

Solar panels, innovative heat recovery ventilation systems, recycling facilities, smart metering, sustainable flooring, eco-paint and low energy appliances are just a selection of the green options available in some homes.

Samples and annotated wall art have been designed into the showhomes to demonstrate where each of the optional extras are, with detailed information explaining the energy saving credentials.

Even the gardens are a working example of greener living, with some having options for rainwater harvesting, raised vegetable beds and bird, bat and insect boxes.

These elements combined could save homeowners hundreds of pounds each year in utility bills and significantly reduce the consumption of natural resources.

The properties already boast high environmental qualities as standard, but the enhanced options will allow homebuyers to get the most out of their new property by choosing further green technologies that make their home more healthy, comfortable, sustainable and cheaper to run.

The sustainable energy options available were required as part of the planning permission that South Cambridgeshire District Council gave for the 950 homes currently being built in Upper Cambourne.

Cllr Ray Manning, Leader of South Cambridgeshire District Council, said: “In light of recent and predicted increases in fuel prices, it is great to see this new development giving a range of options for homeowners so they can go green and possibly cut their bills from the outset. These innovative features on offer will also make sure people’s homes are warmer and more comfortable to live in.”

Stacy Dornan, Sales and Marketing Director for Taylor Wimpey East Anglia, said: “As a considerate, responsible housebuilder, we at Taylor Wimpey are committed to improving environmental sustainability in the homes we build. We are delighted to be able to offer a fantastic range of eco-friendly options to purchasers at our Cambourne developments, giving them the opportunity to live a greener lifestyle while enjoying significant potential savings on their utility bills.”

Beryl Williams, area sales manager for Bovis Homes, said: “Cambourne is one of the jewels in our crown in the east of England, and the sustainability features we offer here are proving to be extremely popular with customers. Homebuyers are increasingly recognising that buying a new-build home gives them distinct advantages over those who look to the second-hand market. With the latest insulation materials and modern sustainability features they could be feeling cosy and warm in their new home while saving money and doing their bit for the environment. It's a win-win-win!"

The new homes are all designed to national standard Level 3 of the Code for Sustainable Homes, exceeding current building regulations and ensuring the properties minimise their impact on the environment, reduce energy consumption and are cheaper to run.

Prices for the homes at Cambourne range from £194,950 for a two-bedroom home to £399,950 for a five-bedroom. For further information and to register your interest visit the homebuilders’ websites.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Move Brussels to the Washington model - says Andrew Duff MEP


Andrew Duff MEP is a British politician leading the charge towards federalism. He talks to PublicServiceEurope.com (original article) about the creation of a United States of Europe

Andrew Duff is a most unusual animal: a British federalist MEP. And not just any old federalist either. Duff is a hardcore federalist, a proponent of a United States of Europe. He is perhaps the most federalist politician in the European Parliament, itself the most federalist of the European Union institutions. As co-chair of the Spinelli group of 110 federalist MEPs, the Liberal Democrat representative for the East of England is already preparing for the next quantum leap. The coming European convention, he hopes and believes, will lay the groundwork for the creation of a fully-fledged European government.

Some 10 years ago, when the ill-fated European constitution was on the drawing board, Duff was already the parliament's man on the scene. A decade later, the way forward is still perfectly clear is his mind: fiscal union, debt mutualisation, a true European president and the downgrading of the nation state. There has, however, been a big change in the interim. Duff's country is this time certain not to take part.

"The United Kingdom will not join the federal core and I deplore that," he tells PublicServiceEurope.com. "I'm trying to draft an arrangement that will satisfy the British for a period". He is referring to an opt-in that will allow the UK to catch up at a later date. "Once they have seen it working they will no doubt want to join," says Duff.

This theory is consistent with Britain's past relationship with Europe. While wishing the continent well, London decided to stay on the sidelines as the European Economic Community took shape in the 1950s. Only later, once the community was a proven success, did the British government come to the conclusion that joining was a good idea after all. From this perspective, UK Prime Minister David Cameron sent his European counterparts the same message in his keynote speech in January - go on without us.

Duff predicts Britain will also one day overcome its reluctance as far as the euro is concerned. The pound, he points out, is hardly a safe haven. The downgrading of Britain by ratings agency Moody's adds weight to this argument against sterling.

Like all true federalists, Duff wants decision-making in Brussels to move towards the Washington model. "Voting weights in the Council of Ministers should become less proportional," he says. The populous American state of California sends two senators to Washington; the same number as tiny Rhode Island. Just imagine Germany and Malta with the same voting weights, the same relative power, around the council table.

The European Parliament, on the other hand, would under the Spinelli group plan become more proportional. Germany would be given a relatively greater number of seats to reflect its 80 million plus population. The voices of Malta and Cyprus would under this scenario become largely irrelevant, though Duff makes noises about not going too fast too soon.

Other proposals likely to emerge when the group publishes its blueprint this June include a merging of the functions of president of the council, currently held by Flemish haiku specialist Herman Van Rompuy, with that of European commission president - the job performed by pedestrian Portuguese Jose Manuel Barroso. The separate roles create too much confusion, says Duff. This merger plan received some support - from Belgium and the Netherlands, among others - when put forward 10 years ago. Its time has now come, says the Liberal Democrat.

Such a super-president would in the ideal federalist world be elected by the European Parliament. As an interim measure, MEPs are planning to propose candidates to replace Barroso when his term expires in 2014. "I haven't plumped yet," says Duff when asked if he has a preferred candidate in mind, "though if the Germans are serious about this project it is perhaps time for a German commission president - we haven't had one in a long time".

Then comes the make-or-break question. Is the voting public calling out for more federalism? For the first time, Duff hesitates. "It depends who you are talking to," he says. "In Italy," he continues, before correcting himself: "There is Grillo, I suppose." Beppe Grillo, the Italian comedian-turned-political phenomenon, is not a big European Union fan. But Duff doesn't dwell on the rise of Euroscepticism. "Let's have that debate," he concludes.

Are federalists living in a dream world? The history of the 20th century suggests their goals - at least on mainland Europe - are inevitable. But is this want Europeans really want? When faced with mass unemployment and declining standards of living, will voters accept that federalism is the answer? The only way to answer this question properly is for politicians like Duff to stand on federalist platforms and try to take the populace with them.

In some countries, they might even succeed. But if Duff stood up to talk in front of 100 average Britons, you cannot help feeling that half of them would not have a clue what he was talking about. The other half, in today's venom-filled society, would probably want to eat him alive.

Monday, 25 February 2013

Maple Surgery Change of Contractor

Your local Parish Councillors have been updated regarding the competitive tendering process in relation to our local Health Centre. Here is the announcement;

"We are writing to inform you that following a competitive tender process NHS Cambridgeshire has awarded the Maple Surgery contract to Malling Health Ltd. This will become effective from 6th April. The current contractors, the Acorn Partnership will cease to caretake the Maple Surgery from 5th April 2013.

NHS Cambridgeshire is committed to ensuring continuity of care for all patients registered with the practice, therefore all services and clinics operating from the Maple Surgery will continue as normal. The appointment of the new contractor will lead to stable service provision for patients in this surgery for the next five years.

Two patient representatives from the Maple Surgery assisted NHS Cambridgeshire with the process and participated in the bidder interviews and evaluations. Their contribution to the process and decision making was highly valued and greatly appreciated.

The procurement process was undertaken following the European Union procurement guidelines and the Department of Health’s procurement framework and was supported by the East of England’s Collaborative Procurement Hub to ensure the process was fair, open and transparent, enabling the PCT to secure the best provider of services and value for money for the patients of the Maple Surgery.

Yours sincerely
Sue Stephenson
Project Support Manager / Primary Care Service Improvement Manager"

If you have any questions, about either the process or Malling Health Ltd, please let me or one of the other Parish Councillors know.

Tory Bypass Consultation A Sham

Ely Underpass, Artists Impression
Liberal Democrat County Councillor, Nigel Bell has accused the Tories of planning a sham consultation on Ely bypass by pushing their favoured scheme and not giving residents full details of the alternatives.

The consultation is being launched next month and a leaflet will be sent out to homes; but there is no mention of the alternative scheme to deepen the current underpass at the level crossing.

Instead, the county council has paid lip service to alternatives by only mentioning and dismissing another alternative ‘hidden bypass’ scheme which combines a bypass with an underpass under the railway.

Cllr Bell, who represents Ely North and West said: “The deepened underpass project is supported by the county Liberal Democrats and was considered in the original appraisal of options; yet it doesn’t even get a mention in the consultation.

“This is the option that the Tories don’t want the residents to see because it makes more sense environmentally and could be put in place faster. This consultation will be a complete sham.”

The deepened underpass would be:

  • Far less environmentally damaging and would not destroy the ‘quintessential views’ and the historic setting of Ely Cathedral.
  • It would not require planning permission, unlike the bypass which will require an expensive and time-consuming planning process and public Inquiry.
  • It would cost about the same as the bypass.
  • English Heritage oppose the bypass scheme and prefer an underpass solution. They would take the bypass scheme to a Public Inquiry if the county council pursued it.
  • East Cambridgeshire District Council’s emerging Local Plan states that Ely Railway Station should become a public transport hub, and the deepened underpass option would allow public transport to directly access this. The bypass, however, would create a large diversion for buses travelling to and from Soham .
  • A deepened underpass would attract exactly the same levels of outside funding as any bypass scheme.

Cllr Bell added: “Residents should be given the full details of both schemes for solving the traffic problems in this area; but instead the Conservatives are pushing their own scheme while paying lip service to alternatives.

“Deepening the underpass would remove delays at the level crossing, allow better traffic flow and not damage the environment. It should be given serious consideration.”

Artist’s impressions of the deepening of the underpass, as well as other information related to the project, can be found here: http://www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/NR/rdonlyres/D3A03A35-F63D-4F27-A177-D298294F3B78/0/SettingStudyPart2.pdf

Sunday, 24 February 2013

MP And Councillors Unite Against Shark Fin Trade by Cllr Andrea Reiner

The main business for Thursday’s meeting of the full Cambridge City Council was to approve the budget for 2013-14. However, we also took time to consider a petition that was brought to the Council by local residents concerned that four establishments in the city are selling shark fin products. The petition had been signed by more than 3,000 people.

In response, our Market ward colleague, Cllr Andrea Reiner co-sponsored a motion calling for a end to the trade in shark fins (Earlier this month City MP Julian Huppert also tabled an Early Day Motion drawing attention to the issue).

In support of the motion, Cllr Reiner said:

This motion comes at a time when many of us are thinking more carefully about what we eat.

The petitioners and Cllr Gawthrope have set out the strong case for banning the trade in shark fins on conservation grounds.

This is an important point because shark fins are a traditional food for an ethnic group that is a minority in Cambridge. In considering this petition we need to be sensitive to this, and be careful not to stray into illiberal intolerance.

However the case for conservation is overwhelming, so much so that many jurisdictions across the US and Canada have banned the trade in shark fins. There is also noteworthy movement in Hong Kong and China on the issue.

To be sure, the trade in Cambridge is not large.

But Cambridge is a world class city, and a centre of conservation.

So the aim of this motion is for Cambridge to add its voice to this global dialogue,
to bring moral pressure to bear on the issue,
and lead the UK in doing so.

The motion passed with the support of all councillors present, save for one abstention.

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Tesco Application For New Premises License (24-Hour Licensing)

Following Tesco's application for a new premises license (a poor quality photo of which is to the right) the clarification below was received from South Cambridgeshire District Council in relation to the application;

"Tesco have submitted a new premises licence application form relating to the store on the Bar Hill site.  The schedule of the application contains times relating to the (off) sale of alcohol and proposed opening times.
I understand that licence number SCDCPL0141 currently relates to the store and allows for alcohol to be sold 24 hours a day. (This licence is displayed inside the door of the Barhill store on public view.)  The opening hours of the premises are detailed as;
Monday 08:00am – Midnight
Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday/Friday Midnight – Midnight
Saturday Midnight – 10:00pm
Sunday 10:00am – 4:00pm
The current application does not change the permissions with respects to alcohol sales, however does request for 24 hour opening of the premises.
The schedule includes the measures that the store have in place to promote the licensing objectives.  Written within schedule M is a statement relating to staff training with respects to alcohol sales, reference to the Challenge 25 ID scheme in operation (a nationally recognised scheme), the intention to continue to use CCTV to cover areas of the store and a statement that the store will ‘welcome the opportunity to liaise with Police and Enforcement authorities should the need arise.’ 
Conditions will be interpreted from this section in accordance with the applicant’s intentions to promote the four objectives, a process that the Licensing Manager will oversee, should the application be successful.
Anybody wishing to view the full application form, including the operating schedule and plan may do so at the Council Offices.  Representations regarding the application must be received by 1st March 2013."

Bar Hill Community Market ** ONE WEEK TODAY **

The next Bar Hill Community Market takes place one week today (2nd March) from 10:30am to 2pm in the Octagon next to the Church (a map, courtesy of OpenStreetView.org, is below).

Stalls include Fruit and vegetables, Homemade cakes, Jewellery, Cards, Confectionery, Jams, Knitted items, Patchwork, Bags, Wooden crafts, Beauty products as well as stalls raising funds for local projects.            

There will also be refreshments and, weather permitting, a BBQ.

If you wish to be part of this, or future, markets please contact us. Karen Austen 01954 781085 or Sue Gadsby 01954 200875

Please come and support your local community!

Bar Hill Community Market: Octagon Map


Friday, 22 February 2013

Bar Hill Parish Council Meeting Notes

Here are my notes from the Parish Council meeting, apologies if it seems to be a bit rambling!

Unfortunately there were no members of the public present for the open forum, the chair circulated a "Declaration of Interests Flowchart" which was a little out of date but was pretty good and serves as a good guide for when people should declare interests.

The minutes of the previous meeting were quickly approved and we moved on to the main body of the meeting.

3.1 Grass Cutting. The first cut is due towards the end of March. Contract will be signed in first week of March as we have a preferred provider.
3.2 Tree Management. Grant application approved by leader of SCDC, we have £3,000 left in budget but it is looking like that will me spent by the end of next month.
3.3 Midas Care Ltd. This is becoming problematic; despite occupying one of our buildings there is still no legal lease in place. They have been Visited by the chair and vice chair. But apart fro raising some additional works that need doing there was no marked progress towards signing a lease. It is possible they are holding out to purchase the building, as this had been discussed previously however there was no desire amongst Councillors to sell it. The Parish Council needs the lease for auditing purposes. This has been ongoing for years. It was agreed that we would pass the matter on to the Parish Councils' Solicitors.
3.4 The Farmhouse. More interest in farmhouse, agents are pursuing another potential tenant.

4 General Correspondence
This item on the agenda covers any correspondence the Parish Council has received in the last month that isn't covered under another agenda item.

Highlighting a few issues; Cambridgeshire Future Transport was criticised by one Councillor for the removal of bus subsidies. There was a brief debate but as Bar Hill is quite well served by buses (both from Stagecoach and Whippet) the majority of Councillors were not keen for the council to do something formerly. It is worth point out that scrapping Cambridgeshire Future Transport was part of the Liberal Democrats alternative budget for Cambridgeshire County Council which was rejected by the administration earlier in the week.

The draining of the village green was discussed, a company is proposing we spend £800 attempting to alleviate the problem. Apparently surrounding villages have this done annually. We need to look at this but it's not sure how can proceed. A Councillor stated that other villages have the work done annually to maintain their greens, a debate ensued regarding whether or not the those villages charge cricket and football teams to use the grounds which was inconclusive (as, it seems, none of those involved had done their research). Flooding is a big issue, but its very unclear exactly what we should do about it. We have spent £13k within the last 15 years on this and it demonstrably hasn't worked. It was agreed we would ask the person currently working with us on the stream to look at the drainage issues on the village green. It was agreed that a rolling programme was necessary. There was no appetite for charging people to use the green.

Gritting was raised. I raised former Cambridge MP David Howarths views on people being sued for clearing snow! Which I will attempt to setup into an annual recurring blog post on this issue as I'm pretty certain it's not going to go away.

5 Clerks Financial Report
5.1 Approval of Works. Nothing outstanding (everything has gone out, or waiting for quotes to come in).
5.2 Possible update on office equipment. Taken with 5.3
5.3 Future employment of a second clerk in the Parish Council office. We have had a second clerk who came in and did an excellent job while our current clerk was away on sick leave. We discussed improving the office situation so two people could share the office for a prolonged period of time. The Council agreed to spend up to £500. I agreed to do a work area assessment, as I've had the training. We also agreed to employ a second clerk (for 4 hours a week) for the next month to provide additional capacity.

CAPALC to be contacted by the clerk regarding what we do regarding "emergency cover" and "long term cover" if needed. We will develop a policy regarding long term sickness depending on what CAPALC/LGSS come back with. This will be an agenda item for future meetings.
5.4 Approval of Canalbs Ltd to carry on with internal audit for 2013/14. Not really any choice (by that I mean the alternative is costly and time consuming and provides no obvious benefits): consequently approved.
5.5 Tree management programme - tenders received. The bridal way seems to need work, a few years ago we partnered with the County Council - £1,000 each - to get significant work done on this path. A Councillor raised the fact that trees which are obscuring lamp posts need seeing to, tenders have been sent out, and quotes should be in for next month.

Three tenders received; £480, £560, or £1,500. The £560 tender (K Fergusons Ltd) was selected, the work will start later in the year and will report back to our November meeting (the tender is just to generate a report on work that needs doing in targeted areas).
5.6 Training course for new Councillors
£35 per person at the Glebe in Sutton. Monday 4th March at 7pm. We discussed have a course locally, Leigh is going to investigate surrounding Councils and see if there is any interest in all of us clubbing together and getting them to come here (or hereabouts) and give the course.
5.7 Approval of accounts and payment of cheques for February. This was approved.

6 Chairman's Report
6.1 Discuss the role of Parish Councillors. Chair politely reminded everyone what Councillors can and cannot do but more importantly what we *should not* do so as not to put ourselves at risk while we are fulfilling our duty as a Parish Councillor.
6.2 Discuss Charitable Donations by the Parish Council. Unanimously the Council agreed that all future applications for funds will need to be accompanied by a form and a copy of the organisations accounts.

A further item was raised regarding the what to do with our surplus and a proposal to fully fund a fence around the village green patio. This was contentious as it's not clear that the Village Hall needs the money (last year it was making £2,000 a month, this has dropped by half to £1,000 - these figures are *profit*) but no firm figures were available. One councillor voted against and I abstained on this vote as there was not information, particularly financial, to reach a view one way or another on whether or not we should do this. All other Councillors voted in favour. There was a brief discussion based on whether or not the way Councillors voted should be recorded (on the basis "people would be interested") but this was not agreed. Hence I've only identified my vote (abstaining) and not the other Councillor who voted against.
6.3 Expenditure of The Willows income. We agreed to leave it for a while and see what the village green drainage survey came back with.
6.4 Salt bins and future gritting requirements. We agreed to spend some money on branding our grit bins as we've had 3 stolen. Apparently they've very useful on allotments, as beer coolers, for transporting drugs, etc.
6.5 Use of village facilities - village green. There was no real discussion (as our 2-hour meeting had gone past the 3 hour stage!)

7 Committee Reports
A. Planning.
B. Environment Committee.
Neither of these committees presented anything memorable.

8 Other Reports
A. Cambridgeshire County Council.
B. South Cambridgeshire District Council.
C. Any other reports.
Police/PCSO
The Tesco 24-hour alcohol license extension is not being opposed by the police, apparently Tesco have added an additional security guard (making it 2) in the overnight slot to ensure that there are no incidents. The Council requested that crime be monitored in the car park.

South Cambs has been suffering a lot of graffiti, Bar Hill has not been touched yet - hopefully it will stay this way.

All quiet at the skate park - but PCSO did mention how cold it is outside at the moment!

A request was raised at the neighbourhood panel to move lorries on if they park at Tesco roundabout. Lorries parked on the ring road will be moved on, and lorries parked on the industrial estate are only an issue if the businesses complain. Photographs of incidents can be useful.


Joint Leaders Statement On EDL March


"We celebrate the diverse communities that live and work in Cambridge and the County. The social, cultural, ethnic and religious diversity plays a vital role in making Cambridgeshire a great place to call home.

"In this light, now and just like last time, an EDL demonstration is simply out of place in Cambridge.

"As political leaders, we place value on the rights of people with different views from ours to voice their opinions. But we also attach massive importance to residents and visitors being able to go about their business without concern and free from intimidation.

"We were really pleased to see last time Cambridgeshire ignored this demonstration and by doing so residents showed how out of touch such protests are with our communities. Once again we call upon communities to deliver another powerful message by simply going about their activities as normal.

"We've worked closely with the Police and City Council to plan for the event. Cambridge will be open for business and residents should continue to enjoy everything the city has to offer."

Cambridgeshire County Councillor Nick Clarke, Conservative Group and Leader of the Council; Cambridgeshire County Councillor Kilian Bourke, Leader, Liberal Democrat Group; Cambridgeshire County Councillor Paul Sales, Leader, Labour Group; Cambridgeshire County Councillor Peter Reeve, Leader, UKIP Group; Cambridgeshire County Councillor Ken Churchill, Leader, Conservative Non-Aligned.

Night Work To Improve Cambridge Street

Regent Street, Cambridge
(courtesy OpenStreetMap.org)

Contractors working on behalf of Cambridgeshire County Council are about to carry out improvement work on a city centre street, and will be working at night to keep traffic disruption to a minimum.

Regent Street in the centre of Cambridge will be resurfaced and ironwork repaired and replaced between March 11-17. Work will take place between 7.00 pm-2.00 am and the road will be kept open to one-way traffic.

The work, costing around £200,000, is necessary to improve the road surface which has been damaged by weather, heavy traffic and previous roadworks.

Outside of the work period, the road will be open to traffic in both directions.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Cambridge MP Julian Huppert Joins Counter March Against EDL

Julian Huppert MP with Imam Dr Sejad Mekić
at the Cambridge Mosque

MP Julian Huppert will take part in a counter march against the English Defence League protest on Saturday afternoon (February 23).

Julian has been talking to the Chair of the Muslim Council in Cambridge, Imam Dr Sejad Mekić, to discuss their preferred reaction. They felt that this year support should be given to a Cambridge Muslim Diversity March for Peace and Unity.

Marchers will meet at Petersfield for 12 noon and will march on a route that takes them into the city centre and then back through Mill Road to Petersfield.

The static EDL protest will take place between 2pm and 4pm at Christ’s Pieces.

Julian said: “I feel very strongly about the need to make it clear that Cambridge stands together against fascism and racism.

“This is the second year running that the EDL has targeted our city and, while I recognise their right to protest, I want to make it very clear that they are not welcome here.

“I hope their demonstration will pass peacefully and the fact that they are to be contained in one place, will hopefully go some way in helping to achieve that.

“We are fortunate in Cambridge to have a multi-national mix of people who make our city a vibrant and unique place in which to live and visit. They have diverse qualities and share their cultures, living and working together for the good of our communities and our city generally. I don’t want to see anything that could detract that. If we were to lose that mix, Cambridge would be a far poorer place in which to live.”

Bar Hill Parish Council - Meeting Agenda 21-FEB-2013


Just a quick reminder of the agenda for tonight's meeting of Bar Hill Parish Council (7pm).

The first item, the Open Forum, is the part of the meeting where anyone can just turn up and present to the Council any item they're concerned about.

If you can't make the meeting you can contact me (at andy.pellew@gmail.com) and I'll raise the issue for you.

Open Forum
1. To receive apologies for absence and any declaration of interest
2. Approval of minutes. To approve minutes of Parish Council Meeting held on 17th January 2013
3. Matters for discussion and decisions to be made from Previous Minutes
3.1 Grass Cutting Contract
3.2 Tree Management programme
3.3 Midas Care Ltd – Signing of lease agreement
3.4 The Farmhouse – update on new tenant and requirements
4. General Correspondence Received
5. Clerks Financial Report
5.1 Approval of works by the Parish Council
5.2 Possible update on office equipment 
5.3 Future employment of Gill Hayden-Smith in the Parish Council office
5.4 Approval of Canalbs Ltd to carry on with intern al audit for 2013/2014
5.5 Tree Management Programme – tenders received
5.6 Training Course for new Councillors
5.7 Approval of accounts and payment of cheques for February
6. Chairman’s Report
6.1 To discuss the role of Parish Councilors re:  advertising around the village
6.2  To discuss Charitable Donations by the Parish Council
6.3 Expenditure of The Willows income
6.4 Salt Bins and future gritting requirements

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Works Start This Week On Lighting Up The Busway

Guided Busway Maintenance Track

Works start this week to install solar-powered stud lights along sections of the Busway maintenance track.

Cambridgeshire County Council will be installing the studs between Orchard Park and St Ives, Oakington and Girton, and between Longstanton Park & Ride and Longstanton village.

The studs have been used successfully on other cycle routes such as those between Over and Swavesey and on the Addenbrooke's to Shelford route.

The Busway cycle track has been well used since its opening in August 2011 and new solar lighting will mean that it will be more attractive to use at night as well as in the daytime.

Councillor Ian Bates, Cabinet Member for Growth and Planning, said: "This is excellent news for the many people that use the Busway cycle track regularly to commute to work, walk the dog or just go for a pleasant ride. The solar studs should really help people see their way on dark evenings or mornings and help make the track an even more popular route."

The work will be carried out generally at night and are expected to be completed by the end of March 2013. It is not anticipated that any section of the maintenance track will need to be closed during the works. Where works are taking place, sections will be fenced and signed 150 metres in advance to provide warning for pedestrians and cyclists. It is expected that there will be some noise generated by the installation process, but the mobile nature of the works will keep noise disturbance to a minimum.

Funding for the works is coming from the Cambridgeshire LSTF programme which includes a programme of measures aimed at 'Getting Cambridgeshire to Work'. £5m has been awarded by Government to spend over the next three years, which will unlock a further £4.2m to be spent on transport improvements.

E-Cops - Demonstrations on 23rd February

Plans are being finalised ahead of protests in Cambridge on Saturday (February 23).

We are working closely with Cambridge City Council and a wide range of other agencies to ensure that demonstrations planned by the English Defence League (EDL) and local Unite Against Fascism (UAF) take place safely and peacefully.

The EDL is due to hold an assembly at Christ’s Pieces between 2pm and 4pm and is not expected to hold any form of march or procession. 


The UAF is due to assemble at Petersfield at around noon before marching along the following route:

East Road, Burleigh Street, Fitzroy Street, Jesus Terrace, New Square, Christ’s Pieces, Emmanuel Street, St Andrew’s Street into Sidney Street, Green Street, Trinity Street, Market Street and Market Hill, before returning along the same route to East Road but then crossing over to Norfolk Street, Gwydir Street, Mill Road, and back to Petersfield.

During an intensive period of negotiations with the event organisers, an alternative route along Christ's Lane was opposed by the police following consultation with a range of other agency representatives at the Cambridge City Safety Advisory Group.

As a result, police placed conditions on the route of the procession using powers under Section 12 of the Public Order Act 1986. Section 12 allows a senior police officer to place conditions on a public procession to prevent serious public disorder, serious damage to property or serious disruption to the life of the community.

We are taking the planning for this event very seriously and are actively engaging with a wide range of communities and other agencies to ensure that we are fully informed of issues that may be relevant to local policing on the day. 


We can assure you we will have sufficient police officers on duty and available within the community to provide a good policing level in Cambridge and ensure the protests are policed effectively. 


We will have additional police officers patrolling key areas in the city centre and also in areas where people may enter and exit the city by public transport or by private car. We will have additional staff patrolling the city centre and Mill Road area into the late evening to support local businesses in the night-time economy.
At this stage we are unable to estimate the numbers of people expected to attend the protests, however, we will ensure there will be sufficient resources deployed around the city to maintain public safety and to ensure community and traffic disruption is minimised. 


While those taking part in the protest in the city will be allowed to express opinion and protest peacefully, we will not tolerate violence, incitement to hatred or other criminal activity.


Anyone with information or concerns about the protests should contact police on 101.

Superintendent Vicky Skeels
Cambridge City Commander

Textile and Shoe Reuse/ Recycling Collection Trial

As you may have noticed a few weeks back when our bins were collected we were left with a new blue bag (pictured on the left) which marked the start of the textile recycling scheme in South Cambridgeshire.

The scheme, which is currently on trial in 9 villages - this includes Dry Drayton but not Lolworth or Boxworth (or Girton) - across the district allowing you to dispose of textiles (coats, jackets, children's clothing, bedding, etc) and shoes in a way other than in the black bin.

This additional waste will then be collected and sorted and those items that can be sent for re-use will be and everything else will be recycled.

If you'd like more information on the scheme there is information on the South Cambridgeshire District Council website;

http://www.scambs.gov.uk/textiles

The new blue bag is collected at the same time as the Blue/ Green bins and will continue, according to the website, "until future notice".

Given the large number of charity bags that come through the door I can imagine that there are a lot of people who will find this new service useful not to mention it will turn into a good source of revenue for the District Council (see this, admittedly 2009, article from the Guardian).

Not to mention that this will further cut down black-bin waste!

Here's the guide to what the service can take (from the leaflet);


Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Cambridgeshire Budget Debate - Cllr Kilian Bourke Speech

In addition to the transcript (posted below) the audio is available here;

Cllr Kilian Bourke (LD Group Leader, Cambridgeshire County Council)

The format is m4a (suitable for iTunes), unfortunately the quality is quite low - the County Council doesn't routinely record the entire debate in the Council Chamber, just the Oral Questions (which I'll be publishing later).

Recordings are available for the speeches made by the other group loeaders; Cllr Nick Clarke (Conservative), Cllr Peter Reeve (UKIP), Cllr Paul Sales (Labour), and Cllr Ken Churchill (Non-Aligned Conservatives).

Cambridgeshire Budget Debate - Cllr Kilian Bourke Speech


Cllr Kilian Bourke
The following is the transcript of the speech given today by Cllr Kilian Bourke the leader of the Liberal Democrat group on Cambridgeshire County Council in relation to the Conservative Business Plan for 2013/2014 (aka the budget);

"Despite the very considerable variations in the Conservatives’ approach to the Council’s Business Plan over the last four years, this budget confirms that some things have stayed the same.

The administration has not lost its appetite for big, grand projects (especially ones that are made of concrete) but nor has it cured itself of its inability to deliver them well.
For all the headline-grabbing numbers in the capital column, the fact is that the Conservatives have messed up on their duty to provide basic council services to the public, and this budget does not change that.
And if there is one thing the public asks and expects of its Councils, it is for them to provide basic services well.
Having been in control of the council for too long, this administration has become wedded to the trappings of power—too attached to its grandiose surroundings to sell off the most inefficient building in the estate, when this could provide funds to protect services.
The Conservative Leader’s strange views on climate change are being imposed on half a million Cambridgeshire people.
And despite the fact that cutting funding to our ordinary bus service will make it harder for young people to get jobs, and for older people to be independent, the administration persists in making severe reductions to our bus service; while Cambridgeshire Future Transport, its aptly named replacement, seems doomed to only ever exist in the Future tense.
So there are some points of difference. 68 of them, if you’re counting.
However, there are also some points of agreement.
And I think it is important for a responsible opposition to set out those areas of consensus.
I hope something we can all agree on, is that these are tough times for local government.
***
We all knew that this was going to be the case, whatever happened.
In 2010, Alistair Darling, then the chancellor of the exchequer, said that if Labour were re-elected, they would cut “deeper and tougher” than Thatcher; and, as far as local government is concerned, the Coalition government has been as good as his word.
***
It would be a mistake, though, to compound the austerity being imposed on us from above with extra austerity locally.
Think about it. This year’s budget reduces funding for care packages for the elderly to the statutory minimum.
Just imagine what we would be looking at today if the administration had stuck to its plan two years ago, and maximised the cuts to services over and above what was required. It doesn’t bear thinking about.
Back then, the Liberal Democrats said there was a better way. That we should protect the frontline services that people, including the vulnerable, rely on.
We have stuck to that position ever since, without variation. There has been no opportunistic support from this opposition for the shabby deal on offer from Eric Pickles and his mini-me Brandon Lewis, when oppositions up and down the country are clamouring to do exactly that in an election year, without admitting the true consequences of doing so.
We welcome the fact that the administration followed our lead and reversed this disastrous plan. Otherwise the funding situation for social care would be even worse.
Even now, it’s clear that delivering the savings in this area is going to be a big challenge – the unidentified savings from Year 2 make that clear. But, broadly speaking, we support the work taking place in this service area, and we trust that this council will speak with one voice to central government, making the case for funding reform.
***

It would be a cop-out for councillors, though, merely to wring their hands and blame everything on circumstances outside their control, as if the council’s political decisions did not affect its ability to provide services.
Because it is undeniably the case that bad local decisions have added to the Council’s current financial difficulties.
Most obviously, the Guided Busway project, proposed by the Conservatives and seconded by the then Labour group leader, has created a significant extra burden for the council, over and above those faced by other authorities.
At £64m, the borrowing for it would be enough to build 10 care homes.
And the interest payments on that borrowing are now costing this authority over £2m a year, which would be enough to stop the cuts being made to our bus service.
The budget consultation suggested that the people of this county support modest increases in council tax to protect services, but where, I ask, is the person who supports increasing council tax to offset the spiralling interest costs of the guided busway?
Cllr Clarke recently likened this organisation to a FTSE 250 company.
And, looking back over this mess, I see where he is coming from.
The Conservatives promised not to spend a penny of local taxpayers’ money on the busway;
then bailed it out with £64m of taxpayers’ money, and counting;
a majority of the Conservative group, possibly as a performance-related bonus, subsequently saw fit to try to award themselves a 25% pay rise;
and now the Conservatives plan to cut staff terms and conditions, starting with a pay cut for those notorious fat cats – the County’s music teachers.
People don’t want their representatives in local government to be imagining themselves to be running FTSE 250 companies, and acting as though they were.
***
But it’s not just the busway that is making life difficult for this council.
So are the savings that are not being made, because of the Conservatives’ skewed priorities.
Shire Hall is the least cost-efficient part of the council’s property portfolio. It is prime real estate. The ratio of desks to floorspace is not dissimilar to what you might have found in the Roman fort on top of Castle Mound several hundred years ago, with one archer in each turret; and although the view from the balcony in the members’ lounge is splendid, this building costs the council over £1m a year in rates and maintenance, at a time when revenue is like gold dust. So this wouldn’t be selling off the family silver.
This building is an unnecessary, luxurious trinket that we should sell off, in order to free up funds for frontline services. And it is disappointing that this is not included in the Business Plan.
The same goes for the Council’s property portfolio as a whole. We should be disposing of more of it more quickly.
Yet the constant message coming from the Conservatives is that “service transformation is the priority”, and that property is a “distraction”.
Both matter, and until the administration starts sending out that message, clearly, even the reductions in property anticipated in this budget will prove unachievable.
***
Being an effective council today is not only about making savings, however.
In this environment, councils also need to be revenue generating. I think that’s another thing that we can all agree on.
We’re not going to persuade the Conservatives today that global warming is real and man-made, but what has not been sufficiently acknowledged is the financial consequences of the council’s position, which is costing this council big.
Take a look at our neighbours in Peterborough. Cambridgeshire County Council is being left for dust by Peterborough City Council, which is investing in a massive solar farm that will bring in tens of millions of revenue to the council, aims to make the cost of electricity flatline for local people, and will massively reduce its dependency on carbon-based energy sources.
It is an embarrassment that in a world-beating centre of research and development in this area, the Conservatives are implementing policies that flatly contradict this work.
The economic consequences of these and other decisions are costing this council dear, and blighting its ability to deliver basic services well.
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We can support many of the grand projects.
Especially those we campaigned for.
Chesterton station is a great project. And, as the Opposition, we will not have the pleasure of signing it off. But we have called for this project to happen for a lot longer than I can remember.
What I do remember, though, is Julian Huppert standing up in this room and asking the Conservatives why they weren’t getting on with the project, and it being dismissed as an “eccentric idea”. It’s funny how what was such an “eccentric idea” has suddenly become so blindingly obvious to everyone in just four years. But we are glad that it has.
What even Chesterton Station will not do, though, is provide even a minimal level of public transport provision across the County.
The current cuts to funding for our bus service will severely reduce what was already an inadequate level of transport for many, especially in rural areas.
This will make it harder for young people to get a job. It flies in the face of the preventative agenda, because it will make older people less independent. Cllr Clarke talks about keeping people at home. Well, this will keep people at home. That is not a good thing. And it will entrench rural isolation, which is one of the key causes of the health and economic inequalities in this county.
***
Beyond transport, though, what is it that we mean by basic services?
Residents across Cambridgeshrie pay their council tax and in return there are some basic things they should expect from a County Council. It should:
  • Provide decent schools in decent buildings
  • Ensure our streets are lit to an appropriate standard
  • Maintain our pavements, cycleways and roads to a decent standard
  • Dispose of the waste collected by the District Councils
  • Look after vulnerable people

Yet this Council is failing badly on all five. If it is to justify a council tax rise, it must get these basics right and at the moment this council isn’t.
Many of the council’s primary school buildings have been allowed to fall into an unacceptable state, which is demoralising for teachers and pupils, and will lower standards, not improve them.
The Council has made a complete pig’s ear of the replacement of the county’s streetlights:
Every single light installed in my ward has had to be removed and replaced.
In other wards, residents have been plunged into darkness.
Universally, the consultation with residents has been rubbish, because the Council signed yet another foolish contract.
Few things could be more basic than lighting our streets, yet this Council has made a mess of it of Olympian proportions.

It was thanks to Lib Dems on this side of the Chamber that the Council finally restored the budget for road and pavement repairs to a respectable level, after being cut year after year by the party opposite.
However, the long-term underfunding of this budget means that the extra funding will merely slow down, to a relatively small extent, the deterioration of our pavements and roads, instead of getting them in a safe state.
And now, with month after month of staff reorganisation, the council’s ability to deliver highways repairs of even the most basic kind seems to have ground to a complete halt.
Before this council got taken over by outdated 1980s-style macho business-speak, this meeting today would have discussed the integrated plan: the document which combined the description of what the council would actually do, with the figures and costings to back it up.
Now that we have a business plan, the reality of delivering services seems to have vanished and we are left with rhetoric and failure to deliver.
What are the people of Cambridgeshire to make of the wheel falling off the council’s recycling plant? Thousands of tons of waste going to landfill and members opposite not seeming to care.
And take a look at the cuts being proposed to adult mental health. These cuts will surely cost this council money in the future as preventative services are withdrawn and more costly remedies are required in years to come.
***
I don’t think people here have confidence in the Conservatives to deliver the level of basic services that they expect from the Council.
For all the grand gestures, this budget does not change that.
Bad local decisions have made what is a tough funding environment across local government even tougher on this authority.
Some mistakes that have been made cannot be corrected.
But others could be: this council could still make smart investments in renewables, it could dispose of Shire Hall and more of the estate, it could make more aggressive cuts to corporate waste.
In this way, even within the constraints of the current situation, better political leadership would allow this council to deliver better basic services.
And because this budget does not do that
Because it remains attached to the trappings of power
Buries its head in the sand on the environment
And does nothing to persuade us that the failure to provide basic services well will change any time soon
We cannot support it.
We will be tabling an amendment."