Monday, 30 December 2013

Party Goers Urged To Take Extra Care For New Year's Eve Strike

Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service is urging party goers to be extra careful during the next fire strike on New Year's Eve (Tuesday, December 31).

The Service has back up plans in place so 999 emergency fire calls will get a response during the national FBU strike, which runs from 6.30pm on New Year's Eve (Tuesday) until 12.30am on New Year's Day (Wednesday).

Chief Fire Officer Graham Stagg said: "While we want people to have a good time, we also want them to welcome 2014 in safely. If you are going to enjoy a night out, look after yourself and your friends. Leave the car at home and get a taxi if you are going to have a drink and never drive when tired.

"Likewise, if you are planning to have a house party, don't cook if you have been drinking alcohol - more than half of the fires in the home are caused by cooking accidents - don't put yourself at risk.

"If you plan to welcome the New Year in with a bang, then please use fireworks safely and sensibly. We would also strongly urge people not to release sky lanterns. Once a sky lantern has been set off, there is absolutely no way that you can control where it lands. The best way to avoid any of these unwanted consequences is to steer well clear of setting off sky lanterns in the first place. Don't risk turning a celebration into a tragedy."

During the strike, fire engines will be crewed by operational staff from watch commanders up to the chief fire officer. Two non-operational managers have been trained to drive fire engines and on-call firefighters will be available across the county.

CFO Stagg added: "I have once again been overwhelmed at the commitment and willingness shown by operational managers, on-call firefighters and support staff who have again changed family plans at short notice during the festive break to ensure our county has fire cover."

For further information on the strike and further safety advice, log onto www.cambsfire.gov.uk or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Cambridge – An Active City? Council Asks For Views On A New Plan For Sport

Today the City Council launches consultation on a plan that aims to improve opportunity for sports participation and to increase levels of physical activity.

The City has a relatively physically active population - The 2013 Public Health profile for Cambridge shows that 68.5% of adults are physically active i.e. % achieving at least 150 minutes physical activity per week, placing the district in the top quartile nationally. The most recent Sport England Active People Survey identifies that 43% of the adult population play sport for at least 1 session each week. The 2011 census showed the numbers of Cambridge residents commuting to work by bike as having increased from 28% in 2001 to 32% in 2011. This compares to 12% of Oxford residents (the next highest city) cycling to work and a national figure of just 3%.

Councillor Sarah Brown, Executive Councillor for Community Well-being said:
“Whilst this all points to Cambridge being a relatively active city, undoubtedly there is still work to be done to encourage more people to lead an active enough life to benefit their health. We know that 17% of adults living in the City do no or very little physical activity and there is strong evidence linking low levels of physical activity to long-term conditions and all-cause mortality. The City Council is preparing a new sports and physical activity plan and we encourage residents to express their views on where the City Council should focus its effort”
The online consultation is available from our Sport & Physical Activity Plan 2014-2017 consultation page.

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Stronger Economy And A Fairer Society

Only the Liberal Democrats can be trusted to anchor Britain in the centre ground by building a stronger economy and a fairer society, enabling every person to get on in life.

That’s why in Government we have:

  • Fixed the mess left by Labour. We have; reduced the deficit by a third, kept interest rates down, and helped business create over a million jobs
Eased the squeeze on household budgets by:

  • cutting income tax by £700 for 24m people
  • giving every 5, 6 and 7 year old a free school meal daily
  • giving 15 hours free child care to all 3 and 4 year olds and 40% of 2 year olds
  • freezing fuel duty
  • delivering the biggest ever cash rise in the state pension

Voters face three choices in the coming election. A left-wing Labour party, a right-wing Tory party or a liberal party of the centre ground. Neither Labour nor the Tories can be trusted to govern Britain from the centre ground.

Labour can't be trusted with the economy. In Government, they borrowed and borrowed and nearly bankrupted Britain. Now they want to borrow even more, putting everyone at risk all over again.

The Tories can’t be trusted to treat people fairly or protect your freedoms. That's why we have blocked Tory plans in Government to:

  • Allow bosses to fire staff for no reason.
  • Let local schools be run for profit.
  • Introduce a ‘snoopers’ charter’ that would force internet service providers to keep records of all your texts and emails.

Now, with your support, we want to keep building a stronger economy and a fairer society by:

  • Increasing our income tax cut for low and middle earners by lifting the point at which you start paying from £10,000 to £12,500 a year, saving 24m people another £500. 
  • Helping business create a million more jobs by promoting apprenticeships, giving financial support to promising businesses, protecting the science budget to drive innovation and cutting business tax.

Let's never go back to the way things were, because Labour can't be trusted with your money and the Tories can't be trusted to treat people fairly.

Only the Liberal Democrats in government can be trusted to anchor Britain in the centre ground and build a stronger economy and a fairer society, enabling every person to get on in life.

Saturday, 28 December 2013

#whyiamIN

When a referendum on the EU comes the Liberal Democrats will campaign unambiguously as the party of IN. As Nick Clegg said, leaving the EU would be ‘economic suicide’.

Nick Clegg has called on pro-Europeans, businesses and organisations to join a ‘coalition for the national interest’ to make the case publicly for the benefits of being in Europe. He launched the party’s #whyiamIN campaign, calling on people to declare why they are in favour of being in Europe, which received thousands of online responses including support from Richard Branson.

He said: “Whatever you do, just don’t let the isolationists speak for you or dominate this debate. And if you are for IN, don’t wait for others to say it; make yourselves heard.”

Liberal Democrats are fighting to defend millions of jobs, create millions more and put thousands of pounds back in your pocket by supporting EU membership, making it easier for British companies to trade with the EU and beyond, slashing red tape for small businesses and cutting the EU budget.

Liberal Democrats on the Economy

This recovery would not be happening without the Liberal Democrats. Our economy is growing because of the hard work of people and businesses throughout Britain. The Coalition's economic plan is the rock on which our recovery is being built.

Three and a half years in, and the Coalition’s priority is still the same: fixing the economy and cleaning up the mess Labour left behind.

That task has never been simply about balancing the books. We inherited an economy that had become profoundly unbalanced. Growth was driven almost entirely by one industry: financial services. Almost exclusively from one city: London. And behind the boom was a nation becoming less productive and less competitive. For years governments had simply papered over the cracks.

The Liberal Democrats didn’t come into Government just to make cuts. For us, this has always been about setting in motion a much more fundamental overhaul of our economy so that Britain never finds itself here again. That is not something you can do overnight. There are no quick fixes. No shortcuts to prosperity. It is a slow and steady process.

We’re cutting your income tax bill by £700. Council tax freezes mean that, on average, households are £1,000 better off over the course of this Parliament. Because we’ve frozen fuel duty, you’re £7 better off every time you fill up your tank. Families with young children will save £1,200 per child through our tax free childcare. And, on top of that, if they’re in infants school, you’ll save over £400 per child, per year because we’re going to provide free school meals.

Why can we do all this? Because we are fixing the economy and, as we do, we are making sure we give people as much help as we can give. Real help, not some con. Money back in people’s pockets today, as well as hope for tomorrow too.

We’re helping people with the cost of living in other ways. On 2 December, we announced proposals to cut £50 a year from energy bills, while maintaining our support for vulnerable households and green commitments. Council tax freezes are, on average, saving households in England £1,000 over the course of this parliament. Our fuel duty freeze is saving people £7 every time they fill up their tank. Families with young children will save £1,200 per child through our tax free childcare and will also benefit from our free school meals policy for infants – worth more than £400 per year per child.

We have created more than a million new jobs since 2010 and now we’re working to create a million more. There are more people in work today than at any other time in our history.

We’re helping young people find work. Since 2010 we’ve helped create more than 1.5m new apprenticeships, at twice the rate that Labour managed. Nick Clegg’s £1bn Youth Contract is supporting work experience, wage incentives and apprenticeships.

We still have a long way to go, but we are moving in the right direction. We have had three successive quarters of GDP growth. Under Labour, the economy shrunk for five consecutive quarters. Other economic indicators are also positive:


Key Facts
  • Thanks to our changes, disposable income was higher last year than in any of the 13 years under Labour. And the amount of money people had in their pockets adjusted for inflation grew by 1.6% in 2012.
  • By fixing the economy we have helped keep interest rates at historic lows, saving £2,000 per year for a family taking out a standard fixed-rate mortgage of £100,000.
  • GDP grew by 0.8% in the third quarter (Q3) of 2013, following growth of 0.7% in Q2. Growth was Q3 broad-based across all four industrial sectors for 6 months, the first time this has happened since 1998. MPs can see the latest figures for their constituencies here.
Labour
Labour wants to get back into Government in eighteen months, yet the sum total of their plan seems to be a single promise to temporarily freeze energy bills. As always, if it sounds too good to be true, it is: the energy companies would simply hike up prices before and after the freeze and Labour could do nothing to stop them.

But even worse is what this promise says about Labour.

They honestly believe that they can walk back into Downing Street with a giveaway here, a gimmick there, but no credible economic strategy. Do you know why Ed Miliband suddenly wants to talk about the cost of living?

Because they’ve lost the bigger economic argument. Where are the million lost jobs they predicted? Or the flatlining GDP? Where is the double-dip recession that never happened? Or - as David Blunkett warned - the post-Soviet meltdown?

Plan A hasn’t failed, it’s working. And the truth is that healthy household budgets flow directly from a healthy economy. The two go hand in hand. The Labour Party can carrying on lecturing us all on fairness, but you cannot magically create a fairer society without bothering to build a stronger economy.

So don’t be fooled again: you cannot afford Labour. Let loose in government on their own they would wreck the recovery – costing jobs, driving up interest rates and undermining the growth needed to cut tax bills and fund public services. They cannot be allowed to undo all of the sacrifices that have been made and everything that has been achieved – the British people would pay the price.

Friday, 27 December 2013

Cambridgeshire Liberal Democrats Conference - 11th January 2014

The agenda for the forthcoming Liberal Democrat conference in Ely has been published;

10:00 Welcome and introduction
10:05 Europe 2014: special campaign briefing
10:30 Workshops
Ÿ Areas with council elections in 2014
Ÿ Areas without council elections in 2014
11:30 Coffee break
11:45 (A) Effective new local parties and officers
(B) Connect: finding our voters and supporters
(C) Policy forum: jobs, skills and our local economy
13:00 Lunch
14:00 Q&A with invited panellists
14:30 (A) Coordinating the party across Cambridgeshire
(B) Using NationBuilder to reach voters online
(C) Policy forum: homes, housing and development
15:45 Feedback and close

If you'd like to attend the cost is only 10GBP (which includes lunch).

Change.Org: Bereavement Leave

I just signed this petition and I'd urge you to do the same - three days leave for the death of a loved one is in absolutely no way enough to deal with the loss. Most companies I'm sure would be understanding, but making the leave a legal requirement would make it one less thing to worry about during a very distressing time.

Please share this as widely as possible.

Cllr Andy Pellew


-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 


No one can prepare you for the devastation of losing a child. When our 23-month-old son Jack died in a drowning accident, we were devastated. At a time when we needed time and support from people around us, I discovered that you were only allowed three days off work, including the funeral.

I was shocked to find out that there is no legal requirement to offer bereavement leave following the death of a child. In the immediate aftermath there is so much to deal with that three days is not enough. That’s why I started a petition calling for statutory bereavement leave for all parents. Please join me.

It’s a no-brainer -- even the Prime Minister has acknowledged this is an important issue. Earlier this month during Prime Minister’s Questions David Cameron said he would look into the issue. Having lost his child in 2009 he knows how important it is to be given time to grieve.

Some employers will give staff two weeks leave but not everyone is fortunate enough to have a good employer who is understanding and allows compassionate leave. Some people need the protection of statutory leave.

At the moment Parliament is reviewing a bill that includes introducing parental bereavement leave. If enough of us sign this petition it will send a message to Cameron, and the rest of Parliament, that we need to fix this and help any parents who go through what we went through.

Please sign my petition calling for statutory bereavement leave for all parents.

Thank you

Lucy Herd

National Neighbourhood And Home Watch Evaluation Survey 20/12/2013


The Neighbourhood and Home Watch movement is one of the largest voluntary crime prevention initiatives across the country. Groups typically operate in a variety of communities to help bring neighbours together who want to look out for each other, creating strong, friendly, active communities where crime and antisocial behaviour is less likely to happen.

In order to evaluate Neighbourhood and Home Watch groups across England and Wales, the Neighbourhood and Home Watch Network (NHWN) invite you to participate in our national survey to help us assess the perceived impact and effectiveness of the movement.

To take part, please select the relevant survey from the list below;

NHW Members Survey - I am an existing Neighbourhood or Home Watch Member
NHW Coordinators Survey – I am en existing Neighbourhood or Home Watch Coordinator
Non Members Survey - I am a general member of the public

Please only complete the survey once.

Your participation and feedback is greatly appreciated.

Please note all surveys are due to close at 5pm on Friday 31st January 2014.

David Cameron’s "Little Black Book"

David Cameron has said he keeps a little black book of things the Liberal Democrats have stopped him doing in Government. Here are a few things we think are probably in it:

  • Inheritance tax cuts for millionaires
  • Bringing back O’ levels and a two-tier education system
  • Profit-making in schools
  • New childcare ratios
  • Firing workers at will, without any reasons given
  • Regional pay penalising public sector workers in the north
  • Scrapping housing benefit for young people
  • Ditching the Human Rights Act
  • Weakening the protections in the Equalities Act
  • Closing down the debate on Trident
  • The ‘go home’ poster vans
  • Boundary changes
  • Scrapping Natural England
  • Holding back green energy
  • Stopping teachers teaching children about how we can tackle climate change
  • The Snoopers’ Charter

Tory backbenchers have shown their true colours in recent months, not least when a group of them released their Alternative Queen’s Speech, which included plans to:

  • Bring back the death penalty
  • Ban the burka
  • Privatise the BBC
  • Introduce an annual ‘Margaret Thatcher Day’

It’s just as well the Liberal Democrats are here to keep the Government anchored in the centre ground.

Davies Aviation Report

We thank Howard Davies for the work he has done in producing his interim report and we welcome the debate it will no doubt spark over the future of aviation in the UK.

The Liberal Democrats recognise the benefits that aviation has for the British economy; however we have opposed the expansion of airport capacity in the South East, particularly at Heathrow, because of serious environmental concerns.

We await Howard Davies’ final report in 2015. However, we will not endorse an expansion in airport capacity which would increase current noise pollution for the hundreds of thousands of residents living beneath the flight path, or which would break the Committee on Climate Change’s recommendations on aviation, which are needed to meet our carbon reduction targets.

You can read Ed Davey’s Lib Dem Voice piece on this here:

http://www.libdemvoice.org/edward-davey-mp-writes-liberal-democrats-continue-to-oppose-heathrow-expansion-37551.html

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Happy Christmas!

Nothing special to report today; just wishing everyone a Happy Christmas!

I hope you're having a good one.

Cllr Andy Pellew

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Lords ‘Clocking In’ by Nick Clegg MP

Writing in the Daily Mirror this week in response to their story about Lord Hanningfield, Nick Clegg said:

A big part of the problem is that, right now, a place in the House of Lords amounts to a job for life. Unelected peers don’t need to seek voters’ consent. Our Parliament should be the envy of the world: a modern, transparent and democratic institution. Instead it’s a relic from the 17th Century.

That’s why last year the Liberal Democrats tried to drag the House of Lords into the 21st Century. We pushed to introduce elections for the Lords, rather than peers simply being appointed by party leaders as they are now. It would be far better to have Lords who have to earn the support of voters and who are answerable to the people.

Elected Lords wouldn’t be the same as MPs. For example the elections could be at different times and peers would serve for a longer period: we don’t want the Lords turning into a mirror image of the Commons. But the basic principle of democracy would be the same: anyone who makes the laws of the land would be chosen by the people who have to obey those laws.

To most people that sounds like a no brainer. But not in Westminster, where change is viewed with deep hostility and vested interests loom large. Despite getting our reforms part of the way through parliament, we were blocked.

Monday, 23 December 2013

Local Government Finance

Liberal Democrats have been fighting to make sure the Local Government Finance Settlement is as manageable and proportionate as possible. The average reduction in spending power for councils is 2.9 per cent.

Councils up and down the country continue to do a magnificent job for local people in face of big challenges and reduced budgets.

Liberal Democrats have been working hard to help ease the strain on councils. This includes money to help local authorities build new homes and extra cash help for rural councils.

Previously councils hardest hit had their reductions in spending power capped at 8.1 per cent. This cap has now been reduced to 6.9 per cent, which means more protection and assistance. No Liberal Democrat council has reached the 6.9 per cent threshold.

EU Migrant Benefits

We have announced fairer rules for the access European nationals have to UK benefits. The Coalition Government’s reforms will do three things:

  • Bring the UK more in line with other EU states
  • Help build confidence in our immigration system
  • Protect the freedom of movement in the long-term

Bring the UK more in line with other EU states
The idea that European nationals have unfettered access to benefits across the member states simply isn’t true. Other countries such as the Netherlands already impose a three month residence requirement before you can access benefits like job seekers’ allowance.

The EU has transformed over the last 60 years. This isn’t small numbers of people moving around a handful of similar states – it’s a 28 member club with huge wealth discrepancies across its members. It’s only right that our rules reflect that.

Help build confidence in our immigration system
Britain is a welcoming nation and we take pride in our openness. But after decades of mismanagement under Labour people have lost faith. Add to that the effects of prolonged austerity and it would be totally irresponsible for this Coalition to stick our head in the sand and ignore people’s concerns. The single best way to preserve our tolerance and openness is to ensure our immigration system is one which people can believe in.

Protect the freedom of movement – which Brits benefit from and which is at the heart of the pro-European project – in the long-term
We are delivering these changes as pro-Europeans, and anyone who believes we are better off as an outward facing nation, engaged with our neighbours, should back them. If we don’t get to grips with this issue, we surrender this debate to the UKIPs of this world – the people who would rather we pull up the drawbridge and turn our back on the EU.

There will be people today who say we are going too far and pandering to the right. There will be people today who say we’re not going far enough, we need to be tougher. But that should tell you that we are in exactly the right place. Freedom of movement under the European Treaties is about working, studying, contributing – it always has been. And these are sensible and reasonable reforms to ensure that right to work does not automatically mean a right to claim.

These are sensible and reasonable reforms to ensure that the right to work does not automatically mean the right to claim. Other countries in the EU already have similar policies and are considering the case for going further – unfettered access to benefits across the member states simply does not exist.
These changes will help restore public confidence in the immigration system, which was shattered by years of Labour mismanagement, disdain and shoulder-shrugging. Anyone who believes we are better off as an outward facing nation should support these changes. If we don’t get to grips with these issues, pro-Europeans surrender the debate to the UKIPs of this world.

Under our reforms: 
Out of work benefits won’t be immediate for people when they first arrive:

  • There will be a presumption against paying out of work benefits such as job seekers allowance for the first three months
  • Newly arrived EU jobseekers will not be able to claim housing benefit, at least until they get a job

Benefits won’t be unconditional – you’ll have to prove you are here to work:

  • You’ll be asked to show you are doing a certain level of work (eg over 13 hours) to stop people doing hardly any and saying they’re exercising their treaty rights
  • If people are clearly not here to work – so if they are begging or sleeping rough – and have been removed, they will be barred from re-entry for 12 months, unless they can prove they have a proper reason to be here, such as a job, or that they can sustain themselves here

Benefits won’t be indefinite

  • If an EU national stops working or becomes unable to work we will no longer pay out of work benefits (JSA) indefinitely. They will only be able to claim for a maximum of six months unless they can prove they have a genuine prospect of employment

So not on day one, not without strings and not on tap forever. Most sensible people would agree that’s fair enough.

We are also clamping down on those who employ people below the minimum wage. They will pay the price with a fine of up to £20,000 for every under-paid employee – more than four times the fine today.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Liberal Democrats on Unemployment

This recovery would not be happening without the Liberal Democrats. Our economy is growing because of the hard work of people and businesses throughout Britain. The Coalition's economic plan is the rock on which our recovery is being built.

30m people in work is another landmark on the long road to recovery.  It’s only been possible because we’re sticking to a sound economic plan and because of the hard work of the British people and of British business.

These figures send out a clear message that we have built the foundations for healthy UK growth and a stronger economy.

We’re seeing record levels of employment, with more women in the labour market and long-term unemployment at its lowest level in four-and-a-half years.

This Government has worked hard to repair and rebalance the economy, helping to create 1.6 million new private sector jobs since the election, strengthening Britain’s economy and building a fairer society.

Banking Reform Act

Everyone has felt the impact of the financial crisis, and this Banking Reform Act is a crucial step to ensuring that the British public are not again put in a position where banks that have acted irresponsibly have to be bailed out by the British public.

For years Labour allowed the banks to run riot. On their watch, banks were allowed to act recklessly and risk the financial wellbeing of our entire country. Liberal Democrats in Government are cleaning up Labour’s mess and the Banking Reform Act is a key part of that.

The Act implements the recommendations of the Independent Commission on Banking, set up by the government in 2010 to consider structural reform of the banking sector, as well as key recommendations of the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards, which was asked by the government to urgently review professional standards and culture in the banking industry, following revelations of attempted LIBOR manipulation last year.

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Energy Act

The Liberal Democrats are the party of green. We have stood up for our environmental principles in Government and put tackling climate change at the heart of the coalition’s agenda.

The renewables industry is a British success story. Liberal Democrats know that green jobs and industry must be at the heart of the stronger economy and fairer society we are building. That’s what the Energy Act delivers.

The Energy Act will support the creation of 200,000 jobs in the renewable energy sector including wind farms, solar and biomass. The Act provides investors and industry with the confidence they need to invest in the energy sector and places a legal obligation on British governments to ensure the UK’s energy generating capacity is maintained while at the same time reducing emissions.

Stronger Economy And A Fairer Society

Only the Liberal Democrats can be trusted to anchor Britain in the centre ground by building a stronger economy and a fairer society, enabling every person to get on in life.

That’s why in Government we have:
Fixed the mess left by Labour. We have:

  • reduced the deficit by a third
  • kept interest rates down
  • helped business create over a million jobs

Eased the squeeze on household budgets by:

  • cutting income tax by £700 for 24m people
  • giving every 5, 6 and 7 year old a free school meal daily
  • giving 15 hours free child care to all 3 and 4 year olds and 40% of 2 year olds
  • freezing fuel duty
  • delivering the biggest ever cash rise in the state pension

Voters face three choices in the coming election. A left-wing Labour party, a right-wing Tory party or a liberal party of the centre ground. Neither Labour nor the Tories can be trusted to govern Britain from the centre ground.

Labour can't be trusted with the economy. In Government, they borrowed and borrowed and nearly bankrupted Britain. Now they want to borrow even more, putting everyone at risk all over again.

The Tories can’t be trusted to treat people fairly or protect your freedoms. That's why we have blocked Tory plans in Government to:
1.       Allow bosses to fire staff for no reason.
2.       Let local schools be run for profit.
3.       Introduce a ‘snooper’s charter’ that would force internet service providers to keep records of all your texts and emails.

Now, with your support, we want to keep building a stronger economy and a fairer society by:
1.       Increasing our income tax cut for low and middle earners by lifting the point at which you start paying from £10,000 to £12,500 a year, saving 24m people another £500.
2.       Helping business create a million more jobs by promoting apprenticeships, giving financial support to promising businesses, protecting the science budget to drive innovation and cutting business tax.

Let's never go back to the way things were, because Labour can't be trusted with your money and the Tories can't be trusted to treat people fairly.

Only the Liberal Democrats in Government can be trusted to anchor Britain in the centre ground and build a stronger economy and a fairer society, enabling every person to get on in life.

Friday, 20 December 2013

2013 In Review by Tim Gordon

This week the Energy Act, pushed through by Energy Secretary Ed Davey received Royal Assent. This new law should help to create 200,000 green jobs in the renewable energy sector. The Liberal Democrats are undoubtedly the party of green and I have kept tackling climate change on the agenda, despite the shift in Tory attitude on the subject

Looking back on 2013, we can be proud of what Liberal Democrats in Government have delivered.
  • The increase in the tax allowance is worth around £600 to millions of basic rate tax payers this year, over £700 as of next April, and in the next budget Liberal Democrats want to provide a further workers’ bonus to lift the allowance even further.
  • Nick Clegg announced that the Coalition will fund schools in England to provide every child in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 with a hot, healthy meal at lunchtime. Over the course of a year the average family spends more than £400 on school lunches per child.
  • The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill is a clear step forward for equality and same sex couples will be able to get married from Saturday, March 29, 2014.
As a party, we defied expectations in the Eastleigh by-election and welcomed Mike Thornton to Westminster. It was a nerve-wracking day but to hold that seat was proof that where we have a combination of a hard-working local team and a strong candidate, pride in our record locally and nationally, we can win. I remain immensely proud of the spirit and expertise shown by my team, by Keith House and by all the volunteers and activists involved. All the polling evidence that I have seen shows that if we can get this mix right then we can win in our battleground seats at all levels. And our electoral success continued this week with gains in Buckinghamshire and Lincolnshire. Thank you to all involved.

We end the year with membership growing which is a great sign for the year ahead. I hope that we will be writing a cheque to your local party as part of this.

Thank you for everything that you do for the party. I hope that you have wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Best wishes,

Tim Gordon
Chief Executive, Liberal Democrats

Labour Is Hoping You Forget ...

Labour wants to get back into Government in eighteen months, yet the sum total of their plan seems to be a single promise to temporarily freeze energy bills. As always, if it sounds too good to be true, it is: the energy companies would simply hike up prices before and after the freeze and Labour could do nothing to stop them.

But even worse is what this promise says about Labour.

They honestly believe that they can walk back into Downing Street with a giveaway here, a gimmick there, but no credible economic strategy. Do you know why Ed Miliband suddenly wants to talk about the cost of living?

Because they’ve lost the bigger economic argument. Where are the million lost jobs they predicted? Or the flatlining GDP? Where is the double-dip recession that never happened? Or - as David Blunkett warned - the post-Soviet meltdown?

Plan A hasn’t failed, it’s working. And the truth is that healthy household budgets flow directly from a healthy economy. The two go hand in hand. The Labour Party can carrying on lecturing us all on fairness, but you cannot magically create a fairer society without bothering to build a stronger economy.

So don’t be fooled again: you cannot afford Labour. Let loose in government on their own they would wreck the recovery – costing jobs, driving up interest rates and undermining the growth needed to cut tax bills and fund public services. They cannot be allowed to undo all of the sacrifices that have been made and everything that has been achieved – the British people would pay the price.

David Cameron's Little Black Book

David Cameron has said he keeps a little black book of things the Liberal Democrats have stopped him doing in Government. Here are a few things we think are probably in it:

  • Inheritance tax cuts for millionaires
  • Bringing back O’ levels and a two-tier education system
  • Profit-making in schools
  • New childcare ratios
  • Firing workers at will, without any reasons given
  • Regional pay penalising public sector workers in the north
  • Scrapping housing benefit for young people
  • Ditching the Human Rights Act
  • Weakening the protections in the Equalities Act
  • Closing down the debate on Trident
  • The ‘go home’ poster vans
  • Boundary changes
  • Scrapping Natural England
  • Holding back green energy
  • Stopping teachers teaching children about how we can tackle climate change
  • The Snoopers’ Charter

Tory backbenchers have shown their true colours in recent months, not least when a group of them released their Alternative Queen’s Speech, which included plans to:

  • Bring back the death penalty
  • Ban the burka
  • Privatise the BBC
  • Introduce an annual ‘Margaret Thatcher Day’

It’s just as well that the Liberal Democrats are here to keep the Government anchored in the centre ground.

Thursday, 19 December 2013

This Wouldn't Happen Without The Liberal Democrats

Today is a good day - we're creating another 200,000 green jobs right here in Britain.

They're part of the Energy Act, which Lib Dems have worked so hard to steer through Parliament, and it has just become law.

Some Conservatives apparently call this "green crap" - but we're proud to be the party of green. The environment is, and will always be, a priority for us. If you agree, tell us why now.

These 200,000 jobs are another example of something that simply wouldn't have happened without the Lib Dems in Government - and we're only here thanks to your support.

Help spread the word by telling me why the environment matters to you.

As long as the Lib Dems are in Government you may carry on hearing Tories complaining about "green crap" - but we should tell people the green truth: it's about creating jobs and projecting the environment.

With green growth, we're building a strong economy and a fairer society, enabling everyone to get on in life.

Best wishes,

Ed Davey

Liberal Democrats on the Economy

This recovery would not be happening without the Liberal Democrats. Our economy is growing because of the hard work of people and businesses throughout Britain. The Coalition's economic plan is the rock on which our recovery is being built.

Three and a half years in, and the Coalition’s priority is still the same: fixing the economy and cleaning up the mess Labour left behind.

That task has never been simply about balancing the books. We inherited an economy that had become profoundly unbalanced. Growth was driven almost entirely by one industry: financial services. Almost exclusively from one city: London. And behind the boom was a nation becoming less productive and less competitive. For years governments had simply papered over the cracks.

The Liberal Democrats didn’t come into Government just to make cuts. For us, this has always been about setting in motion a much more fundamental overhaul of our economy so that Britain never finds itself here again. That is not something you can do overnight. There are no quick fixes. No shortcuts to prosperity. It is a slow and steady process.

We’re cutting your income tax bill by £700. Council tax freezes mean that, on average, households are £1,000 better off over the course of this Parliament. Because we’ve frozen fuel duty, you’re £7 better off every time you fill up your tank. Families with young children will save £1,200 per child through our tax free childcare. And on top of that, if they’re in infants school, you’ll save over £400 per child, per year because we’re going to provide free school meals.

Why can we do all this? Because we are fixing the economy and, as we do, we are making sure we give people as much help as we can give. Real help, not some con. Money back in people’s pockets today, as well as hope for tomorrow too.

We’re helping people with the cost of living in other ways. On 2 December, we announced proposals to cut £50 a year from energy bills, while maintaining our support for vulnerable households and green commitments. Council tax freezes are, on average, saving households in England £1,000 over the course of this Parliament. Our fuel duty freeze is saving people £7 every time they fill up their tank. Families with young children will save £1,200 per child through our tax free childcare and will also benefit from our free school meals policy for infants – worth more than £400 per year per child.

We have created more than a million new jobs since 2010 and now we’re working to create a million more. There are more people in work today than at any other time in our history.

We’re helping young people find work. Since 2010 we’ve helped create more than 1.5m new apprenticeships, at twice the rate that Labour managed. Nick Clegg’s £1bn Youth Contract is supporting work experience, wage incentives and apprenticeships.

We still have a long way to go, but we are moving in the right direction. We have had three successive quarters of GDP growth. Under Labour, the economy shrunk for five consecutive quarters. Other economic indicators are also positive:

May 2010 - Today - Change
Employment 28.93m - 29.95m  - 1.02m more jobs
Unemployment 7.9% - 7.6% - 0.3% down
CPI Inflation 3.4% - 2.2% - 1.2% down (closer to 2% target)

Key Facts
  • Thanks to our changes, disposable income was higher last year than in any of the 13 years under Labour. And the amount of money people had in their pockets adjusted for inflation grew by 1.6% in 2012.
  • By fixing the economy we have helped keep interest rates at historic lows, saving £2,000 per year for a family taking out a standard fixed-rate mortgage of £100,000.
  • GDP grew by 0.8% in the third quarter (Q3) of 2013, following growth of 0.7% in Q2. Growth was Q3 broad-based across all four industrial sectors for 6 months, the first time this has happened since 1998. MPs can see the latest figures for their constituencies here.

Liberal Democrats: The Party Of In on EU Funding

The first round of the EU's new research programme was announced yesterday, meaning universities and businesses across the UK can now apply for £12.5bn worth of funding for 2014 and 2015.

UK universities already receive more funding than those in any other country. Lib Dems fought to increase research spending while cutting the EU's long-term budget.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

B&B Bill Plummets Following Temporary Accommodation Push

A strategy to provide better quality temporary accommodation for vulnerable people who find themselves without a roof over their head has seen a council’s B&B bill plummet.

Along with a range of initiatives to keep people in their homes, South Cambridgeshire District Council has purchased ten former empty homes in the district to increase the amount of temporary accommodation available.

The housing strategy agreed earlier this year aimed to half last year’s £8,000 monthly bill the Council had to pay housing people in B&Bs on a temporary basis while permanent accommodation could be found – but efforts this year has seen the bill fall by 70% to an average of just under £2,400.

Since September the Council has only used B&Bs on two occasions which has pleased housing bosses, but they have reiterated that finding better alternatives remains a priority to provide people with the best service and keep the bill as low as possible.

The Council has invested in helping prevent homelessness, which has also contributed to the reduction in the use of B&Bs, as well as offering assistance accessing the private rented sector and a money advice service.

Building work has also just begun on redeveloping a former hostel in Waterbeach to improve temporary accommodation facilities along with the first new Council homes as part of the biggest building programme since the 1950s being completed in Linton.

Cllr Mark Howell, South Cambridgeshire District Council’s cabinet member for housing, said: “It is excellent news that we have seen such a huge drop in the amount we spend on B&Bs for temporary accommodation and credit must go to our officers who have been
working very hard to achieve this. As much as it is important that we reduce the spend on B&Bs, the more pleasing element is that we are able to provide people with more appropriate and higher quality temporary accommodation.

“We won’t rest on our laurels and further work such as the hostel redevelopment at Waterbeach will make sure we can continue to lead the way in this area.”

Cambridge MP Optimistic Of Brighter 2014 As Jobless Figures Fall Again

Cambridge’s jobless figures fell again last month bringing hope of a brighter 2014 for those seeking work in the city.

The news that there were 371 fewer people claiming Jobseekers’ Allowance in November compared with the same time last year and 63 fewer than in October has been welcomed by Cambridge MP Julian Huppert.

He said: “We have seen our unemployment figures falling steadily month by month and this is very good news for those looking for work. The national picture is also brighter which is testament to the fact that the economy is moving in the right direction.

“Clearly, for those people who have been unable to find work, Christmas is a particularly difficult time of year and my thoughts are with them in the hope that their fortunes will turn round quickly.

“The fact that unemployment is falling shows that confidence is being restored. I am optimistic that this trend will continue in 2014 and bring better news for those seeking work.”

e-Cops: Bar Hill Update

Between December 15th at 22:00hrs and December 16th 08:00hrs, there was a report of shed burglary at The Spinney, Bar Hill. Overnight perpetrator(s) have gained entry into a wooden shed and taken a petrol hedge cutter. If you have any information regards this theft, please get in touch.

On December the 16th there was a report of shoplifting at Bar Hill Tesco’s. Offender was arrested and dealt with accordingly.

Over the past month there has been numerous of incident reports relating to suspicious circumstances including reports of door to door sales persons, rogue traders, and vehicle driving slowly around the village with occupant(s) paying close attention to houses.

We would like to encourage people to call such incidents into the police directly while they are occurring. That way, if there are officers on duty or nearby they have a better chance of locating vehicle (s) or person(s) involved and checking them out.

I would also like to promote our E-cops Initiative. It is a free e-mailing system that allows us to stay in touch with our community and keep them updated with what we are doing through weekly updates with an opportunity to reply. Please distribute this email to anyone who is not a member on e-cops and ask  them to register by following our website address: www.cambs.police.uk/singupecops

On December the 10th between 15:45hrs and 17:30hrs, there were two reports of dwelling burglaries in Thornton Road, Girton. Good-news, as a result of a member of the public reporting this incident ASAP, police have attended and arrested one male suspect at scene and an investigation is under way.

Kind Regards

PCSO Alpo Mani

Autumn Statement: This Recovery Would Not Be Happening Without The Liberal Democrats

This Autumn Statement shows that Britain is on its way back. We are sticking to our plans to make sure this is a recovery that is built to last. That is the only way to improve living standards.

Our economy is growing because of the hard work of people and businesses throughout Britain. The Coalition's economic plan is the rock on which our recovery is being built.

This Autumn Statement:
Helps with the cost of living

  • by freezing fuel duty for the rest of the Parliament
  • by cutting energy bills by £50
  • by capping rail fares at inflation in 2014
  • by delivering Free School Meals for all 5-7 year olds – saving parents £400 a year per child

Helps the high street and businesses

  • by giving small retailers a £1,000 business rates rebate
  • by capping business rates at CPI in 2014
  • by introducing a 50% discount from business rates for new occupants of previously empty retail premises for 18 months

Helps young people

  • by abolishing employer National Insurance Contributions for everyone under 21
  • by allowing 16 and 17 year olds to use Job Centre Plus
  • by lifting the cap on the number of students who can go to university
  • by providing resources for an extra 20,000 apprenticeships

The biggest crack down on aggressive tax avoidance and evasion of this Parliament

  • bringing in £6.8bn over the forecast period
  • introducing Capital Gains Tax on non-residents
  • preventing employment intermediaries from disguising employment as self-employment to avoid tax
  • immediately closing a further five corporation tax loopholes

Increases housing supply and support home ownership

  • by funding infrastructure to unlock large housing sites,
  • by increasing Local Authority housing revenue account borrowing limits on a competitive basis
  • by increasing the funding available for new affordable homes from the sale of vacant high value social housing

Reinforces the Government’s commitment to deficit reduction

  • The fiscal mandate will be achieved a year early, in 2017-18 and will be in surplus by 1.6% of GDP in 2018-19
  • Public sector net debt as a percentage of GDP will be falling in 2016-17, a year later than set out in the supplementary debt target, but both a year earlier and around 6ppts lower than the peak level forecast at Budget 2013
  • Public Sector Net Borrowing (PSNB) will be close to balance in 2018-19

If you ignore the Conservatives’ married couples tax break this is a Liberal Democrat Autumn Statement through and through.

Planners Give Green Signal For Cambridge's New Rail Station

Plans for a new rail station at Cambridge Science Park are on track after planners agreed the proposals today, Wednesday, December 18.

The new station will transform train travel to one of Cambridge’s main business areas, including the Science Park, St John’s Innovation Centre and the Cambridge Business Park. This key project will create a transport hub which joins up rail, bus services, cycling and pedestrian facilities.

The plans were recommended for approval at a meeting of Joint Development Control planning committee for the Cambridge Fringes.

The new station will be on the main line between Cambridge and Ely and is expected to be served by direct trains running to London Kings Cross, Liverpool Street, Norwich and King’s Lynn. As well as connecting into the national rail network, trains may also be available to Stansted Airport and Birmingham.

The scheme will include:
  • a new station building, platforms, and other rail infrastructure to be used by around 3,000 passengers a day
  • the extension of the Busway from Milton Road to the station as well as linking to the new town of Northstowe
  • public space, pedestrian and cycle access routes
  • cycle parking for 1000 cycles
  • a taxi drop-off and pick-up area
  • a 450 space car park with disabled and short stay parking.
The station received huge support at public consultation with 90% of respondents supporting the proposal in principle. The new station building will have a green roof and use solar panels to generate electricity.

Only last week Deputy Prime Minister announced a £6 million grant to help deliver the planned transport links into the station.

The Council will now be able to move onto the construction phase of the project which is expected to open in December 2015.

Cambridgeshire County Councillor Ian Bates, Cabinet Member for Growth and Planning, said: "This new station will provide fantastic benefits for the people of Cambridgeshire, providing a transport interchange linked to the Busway. It will boost economic growth and improve access to the business area of Cambridge as well as the new Northstowe development while linking to Huntingdonshire and Fenland. Delivering this station has been a long term goal of the County Council and we have been innovative in working with Government and the rail industry to bring this forward and fund it. The Government last week gave us a grant of £6 million to help deliver the necessary transport links surrounding the site as a mark of their support for this much needed scheme.”

e-Cops: Stolen Caravan

On December the 12th between 19:45hrs and 22:00hrs, a theft of caravan took place in St Vincent Close, Girton. Perpetrator(s) have removed all security placed on the caravan and taken it.

Kind Regards

PCSO Alpo Mani

BHA Reacts To Blocking Of Estrela Report On Sexual And Reproductive Health And Rights


We were very upset last week by the blocking in the European Parliament of the Report on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, authored by Portuguese MEP Edite Estrela and commonly known as the Estrela Report. The report recommended that all Europeans should have ease of access to sex education, contraception and safe abortions and was strongly supported by the European Humanist Federation, of which the BHA is a member. However, since the report was first brought to the attention of the European Parliament it has met with strong opposition from extremist religious groups, including the Federation of Catholic Family Associations in Europe and European Dignity Watch.

The Bill had already been submitted to the plenary of the European Parliament once before, in October. It was blocked and returned to the Women’s Rights Committee to be amended. The Bill’s supporters hoped that an amended version of the report would have more luck passing the plenary of the European Court; however, vigorous campaigning by extremist religious groups saw that this was not to be the case. Throughout the report’s progress, MEP’s have received more than 80,000 e-mails from supporters of extremist religious groups demanding that they reject these reports. On some occasions, these e-mails even included personal threats. In place of the report, which had 90 unique recommendations, the European Parliament voted 334 in favour to 327 against to accept an alternative one paragraph proposal which noted “the formulation and implementation of policies on [sexual and reproductive health rights] and on sexual education in schools is a competence of the Member States.”

Edite Estrela was furious with this result, saying that this language is “a more conservative resolution than the previous text on this issue, adopted in 2002.” Along with ensuring Europe-wide access to sex education, contraception and safe abortions, the Estrela report also took gender-based violence and the treatment of STIs into account. The Bill would have helped to establish Europe-wide guidance on these issues. The report’s abandonment in favour of a statement which declares that these issues should be the soul preserve of member states seriously undermines any future attempts the European Parliament might make into insuring and improving access to these basic needs.

This move marks a huge setback for sexual, reproductive, LGBT and women’s rights movements in Europe, and exemplifies the stranglehold activist religious groups have on European decision making. For similar debacles to be avoided in the future, it will be necessary to galvanise support for these basic rights and show MEPs that a significant body of people across Europe care passionately about these issues.

Liberal Democrats On GP Surgeries & Mental Health

On standards in GP surgeries: Patients have a right to expect the best care from their GP practice. That's why we have introduced this new, tougher system of inspection which will root out poor standards and celebrate the best.

The new chief inspector will champion the views of patients, giving them more information so they can make better informed choices about services. Patients have a right to know about poor standards of care.

On mental health: It is completely unacceptable for local commissioners to disadvantage mental health in the allocation of funds to local health services. This completely conflicts with the Government’s clear position that there must be parity of esteem – equality – between mental and physical health. This must be a priority for NHS England to address.

We have committed to introducing waiting time limits for mental health to bring to an end the institutional bias against mental health in terms of access standards.

However, the BBC figures do not show the full picture, they only show spending by mental health trusts they surveyed. In fact, spending on mental health services by the NHS is going up. In 2012-13, £8.8bn was spent on secondary healthcare for mental illness in adults and children compared to £8bn in 2010-11 and £2.8 bn in 1997-98.

Local LibDem City Councillor Calls For Urgent Safety Measures At Junction

Liberal Democrat Councillor Rod Cantrill has called for urgent safety improvements to a major Cambridge road junction before someone is seriously injured or killed.

Cllr Cantrill, who represents Newnham on Cambridge City Council is worried about the junction of Barton Road, Newnham Road and Grantchester Street.

The busy junction is used by parents taking their children to Newnham Croft School and forms part of the major Blue Cycle Route from west Cambridge to Trumpington.

Cllr Cantrill and his ward colleague, Lib Dem County Councillor Lucy Nethsingha collected 260 signatures on a petition calling on the county council to make improvements to the junction.

The petition was presented to the county council Cabinet yesterday (Tuesday, December 17) by Cllr Cantrill and Newnham ward councillors have asked that the improvements be funded through the council’s highway improvement scheme or the developer contribution highways funds

Cllr Cantrill said: “This is an extremely busy junction used by drivers, cyclists and pedestrians including parents walking young children to school. Clearly this is a dangerous mix and I am worried that unless improvements are made, someone could be seriously injured or even killed.

“It is crucial that county council highways officers look into this issue urgently so that we can get the funding we need to make this junction safer for everyone.

“It is clear from the number of people that have signed this petition that there are real concerns.”

Government Grant Settlement Means Less Funding As Expected – But Councillors Warn More Details Still Needed

Council leaders have warned the “devil is in the detail” as information has begun to be released about the Government’s grant funding for local authorities next year.

Information released by the Department for Communities and Local Government today (Wednesday 18 December) has confirmed South Cambridgeshire District Council’s grant settlement for 2014/15 will be cut by 24% – a reduction of around £870,000.

Figures released for 2015/16 suggest a similar cut will be imposed, but senior councillors have said that more information is still needed before the full effect of the reduction in grant is known.

In agreeing the budget for this year councillors pledged to deliver a package of efficiency savings equivalent to £12 for every average band D home in the district. These are in addition to round £4 million of savings that have been made over the last three years.

Information about additional grant funding, known as New Homes Bonus, has also been released which shows the Council could receive up to £3.2 million during 2014/15. This funding is provided to high growth areas to help deliver new homes, facilities and infrastructure.

Cllr Simon Edwards, South Cambridgeshire District Council’s deputy leader and cabinet member for finance, said: “We have a fantastic track record of delivering efficiency savings to protect the services that people need and rely on, but as our funding continues to be cut the challenge for us becomes more and more difficult.

“With all funding announcements the devil is in the detail and it will be a number of weeks until we have all the information needed to be able to see exactly how much of a shortfall this latest cut will leave us in our budget in 2015/16.

“What I can promise today is we will continue to work as hard as possible for our residents and make sure every penny of funding we receive is spent on providing the best possible services we can.”

Lib Dems Win Fight For More Say On Bramblefields

Cambridge Liberal Democrats today (Wednesday, December 18) welcomed moves which would allow city residents to have their say on possible access through Bramblefields nature reserve to the city’s new Science Park Station.

They had fought to make sure residents had as many options open to them as possible to protect the reserve, including investment to help improve it. Crucially they argued that city residents should make the final decision on how and if the route through should be included in the plans.

Members of the Joint Development Control Committee listened to the Lib Dems’ concerns and referred the issue back to Cambridge City Council as they gave planning permission for the station project.

Cambridgeshire County Councillor, Ian Manning, who represents Cambridge’s East Chesterton has been working to safeguard Bramblefields after the county council suggested it as a major route to the station.

“It was absolutely imperative that we did everything we could to protect the reserve and the committee has recognised our concerns,” he said. “Now the city council must decide on whether to go-ahead with a consultation which would give residents the chance to say whether the route is permitted with substantial investment in the nature reserve.”

The Lib Dems had also fought to get cyclists and pedestrians segregated on a path through the Cowley Road Business Park and protect them from heavy goods vehicles. This has been referred back for further consideration.

And Lib Dem fears over the effect of commuter parking on streets around the station have been taken into account and will be discussed further.

Cllr Manning added: “We campaigned on a number of concessions and I am pleased to see that the committee has listened and taken these on board. We want to make sure that when this station is built it does not cause problems for residents or affect their quality of life.”

Lord Lieutenant Appoints New Deputies

The Lord Lieutenant of Cambridgeshire, Hugh Duberly CBE, has appointed four Deputy Lieutenants to help with his work around the county.

The new appointments are:

  • Colonel Roger Herriot OBE
  • The Rt Hon Sir James Paice MP
  • Mr Andrew Riddington JP
  • Mrs Penelope Walkinshaw

Col Herriot was Commandant (Colonel) of the Cambridgeshire Army Cadet Force, a role he held from 2008 until December 2012.

He served in the Army from 1970 to 1976, the Territorial Army for 9 years and in both the Suffolk and Cambridgeshire Army Cadets Forces. The Cambridgeshire Army Cadets Force doubled in size to 1,000 cadets under his command. Roger also runs a furniture restoration business and was awarded the OBE in 2013.

Sir James Paice has been the Member of Parliament for South East Cambridgeshire since 1987 and is due to retire at the next General Election. He served as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State from 1993 to 1997, and as Minister of State for Agriculture and Food from 2010 to 2012. He was appointed to The Privy Council in 2010 and knighted for public and political service in 2012. In Cambridgeshire he is patron of a number of charities and a governor of the King’s School in Ely.

Andrew Riddington is Chairman of the East of England Agricultural Society. He has been on the Council since 1989, where he has chaired a number of sub-committees. He has been a JP since 1999, sitting on the Peterborough Bench.

Penny Walkinshaw was High Sheriff of Cambridgeshire in 2012-13, raising £90,000 for county charities and communities during her term of office.  Her work in the community includes being a trustee of the Swaffham Prior Community Land Trust, which oversees the allocation and management of designated housing in the village.  She is involved in several charities in the county and is currently Chairman of the Circle of Benefactors for the East Anglian Air Ambulance.

Lord Lieutenants are the Queen’s personal representatives in the county or area. Their prime duty is to uphold the dignity of the Crown by arranging visits by members of the Royal family and escorting Royal visitors. They present medals and awards on behalf of the Queen, and participate in civic, voluntary and social duties, as well as liaising with units of the Army, Royal Navy, Royal Air Force and Royal Marines and their associated cadet forces.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Parents Prosecuted For Failing To Ensure Children Attend School

The parents of pupils at two Huntingdonshire schools have been prosecuted for failing to ensure their children attend school.

The parents of three pupils were found guilty and prosecuted for failing to pay fixed penalty fines that had been previously issued by education welfare officer.  One parent was fined £75 and ordered to pay £70 costs and a £20 victim surcharge, whilst another parent was given a 12-month conditional discharge and ordered to pay £75 for costs and a victim surcharge of £15.

A third parent was fined £150 with £150 costs and a £20 victim surcharge, even though her son was now no longer of compulsory school age, since the original fixed penalty fine had been issued in his last year at school.

The other parents were found guilty and prosecuted for poor school attendance which resulted in:

  • one parent being fined £75 with £70 costs and a £20 victim surcharge
  • a second given a 12-month conditional discharge, with £150 costs and a £15 victim surcharge
  • a third given a 12-month conditional discharge with £50 costs and £15 victim surcharge

All cases were heard at Huntingdon Magistrates’ Court and related to non-attendance at St Peter’s School and Hinchingbrooke School. None of the defendants can be named due to legal reasons.

Recycling Champions Impressed By Paper Mill

Cambridge’s Recycling Champions visited a paper mill on Friday to see first-hand how paper is recycled. Palm Paper in Kings Lynn, which takes paper for recycling from Cambridge, is one of the largest and most powerful newsprint paper machines in the world.

The City Council’s executive councillor for Environmental and Waste services, Cllr Jean Swanson said, "I was very pleased to hear that the Recycling Champions had this opportunity to see paper being recycled. Having visited similar places before, I understand how important these trips are as it really brings home the importance of recycling and making sure the right items go in the right bin."

Recycling Champions are a network of local volunteers who help friends, neighbours, colleagues and the general public to throw away less rubbish and recycle more.

Recycling Champion Hilary Sugai said. "It was fascinating seeing the old magazines and newspapers being transformed into huge rolls of shiny white paper. The whole process of paper being pulped, cleaned, pressed, dried and packaged was precise and it was amazing to see how high quality the paper was."

Last year Cambridge recycled 6,000 tonnes of paper and card but threw away 2,000 tonnes that could have been recycled. If recycled, this material could have generated around £80,000 for the City Council to use on running vital services.

In Cambridge you can recycle all your paper and card in your blue bin, including envelopes, Christmas cards and wrapping paper. It takes just 7 days for a recycled newspaper to come back as a newspaper again.

If you’re interested in getting involved in the Recycling Champions scheme you can email recycling.champions@cambridge.gov.uk or call 01223 458240.

Talented Clia Has Designs On Cambridge MP's Christmas Card

Talented youngster, Clia Wright has designs on MP Julian Huppert’s Christmas card.

Clia, 11, sketched the winning entry in a competition to design a festive card on the theme of Julian’s competition Discovering Cambridge.

The Year 7 pupil from Coleridge Community College captured the essence of the competition to celebrate the city’s independent traders and combined it with the Christmas theme.

Her card shows Father Christmas and his sleigh flying over the tops of the shops one of which is displaying the sign Shop Local.

Clia will be presented with a special prize from the House of Commons when Julian visits her at school on Friday (December 20).

Runners-up in the Christmas card competition were Silas Smith from Park Street, Primary School, Eddie Carrington from Parkside Federation Academy and Connor Skinner from Shirley Community School.

Julian said: “We had some great entries from all the children who showed they had great imagination and had really thought about this year’s theme.

“Clia had clearly put a great deal of work into her card and the detail and use of colour was excellent. She is very talented and I am delighted to be able to have her design on the front of my Christmas card.

“It was tough choosing from the many entries and I would like to thank all the youngsters who took part. It was an excellent way to close my Discovering Cambridge competition after its success this year.”

Clia’s art teacher, Loren Parker said: “Clia made a brilliant effort. She really captured the atmosphere of Discovering Cambridge.”

Cambridge Carbon Footprint: Christmas Greetings


Season's greetings and welcome to the final newsletter of 2013. Christmas is nigh and we can see the New Year approaching just around the corner...

Meanwhile, the CCF office has grown! Our office mates, the Relationship Foundation, have flown to another venue so we are lucky enough to have the entire room to ourselves here at the CityLife house. We now have our whole library on display and a nice big table for any one who would like to drop by and read a book or borrow an energy monitor!

Before you go on to enjoy this update with the latest news and events, just a reminder that there is still one opportunity avaliable to volunteer as a CCF Trustee. Could this be for you? If you are interested please contact Tom Bragg (tom@cambridgecarbonfootprint.org) to talk it over.

Happy holidays!

1. 'Eat local' challenge starting in January
January 13-26, 2014

Keen to start the new year with a rewarding resolution? Then join the group of brave and adventurous souls who are committing to sourcing all of their food from within a 30-mile radius of Cambridge for three weeks in January, with an extra emphasis on reducing meat and dairy intake (note: allowance is made for five ingredients (such as rice, tea, quinoa, spices etc) that are not local…just to ensure you are getting the proper nutrition and still enjoy your food)!

Participants will also have the opportunity to write about their experiences on our sustainable food blog, and to meet other participants at a bring-and-share meal.

There's lots more information on the CCF website, but to take part in the challenge and join up with other local eaters you just need to email elaina@cambridgecarbonfootprint.org.

2. Thermal imaging training
January 14, 7.30pm - 9.30pm, CCF Offices, Citylife House, Sturton Street, CB1 2QF

Thermal imaging is a great way to identify the best ways to improve insulation and air tightness, and at CCF we’re lucky to have not one but two thermal cameras! You can find more information on the benefits of infrared surveys on our thermal imaging page, but if you’d like to use one to see where your home is leaking heat sign up for our free training session?

Participants in the training session will learn not only how to use our thermal imaging cameras, but more importantly how to interpret the results. Once trained participants will be able to borrow our thermal imaging cameras to survey their own homes (and those of others if they’d like) and identify any trouble spots.

If you’d like to come please email info@cambridgecarbonfootprint.org to book your spot. Be warned, there’s only 12 spots available and they book out quickly!

3. Get (and stay) motivated towards a low carbon life
January 23, 7.00- 8.30pm, the Centre at St Pauls, Hills Road, Cambridge CB2 1JP.

Keen to start the new year with some clean green habits?

How can you maintain inspiration to make sustainable choices?

Where do you draw strength from?

Highlighting the benefits and bringing research findings for our practical Get (and stay) motivated towards a low carbon life is an interactive talk with Sandra Boegelein, a psychologist from the world-renowned Tyndall Centre for climate change research.

No booking necessary.
4. Swishing, Fabric and Craft supply swap
January 25, 3.00pm (on the dot) until 5.00pm at St Andrews Street Baptist Church, CB2 3AR

Come along to refresh your wardrobe in the new year as well as your hobbies! Swap your clothes, fabric and craft supplies in the Upper Hall of the St Andrews Street Baptist Church. Swishings are a great way of scoring yourself some new clothes, without costing anything, especially not carbon!

Please note it's in a different venue than last time, this one is close to the centre of town on St Andrews Street, CB2 3AR. See you there!

5. 'Local Food Roots' film and a bring and share meal...
January 28, 7.00pm - 9.00pm, Friends meeting house, Jesus Lane CB5 8BA

'Local Food Roots' is a new film celebrating the local food movement in the UK over the last 30 years. It runs for 35minutes, info and the trailer can be found here:http ://localfoodfilm . org . uk/
As watching all that yummy food being grown, shared and eating is sure to inspire an appetite, please bring along a plate of food to share with others after the screening.

To book, please email info@cambridgecarbonfootprint.org.

6. Food For a Greener Future Conference
February 8, 9.30am - 5.30pm, Emmanuel United Reformed Church, CB2 1RR

As many of you know the main event of the Food for a Greener Future campaign will be thesustainable food conference on the 8th of February next year - and booking is now open! The conference is gearing up to be super interesting with lots of great speakers and workshops (you can read all about it on the website).

We'd love as many hands on deck as we can leading up to the conference, and also on the 8th of Feb itself. So if you'd like to score yourself a free ticket, or are just an awesome human bean, please let us know which of the following roles suits you:

- Folks who like writing, and would enjoy getting in touch with local newspapers, newsletters and putting the word around about the conference.
- Anyone who would like to walk around the town for an hour or so putting up posters, and flyers on fences, shop fronts and all sorts.
- General event help on the 8th of Feb, such as arranging furniture, working the PA system during the big talks, food servers, and dish washers.... oh so many things!

Many hands make light work, and this conference is going to be splendid with your help! If you help out on the day, you'll still be able to attend most of the sessions cos we won't put you to work all day, promise! Please contact Joss if you would like to help out: jocelyn@cambridgecarbonfootprint.org
7. Carbon Conversations
Keen to kick-start your low carbon life in the new year? Carbon Conversations is 6 sessions in a small group to help you do just that! Each session is a supportive space to:

- Learn about the impact of our food, travel, consumption and energy use
- Share ideas and create plans
- Talk and meet new people
- Begin to get a grip on climate change

We're setting dates/locations for groups to start in February. Please emailinfo@cambridgecarbonfootprint.org and let us know if you'd like to join a group, or if you have a group and would like our facilitators to come to you!
8. Eco-coaching opportunity
Are you interested in becoming an eco coach? Would you like to help shape and develop CCF's new eco-coaching programme? We’re keen to recruit and train a few key volunteers to deliver one-to-one coaching to people seeking a more personalised, in-depth approach to carbon reduction. For further details, contact info@cambridgecarbonfootprint.org. Training will start in mid-January 2014.

9. Cambridge Sustainable Food Network update
We had a very enthusiastic and productive first meeting of the Cambridge Sustainable Food Network steering group on December 10th. We now have 11 members representing seven different organisations, as well as two city councillors (Carina O’Reilly and Sarah Brown) and a council officer (Helen Brookes). These are the three key issues we have decided to work on (although they naturally link with other areas such as food poverty, community food projects and education and skills):
Food waste
Food enterprises
Healthy and sustainable diet

We are also working on a draft of a Cambridge food charter, which we aim to put out for consultation at the Food for a Greener Future conference on February 8th, where we will report on progress so far with the new network. By then we should also have a website up and running.

And finally, we are applying for a stall at the big Eat Cambridge event on May 17th, where we can showcase our member organisations and provide information on what sustainable food means in the context of Cambridge and what actions people and organisations can take. There will also be tastings, quizzes and demonstrations. Let us know if you are interested in getting involved by emailing bev@cambridgecarbonfootprint.org!

10. Food for a Greener Future: delicious seasonal recipes!
It’s that time of year again when people say “I can understand how you can enjoy eating local, seasonal vegetables in the summer and autumn, but how on earth do you manage in the winter? Isn’t it just a question of cabbage and spuds!” (In fact, the hardest time of year to eat seasonal fruit and veg is in the spring, in April, when things winter veg are running out and the new season’s produce hasn’t appeared yet.) The winter is a wonderful time to eat seasonal vegetables, and here are some fantastic recipes from our resources section, including some delicious gourmet dishes from Tine Roche of the award-winning Cambridge Cookery School (congratulations, Tine!) and some low-carbon Christmas recipes.

If you have any more suggestions for low-carbon Christmas recipes or dealing with all those Christmas leftovers, let us know! We can put them on our food blog and then add them to the recipe section in ‘Resources’. Send any ideas tobev@cambridgecarbonfootprint.org.

11. Meeting Passivhaus Standards for Retrofit Schemes
January 15, 2014, 5.30-8.00pm, The Technology Partnership, Melbourn Science Park, Melbourn, Hertfordshire, SG8 6EE

Passivhaus standards are set very high for new builds, but how can we bring our existing building stock to Passivhaus standards? Achieving Passivhaus certification for retrofit projects is possible so join us on the day to hear about case studies and some solutions for retrofitting our existing building stock. There will also be the chance to visit Integrity Buildings Cambridge Passivhaus showcase from 4pm.

This event is being run by Cambridge Cleantech Building Technologies SIG and their events often sell out fast, so book your place here now!

12. Seedy Sunday - a date for your diary!
January 19, 1.30-4.00pm, Trumpington Village Hall, High Street, Trumpington CB2 9HZ

Trumpington Seedy Sunday is a regular annual event for grow-your-own fans in the local area. Note the date now!
You can:
bring self-saved seeds to exchange
exchange bought surplus seed
take seeds in exchange for a small donation

If you don't have any spare seeds, don't worry - there are always plenty to go round.
As well as the seed swap, there will be stalls, talks, a childrens' activity, possibly a film & discussion, and tea and cakes from Trumpington Women's Institute. Entry costs £1.50 for adults (children free). Check out the webpage here for more details.

If you are willing and able to publicise Trumpington Seedy Sunday or to help on 19th January anytime between 12:00 and 17:30, please contact the organisers: seedysunday@allotments.net

Cambridge Carbon Footprint
www . cambridgecarbonfootprint . org
01223 301842

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