Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Liberal Democrat Community Newsletter 30-Apr-2014 from Cllr Susan van de Ven

We are writing to you, as your councillors and campaigners for our interlinked cluster of villages, to keep you informed of local issues involving the District and County Councils. If you would prefer not to receive this email newsletter, please reply asking to be removed from the distribution list. If you know of someone not receiving this email newsletter who would like to do so, please ask them to email jose@josehales.me.ukphilippajhart@btinternet.com or susanvandeven@yahoo.co.uk.  
ELECTIONS 22 MAY
Parish and district council elections take place on 22 May, alongside European elections.
Jose Hales is standing for re-election as District Councillor for Melbourn, Heydon and the Chishills, while Philippa Hart is standing for election as District Councillor in the Meldreth and Shepreth Ward.  Susan will continue to serve as County Councillor for the Melbourn County Division, which includes all these villages together with Foxton. The South Cambs Liberal Democrat Group manifesto can be seen here: http://goo.gl/8OYiyE
If you wish to register to vote, or to have a postal or proxy vote, the necessary forms are available at https://www.scambs.gov.uk/content/register-vote and the deadlines are as follows: Register to vote, by midnight on 6 May.  Postal vote, by 5PM on 7 May.  Proxy vote, by 5PM on 14 May. Please note that if you currently have a postal vote and would like to change to a proxy vote, you must request this by 5PM on 7 May. 
Melbourn, Meldreth and Shepreth parish councils are all within this year’s election cycle too. In common with most other parishes, not enough candidates have come forward to trigger an election and so these seats are uncontested. Details at https://www.scambs.gov.uk/content/recent-and-forthcoming-elections
SAFE CROSSINGS ON MELBOURN HIGH STREET
It is great to see the safe crossing points added to Melbourn High Street. The new School Crossing Patrol Officer is on duty at school traffic times, and the new zebra crossing connecting the Melbourn Hub to the High Street Car Park is being very well used.  Jose reports that Balfour Beatty’s response in getting the flashing lights sorted was unfortunately two months late but we are pleased that the matter has now been resolved. 
POLICE SURGERY AT MELBOURN HUB 
Our local PSCO James Lynch is holding a regular morning surgery at the Melbourn Hub, 11-12, every fifth Monday – next one 19th May.  James can be reached on 07850 132403, and the non-emergency number of 101 is there to be used as usual.  We have conveyed to the Police our concern that waiting times for the 101 number have been unacceptably long, and there has been an assurance that this will be resolved.  Do let us know if you experience any difficulties. Please note also that James and his team would welcome any requests to attend village fetes in a supportive role.
SHEPRETH LITTER PICK THIS SATURDAY
The Shepreth WI would be delighted to have any helpers join them at Shepreth Village Hall, 10:30AM, this Saturday 3 May to join In with the village litter pick.  Please bring gloves and if you have one, a litter picking device. Rubbish bags will be provided.   This event is a huge service to the village so many thanks to anyone who can lend a hand. 
GREEN BIN TRIAL 
Following on from the District Council’s announcement that green bin collections will be reduced to monthly during the three winter months, a Meldreth resident got in touch with Susan to say that this would create difficulties for the volunteer work he does clearing out muck from paths and gutters in his stretch of the High Street.  On this basis the District Council has offered to run a pilot scheme in Meldreth and Shepreth in which volunteers who do regular maintenance of public spaces would be custodians of an extra green bin, which they would store on their property.  
The possibility of running such a scheme via parish councils was explored, however legalities would render any extra bins subject to trade waste charges. Hence the idea is for the district councillor to liaise directly with any volunteer residents.  If the Meldreth and Shepreth pilot is successful then the scheme would be rolled out across all South Cambridgeshire villages.
MELBOURN MOBILE WARDEN: NEW CLIENTS FROM MELDRETH
Huge thanks are due to the Melbourn Warden Mobile Scheme who have generously agreed to take on several clients from Meldreth, thereby extending the scheme over the village border.  Jose reports that the Mobile Warden Scheme will have a stall at the Melbourn Village Fete on 28 June, for anyone who wants to learn more about what the scheme does and how you can help to support it.
ANOMALY IN SCDC RESPONSE TO CASE WORK
While South Cambridgeshire District Council has long had systems in place to ensure that public queries and complaints are responded to within specific time frames, it recently came to light that there has been no such system for handling case work brought forward by local councillors – a strange anomaly as councillors are meant to provide helpful liaison and intervention on behalf of residents. This was raised in relation to two pieces of years-long unresolved casework in Meldreth and Shepreth, and SCDC is now putting in place a reasonable response time system to correct the problem. 
CHANGES AHEAD: DEVELOPER CONTRIBUTIONS TO OUR VILLAGES
A new system is coming into force next year for developer contributions to local communities. The old system of ‘Section 106 agreements’ will sit alongside the new ‘Community Infrastructure Levy,’ or CIL.  There is widespread concern that the new system will lessen the amount of cash coming to parish councils.  Over the past five years, £2 million has come in to parish councils in South Cambridgeshire through Section 106 agreements.  More details on how the new regime is being worked out at www.susanvandeven.com.
PARK AND RIDE CHARGE
There has been much concern and debate over the past few months regarding the planned introduction of a charging regime for vehicles using the five Park and Ride sites, all of which are important for people getting into Cambridge.   While county councillors, when making the decision, made it clear that they would prefer to keep the sites free, given the financial challenges facing the council and the fact that the sites cost £1 million per year to run, they felt this would be the right way forward. 
All vehicles will have a one-hour free parking period, which will enable customers of the John Lewis distribution centre at Trumpington Park and Ride to collect their purchases, and parents to drop-off and collect their children at the sites for the various Kiss and Ride School minibus services – as well as any other drop-off and pick-up on the sites.  Any vehicles staying for more than one hour we will liable for a £1 charge. This ticket will be purchased from ticket machines outside the main buildings on site.  Tickets can also be purchased as the same time as a ticket for bus travel and do not need to be displayed in the vehicle, as the overall system is managed by ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition). The £1 ticket will allow for the parking of one vehicle for up to 18 hours; from 18-24 hours the charge will be £10 and the maximum period of stay is 72 hours (£30).  Weekly, monthly and annual discounts will be available on-line or via mobile phone.  The charge will be introduced sometime in mid-May.
PAVEMENT PARKING
Jose has received more complaints of residential parking on pavements, in Melbourn.  Unfortunately pavements are not built to withstand vehicle mounting and budgets for repair are stretched to the limit.  Police resources for enforcing illegal parking are similarly stretched.   In addition to the problem of wear and tear on pavement surfaces, parking on pavements creates obstructions for people in wheelchairs and pushchairs, something that has been flagged up by Meldreth Manor School.  
FOXTON SKATE PARK 
The spectacularly successful new Foxton Skate Park will be officially launched on May 18th, 2:30PM.  From the day it was signed off ready to be used, the park has seen steady enjoyment by children and young people, who themselves initiated the project by attending a parish council meeting to set out their goals, and then coming up with fundraising ideas which they put into practice.  Combined with successful grant applications to outside bodies, the necessary funds were raised, and the park has become a reality in a remarkably short period of time. 

MELDRETH SCHOOL POOL
In 2011-2013, the Meldreth School PTA successfully raised £12,000 to bring the school pool back into use, to ensure that pupils have the opportunity to learn to swim.  Frustratingly, the pool’s boiler has now packed up and this means that more fundraising is required.  Efforts are now underway to raise a further £5,000 – taking into account also the need for a tank of oil, a summer cover for the pool, and new lino for the changing room floors.  Any contributions however small would be greatly appreciated and can be sent to the attention of Jane Fosbeary, Meldreth School PTA, High Street, Meldreth, SG8 6LA.
SAFETY IMPROVEMENTS AT SHEPRETH STATION
Good progress is being made at Shepreth Station where pedestrians wishing to cross to the Cambridge-bound platform will soon be directed around the back of the station building, as opposed to down the ramp at the end of the London platform.  A by-product of the new layout is a larger station car park.  Susan has confirmed with First Capital Connect, via our Community Rail Partnership, that parking will remain free as a gesture of thanks for the community gardening work sustained at the station.  
DUKE OF EDINBURGH AND GIRL GUIDE VOLUNTEERS
Once again it is great to have teenage volunteers at our rail station gardens, helping to keep the station platform tubs watered. If you are looking to fill a Duke of Edinburgh, Girl Guides or similar volunteering requirement, please get in touch.

STATION GARDENING DATES
Please just come along – extra pairs of hands always needed and appreciated.  Meanwhile, if you would like to join the general watering rota, please contact Philippa for Meldreth and Shepreth and Susan for Foxton.
Meldreth Station: 14 May 10AM
Shepreth Station: 24 May 2PM
Foxton Station: 28 May 3PM
CHILD HEALTH PROFILES
Cambridgeshire Child Health Profiles, provided in conjunction with the County Council’s new responsibility for Public Health, can be seen here, and are set out in comparison with national data:
MELBOURN HIGH STREET LIGHT COLUMN
Jose has been doing the ground work in liaising with Balfour Beatty, regarding the street light column set within a tree in Melbourn High Street near Water Lane.  Balfour Beatty had given an assurance that this would be sorted in April 2013 - but appointments were continually postponed.  Pressure was brought to bear and a site meeting with a Balfour Beatty engineer provided a sensible solution, for the lamp to be attached to a wing extending away from the column, and the tree trimmed.  This has now been done.  We are still attending to other outstanding street lighting work.
FOXTON PARISH COUNCIL WEBSITE
Foxton Parish Council has launched its new website: www.foxtonparishcouncil.gov.uk, which includes a link to the Network Rail feasibility study for the potential closure of Foxton Level Crossing.
A10 ANNUAL CYCLE RIDE: 18th MAY
The A10 Corridor Cycle Campaign will hold its annual Awareness Ride on Sunday 18 May. There will be two departure points – Royston Heath and Trumpington Park and Ride – each at 10AM.  Oliver Heald MP will see off the Royston riders and Julian Huppert MP will see off the Trumpington riders.  Melbourn’s Phillimore Garden Centre is once again the destination for both rides to converge.  This year, the tea stall will be set up a bit further into the Phillimore site, in the field on the left as you go in. Thanks to JR Tech, Shepreth, for its generous donation toward teas and cakes for participants – to be supplied as last year by the Teapot. 
The ride from Trumpington will highlight the work now underway to create a new off-road cycle path connecting Trumpington with Hauxton, as well as the recently completed Foxton-Shepreth cycle path.  From Royston, riders will be escorted across the A505 roundabout where we are working with Sustrans, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire County Councils toward a permanent safe crossing, as well as an off-road link to Melbourn.  Membership of the cycle campaign is free and more information is available at www.a10corridorcycle.com.
DROP-IN ADVICE SURGERY
Our surgery continues on the first Monday of the month, 2:30-3:30 PM, at the Melbourn Hub –the next one however is on Tuesday May 6th, due to the Bank Holiday on the 5th. If this is not convenient and you would like to arrange an appointment for a different time or closer to home, please let us know. 
ANY ITEMS TO RAISE?
If you have any issues which you would like us to help address, or to highlight via this newsletter, please let us know.
Sincerely yours,  
Philippa, Jose and Susan 
Philippa Hart
Community campaigner, Meldreth and Shepreth
Jose Hales 
District Councillor, Melbourn, Heydon and the Chishills
Susan van de Ven, 
County Councillor, Foxton, Heydon, Melbourn, Meldreth, Shepreth and the Chishills
District Councillor, Meldreth and Shepreth
Contact details at www.susanvandeven.com
Twitter@susanvandeven

Cambridge MP calls on Government to act over AstraZeneca takeover bid

MP Julian Huppert has expressed his concerns over the risk to AstraZeneca’s planned move to Cambridge and the future of UK jobs as American pharmaceutical giant, Pfizer makes a bid to take over the company.

He has called on the government to act to safeguard UK jobs and make sure the development of AstraZeneca’s new HQ in the city goes ahead as planned, together with the associated infrastructure improvements.

Julian also fears that exports could be at risk as AstraZeneca accounts for more than two per cent of the UK goods traded overseas.

He has tabled a Commons’ Early Day Motion in a bid to safeguard the jobs of nearly 7,000 people employed by the company and make sure the UK continues as a world leader in science and pharmaceuticals research and development.

Julian said: “I have been talking to AstraZeneca and the government about this takeover bid. There is a great deal at stake here.

“This would be the largest takeover of a British firm. I want to make sure AstraZeneca retains its position in the UK and its planned move to Cambridge goes ahead. It is extremely important for those people employed by the company and our economy generally both in the city and nationally.”

Cambridge MP commemorates Great War with visit to Commonwealth graves

Cambridge MP Julian Huppert will visit Commonwealth graves in the city on Friday (May 2) to mark the centenary of the First World War.

Julian will visit four plots in Cambridge City Cemetery in Newmarket Road before travelling on to further graves at Mill Road Cemetery.

His visits support a national initiative which aims to give people a greater understanding of the scale and magnitude of the Great War and its impact on today’s society.

The initiative has been launched by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC), the All-Party Parliamentary War Heritage Group and the “In From the Cold Project” which maps over 300,000 Commonwealth war dead across the country.

Julian has urged Cambridge schools and residents to visit the city’s Commonwealth war graves to learn more about this period in history.

“The centenary of the outbreak of the Great War is not just about remembering and commemorating those people who lost their lives fighting for their country but also to educate a new generation about the events that happened 100 years ago.

“Around 10 million military personnel lost their lives and another 20 million were wounded in just four years. And behind those figures there are stories of the brave men and women who left behind families and friends to fight for their countries. 

“By visiting the war graves in our city we can not only commemorate their lives and their sacrifice but also explore how we can secure their legacy for generations to come.”

Deirdre Mills, CWGC’s Director of UK Area said:  “More than 300,000 Commonwealth servicemen and women are commemorated in the UK. Many died in military hospitals whilst being treated for their wounds or fell victim to the flu pandemic as the conflict drew to a close. Their graves reflect both the local impact of the war but also its wider historical significance.

“To highlight some of the personal stories of those who are buried or commemorated in our graves, we are installing over 100 visitor information panels throughout the UK during the centenary.  The panels incorporate QR codes which, when scanned with the latest smartphone technology, enable visitors to read these stories and understand the historical context.”

This month the CWGC is working with schools to launch a Local War Graves Visits programme in six locations including Cambridge. 

Teachers will be able to take advantage of the CWGC’s network of volunteers to take them around CWGC sites and war graves, highlight key hotspots, and assist them with lesson planning.

CWGC has also launched an online Virtual Cemetery education portal that provides schools and teachers with a comprehensive range of resources and support materials linked to the graves and memorials in their home town. The virtual cemetery website www.cwgc-virtual-cemetery.org is an interactive tool which enables pupils and teachers to view images and videos, learn more about CWGC’s work across the globe, and the people that are commemorated in its cemeteries and memorials.

eCops: Burglary Increace In Bar Hill 30/04/2014

It we are experiencing an increase in shed and house burglary in Bar Hill please be extra vigilant and report any suspicious activity you may come across.

Between April 29th at 06:00 hours and April 30th at 08:00 hours, a shed burglary took place in Field view, Bar Hill. Perpetrator (s) has gained entry to the rear garden of a detached property, made their way to the shed and have taken a pedal cycle and a lawnmower.

Between April 29th at 06:00 hours and April 30th at 08:00 hours, a burglary in a dwelling took place in Appletrees, Bar Hill. Perpetrator (s) has gained entry to the proeprty via smashing rear patio doors; a search in the house has been carried out, but unknown if/what items have been taken as home owner is away.

On April 16th, between 1430 and 1500hours, a dwelling burglary took place in Almond Grove, Bar Hill. Perpetrator(s) has gained entry to the property via an unlocked front door, once inside a search to the first floor has been carried out but nothing taken.

Between April 25th at 23:00 hours and April 26th at 08:00 hours, a shed was broken in to in Hillcrest, Bar Hill. Perpetrator (s) has gained entry to an unlocked shed via the rear garden. Items have been moved around but unknown if anything has been taken.

Between April 25th at 1200hours and April 28th at 1300hours, a shed burglary took place in Thruffle Way, Bar Hill. Perpetrator(s) has gained entry to the shed via the rear garden and has taken a high valued lawn mower.

If you have any information regarding the above crime reports, please get in touch by calling 101.

Kind Regards
PCSO 7009 Bujar MANI
Histon Safer Neighbourhood Policing Team

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Cambridge MP warns schools underfunding widening achievement gap

Cambridge MP Julian Huppert has warned that 30 years of under-funding has widened the achievement gap between Cambridgeshire schools and others across the country. 

And he told Education Minister, Elizabeth Truss, during a schools’ funding debate in Westminster Hall today (Tuesday, April 29), that even with the £20.5 million promised by the government for the county’s schools, they will still receive less per pupil than Oxfordshire gets now.

“We are seeing real problems as a result of this continued underfunding,” he said. “We are seeing the achievement gap widening because there are simply not the resources in schools to be able do the work that is necessary to close that gap.

“There is some fantastic work being done by dedicated teachers, excellent staff doing their very best; but with such scarce resources right at that very bottom end, it is always going to be a challenge.

“The last government did not do anything to fix this. It did not help the people of Cambridgeshire, did not make sure we got the amount that we deserve.”

Julian welcomed the £20.5 million for the county’s schools but warned that the amount promised is less than half the funding gap that exists between Cambridgeshire schools and the English average.

But he added: “This money will go some way to starting the change that is needed. It is the first step towards a proper, fairer funding formula that makes sense, but it is nothing like the end of the road.”

He warned that schools like Cambridgeshire which had been “paired to the bone for 30 years” need the money in this financial year and just having to wait another year for the money would cause real problems.

“We have had decades of chronic underfunding which we have to try to cope with and that has hit the infrastructure in those schools and makes it harder to adapt,” he said. “We need some sort of immediate relief but most importantly we need to get this money in full and we need a real and sustainable funding formula to last beyond 2016. 

“There is more to be done with capital money to build the schools that we need. We are a very fast growing county. We need to be able to have not only money to pay the teachers but to build the schools.”

And he raised the issue of the lack of funding for the county’s sixth form centres.

Education Minister, Ms Truss thanked Julian for raising the issue of capital underfunding and acknowledged that funding was not being fairly distributed at the moment.

“One of our main priorities as a government is closing that gap,” she said. “It has a profound effect on social mobility and our economy.”

Yesterday (Monday, April 28) Julian presented a petition carrying around 2,000 signatures to Liberal Democrat Schools Minister, David Laws.

It was the latest step in a campaign for fairer funding for schools which Julian first became involved in while at school when he supported a push by the now Baroness Sal Brinton, a former Cambridgeshire County Councillor and leader of the Lib Dem group.

eCops: Shed Breaking In Thruffle Way, Bar Hill 29/04/2014

Between April 25th  at 1200hrs and April 28th  at 1300hrs, a shed burglary took place in Thruffle Way, Bar Hill. Perpetrator(s) has gained entry to the shed via the rear garden and has taken a high valued lawn mower.

If you have any information regarding the above crime report, please call 101 and quote crime reference number: CF0154870414

 Kind Regards
PCSO 7009 Bujar MANI

Monday, 28 April 2014

eCops: Police Crime Alert 28/04/2014

The police wish to make us aware that there has been a "spike" in burglaries in our villages that appears to be continuing.

Please remember to lock everything up and to take every possible precaution with your belongings, including house, shed and car keys, whether items are stored in the home or in sheds or garages.

It has been noticeable in this spike of crime that much has gone from un secured or easily prised open buildings! These are professional criminals, they have the gear to access anything that is even a little vulnerable.

Please also think to look out of your windows during the evening and at night as a matter of course and to call the police if anything concerns you. We may "get lucky". It has happened before to success.

Please circulate this message.

Thank you all,

regards Polly

Kerbside Electrical Collection - 12th June 2014

A second round of kerbside electrical collection has been agreed for the 12th June 2014.

If you have any old electrical items and would like them removed and recycled please put them out on this day.

They will collect anything with the logo on the right from unused McDonalds kids toys to old TV's and computers. Just leave it on the kerbside clearly visible from the road and it will be picked up.

Cambridge MP Presents Petition To Push Case For School Funding

Cambridge MP Julian Huppert will today (Monday, April 28) push the case for extra funding for the county’s schools by handing in a petition of around 2,000 signatures calling on the government to implement proposals to give Cambridgeshire an extra £20 million.

He will hand the petition to the Lib Dem Schools Minister David Laws, who announced the provisional extra funding.

Signatures were collected online, through schools and by postcards for the petition which calls on the Government to provide the money to Cambridgeshire schools as quickly as possible.

It says: 'For too long, our schools have been starved of money, receiving £600 less per pupil per year than the national average.' It concludes 'Please don't leave Cambridge children shortchanged any longer'.

Tomorrow (Tuesday, April 29) Julian has joined forces with other MPs around the country to secure a debate on the proposed additional money, which has Cambridgeshire as the biggest overall beneficiary, with a 7 per cent increase. The consultation on the new proposals is due to end at the end of this week.

Julian will tell the House that while the new money is welcome, it is needed urgently and that there is a need for a real and sustainable fairer funding system beyond 2016 that will address the fact that Cambridgeshire schools have been starved of cash for 30 years.

“This is a hugely welcome first step in achieving parity across the board for our schools and our children,” says Julian. “But we have to go further if we are to compensate for 30 years of underfunding.

“We need cash for building projects so that our schools and classrooms can become welcoming fit-for-purpose environments which encourage learning.

“I want to make sure the government gives our schools this extra funding as a matter of urgency,” he says. “We are so close to getting the money we need to make sure our children get the education they deserve; I am not leaving anything to chance.

“For too long school funding has been based on historical data that hasn’t reflected the real situation on the ground and it has been our schools and our pupils that have suffered as a result.”

Our government has recognised that Cambridgeshire schools are at the bottom of the national funding league table,” he said. “Finally we have the chance to put that right; but I also want to make sure that this is only the beginning of sustained funding year-on-year to repair our school buildings and upgrade our classrooms to provide the learning environment our children deserve.”

The petition is available online at http://bit.ly/CambsSchoolsFunding and is still open for signatures.

Friday, 25 April 2014

Lib Dem Win in East Cambridgeshire

The Liberal Democrats stormed to victory in Sutton of East Cambridgeshire. Lorna Dupre gained the seat previously held by the Conservative Council Leader. Cllr Dupre came from third place in 2011 to take 50.9% of the vote (an increase of 27%). The Conservative and Labour candidates saw large drops in their support. The Tories dropped to second with 27.2% (-19.2%), UKIP who did not stand in 2011 came third with 15.8% and Labour came in last with 6.1% (-23.6%).

Of the four candidates only Cllr Dupre lived in the village. Other candidates' claims to be 'local' backfired badly when it became clear that they lived as much as 11 miles away. The local Lib Dem team had been preparing for the 2015 local elections well in advance by having a team in place and sending out regular FOCUS leaflets since 2013. As a result they were well established as local campaigners before the election was called and ready to go the moment it was.

The team canvassed all postal voters and regular polling station voters for local elections. They also ran a well-targeted literature and letter campaign as well as ward-wide leaflets. Many previous Labour voters quickly saw that their party wasn't campaigning effectively in the ward and much of their vote shifted in our direction. The team made sure to position stakeboards at key sites around the village - the Conservatives managed only two, and one of those was in a ditch outside the village!

The local team also made use of social media. The Facebook page for the village has over 700 members, which is used for general village news and chat. Set up by a local resident, it is non-political but used appropriately is an excellent forum for communication. Lorna and her team participate actively and often in that page, responding to enquiries, posting up local news, engaging in discussion with residents, and most importantly finding out what the local issues are that concern local people. Lorna says: "Facebook has proved a very effective way of really engaging with local residents about the things that matter to them."

Despite the other parties' campaigns being ineffective the team didn't relax and worked continuously until late on polling day. Lorna and her team were particularly grateful to colleagues from around the county who came to help and offer support to the campaign.

For all the detailed by-elections results see the ALDC elections page: http://www.aldc.org/category/by-election-results/

Bar Hill Parish Council Election - Election Results

Looks like there will be one less piece of paper for us all to worry about come election day on the 22nd May, at least here in Bar Hill. The number of nominations for the Parish Council is equal to the number of vacancies (13).

So here are the results;

Name of Candidate (Home Address) Description (if any)
BURRAGE, Brian John (7 Field View, Bar Hill, Cambridge, CB23 8SX)
DOLAND, John (49, Watermead, Bar Hill, Cambridge, CB23 8TJ) - Independent
HALL, Roger (11 Almond Grove, Bar Hill, Cambridge)
HOWARD, Brian Arthur (135 Pheasant Rise, Bar Hill, Cambs, CB23 8SD)
JENKINS, Sue Deborah (80, Foxhollow, Bar Hill, Cambridge, CB23 8ES)
MITCHELL, Anthony William (139 Pheasant Rise, Bar Hill, Cambs, CB23 8SD)
NELSON, Michael Robert (6 Field View, Bar Hill, Cambridge, CB23 8SX) Retired Engineer
PELLEW, Andy (9 Foxhollow, CB23 8EP) - Liberal Democrat
POPE, Mervyn (148 Hillcrest, Bar Hill, Cambs, CB23 8TH)
SAUNDERS, Anna Christine (1 Hollytrees, Bar Hill, Cambridge, CB23 8SF)
SPENCE, Sandra Jane (22 Oatlands Avenue, Bar Hill, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, CB23 8EQ)
WATERS, Bunty Elizabeth (77 Foxhollow, Bar Hill, Cambridge, CB23 8ES)
YORK, Jon Patrick (77 Hollytrees, Bar Hill, Cambridge, CB23 8SG)

Brian Burrage, Michael Nelson, and Jane Spence are new and I'm looking forward to meeting them in June when John Doland will also be returning to the Council after a brief break.

John Doland, roger Hall, Brian Howard, Sue Jenkins, Anthony Mitchell, Myself, Mervyn Pope, Anna Saunders, Bunty Waters, and Jon York are all returning Councillors.

In a way I wish there had been an election, as Councillors we will be levelling taxes and spending public money and it's always better when there is a mandate from the electorate. However with 9 of the 13 Councillors continuing (70%) it will be interesting to see how the new members will affect the Council.

The election result notice from South Cambs is available here; http://goo.gl/Iy4RnO

South Cambs Lib Dems Announce 2014 Election Manifesto

South Cambridgeshire Liberal Democrats launch their 2014 manifesto for the local Council elections in May by calling on the District Council to focus its efforts on getting better value for money from the taxpayer by sharing services.

Liberal Democrat Group Leader Bridget Smith said; "For too long local government, including here in South Cambridgeshire, has felt the need to keep as many of it's services as possible in house - as if there was a particularly 'South Cambs' way of collecting Council Tax, procuring good and services, managing IT, and tracking the Council’s finances. Today as part of our launch of this manifesto we are calling on the District Council to make Shared Services the default option for all back-office services this Council provides"

The Key aims in this Manifesto are;
- Building Stronger Communities. Ensure a sensible proportion of housing (40% in Northstowe, 80% on Council land sold to developers) is affordable to local residents, creating a new £100K grant scheme with the aim of providing two £40-£50K project grants a year to village organisations, working with Parish Councils to include them in decision making and help them protect their local shops, post offices, and public houses, and tackle rural isolation through improving community transport and village amenities
- Tackling Long-Term Climate Change Threats by easing planning restrictions to allow greater use of renewables and energy efficiency measures in conservation areas and on listed buildings, ensuring sustainable transport is in place for all new developments, improving commercial recycling from businesses and schools, and leading by example by making South Cambs vehicle fleet as efficient as possible by trialling hybrid and electric vehicles
- Greater Accountability through Greater Transparency. Making fairness, transparency, and value for money the cornerstone of the Council’s procurement policy, working with the County and City Councils to build on the current City Deal towards the goal of setting up a unitary authority, and following the lead of the County Council, to scrap cabinet government and switch to the committee system to ensure decision making is fully scrutinised
- Better Value For Money. Ensure that monies received from the City Deal are used for the long-term and district-wide benefit, share common back-office services like IT, Procurement, Legal, Finance, etc. with other Councils, and to investigate pooling resources for front-office services like housing repairs

"I believe our positive message of change and innovation to improve services and lives across the District will resonate with voters", said Cllr Smith. "I look forward to debating our manifesto in the villages and on the doorsteps where we can show people what their active, local, Liberal Democrat candidate is standing for."

The manifesto is available online here;

http://goo.gl/8OYiyE

"At this election, voters in South Cambs will have the option of voting for an inclusive, innovative, hard working party to represent them or for more of the same from the Conservatives. I look forward to the campaign," she added.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Andrew Duff MEP Speech, Colchester 24 April 2014

Liberal Democrats are fighting for Britain to stay in the European Union and for making more of our membership. Toying with leaving the EU risks losing British jobs and influence in the world.

Our fundamental rights are European: we will fight to defend and promote the ECHR and the EU's own Charter of Fundamental Rights.

Our external security relies on European solidarity: Mr Putin has reminded us of that.

We will not combat global warming, poverty or disease if we run away from our EU commitment.

That's why I and my Liberal colleagues in the Parliament are fighting to build a stronger, more democratic and united Europe which can fulfil its true potential.

Our opponents see the EU as some kind of anti-British plot.

We see European integration as an entirely rational response to the challenges of globalisation: an open, social market economy with a new form of democratic polity, punching its weight in world affairs.

The EU is not perfect: it is still an experiment, and ripe for further reform.

But our Conservative colleagues have made Britain part of the problem, seeking all the time to dilute, to delay or to block. Too many Tories march to the beat of the nationalist drum.

Lib Dems will make Britain part of the solution to Europe's crisis.

Europe is a great place to live: Britain will be a better place if we come to believe in ourselves as a confident, modern European country.

Girton Parish Council Election 2014 - Results

The number of nominations is not more than the number of vacancies so everyone nominated is automatically elected without there actually needing to be a public vote. Therefore the result is;

Name of Candidate (Home Address)
BARNES, Rowena Carey (49 Cambridge Road, Girton, Cambridge, CB3 0PN)
BUCKLER, Jane Elizabeth Stewart (28 Girton Rd., Cambridge, CB3 0LL)
BYGOTT, Tom (9 Station Rd, Oakington, Cambridge, CB24 3AH)
COCKLEY, Gill (73 Cambridge Rd, Girton, Cambridge, CB3 0PN)
DE LACEY, Douglas Raymond (9 Woodlands Park, Girton, Cambs, CB3 0QB)
GODBY, Valerie Eileen (38, Woodlands Park, Girton, Cambridge, CB3 0QB)
GORDON, Ray (10 Pepys Way, Girton, Cambridge, CB3 0PA)
NOBLE, Carol Anne (22, St Margaret`s Road, Girton, Cambridge, CB3 0LT)
SIMPSON, Alastair John (26 Church Lane, Girton, Cambridge, CB3 0JP)
TAYLOR, Lee Charles (296 Wellbrook Way, Girton, Cambridge, CB3 0GJ)
TAYLOR, Mark (16 Mayfield Road, Girton, Cambridge, CB3 0PH)
WHITTLE, Douglas William (23 Fairway, Girton, Cambridge, CB3 0QF)
WILLIAMS, Haydn (40 Church Lane, Girton, Cambridge, CB3 0JP)

Congratulations to all those elected.

Cambridgeshire County Council - Willingham By-Election

South Cambridgeshire District Council has just announced the list of candidates for the Willingham by-election following the resignation of Ray Manning from Cambridgeshire County Council. The candidates are;

GYMER, Susan (14 Courtyard Way, Cottenham, CB24 8SF) - Liberal Democrat
HALE, Martin John (5A Rampton End, Willingham, CB24 5JB) - UKIP
HUDSON, Peter Cecil Henry (23 Magdalene Close, Longstanton, CB24 3EG) - Conservative MONKS, Ben (30 Long Lane, Willingham, CB24 5LB) - Labour
STOCKS, Helen (58 Brickhills, Willingham, CB24 5JH) - The Green Party

I've previously worked with Sue when we were both County Councillors and know that she works incredibly hard. It will be an interesting election!

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

eCops: Update On Recent Crime 23/04/2014

Please can you be aware of the following crime reports.

On April the 18th, between 1630 and 1700hrs, a distraction burglary took place in Appletrees, Bar Hill. A male offender has knocked on a resident’s door stating that his ball has gone over to her rear garden. Occupant left the man standing at the door step leaving the door open and went looking for the ball but was unable to locate it and has returned to invite the male in through her property to the rear garden to look for himself.  The following morning occupant has found that her handbag was missing.

This male was described as, white, 5’’8 tall, stocky build, short dark brown hair, clean shaven, spoke with a local accent, was wearing dark clothing and possibly and anorak jacket. If you have any information regarding this report, please call 101 quoting crime reference number: CF0142530414

Incident number CC-22042014-0572 Ermine Street South, Papworth Everard, The informant has stopped 3 males stealing a bike from the side of his property. He has challenged them and they have given the bike back.

Incident number CC-22042014-0576 Haymans Way, Papworth, Informant calls in stating person(s) have thrown a brick through his patio window. No entry gained. Informant has heard males laughing. This occurred on the 22/04/2014.

Incident number CC-22042014-0571, High Street, Knapwell. On the 22/04/2014 a home Owner has returned home to find the kitchen door jemmied, untidy search with electrical goods and a ukulele stolen. Annex/studio in the garden has also been entered. Glass in the door smashed with a brick or slab off cut.

Incident number CC-22042014-0616 High Street, Knapwell. On the 22/04/2014 a home owner has returned home to find their rear kitchen window smashed with the adjoining window left open. Unknown offender(s) have conducted an untidy search throughout the whole house and have taken some small electrical items and tobacco. Exit through back door using keys from within the house.

Incident number CC-23042014-0011 High Street, Knapwell. On the 23/04/2014 a home owner has returned home to find their rear kitchen window smashed. Unknown offender(s) have conducted an untidy search throughout the whole house and have taken a laptop and approximately £250 cash.

Incident number CC-23042014-0024 Haymans Way, Papworth Everard. Owner has left their home address on the 22/04/2014 at 14:45, they have returned the next day to find their patio door smashed. 3 Samsung Galaxy 3s tablets stolen along with a Nike bag.

Investigations are still currently on-going

Kind Regards

PCSO 7009 Bujar MANI

Tonight Is World Book Night!

World Book Night is a celebration of reading and books which sees tens of thousands of volunteers gift specially chosen and printed World Book Night books in their communities to share their love of reading.

Last year, over 5000 books were given out across Cambridgeshire, thanks to 270 volunteers.

This year, Cambridgeshire libraries are once again being used as pick up points.

Visit your local library to find out more about the 20 World Book Night 2014 titles being collected and handed out, from authors such as Nora Roberts, John Grisham and Adele Parks.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Newsletter from the European Parliament Thursday 17 April 2014 - Sir Graham Watson MEP

The House rose today for the European elections on 22-25 May, so this will be my final newsletter of the current parliamentary term. If you wish to continue receiving the newsletters after the election please consider making a donation to my re-election campaign, since otherwise I may not be around to write them: the opinion polls suggest I have a tough fight to secure re-election. There is a DONATE button on my website, www.grahamwatsonmep.org.

Monday saw meetings of the 28 member state foreign ministers and their counterparts at agriculture. The former discussed Ukraine. They noted that Russia has seen a drop in investments, a rise in capital flight and a drop in the value of its currency since the invasion of the Crimea. They decided to 'prepare to extend' the list of people and entities subject to freezing of assets and travel bans within the EU; and they asked the EU Energy Commissioner Gunter Oettinger to draft a reply to a 10 April letter to EU member states from Vladimir Putin threatening to cut off gas supplies to Ukraine (and thence, by implication, to the EU). They approved a further €1 bn in macroeconomic aid for Ukraine, to be disbursed in two equal tranches. They also mobilised a further €45 million in emergency aid for South Sudan, where 7 million people are now at risk of food shortages: agreed further military and civilian support for the government of Mali to counter an armed insurgency; and were briefed on the deployment within the next fortnight of troops in the Central African Republic. The agriculture ministers discussed inter alia proposals from Commission and Parliament for trade in fruit and vegetables which have led to strong protests from Morocco and Tunisia, which fear their exports of products like tomatoes will be hit.

Parliament timetabled two extra hours of voting session this week to clear the decks before the election. The most important dossiers were those on the supervision and resolution (winding up) of banks, designed to prevent a recurrence of the bank capitalisation crisis and to protect small investors in the case of collapse, which have taken five years to prepare. We also voted at first reading on new rules to reduce the number of cyclists squidged by heavy lorries and a plan to cut by 80% within five years the number of lightweight plastic bags consumed. We bid farewell to the Group leaders of the two largest political groups and the leader of the Greens, none of whom will seek re-election; and one or two very competent deputy speakers who will be a loss.

I spoke in the House on Tuesday on behalf of the foreign affairs committee on the new rules regarding the treatment of migrants crossing the Mediterranean, of whom 20,000 are estimated to have drowned. And I had the great pleasure of supper last night with Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the Russian dissident for whose release I campaigned for so long.

The European Commission published proposals for a progressive opening to competition of the road haulage market. Currently, one lorry in every four travels empty between cross-border deliveries. Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas, an Estonian Liberal, seeks to improve efficiency and environmental sustainability at one and the same time through new cabotage rules.

Finally, Parliament voted to approve the 'temporary' relocation (ie subject to review) of the European Police College from Bramshill in Surrey to Budapest. Liberals voted against; we believe it would be better in The Hague alongside Europol. This whole affair fills me with rage. The reason for the move is the UK Conservatives' anti EU obsession. Their opposition to police co-operation has led them to throw this elite training school out of the UK, despite the economic and other benefits it brought. Moreover, the decision was taken without prior consultation with Commission, Council or Parliament, thereby violating our legal obligations to our EU partners. The UK's self-styled 'Party of Law 'n' Order' has allowed its anti Europeanism to run amok. No wonder we are developing such a bad reputation in Brussels and other national capitals!  

Regards

Sir Graham Watson

Member of the European Parliament
SW England and Gibraltar

UK Unemployment Falls Below 7%

New figures show the rate of unemployment has fallen below 7% for the first time since the recession. The number of people out of work dropped by 77,000 in the last three months, while total employment has seen the biggest annual jump in a generation.

There are now more people in work than ever before, with nearly 0.7 million more people in employment since this time last year, showing that the Lib Dem plan to create a million jobs is working.

There's also good news on salaries, with wages rising an average of 1.7% since last year, while inflation has dropped to 1.6%. Coupled with the Lib Dem £700 tax cut, which was delivered last month, this means that working people get to keep more of their take home pay, helping to ease the squeeze on family budgets.

Commenting on these figures, Danny Alexander, the Lib Dem Chief Secretary to the Treasury said:
"These figures are some of the strongest evidence yet that we are embedding the recovery. We have record numbers in work and unemployment falling at the fastest rate in over a decade. With earnings now rising in line with prices and employment rising, these figures reinforce the fact that the only way to higher living standards is to take the difficult decisions needed to deliver our long term economic plan. 
There is still a great deal more to do, but today's announcement is solid progress on building the stronger economy in a fairer society that Liberal Democrats entered coalition to deliver."

Cambridge Manufacturing Companies Urged By Cities MP To Compete For National Awards

Cambridge manufacturing companies are being encouraged by the city’s MP Julian Huppert to enter a national competition which recognises and celebrates innovation in industry.

The Manufacturer of the Year awards are open to all businesses regardless of size and are divided into 13 categories including Young Manufacturer of the Year and Apprentice of the Year.

Julian said: “We have some outstanding businesses in Cambridge and this is a chance for them to get the national recognition they deserve.

“I am delighted to see the awards include categories designed to mark the achievements of young people and others learning through the apprenticeship programme. It is good to see that their contributions are highly valued.

“I hope businesses in Cambridge will take the time to enter. Our manufacturing industry nationally contributes billions of pounds to the British economy and supports hundreds of thousands of jobs.”

The 2014 Awards were launched in Parliament by Business Minister Michael Fallon. More than 200 senior business leaders attended the launch including representatives from Rolls Royce, GE Aviation, Mulberry, BAE Systems.

Details of how to enter can be found here:

http://www.themanufacturer.com/eventsites/awards2014/How-to-Enter/

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Nick Clegg Calls For Publication Of Chilcot Report On Iraq War

Nick Clegg has called for the publication of the Chilcot report into the Iraq war, which identifies exactly what happened in the run-up to the conflict in Iraq.

The Chilcot report includes about 200 cabinet-level discussions, 25 notes from Tony Blair to George W Bush and more than 130 records of conversations between the former US president and Tony Blair.


The progress of the report began in 2009 and has cost millions of pounds so far. However, it is not clear why there is a delay in the process and Nick believes that some of those in line for scrutiny are holding up the process. He followed on to say that those who might be criticised must accept that this will happen considering that it was "one of the most momentous, one of the most catastrophic decisions in British foreign policy".

"I'm sure Chilcot himself would like to get on with it as quickly as possible, I can't comment on exactly the reasons why, given there's a lot of to-ing and fro-ing about what is finally produced in published form in the report.

"Exactly what the holdup now is - this involved a lot of people, a lot of legalities and, of course, is a very, very sensitive issue.

"But I really do think now, everybody involved - including those who know they will be subject to renewed scrutiny from the Chilcot report - they all now accept that it is time that the report was published so the record can be scrutinised in the most objective way possible."

eCops: Theft From Garage 16/04/2014

Between April the 13th at 1830 and April the 14th at 0700 hours, a breaking to a garage took place in Robin Close, Bar Hill. Perpetrator(s) has forced the garage door to open and has removed a child motor cross bike.

If you saw the happen, Please get in touch.

Thank you

PCSO 7009 B Mani

Cambridge MP Takes Blindfolded Bus Ride Across The City

Cambridge MP, Julian Huppert is to take a blindfolded bus ride across the city on Friday, April 25 to push the case for “talking buses”.

Julian will be led by a guide dog for the 10 minute journey from the railway station into the city centre and then guided round the bus station to try to identify bus stops.

The trip has been organised by the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association to highlight its campaign for audio visual (AV) technology to be fitted to all buses and every driver to be given visual awareness training.

Julian has called for a change in the legislation so that there is a legal requirement for buses, as there is for trains, to announce stops.

“Taking a bus journey for sighted people is a relatively easy thing to do,” said Julian. “But for those with partial sight and blind people it can throw up all sorts of challenges.

“Firstly, they have to find the right stop to catch the bus that will take them where they want to go; then they have to rely on the driver or another passenger telling them when they have reached their destination. Fitting AV technology onto every bus would give them back their independence and freedom and make the whole journey easier, less fraught and more enjoyable.”

Research shows than nine out of 10 blind passengers have got off a bus at the wrong stop because of the lack of AV. The result is that people are put off travelling and miss social occasions, medical appointments and interviews.

Installing AV in a double decker bus costs £2,550 and it would cost the government £5.75 million a year to fit every new bus with AV.

At present, less than 20 per cent of UK buses have AV and most of those are in London, yet statistics show that it increases the numbers of bus passengers. It helps not only blind and partially sighted people but the elderly, tourists and the occasional bus user.

Recently, Julian took a blindfolded walk through Cambridge city centre with a guide dog to experience the problems blind and partially sighted people face on a routine visit.

He was impressed by the confidence he felt with the guide dog by his side but realised how much people with impaired vision rely on their other senses.

“I’m looking forward to finding out the problems blind and partially sighted people face travelling on the buses,” said Julian, “but I must admit I am a little apprehensive. I have complete faith in the guide dog though.”

Cambridge MP Welcomes Fall In Unemployment In City And Nationally

Figures showing that unemployment continues to fall in Cambridge and the number of those out of work nationally has dropped below seven per cent have been welcomed by the city’s MP Julian Huppert.

The number of people claiming Jobseekers’ Allowance in the city fell to 1,103 in March, 497 lower than in the same period last year and 46 fewer than in February 2014. The figures mean that just two per cent of the working population aged between 16 and 64 are without jobs.

National figures released today have seen unemployment fall to a five year low and earnings, which have grown by 1.7 per cent, are higher than inflation at 1.6 per cent.

Julian said: “This is very good news all round. Our economy has turned the corner and we are seeing real growth, not only in the number of jobs which have come with the renewed confidence among employers but also the fact that they feel able to increase wages.

“It is good to see unemployment continuing to fall in our city. We have seen month on month improvement and I am optimistic this will continue as companies feel able to grow and expand and new firms come in.

“I hope this new growth in our economy will bring better news for those still seeking work. There is no doubt that it is difficult for those families surviving against a backdrop of unemployment and I have sympathy with them. I hope they can see light at the end of the tunnel and their fortunes will soon improve.”

Creationism In UK Schools: Letter to Andrew Lansley MP

Andrew Lansley MP
On the 22nd March I sent our local MP the following email, specifically raising a concern regarding the teaching and promotion of Creationism in UK schools;

Dear Mr Lansley 
I am writing as your constituent to express concern about the need for the Government to take a robust response on three recent issues that have arisen with respect to evolution and young earth creationism in state funded schools. I am concerned that this is currently not the case. In particular, there are three separate issues that have been the cause of recent controversy in the media and which I would like to bring to your attention: 
1. Last year it was discovered that Yesodey Hatorah Senior Girls School, a Charedi Jewish state secondary school in Hackney, had censored exam questions due to religious concerns. More recently it has come to light that a Charedi private school has also done this. These questions are widely reported to have been on evolution and might have also covered sex education. Worryingly, when this came to light, OCR (the exam board) and Ofqual accepted it - however I understand that Ofqual are now reconsidering the matter, and are investigating whether this kind of behaviour has happened in other schools, which is welcome. 
The pupils at these schools were denied the marks in the exam and presumably also denied the relevant knowledge in the classroom. I think that this is a potential breach of the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child, which says that 'States Parties shall. [contribute] to the elimination of ignorance and illiteracy throughout the world and [facilitate] access to scientific and technical knowledge'. Ofqual's initial stance also might conflict with their statutory duty to 'have regard to the reasonable requirements of relevant learners', which in practice likely includes seeing the exam questions concerned. 
2. Recently the British Humanist Association has discovered that 67 nurseries are receiving state funding through the scheme to provide free places to two-four year olds, in spite of teaching pseudoscience which would make it unacceptable for them to gain state funding through any other programme (for example as Free Schools). Amongst them are, for example, the Accelerated Christian Education schools, which are not only pseudoscientific but also homophobic and misogynistic. There are reports that at least one of the ACE schools is using its nursery funding to reduce entry fees for the attached private school. I think this is unacceptable. I understand the Government are currently investigating this matter and would like to encourage them to stop this funding. 
3. The Council for Learning Outside the Classroom (CLOtC) has recently awarded its Quality Badge to Noah's Ark Zoo Farm, a creationist zoo in Bristol - thereby endorsing it as a place for school trips. The Quality Badge scheme was set up by the Department for Children, Schools and Families in 2008. The scheme is intended to recognise 'good quality learning outside the classroom'. But it is clearly not good quality learning to teach creationism as a scientific theory, as Noah's Ark Zoo Farm does. Disappointingly, the Government has refused to put pressure on CLOtC over this matter. The Zoo should not have received this endorsement. 
The Government has a very clear policy that every young person in state schools should learn about evolution, and this is reflected by the fact that it is putting evolution on the primary national curriculum, and made it a requirement for Free Schools to teach evolution. It is equally clear that young earth creationism and intelligent design are not scientifically valid and should not be taught as such. The Government has a policy of rejecting creationist groups that apply for funding as Free Schools and has precluded Free Schools from teaching pseudoscience. 
It is therefore concerning to see these three situations arise where what is happening seems to run counter to Government policy. I would like to ask if you would make representations on my behalf to Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove, Ofqual Chief Executive Glenys Stacey and CLOtC Chief Executive Beth Gardner on these important matters. 
Yours sincerely,
Mr Andy Pellew
On the 16th April he responded, here's the response in full;
Dear Mr Pellew, 
Thank you for contacting me about evolution and young earth creationism in state funded schools. I hope to be able to allay your concerns by explaining below Government policy in this area. 
First of all, the Government is clear that creationism should not form part of any science curriculum or be taught as a scientific alternative to accepted scientific theories. Ministers expect to see evolution and its foundations topics fully included in any science curriculum, and I welcome that expectation.  Religious education is an appropriate area of the curriculum where topics such as creationism and intelligent design can be explored as part of developing an understanding of different beliefs. 
The independent examinations regulator, Ofqual, is responsible for regulating how awarding organisations, designing and delivering examinations and securing standards. Ofqual has investigated the practice of redacting, or blacking out, exam paper questions for religious or other reasons with the awarding organisations that offer GCSEs and A levels. It has concluded that while this practice is very rare, it should not be allowed. It has now written to all awarding organisations setting out its position on the redaction of exam paper questions. The letter is available at http://tinyurl.com/p7yglca. 
I agree that denying students access to all the questions on a paper prevents them achieving their full potential and disadvantages them when compared with students in other schools. It also threatens the validity of the qualification. If awarding organisations suspect that exam centres are redacting questions from exam papers, Ofqual expects the awarding organisation to act in the same way as it would for any other type of malpractice, by investigating the matter and if appropriate imposing sanctions. Ofqual's position is supported by the relevant exam boards. 
As regards early years funding, all providers in receipt of early years funding must follow clear standards to ensure children are taught the key skills they need to get a good start in life. They are inspected and if any failings are found the Government has the power to take action to enforce the standards.  I know that the Department for Education (DfE) is aware of the concerns that you raise.  You may be interested to know that the DfE is currently consulting on new statutory guidance to local authorities about their early years role. Please do contribute to this. The consultation is available at: http://tinyurl.com/punj2yo. 
Regarding the points you raise on the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom (CLOtc), it is my understanding that the organisation is completely independent from Government. DfE does not provide funding for them, nor is it involved in deciding which organisations are accredited by the Council. It is entirely a decision for the CLOtC as to which organisations merit their quality badge. 
Although organisations such as Noah's Ark Farm are free to make their resources available to schools, DfE has made it clear that all state-funded schools must teach science, and that creationism and intelligent design have no place in any science curriculum. 
I do hope this is reassuring. Thank you again for taking the time to contact me. 
Yours sincerely,
Andrew Lansley
The Rt Hon Andrew Lansley CBE MP
Leader of the House of Commons & Member of Parliament for South Cambridgeshire

Bar Hill Skate Park Consultation Update

Just a fairly quick update on the output from the Skate Park consultation day on the 29th March - apologies for the time this has taken to write!

The day started off fairly well with myself, Cllr Sue Jenkins (Bar Hill PC Vice Chair), and Cllr Anna Saunders setting up the room with the examples from the four Skate Park companies that had provided us something to present; Canvas, Clever Curves, Rampmental, and Wheelscape.

We have PDF's from each of the companies, if you are interested in more detail drop me an email.

The day started off quite, the displays from the various companies had paper and pens by them so people could jot down their comments on the displays, and people just got to walk around asking us questions as they went or just writing their comments onto the paper.

Here's a summary of the comments for each of the designs;
Canvas
- The bowl could work
- Maybe the one with the dirt track
Rampmental
- Pre-fab metal can be done right
- Wood is best but need repairing
Wheelscape
- Happy with concrete
- User friendly for skateboards BMX and scooters
- Looks good, got to be at least 6ft though!

There were lots of comments - and trust me that just because I've not listed your comment on here in the summary doesn't mean it's not being considered - but near the end of the day people started drawing together various parts from various designs and sketching out what they wanted.

One of the concerns that was raised was that the existing orientation of the park meant that when people used the ramps they had the sun directly in their eyes. There were also concerns about the "blind spot" at the back of the park so we ended up with this design (with a plea for no ramps with surface metal!);


The sketch shows the skate park swung around 90 degrees and built at the back of the existing hard standing area.

What it also shows is a 6ft and 4ft ramps, the detail for these was drawn on an additional sheet;


In addition to the designs for the two ramps (plus the jump box) you'll see the signatures of the people who supported it plus a general note that the preferred materials were a wooden surface with a metal frame (this is the design favoured by Rampmental).

All in all it was a good day, there were lots of discussion around the plans for the skate park and a phenomenal amount of support for what we (Sue, Anna, Anthony and myself), with your help, are trying to achieve.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Former Speech Writer To Tony Blair Says “I Agree With Nick"

The former Speech Writer to Tony Blair said that he believes Nick Clegg is making a difference: "By stopping the Tory Right, the Deputy Prime Minister should be applauded by all liberal voters."

Philip Collins worked as Tony Blair's Chief Speech Writer, responsible for Blair's very last speech as Leader of the Labour Party. In his article published today, he said that without the Lib Dems in Government, tax cuts for the wealthy would have been more generous. He points out that green taxes would be slashed harder, welfare cuts would be more severe, and there would be greater progress towards abolishing human rights legislation.


Commenting on the Europe debates, Collins said:
"During the debate on the European Union with Nigel Farage, it struck me that Nick Clegg had a clearer and more coherent thread to his politics than any of the other leaders, indeed any other senior politician." 
He also commented on George Osborne's Budget speech, saying that it was notable that Osborne made a lot of the Liberal Democrat policy, such as raising the threshold at which people pay income tax to £12,500. He said that it is the liberal desire that people should keep more of the money that they earn. 
In his article, Collins mentioned that he admires Nick Clegg's emphasis on making social mobility a success. He spoke highly of the Liberal Democrats emphasis on childcare, stating that thanks to the Lib Dems, more money has been channelled to poorer children via the premium offered to schools in disadvantaged areas.

Victory For Lib Dems As MEPs Approve Life-Saving Changes To Lorry Designs

The European Parliament has approved new rules to make big lorries safer for other road users and more fuel-efficient.

Under changes pushed by Liberal Democrat MEPs, the design of lorry cabs are set to be changed to reduce the number of blind spots under the front widescreen and the side of the vehicle. The new designs would also include safer cab fronts to reduce damage caused by impacts with cyclists and pedestrians. It is thought the proposal could help prevent dozens of fatal accidents each year.

Liberal Democrat MEPs have met with a number of safety campaigners in Brussels and the UK over the past few years to discuss rules to improve lorry safety. Campaigners have included Olympic gold-medal winning cyclist Chris Boardman, See Me Save Me Campaign's Kate Cairns, and Nazan Fennell from the 'Live in Hope' campaign.

Transport Spokesman Phil Bennion commented:
"Today's vote is a victory for all the campaigners in the UK who have worked so hard to bring about these life-saving changes to lorry design. 
This shows that when individuals engage with MEPs and the EU they can affect the outcome and bring about positive change. 
With today's strong backing from the European Parliament I am confident that we can push these reforms through in negotiations with national governments later this year."

Message From Nick Clegg To Mark Passover

With Passover celebrations starting today, Nick Clegg wishes the Jewish Communities, within Britain and around the world, a happy Passover:



Transcript:

"I want to wish Jewish Communities, within Britain and around the world, a happy and peaceful Passover. 

This is a time when families and friends gather round the Seder table to remember the struggles of the Jewish people to secure their freedom. Every year, they tell this story to their children so it is never forgotten. 

And what this ancient journey shows us is the enduring power of people to overcome even the greatest of adversity and build a better future together. And, during this celebration, we're reminded of all those people still suffering oppression, because of their religious beliefs, race or creed. 

That cannot be right and Passover is a chance for all of us to commit ourselves again to helping those -- of all faiths and none -- who face persecution around the world. 

It's also an opportunity for us to recognise the contribution Britain's Jewish Communities make to every area of our society 


Thank you and Chag Sameach."