Friday, 29 November 2013

Bar Hill Skate Park: Letter Of Support From Margaret Sellars (Former Parish Council Chair)

The following letter has been sent to the Bar Hill News but, unfortunately, will not be published until after the decision has been made. It is reproduced here with Margaret's permission;


"Dear Residents


Skate Park

When you get a leaflet about the Skate Park do take the time to fill it in.  The Skate Park has been very important to our village.  Before we had it, residents and visitors had to walk amongst young people using their skate boards around the shopping area and in other parts of the village.

The Skate Park has been a place where young people go in their free time to skate, to meet, to play their music (quite loudly) and to have food and drink.  If they did not have this place, where would they go?  Perhaps in places where residents would not welcome them.  Certainly our Police officers have always felt the Skate Park was an important feature in deterring anti-social behaviour around the village.  Since the Skate Park was built there have been few complaints about the behaviour of the young people.

When it comes to paying for a replacement, and maintaining it, careful thought needs to be given to decide what would be best for the village.  The Parish Council did have a budget for maintenance but, unfortunately, as the wood aged and rotted it was not enough.  I wonder if they will decide to replace the ramps with metal frames which would not rot?  The Parish Council receives money from South Cambs (which is what we all pay in Council Tax), and from rent from the Farmhouse and The Willows (at the entrance to the village).  It seems very strange that South Cambs would not give a grant to maintain an existing facility but would give a grant for a new facility.

Lastly, I know that there is a group around the village which has raised funds through various events for improvements to the children’s play areas and for the Skate Park.  I would like to congratulate them on their efforts and wish them well in their future fund raising.

I would also like to ask the young people who use the Skate Park to be actively involved in discussions about its future and to participate in the democratic process in deciding what should be done.

Margaret Sellars"

Just a reminder that the survey is available electronically via the link on the left of the homepage (or by clicking here). 

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Improvements For Cyclists In South Cambridgeshire

Residents and commuters in South Cambridgeshire will be reaping the benefits of the County Council’s success in winning £4.1 million from the government’s Cycle City Ambition Fund next year.

Plans are underway for three new cycle links to business parks in South Cambridgeshire providing better access to employment and training, and a boost to the local economies:

  • 1.6km from Boxworth End, Swavesey to Buckingway Business Park and over the A14 to Cambridge Services.
  • 2.5km alongside the A1307 between Wandlebury Country Park and the Babraham Research Campus, creatjng a continuous cycle link to the Park and Ride site and into Cambridge.
  • 2.7km path along the A505 to provide a continuous link from Whittlesford Station to Granta Park.

Where possible, all the new cycleways will be 2.5m wide, shared-use for two-way cycling and walking, and separated from the road by a 1m wide grass verge. The Swavesey path will be available for horse riders as it links to bridleways in the area.

The total cost of the schemes is £1.7 million. Construction work is due to begin on the first of the paths in February and all three are expected to be completed by early summer.

County Council Cabinet Member for Growth and Planning, Councillor Ian  Bates, said: “The focus of the Cycle City Ambition Fund is to create good quality cycle links to employment areas in South Cambridgeshire and provide segregated lanes on the main roads into the city of Cambridge itself.

“Better transport links are vital in helping Cambridgeshire become a greener, healthier place to live, boosting our economy and reducing congestion. It’s great to see our ambitions as a county being recognised in this way by central government and to see local people and businesses benefit.”

The council has been working closely with businesses in delivering these schemes. Indeed the Babraham Research Campus is contributing £200,000 to the project as part of a larger investment from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) to deliver innovation from the research base, generate economic growth and create jobs.

Babraham Research Campus considers that a good, safe, direct cycle path linking to the city is an important factor in attracting staff and new businesses to its site.

Local residents, businesses and other organisations can find out more by contacting Cambridgeshire County Council’s Cycling Projects Team by calling 01223 699906 or emailing transport.delivery@cambridgeshire.gov.uk

For more information on any of the schemes and how to comment, visit the Council’s website: www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/cycling

During construction disruption to traffic will be kept to a minimum, with work taking place overnight or during off-peak hours. There will be some lane closures and temporary traffic lights in place.

Too Many Drivers Still Using Phone Illegally

The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Road Safety Partnership are urging drivers not to use their phones while driving, with this Sunday (1st December) marking ten years since the introduction of a fixed penalty ticket for drivers using a hand-held phone.
 
Since the introduction of the £30 fixed penalty ticket in 2003, the penalties have been increased twice:  First, in 2007, to include 3 points and a £60 fine, followed by the fine rising to £100 earlier this year. 
 
Each change in legislation has seen a dip in the number of people observed using their phones, but this has gradually crept up to similar levels over a three-year period.  Figures from the Department for Transport show that that 2.9% of car drivers and 5.0% of van and lorry drivers were observed using a mobile phone while driving in 2009.  A recent survey also conducted by the Department for Transport indicated that four in ten motorists knew people who practiced dangerous driving behaviours with mobile phones: 39% using mobile without hands free and 38% texting whilst driving.
 
Matt Staton, from the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Road Safety Partnership, said: “It is worrying how many people still think it is acceptable to use a mobile phone whilst driving.  Research shows that drivers are four times more likely to crash if they are using a mobile phone with this risk increasing further if the driver is texting or emailing using a smartphone.
 
“It is also evident that people who drive for work are more likely to be observed using their phones while driving so we would urge employers to ensure their health and safety policies relating to travelling for work address the issue clearly to reduce the risk to their staff as low as reasonably practicable.”
 
Inspector Mark Rogers said: "Officers carry out regular patrols targeting those flouting the law in relation to mobile phones when driving.
 
"Last year 2,535 drivers across Cambridgeshire were issued with the £60 fixed penalty notice and three points on their licence.
 
"It only takes a few seconds distraction from a mobile to cause a collision, which can have fatal consequences.
 
"Roads can be a dangerous place when the law is not respected and adhered to. If we are to reduce the number of fatalities and casualties on the county's roads it is vital people comply with the law."

[1] https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/8901/mobile-use-drivers.pdf
[2] https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/251297/think-annual-survey-2013.pdf

£7M Housing Investment Gets Green Light By Councillors

District councillors have agreed a £7 million housing investment today (Thursday 28 November) in a bid to generate an annual income which would be used to support other services.

The investment would kick start a property company set up by South Cambridgeshire District Council and help meet the demand for good quality rental properties in the area.

When Cabinet members backed the plans earlier this month they said the annual income from the investment could protect the Council from future cuts in government funding and provide support for other services residents need and rely on.

At the Council meeting today councillors also agreed for a cross-party advisory group to be set up to work with the portfolio holder and feed in to the detailed business case which will be developed.

The initial investment will see the housing company get off the ground with a pilot scheme and property portfolio of up to 40 homes in the next two years.

A specialist arms-length housing company – South Cambs Limited – was registered last year to allow housing bosses to buy, build and sell properties at market prices so profits can contribute to the running of Council services.

Establishing the separate trading company will allow the Council to work within regulations which prevent local authorities from selling services to the private sector.

South Cambs Limited will operate in conjunction with the Council’s biggest building programme of new council houses for over 60 years – the first homes of which will be completed in Linton next month.

Cllr Mark Howell, South Cambridgeshire District Council’s cabinet member for housing, said: “This investment is great news for our residents as the annual income generated will be used to support other services they rely on, and protect us from some of the future cuts in funding by government. We have already driven down our costs with efficiency savings in excess of £4 million, and if we can be innovative and generate income it will reduce the need to make cuts we are working hard to avoid wherever possible.

“Councillors have a wealth of knowledge about their area and by setting up an advisory group we will be able to draw on this.”

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Bar Hill Skate Park ... Delivery Update!

So tonight I managed to delivery the survey leaflet to The Spinney and Field View, this means that about 1/4 of the village has already had the opportunity to have their say on the future of Bar Hill Skate Park.

At the moment 40 people have completed the survey online, with another 4 completing the paper copy and dropping it round to me at 9 Foxhollow.

There have been some very nice messages included with the survey as well and I'd like to thank the people who have responded so far.

The URL for the survey is;

http://goo.gl/BBMKT8

The current survey result, in answer to the question "Do you think there should be a Skate Park in Bar Hill?" is;


Agree or disagree? Have you say following the link above.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Bar Hill Skate Park ... Survey Delivery!

So tonight I started delivering the leaflet shown to the right (which contains a link to the online survey, and the opportunity to fill out the survey on paper) to Bar Hill Residents. I spent a little over an hour delivering and managed to cover Foxhollow, Acorn Avenue and Almond Grove.

I plan to deliver the leaflet with the invitation to the survey to every household in Bar Hill prior to the December meeting of the Parish Council.

Here's the link to the survey again;

http://goo.gl/BBMKT8

If you'd like the PDF (it's A4) for printing and circulating it's available here (via Google Drive) - please feel free to circulate this as widely as you can!

If you'd like to help me deliver these leaflets (always willing to accept help!) please drop me an email at; andy.pellew@gmail.com (or call me on my mobile, 07814 871752).

I have also contacted the clerk at the Parish Council to request some of the necessary information (like the Parish Constitution!) in order to apply for grants to get the project to replace the skatepark started ...

Bar Hill Delivery Progress - 26- Nov - 2013

Residents Urged To Have Say On Proposed New Stadium

Cambridge City Football Club has submitted a planning application for its proposed new stadium in Sawston and local people are being urged to have their say.

The application proposes a new 3,000-capacity stadium with floodlit grass pitch, full sized training pitch and 500 parking spaces. It is the Club’s intention that the stadium will serve all teams affiliated to Cambridge City whilst the training pitch and facilities will also be available to hire for conferences and events.

The proposed 12.3 hectare green belt site to the north of Sawston, immediately northwest of Dales Manor Business Park, was a former tip that is currently unused. The Club’s proposals would account for just over half of the site. The Club proposes that the remaining land be gifted to Sawston Parish Council for recreational community use.

Residents and local parish councils had the opportunity to comment earlier this year on whether South Cambridgeshire District Council’s Local Plan should identify this site for a stadium. The plans were ruled out of the Local Plan following concerns over  the impact on the green belt.

The Club has now decided to submit a planning application for the site and residents, businesses and parish councils have another opportunity  to have their say. The Council will not make any decision until all factors have been assessed and this includes local opinion. The application is available to view at www.scambs.gov.uk/content/search-planning-applicationusing planning reference S/2239/13. Comments can be made until midday on Monday 16 December.

Cllr Nick Wright, South Cambridgeshire District Council’s cabinet member with responsibility for planning, said: “This consultation period presents the opportunity for local people to have their say on the Club’s proposal for a new stadium and to help shape the future development of their area.

“Community engagement plays a big part in our planning process and we would strongly encourage everyone to take a look at the proposals and submit their comments to us. All comments received will be considered and assessed before we make any decision.”

eCops: Heating Oil Thefts Across South Cambridgeshire 26/11/2013

Following a number of thefts of heating oil in South Cambridgeshire, we would like to warn residents and offer some advice to help deter thieves (via Google Drive).

Most recently there have been thefts in the villages of Elsworth and Rampton.

If you see anything suspicious please report it.

Police 101 or Crimestoppers 0800 555 111

Please find security advice for heating oil tanks attached.

Kind regards

Rachel Carr
Crime Reduction Officer

Monday, 25 November 2013

Manning Wins Support For Call To Make Policing 20Mph Priority

Cambridgeshire Police are to be asked to prioritise policing of 20mph speed limits in Cambridge when they come into force next year following a call from East Chesterton County Councillor, Ian Manning.

Cllr Manning gained support from his fellow councillors on the city’s North Area Committee to formally raise the issue with the police to make sure the new limits are effective.

His call came after residents questioned how effective the new limits would be and whether there would be training offered for drivers who break the rules.

“It is vital that the police take the enforcement of the new 20 mph limits seriously.” said Cllr Manning. “There is support from the Police and Crime Commissioner and from the Chief Constable, so I'm pleased fellow councillors on the North Area Committee supported my call for us to formally ask it be set as a priority too.”

Cambridge City Council is currently consulting on the city-wide scheme, with a decision expected from Cambridgeshire County Council’s Cabinet in January

If it is approved, the scheme is likely to be enacted first in the north of the city from February

Sarah Takes The Plunge To Get Youngsters Swimming

When Cambridge Lib Dem Councillor, Sarah Brown heard how the number of disadvantaged youngsters unable to swim was increasing she decided to do something about it.

She had just taken over running Cambridge City Council’s swimming pools, public health and children’s services and she decided a new initiative was needed to tackle the problem.

Sarah, Executive Councillor for Community Wellbeing brought together council officers from public health, the council’s play service (ChYpPS) and leisure management and asked them to work together to develop a scheme to target those children least likely to have strong swimming skills.

The aim was to deliver free, targeted swimming lessons tailored specifically at them and a new scheme is expected to be up and running early in 2014.

Figures show that increasing numbers of children reach secondary school age unable to swim or cannot swim at least two lengths of a pool. This is a particular problem among children from poorer families, children with certain disabilities and some ethnic minority groups.

“When I heard about the increasing number of children who couldn’t swim, I was shocked”, said Sarah. “Swimming is a vital life skill. Not only is it a fantastic way to keep fit and healthy, and great for mental health, but knowing how to swim can also save your life.

“We have contact with children from all communities and backgrounds through ChYpPS. Working with the city council’s new leisure management partners, GLL and other partners we’re going to get kids swimming who otherwise would never learn.”

Nominations Open For Community Pride Awards

The hunt has begun to find village heroes who make a big difference in small South Cambridgeshire communities.

Nominations for South Cambridgeshire District Council’s annual Community Pride Awards have now opened, and residents are being asked to put forward names of contenders.

The awards celebrate the achievements of local people who have made a significant and voluntary contribution to their area over the last 12 months.

The five gongs up for grabs are:

  • Village Hero – recognising outstanding individuals
  • Young Village Hero – recognising outstanding individuals who are under 18
  • Contribution to Local Services – recognising community or voluntary led services, such as a community led shop or library
  • Contribution to the Environment – recognising community led projects or groups that have made a difference to the local environment
  • Contribution to Health and Wellbeing – recognising local initiatives that have improved the health or wellbeing of the community

An “amazing” Cambourne teenager who rescued his unconscious neighbour from a smoke-filled house was recognised as a Young Village Hero at the event last year.

Kane Hawks from Upper Cambourne was 14 when he rescued his neighbour after hearing a smoke alarm going off in the early hours. He called 999 and carried the unconscious man to safety before paramedics and the fire service arrived.

This year’s nominations close on Friday 24 January. Further details can be found by visiting www.scambs.gov.uk/content/community-awards or by getting in touch with your local parish council.

Cllr Pippa Corney, South Cambridgeshire District Council’s cabinet member responsible for localism, said: “Communities are turned into extra special places by the activities of very loyal and dedicated volunteers. These awards are our chance to recognise those amazing people who achieve so much for the benefit of others. If you know an unsung hero in your area please put their name forward as this is a great opportunity to say thank you to them.”

Top Marks For Cambridge Support Service

A residential and respite care home for adults with learning disabilities has been given top marks after a visit by Government inspectors.

The home at Russell Street, Cambridge, recently underwent a routine inspection by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and was found to be performing well in all aspects of the inspection.

The house provides residential care and respite support for up to eight people who were interviewed as part of the inspection process. Inspectors also spoke to staff working at Russell Street.

The CQC report notes that service users were positive and complimentary about the support they received. Inspectors commented that ‘there was laughter and friendly banter between staff and people living in the home.’

CQC looked at all aspects of the work of the home, including measures to ensure service users were kept safe and supported in a way which reflected their individual needs and they were protected from abuse with respect to their human rights. The quality and accessibility of the building, staff training, supervision and management practice and processes were also checked.

Five Stars For Cambridgeshire Libraries And Archives

The Five Star Focus Award has been presented to the service for their volunteering programme by Volunteering, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, the partnership of Volunteer Centres across the county.

This is a brand new scheme and Cambridgeshire Libraries and Archives are the very first to receive it. The award evaluates the work that takes place with volunteers from recruitment to recognition.

Cambridgeshire Libraries, and Archives have a wide range of valuable volunteers of all ages – from Computer Buddie and Rhymetime Assistants to the Library at Home service.

Cambridgeshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Education and Learning, Councillor David Harty said “We run a highly successful programme with many great examples, like the 75 teenage volunteers who joined us to support younger children with the Summer Reading Challenge and the great team of around 220 volunteers in our Library at Home service - visiting customers who are no longer mobile. We’re delighted that this hard work has been recognised.”

Anyone interested in a volunteering opportunity with Cambridgeshire Libraries and Archives can find out more on our website.

Budget Proposals Set Out Tough Times Ahead

Budget proposals due to be debated by councillors show that public services are in for tough times ahead to meet nearly £149 million in savings over the next five years

Members of the County Councils Scrutiny Committees will be looking at draft budget proposals put forward to meet the huge savings required for 2014/15 and the following years.

The report warns that there are no easy solutions to meet the savings and that some services will need to be cut or reduced as the Council has already saved £74 million in the last two years.

It suggests that the Council sticks to its already agreed plan and, like other authorities across the country, increases Council Tax by 1.99 per cent to help protect frontline services.

Cambridgeshire is one of the hardest hit authorities in the country and has had a reduction in the Government’s Settlement Funding Assessment of 20.9 per cent (£29.9m) over the next two financial years. The County is also the lowest funded for education in the UK despite having the fastest growing population. This means the Council is seeing more and more demands on its services – especially for those who are the most vulnerable - as more people need them or are living longer and require more expensive care services. Increased population puts a £9 million strain on the Council’s budget.

Cambridgeshire County Council is expected to make savings over the next year (2014/2015) of around £37 million. This is following savings of £42 million last year (2012/2013), and a further £32 million this current financial year (2013/2014).

In the You Choose public survey residents were given the chance to set their priorities and where they would make savings. Residents answering the questions online suggested on average a rise in Council Tax of 5 per cent while those who took part face to face suggested a 17 per cent rise.

The survey showed people wanted to see fewer cuts in children and adult social care as well as transport, including highway maintenance and public transport. But people also said if savings had to be made they would look to make deeper cuts in areas such as libraries and corporate services. They also suggested the Council go further in sharing more services and increase income from disposing of property.

The initial proposals reflect the You Choose findings with suggestions that the £90 million investment in highway and transport continues as well as the Cambridgeshire Future Transport investment.

The capital spend to provide much needed school places will be maintained as well as investment in transport projects such as Cambridge Science Park station, Ely bypass and improvements to the Kings Dyke rail crossing.

The Council will continue to look at sharing assets and buildings with other public bodies as it has been doing successfully through the Making Assets Count programme. The Council will also be making it even easier for residents and businesses to access services online which is easier for many and reduces costs to the public purse.

Savings will continue to be made in Corporate Services and shared services with LGSS with a total of £4 million expected to be saved.

The Council has continued to look to drive out efficiencies, further significant savings are expected from Home to School transport contracts for example. Additionally, work to prevent the escalation of needs is continuing with savings planned from reducing the number of children that need to be looked after by the Council and the number of vulnerable adults we support through intervening early and effectively. However, the financial challenges are such that reductions in services and support are unavoidable.

Adult Social Care will continue to target support for the most vulnerable but will look at reducing the demand for services, working more with communities and a reduction in the support offered to some service users.

The service will also continue to use reablement to target people early to preserve their independence and stop them from needing more critical care.

In Children’s Services focus will be put on more targeted work. There will also be a reconfiguration of Children’s Centres and an overall reduction in the services they provide. The Council’s funding for supporting Early Years settings and providers will also be reduced.

In Economy, Transport and Environment there will also be reductions in some services and where appropriate investigations will be carried out into looking at income streams on a user pays basis. Investment will continue in Cambridgeshire Future Transport to provide targeted public transport but consideration is being given to scaling back some services, such as winter maintenance.

Public health funding still remains ringfenced by Government but will be using feedback from You Choose and evidence to make sure services are targeted.

Cambridgeshire County Council leader, Martin Curtis, said: “This is a very tough time for Councils and especially Cambridgeshire. We are one of the hardest hit authorities in the country in terms of funding and yet we are trying to deliver the most growth. We have already saved tens of millions of pounds by making savings where people would expect as well as using reserves. But we are also being innovative with such projects as sharing services with other councils through LGSS as well as being a UK leader in better use of public sector buildings with our partners. However, the scale of savings we now need to make means we have to make tough decisions and inevitably some regrettable cuts to frontline services. But these cuts are necessary so that we can continue to make sure we protect the most vulnerable while supporting the local economy and jobs.”

The proposed budget, which forms the County Council’s Business Plan, will be looked at by Scrutiny Committees and is subject to change. A final version will then be debated by Full Council in February.

Christmas Comes Early As Superfast Broadband Arrives

Superfast broadband has arrived in rural Cambridgeshire under the Connecting Cambridgeshire programme, with the first new green cabinets going live from today.(Monday 25 November)

An early Christmas present for communities around the county, the switch-on heralds the start of the Connecting Cambridgeshire high speed fibre broadband roll-out across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.

Connecting Cambridgeshire is celebrating the first of many new fibre broadband cabinets to go live by unveiling a new green cabinet in the rural village of Grafham, near Huntingdon.

The roadside cabinet is one of ten new cabinets around the county being connected to the fibre network, bringing opportunities for thousands of homes and businesses to benefit from high speed Internet access.

New cabinets will also be going live from today in parts of Buckden, Cambridge (Coleridge and Queen Edith’s), Offord D’Arcy, St Ives, Somersham and Whittlesey – extending the existing fibre coverage delivered under BT’s commercial plans - with many more to follow over the next two years.

More than 1500 homes and businesses linked to these cabinets will be able to receive faster broadband speeds of 24Mbps and higher before Christmas by upgrading to superfast broadband with their chosen service provider.

Leader of Cambridgeshire County Council, Councillor Martin Curtis, will cut the ribbon on the new Grafham cabinet on behalf of the Connecting Cambridgeshire programme alongside Huntingdonshire MP Jonathan Djanogly and Bill Murphy, Managing Director of Next Generation Access for BT, one of the major partners in the programme.

The high speed connection will be welcomed by many Grafham residents, including home-based businesses, who have strongly supported the county-wide campaign for better broadband encouraged by local Broadband Champions Chris Bulow and Alastair Brydon.

Leader of Cambridgeshire County Council, Councillor Martin Curtis said: “Our Connecting Cambridgeshire superfast broadband programme has had fantastic support from all over Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. We know many people have been eagerly anticipating the first phase of the roll-out since the signing of the contract with BT in March. I am delighted that we have achieved our promise to see our investment start delivering fibre broadband for homes and businesses before the end of this year.

“We are on track for fibre based broadband to be available to 98% of premises by the end of December 2015, which will make Cambridgeshire one of the best connected counties in the country. Faster connectivity will transform the way people can work and do business, as well as improving access to vital services, which will boost rural communities like Grafham.”

Huntingdonshire MP Jonathan Djanogly said: “This project will be hugely welcomed by my constituents who live and work in the connected villages. Fibre broadband in rural areas is all about enabling people to operate more efficiently.  As such, I see this initiative as a vital and welcome development towards sustaining rural communities.”

Bill Murphy, Managing Director of Next Generation Access for BT, said: “It is a fantastic achievement that people in Cambridgeshire are already seeing the benefits of this programme. This investment in fibre broadband will boost the local economy and help to create or protect local jobs both in communities like Grafham and across the whole of Cambridgeshire. It will be of enormous benefit to local businesses which can use the faster speeds to improve their competitiveness both within the UK and abroad.”

Communications Minister Ed Vaizey said: “People in Cambridgeshire are now seeing real results from our broadband programme. For the first time homes and business in Grafham have access to superfast broadband and the many benefits it can bring for work, entertainment and doing business. Investing in superfast broadband will deliver real economic benefits.  An expert report* revealed that for every £1 we are investing in broadband, the UK economy will benefit by £20.”

Christmas Royal Mail "Last Posting" Dates (by Country)

Bar Hill Library and Post Office
So Christmas is almost upon us and it's now time to think of the relatives in far-flung corners of the globe and make sure they get their Christmas cards/ presents on time! I found this was useful to me so I thought I'd share it ...

UK MAIL

  • Wednesday, December 18th 2nd Class and Royal Mail Signed For
  • Friday, December 20th 1st Class and Royal Mail Signed For
  • Monday, December 23rd Royal Mail Special Delivery Guaranteed

INTERNATIONAL AIRMAIL

  • Wednesday, December 4th Asia, Far East, Japan, New Zealand
  • Thursday, December 5th Australia
  • Friday, December 6thth South & Central America, Caribbean, Africa, Middle East
  • Monday, December 9th Cyprus, Eastern Europe
  • Tuesday, December 10th Canada, France, Greece, Poland
  • Friday, December 13th U.S.A
  • Saturday, December 14th Western Europe (excluding France, Greece, Poland)

And one final point, if you have brought cards larger than 240mm x 165mm x 5mm, remember you will need ‘large letter’ stamps!

Sunday, 24 November 2013

eCops: General update 24/11/2013

On November 21st at approx. 3am, a burglary in a dwelling took place in Hillcrest, Bar Hill. Entry was gained in the property by forcing the front door open. Offender was disturbed by occupants and left the house with nothing taken.

Whilst I was on foot patrol in Bar Hill, Sunday 24th November, walking along the village green, I was approached by members of the public making me aware of 3 youths which were seen climbing over the fence of Bar Hill Primary School and had taken two chairs and possibly a table.

Two school Chairs, table taken from Primary School and an arm chair, two baby chairs which were taken from Costa Coffee in Bar Hill were recovered in the wooded area opposite doctor surgery. All items were returned to the rightful owners.

One of the youths seen climbing the school fence has been identified, enquires are to be followed regarding this matter.

I am pleased to say that anti social behaviour at Bar Hill Skate Park has reduced in the last few months.

Kind Regards
PCSO 7009 Alpo MANI
Histon Neighbourhood Policing Team

New Councillor For Comberton Elected

A new district councillor for Comberton has been elected following a by-election in the village.

Cllr Tim Scott was elected to South Cambridgeshire District Council last night after polling 378 votes.

The by-election was called after former district councillor, Stephen Harangozo, stood down.

The full results:

  • Fay Louise Boissieux – Liberal Democrat – 96 votes
  • Helen Mary Haugh – Labour Party Candidate – 74 votes
  • Tim Scott – The Conservative Party Candidate – 378 votes
  • Elizabeth Smith – UK Independence Party (UK I P) – 48 votes

The turnout was 32.33%.

Following the election the seats held on the Council now stand as; the Conservative party is in overall control with 35 seats, the Liberal Democrats hold 13, 8 Independent councillors and 1 Labour. There are 57 seats in total.

Friday, 22 November 2013

Awards Evening Celebrates Success In Fire Service

Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service (CFRS) celebrated long service, staff achievements and support from the local community at its annual awards evening last night (November 21).

The event celebrated the commitment, dedication and professionalism of CFRS staff and others outside of the Service who go above and beyond to improve the level of service CFRS provides within the community.

This year, the event was sponsored by the following organisations, meaning the cost of the evening was solely paid for by our supporters:
  • TruckEast 
  • Emergency One and Clan Tools 
  • Godiva 
  • Masters Logistics, of Stretham 
  • Scania 
  • Interspiro 
  • Supply +
Around 130 guests arrived at the Marriott Hotel in Huntingdon for the event, including recipients of medals, winners of awards and their families.

Awards presented on the evening, which was hosted by Graham Stagg, Chief Fire Officer for CFRS and BBC Look East presenter Janine Machin, included:

Long Service and Good Conduct medals - presented under a Royal Warrant for members of the uniformed service after completing 20 years of long and meritorious service to the fire and rescue service and the public. These were presented by Vice Lord Lieutenant, Jane Lewin Smith JP DL.

Chairman¿s Awards - an award made to retired personnel who have completed at least 25 years' service with CFRS. Presented by Sir Peter Brown, Chairman of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Fire Authority.

Excellence Awards - these eight awards reflect a variety of different achievements made both within and outside of the Service. Winners of the Excellence Awards were nominated by staff in the Service.

Certificates of Commendation - a formal recognition to both members of staff and external stakeholders.

After the ceremony, Chief Fire Officer Graham Stagg said: "This evening reflects how we have not only some of the very best firefighters on the frontline in Cambridgeshire, but also how we have incredibly talented support staff across the Service working hard to make the county a safer place.

"Tonight there were excellent examples of people going above and beyond despite the change and uncertainty that has been going on in the background over the past few months with both budget cuts and a national dispute.

"This evening would not have been possible without the generosity of our sponsors. A massive thank you has to go to the organisations who have contributed in some way to tonight's event."

David Hall, from TruckEast, said: "We were delighted to once again sponsor the ceremony which recognises the excellent work that goes on not just on the frontline, but also behind the scenes, to help make Cambridgeshire a safer place to be."

Mike Madsen, from Emergency One, commented: "As a proud sponsor of the Excellence Awards, it allowed us to see first-hand the professionalism, dedication and courage in many departments within Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service. Congratulations to all the winners and thank you for allowing us to play a small part in your evening."

Adrian Poole, Godiva UK Manager, added: "Godiva are delighted to be involved with this year's awards. As a long-standing equipment supplier to the UK fire service we are fully aware of the hard work and dedication of service personnel in the frontline and back at the station. It is pleasing to see this commitment to a treasured public service rightfully honoured. Well done all the winners."

The evening ended with a prize draw of donated prizes.

Award winners:
Long Service and Good Conduct medal
  • Andrew Ellington - Firefighter, Cambridge Fire Station 
  • Robin Hodgson - Firefighter, Huntingdon Fire Station 
  • David Murfitt - On-call firefighter, Littleport Fire Station 
  • Kym Napier - On-call firefighter, Huntington Fire Station 
  • Carl Pardon - Station commander, Sawtry Fire Station and Huntingdon Training Centre 
  • James Thompson - Firefighter, Operational Risk and Response Team
Support Staff Long Service Award
  • Matthew Warren - Director of Resources, Service Headquarters, Huntingdon
Chairman's Award
  • Adrian Hunter - retired on-call firefighter, March Fire Station
Excellence Awards

Excellence in Community Safety Award

Phil Thacker (Ramsey on-call) - for his continuous support for community safety activities, particularly in driving down deliberate fires at the former RAF Upwood site.

Operational Excellence Award

Cambridge black watch - for a dramatic dog rescue from a frozen lake at Milton Country Park during which crews showed great leadership and teamwork to ensure the dog was safely rescued and returned to its owner.

Award for Innovation

Clare Flint (Service Headquarters) and Julian Fountain (Station Commander for Burwell and Swaffham and Risk Manager for Cambridge, East and South Cambs) - for creating a risk profiling document that has allowed fire protection officers to focus resources on key areas.

Scott Feveyear (Watch Commander at Cambridge) and Danny Kelly (Watch Commander at Huntingdon) - for the work put into developing enhanced training days for on-call stations.

Leadership Award

Harry Edge (Station Commander and on-call duty system support officer) - for his leadership and commitment to improving the on-call service.

Team Achievement Award

Payroll (SHQ): Andrea Batchelor, Ann Read and Michaela Moore - for their contribution to business change projects and supporting colleagues in other groups, while consistently maintaining a less than 1 per cent error rate on five payrolls. In responding to queries they work together to discuss the issues, research solutions and resolve them. They are also always seeking ways to improve their service.

Individual Achievement Award

Kevin Partridge (Technical Support Assistant at Training Centre, Huntingdon and On-call Crew Commander at Huntingdon) - for the many roles he offers - as both an on-call firefighter and at training centre - and the commitment he shows to the organisation.

Partnership Achievement Award

Paul Clarke (Station Commander at Sutton Fire Station and Fire Protection Manager based at Dogsthorpe) - for coordinating the partnership work at a multi-agency incident involving an oil tanker on the A14.

On-call Employer of the Year

Cottenham Tyre and Auto Centre - for demonstrating outstanding commitment to the Service by releasing half the workforce to attend incidents when required. This has included at times closing the garage and turning away customers to allow firefighters to attend calls.

Certificate of Commendation

Alan Chapman (resident of Littleport) - for the selfless act of heroism at a road traffic collision in Littleport (May 25, 2013) by helping a trapped casualty from a burning vehicle.

Bar Hill Skate Park ... End of an Era

Unfortunately some very bad news from the Parish Council meeting last night; Bar Hill Skate Park is to be closed and will be demolished within the next few weeks.

Exterior Damage
The primary reason for this has to be the current state of the park (see some recent photos here). Each of the ramps has suffered significant damage to the surface that has made it uneconomic to repair. People have forced their way inside the ramps and structures on the park and the Fire Service has raised safely concerns in relation to litter, including aerosols, within these confined spaces. The police have also raised concerns about illegal activity on the park itself due in part to it's secluded location. The Parish Council was already planning on removing the screening trees based on previous advice from the police - another £2-8K expense - but this will probably be no longer be necessary, at least in the short term.

At the same meeting the Council overwhelming voted in favour of there being a Skate Park in Bar Hill and it was the expressed hope that Footpaths (a local group setup specifically to fundraise for a new Skate Park) will be able to facilitate this. For this reason I, and Cllr Anthony Mitchell agreed to work closely with Footpaths to help in any way we can to make a new skate park happen as soon as possible, although this is unlikely to be until the tail end of 2014 at the earliest.

Inside One of the Ramps
It's very disappointing that the Skate Park has degenerated into such a state that it can't be fixed up, but looking at the amount of work that would need doing and the cost of materials alone it is clear that this would take thousands if not tens of thousands, and - even after all that money had been spent - we'd also certainly find ourselves back here in a few years having the same discussion again due to the fact that it's a wooden structure and it's out in the elements. There's a reason new skate parks are build from concrete or metal, no-one is using wood anymore.

So here we are. I think it's safe to say a number of Councillors, including myself, were gutted at having to take this decision. Two young people came to the meeting to talk to us about how important the skate park is to them but when it came to the crunch the risk of injury due to the damage, the concerns expressed by the Police and Fire Service, and lack of money just
Dangerous Holes on the Ramps
didn't make it viable to continue as we have been for the last few years. Give the concerns expressed (these were in writing) and worries about liability if we didn't act and someone was injured the decision to close and remove the park had the support of the huge majority of Councillors - including, reluctantly, me.

As part of my preparation for the meeting last night I contacted a UK-based company that builds Skate Parks and the cost of a semi-decent park would be around £40K (+VAT, but the Parish Council can claim the VAT back) this includes the installation but we would have to prepare the ground (i.e. a proper foundation, and tarmac surface) let's call that £20K (because we also should look at replacing the existing lighting with "low energy"- to reduce running costs) so we're talking about £60K to give us a Skate Park. That's equivalent to £20 on the precept for one year - or £10 for two years - £5 for 4 years, etc (the longer the term the larger the interest on the loan we'd be paying).

I'm hoping to get some allocated funding for the park at our next budget meeting but the real question is; what are your views? Please complete this survey and I'll pass the results on to the Parish Council in December and I'll post a summary of responses on this blog;

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1QjApt4OI44Qus734L2HITxrwMm_uS5USnx5p4Yj5tQk/viewform

Any questions, comments, or concerns please drop me an email; andy.pellew@gmail.com.

Cllr Andy Pellew
Bar Hill Parish Council

Sponsors Sought For New Littleport Schools

A sponsor is being sought to set up and run a new secondary and special school in Littleport.

The schools – both due to open in September 2016 – will be co-located on land north west of the town, near its indoor and outdoor leisure centre.

The secondary school will cater initially for 600 pupils aged from 11 to 16, with the potential for future expansion up to 750 pupils.

The special school on the same site will cater for 110 pupils aged from 2 to 19 with complex special educational needs.

The total cost of both schools will be about £30m, funded by Cambridgeshire County Council from a combination of Department for Education (DfE) money and contributions from developers.

The Education Act 2011 requires new schools to be promoted either as an Academy or a Free School. The County Council is therefore inviting applications from potential sponsors who wish to run and manage these two schools.

The application process starts on 29 November and ends on 10 February 2014. The County Council will then shortlist applicants. Shortlisted applicants will be invited to present their proposals at a public meeting and in front of an assessment panel. The assessment panel will then recommend a preferred sponsor to the Secretary of State for Education, who makes the final decision.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

From Fireworks To Firefighting - 30 Years For Kimbolton Commander

A former military man who works for a major fireworks company has celebrated 30 years as an on-call firefighter.

Kimbolton resident Russell Gooderham was recognised for his 30 years of dedication to Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service with a small presentation at his station.

During his time so far with the Service, Russell has climbed the ranks to watch commander level and now leads a crew of enthusiastic on-call firefighters in Kimbolton.

He became a firefighter after he was involved in a serious fire on a friend's farm and after leaving the army he applied and started his service in 1983.

There have been many changes over the years, from kit to firefighting appliances, but Russell said it is the operational element of the job that still attracts him.

He said: "Being an on-call firefighter means you never know what will be happening in the next few minutes. When the alerter sounds you are still in the dark as to the job that awaits you until you get to the station.

"There have been many memorable incidents I've attended but one that comes to mind is the RAF Brampton fire in the early 1980s. You always remember the life-changing situations you are called on to deal with but it is with great pride that you know you have helped someone through a very traumatic event.

"As an on-call firefighter, you also need to have a very understanding family and I am extremely lucky to have that, my wife is a midwife at Hinchingbrooke Hospital and she appreciates the nature of the job that we undertake as on-call firefighters."

Russell's main employment is with Kimbolton Fireworks and he said being in the explosives industry helps him with his understanding of potentially dangerous circumstances, but his employer also benefits as he takes the knowledge gained at the fire service to his workplace.

The proudest moment of Russell's career was when he represented the Service at the Cenotaph in London on Remembrance Sunday.

Group Commander Dave Richardson added: "It has been a pleasure working with Russell. He has always striving to improve Kimbolton Fire Station and the opportunities for his crew. CFRS looks forward to Russell remaining at the helm in Kimbolton for many years to come."

Be Ready For Winter Warning From Road Safety Officers

With the arrival of the first cold spell of the winter, Cambridgeshire County Council’s Road Safety Team is urging road users to check they, and their vehicle are ready for winter.

Drivers should make sure that their vehicle is ready for winter. Using the POWDERY checklist is a good reminder:
  • PETROL (or diesel). Have you got enough? Do you know where to fill up?
  • OIL — check levels once a month
  • WATER — check radiator and screen wash regularly
  • DAMAGE — check wipers, lights etc for signs of wear and tear or damage, and make sure windscreens, windows and lights are clear of ice and snow.
  • ELECTRICS — check lights, indicators and controls are working properly
  • RUBBER TYRES — are they well inflated, legal, with good tread and free from damage?
  • YOU — are you fit to drive? Have you slept well? Are you taking any medication that could make it unsafe for you to drive?
It’s also a good idea to put the following items in the vehicle at the beginning of the winter season so they at hand if and when they are needed.
  • Ice scraper and de-icer
  • Warm clothes and blankets — for you and all passengers
  • Torch and spare batteries — or a wind-up torch
  • Boots
  • First aid kit
  • Jump leads
  • A shovel
  • Road atlas
  • Sunglasses (the glare off winter sun can be dazzling)
Councillor Mac McGuire, Deputy Leader of the County Council and Cabinet Member for Highways and Community Infrastructure, said: “When making journeys during periods of cold weather it is important that all road users adjust to the conditions.

“While the County Council makes every effort to ensure major routes are clear of snow and ice through our gritting programme, even treated routes will not have the same grip as dry roads in the summer and drivers should ensure they are ready for any eventuality, such as poor driving conditions or breakdowns.”

More information on Cambridgeshire County Council’s gritting and winter maintenance programme, including treated routes, can be found on the website http://www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/transport/roads/winter/ or by using #grittertwitter on Twitter.

The cold weather doesn't just affect the roads. For more information on staying warm and well this winter visit the Met Office ‘Get Ready for Winter’ website http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/learning/get-ready-for-winter/health-and-welbeing

Cllr Aidan Van de Weyer - District Councillor Reports - Barrington 2013-11

Cllr Aidan Van
de Weyer
For once, I am not going to write about Cemex and the quarry, although the transport issues that I am going to discuss do certainly affect what happens to the site.

There should shortly be an announcement from government about the creation (or not) of a City Deal for Greater Cambridge. The City Deals are agreements between local councils and government in which some powers are transferred from Whitehall to a local body. For Cambridge, this will be a new body set up by South Cambs, Cambridge City, the County Council, the University and the Local Enterprise Partnership. Its aim will be to improve the infrastructure around Cambridge so that the city can maintain its competitiveness as a location for high-tech businesses and university researchers. It will bring together the transport funding from the various councils, and add to it by some borrowing. Specifically, it will create and improve links between the areas of new housing (Cambourne, Northstowe, Waterbeach and the Cambridge outskirts) and the main locations for current and future employment (North Cambridge, Addenbrooke's, City Centre). Without these improvements, congestion will really start stifling economic growth. The particular point about Cambridge is that it not so much competing with other areas of UK but with other tech hubs around the world, like Boston and Shanghai. If the infrastructure of Cambridge gets much worse, it will start putting off businesses and employees.

The County Council and Network Rail are talking seriously again about removing the level crossing at Foxton and finding a new route for the A10. An initial feasibility study has recently been done by Network Rail that seems to show that this would be a worthwhile investment. Details are currently vague, but the two main options are a bridge over the railway or an underpass. The bridge would be cheapest, but would be quite an eyesore and the noise from the road would be carried even further across the valley. A new crossing would have many advantages. Capacity on the line to Cambridge would be greatly increased. The flow of traffic along the A10 would be better, although the problems might just be transferred to the Harston bottleneck. Access onto the A10 might actually become easier if there is a roundabout at this end of the bridge/underpass. Things should be improved for pedestrians and cyclists coming from all directions. If Network Rail and the County Council do decide that it is worth doing and all goes well, the changes should happen in 3 or 4 years. There will be opportunities to comment on many of the details.

The County Council is also looking again at reorganising the 75 bus service with the hope of cutting the amount of subsidy paid to the bus company. Previous attempts to do something seem to have become lost in the bureaucracy of the council, and they are effectively starting from scratch. At a meeting for affected villages in November, a plan was announced to do a survey now, start planning alternatives in the new year, agree a replacement in the spring and then start the new service in August 2014. We are trying to persuade them to take into account all the work that has been done over the last couple of years on this (by Sheila Potter and Julian Priddle, as well as by everyone who has filled in a survey). Also, we do not know at all what kind of service would be possible. There would have to be some sort of regular service first thing in the morning and in the early evening for sixth formers and people getting to work. At other times, there could be a 'Demand Responsive Transport' service (a small bus that does not have regular routes, but comes as and when requested). It any case, we have been assured that the current service will not be cut before a replacement has been agreed.

Lastly, you may have seen in the newspaper that South Cambs is to buy its councillors iPads. You will be very pleased to know that this is not the case at all, and the council managed to explain things rather badly. In reality, councillors will be able to use whatever computer or tablet they want for council work (known as 'bring your own device'), and will not have to use the now-outdated and clunky system provided by the council. Any councillor who does not have a computer can buy an iPad from the council at full price.

Aidan Van de Weyer

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Residents Invited To Energy Evening

Homeowners are invited to the latest in a series of energy events to find out what practical measures they can take to save energy and reduce household bills this winter.

The village energy day will take place at Girton Baptist Church this Friday 22 November, from 6pm to 9pm. Visitors will have the opportunity to hear a line-up of local and professional environmental speakers.

South Cambridgeshire District Council’s parish energy project officer, Siobhan Mellon, will kick a series of talks off at 6.30pm. Siobhan will introduce the Council’s latest initiative, Action on Energy, as well as advise who can qualify for free insulation and how to source loans for home energy saving measures.

The Council’s housing project manager, Leslie Lazell, will talk through the benefits and savings of external insulation and heat pumps from his experience installing these on council homes across South Cambridgeshire.

Finally, Transition Cambridge representative and author of ‘Energy and carbon emissions: the way we live today’, Nicola Terry, will advise residents how they can make the most of solar photo-voltaic panels.

Exhibitors, including local green energy companies and charities, will also be on hand to talk to residents about the benefits and practicalities of home energy work.

The event has been organised by the Sustainable Girton Project in conjunction with South Cambridgeshire District Council’s Sustainable Parish Energy Partnership (SPEP).

Cllr Manning, South Cambridgeshire District Council’s leader and cabinet member for sustainability, said: “These events are always popular and help residents to understand that even small low cost actions can improve homes, making them warmer and cheaper to run. The event day is free and should be fun as well as informative and inspiring.”

Local member, Cllr Douglas de Lacy, said: “Over the years Sustainable Girton has helped the village to make the best use of energy, from low-cost solutions like using a spare sheet as a curtain liner to energy investments like photo-voltaic panels.

“Our last energy evening was a roaring success and gave me many ideas for home improvement. This event will look at how South Cambridgeshire District Council is working with parishes on energy issues, what it is doing to its own housing, and will look in to the benefits of PV panels. I encourage everyone to attend to see what they can do to keep warmer this winter and keep bills down.”

Commissioner To Hold Alcohol Event

Cambridgeshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Sir Graham Bright, will hold an event to focus on tackling problems associated with alcohol misuse.

The round table event will bring partners together to share good practice and encourage senior representatives from across the public and voluntary sectors to play their part in putting forward solutions. Sir Graham hopes that this week’s Alcohol Awareness Week will help shine a light on problems associated with alcohol misuse which cut across different public sector organisations.

Sir Graham said: “The misuse of alcohol has wide ranging implications for everybody – the individual, the public services that have to pick up the pieces and the communities it affects directly.“I am not against people enjoying themselves responsibly and safely, but drinking so much that you put yourself or others at risk of harm and become a drain on services, and the public purse which funds them, is no fun for anybody.

“This is an issue I am committed to looking into with a view to sharing best practice and new ideas. We cannot continue doing the same things we have always done, because it’s clear they are not working. I want to look at prevention, enforcement and treatment – and I want to leave no stone unturned. Getting public services working together to address this is very important to me.”

Government statistics estimate that each year alcohol-related harm costs UK society £21 billion. In 2010-2011 there were 1.2 million alcohol related hospital admissions and around 15,000 deaths caused by alcohol. The Institute of Alcohol Studies puts the cost of alcohol related crime alone at £11 billion per year (2010-2011).

The event, which is by invitation only, will take place on December 17 at the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner in Cambourne in the Council Chambers, South Cambridgeshire District Council Offices.

Invitees include senior representatives from the district councils, unitary authority and county council, public health, criminal justice, business and the voluntary sector.

Chelsea's Diary Comes Under The Spotlight

A new theatre production which raises awareness of child sexual exploitation is being offered to all schools next year.

Chelsea’s Choice tells the story of a group of three young people who discover the diary of a girl called Chelsea.

Aimed at all children and young people of secondary school age, the play has already been performed and well-received by Local Safeguarding Children’s Boards (LSCBs) in Lincolnshire, Gloucestershire, Leicestershire and Peterborough.

The interactive production – by theatre company Alter Ego – is performed by young actors and lasts about 30 minutes, followed by an hour’s discussion.

A performance of Chelsea’s Choice will be offered to all schools in Cambridgeshire in February and March 2014, but live taster sessions are being offered next week.

These will be performed on Thursday 28 and Friday 29 November and are aimed at the safeguarding leads of all agencies working with children and young people in Year 9; parents, headteachers, governors and representatives from all primary, secondary, special and independent schools.

Anyone interested in attending one of the taster sessions should contact Sally Giddins at the Cambridgeshire LSCB on 01480 373522 or by e-mail at lscbtraining@cambridgeshire.gov.uk