Saturday, 30 March 2013

Bar Hill Community Market ** ONE WEEK TODAY **

The next Bar Hill Community Market takes place one week today (6th April) 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


Thursday, 28 March 2013

"We Can’t Share Money For A14 We Will Never Receive" - Bick

Cllr Tim Bick

Cambridge City Council will not fund the planned A14 upgrade; but the council will not oppose the scheme and proposes complementary steps to help traffic to continue to move around in the city.

The council is planning to create a Keep Cambridge Moving Fund to concentrate its resources on encouraging the switch from car travel to public transport and bikes, to avoid the A14 improvements creating congestion inside the city.

The government called on councils to fund the A14 project in advance of the road scheme saying that they would receive financial benefit from development as a result of it.

But the city council says that as its boundary is tightly drawn around the city, none of its present or envisaged development is dependent on the upgrade and the financial benefits will go to other councils.

"We can’t share what we will never receive,” said Lib Dem City Council leader, Tim Bick.

“The idea of local councils funding national infrastructure like the A14 project is a novel one. The justification argued in this case is that councils will receive a financial benefit from development that is generated as a result and they can commit some of that in advance to the road scheme.

"The only problem in the city's case is that none of the developments that the A14 upgrade will enable, like Alconbury and Northstowe, are in Cambridge and the financial benefits will go to other councils. The City Council's boundary is tightly drawn around the city - with even the Science Park sitting outside it - and no current or envisaged development inside it is dependent on the road upgrade.

"Nick Clarke's finger-pointing at the City Council is laughable when you realise this, and more about politics than road improvements."

City Executive Councillor for Planning Tim Ward says: "Quite apart from the unworkable financial formula, the upgraded A14 represents much more of a mixed blessing within the city than it may do elsewhere. We are worried that it may frustrate our aim to keep private road traffic within our boundaries to a minimum. It's no good if people can travel more easily to the edge of the city and no-one can move around within it because of ensuing gridlock. That is no good for residents, visitors or businesses in the city."

"We had hoped to gain tangible commitment for increased mitigation from the County Council at this stage, but it seems to have fallen under Nick Clarke's impatience. Our fund will nevertheless be building up, enabling us to work together with the County Council when they get round to it."

The Lib Dems have always argued for targeted safety improvements to solve the problems of the A14 and for more emphasis on the alternative of east-west rail. They maintained these would generate less carbon emissions and enable improvements to come faster than they have.

"Sadly we lost that argument and the scheme that the government seems set to go with is similar to the last one," says Cllr Bick. "But we do understand the urgency of improvements and if this is the only project on the horizon, we are now not opposing it. Realistically we need to proceed on that basis".

Cambridgeshire Catering And Cleaning Service Newsletter - Issue 15 Spring 2013


Latest newsletter, contains the headings;

- Caterers’ Conference looks at the future of school meals
- Meating the standards
- A new look for Café@ Castle Court
- Orchard Park Primary School celebrates International School Meals Day
- More parents paying on-line in 2013
- Pancake Day competition
- Contract Manager Awards
- New cookery vehicle
- Happy Retirement

The newsletter is available here (via Google Drive).

Young People Spring In To Action This Easter

Young people can beat boredom and spring into action over the Easter holidays with a packed programme of sports activities lined up by South Cambridgeshire District Council.

A netball camp for ages 7 to 15 will take place on Monday 8 and Tuesday 9 April, from 10am to 3.30pm, at Impington Sports Centre.  Players of all abilities are invited to join in and develop their skills with one-to-one help from England Netball qualified coaches before putting what they have learned in to practice in a fun competition at the end of the day.

An athletics camp for ages 7 to 15 will take place on Wednesday 10 and Thursday 11 April, from 10am to 3.30pm, at Wilberforce Road Athletics Track, Cambridge.  Participants of all abilities will have the opportunity to work with England Athletics qualified coaches to develop their sprinting, jumping, throwing and endurance skills.

All sessions will cost just £18 per child for the day or £30 for two siblings.  To participate in two days will cost £30, to participate in three days will cost £40 and in four days will cost £50.  

Cllr Pippa Corney, South Cambridgeshire District Council’s cabinet member for new communities, said: “We saw how the London 2012 Olympics captured the imagination of the country. On the back of its success we remain committed to using that growing interest in sport to deliver fun activities to engage children and improve their social skills, health and fitness that they can carry through the rest of their lives.”

There are limited spaces for all activities.  For more information and a booking form contact Helen Stepney on 07732 222905 or email helen.stepney@scambs.gov.uk

New Independent Person Sought To Help Keep Standards High


Impartial and dedicated people are being invited to step forward to help South Cambridgeshire District Council keep standards high.

The Council is looking for a new ‘Independent Person’ to assist in promoting and maintaining high standards of conduct amongst its elected Members and Parish Councillors.

Following changes to the Localism Act last year, the Council appointed an Independent Person and deputy for one year and permanent replacements are now needed.

The Independent Person will have a number of tasks from being consulted on the decision to investigate complaints to speaking to a Councillor who is subject to an allegation.

A fixed allowance of £1000 is payable annually together with travel and subsistence expenses for the Lead ‘Independent Person’ and £500 annually as well as travel and subsistence expenses for the deputy.

The appointment will be by Full Council on 24 May 2013, subject to ratification annually at the Council’s Annual Meeting in May each year.

Fiona McMillian, South Cambridgeshire District Council’s legal and democratic services manager, said: “The role of the Independent Person is a vital one as local government seeks to evolve to the meet the demands of localism. The position carries a great deal of responsibility with the successful applicant having the important task of ensuring local councillors at all levels behave to the highest of standards. We welcome applications from anyone who is interested in the position whether they know anything about local government or not.”

For further details, including an application pack, please visit the Council’s website: www.scambs.gov.uk/content/independentperson. Further information is also available by contacting the Council’s legal team on 03450 450 500.

The closing date for submission of applications is Friday 19 April with interviews being held during the week beginning Monday 6 May.

Fire Commander "Bailed" After Raising £500 For Charity


A Charitable fire commander has raised more than £500 for Ormiston Children and Families Trust.
Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service's Area Commander Rick Hylton was arrested for the heinous crime of wearing his wife's tights on the football pitch as part of the Ormiston Jail and Bail event on Tuesday (March 26).

He was "arrested" and taken to Cambridge Crown Court to stand in front of Judge Gareth Hawkesworth. Despite pleading his innocence he was handed the sentence of wearing tights and a tutu to his next six football games.

Rick, along with 16 other Cambridgeshire faces, was then held captive for the day while he plugged social media, friends and family to try and raise as much money as possible for the charity.
Thanks to the support of colleagues, friends and the public, he managed to collect more than £500 as well as securing a live radio interview on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire's Jeremy Sallis show talking about the event and the great work of the charity.

Rick said: "The day was great fun and all in aid of a very valuable and worthwhile cause. Ormiston really opened my eyes to the reality facing some young people in the county.

"One thing Ormiston representatives said that really stuck with me was that some children cannot choose what families and circumstances they are born into, but Ormiston is there to help the most vulnerable in our society."

The group of 17 criminals collectively raised more than £20,000 - the most amount of money the charity has ever raised from a single fundraising event.

The event was organised by Julie Spence, former Chief Constable for Cambridge Constabulary and now an Ormiston Trustee. She said: "I cannot thank the participants enough for their support at the Jail & Bail; their enthusiasm, sense of fun and sheer exuberance for the event and the charity made it an extraordinarily valuable day, not just because of the amount of money raised but because it helped to raise the profile of Ormiston too.

"Thanks to our 'criminals', there are now hundreds of people who know the name 'Ormiston' who didn't know about us before and weren't aware of the important and difficult work we do with some of the most challenged children and families not just in Cambridgeshire, but across the whole of East Anglia. They money raised will go towards supporting these young people and will help to ensure that Ormiston can continue to deliver its vital work across the region."

In Cambridgeshire Ormiston supports children and families affected by imprisonment, runs two children's centres in March and Chatteris, delivers a Travellers Health Advocacy Project and offers a range of parenting support programmes.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

BHA: International Humanism and Human Rights

The BHA is a member of a number of international organisations, and we are also aware that many of our supporters are also involved in international charities. One such organisation, Freedom from Torture, this month released a report titled “We will make you regret everything”: Torture in Iran since the 2009 elections.

It is the impact of reports like this that illustrate why it is so important we work with international organisations like the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU). This week, due to the pressure from the IHEU delegation at the UN, Iran was forced to back down from its statement that torture didn't happen in Iran "because it was forbidden in Islam".

In 2014 the British Humanist Association will host IHEU's World Humanist Congress in Oxford, from 8 – 10 August. Held every three years, the Congress is a unique event bringing together humanists from over forty countries. To stay informed about the Congress, register today at www.whc2014.org.uk. This is going to be an unmissable event, and your chance to see international Humanism in action, meet like-minded people from around the world, and find out more about how your support here in the UK is having a positive global impact.

E-Cops - Update 06-MAR-2013

Since my last e-cops message there has been two crime reports in Bar Hill village excluding Tesco Retail servicers and 1 crime report for Dry Drayton.

Between 19th Feb at 16:00 and 20th Feb at 13:00, a theft of garden tools took place in Pheasant Rise, Bar Hill. Unknown offender/s has gained entry to an insecure garden shed and have taken a number of tools from within.

There has been another lead flashing theft recently in The Spinney, Bar Hill. This took place between 4th February at 16:00 and 11 February at 16:00. Is believed to be the same offender/s which have come back and are operating in our area again. Lead flashing was removed from a garage roof attached to the side of a dwelling; access to the property was gained via the alleyway at the side of the garage. Please be vigilant and keep a look out for any suspicious persons in the area.

I attended Bar Hill Parish Council meeting on 21st Feb. Concerns were raised from residents reference to Lorries parked in Saxon Way Bar Hill nearby Tesco roundabout. If you come across any Lorries parked in the area causing unnecessary obstruction, please report them by ringing 101.

Between 18th Feb at 20:30 hours and 19th Feb at 07:15 hours, a theft took place from Dry Drayton Estate Ltd, Scotland Farm. Unknown offender/s has gained entry to a farm yard by removing wooden fence panels and taken approximately 8000 litres of red diesel.

If you have any information relating to the above crimes then please call 101, the non emergency number for Cambridgeshire Constabulary. Alternatively you can email me at bujar.mani@cambs.pnn.police.uk or you can contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. In an emergency or if you believe a crime to be in progress please dial 999.

Kind Regards,

PCSO 7009 Bujar Mani
Histon Neighbourhood Policing Team

Cambridge MP Receives Assurances On Spare Room Policy

MP Julian Huppert has sought assurances that no-one will lose benefits through the government’s spare room under-occupancy policy if they cannot be offered a suitable alternative home. 

He raised the issue with the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Iain Duncan Smith yesterday (March 11) in the House of Commons because he claimed the policy relies on people being able to move and in some areas of the country - such as Cambridge - that is difficult to achieve. 

And if he asked if there would be enough money for local authorities through the discretionary housing budget to make sure that no-one loses benefit in that case. 

Mr Duncan Smith told him that the government had set aside £280 million over two years for councils to be able to negotiate and work out suitable solutions for their tenants. 

Julian has also asked Mr Duncan Smith by letter to confirm Prime Minister David Cameron’s assurance made last week in the Commons that families with a severely disabled child will be exempt from the changes. 

Cambridge City Executive Councillor for Housing, Catherine Smart raised her concerns with Julian over the effect of the policy on families which include a disabled person. 

She said: “Often the extra room is needed to enable the family to care for the disabled person at home and alternatives would be very much more expensive than the small amount of housing benefit that would be saved by imposing this restriction. 

“I am also concerned about the effect on other children if they have to share a bedroom with a sibling who does not sleep well because of their disability.” 

And she was worried that money provided by the government for Cambridge’s discretionary housing benefit might not be enough to be able to offer all the help that is needed. 

Julian said: “We know there are cases where people may need a spare room, such as those with a disabled child or those with a disability who have an occasional carer. This is why I pushed the government to substantially increase the money available for discretionary housing payments and why I have sought further reassurance from the Minister. Local authorities must be in a position to help those in genuine need. 

“I was encouraged that the Prime Minister gave an assurance that families with a disabled child will be exempt from the changes but I want to make sure they will receive the help they need. 

“At the same time we must also make sure that those people who are prepared to move but cannot be found suitably sized alternative accommodation do not have their benefit reduced - that would be unfair to them. It is important that they first be offered a suitable alternative, near enough to children's schools and other essential facilities. 

“In Cambridge, we have people in overcrowded housing, where a couple and children may be sharing a one-bedroom flat. They cannot understand why we are paying more for a single person to live in a 3-bedroom house than they get for their larger family. There are about 7,000 families in our city waiting for social housing at the moment. 

“This is just not fair. It’s about getting a fairer balance while at the same time protecting the most vulnerable. Ultimately we need to build more social housing - and more is being built - but in the meantime we do need to support those in overcrowded housing to have something with enough bedrooms for them” 

The full wording of Julian’s question and Iain Duncan Smith’s reply yesterday are as follows: 

Dr Julian Huppert: The Government’s under-occupancy policy relies on people being able to move into appropriately-sized housing, but in specific parts of the country that is very hard to achieve. Does the Secretary of State agree that no benefit reduction should take place until people have at least been offered somewhere appropriately sized and located? Will he make sure that there is enough discretionary housing budget for councils to ensure that that is the case? 

Mr Duncan Smith: I agree, particularly with the last part of the question. We have set aside £280 million over two years for councils to be able to negotiate and work out with their tenants the best and most amenable way to go. My hon. Friend’s question is constructive, in sharp contrast to the Opposition. All they can do is moan about a policy, but in 13 years they did nothing about overcrowding, with the lowest level of house building since the 1920s. 

Minister To Meet TMCA And Young People To Discuss Housing Benefit

Work and Pensions Minister, Iain Duncan Smith has agreed to meet young people from Cambridge to discuss housing benefit for the under-25s after he agreed not to scrap the payments for the time being. 

MP Julian Huppert had fought against the move to scrap the benefit which would have hit young people living on their own or in centres such as Cambridge’s YMCA. 

And he promised to continue the fight to make sure that young people who cannot live at home with their families will still receive help from the government. 

He told Mr Duncan Smith in the Commons yesterday (Monday, March 11): “I and my Liberal Democrat colleagues are delighted that the proposal did not become government policy and will happily keep making representations on it. 

“Although it would be wonderful if all under-25s had a loving and stable family to live with, does the Secretary of State accept that this is simply not the case?” 

And he asked if he had met groups like the YMCA “to understand the realities facing many under-25s and continue to provide them with the support they need to have somewhere to live”. 

Mr Duncan Smith agreed to the meeting but told Julian: “We have a significant problem because we inherited a welfare budget approaching £200 billion that had risen out of control under the previous government. 

“He is fully aware that we have to reform it both to get people back to work and to ensure that we get the cost under control. Those are all areas we have looked at, but in those discussions we decided that, in the round, it was not a priority.” 

Julian said later: “I am pleased that the Minister has yielded to Lib Dem pressure not to take this damaging step - but I don't want the Tories to try to bring it back again. I will continue to fight, therefore, to make sure that young people who find themselves unable to live at home can still receive help. 

“Not all young people can or should stay at home until they are 25. We cannot turn our backs on them just because they find themselves in this situation.” 

Jonathan Martin, CEO at the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough YMCA said: “We’re really thrilled that Julian has secured this meeting for us and some of our young residents with Iain Duncan Smith. 

“Whilst for most young people living at home is the best and most practical solution, for some young people home isn’t the safe, supportive or caring environment it should be. Their experience is one of conflict or unsuitable accommodation or overcrowding and, for a few, one of violence or abuse. For these young people Housing Benefit is a key factor in enabling their move towards independence.” 

Monday, 25 March 2013

Save The 17 Bus!

Last year the extreme rural Conservatives who run the County Council cut 100% of the funding for the no 17 bus service, along with other bus services across the entire County.

The number 17 provided a vital service which connected Fen Road, in East Chesterton, with Cambridge City Centre.

As a gesture of goodwill Stagecoach agreed to continue to run the service for a year on a reduced frequency, to see if it could be made commercially viable. That trial period is about to end, and Andy Campbell, Stagecoach’s local executive, is likely to call time on this service.

Unfortunately it gets worse. There is no guarantee that other local buses will be rerouted to fill the void.

In short, part of East Chesterton could potentially be left without a bus service.

Older people who want to get to town, or to the hospital, would lose their independence. It would make getting to college or work more difficult for many of our young people.

Easy Chesterton County Councillor Ian Manning explains: "I have teamed up with local resident Vera Symes to campaign for the Fen estate area (Fen Road and roads off it) to keep our bus service, in one form or another.

Vera has told me how she will find life much more difficult without this bus service.

If enough local people sign our petition this will put pressure on the Shire Hall Conservatives to stop these cuts, or at the very least to provide a replacement service that takes people to town.”

You can sign online here: http://savethe17bus.co.uk/

Become A County Councillor


A campaign has been launched to encourage people who want to represent their community to stand in the County Council elections in May.

All 69 seats of the Council are up for election on Thursday 2 May - and anyone wishing to stand must submit their nomination by Friday 5 April.

Candidates must be aged 18 or over and be British or a citizen of a member country of the European Union or Commonwealth. They do not have to be a member of a political party.

They must either be registered with their local council to vote, or have either lived or worked in the County Council's area for the whole of the last 12 months, or have been the owner or tenant in the Council's area for at least one year.

Councillors will be expected to encourage community participation in decision-making and represent the views of their local community. They also deal with individual cases and act as an advocate for residents in resolving concerns.

When elected, a Councillor will make decisions which will affect everyone living or working in Cambridgeshire, such as setting the Council's annual budget and agreeing its major policies.

The time Councillors spend on their duties varies considerably, but national research suggests they spend an average of 22 hours a week on Council business. Most of this time will be spent on issues affecting the community they serve, but Councillors will also be expected at attend Council meetings. Most of these are held during the day at Shire Hall in Cambridge.

The Employment Rights Act 1996 requires employers to allow staff a reasonable amount of time off for their work as a Councillor. An agreement of the definition of 'reasonable' is reached between the individual and the employer.

Councillors do not receive a salary, but are entitled to an allowance. All Cambridgeshire County Councillors receive a basic annual allowance of £7,610, which is paid in monthly instalments. Councillors can also claim expenses to cover childcare and travel while on Council business. Those holding a position of special responsibility - such as a member of the Council's Cabinet - receive an additional allowance.

A comprehensive induction programme will be available to all newly-elected Councillors, as well as ongoing support and advice from officers to help them make informed decisions.

Anyone wishing to stand as a candidate must complete a set of nomination papers. These will be available from city or district councils from Friday 22 March and must be submitted by noon on Friday 5 April.

Each candidate is required to be formally nominated by 10 electors who are registered to vote in the electoral division in which they want to stand - one proposer, one seconder and eight further electors.

The elections will be held on Thursday 2 May and the votes will be counted the following day. District and City Councils administer the election on behalf of the County Council.

County Council Returning Officer Wilma Wilkie said: "A County Councillor has an important and influential role to play in the community. It is a rewarding and fulfilling role - a real chance to shape the community, influence decisions and improve life for local residents. Becoming a Councillor also helps to develop leadership skills and gain professional experience, and I would encourage anyone who has the time and commitment to stand in our elections on May 2."

Anyone interested in becoming a County Councillor can find out more by contacting County Returning Officer Wilma Wilkie on 01223 699183 or by e-mail at Wilma.wilkie@cambridgeshire.gov.uk

Fake Clothing Helps The Homeless


Fake designer clothing seized by Cambridgeshire Trading Standards officers has been donated to homeless people in the county.

Thousands of pieces of clothing, fashion and music items worth around £10,000, seized in raids across Cambridgeshire, have been donated to Wintercomfort thanks to a link up between Trading Standards and the His Church Charity.

The items, which had they been genuine would have been worth in the region of £50,000, were seized in raids on fraudulent traders operating in Cambridgeshire. The seized items will be given to the His Church Charity where the clothing will be re-branded with the charity's logo before being handed over to good causes.

The latest beneficiary was Wintercomfort  which supports homeless people or those who are in danger of becoming homeless.

County Council Trading Standards Officer Kirsty Draycott, said: "It is great that these seized items can go to good use rather than being destroyed. This is a fantastic partnership between the Council and His Church charity which means everyone wins."

In the past items seized by Trading Standards were either destroyed or sent to landfill for disposal.

Christine Wyld from His Church, said: "Cambridgeshire Trading Standards provide an amazing service to local businesses and individuals in the county, ensuring safety and protection by removing counterfeit goods from the streets. His Church are delighted to return new, quality, rebranded clothing to the county by supporting Wintercomfort for the Homeless. The clothing helps restore dignity to people at a time when they are in need of care and support."

Sarah Halls, from Wintercomfort, added: "Wintercomfort is very grateful for the clothing donation from His Church. We have seen a 20% increase in demand for our welfare services in the last 6 months and this means that the need for warm clothing in a variety of sizes has increased as well. This donation will make a big difference to so many people who are rough sleeping or vulnerably housed."

Blue Bin Call For Egg-Tra Waste This Easter

Image Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Chocolate lovers across South Cambridgeshire are being reminded to think green and recycle extra plastic, cardboard and foil from eggs this Easter.

Approximately 80 million chocolate eggs are sold in the UK at Easter which generates almost 5,000 tonnes of card, foil and plastic – all of which can be recycled by South Cambridgeshire residents in their blue bins.

The additional waste generated at Easter is the equivalent to weight of around 600 double decker buses and Council waste bosses are urging residents to make sure none of this goes into black bins for landfill.

There will also be some changes in the days blue, green and black bins are collected during and after the Easter break.

Collections due to take place on Friday (29 March) will be one day later on Saturday 30 March, with collections due between Monday 1 and Friday 5 April also one day later than normal.

Collections return to the normal pattern from Monday 8 April.

For the latest information, and the day your bins will be collected, you can follow the Council on Twitter @southcambs. Collection dates are also included in the Council’s residents’ magazine that was recently delivered.

Cllr Sue Ellington, South Cambridgeshire District Council’s cabinet member for environmental health, said: “We typically see a rise in the amount of waste we collect after the Easter holidays and ask you to think green to minimise the amount that goes in your black bin and on to land fill. Cardboard, plastic and foil can all be recycled in your blue bin, and any food leftovers from Easter gatherings can all be put in your green bin for us to recycle.”

Local Bar Hill Parish Councillor Andy Pellew said: "With so many recycling options available it's good to see the District Council encouraging their use. For more information on the local recycling options available in Bar Hill please follow this link - http://goo.gl/UK34c."

Regional Winner Pipped At The Post For National Energy Award


A South Cambridgeshire partnership set up to help residents improve their homes by making them warmer and cheaper to run has been pipped at the post for a national energy award.

The South Cambridgeshire District Council partnership beat off competition from across East Anglia to scoop the regional prize in November, but at an event at the House of Lords was told they had not won the top gong from fuel poverty charity National Energy Action and the Department of Energy and Climate Change.

South Cambridgeshire District Council’s Sustainable Energy Partnership was shortlisted as one of nine finalists after volunteers helped run a series of village energy days to provide communities with the knowledge they need to take action on energy issues.

Since the partnership launched in 2009, 27 parishes have joined up and hundreds of people have attended energy days held across South Cambridgeshire villages – some gathering crowds in excess of 100 people.

As the eastern winner in the Community Footprint Awards, the Council picked up a £2,000 cash reward that has been invested in a fun and interactive display to help demonstrate to people of all ages the different ways they can go green and make their home cheaper to run and more comfortable to live in.

This display will be used at events from next month.

British Gas, who sponsors the awards, also funded an event at Gamlingay to showcase the work communities have done in South Cambridgeshire as part of the bid for the national prize.

Cllr Ray Manning, South Cambridgeshire District Council’s Leader, said: “It is a fantastic achievement to be shortlisted for the national award and shows how hard our officers and volunteers have worked in communities to tackle climate change and energy issues. The village energy days have been a very effective way of helping people understand how they can save energy and money by making greener choices and improve their home. To beat off competition from across East Anglia was a fantastic result and we are not too disheartened not to pick up the national prize.”

The overall national award winners were Islington Borough Council.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

50% Off DVD Rentals At Bar Hill Library


Easter madness -  50% off DVD rentals at all libraries across Cambridgeshire including your local library here in Bar Hill.

Cambridgeshire library members can take advantage of half price rental prices on blu rays and DVDs this Easter.

During the offer, which runs from Saturday 23 March - Sunday 7 April, prices will range between 65p and £1.35 on rental blu rays, premium DVDs and DVDs.

Existing customers can reserve or borrow DVDs in the normal way - in branch or online.

Cambridgeshire County Council's Cabinet Member for Learning, Councillor David Harty said "It's not just books that are available to borrow in our libraries - residents may be surprised to hear they can take advantage of blu ray and DVD rental as part of their membership.

"Anyone living, working or studying in Cambridgeshire or neighbouring counties that isn't already a member is welcome to join our library service - and it's free. It's easy to join, you can complete an application form online or by visiting any Cambridgeshire library."

Local Parish Councillor Andy Pellew said "Our local library is a vital part of our community and I'm hopeful that offers like this will introduce many new people to the library who would not otherwise have used the service - it's just a shame that this news release came with too little notice for the Bar Hill News!"

Friday, 22 March 2013

£1 Million Investment To Bring Empty Homes Back Into Use


Empty homes are set to be given a new lease of life with a £1 million cash injection by South Cambridgeshire District Council.

The investment could see up to six homes in the district being purchased and brought up to a good standard before they are used to house families and individuals who are in need of temporary accommodation while a permanent home can be found.

Council housing bosses have said that the economic downturn and national changes to benefits systems has meant more people need support and the cost of using bed and breakfast accommodation as a short term solution has risen.

As well as cutting the bed & breakfast bill the homes will also be offered on a short-term basis to people who are temporarily homeless and on the Council’s waiting list.

The Council is also focussing on preventing families becoming homeless and has a team in place to offer support and advice before people find themselves homeless.

Other measures to bring empty homes back into use also include a grant scheme where up to £10,000 will be awarded to a home owner to bring their property up to a good standard in exchange for it being used as affordable rented accommodation for a period of six years.

A hostel in Waterbeach is also being redeveloped to improve and increase short-term accommodation for families and individuals who are homeless.

Cllr Mark Howell, South Cambridgeshire District Council’s cabinet member for housing, said: “We currently have just over 600 homes sitting empty in the district which could provide valuable housing for those who find themselves homeless. We have a duty to help vulnerable people and sometimes there is no other option but to put families into bed and breakfast accommodation for short periods which is far less than ideal. Buying these properties will help us to give more stability for people who find themselves temporarily homeless as well as free up some of the money that we have had to spend on bed and breakfast.

“As well as looking on the open market, we’ve also written to owners of all properties in the district that have been empty for six months or more asking them if we can help them bring them back into use, either through buying them or helping them access loans to bring them up to standard and rented out at affordable rates.”

Owners of empty properties in South Cambridgeshire who are interested in finding out more about South Cambridgeshire District Council’s scheme should call the housing policy team on 03450 450 051.

Cambridge City Football Club Pitch New Stadium To Residents

Cambridge City FC
Residents are being urged to field their views on a proposed new site for Cambridge City Football Club’s stadium when a public consultation opens next week.

South Cambridgeshire District Council is running a six week consultation between 25 March and 6 May to help residents have their say on the Football Club’s proposed new site for the stadium at Sawston.

The proposal was submitted by Cambridge City Football Club for consideration in the Council’s Local Plan and includes a stadium that would accommodate 3,000 people - including 500 seated - 300 parking spaces, two floodlit pitches and conference and fitness facilities that would be available to the public.

Sawston residents will find out more when the Football Club begins distributing leaflets to households next week outlining their proposal.

Information can also be found on the Council’s website and a public exhibition, when residents from across South Cambridgeshire can speak to Council officers and representatives from the Football Club, will take place on Tuesday 9 April at Spicers Pavillion, Cambridge Road, Sawston between 2.30pm and 8pm.

The proposed site to the north of Sawston, immediately northwest of DalesManorBusinessPark was a former tip that is currently unused. The stadium would account for just under half of the site and Cambridge City Football Club proposes that the remaining land be gifted to the Parish Council for community use.

The consultation will close at 5pm on Monday 6 May. Residents can have their say using the interactive online form at www.scambs.gov.uk/ldf/localplan , via email to ldf@scambs.gov.uk or by letter to Director of Planning and New Communities, South Cambridgeshire District Council, Cambourne Business Park, Cambridge CB23 6EA.

Cllr Pippa Corney, cabinet member for planning policy and localism, said: “This consultation is an important opportunity for local residents to have their say on Cambridge City Football Club’s proposed new stadium and to influence the future growth and development of their area. Community engagement is at the heart of the Local Plan and I would strongly encourage everyone to have a look at the proposals and submit their comments to the Council. The consultation event will offer a perfect opportunity for residents to raise questions and actively share their views and we really would like to see people come along and take part.”

Len Satchell, President of Cambridge City Football Club, said: “We are having to move from our historic ground in Cambridge and find a new home for the Club. It has been good to have the help of the Council to ensure local residents can access all the information they need to be able to have their say about the Club’s proposal. We hope the community will join in the debate and make their views known.”

The proposed Cambridge City Football Club stadium in Sawston is a separate proposal to the Community Stadium for the Cambridge Sub–Region, which the Council consulted on in January and, which could provide a new home for Cambridge United Football Club.

By-Election Gains Since October 2012

Just had this forwarded onto me; a fairly simple graph of By-elections gains since October 2012. As you can see the picture for the Liberal Democrats is not quite a bleak as certain newspapers seem to be suggesting ...


With the elections coming up in May it's going to be an interesting few months!

Tolerant Britain, Zero-Tolerant of Abuse by Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg (Speech)

Nick Clegg MP

"Today I want to talk about immigration.
Not asylum; that’s an important distinction to make – immigration.

The debate is opening up, and that’s a good thing.

We’ve now heard from the Labour party about some of their mistakes in office.
And the Prime Minister and I are setting out how the Coalition is correcting those mistakes.
Me today, David Cameron on Monday.

The political mainstream has a duty to wrestle this issue away from populists and extremists.
A duty to shift what can be a highly polarised debate – particularly in difficult economic times – onto practical and sensible ground.
And the Liberal Democrats take that responsibility very seriously.
This morning I will explain why...
In order to remain an open and tolerant Britain...
We need an immigration system that is zero-tolerant towards abuse.
Tolerant Britain, zero-tolerant of abuse.
That’s the vision the Coalition is working towards.

Before I do, I want to make one thing clear:
The Liberal Democrats will never seek to outflank our opponents because we think that’s what people want to hear.

Yvette Cooper said, recently, that we must avoid an “arms race of rhetoric” on immigration.
I agree.
That kind of low populism patronizes the British people.
And it is an insult to the many migrants who have contributed to our country.
British society has been shaped by migrant communities in ways more profound than any cliché about chicken tikka masala, or Notting Hill Carnival, or Polish builders can ever express.

I’m the son of a Dutch mother – she, herself, raised in Indonesia;
A half-Russian father; husband to a Spanish wife.
Like millions of Brits, if you trace our blood lines back through the generations, you end up travelling around the globe.

And I’m a liberal.
I’m immensely proud of this nation’s wonderful diversity and openness.
Those are great British traditions too.

Of course, if you believed every headline, you’d think that when immigrants aren’t stealing British jobs...
They’re all living the high life in 12-bedroom Kensington mansions, courtesy of the state.
But that’s a complete caricature of the truth.

The majority of people who come here work hard and make a contribution.
Many have served – and still serve – in our armed forces.
And if every member of an immigrant community suddenly downed tools, countless businesses and services would suffer.
The NHS would fall over.

And in a globalised economy, where talent is as mobile as capital.
No nation can succeed by pulling up the drawbridge.
British firms depend on outside skills and expertise in order to compete.
British universities too.
The reason this country has a world-beating research base is because we are a magnet for the brightest and the best.

That’s why, when the Coalition put limits on the number of migrants coming here from outside Europe...
It was important to Vince Cable and myself that students – genuine students – were excluded from that.

It’s why, more recently, the Coalition has rejected proposals to impose a visa regime on visitors from Brazil.
Where a minority are abusing the system, we need to deal with that – whatever nationality they are.

But a new visa regime would deter Brazilian tourists, discourage Brazilian investors.
And Brazil would simply do the same to us.
Hampering the access British companies have to one of the world’s fastest growing markets.

So, yes we are bringing immigration under control, and I will explain how.
But I want UK firms to be in no doubt.
The Coalition’s priority continues to be growth and building a stronger economy.
I’m clear that well-managed immigration is a key part of that.

Labour’s legacy

The problem is that the system has not been well-managed.
It has been grossly mismanaged.

I welcome Labour’s recent admission that they got it wrong.
But the fact that this mea culpa is immediately followed by mud-slinging...
By an attempt to blame the Coalition for the problems that remain...
Suggests to me Labour still don’t understand just how wrong they got it.

The previous government left us an immigration system in disarray.
I cannot stress enough just how chaotic it was.

The first thing they did, after coming into office, was stop checking if people were leaving the country.
They got rid of exit checks.
They weren’t counting people in and they weren’t counting people out either.

Seven different immigration bills.
Six different Home Secretaries.
And yet...
In the course of a decade, just 114 prosecutions for employing illegal immigrants.

And Labour were completely caught off guard by the impact of their decision to lift transitional controls on new EU member states when other EU countries did not
By the time they finally woke up to the mess they’d created...
To the real strain immigration was placing on some communities...
It was already too late.

Crisis of confidence


Is it any wonder that there has been a crisis of public confidence in our immigration system?

People’s anxieties are not, generally-speaking, driven by prejudice or racism.
We are, by nature, a tolerant people.
But, for too long, British people’s legitimate concerns have been downplayed.
For too long their worries were met with words but not action.

There’s a common allegation that, among the political elite...
There’s been a conspiracy of silence on immigration.
But over the years there’s been lots of talk, lots of posturing, lots of promises.
Plenty’s been said.
The problem is: not enough’s been done.
Where there is resentment towards the immigration system, we must now confront it.
For a diverse society like ours to function successfully...
For different groups to integrate and co-exist...
British citizens must believe that the rules by which migrants come and settle here are reasonable, just, and properly enforced.
The immigration system must command public confidence.

Since we came into government, net migration has fallen by a third.

We’ve limited immigration from outside Europe.

And within the EU, we have kept the transitional limits on Romania and Bulgaria, until the point where every member state has to remove them.

But it’s not just about the overall numbers.
People need three basic assurances:

One: that we are getting a grip on who’s coming in and who’s going out.

Two: that we can deal with people staying here illegally.

Three: that the system as a whole benefits the UK and doesn’t put too much pressure on our state – particularly in these straitened times.

Give British citizens those assurances, and you will see this nation’s most welcoming side.

The Coalition is creating a system people can be confident in.
A system that contributes to both a stronger economy and a fairer society – we need to deliver both.
Tolerant Britain, zero-tolerant of abuse.

Getting on top of who’s here


Assurance number one: that we’re getting on top of who’s here.

The Coalition is building a much clearer picture of who’s coming in and going out.

We’re building up Britain’s entry checks...
Increasing the information we get in advance of people travelling.

And we are reintroducing exit checks.
Exit checks tell us whether the people who should have left actually have.
Britain used to have them, but they were dismantled by previous governments.
The process began under the Major government and was carried on by the Blair administration
And the Liberal Democrats have been campaigning to bring them back since 2004.

To us it always seemed obvious that exit checks are an essential feature of an efficient and competent immigration system.
And so we ensured that this Liberal Democrat manifesto commitment was written into the Coalition agreement.
Bit by bit we are filling in the gaping holes Labour left.

Stopping people staying illegally

Assurance number two: that we can prevent people from staying here illegally.

[Liberal Democrat Party Policy]

Before I come onto what we are doing in Government...
Let me say a word on Liberal Democrat party policy.

My party will always advocate immigration policies that respect the rights and dignity of individuals – particularly the vulnerable.

It’s because of us that children are no longer detained for immigration purposes.

It’s because of us that the UK no longer deports people to countries where we know they’ll be persecuted for their sexuality.

Both straight from our manifesto...
And two of my proudest achievements in government.

But, at the last election we suggested that any illegal immigrant who had been here for 10 years should be able to earn their citizenship.
We called it an earned route to citizenship.
Our opponents dubbed it an ‘amnesty’.

We felt it was an honest and pragmatic solution given the chaos in the Home Office...
And the obvious failure by Labour to identify where thousands of illegal immigrants were.
Better surely, we asked, to get them to pay their taxes and make a proper contribution to our society, than to continue to live in the shadows?

But, despite the policy’s aims, it was seen by many people...
As a reward for those who have broken the law.
And so it risked undermining public confidence in the immigration system.
The very public confidence that is essential to a tolerant and open Britain.

That is why I am no longer convinced this specific policy should be retained in our manifesto for the next General Election.

And so I have asked Andrew Stunell, the former Integration Minister...
To lead a review of this and our other immigration policies in the run up to 2015.  

In Coalition the Liberal Democrats are seeking to restore people’s faith in the system...
Confronting illegal activity with a vigour never seen from Labour.

And in 2015 people will know that a vote for the Liberal Democrats is a vote for an immigration system they can believe in.

A vote for a tolerant Britain that is zero-tolerant towards abuse.

We’re clamping down on the most exploited routes into the country...
Tightening up what’s known as the ‘tier one route’, for example.
It was supposedly for highly skilled visa applicants, but was routinely exploited by people who did not have those skills.

The student route was riddled with holes.
So we’re cracking down on bogus colleges.
UKBA officers visited a college which had requested permission to bring in over 200 students.
How many did they find studying that day? Two.
Since 2010, almost 600 colleges have been removed from the list of registered visa sponsors.

While we have to be realistic about UKBA’s enforcement budget in the current climate...
We’re making sure money is better spent.
For instance, reducing, the opportunity for long, vexatious and costly appeals...
By those who have been refused the right to remain in Britain...
While still safeguarding the right to a fair hearing.

We’re cracking down on the profiteers.
I can confirm today that the Coalition will increase the cash penalties for unscrupulous employers...
Who hire illegal immigrants because they’re cheaper.

Currently, the maximum fine is £10,000 per illegal worker.
I’ve asked the Home Secretary to look into the right amount...
But personally I’d like to see it double.

Employers need to get the message:
They have an inescapable duty to employ people who are working here legally...
Not to turn a blind eye to those working illegally.

And I’m determined that our police can come down on the criminal gangs who smuggle and traffic people into the country.
We’re currently reviewing policing cooperation with our European partners.
But I’m clear that we must not jeopardise any arrangements that help us tackle this kind of cross-border crime.
Criminals go across borders; so must we.

In addition to these crackdowns, I can also confirm we’re looking at a powerful new tool...
To help deal with the problem of people overstaying on their visas.

Visa overstayers make up a major part of UKBA’s enforcement caseload – clogging up the system.
As early as 2006 we had reports from Select Committees....
Arguing that visa overstaying would be one of the biggest challenges for our immigration system in the 21st Century.

As people travel more, for work, for holidays...
You have more people coming into the country for temporary periods...
And so you need to find ways to make sure they leave.

The challenge isn’t just stopping people coming into Britain illegally...
It’s about dealing with individuals who come over legitimately...
But then become illegal once they’re already here.

One idea, which appeals to me, is a system of security bonds.
And so I’ve asked the Home Office to do some work on it...
With a view to running a pilot before the end of the year.

The basic premise is simple:
In certain cases, when a visa applicant is coming from a high risk country...
In addition to satisfying the normal criteria...
UKBA would be able to request a deposit – a kind of cash guarantee.
Once the visitor leaves Britain, the bond will be repaid.
Clearly, we need to look into the detail and seek a wide range of views...
Including from the Home Affairs Select Committee.

The bonds would need to be well-targeted – so that they don’t unfairly discriminate against particular groups.

The amounts would need to be proportionate – we mustn’t penalise legitimate visa applicants who will struggle to get hold of the money.
Visiting Britain to celebrate a family birth, or a relative’s graduation, or wedding...
Should not become entirely dependant on your ability to pay the security bond.

And I would want a system that is welcomed by legitimate visitors.
Rather than place a great burden on them...
Done right, this would speed up the application process...
Giving UKBA greater confidence about people’s intentions...
Allowing them to make better, faster decisions.

In today’s world, illegal immigration happens in different ways – and we need to think innovatively to keep up.

Immigration as a whole benefitting Britain


Finally, assurance number three:
That immigration as a whole benefits Britain and British citizens.

Migration contributes to the public purse – we mustn’t forget that.
But it is important, with budgets under strain...
That as many people as possible contribute to the economy and support themselves.

We’re asking that of British citizens – it is right that we ask the same of visitors to Britain.

So the Coalition has reformed work visas... So that every worker coming here has a proper job offer and a minimum salary.
And we’ve changed family visas...
To introduce a minimum income for anyone bringing over a partner or spouse.

While it’s right that, if businesses can’t find the skills they need...
They can bring people in from outside the UK...
As we tackle unemployment and rebuild our economy...
We also need to be asking why that’s the case at all.
Why aren’t our young men and women equipped to do these jobs?

So the Coalition is creating record numbers of apprenticeships – over one million since the election.
And I want to make sure we have the right plans in place for so-called ‘shortage occupations’ – the specific professions where we lack skills.

There are 34 currently on the list.
Paediatricians, maths teachers, chemical and mechanical engineers, to name a few.
And we are now asking employers and their representative bodies...
Including Sector Skills Councils...
To work with the Government on our plans to build up Britain’s homegrown skills for each profession....
Making sure we’re on track.

I believe people will have more faith in our immigration system if they see that we are doing everything we can to help young British men and women into work.
To that end, the Coalition has also capped unskilled migration from outside the EU.

The Government is also looking at the access migrants have to services and benefits.
Fairness isn’t just about what people put into the system...
It’s what also about what they take out.

This work is extremely complex.
Labour left us a huge, unwieldy welfare state, full of contradiction.
In some place the arrangements are already quite strict...
In others they are much more loose and opaque.
So now we are systematically working through to see where reform is necessary.

No decisions have been taken yet...
And the PM will be saying more about his views on Monday.

But I want to make clear that this is very much a Coalition agenda, with both sides working together.
For the Liberal Democrats, it is entirely right that we close loopholes and ensure that the welfare system is not open to abuse.
For social cohesion, as much as anything else.
One area where I’ve asked for further work, for instance...
Is on the translation services available to individuals accessing public services.

The Government currently spends tens of millions of pounds on translation services and materials.
And, of course, people should get help, if they need it...
To understand what their doctor is saying...
Or how to sign their children up for school...
Or what's going on at a court hearing.

But there's a missed opportunity here to improve people's English...
So that, in the long term, they don't need those translators...
And the taxpayer spends less

We've already raised the level of English required from a number of different groups:
Skilled workers, the husbands and wives of migrants coming to the UK.
But we need to do more to help people who are already here.

In 2011 we introduced powers for Jobcentre advisers to mandate people on job-related benefits to learn English...
If their level of language skills is stopping them from finding work.
I've asked Iain Duncan Smith to report back to me on how this is being implemented.
I want to make sure it's being rolled out effectively across the country.

And where people need a translator to interact with services...
I've asked Mark Harper, the Immigration Minister, to look at whether we could refer them onto an English language course.
And, if people refuse to stick with those courses, we should consider making them pay for their translation services instead.
To a lot of people, that’s just common sense.

We’ll be saying more about this, and the other areas under review, over the coming weeks and months.
                       
Sum up

So in conclusion, we are grappling with the difficult challenges in our immigration system.
Brick by brick, we are rebuilding it.
Day by day we are making sure, quite simply, that it works.
All the British people ask is for a system they can have confidence in.
We hear that, and we are delivering it.

I’m determined we lay the foundations for an immigration system that embodies this nation’s instincts and its values:
Our openness and tolerance on one hand;
Our sense of fair play, on the other.
The Liberal Democrats are at the forefront of that.
We want to stay a tolerant Britain, and to that end we will be zero-tolerant of abuse. "

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Let's See If Labour’s Alternative Budget Figures Add Up - Cambridge MP Julian Huppert


MP Julian Huppert has suggested Parliament could follow Cambridgeshire Liberal Democrats’ lead on an alternative budget to give the Labour opposition a chance to put forward their spending plans.

He told Treasury Select Committee Chair, Andrew Tyrie it might be helpful in checking if the figures added up.

Julian made the suggestion  in the House of Commons yesterday (Wednesday, March 20) after Labour Leader, Ed Miliband attacked Chancellor George Osborne’s Budget plans.

“When I was leader of the opposition on Cambridgeshire County Council we had an approach of presenting an alternative budget so that it could be scrutinised by the scrutiny committees and select committees,” he said. “That approach is carried on by Councillor Kilian Bourke, the current leader.”

And he asked Mr Tyrie if he agreed that “it would be helpful if there were an alternative budget for him and his committee to consider in order to check whether it all added up?”

Mr Tyrie said he would be happy to look at an alternative budget.

Later Julian said: “It is easy for Labour to stand up in opposition and claim they'd do things better and spend more money on everything; but with no incentive for them to say what they'd actually do, or to make the sums add up, no one can trust their claims.

“We had 13 years of disastrous Labour spending and borrowing which left this country with a massive financial black hole and on the brink of disaster. By the end, for every four pounds they were spending, they were borrowing one. That couldn't continue.

“An alternative budget outlining their spending and saving plans and how they would achieve them could make interesting reading. If they have confidence in their own claims, they should welcome the chance to present this as a full package.”

Second Campus Of Hardwick Primary To Relocate In Cambourne


The second campus of Hardwick Primary School will relocate in to permanent buildings in Cambourne in September 2015.

Hardwick Primary has been using the former temporary buildings of Jeavons Wood Primary - known locally as the Blue School - since that school moved into permanent accommodation in September 2012.

Hardwick has been taking children from the Cambourne catchment area since 2007 as a result of the increasing demand for primary school places in Cambourne.

Initially pupils were transported to the school's base in Hardwick by bus. From September 2012, children from Cambourne offered a place at Hardwick Primary School have been able to attend the second campus - or the Blue School - and stay within their village.

Funding has now been secured for it to open a second, permanent campus in Cambourne in September 2015.

The second campus will be built on land to the west of Cambourne, alongside the new Cambourne secondary school, which takes its first pupils this September.

Hardwick Primary was described as a good school in its most recent inspection by OfSTED and is in an ideal position to operate on two sites because it has two co-headteachers - Ruth French and Andy Matthews.

In a joint statement, the headteachers said: "We are delighted that the County Council has brought forward the plan to relocate our temporary Cambourne base to its permanent home in September 2015. We are looking forward enormously to the possibilities that this will create for our pupils. It will mean that we can continue to provide an exciting curriculum for all our Cambourne pupils and continue to develop our relationship with the rest of the local community and schools."

Cambridge MP Huppert Warns Chancellor Not Listening On Green Growth


Business leaders are adamant that green technology is vital to drive economic growth but Chancellor George Osborne may not be listening, warns Cambridge MP Julian Huppert.

Julian spoke out yesterday (Wednesday, March 20) in the House of Commons citing a report published by the Confederation of British Industry.

It said: “The business response is definitive and emphatic: green is not just complementary to growth, but is a vital driver of it.”

And Julian added that the CBI report went further, saying that green business could “roughly halve the UK’s trade deficit” and add £20 billion to the UK economy by 2014-15.

Lib Dem Stephen Williams agreed and acknowledged that there was “a tension in the coalition government between the Chancellor and the Department for Energy and Climate Change and within the department itself when it comes to whether sustainable growth from green technologies is desirable”.

He added that he wants investment in green technology and in wind farms in particular.

“We said at the time of the 2012 general election that we wanted to rebalance the economy, and green growth is certainly one of the things that we had in mind,” he said.

Julian said later: “We have clear evidence from the CBI that business leaders are in no doubt that green technology is vital to the future growth of our economy; yet the Chancellor and some of those working in this area within government are still not convinced.

“Those in the frontline of business are telling us that we could half our trade deficit and add billions to our economy; it makes no sense why we would not listen to the experts. We have nothing to lose because we can’t go on relying on energy from coal, nuclear and gas.

“We have to find green alternatives not only to keep our lights on but also to protect our environment for future generations. And at the same time we grow a green technology sector which brings huge benefits for our future economic success and stability.”

Bar Hill Parish Council Meeting ** TONIGHT ** (Agenda)


Just a quick reminder that Bar Hill Parish Council is meeting tonight, the agenda is available below;


Open Forum (Your opportunity to raise issues with the Parish Council)
1. To receive apologies for absence and any declaration of interest
2. Approval of minutes- To approve minutes of Parish Council Meeting held on 21st February 2013
3. Matters for discussion and decisions to be made from Previous Minutes
3.1 Midas Care Ltd – Signing of lease agreement
3.2 The Farmhouse – update on new tenant and requirements
3.3 Youth Provision
3.4 Village Hall - update
3.5 Wildlife Enhancement Scheme - update
4. General Correspondence Received - Correspondence List attached
5. Clerks Financial Report
5.1 Approval of works by the Parish Council
5.2 Prices for ergonomic chair 
5.3 Bar Hill First Responders – request for funding (as per November Meeting)
5.4 Ongoing employment of Clerk’s assistant
5.5 Holiday At Home – request for contribution
5.6 Bar Hill Library – Summer Reading Challenge – request for contribution
5.7 Approval of accounts and payment of cheques for March
6. Chairman’s Report
6.1 Expenditure of The Willows income – projects to be earmarked
6.2 Skate Park and play area – update
6.3 Website - update
7. Committee Reports
a. Planning Committee  (MP)
b. Environment Committee (BW)
8. Other Reports
a. Cambridgeshire County Council (JR)
b. South Cambridgeshire District Council (BW/RH)
c. Any other reports
9. Items for Information

If you have any comments or there is something you'd like me to raise during the meeting please don't hesitate to email me (click here).

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Liberal Democrats Deliver £700 Tax Cut For Working People


The Liberal Democrats are delivering a £700 Income Tax cut for 24.5m working people – a year ahead of schedule.


The announcement that the Income Tax Personal Allowance will rise to £10,000, confirmed in the Budget, means the Liberal Democrats’ top priority at the 2010 General Election has been delivered in full by the Coalition Government. It means:

  • A £700 tax cut for 24.5m working people across the UK since the Liberal Democrats came to power
  • 2.7m low paid workers will no longer pay Income Tax at all
  • For the average family, we have cut the Income Tax bill by a third
  • It is enough for a working couple to pay their council tax or combined gas and electricity bills for a year
  • The Coalition commitment to raise the threshold to £10,000 by 2015 will be achieved a year early, in April 2014.

Letting you keep more of the money you earn is a key part of our plan to build a stronger economy in a fairer society, enabling everyone to get on in life.

The £700 tax cut comes alongside more help for working families in the Budget, which confirmed a freeze in fuel duty and £1,200 off the cost of childcare for every child.

Commenting, Liberal Democrat Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander said: “When times are as tough as they are now, our focus must be on helping those on low and middle incomes. That’s why we’ve made delivering on this promise our number one priority in Government.

“It’s also why we have scrapped another of Labour’s fuel duty rises, so filling up your car will be £7 cheaper than under Labour plans. And why we are cracking down on tax dodgers so that everyone is paying their fair share.

“All of this has been done while sticking to our tough but necessary plan to deal with this country’s financial problems. Britain can’t afford unfunded giveaways – unlike the last Labour government, we have made sure everything is paid for.

“The success of the Liberal Democrats in delivering fairer taxes is in stark contrast to record of the Labour Party. In Government, Labour increased tax on low income households; in Government the Liberal Democrats have led the largest programme of tax cuts for working people for a generation.

“I'd like us to go further after the election - with the goal that you don't pay Income Tax until you earn more than the minimum wage. That is the sign of a fair tax party. Today we should celebrate the fact that this Budget is getting real help to millions of working people at a time when they need it most.”

While today’s announced rise in the Personal Allowance to £10,000 comes into effect next year, people on low and middle incomes will see more money in their pay packets next month. This April sees the biggest ever rise in the Personal Allowance – to £9,440. That’s a £600 tax cut for working people since the Liberal Democrats came to power, with more to come next year.

Refurbishment Is Just The Ticket For Drummer Street Bus Station


Cambridge's Drummer Street bus station is about to get an £80,000 makeover thanks to Cambridgeshire County Council.

Work starts on March 22 and will include cleaning the canopy and street furniture and complete repainting of the steel structure - the first time this type of work has been carried out since the bus station was built in the late 1980s.

Contractors will work overnight from Monday to Saturday after the last busses leave the station and all day on Sunday when the terminus will be closed to buses - bus stops will be moved to new locations nearby. The work is expected to take around four weeks.

The steelwork and glazing will be jet washed and the steel girders painted with a protective coating to bring them back to there original colour. Other fixtures and fittings will also be cleaned and re-painted as necessary.

Cambridge MP Welcomes Budget Help For Families And Business


Cambridge MP Julian Huppert has welcomed initiatives to help families, boost home ownership and support businesses announced in the Chancellor’s Budget.

He said the Budget delivers Lib Dem policies to invest in the future of the country’s economy and deal with the financial problems inherited from Labour.

The decision to deliver the £10,000 personal tax allowance from next April – one year earlier than planned – is extremely good news he says.

“This means ordinary working people will get a further tax cut a year earlier than planned bringing the total tax cut to £700 a year,” he said. “Low earners will be lifted out of paying tax altogether following a promise we made on the front page of our election manifesto.

“That's 3,920 poorly paid people in Cambridge who will now not have to pay any income tax at all. People earning less than £10,000 per year need our help, not income tax bills.

“At the same time, we’re cracking down on tax dodgers to make sure everyone pays their fair share.

“And I am delighted to see that the government is prepared to help working families with the cost of childcare; this is so important. Child care costs make it so difficult for parents to afford to work.”

Julian said he was encouraged by the £5.3 billion package to boost home ownership and kickstart the building of new homes.

“We badly need homes for families in Cambridge,” he said, “and the extra investment in affordable, zero carbon homes is the right way to go.”

Julian also welcomed help for small businesses following the announcement of a £2,000 employment allowance towards the National Insurance contributions for those companies which wanted to hire their first employee or expand their workforces.

“This is good news for Cambridge,” said Julian. “These small businesses are our future and they need the right incentives to allow them to succeed and grow. This has been a tough climate for them with the banks reluctant to lend and they need all the help they can get.

“I'm also particularly pleased to see an end to the beer duty escalator; this will help pub goers and landlords.

“There has been some good news in this Budget for hard-working families and businesses. These are the people we must help if we are to get our economy back on its feet, create new jobs and give people opportunities to succeed.”

Council Chairman Gives Students’ Community Project Ideas The Thumbs Up


Year 8 students at Swavesey Village College were given the thumbs up for a range of community project ideas by a Council Chairman last week.

Councillor Tony Orgee, Chairman of South Cambridgeshire District Council, was invited to the college to view a range of ideas for community projects to tackle anti-social behaviour issues such as graffiti, vandalism and gangs of youths hanging around on street corners.

The students worked on the project as part of their English classes, helping them to work in teams to put ideas together, gain experience of presenting them to experts and become more confident about answering questions about their proposals.

Some of the ideas the students developed included creating skate parks, opening up community centres for activities such as skating and even launching a touring youth bus to visit the local villages.

Katie Dennis, English teacher at Swavesey Village College, said: “It was great for the students to have their work looked at by people who see this kind of project through from proposal to policy in the real world. They all worked hard and were delighted that Cllr Orgee took the time to look at their work and give them feedback.

Cllr Tony Orgee said: “The hard work and thought that had gone into the projects was great to see and I had some very interesting discussions with students about their ideas. We’re lucky in South Cambridgeshire that our village networks help form strong communities, and it was a real pleasure to see young people thinking about ways to keep their community a safe and pleasant place to live.”

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Improving Mobile Coverage For Cambridgeshire


Plans to improve mobile coverage across Cambridgeshire are being backed by the County Council to help businesses grow, people stay in touch and reduce rural isolation.

Mobile coverage is poor or non-existent in some parts of Cambridgeshire, particularly in rural areas and along some major road and rail routes.

Cambridgeshire County Council wants to see the mobile voice and data infrastructure improved. This will complement the roll-out of better broadband being delivered through the Connecting Cambridgeshire programme.

Improving mobile coverage will help to meet the programme's aims to strengthen the local economy. It will help bolster business growth, support people who are vulnerable or isolated and make it easier to access public services.

The Connecting Cambridgeshire programme team is working with Government and will be engaging with the telecommunications industry to develop opportunities to improve mobile coverage for Cambridgeshire.

Councillor Nick Clarke, Leader of Cambridgeshire County Council, which oversees the Connecting Cambridgeshire programme, said: "We recognise that good mobile communications are essential to the growth of the economy in a digital world where there are more mobile phones than there are people. Using a mobile phone is part of everyday life for the majority of people and can be a life saver in certain circumstances.

"It is appalling that in the 21st Century there are still 'not spots' with no coverage at all in some of our rural areas and commuters are unable to get a consistent signal on the London to Cambridge line. The Connecting Cambridgeshire project will not only be delivering better broadband but also working with the Government to improve mobile coverage to help keep our businesses and rural communities connected."

Local Parish Councillor Andy Pellew welcomed the news; "People no longer use mobile phones just to  make calls and with more and more people relying on them for business communication it's vital for continued economic development that coverage, largely of 3G and 4G services, is improved."

"However it will be interesting to see how this money is going to be spent, the network operations have already consolidated their mobile operations (see here) so that there are really only two companies in the UK; Mobile Broadband Network Limited (EE and 3), and Cornerstone (Vodafone and O2) building base stations and expanding mobile networks. While I'm keen for Cllr Clarke's 'Not spots' to be eliminated we will have to be careful that the new money is not being used to replace existing funding or to help companies meet their contractual obligations following their 4G license bids."

"I welcome the investigation and, subject to some suitable guarantees around the spending of public money, I think this could really benefit the rural parts of Cambridgeshire including Bar Hill".

Free Workshops Helping Local Companies Develop The Skills And Knowledge They Need To Succeed


When South Cambridgeshire business Cernunnos realised gaps in their business knowledge were holding them back from reaching their full potential, they took advantage of a range of free workshops designed to help businesses.

Established in 2011, the specialist renewable and energy efficiency construction services company had found success, but also discovered a number of challenges along the way.  “We had come into the business from an ethical standpoint, wanting to help create sustainable homes for the future,” Leemya McKeown, Business Development Manager of Cernunnos explains, “but we hadn’t come from business backgrounds and didn’t appreciate the dynamics of a business.”

Changes started to be made when Leemya was introduced to the series of free workshops provided by the South Cambridgeshire Business Support Service.  Delivered by Exemplas, on behalf of South Cambridgeshire District Council, the workshops were specifically designed to meet the needs of small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) in the local area.

The workshops immediately encouraged Leemya to start thinking about ways in which to improve the business, particularly in regards to the marketing, where a great deal of time and money had been spent on activity that wasn’t producing leads.

The workshops introduced the theory and foundation that had been missing, such as building a marketing plan, understanding and researching the target market, calculating return on investment and measuring customer satisfaction.

The Business Networking workshop was also an eye-opener, encouraging conversations with contacts from a range of backgrounds, and giving suggestions on how to get the best possible results from networking.  “It is easy to get disheartened so quickly, so to go to a meeting with a specific aim in mind, such as being introduced to a particular person, or handing out three business cards, made it much easier,” Leemya explains, “Having these steps to follow gave us the confidence we needed.”

Business support for Cernunnos continued long after attending the workshops.  A unique feature of the programme is the follow-up from experienced business advisers, designed to ensure attendees get the most from the workshops, and put what they have learnt into action.  “I found the follow-up extremely useful and was really surprised by how detailed and thoughtful it was,” says Leemya,
“I was particularly interested in getting more advice on developing a marketing plan, and my adviser took time to guide me through the process, along with providing extensive information and notes to ensure I had everything I needed.”

The impact of the workshop programme is clearly visible.  Cernunnos have begun extensive social media activity, allowing new ways to engage with potential and existing customers.  A PR strategy is in development, along with a series of questionnaires designed to help gauge quality and to be used as a management tool for contractors.

“The workshops have been an invaluable tool in developing our business knowledge and we are delighted to have had the opportunity to make a real positive change to our business,” says Leemya, “We’re now full of confidence and looking forward to taking the business forward”.

Cllr Nick Wright, South Cambridgeshire District Council’s cabinet member for planning and economic development, said: “These workshops have been a real success in helping businesses develop practical skills that can give them an edge. The programme has covered a variety of subjects and by running the sessions in small groups they have been very effective. They have been part of a bigger programme of business support we have offered as we are very focused on making sure businesses can thrive in the district.”

The Business Support Service is available to anyone who has been running a business within a South Cambridgeshire postcode for at least 12 months and can demonstrate difficulties as a consequence of the recession.  The free workshops are available to all SME businesses and individuals considering starting up.

The free service will run until the end of March 2013.  The final workshops take place on Wednesday 20th March, with a limited number of places still available for the Business Networking workshop. For further information please call 0844 346 0755 or email southcambsbusinesssupport@exemplas.com

Details of the Business Support Service can be found by visiting www.exemplas.com/southcambs or www.cambridge-plus.com/content/business-support – a website set up by the Council to help support existing businesses in South Cambridgeshire and promote the area to encourage new firms to set up.

Councillors Approve £20,000 Per Home Agreement For Facilities At Northstowe


Councillors have voted in favour of plans that would see £20,000 invested in community facilities and infrastructure for every home built during the first phase of Northstowe.

The principles of the £30 million agreement with developers, which will secure these contributions, were approved by County and District councillors on the Northstowe Joint Development Control Committee today (Tuesday 19 March). This would see a new primary school built, millions of pounds invested in sports and recreation facilities and an £8 million contribution toward a secondary school that will open before all the homes are built in the first phase.

Developers will also commit a further £41 million from the first phase of the town for landscaping, roads, utilities and new reservoirs to create a water park. This is 25% of the overall cost of this work for the whole town while 15% of the overall homes will be built.

Securing a £20,000 developer contribution toward facilities for every home built during the first phase of the new town is above average for when compared to similar developer agreements elsewhere in the district, but councillors also said that further government funding is being sought to get the new town off the ground as quickly as possible.

In November Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, announced a £225 million of funding pot for large scale housing schemes in England – including Northstowe – and a bid has been submitted to government to unlock cash.

In a letter received by council bosses yesterday from Richard Hill, Interim Chief Executive of the Homes and Communities Agency, said that the investment committee had agreed the principle of investing in Northstowe and the Board will consider the proposal again next month to make a final decision.

Councillors also agreed today that at least one in five of the 1,500 homes planned in the first phase will be affordable and more will be included in future phases.

Negotiations with developers on the first phase application means plans also include a cycleway linking Northstowe and Bar Hill. A network of cycleways and footpaths are also planned to give easy access for Northstowe residents to The Busway and improvements to the Bar Hill junction of the A14.

The plans for the Bar Hill junction follow a Government announcement in October last year committing £7.7 million to widen the A14 between Girton and Histon in 2014 as a short term measure to alleviate congestion and improve safety, in advance of a major upgrade to the road.

Council officers will now complete the section 106 planning agreement before the outline planning permission for the first 1,500 homes is granted.

A series of detailed planning applications are now expected to be submitted throughout the year by Gallagher Estates to agree the exact details of the homes and facilities in the first phase.

Work on site could begin later this year with the first homes being built in 2014.

Cllr Tim Wotherspoon, South Cambridgeshire District Council’s cabinet member for Northstowe, said: “Quality has always been a top priority for Northstowe and in the current climate it is good news that we have an agreement on the table that will secure more funding per home for community facilities and infrastructure than is average for recent developments in the area. We have listened to what residents have said and want to make sure facilities are in place as early as possible so that a real community can be built. We are committed to making sure Northstowe is a place people want to live, work and go to school and extra government funding is also being sought to get it off to the best start.”

Cllr Ian Bates, Cambridgeshire County Council’s cabinet member for growth and infrastructure, said: “The Busway is already in place to provide high quality public transport links for the first residents at Northstowe and this agreement will make sure the other facilities needed are in place. Securing a secondary school during the first phase of the new town is excellent news and will help get the largest new town since Milton Keynes off to a good start. Major improvements to the A14 are vital to allow future phases of the town to go ahead and we will continue to work with partners and the government to make sure action is taken soon.”