Friday, 31 May 2013

Better Broadband For Cambridgeshire On Track

Plans to roll-out better broadband to reach businesses and communities across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough by the end of 2015 are on track.

Connecting Cambridgeshire has mapped out some of the first areas across the county being considered to receive the new fibre-based infrastructure bringing faster broadband speeds.

Over 50 rural parishes and urban areas are under consideration for the first phases of the roll-out delivering connectivity which will enable better broadband speeds of up to 24 Mbps and more.

A high level map giving a general indication of parishes/areas with some premises under consideration for the first phase of the roll-out can be viewed on the Connecting Cambridgeshire website at (and see below). This is subject to survey work over the coming months and will be updated as the programme progresses to include subsequent phases of the roll-out plan.

A Parish Checker will also be provided later in the year allowing residents to find out how their area fits in to the programme, and what they can do to promote the benefits of better broadband and help more people get online.

Cambridgeshire County Council signed a milestone contract with BT in March with the support of Peterborough City Council, district councils and partners.

The Connecting Cambridgeshire programme team is now working with Openreach to carefully plan the roll-out to make the best use of public money, so that it reaches as many communities as possible by the end of 2015.

Over the coming months, Openreach and its contractors’ engineers and surveyors will be seen out and about carrying out detailed scheduling and surveys to re-design the county-wide network.

The complex planning process also involves working closely with highways and planning authorities to ensure the roll-out is as swift and efficient as possible. If surveys reveal unexpected issues it may affect when an area is connected.

The first phase of the roll-out is scheduled to deliver connectivity from December 2013 through to June 2014, with the first cabinets going ‘live with fibre’ by the end of 2013. Broadband services from a range of internet service providers will be available to premises on a rolling basis during this period as infrastructure is built and completed.

Further details of this and subsequent phases of the roll-out plan will be announced at regular intervals from September 2013, as further information is made available.

Cambridgeshire County Councillor Ian Bates, Cabinet Member for Growth and Planning, said: “It’s great news that the roll-out of better broadband is on its way and we’re on track for work to begin by the end of the year so we can reach every community in Cambridgeshire by the end of 2015.

“Some areas will benefit sooner than others and no-one wants to be last on the list for the roll-out, but the important thing is that we are getting on with this now. Without this intervention, around a third of premises across the county would not be able to receive superfast broadband.”

Councillor Marco Cereste, Leader of Peterborough City Council, said: “To be in the position where we are now planning the roll-out of superfast broadband is great news for Peterborough businesses and residents. Improving the City’s infrastructure is vital to drive economic growth, build connected communities and make it easier for people to access public services.”

The new broadband infrastructure will achieve the Connecting Cambridgeshire programme targets so that superfast speeds of at least 24Mbps are available to more than 90 per cent of premises with speeds of 2Mbps to 24Mbps and upwards available to very nearly 100 per cent of premises by the end of 2015.

Combined with existing commercial broadband provision, 98 per cent of homes and businesses across the county can expect to have access to fibre-based broadband by the end of the contract.

Connecting Cambridgeshire - Parishes/ Premises Under Consideration

Green Jobs, Green Growth, Green Investment, Are What Liberal Democrats Are Delivering In Government

In the interview, he says: "The investments we're making in low-carbon energy infrastructure, whether it's wind, biomass engineering, solar, tidal or marine, they are all going to produce a lot of jobs.

"Green jobs, green growth, green investment, are what Liberal Democrats are delivering in Government. We've got to show that we've come up with new innovative ways to help people with their energy bills."

These include 'collective switching', which enables communities and co-operatives to save money by purchasing energy from supplier together. He also says the UK could see 60,000 people employed as part of it by 2015, as new grants help to create a market in energy efficiency and retrofitting homes.

"DECC runs a competition called Cheaper Energy Together and we've seen local councils and community energy groups bringing people together to experiment with this new way of buying energy," he says.

On the Coalition, he commented: "In the Coalition Agreement the Conservatives signed up to a lot of our green agenda, so I think it's fair to say that there are parts of the Conservative Party who are quite comfortable with it. But it's equally true to say there are some that aren't."

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Northstowe Newsletter - May 2013

The May edition of the newsletter has been released, stories in this issue include;

  • Resource Sustainability in Northstowe: Low Carbon Development
  • Urban Design and Design Codes
  • The Month Ahead
  • VIP Visit
  • People News
The newsletter is available here (via Google Drive).

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

E-Cops - Your Regular Crime Update

On 23d May, between 09:00 hours and 17:00 hours, a burglary in a dwelling took place in Woodside, High Street, Boxworth. Between stated times, unknown offender(s) have forced entry into a property by smashing the rear utility door. A search has then been conducted of the upstairs bedrooms, the living room and the study. Jewellery, cameras, a laptop and an antique clock are among the items stolen.

On 22nd May, between 13:0 hours and 13:30 hours, a theft from Cambridge Services in Boxworth too place. At day at times stated, unknown offender/s has tampered with the gaming machine using a sparking device to force the machine to dump coins. £341 was taken.

Between 18th May at 22:00 hours and 19th May at 23:00 hours, a theft took place at Parcel Force, UNIT A-D Trafalgar Way, Bar Hill. At dates and times stated, unknown offender/s has pulled CCTV camera off the rear of the building and taken an unknown amount of galvanised metal.

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 or you can contact Crime stoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. In an emergency or if you believe a crime to be in progress please dial 999.

You can also find further information on line

Thank you

PCSO 7009 Bujar Mani
Histon Neighbourhood Policing Team

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Supported Living Service Built On Firm Foundations

A County Council supported living scheme based in Cambridge has been given top marks by government inspectors.

The Cambridge Supported Living Scheme provides support to 16 adults with learning disabilities in their own homes.

Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspectors carried out a routine visit to the service which is based in Russell Street, Cambridge, and found it to be meeting every requirement of the inspection.

The inspectors spoke to service users and staff, checked recruitment processes, care and support planning and record keeping.

Inspectors commented: “We spoke to five people who were provided with support. They all told us they were very satisfied with the care and support they received. One person commented that, ‘the carers are kind and cheerful and they do a good job’.

“There were thorough staff recruitment procedures in place to ensure that only appropriate staff who had the required checks were employed. Staff received appropriate support and training to provide the care and support required by the people who used the service.”

Cambridge MP Julian Huppert Secures Debate To Drive Forward Science And Research

Cambridge MP Julian Huppert
Cambridge MP Julian Huppert has secured a Parliamentary debate in his drive to push science and research up the government’s agenda.

Julian’s debate at Westminster Hall on June 4 will focus on a policy paper he has written detailing a package of measures to support pure and applied research and development and the need for more and sustained government funding for science and research.

The paper, Developing a Future: Policies for Science and Research deals with three key areas – funding, people and skills and the role of scientific advice – and won unanimous support at a recent Liberal Democrat conference.

Julian’s debate builds on recent successes. The government has already announced over £1.5 billion of investment in science and innovation since the Spending Review and ring-fenced the science budget. Under plans to encourage better science teaching in schools, top science graduates are being offered £20,000 scholarships to encourage them to enter the teaching profession.

 “We have made a good start but we need to do so much more if we are to maintain our position as a global leader in science and research and drive forward that success,” he said.

“Science and innovation in the country has been starved of cash for years; yet despite low levels of funding, the UK has outperformed other countries, some of which invest almost twice as much. Government investment in research and development encourages further investment from the private sector.

“I want to see a commitment from both the other parties to increase the science and research budget above inflation over the next 15 years, improving our ability to attract the brightest scientists and researchers and giving our young people the skills they need to compete in this fast moving and ever-changing environment.

“I’m challenging the way the government thinks about science. I want to see money redirected to where it will benefit our economy, as well as supporting research for its own sake.

“I am encouraged that our government has shown a commitment to science but it needs to do more.”

Julian’s debate will take place in Westminster Hall on June 4 between 2.30pm and 4pm.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Letter from the Leader: Coming together

This was a week that put things in perspective. I know I speak for all Liberal Democrats when I say that our thoughts are with the family and friends of Drummer Lee Rigby - the British soldier attacked and killed in Woolwich on Wednesday. And I've made it clear, on the party's behalf, that we are immensely grateful to our police, security services and armed forces, who do an extraordinarily important job.

That last few days have reminded me, and probably many of you, of a simple but important truth: when your values are under attack, you have to hold on to them even more firmly than before.

Yesterday, at the request of some friends in the Muslim community, I convened a meeting, in London, of representatives from different faiths, community organisations and secular groups. Before the speeches I held a private discussion with a smaller group, and I wish I could have broadcast it across the nation. Just days after a brutal act of terror, men and women from across the faiths and political parties, gathered around the table, each calling for the same thing: unity. It would have made you immensely proud.

And there have been other victories for our values this week. Getting the Equal Marriage Bill through the House of Commons was no mean feat and it's something all Liberal Democrats should feel good about. Britain is now one step closer to being a country where all forms of love - gay or straight - are celebrated equally, and that wouldn't have happened without our party.

The Coalition was also able to confirm that hundreds of Afghan interpreters who served bravely alongside British forces will have the chance to settle in the UK. Paddy's been heavily involved with this campaign for a while. At one point, it was suggested that Afghan interpreters might not be granted this right, but clearly that was something I - we - couldn't accept. Don't forget, it was under pressure from the Liberal Democrats that the previous Labour government extended the right to reside here to Iraqi interpreters. When someone has risked their life to help our servicemen and women, it seems so obvious to me that we owe them a debt.

So it's been a difficult week, but it's also been a week which has reminded us who we are. This is an open, diverse and generous nation, where, in our toughest moments, we come together. That's something no act of hate or violence will change.


Nick Clegg

Friday, 24 May 2013

Cambridge MP Urges Teenagers To Sign Up For National Citizen Service

Cambridge teenagers are being urged by the city’s MP Julian Huppert to sign up for National Citizen Service, a summer programme giving them an opportunity to learn new skills.

The scheme is open to all 16 and 17-year-olds and gives them the chance to take part in outward bound activities such as rafting and abseiling and creating community projects on issues that matter to them.

Previous participants have organised events such as music gigs to raise money for a hospice and ‘sleep-outs’ to raise awareness of homelessness.

Julian said: “We have such a strong community spirit here in Cambridge and our young people take part in so many activities. I hope they will embrace this programme and take the opportunity to try something new while giving back to the community at the same time. I met many of the people who did this last year, and they really enjoyed it - and got a lot out of it too.”

The National Citizen Service programme is a national initiative which costs a maximum of £50 for each young person, but is free for those receiving free school meals. It is being run across the East of England by employment and skills provider Reed in Partnership.

James Reed, Managing Director said: "Whether you are dreaming of a career in finance, construction or anywhere in-between, having NCS written on your CV will be invaluable in the future."

For more information and to sign up, visit

London Communities Celebrate Strength And Unity At Event Hosted By Nick Clegg

The speakers at the Hugh Cubitt Peabody Centre in Islington were the Deputy Prime Minister, Shadow Justice Secretary Sadiq Khan, Conservative whip Lord Tariq Ahmad, former Army captain Afzal Amin, imam Shaykh Shams ad-Duha Muhammad of Ebrahim College and the co-chairs of Faith Forum for London, Canon Guy Wilkinson and Leonie Lewis.

Also in attendance were Colonel Hugh Bodington, Chief of Staff of the Army Headquarters at London District, and Commander Mak Chishty of the Metropolitan Police, who has been the force's community liaison for the events in Woolwich.
Nick Clegg MP

Representatives of London's political leaders included Damian Johnson, Chair of the London Assembly, Andrew Boff, leader of the Assembly's Conservative group, Jenny Jones, leader of the Green Party Group and Stephen Knight, deputy leader of the Liberal Democrat Group. The local MP Emily Thornberry also took part, along with Deputy Leader of the House of Commons, Tom Brake.

Transcript of the Deputy Prime Minister's speech

"Can I thank you all very, very much for being here and can I thank, particularly, everybody at the Hugh Cubitt Centre, all the volunteers here, everyone from the Peabody operation. You've helped us to organise this at very, very short notice indeed.

It was a suggestion made to me by friends of mine in the London Muslim community just yesterday, that we should get together at a time of obviously heightened anxiety, given the horrific events in Woolwich. And to be able to gather together like this, given how busy everybody is, is a real tribute to everybody at the centre, and indeed to all of you.

We are represented here in all of the wonderful diversity that we know is modern London: different political parties, different faiths, different communities, representatives from the armed services, from the police. I really am very, very grateful to you all for being here. And I hope that - in fact I know that I speak on behalf of everybody here when I say that my heart goes out and my thoughts are with the family and the friends of Drummer Lee Rigby, who as so brutally and savagely killed in Woolwich.

I think in many ways, the fact that we've come together is much more important than what anyone's actually going to say at the event because the fact that we're here together from so many different directions, from so many parts of the diversity that is London is a - sends out a message.

It sends out a very, very simple message of hope over fear, of community over division and that is immensely important. I think that you've done all of that and that by coming together in that way, by sending out that clear signal, you really have provided a great service to all of the communities who are asking themselves searching questions in London and across the country today.

Because let's be clear. People who inflict such random, savage violence in the name of some entirely warped ideology or some entirely perverted concept of religion in the way that we have seen on our television screens - which has been made all the more unsettling I think, because the individuals concerned dressed, spoke, appeared to all intents and purposes like so many other young Londoners that we might come across every day of the week.

Let's be under no illusion. What they want, of course, is to sow that corrosive seed of fear and division. What they want is for governments and the authorities to overreact in their immediate reaction. What they want is for communities to turn inwards and away from each other. What they want, in short, is to spread fear.

Fear is an extraordinarily powerful emotion and when fear takes root, all of us as individuals, we will avert our gaze from someone who we might be fearful of, who we weren't before. We might cross the street away from an individual who we're not so sure about. We might worry about our children and about our families in a way that we haven't done before.

It has a very, very corrosive effect on every part of our lives and we have a choice. We have a choice to either allow that powerful corrosive feeling of fear to seep into every second and minute and hour of our lives or we can make a choice that we're not going to change our behaviour. We're not going to disrupt normal life. We're going to continue our life as before. We're going to continue to reach out to each other. We're going to continue to look people in the eye. We're going to continue to be the diverse community that we are, and you have made that choice by coming to this event.

London has made that choice by celebrating this kind of event and it has shown once again how unbeatable London is in the face of this attempt to sow fear, sow division and sow mutual suspicion in our community. So I want to pay genuine tribute, to each and every one of you for making that choice. It is a positive choice and is the most powerful dignified reply and rejection of what we saw and what we heard on Wednesday in Woolwich.

Finally, before I ask the Deacon and others to speak for themselves, I want to pay special tribute to those amongst you who are leaders and spokespeople of our Muslim communities. The fact that all of you who've spoken out so very clearly and so very cogently and so very quickly to reject it utterly. As the Prime Minister quite rightly said, what we heard from these two individuals was a total unqualified betrayal of Islam, a religion of peace was being distorted, turned upside down and inside out, perverted in the cause of an abhorrent and violent set of intentions from those individuals.

As I heard from someone in a discussion we just had earlier this morning, terrorism has no religion because there is no religious conviction that can justify the kind of arbitrary, savage, random violence that we saw on the streets of Woolwich. So thank you for speaking out as forcefully as you have done. Thank you for speaking out as clearly as you have done for a great salvation religion, for your faith, and for the communities in which you live and in which you lead.

And in that spirit I would like to simply conclude by repeating a verse from the holy Quran, verse 32, chapter five. If anyone kills a human being, it shall be as though he killed all mankind, whereas if anyone saves a life it shall be as though he saved the whole of mankind.

Thank you very much. "

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Bar Hill Neighbourhood Watch: Genuine Water/ Gas/ Electricity Staff

Bar Hill Neighbourhood Watch are currently circulating a leaflet with advice on what to do when confronted with people at your front door who claim to be from the electric/ gas/ water/ etc companies.

Here's the leaflet;

Click on the images for a larger version.

Nick Clegg's Speech on Governing Until 2015

Nick Clegg MP
"One minute, a Coalition Government publishing its third Queen's Speech: fundamentally reforming pensions; tackling longstanding problems with social care; getting to grips with immigration. Big, bold measures that will leave a lasting imprint on millions of Britons' lives.

The next? Westminster consumed by game-playing over Europe and gay marriage; MPs disappearing into a parliamentary rabbit warren, obsessing over this new tactic or that new trick: paving legislation, enabling referendums, wrecking amendments...

Anyone watching would be forgiven for asking: what are these politicians doing?

So it's time to get back to governing; providing the leadership and focus the people of Britain deserve in these difficult times.

This morning I want to give three simple and clear reassurances; the three things I will work flat out to deliver to keep the government and the country on track.

Reassurance number one: Coalition until 2015

First, I am absolutely committed to this Coalition lasting until 2015 - as is the Prime Minister.

At the weekend I saw some rather creative coverage of comments made by the Prime Minister about the future of the Government.

In fact, he echoed exactly what both of us have always believed:

This Coalition has been remarkably radical; it still has work to do; and the best way for us to serve and improve Britain is by finishing what we started.

To those voices who say that it will be in either, or both, parties' interests to prematurely pull the plug: I couldn't disagree more.

In 2010 the British people dealt us this hand. And they will not forgive either party if we call time ahead of the election that has been legislated for in 2015 - destabilising the nation in the vague hope of short-term political gain.

I know some commentators think it would be clever to duck out six months early. But that doesn't make any sense either.

The idea that the Liberal Democrats could suddenly win back those people who have never liked us going into government with the Conservatives is nonsense. As if we could pull the wool over people's eyes, using an early exit to somehow erase the previous four and a half years.

And, frankly, that isn't what we want. The Liberal Democrats look forward to fighting the next election as a party of government, on our record in government, and with a distinct vision of our own for the next government - having seen this one through until the end.

Reassurance number two: our priority is the economy

Reassurance number two: from now until that election, the Coalition will remain focused on the biggest task at hand - fixing the economy.

Of course Europe and gay marriage are important. These are issues my party cares deeply about.

But Britain is facing the most profound economic challenge in living memory. And now, more than ever, we cannot allow Parliament to be clogged up by these matters simply because they cause the biggest political punch ups.

Our priorities must be people's priorities: boosting business, creating jobs, helping with the cost of living.

On the big ticket items the Coalition parties must continue to find a way forward together. Just as we have done on cutting income tax; dealing with the deficit; creating a million new jobs; transforming the education and welfare systems; providing unprecedented guarantees - £50bn worth - for infrastructure and new homes; greening our economy; creating record numbers of apprenticeships...

And there must be no doubt that this Coalition remains united on the end we all seek:

A stronger, rebalanced economy, built on sound public finances, with opportunities spread to every corner of the UK.

Two staunch opponents, working together to find answers to the most critical questions facing Britain today, pioneering major reforms that will stand the test of time. That's what this Coalition has always been about - and it's what it must continue to be about.

Reassurance number three: we will remain anchored in the centre

Lastly, reassurance number three: this Government will not vacate the centre ground.

There's a mistaken idea, shared by both the Labour leadership and some in the Conservative party, that they decide what people care about in Britain today. The idea you can take a big marker pen and draw the centre ground wherever it's ideologically convenient for you.

Ed Miliband thinks he can nudge the country to the left, luring people over with unfunded spending promises: more borrowing, bigger budgets, a risk-free, pain-free end to austerity.

Some Conservatives insist the centre of gravity has swung the other way. They seize on people's reasonable concerns over things like immigration and welfare as proof the nation has shifted to the right.

Yet in reality millions of people across Britain continue to shun the extremes of left and right.

They want a stronger economy - but they also want a fairer society; not one or the other, both.

They want us to maintain stability by taking responsibility for our debts - but with the burden spread fairly.

These are the people who get angry when they see abuse of the benefits system - but they are still proud that their country provides help to the vulnerable, the sick and the poor.

They don't believe it's right when illegal immigrants get a free ride - but they still value the benefits that immigration has bought to the UK.

They emphatically agree that we should cut red tape to help business - but not at the expense of workers' rights.

They want more choice in our public services - but could never support privatising the NHS or profit-making in schools.

They think gay people should be treated as equal with straight people, and so able to get married - but they wouldn't condone forcing a church to conduct those ceremonies against its will.

In the 21st Century, Britain's centre ground is modern; balanced; inclusive.

It doesn't face left; it doesn't face right; it faces forward.

And if you stand in the centre ground, rest assured: so long as I am Deputy Prime Minister this Coalition will not walk away from you.

Not plain-sailing

Coalition until 2015. Cleaning up the mess in the economy Labour left us. Anchored in the centre ground. Exactly as we set out in May 2010.

It won't all be plain-sailing.

Some of the most divisive issues - like the UK's role in Europe - are not going to go away.

We also have to be realistic about the other challenges that come with the later stages of Coalition. As we head towards the election there will be increasing pressure on David Cameron and myself to act as party leaders as much as PM and DPM: pressure to put party before nation. And I don't pretend I won't relish the moment I can hit the campaign trail on behalf of the Liberal Democrats in the run up to the General Election.

But here's the bigger truth: whether you are the larger or smaller party, the fact is governing together in the public interest carries a cost. Making compromises; doing things you find uncomfortable; challenging some of your traditional support - these are the dilemmas the Conservatives are coming to terms with, just as my party has had to.

The next two years will not be without their hurdles and no doubt there will be disagreements between the Coalition parties along the way. Let's be clear: sincere policy debates and ideological differences are, and will continue to be, a part of coalition.

But the parliamentary game playing we've seen over the last few weeks discredits the importance of these issues, and it's an unwelcome distraction.

Our parties made a commitment to the people of Britain: we promised to govern responsibly and to stay focused on the issues that matter most.

That has not changed. It will not change. And I am more determined than ever that we finish what we started. "

European Parliament rejects Czech 'Opt-Out' on Charter Of Fundamental Rights

On the proposal of Andrew DUFF (Lib Dem, UK), ALDE coordinator in the Constitutional Affairs Committee, the European Parliament called on the European Council to reject a request to amend the Treaty of Lisbon which would weaken the force and limit the application of the Charter of Fundamental Rights in the Czech Republic. With a vote of 574 to 82, MEPs for the first time used their right not to support an amendment of the EU treaties.

The proposal rejected by Parliament would add the Czech Republic as a signatory to Protocol 30 devised by Tony Blair which seeks to limit the use of the Charter in British courts. Poland is a co-signatory with the UK. Parliament has to be consulted by the European Council, and its negative opinion poses a big dilemma for the heads of government who must now decide whether to follow the Parliament or to continue to deliver on their earlier political pledge to former Czech President Klaus.
"Parliament has a duty to protect and promote the Charter of Fundamental Rights. We cannot be complicit in a treaty amendment which blunts the Charter," said Mr. Duff who congratulated the EPP "for changing their mind about this matter after long consideration. Christian Democrats have no need at all to play to the nationalistic fringe."

"President Klaus demanded the Czech Protocol as his price for completing the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty," recalled M. Duff, in highlighting that "the Klaus Protocol has never been endorsed by the Czech parliament or the Czech constitutional court ‑ and, as things stand, it seems unlikely ever to be ratified by the Czech senate. This measure therefore relies on the twin legacy of two gentlemen, MM. Blair and Klaus, whose service to Europe is not beyond reproach".

"The legal effect of Protocol 30 is unclear. Mr Blair claimed it was a British opt-out from the Charter. It is not ‑ a view confirmed not only by the UK's Court of Appeal but also of the European Court of Justice. Whatever its intended effect, its actual effect is to weaken the force of the Charter and to vary its application across the Union. Why should Czech citizens be exposed to the risk of a weaker regime of fundamental rights than anyone else?" concluded Andrew Duff.

Mr Duff added: "One notes that the UK Tories are now voting for Mr Blair's so-called opt-out which they not so long ago opposed - while British Labour MEPs vote against that same measure which they once supported. All very curious."

Cambridge MP Signs Up To Be A Postgraduate Funding Champion

Julian signs the checklist with Francesca Rust Gabbi Foreman
Student Union Academic Officer
MP Julian Huppert has signed up to be a postgraduate funding champion with students from Cambridge’s Anglia Ruskin University.

He has given his support to a National Union of Students’ checklist which calls on the government to “continue to play a key role in funding postgraduate education and ensure that the sector is not neglected in the allocation of public funds”.

And he has promised that as a postgraduate champion he will represent the interests of postgraduate students in Cambridge and nationally and raise the issue in government and in the Liberal Democrats.

Julian said: “Our present system of postgraduate funding means most students have to pay for their courses up front often borrowing money from family or friends. This deters some students from continuing their studies, taking away their opportunities.

“The government must act to address this situation otherwise we risk stifling our brightest young people and harming our science, research and education system and our economy as a whole.”

Julian has proposed extending government loans to graduate students which could be paid back when they are working, similar to the loans offered to undergraduates. He outlined his proposals in a policy paper “Developing a future: Policies for science and research.

He has also been pushing for a Parliamentary debate on the issue and raised it in the House of Commons with Universities Minister, David Willets. He called on Mr Willets to allow postgraduate students to pay back the cost of their tuition only when they are earning instead of paying for their courses upfront.

Francesca Rust, President of Anglia Ruskin University Student Union said: “It’s both refreshing and encouraging to have MPs like Julian supporting postgraduate study in such a public way. All levels of education should be fairly accessible to all students regardless of their financial background.

“In a competitive job market postgraduate study is of growing importance and I for one want the government to recognise this and effectively support students wishing to study at this level.”

The checklist signed by Julian states that: 

Postgraduate education is crucial to maintaining the county’s research excellence and providing the high-level skills necessary for the UK to compete in the global economy. 

The lack of access to postgraduate funding is unfair and denies many students the chance to study a postgraduate qualification because they cannot pay up front for their tuition. 

The government must continue to play a role in funding postgraduate education and ensure that the sector is not neglected in the allocation of public funds through HECFE and the research councils. 

A postgraduate funding model must take into account the diversity of backgrounds and goals that students have when deciding to study at postgraduate level. 

As a Postgraduate Champion, I agree to: 

Represent the interests of postgraduate students in my constituency and the country as a whole. 

Raise the issue of postgraduate funding with the relevant persons in government and my party. 

Lib Dems Welcome Return Of Power On Transport Decisions

A move which will give back the power on transport decisions to the people in the towns and cities affected instead of allowing them to be made centrally at Shire Hall has been welcomed by Cambridgeshire Liberal Democrats.

They said the decision was good news for the travelling public after the county’s Joint Area Traffic Management Committees were reinstated yesterday (Tuesday, May 21) by Cambridgeshire County Council.

The committees, which give local councillors the opportunities to discuss and decide on transport issues in their areas, were axed when the Tories ruled Cambridgeshire County Council.

But following the recent election when Tories lost overall control of the council, the joint committees are to be reinstated for those areas which want them.

The move has been welcomed by Lib Dems Ian Manning and Amanda Taylor who share the group’s portfolio for resources.

Cllr Taylor, who spoke at the beginning of the debate, said: “This decision is good news for Cambridge and for the travelling public.

“In Cambridge, we have had a situation where crucial decisions on transport and traffic management have been left to Conservative councillors from the villages of the county. They are unfamiliar with our roads and traffic patterns, but worse still, the centralisation of decision-making has been holding up decisions. For example, the parking review in the south of Cambridge has been in limbo for the past six months.

“Now those decisions can be made by the councillors who have been elected to represent the people and understand the issues and there will be more opportunities for the pubic to contribute.”

Cllr Manning added: “I am delighted that we will be able to reinstate the joint committees. Transport issues affect everyone in a town or city and it is so important to get them right; but we cannot do that unless people have good local knowledge.

"The single most important reason for this change is that decisions affecting local people should be made in front of those local people, in public."

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Youngsters Get To Grips With Fire Safety

Fire safety, road hazards and personal safety are all on the curriculum this week for hundreds of Cambridgeshire schoolchildren as they descend on St Neots Fire Station for the Safety Zone.

The multi-agency interactive workshop welcomed Year 5 and 6 pupils from 17 local schools every day throughout the week (Monday, May 20, to Friday, May 24) to understand how to stay safe.

Different agencies, including Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service (CFRS), the police, Road Safety and local councils, set up 'zones' which small groups of children visit to learn about a specific area of safety.

There are also freebies and safety information for children to take home from all of the agencies taking part to reinforce their messages.

Rob Cowling, Watch Commander at St Neots Fire Station, said: "In previous years this week long event has been a huge success and the Year 5's who come have a great time as well as learning important safety messages.

"The Safety Zone is a great opportunity to give kids a number of different safety messages in one go and everyone involved works hard to make sure it is as interactive and fun as possible. We're delighted to be able to run the event again this year and hopefully it will have been equally successful."

In the fire zone, children learned how to contact the fire service in an emergency, how to escape safely from their home and what actions to take.

Other agencies taking part include:
  • Cambridgeshire Constabulary
  • British Transport Police
  • Network Rail
  • Environmental Health
  • Road Safety
  • Trading Standards
  • East of England Ambulance Service

New Leader Voted In For Cambridgeshire County Council

Councillor Martin Curtis has been voted leader of Cambridgeshire County.

The vote was taken as part of today’s Council Meeting held at Shire Hall. Three nominees were put forward: Councillor Curtis (Conservative), Councillor John Hipkin (Independent Group) and Councillor Maurice Leeke (Liberal Democrat).

Two rounds of voting were held. The first round results were: Curtis 32 votes, Hipkin 16, Leeke 13 and 8 abstentions. The final round of voting results: Curtis 32, Hipkin 16, abstained 21.

Members also voted that the Council should change in a year’s time from the current cabinet system of governance to a committee system. This will now be looked at by the Constitution and Ethics Committee.

Councillor Curtis is the Group Leader of the Conservative party on Cambridgeshire County Council and local member for Whittlesey North.

He announced his cabinet:

  • Leader of the Council (with responsibility for Communications) - Councillor Martin Curtis
  • Deputy Leader of the Council (with responsibility for Highways and Community Infrastructure) - Councillor Mac McGuire
  • Cabinet Member for Adult Services - Councillor Fred Yeulett
  • Cabinet Member for Children and Young People's Services - Councillor David Brown
  • Cabinet Member for Education and Learning - Councillor David Harty
  • Cabinet Member for Enterprise and Skills - Councillor Mathew Shuter
  • Cabinet Member for Growth and Planning - Councillor Ian Bates
  • Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing - Councillor Tony Orgee
  • Cabinet Member for Resources and Performance - Councillor Steve Count

It was also announced by Councillor Curtis that he intends to set up four new Policy Advisory Groups linked to the priorities of the authority.

These are:

  • Developing local economy,
  • Helping people live healthy and independent lives,
  • Supporting and protecting vulnerable children, and
  • Supporting and protecting vulnerable adults

Cambridgeshire County Council Liberal Democrats Elect New Front-Line Team

Cambridgeshire Liberal Democrats have named their front-line team for the coming year including several new faces.

Maurice Leeke takes over from Kilian Bourke as leader with Lucy Nethsingha continuing as deputy leader.

Newcomer Ed Cearns, who takes his seat on Cambridgeshire County Council for Cambridge’s Market ward following the recent elections, will be spokesperson for Localism, Climate Change and Social Justice.

Another newcomer, Amanda Taylor, elected in Cambridge’s Queen Edith’s ward, will share the Resources portfolio with Ian Manning.

Peter Downes continues as the spokesperson for Education and Children and Young People and Susan van de Ven continues in the Transport role.

David Jenkins will be spokesperson for Planning, Environment and Enterprise.

Cllr Leeke said: “We have a first-class front-line team bring together a wealth of experience and expertise in their various roles and as a whole.

“This is a very interesting time for Cambridgeshire County Council and we will continue to fight to make sure this council makes the right decisions in terms of value for money, efficiency and sustainability for the people of Cambridgeshire.”

County Council Chairman Fulfils Final Public Duty

Cllr John Powley (Outgoing Chairman)

The Chairman of Cambridgeshire County Council has performed his final public duty - handing over to his successor.

Cllr John Powley’s two-year term of office came to an end at the Council’s Annual Meeting today (May 21) when he handed over to Cllr Kevin Reynolds. He was appointed as an Honorary Alderman at the same meeting.

Cllr Powley decided not to stand for re-election to the County Council, bringing to an end nearly 50 years of public service.

As Chairman of the County Council, he has performed over 400 public engagements – most of them accompanied by his wife Jill.

In addition, he has presided over 70 Citizenship ceremonies, welcoming approximately 2000 new citizens into the county. He has sung the National Anthem on each occasion.

He has met most senior members of the Royal family, including welcoming the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on their first visit to the city in November last year.

Since entering politics in 1967 John, who was one of the two local members for Soham and Fordham Villages, has served as Chairman of the County Council, Leader of Cambridge City Council and MP for Norwich South.

During his time as Leader of the City Council he oversaw the redevelopment of the Kite area in Cambridge and the building of the Grafton Centre.

He was elected to the County Council in 1967 and stood down in 1977 before being re-elected in 1997. During this time he was senior Councillor for social services for eight years, and corporate services - including finance - for two years. He served as Vice Chairman from 2009 before being elected Chairman in 2011.

John served on Cambridge City Council from 1967 to 1979 and was leader from 1976 to 1979.

He was elected MP for Norwich South in 1983 and during his four years in parliament sat on the select committee for Social Services.

John has also taken an active role in local education, being the chair of governors at various times at Manor Community College, Chesterton Community College, and Mayfield Primary School. He has also been a governor of Perse Upper School.

He was also a governor of Soham Village College for 12 years and currently is a governor at Weatheralls Primary School.

John and Jill, who married in 1957 and live in Soham, have three children - Stephen, Amanda and Stewart. The Cambridge born Councillor attended Milton Road Infants and Junior School and the Central School for Boys at Parkside.

He was an apprentice radio and television engineer for Pye Limited before his National Service in the RAF. John then opened his own business John Powley (Radio and Television) Ltd in 1960 which he later sold in 1984.

Cllr Powley, said: “As a Cambridgeshire born resident and businessman, it has been an honour and a privilege to represent and serve the diverse communities we have in the county. After nearly half a century of public service I decided not to stand again in the recent elections, with the intention of spending more time with my wife Jill, who I would like to thank for her great support throughout the years. It will also hopefully give me a chance to get on the golf course a bit more.

“I have been very proud of the achievements I have helped bring to Cambridgeshire and Norwich South over the last 46 years, including developing the Grafton Centre. I have also taken a great interest during my time in Parliament and at the County Council in improving social care and the protection of our most vulnerable residents.”

Cambridge MP Julian Huppert Calls For National Intervention Over Campsite Sale

MP Julian Huppert has called on the national Scouts Association to intervene so that the sale of the Little Abington campsite does not go ahead.

He called on CEO Matt Hyde to look at the history and stop the sale from proceeding.

And he told County Scouting Commissioner, Liz Craig that he felt that selling off the Little Abington campsite is not the best way to secure the long-term future of Cambridge scouting

He said the sale of the land, originally donated by a local businesses and organisations, would conflict with the intent of that donation.

In a letter to Mr Hyde he told him that the Little Abington site is “lovely” and “well suited for wild camping and other uses, and well supported by the local community”.

“I would urge you to look into the history, and intervene to ensure that the sale does not proceed,” he told him. “There are many local people who would be very happy to talk you through the details.”

And he told Ms Craig in a letter: “I understand the financial constraints, but I have been shown outline business plans which suggest that the land could be used during the weekdays to make a significant income, as well as continuing with the current heavy use.

“Selling off a valuable asset cheaply does not seem to be the best way of securing the long-term future of scouting in this area.”

He told her that many constituents had contacted him with concerns about the proposed sale and he visited the campsite last week.

“It is clearly a valuable asset to the local community and the wider Cambridgeshire area,” he said. “I understand that not only Scouts but many local schools, Girl Guides and other groups use the campsite. It would be a shame to lose the facility which remains popular with the local community. I also understand that when a planning application was made for the site, it was described in that application as being a ‘key local amenity’ and of importance locally, regionally and nationally.”

Julian is planning to meet Ms Craig to discuss the issue further.

Later Julian said: “It would be a real shame if the campsite were sold off. Generations of young people have enjoyed this site and it could bring pleasure to future generations. Once it is sold it is lost forever.

“I am sure the site could generate more income and I hope the Cambridgeshire Scouts will think again before it’s too late.”

The petition to save the site is still open for signatures having collected over 1,800 signatures so far;

Monday, 20 May 2013

Nick Clegg’s Speech: The Rehabilitation Revolution

Nick Clegg MP
"Almost ten years ago, I started my career on the Liberal Democrat Frontbench as Home Affairs' Spokesman. Back then I argued that what was needed to reduce crime was simply a focus from Government on firm, practical solutions that addressed the root causes of crime and that were proven to work.

It's a view I've retained. And an approach the Liberal Democrats have pursued in Coalition Government. Because ensuring people are free from crime and free from the fear of crime is essential to the foundation of any liberal society. And it's why tackling crime effectively is central to our party's vision of a Britain where everyone can get on in life.

Free From Crime, Free From The Fear of Crime:

Old or young, rich or poor, you are not free to live your life, realise your ambitions, or hope for the future, if you are scared of what lies just beyond your front door.

The populist rhetoric of the last Government played up public fears and promised to tackle the root causes of crime. But what actually happened, they implemented more often than not heavy-handed measures designed to chase headlines: policies that sought to restrict the freedom of criminals by taking away the civil liberties of innocent citizens.

Unprecedented expansion of state surveillance, a wasteful ID cards' programme and the inclusion of innocent people on the DNA database - these policies reinforced the views of both commentators on the Right, who argue we're a nation stuck in a spiral of moral decline, and those on the Left, who believe we're in a state of irreversible social decline.

Liberalism Is The Solution, Not The Problem:

But, this pessimistic vision of Britain ignores just how far we've come as a country and how much things have changed for the better. Most importantly, they deny a brighter future for our children - a younger generation, which government data shows, is actually less likely to take drugs, drink or smoke.

In fact, I would argue that it is the more liberal, more tolerant and less violent society - in which we live now - which has provided us with the right conditions for a substantial and sustainable fall in crime

When I was growing up, images of communities torn apart by riots, football games destroyed by hooligans and violent clashes between police and striking unions routinely dominated the news. These images are largely consigned to the past.

Now...of course there are exceptions. The senseless riots in 2011 were a powerful reminder of just how vital our work together - the Government, the police and the public - is to make our communities safer.

But our country is far less accepting of such violence. We are more ready to challenge racism, sexism and homophobia.

And we remain fully committed to tackling crimes such as domestic violence, or other abuses that happen behind closed doors.

For example, last year I launched the government's Teen Rape Prevention campaign. We have a long way to go, but action like this is hugely important in making sure that young people everywhere understand that sexual abuse isn't something that happens in a dark alley, but can be something that happens in your own home, perpetrated by someone you thought you could trust.

This Government has been committed to tackling these hidden crimes. We have introduced legislation to criminalise forced marriage, introduced new laws against stalking and the Home Secretary is leading important work into the dreadful cases of sexual abuse against young people who are vulnerable and need protecting, including those in care.

But while this crucial work continues, it is important that we recognise that, given more freedom and given more choice, the vast majority of us are exercising it more responsibly. And we're doing so at a time of tough economic conditions.

Greater liberty, in other words, has not frayed the fabric of society. It has brought us closer together as a society and has brought a long-term fall in crime.

Fall in Crime:

Under this Government, crime is at its lowest levels since independent records began. That's fewer homes burgled and possessions stolen. Fewer communities blighted by vandalism. And fewer people hurt, or killed in violent attacks.

This continuing fall in crime is one of the biggest untold success stories of this Coalition.

Lots of people predicted that in tough economic conditions, crime would go up, as it has done in the past. But it hasn't and we should be proud of that fact. It has been achieved without excessive bureaucracy or increasing intrusion.

We have done this by focusing, quite simply, on what works.

Freeing the Police to Cut Crime:

And much of that is down to the work of the police. In a time of economic austerity, where every public service is having to take its share of cuts, the police have stayed focused on cutting crime and they have succeeded.

Every police officer, every PCSO, should be extremely proud that, on their watch, crime has dropped.

Even as they have faced difficult decisions on police budgets and the pay and pensions provided to police officers. And they have done this with professionalism, with care and by developing relationships with their local communities that last.

By ending the target-driven culture of form filling and red-tape, the Coalition Government has ensured officers are free to do what works.

And it's an approach that has delivered results: ensuring that England and Wales are now safer than at any time since independent records began.

Empowering Communities & Victims:

We are also empowering communities to take control of the problems in their own areas.

Take restorative justice. An approach championed by local Liberal Democrat Councils taking tough, but practical solutions that actually work in bringing down crime.

Now we're in government, we're introducing Neighbourhood Justice Panels in 15 places across the country. They help victims deal with crime in a way that benefits their community and makes the offender face up to the wrong they have done.
We're also empowering the public to trigger action from the police and their local partners on persistent anti-social behaviour.

And we've ensured that sentences in the community are a genuine and tough alternative to custody, where locking someone up isn't the best solution.
By making more offenders perform unpaid work in the community, we will make sure that they pay back to their community, while also being rehabilitated through meaningful activity that teaches discipline and hard work.

And through restorative justice, these offenders can make a real difference to a victim's ability to cope and recover from the damage that they themselves have suffered.

Doing What Works:

Of course, community approaches are not suitable for every crime. And when your house is burgled, or your car stolen, it doesn't feel like crime is falling. If you're attacked, or abused, society doesn't feel that safe.

So sometimes prison is the right option and those who commit serious offences should serve their sentence behind bars.

But the story shouldn't end when the cell door slams shut. Prisoners' time behind bars must be used to change behaviour for good, not just take someone off the streets for a while. A lesson must be learnt. Unfortunately, that's not always the case.

Every year, reoffending costs our economy around £10 billion. Almost half of those leaving prison are reconvicted within a year.

Considering that the cost of sending a criminal to prison is more than it costs to go to Eton, we need a better return on our investment.

For years, the Liberal Democrats have argued that you only truly break the cycle of crime when you cut reoffending. That is why in Government, we've been determined to reduce both its economic and social costs.

And as their current Shadow Justice Secretary admitted himself, this is where Labour got it so wrong.

The last Government talked tough on crime, but appeared to believe that a ballooning prison population was a good thing.

So be tough on crime, sure. Be tough on the causes of crime, yes. But none of it matters unless you are also tough on breaking the cycle of crime. As a society, we want a justice system that punishes people where it must, but also seeks to change people where it can.

For me, criminal justice policy should not be ideological, but pragmatic. It should have a relentless focus on what works. So this Government is using our investment more wisely - to ensure our prison and probation services are equipped to produce better citizens, not better criminals.

We know that those on short sentences are most likely to reoffend and yet shockingly they are the ones who have, until now, received almost no rehabilitation, or support. That is why the Coalition Government is driving a rehabilitation revolution. It's a programme of legislation and innovative public service delivery that will transform the way offenders are dealt with once they leave prison and address persistent reoffending.

It is a radical, but practical approach that has the potential - in my view - to leave a bigger, more lasting imprint on British society than almost anything else that the Coalition Government might achieve. And I'm proud of the changes we're implementing now and our plans for the future.

A Never-Ending Cycle:

Imagine a young 21 year old offender released from a 6 month prison sentence for burglary today.

He's been brought up in care. Since leaving there at 18, he's not had a permanent place to live. In and out of trouble, he's not found much in the way of work. He can't read, or write well so he's struggled to get a job. He also suffers from mental health issues and drug problems that are influencing his actions and have intensified in prison.

And just in case you think I'm relying on lazy stereotypes here, let me spell out what the statistics themselves say. Only around a third of prisoners are in work a month before custody. Fifteen percent of them are homeless. And it is estimated that around a quarter of offenders suffer from anxiety and depression. While 81% of them have used illegal drugs before entering prison.

Today, that young offender would leave prison with 46 pounds in his pocket and not much else. There would probably be no-one to meet him outside and nowhere for him to go.

If he's lucky, he'll find a temporary bed on a friend's sofa. If not, he'll end up homeless. And within days he could end up back in the Criminal Justice System after breaking into another house; stood in front of a custody sergeant, who probably already knows his name.

People tell him to get a job. But he doesn't know how. And he has nowhere to live. Nobody will give him a chance. And the only people he can rely on, of course, are the ones that got him into this mess in the first place.

That has to change. Because it is the victims of crime and the wider public that reoffending impacts the most. Whether that's because they are directly hurt by re-offenders' crimes, or because they read about what's happening and think it says everything they need to know about modern Britain.

A Rehabilitation Revolution:

This destructive cycle of crime is what we are working to break. If we are going to do all we can for the victims of crime and our communities, we can't allow this problem to go unsolved. Our Offender Rehabilitation Bill receives its Second Reading in Parliament today.

It brings forward for the first time a mandatory requirement for the most prevalent re-offenders - those serving sentences of 12 months or less - to undergo a targeted programme of support on release to help them turn their lives around.

Because we know that the majority of those sentenced to prison are sent there for 12 months or less. And that of those almost 60% of them reoffend on release.

This will have a significant impact on women offenders also. Proportionally, more women than men are serving short-term prison sentences. Many of these women have complex needs. For example, they are more likely to have mental health problems than male prisoners, more likely to have reported experiencing some sort of childhood abuse. And they are more likely to be the primary carer for children. This Government is determined that these reforms will help women prisoners too.

Change will start in the police station and courts with experts on hand to identify whether a mental health or drug problem could be one of the main drivers behind this young offender's behaviour. So he can be dealt with in a way that is appropriate for his illness and crime.

Following conviction, for example, he could be sent to a drug recovery wing in prison to help him get through withdrawal and the most intense, early stages of recovery.

Work in Prison:

The changes will continue in prison. We are putting more and more offenders like him to work in prison every year: making sure he doesn't lie idle in his bed. That he is paying back to society and learning the pride and value that comes from a hard day's work. What's more, the money he earns from the work he does will go into a compensation fund for victims.

Alongside action to improve prisoners' core skills, this will ensure that a young offender can get experience to help him find work outside the prison walls. And employers like Timpsons, Network Rail and the National Grid are already going into prisons and training prisoners in skills that can translate into real-life employment.

We've already increased the work hours of prisoners by over 800,000 hours last year.

And we want to get more businesses involved in these schemes as well as find more commercial work for prisoners to do, without undercutting local businesses.

Beyond the Prison Gates:

But the real change comes when our offender is released. A few weeks before he leaves, he will start working with a new provider organisation to organise and plan for his resettlement beyond the prison gates.

If possible, the young offender would have been sent to a prison close to his local community. So that any positive, personal ties that he did have - with family, or friends - could be maintained. If that can't happen, we would then aim to relocate him closer to home towards the end of his sentence.

In prison, he'd work with the service provider to develop a programme of tailored support that fits his needs.

This could mean getting him a place on a basic skills course at the local college, or finding him somewhere to live.

They'll ensure that from day one - if he is claiming JobSeekers allowance on release - he has a place on the Government's work programme, with access to information and training that will help him get a job.

If required, they could also organise additional drugs treatment and testing to help him stay clean.

Most importantly, when he gets out there will be someone there to meet him. A mentor - someone experienced, potentially someone whose been an offender themselves and knows what it takes to build a life free of crime outside - who can help this young man through advice and support stay on the straight and narrow in that critical first year after release.

We are already seeing some positive results. For example, in Peterborough Prison where older, longer serving prisoners are actively mentoring those serving shorter-sentences. Given their experiences, these mentors are proving to be some of the most effective people to convince those who've made a mistake not to repeat it over and over again.

We're not ideological about this approach.

What we want to see is something that takes and builds on the best from the public sector, the best from the private sector and the best from the voluntary sector to break the cycle of crime for good.

That is why we are reorganising the Probation Service, so that the public, voluntary and private sectors can work more flexibly and effectively side by side.

We want to extend the good work that is taking place all over the country, including right here. And we want to ensure that all of those with a strong track record in this area - including smaller regional rehabilitation charities, social enterprises or entrepreneurial staff from Probation Trusts interested in starting an employee mutual to bid for work - are able to get involved

That is why I'm pleased to announce today a package of tailored support to help fledgling mutuals and smaller rehabilitation organisations bid for contracts.
This includes access to around £7 million worth of funds to help these groups bid and support their work in communities. This is addition to the £10 million mutuals support programme, which is open to probation staff.

We are also making available to these groups valuable financial tools, legal advice, coaching and training and a network of peers and expert contacts to help take them through the bidding process.

We are serious about getting those who know what they are doing involved in our rehabilitation revolution.


So in conclusion, let me be clear, I am wholly committed to that Rehabilitation Revolution. And we are putting in place the legislation, innovative policies and providers to deliver solutions that work. That will tackle, for the first time ever on a mandatory basis, the complex issues and drivers behind the persistent problem of reoffending.

And provide the support needed to fundamentally change the lives of those released from prison.

As a society, I believe, we're more progressive and we're more liberal. These are the best conditions in which to cut crime. A society, in which the Government and public can bring about the necessary changes that will ensure a future, where more people are free from crime and the fear of crime: in short - a stronger, a fairer Britain.

Thank you very much."

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Letter From The Leader: Notes From An Island (by Nick Clegg)

Kirkwall, Orkney (Courtesy

"I'm writing this week's Letter to you from Kirkwall in Orkney. Alistair Carmichael and Jim Wallace have been trying to persuade me to make the trip for a while and I've finally made it in order to join the celebrations of the centenary of Jo Grimond's birth.

The big debate this week in British politics, which featured strongly in PMQs - where I was standing in for the PM (you can watch it here) - has obviously been about our future role in Europe. An issue on which Jo Grimond was a pioneer and leader.

What's emerging in this debate is that there are three basic positions. The first is UKIP's and an increasingly large number of Conservatives' - they want to leave now. I am clear that would be a calamitous mistake for the country - it would make us poorer, make us less safe and jeopardise millions of jobs and billions of pounds of investment.

The second position is the Conservatives' official position (at least for now) which amounts to saying to the rest of the EU that they should keep all the EU rules for themselves, but we'll only abide by the bits we like. It's a have-your-cake-and-eat it strategy. It might sound seductive, but it's unlikely to work. Instead it will end up with either largely symbolic concessions from the other 26 member states "inconsequential" in Lord Lawson's words - or demanding so much that the other EU countries will simply refuse.

The third position is the Liberal Democrats' position. Of course the EU has to change. It is going to change because it's in a state of challenge and flux and so needs reform. It must be more competitive, more open, leaner and less bureaucratic. All things Britain should lead from the front on and work constructively with our European partners to achieve.

That is a vision of Europe and Britain's role in it that our party has long subscribed to. And importantly, it is actually achievable.

And in line with our previous manifesto, and the legislation we passed in 2011, when the EU rules change and new things are asked of the UK within the EU, the British people will have a say in a referendum. We are the first Government ever to give the British people such a guarantee in law.

So there are three positions: we can leave now; we can try and (almost certainly fail) to have our cake and eat it; or we can play our part at the heart of Europe promoting reform and guaranteeing a referendum when the EU rules change affecting Britain.

But as I argued in PMQs to the Tory backbenchers (who by the way seem to have developed an almost unhealthy interest in our Focus leaflets!), people are facing more pressing issues. And it is exactly those issues Liberal Democrats in this Coalition Government are currently taking a lead in tackling.

We won't always get the attention or coverage we deserve for things we are doing, such as introducing Steve Webb's single tier pension or the important work Norman Lamb has been talking about this week on Social Care. But we will keep delivering these things that make a real difference to people's lives.

That is what we are in Government for: anchoring it in the centre ground and building a stronger economy and a fairer society. I'm sure Jo wouldn't have wanted it any other way.



E-Cops - Your Regular Update

Since my last E-cops, there have been three crime reports, please see below.

On 10th May, between 07:00 -16:00 hours, a theft from a motor vehicle took place at Scientific Analysis Laboratories Ltd, Links Industrial Park, Bar Hill. At date and times stated vehicle was left unattended parked at location, unknown offender/s have cut and removed the catalytic converter.

Between 09/05/2013 at 13:00 hours and 14/05/2013 at 07:00 hours, a theft from a motor vehicle took place at The Brambles, Bar Hill. Vehicle was left unattended parked in a communal car park, at dates and times stated, unknown offender has open the boot of the vehicle and proceeded to take a set of golf clubs.

Between 10/05/2013 at 21:30 hours and 11/05/2013 at 10:00 hours, a theft from a motor vehicle took place in Watermead, Bar Hill. The vehicle was parked on the open plan front driveway at location, at dates and times stated, unknown offender/s have gained entry to the vehicle and taken a number of items from within including a Sat Nav.

If you have any information about the above crime reports, please contact us by dialling 101 or simply just reply to this email.

The next panel meeting for your area will be held on Tuesday 21st May at Over Primary School starting at 7:30pm. You are invited to complete our online survey as part of this process by following this link;

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 or you can contact Crime stoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. In an emergency or if you believe a crime to be in progress please dial 999.

You can also find further information on line

Kind Regards

PCSO 7009 Bujar Mani
Histon Neighbourhood Policing Team

Friday, 17 May 2013

Cash Windfall For Community Groups

Ten South Cambridgeshire community groups are celebrating after sharing a cash bonus of over £7,000 to support their projects.

Five schemes were awarded the maximum £1,000 grant from South Cambridgeshire District Council’s Community Chest scheme, supporting:
  • the construction of a sun room at Cambridgeshire Mencap’s Rosewood residence in Milton for residents’ benefit
  • the purchase of replacement chairs for Balsham Church Institute
  • improvements to the village pavilion approach in Barton
  • the cost of a new village noticeboard in Croydon
  • the purchase of a central secure storage container for Gamlingay Allotment Gardeners Association.
Five smaller grants were also awarded:
  • Cambourne Family Fun Group received £300 towards equipment and materials for events throughout the year
  • New trees will be planted in Little Eversden, after £242 was awarded to the Finch’s Field scheme
  • Orchard Park community centre has £500 for new tables and a table trolley
  • Runners will be kept in the right lane in Cottenham with £263 for lines to be painted at the recreation ground to create a running track.
  • Cambridge St Giles Cricket Club was given £772 to refurbish toilets and create a baby-changing area.
Community Chest grants of up to £1,000 are available to small voluntary organisations, charities and community groups for activities and projects that benefit local people.

Cllr Ray Manning, Leader of South Cambridgeshire District Council, said: “Yet again we had a great range of applications from groups across our communities. I’m delighted that we’re able to provide tangible support for local projects that make a real difference to how they can run activities and facilities for residents.”

For information about applying for a grant visit or contact South Cambridgeshire District Council’s community team on 03450 450 500.

Snap Shot At Northstowe Design Event

A photo gallery will be on display in Longstanton tomorrow (Saturday 18 May) to help residents give their views on how the town of Northstowe should look and feel.

Council planning bosses are urging people to drop in at any time during the two hour session to give their thoughts on photos taken at developments from up-and-down the country.

Ahead of detailed planning applications being submitted by developers for the first 1,500 homes at the new town, work is being done on a design code which sets standards and a vision for what the development will be like.

Further drop-in events are also planned later in the year to discuss topics such as drainage, retail and transport.

The event this Saturday will be held at Longstanton Village Institute, 24 High Street, between 10am and 12 noon.

Cllr Tim Wotherspoon, South Cambridgeshire District Council’s cabinet member for Northstowe, said: “These events are a great chance to get residents together, talk about the latest developments for the new town and most importantly gather views to help shape plans. The session is on for two hours but you can pop in for as long or little as you want.”

A monthly Northstowe newsletter is also by email. To add your details to the mailing list please email

Thursday, 16 May 2013

High Speed Rail 2 Will Build A Stronger Economy And A Fairer Society

"HS2 is a huge leap forward for our rail network and will improve connectivity for generations to come.

"Liberal Democrats support HS2 because it will build a stronger economy and a fairer society, creating 40,000 direct and thousands more indirect jobs, as well as bridge the gap between the north and south. And that's before you consider the economic benefits to the wider areas serviced by HS2.

"In assessing the value of HS2 we must look at all the overall benefits, including for passengers by increasing capacity on existing lines and significantly cutting the travel time, and to the environment by reducing our reliance on domestic flights and transferring millions of journeys from road to rail."

HS2 Map, Courtesy DfT (see here - PDF)

Interactive Display To Show Communities How To Go Green And Save Money

South Cambridgeshire communities can now borrow a new fun and interactive display showing people how they can go green to save energy and money on their bills.

Perfect for village events, the new Sustainable Parish Energy Partnership display helps demonstrate to people of all ages the different ways they can make their home cheaper to run and more comfortable to live in.

The display - developed by South Cambridgeshire District Council using prize money from a regional award from National Energy Action and the Department for Energy and Climate Change - suggests a range of green changes that can be made in a day, a week, a month and a year.

South Cambridgeshire District Council leader, Cllr Ray Manning, said: “Our Sustainable Parish Energy Partnership is a real success, with 27 parishes helping to raise awareness of
greener living. I hope that this new display will be well used, giving people some great ideas on how to save energy and their hard-earned money.”

The display requires an indoor space of 3.5metres squared and comes in packing cases with full construction information.

To find out more about borrowing the display, contact the Council’s parish energy project officer, Siobhan Mellon, on or 03450 450 500.

Help ShapeYourPlace In And Around Cambridge From This Summer

An award winning website coming to Cambridge this summer is looking for local people who would like to turn their hand at becoming volunteer reporters. is a ground breaking website that gives local people a say about what matters most to them in their local area.

For the first time in the city, residents will have the chance to go online, start debates and campaign, report issues and join in conversations with local public services and each other.

ShapeYourPlace links with the local councils, the Police, the Fire and Rescue Service and many other organisations to ensure when issues are raised an answer can be found.

The site also lets local community groups and organizations share news about their events and activities.

Although anyone can use the site, the project also recruits volunteer community reporters. They can be trained to write about and video community issues, events and the great things going on in their communities.

This is an important part of ensuring the sites reflect the issues which people want to talk, hear and read about.

Sandy Willatt, ShapeYourPlace Project Manager at Cambridgeshire County Council said: "It’s great news that ShapeYourPlace is coming to Cambridge. It can really help communities come alive with its ethos of open democracy. The website has a real track record of helping communities have their say and resolving issues. These include, reducing public drinking, highway problems and helping community groups reach a wider audience."

Andrew Limb, Head of Corporate Strategy at Cambridge City Council said: "The City Council is very pleased to be working in partnership with the Police, Fire Service and County Council on this new site. It's been used in other parts of Cambridgeshire to give community groups and residents a space to promote neighbourhood activities and concerns, and we hope Cambridge residents will find it useful too."

ShapeYourPlace is a partnership approach involving Cambridgeshire County Council, Cambridge City Council, Police and the Fire Service.

Free training is on offer for anyone wanting to volunteer as a community reporter. Contact Matthew Hall on 01223 699493