Friday, 31 January 2014

South Cambs Police Meeting Dates 2014 ** Including Police Priority Survey **

Local Policing Panels for the South Cambridgeshire area are changing.

From February 2014 there will be three Panel areas, focused around our three Police Stations at Histon, Cambourne and Sawston. These meetings will be held three times a year for each area to allow the public to influence their local Policing priorities.

(Follow this link to find out which panel area your village is in: Panel areas 2014 - Bar Hill, Boxworth, Lolworth, and Girton all come under Histon Panel)

Histon Panel (combined area for Histon and Swavesey panels)

February 12th 2014 Cottenham Village College

June 11th 2014 Swavesey Village College

October 15th 2014 Orchard Park Community Primary

Sawston Panel (combined area for Sawston, Linton & Fulbourn panels)

February 13th 2014 Sawston Village College

June 12th 2014 Linton Heights Junior School

October 16th 2014 Fulbourn venue TBC

Cambourne Panel (combined area for Bourne, Gamlingay, Melbourn panels)

February 11th 2014 Bassingbourn Village College

June 10th 2014 Gamlingay venue TBC

October 14th 2014 Cambourne Village College

(All meetings will begin at 19:30hrs)

Meetings will follow a familiar format and will now be available to download afterwards. You may add your own view to the local consultation process by attending in person, or completing our online survey:

Histon area https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/Histon_Feb2014

Cambourne area https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/Cambourne_Feb2014

Sawston https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/Sawston_Feb2014

Newsletter from the European Parliament, Friday 31 January 2014 - Sir Graham Watson MEP

Finance ministers from the 18 countries in the eurozone met on Monday. The biggest item of discussion was the sustainability of Greece's debt, though they also discussed recapitalisation of banks. A €60 bn recapitalisation fund - part of the 'European Stability Mechanism' - will be launched in November under the aegis of the ECB. On Wednesday negotiators from Parliament and Council met to discuss the role of the EP in overseeing bank resolution (winding-up) procedures. At the same time the European Commission proposed bans on proprietary trading and rehypothecation (ie. banks using their depositors' money to speculate) for banks considered too big to fail without a major domino effect.

At a meeting I chaired on Greece's problems, Greek Liberal MEP Theodoros Skylakakis pointed out that this country of ten million people has 2.6 million working in private industry supporting 1 million in the public sector, 1.4 million unemployed and 3 million retired. Despite an impressive cut in its deficit, further major reform is still needed, he said.

EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding has asked the UK, Ireland, Denmark, Malta and Cyprus to change their laws whereby citizens lose their right to vote if they live outside the country for a sustained period. While any EU citizen can vote in local and European elections in the country they live in, they cannot vote in national elections: a UK citizen becomes disenfranchised for national elections after 15 years out of the country; for Denmark and Ireland it is much less.

EU leaders had 'talks about talks' with Russian leaders at a brief summit meeting this week. They discussed ways to re-launch negotiations on a formal partnership and co-operation agreement (the current agreement is 20 years old). They discussed the economic consequences of closer EU ties with its eastern neighbours, including Ukraine. They also discussed Syria, human rights and routes used by EU airlines flying over Russia. Back in Brussels on Thursday Barroso received Poland's PM Donald Tusk, who is concerned about the impact of developments in the Ukraine ('on the brink of civil war', a former Ukrainian president has said) and the possibility of large numbers of refugees arriving in Poland, perhaps combined with Russia turning off the gas taps to the Ukraine which supply 70% of Russia's gas exports to the EU. He and the PMs of Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia have called for a visa-free regime with Ukraine a.s.a.p. and want to send a clear signal that the country can one day join the EU. EU foreign affairs suprema Catherine Ashton sent her deputy to Kiev at the start of the week and joined him on Wednesday, expressing concern about maltreatment of protesters.

The danger to the UK of the Tories having left the mainstream centre-right European People's Party was again illustrated on Wednesday at a meeting of MEPs to discuss the anti money-laundering directive. The UK does not want the Directive to cover trusts. But without the Tories to argue the case, the EPP (parliament's largest group) has decided to support their inclusion. I was left almost alone to argue against it, with support only from Tory Tim Kirkhope MEP on behalf of the small group of oddballs to which the Tories now belong.

The highlight of my week was joining protesters from Gibraltar in the freezing cold on Tuesday and Wednesday for demonstrations outside Parliament, Commission and the Spanish Embassy against unjustifiable border controls and the long queues they create. I hosted a presentation they made in Parliament and delivered a petition with almost 10,000 signatures to the EP's Petitions Committee.

The EU's political parties are pressing ahead with selection of their candidates for President of the Commission. The Greens this week chose German MEP Franziska Keller and French MEP Jose Bove as their joint female-male ticket. The EPP announced the four candidates in their race: former PMs Juncker of Luxembourg and Dombrovskis of Latvia, current PM Katainen of Finland and EU commissioner Barnier of France. Tomorrow I chair the EU LibDem conference in Brussels to approve the nomination of former PM Guy Verhofstadt of Belgium, currently our Group leader in Parliament.

Possibly the most significant news of the week? Angela Merkel's speech to the German Bundestag    on Wednesday calling for a 'quantum leap' towards a 'real economic union' in the EU.  

Regards

Graham

Cambridge MP Newsletter: Holocaust Memorial Day, Tory Rebellions And Action Day Galore! 31-JAN-2014

Cambridge Commemorates Holocaust Memorial Day  

This past weekend, Cambridge commemorated Holocaust Memorial Day and marked the 69th anniversary of the Auschwitz-Birkenau liberation. I was proud to witness firsthand the tremendous efforts put forth by the City Council and the Cambridge University Jewish Society to honour the memory of all who perished. The community truly came together and reminded us all of the importance of preventing these atrocities from ever happening again.

It seemed appropriate that two days after Holocaust Memorial Day, which also marked 75 years since Britain rescued 10,000 children with the Kindertransport, we finally persuaded the Home Secretary to do the right thing and allow some of the most vulnerable Syrian Refugees to come to the UK.

Debating Immigration Back in the House  

Thursday saw the Immigration Bill back in the House of Commons. It is incredibly sad that the political rhetoric in this country has drifted so far to the UKIP anti-foreigner approach, with Labour and the Tories chasing the same space. It also revealed just how weak the Prime Minister is when tackling his own back benches.

Fortunately, we stopped many of the worst proposals from being added to the Bill, even though the Tories abstained on a proposal from their own rebels. Unfortunately, proposals to expand the deprivation of citizenship passed, partly because Labour decided to abstain on this issue; I coordinated the vote against it.

On a more positive note, I have persuaded the government to write into law the end of child detention for immigration purposes, reflecting the changes already made. Under the last government, thousands of children were locked up for no crime; this will never happen again.

Building a Better Support System for Adults with Autism   

The Adult Autism Strategy from 2010 was a notable step forward in improving the services available to people with autism, and my predecessor David Howarth was key to it. However, it’s not being implemented fast enough. On Wednesday, I and a few colleagues pressed Health Minister Norman Lamb on how the government plans to get the strategy put into practice. Adults with autism deserve to have the same opportunities as everyone else, but research from the National Autistic Society tells us that only 15% of adults with autism have full-time jobs. Autism is a formidable challenge for those suffering from the condition and it is necessary to make sure a sound support system in place to protect their quality of life.

Lib Dems’ National Day of Action

Tomorrow, I’ll be heading out along with members and activists from across the city as part of our National Day of Action. We’ll be knocking on doors in Newnham, supporting our excellent city councillor Rod Cantrill. It's a great chance to meet supporters from across the city. If you've never been before, we'll make sure you get all the training you need and have a good time.

University Application Rate For 18-Year-Olds At A Record High – Vince Cable

Vice Cable MP
Figures released today by UCAS show that the number of 18-year olds in England applying to university has reached a record high.

The application rate for 18-year-olds in England has increased to its highest ever level of 34.8%. The rate of disadvantaged young people in England has also increased to its highest ever level, rising to 20.7%.

This means that 18 year olds living in the most disadvantaged areas of England are nearly twice as likely to apply to university than they were 10 years ago increasing from 10.7% in 2004 to 20.7% in 2014.

Overall the applicant rate is up by 4% to 580,000.

Commenting, Liberal Democrat Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, Vince Cable said:

"Going to university should be accessible to everyone with ability, not the ability to pay. Our reforms were tough but they were right and we are now seeing the fruits of our efforts. Eighteen-year olds from poorer backgrounds are applying at a record rate and are now twice as likely to consider going to university than ten years ago.

"It's also good to see an increase in the number of people applying for engineering and technology. These are key to ensuring our country stays ahead of the global competition.

"It's clear that young people understand that investing in a degree is an investment for their future. New students do not pay fees upfront, there is more financial support for those from disadvantaged backgrounds and everyone will make lower loan repayments once they are in well paid jobs."

UK Could Credibly Scale Back Trident - Nick Harvey MP

A new report by military think-tank the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) suggests that scaling back Trident is a legitimate option for the UK to take.

In harmony with Lib Dem calls for the UK to step down the 'nuclear ladder', the report states that reducing the number of Vanguard submarines and ending Continuous At Sea Deterrence (CASD) is a credible and viable option.

Commenting, Liberal Democrat MP Nick Harvey said:

"I very much welcome RUSI's report today. It's pleasing to see this well-respected and expert organisation coming to this issue with an open mind.

"The report concludes that a step away from Continuous at-Sea Deterrence (CASD) is a legitimate option, which is quite right: the Lib Dems have long argued that the nuclear status quo is unnecessary and unaffordable.

"We need to come down the nuclear ladder in a way that is consistent with the world today: we no longer need to be able to fire on Moscow at a moment's notice. We cannot escape uncertainty, but we have finite defence resources and a Cold War nuclear capability has little relevance to the range of security challenges we're likely to face in the future."

Lib Dems Condemn Tory Plan To Cut Dial-A-Ride Funding As "Heartless"

A Tory plan to cut funding for the county’s Dial-a-Ride and other community transport schemes which could lead to their total collapse has been attacked as “brutal and heartless” by Cambridgeshire Liberal Democrats.

They say the move, in the Conservatives’ proposed County Council budget would leave elderly and disabled people isolated and vulnerable across the county.

Cambridgeshire County Council received a government grant of £516,000 to help community transport operators develop and expand. But the bulk of the money has not been distributed and the Tories plan to use it to plug holes in the council’s budget.

In contrast, the Lib Dems’ budget allows more than £400,000 funding for community transport over the next two years.

Lib Dem Transport Spokesperson, Susan van de Ven said: “Community transport provides the only way for thousands of the county’s most vulnerable and isolated people to make social contact and access public services.

“The cuts proposed by the Conservatives are brutal and misguided. They are planning a cut in funding for community transport and there is a real prospect that it could collapse completely.

“We have an ageing population and community transport providers are making more frequent and longer journeys since the tightening of NHS patient transport. These drivers are volunteers and longer journeys take more time which has an impact on the number of volunteers available.

“If we allow community transport to collapse it will inevitably cost more for the taxpayer in the longer term. Community transport cuts would be a spectacular case of false economy.

Sue Austen East Cambridgeshire District Councillor and member of the Cambridgeshire Older Peoples Partnership Board said if the district were to lose its Dial-a-Ride service it would seriously impact on the elderly, infirm and those who live in rural areas.

“These short term measures and not only misguided, they are heartless,” she said. “People will be isolated in their own homes and some may lose their independence and have to go into residential homes. Public transport in many areas is limited or non-existent, community transport is their lifeline.”

Manning's Challenge To Get The Young To The Polls

Lib Dem County Councillor, Ian Manning is to challenge cross-party councillors to do more to encourage young people in the city to vote.

The move has been inspired by the national Bite the Ballot campaign, which aims to empower young people to act to make their votes and opinions count, and Cambridge campaigner, Antony Carpen who blogs as @Puffles.

Cllr Manning, who represents East Chesterton on Cambridgeshire County Council, wants to launch his competition between Cambridge City Council’s Area Committees to encourage councillors to connect better with young people.

“People aged under 24 are the least likely to vote and the least likely even to be on the register.” said Cllr Manning. “I’m proud to represent an area in the north of the city.  It’s a really active area and I firmly believe we can improve engagement with young people.”

He will seek support from fellow north area councillors to challenge the other three area committees to see who can get the most under 24s who haven’t voted before, to commit to voting in the May elections.

Ian has asked Antony Carpen if he will judge the eventual winner and will approach others, such as the city's MP, Julian Huppert to help as well.

“Although there will be no prize, young people and democracy can only win from this; so I really hope a few councillors from each area committee will take part,” he said.

The next North Area Committee meeting is on the 6th February at Shirley Primary School, Nuffield Road

Cambridgeshire Turning The Tide Against Physical Inactivity

A national report suggests Cambridgeshire is the top place in the East of England where people are turning the tide against physical inactivity.

However, the independent report, “Turning the tide of inactivity”, from UK Active is also a clear call for people to become more active across the county.

The report details the levels of physical inactivity, both at a national and local level. It suggests out of 11 local authority areas in the East of England, Cambridgeshire is the place where people are the least sedentary with just over 22 per cent population thought to be physically inactive. This compares with Luton, which has around 35 per cent of their population inactive.

According to the report, an inactive person is someone who fails to do 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity within a 28-day period during 2013. The dangers of inactivity include becoming obese and developing chronic diseases, such as, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.

In recent years, Cambridgeshire County Council and its partners, the district councils, NHS and Living Sport, have invested in a range of schemes and initiatives for all ages. These include cycle paths, safer routes to school and the Travel to Work partnership, encouraging people to walk and cycle in their leisure time, in their commute or on their way to school. Another key scheme is the County Council’s Public Health team’s ‘Energize’ programme, which is targeted at children aged between 7 and 11 who are above their healthy weight range. The scheme helps them manage their weight and encourages them to exercise.

Val Thomas, Consultant in Public Health at Cambridgeshire County Council, said: “We’re really pleased to see Cambridgeshire is doing well in the region when it comes to inactivity. It is encouraging, but there is more we can do. We will be continuing to work with district councils and other partners to find ways to give people options to take part in physical activity, particularly those who have sedentary lifestyles. The consequences of inactivity are clear – if you are inactive you risk being obese and developing chronic illnesses like heart disease, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.”

County Councillor Tony Orgee, Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, added: “It’s really important that people take on board the message around exercise. By choosing an active and healthy lifestyle you can reduce your chances of a serious illness. We have some excellent facilities in Cambridgeshire and we are the UK capital of cycling. However, getting physically active can be as simple as going for a 30 minute walk and it’s free.”

National Neighbourhood And Home Watch Evaluation Survey ** CLOSES @ 5PM **


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.

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Andrew Duff MEP: Proposal To Improve European Parliament Voting Transparency Postponed

Following opposition from the two largest groups in the European Parliament, the European People's Party (EPP) and Socialists and Democrats (S&D), a proposal to record and publish the results of how MEPs vote in committees has been postponed for the foreseeable future.

The proposal was due to be voted on next Wednesday 5th February by MEPs during the European Parliament's plenary session in Strasbourg. However, it has now been delayed following this morning's meeting of the European Parliament Conference of Presidents, who have taken it off the final Strasbourg agenda.

Liberal Democrat MEP Andrew Duff called for all final votes in committee on draft laws to be made public back in 2012, but his proposal was rejected by EPP and S&D MEPs in the Constitutional Affairs Committee.

He now strongly supports the current proposal.

He commented:

"It is wrong to have delayed this important reform. People have a right to know how their elected representatives vote. The argument is not complicated.

"Many important legislative decisions are made at committee stage. MEPs should not hide the choices they make from voters, the media and lobbyists. I had hoped that the European Parliament would put in place higher standards of scrutiny and transparency than those that are met in national parliaments. Sadly we seem not quite ready for this.

"The democratic legitimacy of the European Union is being called into question. More openness about MEPs' engagement in law making is an important element in the reform movement to which European Liberals are committed."

Currently MEPs' votes in committee are only published if specifically requested, unlike during the plenary session when all final legislative votes are recorded.

New Cycle Link To Granta Park

Work is about to start on a new cycleway alongside the A505 between Whittlesford Station and Granta Park in South Cambridgeshire.

A dedicated off-road shared use path for cyclists and walkers will be built along a 2.7km stretch at a cost of £650,000 from the government’s Cycle City Ambition Fund. Construction will start on Monday, February 3, and is expected to take around 15 weeks.

Work hours will be restricted to 9.30 am-3.30 pm to minimise traffic disruption, particularly during the peak rush-hour periods.  The road itself will be narrowed to create a safe working area and temporary traffic lights will be required during working hours.

County Council Cabinet Member for Growth and Planning, Councillor Ian Bates, said: “I am delighted that the County Council has been able to successfully get millions of pounds from the Department for Transport’s Cycle City Ambition Fund to improve facilities in Cambridgeshire. A cycleway along this stretch of the A505 has been a long-time ambition for people working at Granta Park.”

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 Cambridge.

Cambridge is already the cycling capital of the UK and the County Council recognises that among its many benefits, cycling is vital in reducing congestion, boosting the local economy and improving health.

Further information and updates on the scheme will be available online at: www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/cycling.

For all the latest updates, please check out Cambridgeshire County Council’s Twitter feed: https://twitter.com/CambsCC

Bar Hill Parish Council Environment Committee Meeting @ 7:30pm on 05-FEB

The agenda for the Environment Committee meeting on the 5th February has now been published online;

1. To receive apologies for absence and declaration of interest
2. To approve minutes of the previous meeting
3. Matters arising for discussion and decisions to be made from the previous minutes
4. Stream and Nature Reserve – Rob Mongovan to attend
5. Tree Management Programme Report
6. Litter – To make a decision on the date of the next Litter Picking Day
7. Works outstanding and approval
8. Items for information

Comments or suggestions let me know.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Multi-Million Pound Deal Struck To Provide Community Facilities At Northstowe

Local councils have struck a £30 million deal with the promoters of the first homes at the planned town of Northstowe for investment in community facilities – including funding for a primary and secondary school.

The contributions agreed follow a deal being brokered by South Cambridgeshire and Cambridgeshire County councils with the promoters of the first 1,500 homes, Gallagher Estates.

A report presented to the Northstowe Joint Development Control Committee today (Wednesday 29 January) outlines the terms of the agreement which will get the new town off the ground.

The legal agreement includes:

  • £10 million for a new primary school
  • £8 million contribution toward a new secondary school
  • Almost £6 million toward transport, including new cycle routes, footpaths and a contribution for the Cambridgeshire Guided Busway which is already in place
  • £1.5 million for a community centre
  • £1.5 million for sports pitches
  • £1.1 million for a sports pavilion
  • Over £1 million for drainage, which will include improvements for nearby Longstanton
  • Over £500,000 for parks and open spaces
The first phase of new homes will also include a local centre with shops and employment opportunities as well as a household recycling centre.

The legal agreement has been finalised by lawyers and will soon be signed by all parties before being sealed. Once completed the outline planning permission already approved by councillors for phase one will be issued.

Once planning permission has been granted, a series of detailed planning applications will follow, which will include the design and appearance of homes.  These will be consulted on with residents.

Subject to the detailed planning applications being agreed, developers have said to the councils that work could begin on site later this year.

One in five of the homes in the initial development will be affordable rented or shared ownership. However, councillors are also expecting that a variety of other homes will be built in the first phase that are open to buy or rent for all residents with the support of schemes such as ‘Help to Buy’, mortgage guarantee and similar Government backed initiatives which may be available.

To make sure the secondary school can be delivered as early as possible alongside the first development of homes at Northstowe, the Homes and Communities Agency – which owns the majority of the government land that the future town will be built on – will make land available. The Agency is working together with Gallagher, the County Council and South Cambridgeshire District Council to bring forward the new town which will have up to 10,000 homes.

Cllr Tim Wotherspoon, South Cambridgeshire District Council’s cabinet member for Northstowe, said: “Delivering a new town of the highest quality has always been our priority and this agreement will secure the money needed to provide the facilities that are vital to its success. We know there is huge demand for new homes, especially at a price people can afford, and I am really pleased after a long period of negotiation that we have been able to secure the best deal possible. We have a thriving economy in South Cambridgeshire with around 1,000 new jobs being created each year, but to continue our success story and quality of life for local people more housing is needed.”

Cllr Ian Bates, Cambridgeshire County Council’s cabinet member for growth and infrastructure, said: “Securing a contribution toward a new secondary school as part of phase one of the new town is excellent news for the area. It is rare to be able to do this at this stage of a town and will help make sure it gets off to the best possible start. The highly successful Busway being in place before the first homes begin to be built, along with the recent planning permission for the new Cambridge Science Park Station, will also ensure new residents will have some of the highest quality transport links in the country on their doorstep. But future phases of the town will also need a major upgrade of the A14 which we will continue to press the government on delivering as early as possible.”

Alan Joyner, Executive Director at Gallagher, said: “We are looking forward to starting construction on site later this year. This is the culmination of many years of hard work by Gallagher and its partners and we will be helping to provide the new community with a wide range of services and facilities in a great location for inward investment in homes and jobs.”

Paul Kitson, Senior Manager of the Homes and Communities Agency, said: “This is great news. As future plans for more homes unfold this year we will start to see a real momentum building on this development. We are looking forward to talking to the public about these plans soon.”

Long Road Cycleways Set To Improve

Work is starting on Monday (February 3) to improve the cycleways along both sides of Long Road in Cambridge.

The project includes widening the paths to around 3 metres, improving the surface and upgrading the crossing areas near Long Road Sixth Form College and Sedley Taylor Road.

During the construction, one footpath and cycleway will be kept open, with working hours restricted to 9.30 am-3.30 pm to minimise traffic disruption, particularly during the peak rush-hour periods.

Queen Edith’s County Councillor Amanda Taylor, said: “The paths are well used by people going to the Addenbrooke's Hospital site, Long Road Sixth Form College and many other schools, colleges and businesses in the Hills Road/Trumpington Road area.  These improvements will make cycling and walking on Lond Road much safer and more pleasurable.

“The other good thing about this is that the project comes from the community. I was first approached about improving the cycleways by a local resident, Sam Davies, who cycled this way to school with her children. It was a pleasure to help her identify the funding. Well done Sam!

The £180,000 improvements are being funded from local developers and should be completed by mid-March.

Cambridge Folk Festival Recognised At BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards

BBC Radio 2 has announced that the Cambridge Folk Festival, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, is being awarded a prestigious award at this year’s BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards.

The Festival will receive the Good Tradition Award which is given to a person, group or organisation for their contribution to the preservation, dissemination and continuance/progression of traditional music over a number of years.

The BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards ceremony, which is being held at The Royal Albert Hall on February 19, will see some of the biggest names in folk music come together under one roof to celebrate the UK’s thriving folk music scene.

Also being recognised for life time contributions to Folk music at the awards ceremony are Clannad, Martin Carthy and Cecil Sharp.

Sarah Brown, Executive Councillor for Community Wellbeing said 'We are delighted that the Festival has won such a prestigious award at this years BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards. We'd like to thank all the festival goers and artists over the years who have contributed to ensuring that Cambridge has played a key role in the continuation of traditional music'.

The Cambridge Folk Festival showcases both international headline artists and young, emerging talent across four different stages and continues to enjoy sell-out success year on year. Renowned for its unique parkland setting, great facilities and family friendliness, the Festival offers something for everyone with street theatre, music workshops and sessions, raucous ceilidhs, open stages, a youth area, internet café, kids’ ceilidh, storytelling, free creche, paddling pool and playground and real ale bars.

Unlock Democracy: Gagging Law - The Aftermath


I am writing to update you on the campaign to fix the Lobbying Bill and to thank you for your support during our campaign. As you may have heard, the Bill has progressed through its final stages and will now become law. On Wednesday, the House of Lords narrowly voted to reject the amendments we had been pushing to fix the Bill; one amendment fell on a tied vote - 245-245.

This is a huge blow for democracy, charities and campaigners. We have been left with a Lobbying Bill that lets professional lobbyists off the hook but forces people campaigning to save their local hospital to jump through bureaucratic hoops.

We may not have won the votes on Wednesday but the campaign has produced some valuable results. The Civil Society Commission brought together more than 160 campaign groups to fight the Bill, including deadly enemies like the Countryside Alliance and the League Against Cruel Sports! The government was forced to offer a number of concessions in the face of overwhelming opposition. For example, the registration threshold for non-party organisations has been doubled from the government’s original proposals, meaning the smallest campaign groups will escape much of the new bureaucracy. Massive cuts to election spending limits in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have been scaled back from the original proposals, meaning that campaigners can keep fighting for good causes across the UK.

These changes are due to the hard work of organisations like Unlock Democracy and would not have been possible without your support. We will keep working to limit the impact of the bill on charities and campaigners even after it reaches the statute book. We’ll be sure to keep you updated on actions you can take as time goes on.

These proposals were forced through Parliament with no public support, no consultation, and precious little time for scrutiny. This is not how law should be made; it underlines why we must keep fighting on other fronts for democratic reform. As we shift our focus towards our other campaigns, we want you to stay involved. In the run up to the General Election in 2015, Unlock Democracy will be asking how politics should really work and how citizens can have a real say in shaping laws and dictating policy.

Unlock Democracy could not continue its work without your support and engagement. Whether you’ve written to your MP, signed a petition, donated or helped us in other ways, thank you for all of your support in the campaign against the “Gagging Law”.

Best wishes,

Alexandra Runswick
Director, Unlock Democracy

Monday, 27 January 2014

Cambridge Leads The Way In UK Economic Recovery

A new report out today shows that Cambridge continues to punch above its weight as the UK economy recovers. The report, Cities Outlook 2014, published today by the Centre for Cities, compares the economic health of 64 cities across the United Kingdom, and shows that Cambridge comes at or near the top of the tree on a range of indicators.

The City and its universities were responsible for 68.7 patents per 100,000 population, which is as many as the six next best cities combined. Cambridge has the highest proportion of people (65.9%) with high level qualifications, whilst also having the second lowest number of people without qualifications.

The city had the lowest unemployment count, at just 1.4% in November 2013. Those in work have the 6th highest average earnings in the country but the city is also the most equal of the 64 cities studied.

Cambridge has the second highest proportion of employees in knowledge-intensive service jobs, at 31.7%, and the third highest level of post codes with superfast broadband (88.3%). The rate of population change, at 2.0% in 2011-12, was the highest of the 64 cities in the report.

However, this success does come at a price – average house prices are the third highest of the 64 cities, at £362,800.

Leader of Cambridge City Council, Councillor Tim Bick said, "This is a glowing picture of Cambridge, confirming just what an incredibly successful city it is. It is worthy of simple reflection on this fact before seeking out the "buts". There is of course no room for complacency as this level of success naturally brings its own challenges, in our case the particular one is the supply of housing. To maintain this success we need to see in place the new local plans that we and our neighbouring councils have been preparing. And we need government to devolve more of its power and funding to enable investment within the city region enabling protection for the quality of life, which we are negotiating to achieve along with our neighbours through the City Deal."

Cambridge Leads The Way In UK Economic Recovery

A new report out today shows that Cambridge continues to punch above its weight as the UK economy recovers. The report, Cities Outlook 2014, published today by the Centre for Cities, compares the economic health of 64 cities across the United Kingdom, and shows that Cambridge comes at or near the top of the tree on a range of indicators.

The City and its universities were responsible for 68.7 patents per 100,000 population, which is as many as the six next best cities combined. Cambridge has the highest proportion of people (65.9%) with high level qualifications, whilst also having the second lowest number of people without qualifications.

The city had the lowest unemployment count, at just 1.4% in November 2013. Those in work have the 6th highest average earnings in the country but the city is also the most equal of the 64 cities studied.

Cambridge has the second highest proportion of employees in knowledge-intensive service jobs, at 31.7%, and the third highest level of post codes with superfast broadband (88.3%). The rate of population change, at 2.0% in 2011-12, was the highest of the 64 cities in the report.

However, this success does come at a price – average house prices are the third highest of the 64 cities, at £362,800.

Leader of Cambridge City Council, Councillor Tim Bick said, "This is a glowing picture of Cambridge, confirming just what an incredibly successful city it is. It is worthy of simple reflection on this fact before seeking out the "buts". There is of course no room for complacency as this level of success naturally brings its own challenges, in our case the particular one is the supply of housing. To maintain this success we need to see in place the new local plans that we and our neighbouring councils have been preparing. And we need government to devolve more of its power and funding to enable investment within the city region enabling protection for the quality of life, which we are negotiating to achieve along with our neighbours through the City Deal."

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Change.org: Shut Down Cyberbullying Website, Ask.Fm, In Memory Of Izzy Dix & 13 Other Teens Globally

The following petition was sent to me from Change.org and I thought I'd circulate it. Please feel free to pass this on and encourage other people to sign;

"For a period of almost two years, my 14-year-old daughter, Izzy, was bullied. She was tormented at school, in the local community and online via a website called Ask.fm. I was trying my best every day to help and support her through it. But on the evening of Tuesday 17th September last year, Izzy took her own life.

Izzy had been having a hard time settling into her school, so I agreed that when she turned 13 she could get a Facebook account – I thought it might help her to socialise. Then she asked to join a question and answer website called Ask.fm because “everyone at school was on it”. I’d never heard of it before, but it seemed like harmless fun to me, so I agreed.But it wasn’t harmless at all.

Izzy came to me because she began receiving abuse on her page. She showed me how it worked and I was horrified. It’s a website used predominantly by teenagers that allows users to post comments and remain anonymous. Because of this it has become a notorious platform for cyberbullies.

The nasty comments Izzy received could have been posted by complete strangers, kids at school, or even by grown adults – but we had no way of knowing for sure. She was asked overtly sexual questions and was encouraged to post naked photos online in a game called ‘Body Part for Body Part’. She didn’t and we deleted her account immediately.

But a part of Izzy's fragile self esteem had already been chipped away and she eventually took her own life. That’s why I’ve started a campaign urging David Cameron to help close down or place restrictions on the Ask.fm site.

Ask.fm is a Latvian-based website with over 70 million users. It has now been linked to the suicides of 13 teenagers around the world.ChildLine has recently announced an 87% increase in the number of kids seeking help over online bullying in the past year alone. Something needs to be done now.

Bullying is a complicated issue. While I’m not blaming Ask.fm directly for my daughter’s death, she was very distressed by the online harassment and on top of the bullying she was receiving at school, it certainly added to her deep upset.

I’m a single mum and Izzy was my only child. My old life has now gone forever and I’m struggling to make sense of my new one. This petition won’t bring Izzy back. But it will spread awareness about the potential dangers of Ask.fm to parents and teens and could save lives.

I urge you, in Izzy’s memory, to please sign it, share it, and ask your friends and family to do the same.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Gabbi Dix"

Friday, 24 January 2014

Unpaid Work Punishment For Benefits Cheat

A Girton man who found employment but failed to cancel his benefit claim has been ordered to carry out unpaid work.

Travis Smith, 31, of Wellbrook Way, admitted one count of failing to report a change in circumstances that affected his benefit entitlement at Cambridge Magistrates Court yesterday (Thursday, 23 January).

During a routine review of Mr Smith’s benefits claim it was found that he had ended his Jobseekers Allowance claim when he started work in November 2011, but as he didn’t tell South Cambridgeshire District Council about the change his housing and council tax benefit payments continued.

Housing benefits of £120 per week were paid to Mr Smith’s landlord and a further £25 per week in council tax benefit and support led to an overpayment of £11,956.28.

Mr Smith was sentenced to a 12-month supervision order, during which he must complete 40 hours of unpaid work. He was also ordered to pay £150 towards the cost of the prosecution and a £60 victim surcharge. The overpaid benefits are already being repaid.

Cllr Simon Edwards, South Cambridgeshire district Council’s deputy leader and cabinet member for finance, said: “It is important that people receiving benefits take care to notify us when their circumstances change. Failure to do so can result in a hefty bill and even a criminal prosecution, as has happened in this case. We try to make the process as simple as possible and always encourage people to speak to us early.”

Anyone suspecting benefit fraud can report it to South Cambridgeshire District Council on 0800 7311892 or by emailing benefitfraud@scambs.gov.uk

Cambridgeshire Fire And Rescue: Chief Looks Forward To 2014

INVESTMENT and efficiency are on the cards for Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service (CFRS) in 2014 as it strives to provide the best service possible for residents.

Reflecting on 2013, Chief Fire Officer Graham Stagg said that, despite being faced with the task of balancing a difficult budget, the Service performed better than ever before.

He said: "This has been achieved by having more efficient staffing and rota systems - from the senior management team through to firefighters and right across support departments - and cutting £4.2 million without any detriment to frontline services.

"We have put in place sufficient savings efficiently to allow a council tax freeze this coming year and to ensure for the next two years we can balance our books without being forced to make cuts to the frontline. By making the required savings early, we have also been able to invest in frontline services, to ensure our firefighters have the very best equipment available in the right place, to do the jobs we expect them to do on a daily basis."

Graham continued: "This does not mean we stand still in 2014 though, far from it. We will continue to look at the services we provide and see where we can keep on improving and we do this by looking at historical incident data and continuously reviewing where our risks are. Changes will be made - but they won't be driven by budget - they will be driven by us continually wanting to improve on what we do and having our resources in the right places to provide a better service to the people of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough."

Collaborative work with other fire and rescue services has been key to the successful efficiency of CFRS, and the improving use of technology and working with other organisations is set to continue into 2014.

In 2013, the Service's performance saw reductions in fires and other emergencies. The Combined Fire Control received just over 9,900 emergency calls for Cambridgeshire (a reduction of 1 per cent on the previous year), resulting in 6,675 incidents for fire crews to attend - a 6 per cent decrease from the previous year.

A significant percentage of incidents CFRS attends has always been to Automatic Fire Alarms (AFAs) and the vast majority of these are false alarms due to faulty equipment or issues like dust in the sensors. Last year, CFRS changed its policy for attending AFAs to ensure resources were used in the best possible way, which has led to a significant decrease in the numbers on the previous year, from 1,855 to 1,418 - a reduction of 24 per cent.

The number of accidental house fires is down by 10 per cent, from 246 in 2012 to 221 in 2013, along with a reduction in deliberate primary fires of 17 per cent, and deliberate secondary fires of 13 per cent.

Graham said: "Although the number of deliberate fires is down in Cambridgeshire, we still have pockets of problems within the county, which last year came in the form of bin and stack fires. This year we will continue to work with partners to drive those numbers down further and educate young people about the potential consequences of becoming involved with arson-related behaviour.

"One of the sad facts however is that while fires are decreasing, there are still far too many devastating road traffic collisions happening on our roads. We rescue far more people from crashed cars than we do from burning buildings, so we will continue to work with partners to try and drive these numbers down and prevent further loss of life on the roads."

Graham concluded: "Last year was a good year for us and our achievements have been through tremendous teamwork by everyone who works at CFRS, including members of the Fire Authority and representative bodies. The number of fires and incidents we attend is going down and our promotion of safety messages seems to be getting through, so I thank people for listening and helping us to keep Cambridgeshire and Peterborough one of the safest places to live in the country with regard to fire."

Night-Time Working To Improve Cambridge Footways

£60,000 improvement project at Gonville Place and Parkside

The County Council is about to start a two week project to improve footpaths on two busy streets in central Cambridge.

Work on the £60,000 scheme on Gonville Place and Parkside, begins on February 3 with working at night to reduce disruption to traffic on the busy roads and the impact on pedestrians.

Traffic management will be in place for vehicles and pedestrians will be diverted away from the work areas via light controlled crossings to the opposite footway.

The working hours are expected to be between 7.00 pm and 1.00 am at the latest.

National Neighbourhood And Home Watch Evaluation Survey ** ONE WEEK TO GO **


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.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Councillors Back Call To Lobby Government For Greater Pub Protection

Councillors have put their weight behind a plan to lobby Government for changes to national legislation that would give pubs greater protection from development.

Councillors at a Full Council meeting today (Thursday 23 January) supported a call for pubs not to be allowed free reign to convert into shops or offices without consultation if the community has successfully listed them as ‘assets of community value’.

A motion put forward by Cllr Roger Hickford follows the recent lawful conversion of the closed Pear Tree Pub in Hildersham into a furniture shop, which the local parish council had successfully listed as an asset last year.

Cllr Hickford’s motion, which was supported by councillors demanded that “Central Government remove the permitted development rights for change of use of pubs if they have been successfully registered as community assets.”

This change would mean a pub wanting to change use would need to apply for planning permission and residents would be given the chance to make their views known.

Assets of Community Value Regulation 2012, which was part of the government’s localism bill, currently gives communities up to six months to table a bid for a listed asset if they are put up for sale. However, it offers no protection if a change of use allowed by national planning rules is carried out.

The agreed motion confirms proposals earlier this month to lobby the Government on the issue after frustration the Council did not have sufficient power to stop the change at The Pear Tree, which had already been carried out.

Nationally, the number of pubs is declining and the Council’s call for action follows the Campaign for Real Ale’s plea to give pubs greater protection. Under current planning legislation a pub can be lawfully converted to a shop without further planning permission.

The motion also called on the Council to lobby local MPs, the Local Government Association and other relevant bodies to support the proposed change.

Cllr Ray Manning, Leader of South Cambridgeshire District Council, said: “I am really pleased councillors are united in supporting this motion as we can now begin making our case to Government. I sympathise with people in Hildersham who wanted their local pub to be retained and we will fight for a change which will at least give communities the chance to have a say.”

Cllr Roger Hickford, local member for Hildersham on South Cambridgeshire District Council, said: “The pub closure was a real blow my villagers in Hildersham and the motion councillors have agreed will see us collectively stand up for the communities we all represent. At the moment this could happen to any pub, even if they have been viable and thriving businesses. The Government’s community asset legislation is a fantastic piece of work to support communities if the final pub in a village is to be sold but it simply does not do enough to help people if the use of an asset is being changed as happened at the Pear Tree.”

Most Vulnerable Continue To Be Protected As Council Tax Support Scheme Agreed

Councillors have confirmed the most vulnerable people in South Cambridgeshire will continue to be protected from a reduction in council tax support at a public meeting today (Thursday 23 January).

At the Council meeting of South Cambridgeshire District Council, councillors voted to endorse continuing a localised council tax support scheme to make sure people in need of help paying their council tax still receive it.

The localised scheme was introduced last year after the Government passed on the responsibility for administering it to local councils while also cutting the money provided to pay the benefit by around £1 million.

The scheme from April in South Cambridgeshire will continue to see the same amount of help given to claimants – including continued protection for pensioners, those with disabilities, their careers, as well as lone parents with children under five – which totals around three quarters of households claiming support.

To offset the reduction in money from Government, the Council removed discounts for people who own an empty or second property in the district last April. This money has been used to support vulnerable groups on low incomes.

A 50% council tax premium is now also charged on properties that remain empty for more than two years to encourage them to be brought back into use.

Over the last 12 months the number of people claiming support has also fallen, an indication that the economy locally is picking up and more people have been able to find employment or a better paid job.

Cllr Simon Edwards, South Cambridgeshire District Council’s deputy leader and cabinet member for finance, said: “By taking away some exemptions and discounts for those with second homes we were able to manage the reduction in national funding and protect those most in need. It is really good news we have seen the number of claimants fall and by supporting businesses and helping them create more jobs we are aiming for this trend to continue. Most families continue to be able to pay their bill following a number of national benefit changes but where people are struggling we are providing additional targeted discretionary housing payments to support them in the short term. If you find yourself struggling with your finances and are in need of help please contact us early so we can see if you are eligible.”

PCC: Plan Variation Puts Victims In Driving Seat

Cambridgeshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner will put victims in the driving seat when he puts forward a variation to his Police and Crime Plan in February.

Police and crime commissioners have a duty to keep their Police and Crime Plans under review and may at any time vary the Plan. The draft revised Plan must be issued to the Police and Crime Panel for review.

A Strategic Vision of Support for Victims in Cambridgeshire aims to champion the needs of victims and provide victim-driven support which enables them to cope and recover and where possible return to the life they had before the crime occurred. This victim strategy reinforces the drive to create safer, stronger and supportive communities for victims and recognises some victims have multiple complex needs and need all agencies to work together to support them.

Sir Graham Bright said: “In Cambridgeshire we have been forging ahead with plans to give victims of crime a much stronger voice. I have already received some funding from the Ministry of Justice which is helping to ensure I have sufficient capacity to do the necessary groundwork to prepare for the further broadening of my role.

“We have additional money coming our way from October this year which will mean I have responsibility for commissioning support services for the 30,000 people who report crime each year in the county.

“I want to put the victim in the driving position, ensuring they receive the necessary help in the aftermath of a crime committed against them. For many, the offence against them is only the start of what can seem to many to be a traumatic process. It is our collective duty to ensure they are effectively supported throughout the criminal justice system.

“My role, and the operation I am now running, is completely different to the one I inherited and it is increasing all the time. The variation to my Plan, and the accompanying finances, is truer reflection of that broader role.”

The variation to the Plan will also include a stronger focus on effective partnership working to reduce the number of victims in the first place by tackling offending, re-offending and approaches to vulnerable people. It champions a ‘whole public sector service’ approach to problems that are common to all. Ensuring the Commissioner is adequately supported in his pledge to be the voice of the people, not the police, also features highly.

Further information is available here and here

Switch On To Collective Energy Switching In Cambridgeshire

Register for new scheme and help reduce your energy bills

Residents are being given the chance to cut their utility bills with the launch of the Cambridgeshire Energy Switch scheme.

The scheme, which is being supported by Cambridgeshire County Council, uses the collective bargaining power of residents to bid for better prices for electricity and gas to save you money.

From this week residents can sign up online via www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/switch or offline, and are collected together as one group or customer.

The deadline for joining this first switch for 2014 is February 18 when energy suppliers are given an opportunity to offer this collective group of residents a deal to provide their electricity and gas. The more residents sign up the better. There is no obligation to accept an offer from companies and the service is free of charge.

The aim of the Cambridgeshire Energy Switch scheme is to save residents money on their energy bills at a time of rising prices. Residents across the County may not be enjoying the lowest tariff. All residents on both credit and pre-payment meters qualify to join the Cambridgeshire Energy Switch.

Anyone wishing to sign up or find out more should log onto www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/switch If people do not have access to the internet they can use one of the computers in their local library or contact Cambridgeshire County Council via emma.middleton@cambridgeshire.gov.uk

Cambridgeshire County Councillor Mathew Shuter, Cabinet Member for Enterprise and Skills, said: “Cambridgeshire County Council wants to do its bit to help people get the best energy deal and make their money go farther. By using the combined buying power of our residents we can help get deals that will save people money. The scheme is free and there is no obligation to accept an offer. We hope as many people as possible will sign up and see if they can save money on their bills.”

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Cambridgeshire Fire And Rescue: Chimney Fire Spike Prompts Safety Message

A TOTAL of 27 chimney fires have occurred across the county since the start of December, prompting a call by the fire service for people to ensure their chimneys are properly maintained.

In December, crews were called to 15 chimney fires in people's homes and one in a hotel. So far in January the Service has attended 10 in homes and one at a hotel.

Group Commander Chris Parker said: "If you have an open fire in your home, it is vital that you have your chimney swept at least once a year to prevent a build up of debris which could start a fire.

"In addition to this, the brickwork on the chimney should also be inspected, particularly in the roof space to ensure there are no cracked or broken bricks which embers could escape through."

He added: "Open fires can be cosy and a cheaper way to stay warm, but a chimney fire can be expensive - certainly a lot more than the cost of having the chimney swept. Not only could a fire cause extensive damage to your home, but it could also put the lives of you and your family at serious risk if it spreads."

Top tips to enjoy an open fire safely:
  • Have the chimney swept at least once a year, or more frequently if you burn wood
  • Do not build fires too high and remember to let them burn down well before you retire to bed
  • Check the hearth, floor and furnishings near the fire for hot sparks or embers before you go to bed
  • Use a fire or spark guard to prevent accidental fires and make sure that it has the kite mark or conforms to a relevant British/European safety standard
  • Do not place objects on or over the mantle-piece which may cause you to stand too close to the fire to reach or use them
  • Inspect your chimney breast regularly - particularly in the roof space - to ensure that it is sound and that sparks or fumes cannot escape through cracks or broken bricks
  • Avoid burning resinous woods as soot builds up quickly
  • Buy only suitable fuels
  • Do not overload the grate or appliance.
Above all, ensure that you have a working smoke alarm fitted on each floor of your home. This will give you an early warning to a fire, allowing extra time for everyone in the home to escape.

New Archaeology Society Helps Uncover North Cambridge's Past

Testing The Ground
Come and join new group at launch event

A Roman villa in North Cambridge will be just some of the interesting facts members of a new archaeology and history group will discover in their area.

Jigsaw Cambridgeshire is starting the new group in North Cambridge for people living or working in the Arbury, Kings Hedges and Chesterton wards.

The group will find out about previous investigations in and around the area as well as conduct research projects such as geophysical surveys and excavations.

The launch event is on the evening of Friday, 31 January from 8pm – 9.30pm in the Small Hall at Arbury Community Centre. Visitors will be able to see displays of research and artefacts, and hear more about what the group entails.

Jemima Woolverton, Jigsaw Community Archaeologist, said: “North Cambridge has very interesting archaeology which many people don’t know about. I’m looking forward to helping people discover more about their past. There is even a Roman villa under Kings Hedges Primary School!”

Jigsaw Cambridgeshire is a Heritage Lottery Funded project run by Oxford Archaeology East and Cambridgeshire County Council, to support voluntary community archaeology in Cambridgeshire. It supports community archaeology projects through all stages of their research by providing free equipment, training and advice.

See www.jigsawcambs.org contact Jemima Woolverton on 01223 850542 or email jw@jigsawcambs.org for more information.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Making A Home For Nature

A new initiative has been launched to protect and support wildlife in the built surroundings of South Cambridgeshire.

In a move to help more villages go green, South Cambridgeshire District Council is making energy efficiency improvements to a number of properties within its housing stock, making them some of the most environmentally friendly in the country.

The improvements are aimed at helping tenants reduce energy bills and play their part in tackling climate change by retrofitting energy efficient technologies such as exterior wall insulation.

The loss of wall cracks and crevices can, however, create a problem for wildlife. There are certain species that rely heavily on buildings for survival, especially in built up areas, such as bats and birds.

To combat this, the Council is installing locally designed and built bird and bat boxes. These offer an unobtrusive way to create safe, warm and sustainable nesting sites in existing buildings. They are fitted at the same time as wall insulation and provide a separate wildlife habitat within the structure of existing walls, helping attract wildlife to the property and conserve biodiversity in our villages.

All tenants whose property is considered suitable will be contacted by the Council and asked if they would like a box fitted. There are three types of bird box available and one type of bat box.

Tenants particularly keen to receive a box are invited to contact the Council on 03450 450 500 to arrange a visit from the ecology officer.

Cllr Mark Howell, housing portfolio holder, said: “We are extremely pleased to be creating new habitats and encouraging more wildlife to our villages. With major new developments planned for the district, we want to make sure we create the very best new homes for both people and wildlife.

“Many urban birds are on the decline and it is hoped these boxes will encourage house sparrows, swifts, blue tits, great tits and bats to continue to live in the area, they add colour to our streets and play an important role in controlling pests like mosquitos.”

Monday, 20 January 2014

PCC: Number Of Specials Reaches 300

Cambridgeshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Sir Graham Bright, has welcomed news that the number of special constables in Cambridgeshire has reached 300.

Sir Graham said: “I am absolutely delighted that the force has reached this number of Specials.

“I fully support the Specials because they offer valuable assistance to policing in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough which is why I set recruitment of Specials as one of my targets in my Police and Crime Plan. The fact that they willingly and voluntarily give up their time is appreciated.

“I would like to congratulate everybody who has worked so hard to recruit so many. Getting so many volunteers on board while retaining as many as possible is not without its challenges which makes this success all the more important. I would equally like to extend my thanks to all those men and women who have made the decision to willingly give up their own time, unpaid, to help keep Cambridgeshire safe.”

Sir Graham made a pledge to see the number of Specials increased, saying he would like to see 300 in place by April 2014. The force has responded to the Commissioner’s pledge ahead of time.

There were 267 special constables in place when Sir Graham set his priorities in April 2013. Special constables also work within training departments, economic crime, rural policing and public protection. In 2012 these officers were instrumental in supporting the Olympics at Cambridge Airport where dignitaries were arriving for onward travel to London for the Games.

Cambridgeshire special constables, along with colleagues in the eastern region, received a team award for mutual aid in 2012 in the National Special Constabulary and Police Service Volunteers Awards. The support they all provided has saved more than £223,000 for police forces across the region.

Young People In Care Volunteers Win Top Regional Award

Young people in Cambridgeshire who volunteer to represent young people in care have been named as regional winners of a top national award.

The Voices Matter Group, who are either in care or have been in care themselves, have won the regional heat of the vInspired National Awards.

Now in its 5th year, the vInspired National Awards, in association with RBS Early Careers, celebrate the achievements and dedication of young volunteers and the youth workers who support them. They aim to challenge negative attitudes towards young people by highlighting the creativity, motivation and generosity of some of the most inspiring young volunteers in the country.

The Voices Matter Group has been named regional winner for the East in the Team Activity category. The Voices Matter Group represents young people in care with Cambridgeshire County Council. The group meets to discuss issues and policies affecting young people in care in their area.  In the past year they have also visited the Houses of Parliament to represent the views of children in care and have made two short films which are used to train new foster carers and social workers.

Cllr David Brown, Cambridgeshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Young People’s Services said: “It is a great honour for the team to win this award.  They don’t volunteer for recognition - helping people is enough motivation. But it’s great to know that people appreciate what they do. It’s brilliant that these awards not only celebrate the benefits of volunteering, but also inspire young people to volunteer and make a difference in their communities.”

Terry Ryall, Chief Executive of vInspired CEO added: “The Voices Matter Group are a complete inspiration. As a regional winner in the Team Activity category you need to demonstrate a complete dedication to volunteering and show how you have built positive relationships, brought people from diverse backgrounds together and strengthened communities. The Voice Matters Group have done all this and more and should be immensely proud of their achievements.”

Katie Llewellyn-Cripps, from RBS Early Careers and Campus Marketing, said: “As part of our Early Careers scheme we are committed to celebrating the outstanding achievements of young volunteers and supporting young people on their journey through education into employment. Volunteering is extremely important because it gives young people so many transferable skills for the working world that they might not learn through education, as well as the confidence to thrive in a competitive environment. We’re proud to partner with vInspired on the National Awards and it’s amazing to see the great work that volunteers such as The Voice Matters Group are doing across the country.”

The regional winners will be shortlisted to national finalists in February with the national award winners revealed at a star studded awards ceremony at the Indig02 in London on 27 March.

Cambridge City: Council And Police Act To Contain Illegal Party

Cambridge City Council’s noise team worked with police officers when local residents called in the early hours of Sunday morning about a party being held in a disused warehouse in Mercers Row, Cambridge.

Between 300 - 400 people were found to be in the former Eaden Lilley building, where a sound system had been set up. In view of the nature and location of the event and the numbers of people involved, it was decided not to try to intervene at the time, but to monitor and to allow the party to come to a safe end.

Insp. Steve Poppitt, of Cambridge police said “We took the view that, although we sympathised with local residents about the disturbance, the safety of officers and those attending the event outweighed considerations about trying to end the party early, by an intervention which may have had unfortunate consequences.”

Cllr. Jean Swanson, Executive Councillor for Environment added “The Council has been in contact with the building’s owners and it has been secured to prevent a further incident of this sort. Whilst it is regrettable that we were not able to close the event down earlier, much greater police resources would have been required to do so safely. With the police we sought to prevent a public order problem.”

Saturday, 18 January 2014

An Evening Of Politics & Music To Support The Re-Election Of Andrew Duff

The East of England Liberal Democrats are holding an event on 7th February at 19:30 at

Old Divinity School
St John's Street
Cambridge
CB2 1TP

The event will start with Champagne and canapés and will include music provided by The Gentlemen of St John's. Music will be classical, modern, and barbershop.

Tickets are £40

The easiest way to get tickets is to pay for them via Andrew's website at;

www.andrewduff.eu/en/donate

And then email nethsingha@btinternet.com to say where to send the tickets.

Alternatively you can send a cheque payable to;

"East of English Liberal Democrats"

To;

15 Bulstrode Gardens,
Cambridge
CB3 0EM.

Andrew Duff MEP Written Evidence To The House Of Commons Inquiry Into The Charter Of Fundamental Rights

WRITTEN EVIDENCE FROM ANDREW DUFF MEP
Property House of Commons

1. I understand that you wish to focus your enquiry on the legal ramifications of the emerging corpus of judicial interpretations in national and European courts of the Charter of Fundamental Rights, and in particular on the meaning of Protocol No 30. One may look forward to reading the advice of the lawyers. Ultimately, however, the question of British respect for the Charter is a political one and requires a parliamentary response.

2. My standing in the matter is as a member of the original Convention which drafted the Charter and of the subsequent constitutional Convention on the Future of Europe. I then represented the European Parliament at the Intergovernmental Conference which negotiated the Treaty of Lisbon. I was the Parliament's co-Rapporteur on the Charter and then Rapporteur on the application by the Czech Republic to join Protocol No 30, an exercise which has resulted in the first negative Opinion by the Parliament against a revision of the EU Treaties (Article 48(3) TEU).[1]

3. No doubt your report will recognise, first, that the European Union is an integral part of the system of government of the United Kingdom and, second, that the UK is a full member state of the EU on a par with other member states. Unless and until the UK negotiates either to secede from the Union or to settle for a yet-to-be-formulated type of EU associate membership short of full membership, the UK is bound to respect the terms of its membership as established in international, EU and UK law. The status of the Charter has been determined under the Treaty of Lisbon which the UK, having ratified the treaty, is bound to honour. The Charter of Fundamental Rights is installed as a key part of the corpus of the primary law of the EU: in the hierarchy of norms, the Charter therefore has primacy over EU secondary legislation and over domestic British law in so far as the Charter is applicable.

4. We are all well aware of the complex and competitive nature of Europe's multi-layered rights regime, and this phenomenon was explored by the House of Commons during the passage of the Human Rights Act in 1998 whose purpose was to make more directly applicable the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). However, since the Human Rights Acts came into being, the Charter of Fundamental Rights has been interspersed as a 'much wider' binding instrument at the level of the EU, offering, in its Article 52(3), ‘more extensive protection’ than the ECHR.[2] So even if the ECHR were to be relegated by a repeal of the Human Rights Act, the EU Charter would remain part of British domestic law.

5. The Charter is now mandatory for the EU's ‘institutions, bodies, offices and agencies’ – in other words, all statutory authorities in the Union – when and in so far as they are applying or interpreting EU law or implementing its decisions.[3] (Article 51 of the Charter says 'only when they are implementing' Union law: a clearer formulation, in my view, and one closer to the case-law of the European Court of Justice (ECJ), would be 'when they act within the scope' of Union law.[4]) In any case, the Charter binds the UK as a member state of the Union and will therefore have some effect or other within the UK in all matters where competences are conferred on the Union or powers are vested in the EU institutions and its agents – of which the UK Government is one (Article 6(1) TEU).[5]

6. The salience of fundamental rights to the history and evolution of the European Union should not be underestimated. Today the promotion of a rights-based EU citizenship can be considered as central to the integration process. The Charter is the legal manifestation of the Union's political commitment. It articulates the rights and principles which shape the actions of the institutions and sets the benchmarks for countries which seek to join the Union. A serious and persistent breach of the Charter would jeopardise continuing membership of the Union.

7. The Charter was drafted, famously, 'as if' it were to become mandatory, and was treated with respect - certainly by the European Commission and European Parliament - since its signature at Nice in 2000. The ECJ, too, began to make references to the document as one of its interpretative sources before the Charter actually took on binding character at the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon in December 2009.

8. I labour these points somewhat because while the Charter has been underestimated in Britain it is seen elsewhere as a key part of the constitutional order of the Union, helping to bridge the credibility gap between the EU and the citizen. The Charter lends itself to good governance, suitable for all, convenient for none. It is a comprehensive and visible catalogue of the rights, values and principles which shape contemporary Europe. It makes the Union and its states better prepared for subsequent advances in integration as well as for further enlargement. It sets a uniform standard of rights across the Union which is the highest in the world. The elusive ‘future of Europe’ would be unthinkable without the Charter which, reflecting as it does a broad consensus between left and right, religious and secular, establishes the template for EU citizenship.

9. The British, it is clear, seem exceptionally sensitive to the impact of the Charter. Yet the Charter Convention was in no doubt that all EU states would have to adjust their national approaches to fundamental rights once the Charter became binding, and that this process of adjustment would also be a process of approximation between common law and Roman law traditions. The conferral of competences on the Union in the field of justice and home affairs would accelerate and add extra point to these processes, and the Charter has rightly become a basic document in the efforts being undertaken to increase mutual cooperation between national public administrations, customs, police and judicial authorities. The EU’s recent enlargement, the emergence of a wide range of common security measures in reaction to terrorism and international organised crime, data protection, border management, visa policy and efforts to forge common asylum and immigration policies all impinge directly and sensitively upon the terrain of human rights and civil liberties. As the emerging case law of the ECJ bears out, the Charter is highly relevant to the EU institutions as they both formulate and implement policy in all these areas.

10. In the Charter Convention, as well as subsequently, the UK Government has stressed the importance of the Charter's four horizontal articles which aim to set out its scope and limitations, its field of application, the difference of interpretation between rights and principles, the level of protection afforded, and the prohibition of abuse of the rights. Typically, the UK also put weight on the Charter’s explanatory memorandum which was drafted by the Praesidium of the Convention as a useful tool of interpretation.[6] These explanations are not in themselves justiciable – and were never intended to be so, but they assist the courts in defining what is a ‘right’ which applies directly and what is a ‘principle’ which requires to be given form in EU legislation before it becomes justiciable.

11. The explanations are useful in order to elucidate cases where the Charter goes further than the comparable provision of the ECHR, thereby providing a level of protection which is wider than that provided for in the UK Human Rights Act. One good example is Article 1 of the Charter (human dignity), which does not appear in the ECHR. Likewise, the right to good administration (Article 41 of the Charter) has no equivalent in the ECHR. Article 47 of the Charter (right to an effective remedy and a fair trial) is meant to afford wider protection than its ECHR equivalents (Articles 6 and 13). The explanations are also pertinent to the understanding of those provisions of the Charter that stem from provisions of Protocols of the ECHR which the UK has not ratified. One good example concerns the principle of ne bis in idem whose formulation in Article 4 of Protocol 7 of the ECHR is weak. Article 50 of the Charter, on the other hand, following case law at the Court of Justice in Schengen cases, is trenchant.

12. Uniform application is a very important objective of the Charter. The Charter addresses the system of the Union as a whole and not just part of it: it has to be applied uniformly in order to ensure legal certainty and coherence throughout the Union, applicable to all member states equally. This is the in principle line to be taken by the European Court of Justice and it will be likely followed in this matter by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). It falls to the ECJ to assess the compliance of national law which implements EU law with the provisions of the Charter. Here the existence of Protocol No 30 is a problem should its purpose be to erect flood barriers against the tide of EU rights law which is intended to find its way up into Lord Denning’s famously English rivers and estuaries. The sight of the European Union being picky and choosy with its own rights regime is hardly edifying, and the UK’s launch of a Protocol which it sold to the British public and Parliament as a tool to limit the force of the Charter in the UK won no plaudits from Britain’s EU partners. There was always the risk that where Britain led others would follow. Poland, for its own reasons, joined Protocol No 30 and the Czech Republic later sought to do so. One may note, too, that Hungary has recently adopted a cavalier approach to the constitutional norms of the European Union, thereby setting up potential conflicts of interpretation between the Hungarian and EU courts.

13. The exposure of English common law to the law of other nations is large and continuing, and not just consequential on the formal international conventions to which the UK is a party. Over the years, the British Law Lords have made impressive contributions to the development of international comparative law. Where the ECHR is concerned, British judges have been rightly mindful of the need to maintain as uniform an interpretation as possible despite the heady variety of different legal cultures across the now 47 states of the Council of Europe. As Lord Bingham warned, ‘national application, beyond the margin of national appreciation for which the Convention allows, must inevitably lead to significantly differential application between state and state’.[7]

14. While the ECHR remains among the general principles of the Union’s law (Article 6(3) TEU), it is the Charter upon which the Union seeks to build a superior rights regime under the jurisdiction of the supranational Court at Luxembourg which, all things considered, and as part of the Union framework, can be expected to be more consistently reliable than its much larger and more diverse international counterpart at Strasbourg. The risk of incoherence between the two courts will be reduced by the imminent accession of the EU to the ECHR, as ordained by the Lisbon treaty (Article 6(2) TEU). The accession by the EU to the ECHR was required not least by the UK Government as the quid pro quo for agreeing to give the Charter mandatory status.

15. The effect of this accession will be twofold. First, the EU will enjoy much the same relationship with the ECHR and the Strasbourg Court as that enjoyed by its member states. The ECtHR will become the external supervisor of the ECJ as the latter develops human rights law specifically to cater for the scope and field of application of the law of the European Union. After accession is completed, the ECHR will have to be seen and interpreted in and by the UK not only directly by virtue of the Human Rights Act but also through the prism of the Charter at least in so far as European Union law is concerned. Accession will allow cases to be brought at Strasbourg against the EU institutions for alleged violations of the classical human rights as prescribed in the ECHR. A key issue in the accession negotiations is how to ensure that the Luxembourg Court will be able to judge on all matters of EU law before it may be said that all domestic remedies have been exhausted, after which exhaustion the route to Strasbourg is open.

16. Pending the delivery of the anticipated preliminary ruling of the ECJ, the process of the EU’s accession to the ECHR is not yet concluded, and I will not deal further with the matter here.[8] But I do believe that the overall settlement will be wholly beneficial to both courts and to the quality of rights jurisprudence in Europe. I am confident that the Court of Justice will soon act as a reference point for the ECtHR, setting high standards of case law in areas where the Charter goes further than the Convention, notably in cross-border and trans-national issues and in the ‘new’ areas of social, civil and environmental rights. I cannot see why it is in the interests of British citizens to be isolated from these developments.

17. In the light of the close association between the ECHR and the Charter, it is paradoxical that the then Labour Government chose to treat these two comparable European instruments in very different ways. While the intention of the Human Rights Act was to give the ECHR direct effect in the UK, that same Government and Parliament sought to blunt and obscure the effect of the Charter in the UK by insisting on Protocol No 30 to the Lisbon treaty. In 2000 a British Minister of Europe, more than usually erratic, expostulated to the press that the Charter would be ‘no more binding than the Beano’. In 2007 the Prime Minister boasted to the House of Commons: ‘It is absolutely clear that we have an opt-out from both the Charter and judicial and home affairs’.[9] The self-evident air of superiority or exceptionalism in rights matters evinced by successive British ministers was and is, in my view, badly ill-judged. One recalls that the original drafters of the ECHR, many of whom were British, presumed that the Convention would not apply much to the UK but, rather, to those European states which had succumbed to fascism, Nazism and communism. But, as we now know, many judgments of the ECtHR have in the event been levelled at the UK, especially in the fields of security of the person, right to fair trials and right to privacy where English law can be said to be deficient.

18. Whatever the political argument behind Protocol No 30, it has had the effect of disturbing the principle of the uniform application of EU law. The UK’s attempt to shield itself against the full justiciability of the Charter impairs the Charter’s value for everyone else. Particularly worrying is the Protocol’s assertion that UK courts will apply and interpret that Charter ‘strictly in accordance’ with the famous explanations – a statement which would seem to diverge radically from the Treaty which says, merely, that the courts will pay ‘due regard’ thereto.[10]

19. Likewise, all states accept that the Charter in itself does not extend ‘in any way’ the competences of the Union.[11] But the bald statement in Protocol No 30 that the Charter ‘does not create new rights or principles’ goes some way further than the Charter itself, which says simply that it ‘does not extend the application of Union law beyond the powers of the Union or establish any new power or task for the Union, or modify powers and tasks as defined in the Treaties’.[12] The Protocol may well be found in conflict with the EU legal doctrine of implied powers, especially as and when the legislature chooses to codify relevant Court of Justice case-law grounded inter alia on the basis of the Charter.

20. The UK’s main justification of its Protocol appears to have been an apprehension that Title IV of the Charter, entitled Solidarity, could lead to the demolition of its own flexible labour markets. The UK sought to limit the possibility that the Charter would give the EU new cause to legislate in areas, notably labour law, which would breach its brazen 'red lines'. However, while being wholly consistent with the ECHR, and as the famous explanations explain, Title IV has a wider scope to address the needs, anxieties and aspirations of contemporary European society. It draws not only on the ECHR but also on the European Social Charter (1961), the Community Charter of the Fundamental Social Rights of Workers (1989), on standard ILO norms reflected by collective bargaining agreements at national and EU level, on extensive EU legislation and on case law of the Court of Justice. The Charter’s principles in respect of social policy become significant only as and when articulated in terms of EU legislation or executive action. Article 153(5) TFEU specifically precludes EU interference in matters of pay, the right of association, the right to strike and the right to impose lock-outs. Article 153(4) already lays down that no social policy provision of the EU shall affect the right of a member state to establish its own social welfare system or to affect the financing thereof.

21. In addition to these sector specific safeguards, there is the general obligation on the Union to respect the national identities of the member states ‘inherent in their fundamental structures, political and constitutional’ (Article 4(2) TEU). Moreover, the Charter must always be applied with due regard to the principle of subsidiarity (Article 5(3) TEU).[13]

22. Given all of the above, therefore, it is difficult to conceive of any circumstances in which litigation using the Charter could actually overturn the nostrums of British labour law or pay, social security, and employment policy. Attempts to approach the Court of Justice either directly or indirectly by an aggrieved somebody who is unemployed or homeless in search of a job or a house will certainly fail. The Court will be assuredly conservative in its treatment of these issues (unless a case can be shown to concern directly and individually an employee of one of the EU institutions).

23. It is worth recalling here that Poland, the other signatory of Protocol No 30, was keen to stop the Charter from curbing its own right to legislate in matters of public morality, family law, abortion, gay rights etc.[14] Bizarrely, Poland also sought to emphasise, in adopting the British Protocol which was defensive against social rights as laid down in Title IV, that it (unlike the UK) ‘fully respects social and labour rights’ in the spirit of the Solidarity movement.[15] Subsequently, the Protocol appears to have been of no importance to the Polish judiciary, being regarded as an expression of the ideology of the then Law & Justice party government of the Kaczynski brothers. A Polish constitutional mechanism has since been devised whereby Poland can decide to amend or to withdraw from the Protocol, and such a possibility remains under review.

24. The Czech Republic, at the behest of its President Klaus, took the more eurosceptic stance. It achieved at the time of the Lisbon negotiations, its own categorical Declaration 53 which speaks of its concerns about the impact of the Charter on the principles of subsidiarity, conferral of competences, respect for national constitutions and international agreements. The official ground on which Mr Klaus was later to insist that the Czech Republic should join Protocol No 30 was his concern about the continuing validity of the Benes Decrees that dealt with the expropriation of the property and deportation of ethnic Germans from Czechoslovakia after the Second World War.[16] Mr Klaus’s initiative was of questionable legal merit, not least because the matter of the Benes Decrees was comprehensively and definitively dealt with in the Czech treaty of accession to the EU. Moreover, such concerns had been absent from the political debate until early 2009 and were not mentioned in submissions to the Czech constitutional court in either of its judgments on the Lisbon treaty.[17] Indeed, in the then government's official mandate for the negotiation of the Lisbon treaty it was a priority to establish a uniform standard of protection of human rights. It is important to note that subsequent to the negative Opinion of the European Parliament and to the retirement of Mr Klaus, the Czech bid to join Protocol No 30 has been dropped – presumably for good.

25. We cannot, therefore, look to Warsaw or Prague for enlightenment as to the nature of Protocol No 30 beyond saying that its existence complicates matters. I still marvel at the assertion in the Court of Appeal by the representative of the UK Government that the purpose of the Protocol was ‘not to prevent the Charter from applying to the UK, but to explain its effect’.[18] Whatever else the Protocol is, self-explanatory it is not. It is unsurprising in these circumstances that the High Court inclined towards the view that Protocol No 30 could be construed as a general opt-out from the Charter, assuming that the Charter does not have direct effect in the UK.

26. My own view, on the other hand, inclines to that of Advocate-General Trstenjak in her Opinion of 22 September 2011. First, with regard to the Preamble of the Protocol, the eighth recital of the Preamble establishes that the purpose of the Protocol is to ‘clarify certain aspects of the application of the Charter’. The seventh and twelfth recitals make it clear that, regardless of the Protocol, all other EU law applies fully to Poland and the UK. The Protocol is only relevant, therefore, if the Charter were to add to the existing general principles of EU law, or to be wider in scope, or to reduce the limitations on rights in comparison to the general principles. I agree with A-G Trstenjak that the Preamble reaffirms the ‘fundamental validity’ of the Charter.

27. Second, with regard to the field of application, Article 1(1) of the Protocol supplements Article 51(2) of the Charter. Its intention is not to extend the ability of the courts to find that UK law is inconsistent with the Charter. However, neither does it seek to curtail the ability of the courts to assert a fundamental rights jurisdiction by reference to the provisions of the Charter. And in any case the courts must abide by fundamental rights as prescribed in the ECHR and as part of the general principles of EU law under the provisions of Article 6 TEU. The general principles enjoy constitutional status and may be relied upon by individuals in the courts. In this regard, people in Poland and the UK would seem to be in exactly the same position as people in all other EU states.

28. Third, with regard to scope, the principles in Title IV of the Charter are required to have become the subject of national legislation before they become justiciable. Article 1(2) of the Protocol confirms Article 51(1) of the Charter that the Charter does not create justiciable rights as between private individuals. It also attempts to clarify Article 52(1) of the Charter, and may have been conceived as an attempt to blunt the direct effect of the Charter. Yet it remains unclear which articles of Title IV would be regarded by the Court of Justice as having direct effect. And wherever Poland and the UK have provided for such rights in national law, there is no prohibition of justiciability on behalf of the ECJ. Moreover, as noted above, to the extent that Title IV represents general principles of EU law, the courts in Poland and the UK are bound to apply its provisions directly.

29. Fourth, with regard to interpretation, Article 2 of the Protocol seeks to clarify Article 52(4) and (6) of the Charter. Where the Charter refers to national laws and practices, it refers specifically, in relation to Poland and the UK, to Polish and British laws and practices, respectively. (It could hardly be otherwise.)

30. In conclusion, Protocol No 30 does not exempt the UK and Poland from the binding provisions of the Charter. It is not an 'opt-out'. It does not amend the Charter. Yet the very existence of the Protocol has given rise to legal uncertainty and political confusion not only in Poland and the UK but to all other states. If the Protocol were ever to be interpreted as having the effect of limiting the scope or force of the Charter's provisions, the result would be to lower the protection of fundamental rights afforded to people in Poland and the UK, and would therefore undermine the efforts of the EU to reach and maintain a uniformly high level of protection.

31. As it stands, however, the Protocol would seem not to alter the legal position which would prevail if it were not to exist. That being the case, the effect of its provisions, if any, would seem to apply as much to other member states as it applies to Poland and the UK.[19]

32. All in all, it is difficult to avoid the judgement that the UK Government launched Protocol No 30 in the first place for entirely political reasons and not because it harboured genuine legal concerns about the Charter. My recommendation to your Committee, indeed, is that in the interests of legal certainty and political solidarity you recommend to Parliament that the UK abrogates Protocol No 30 at the next available ordinary revision of the EU Treaties.[20]

33. One final related issue concerns the number of ECHR Protocols to which the EU should accede when it signs and ratifies the Convention. The European Parliament argues that the EU should sign up to all Convention Protocols which are compatible with the Charter of Fundamental Rights on the grounds not only that the Union is more than an aggregate of its member states and enjoys a federal character sui generis, but also that the Charter is addressed in the first instance to the European Union and only in the second instance to the states by virtue of their membership of the Union. The UK Government, however, takes the view that the Union should sign up only to those Convention Protocols to which all member states are signatories – in effect only Protocols No 1 and 6 ECHR. I hope your Committee will support the European Parliament in this matter in order to avoid any regression from the Charter: it would surely be wise for the House of Commons to follow the logic of the Lisbon treaty which sought to attain the highest level and most uniform and comprehensive protection of rights for all citizens of the European Union – not excluding those of British nationality and of other EU nationalities residing in the United Kingdom.

34. It would appear that the debate about creating a separate UK Bill of Rights has run its course. That being the case, the British parliaments and courts must learn to take full cognisance of the EU Charter as the main source of rights law throughout the Union and at all levels. The Charter is the essential prism through which the ECHR must henceforth be interpreted in so far and as long as the UK remains a full member state of the EU. An essential condition of full membership is allegiance to the ECHR and the Charter. Any attempt to reduce the UK’s legal and political adherence to the ECHR and the Charter will jeopardise Britain’s membership of the European Union. Your Committee would do well to make this point.

January 2014

[1] http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=TA&language=EN&reference=P7-TA-2013-208
[2] As Mr Justice Mostyn opines in AB v. Secretary of State.
[3] Article 51(1) CFR.
[4] See The Spinelli Group A Fundamental Law of the European Union, Bertelsmann Stiftung, 2013, p. 114.
[5] The EU’s competences are wide (Articles 2-6 TFEU), and its institutions are empowered to implement the Treaties across the entirety of the Union’s objectives (Article 3 TEU) and in accordance with its values (Article 2 TEU). Notably, the ECJ is to see that 'in the interpretation and application of the Treaties the law is observed' (Article 19(1) TEU).
[6] Article 52(7) CFR and Explanations relating to the Charter of Fundamental Rights, OJ C 303, 14-12-2007, pp. 17-35.
[7] Tom Bingham, Widening Horizons: The Influence of Comparative Law and International Law on Domestic Law, Hamlyn Lecture, CUP, 2010, p. 83.
[8] Article 218(11) TFEU.
[9] Tony Blair to the House of Commons on 25 June 2007. He went on: ‘[I]n respect of the two areas that people worried about most—the Charter of Fundamental Rights, on which people said, ‘Well, that is going to apply in British law’, and judicial and home affairs—we have opt-outs. That is what is different. With the greatest respect, it is important that people actually pay some attention to the facts when mounting their argument’.
[10] Third recital of the preamble of the Protocol in comparison to the third sub-paragraph of Article 6(1) TEU.
[11] Article 6(1) TEU.
[12] Sixth recital of the preamble of the Protocol in comparison to Article 51(2) of the Charter.
[13] Article 51(1) CFR.
[14] Indeed, Poland obtained a Declaration 61 to that effect.
[15] Declaration 62.
[16] Helena Bončková, Hubert Smekal, Fragmentace společných hodnot? Výjimky z Listiny základních práv Evropské unie /Fragmentalization of Common Values? Opt-outs from the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, in Soucasna Evropa 02, 2010.
[17] Ústavní soud - 2008/11/26 - Pl. ÚS 19/08: Treaty of Lisbon I; Ústavní soud - 2009/11/03 - Pl. ÚS 29/09: Treaty of Lisbon II.
[18] Case C-411/10, NS v Secretary of State for the Home Department.
[19] One notes that all member states without exception were moved to sign Declaration 1 on the Charter.
[20] Likely to start, in my estimation, in 2015 with a Convention (Article 48(3) TEU).