Monday, 30 June 2014

Energy Market Investigation Presses Ahead

In a major step towards ensuring that the energy market works for customers, Ed Davey has asked Ofgem and CMA to undertake an investigation in the energy market.

The investigation will not affect Britain's energy supplies. We are working with Ofgem and National Grid to balance supply and demand, and to ensure we have enough sufficient generating capacity.

The market investigation will provide investors with the certainty they need to make long-term investment decisions. A £104 billion investment in electricity infrastructure is already in the pipeline to 2020.

Ed Davey said:
"This is a major step towards ensuring that the UK's energy market really does work for consumers and springs from the first annual competition assessment which I asked Ofgem and the CMA to undertake. Having a full energy market investigation with real teeth is something that the last Government failed to do time and time again.

"Everyone should give their full support to this independent investigation. While it is underway we're not slowing down the reforms that are giving people a better deal on their energy including £50 taken off average household bills, the number of smaller energy suppliers almost trebling since 2010, faster and easier switching and simpler tariffs and bills."

According to the US Chamber of Commerce, the UK is now the fourth most energy secure nation on earth, while Ernst and Young have assessed us as one of the most attractive locations for investment in renewables.

Liberal Democrats in Government are doing everything they can to help customers. We are reforming the market and introducing more competition, we've taken around £50 off the average household bill, introduced simpler tariffs and bills, and are making switching faster.

Since 2010, investment worth more than £45 billion has been secured in electricity infrastructure alone - the majority being in renewable technologies.

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Good News For Same-Sex Couples And Humanists

Government has announced that couples already in civil partnerships can convert to marriage from the 10 December 2014.

Liberal Democrats have been fighting in the coalition to make equal marriage the law and we were delighted to see the first same-sex wedding take place in March. The new situation means that all couples, regardless of gender, will have the choice between a marriage or a civil partnership.

As part of the Marriage Act, there has also been a review launched today by the Government into whether or not to allow non-religious belief organisations such as humanists, to perform marriage ceremonies.

Liberal Democrats in Government support the amendment of the bill, which would allow a third type of legal ceremony, alongside religious and civil ceremonies, for getting married in England and Wales.

The review would be made into Section 14 of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 which defines a belief organisation as 'an organisation whose principal or sole purpose is the advancement of a system of non-religious beliefs which relate to morality or ethics'.

Click here to view the consultation.

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Liberal Democrats Deliver 1.8m Apprenticeships

Recently released figures show 314,000 people started apprenticeships in 2013/14.

These figures bring the total number of apprenticeships up to 1.8 million since Liberal Democrats have been in Government - the biggest expansion in apprentices since the 1950s.

Liberal Democrats have have made it easier for businesses to take on apprentices. We have given 40,000 businesses grants of up to £1,500 for each young unemployed person they take on as an apprentice and put £550m into improving college facilities for apprentices.

Liberal Democrat Business Spokesperson Gordon Birtwistle commented:


"All young people should have an opportunity to get on in life and apprenticeships are a great way to deliver that. Liberal Democrats have been the driving force behind boosting apprenticeships and I am delighted that since May 2010, we have created more than 1.8 million apprenticeships.

 
"We set ourselves an ambitious target of delivering 2m apprenticeships by the end of this Parliament and we are on course to meet that. Creating apprenticeships for young people helps to build the stronger economy that Liberal Democrats are helping to deliver in Government.

 
"As part of our reforms of vocational education we have focused on raising the quality of all apprenticeships to world class standards, so that the programme is rigorous, responsive, and meets the changing needs of the future economy.

Friday, 27 June 2014

The FTSE100 Makes History

The FTSE100 makes history today with the news that there are no remaining all-male boards in the UK's top companies, which is a considerable turnaround from where 1 in 5 were all male in 2011.

Glencore Xstrata's appointment of Patrice Merrin to their board has been welcomed by Vince Cable and comes as a result of efforts by Liberal Democrats and businesses to improve boardroom diversity in the UK.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said:
"This is a historic day for the FTSE and for the reforms I've been pushing for to ensure that there is more diversity in the talent running our biggest companies. 
"Huge progress has been made on this agenda since 2010 and from today every single top 100 company listed on the London stock exchange now counts a woman on their board. 
"This last appointment has been long in the making but I congratulate Glencore Xstrata today on hiring their first woman non-executive board director. 
"The case for change is clear - businesses with diversity at their top are more successful. British businesses have embraced this move for change and done so in a voluntary way, without recourse for legal targets. 
"Much more needs to be done of course to tackle diversity in the FTSE 250 and to fix the pipeline of women working their way up to the top of businesses to become the leaders of tomorrow. But for today, let us celebrate this important landmark achieved working hand in hand with business, not by imposing tokenistic targets, which other countries have favoured."

Thursday, 26 June 2014

NW Cambridge: Local Centre To Be Named Eddington

The new local centre that is part of the North West Cambridge Development will be known as Eddington. It is named after the pre-eminent astronomer, mathematician and physicist, Sir Arthur Eddington, whose observations confirmed some key predictions of Einstein’s Theory of Relativity and led to its general acceptance. Sir Arthur Eddington was a Cambridge alumnus and resident in the local area in the early part of the twentieth century. He also lived for a time in the Gravel Hill Farmhouse, on the North West Cambridge Development site.

Roger Taylor, Project Director for the North West Cambridge Development explained: “Identifying place names for the development is not an easy task. We are grateful to our local community who, through consultation, has informed our approach to naming. Naming of areas and streets will be based on natural naming, which means that inspiration will be taken from the physical or geographical features of the landscape or people who have a strong connection with the University or the development site. Natural naming grounds the new development within its location, adding to the sense of place that we are creating.”

Other areas on the development site that have been named include Brook Leys (the open space along the western edge of the site [1]); Ridgeway Village (the residential area north of the local centre [2]); Gravel Hill (the residential area located at the east of the site [3]); and Storey’s Field (the central area of green open space [4]). Read more about the background to the names CLICK HERE

Over the coming 12 months, street names will be allocated to the Development site, and the University is now seeking specific names and ideas from the local community that follow the principles of natural naming. Suggestions can be submitted by completing a short online survey on CLICK HERE. or using #cambridgestreets on twitter.

Cambridge MP Takes Concerns Of Private Rental Tenants To Parliament

MP Julian Huppert has raised in Parliament the concerns of tenants renting from private landlords highlighting the importance of Cambridge’s HMOs and the problems faced by those on benefit.

Julian, who tabled a Private Member’s Bill calling for a fairer deal for tenants, claimed that there have been some shocking cases of people being refused the chance to rent because they are paying with the Local Housing Allowance benefit.

“That simply should not be tolerated,” he said. “We should not let landlords exclude a large number of people who need to find housing.”

He told how the LHA, introduced by the Labour government, had caused real problems for Cambridge because the benefit was set on an average rent calculated across a wide area including places like Littleport and Haverhill where rents are cheaper.

“It became impossible for anyone to find anything to rent in Cambridge on the LHA amount, he said. “The message that the Labour Government sent to people in Cambridge on benefits was, ‘You can’t afford to live in Cambridge. Go somewhere else.’

Julian told how his predecessor, David Howarth fought strongly against it and, even though the problem was highlighted by the government’s Work and Pensions Committee, Labour did nothing.

“It was a poor scheme,” he added, “and I am pleased that the Government has finally, after much effort, launched an independent review of the adequacy of LHA levels and increased the levels in Cambridge by four per cent - well above inflation. That is a start.”

Julian also told Parliament how houses in multiple occupation – HMOs -are an essential part of the housing mix in Cambridge.

“We rely on them to house people, and they do a good job,” he said. “Yet Labour councillors have proposed to cap the number of HMOs and change the definition to any house with three people from two unrelated groups. Driving younger people out of HMOs would simply slash the supply and make it even harder to house people in my constituency.”

Julian told how he hoped greater agreement could be reached between landlords and tenants to make it easier for people to have longer tenancies so they could “turn their houses into homes”.

“Another aspect that concerns me is the status of guarantors,” he said. “When they rent, many people are told to find a guarantor who will apparently underwrite the cost of their rent.

“I am aware of cases in Cambridge where people whose parents live in Scotland have been told, rather bizarrely, that a guarantee from somebody in Scotland is not acceptable because it may not be legally binding. There are a number of students from Scotland who should certainly be able to rent places in Cambridge.”

And Julian told how letting agents should be banned from charging exorbitant fees to tenants. He cited a report from Shelter that said the fees were out of proportion for many of the nine million people who rent.

“There is such an imbalance in power between the tenant and the landlord,” he said.

eCops: General Area Update 26/06/2014

Good new, since my last E-cops message there have been 0 crimes to report.

I attended a coffee morning at Bar Hill Library yesterday (Wednesday July 25th) and consulted with a number of residents, am pleased to say that there was no concerns raised.

Following the recent panel priority, PCSO Baugh and I will be conducting speed checks this afternoon in, Swavesey , Boxworth and Elsworth.
Kind Regards

PCSO Bujar Mani
Safer Neighbourhood Team

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Lib Dem MP Pushes Treasury To Tighten Tax Laws On Big Business

MP Julian Huppert has pushed the Treasury to tighten tax laws such as those which allowed Starbucks, Amazon and Vodafone to cut their tax bills by millions.

Julian raised the issue in the Commons yesterday (Tuesday, June 24) calling on the government to tackle laws including those covering transfer pricing which allows multinational companies to attribute their profits around the world to avoid corporation tax.

He said: “It is a huge frustration to people to see wealthy individuals and large companies avoid paying the taxes that they ought to be paying.”

Julian called on David Gauke, Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury to “make sure that our rules are fit for purpose”.

“Will he tackle, for example, transfer pricing and ensure that there is an international agreement that benefits Britain and means that people pay the correct amount of tax in this country?” he asked.

Mr Gauke said: “It is right that we address these issues and that we do so at an international level.

“Since 2010, the Government have been determined to support HMRC in improving overall compliance levels, tackling tax avoidance, evasion and fraud, and punishing those who break the rules. Overall we are investing about £1 billion in HMRC’s compliance activities, and HMRC achieved record levels of compliance revenues last year, securing £23.9 billion.”

He added that the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development had been carrying out work on profit shifting and it was hoped that results of its work would be apparent this autumn.

Julian said later: “The Lib Dems have been pushing for a fairer tax system in this country so that everyone pays a fair share. People are fed up with huge corporations finding ways to minimise their tax bills using legal loopholes through a system that allows them to do so.

“I hope that through the work that is being done, that we will see real change so that Britain benefits from the profits these companies are making in our country.”

The full transcript of Julian’s questions and the replies read as follows:

5. Dr Julian Huppert (Cambridge) (LD): What steps he is taking to ensure that people pay the taxes for which they are liable.

The Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury (Mr David Gauke): Since 2010, the Government have been determined to support HMRC in improving overall compliance levels, tackling tax avoidance, evasion and fraud, and punishing those who break the rules. Overall we are investing about £1 billion in HMRC’s compliance activities, and HMRC achieved record levels of compliance revenues last year, securing £23.9 billion.

Dr Huppert: It is a huge frustration to people to see wealthy individuals and large companies avoid paying the taxes that they ought to be paying. I thank the Minister for his comments, but will he go further to make sure that our rules are fit for purpose? Will he tackle, for example, transfer pricing, and ensure that there is an international agreement that benefits Britain and means that people pay the correct amount of tax in this country?

Mr Gauke: As the Chancellor made clear a moment ago, it is right that we address these issues, and that we do so at an international level. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s important work on base erosion and profit shifting is a consequence of the leadership shown by the Prime Minister and the Chancellor, and we hope that we will see the fruits of that progress beginning this autumn.

Cambridge MP Backs Campaign To Stop Torture

MP Julian Huppert is backing the launch of a campaign by the Cambridge branch of Amnesty International to Stop Torture across the world.

Julian will join supporters of Amnesty, local members of the Freedom from Torture group and Cambridge WDM (World Development Movement) n in Cambridge Market Square tomorrow (Thursday, June 26) for the launch.

They will drive home the message that torture is unacceptable in a modern world and call on governments to act to end it.

Julian said: “This is a hugely worthwhile campaign. Every day in countries across the world men, women and children are being subjected to barbaric and inhumane practices while governments do nothing to stop it.

“This is completely unacceptable in a modern world. We cannot stand by and let this happen. I urge everyone to support this campaign so that we can end the terror of those who are living with the threat of torture. We cannot begin to know what that’s like.”

A spokesperson for Cambridge Amnesty said: “More than 150 countries have ratified the UN Convention against Torture. But it still happens. That is why we are launching our new campaign. Stop Torture.”

Cracking Down On Zero Hours Contract Abuse

Vince Cable has today introduced a bill to ban exclusivity clauses in zero-hours contracts in order to give workers more choice.

Banning exclusivity clauses, which prevent workers from working for more than one employer, is set to benefit 125,000 zero-hours contract workers.

Vince said that "unscrupulous employers" had abused the flexibility offered by the contracts and that the legislation would give more flexibility to workers:



Liberal Democrats in Government will be consulting shortly on the best mechanism to tackle avoidance of the ban and the issue of redress should this law be broken. They will also work with business representatives and unions to develop a code of practice on the fair use of zero hours contracts.

With unemployment dropping and job satisfaction increasing, Zero hours contracts are an important part of a vibrant, flexible labour market.

Zero-hours contracts do not just benefit employers, but employees too. Students, older people and single parents who value flexibility have the chance to turn down work at inconvenient times and top up their income when they need extra cash. With the ban on exclusivity clauses, employees will have more freedom to boost their income further.

£20m Support For Welfare Reform Claimants Unspent

New figures show that more than £20 million specifically set aside to help people adapt to welfare reforms was not spent by local authorities last year. This shows that Labour stories about councils running out of running were exaggerated.

These reforms are fixing the broken welfare system by restoring fairness. Labour left a complicated system that made people worse off in work than on benefits. That wasn't fair to the taxpayer and to the millions of people trapped on benefits who just wanted to get on in life.

Thanks to pressure from the Liberal Democrats, the Government tripled support for vulnerable people to £180 million last year to ensure that the right help was in place during our welfare reforms. We have also given councils £165 million this year to help the most vulnerable people adjust to the reforms.

Thousands of people have been awarded Discretionary Housing Payment funding to help them manage their short and long-term housing costs.

However, today's figures show that almost two-thirds of councils paid out less than their total Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) allocation to tenants. On top of this, around three-quarters of councils did not apply for a £20 million Government top-up fund to help claimants adjust to the changes.

New figures also show:
  • 240 out of 380 local authorities underspent their DHP funding last year.
  • Almost one in ten councils spent less that 60% of their total DHP allocation.
  • Almost 400,000 DHP awards were made to claimants in 2013/14 to support the most vulnerable people.
  • Over 160,000 of these awards were for extra funding to help claimants with housing costs while they look for work or more suitable accommodation

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

eCops: NFU Mutual Country Crime Fighters Awards 2014

NFU Mutual, the UK’s leading rural insurer, has announced the return of its annual Country Crime Fighters Awards 2014.

With a cash fund of up to £6,500 available, the Awards will help to recognise and celebrate unsung rural heroes by providing them with financial and practical support to help fund anti-crime initiatives.

All people have to do is visit www.nfumutual.co.uk/crimefighters and tell the insurer in 300 words or less why they or their community group deserve to win an award and how they have helped to reduce crime in their local area.

The rural insurer has introduced new categories to attract an even more widespread audience of people who dedicate their time to reducing rural crime in their local communities.

The categories for 2014 are:
  • Social Media Crime Prevention
  • Equestrian Crime Prevention
  • Farm Crime Prevention
  • Local Community Crime Prevention
  • Wildlife Crime Prevention
  • Rural Business Crime Prevention
  • Crime Prevention through Technology
The Country Crime Fighters Awards 2014 will engage with people from all over the country, as people nominate themselves or their community group for an award. Following successful nomination, regional winners will compete for a place in the final and be invited to attend the awards ceremony in London with the chance to be crowned national winner. The winner will also receive a trophy and a cheque for £1,500. Regional winners will receive a trophy and £500.

Nominations can be submitted online at the Country Crime Fighters webpage. Nominations close on the11th August 2014.

For the full information please visit:

http://www.ourwatch.org.uk/news_and_events/news/nfu_mutual_country_crime_fighters_awards_2014/

Lib Dem MP Wins Fairer Deal For Tenants Told To Move Out By Labour

Cambridge MP Julian Huppert has won a fairer deal for tenants who were told by the Labour government to move out of the city to find cheaper homes.

Julian fought to get an investigation into the problems faced by tenants renting from private landlords and an increase in the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) to allow them to stay in the city.

And yesterday (Monday, June 23) he was told the government has agreed to an independent review, to be published in the summer, on the adequacy of the LHA. After repeated lobbying from Julian, most of the LHA rates in Cambridge increased by four per cent this year, well above inflation. The increase affects four of the five Cambridge rates including that for shared accommodation for single people under 35.

Julian said: “LHA was set up by the Labour government but they deliberately set at a rate that meant that almost no-one could find somewhere affordable to rent in Cambridge. Tenants who needed state support but couldn't get a council house or space with a social landlord had no choice but to rent privately without enough money to meet the rent. They were expected to find a way to meet the shortfall which many of them were unable to do.

“Labour’s answer to their plight was to tell them that if they couldn’t afford to live in Cambridge they should get out of Cambridge.

“People were being forced out of the city because Labour failed to set up a system which properly reflected the situation in Cambridge – a shortage of affordable homes and an over-heated private rental market.

“I and my predecessor have been fighting hard to get this resolved so that the LHA takes into account the high rents in Cambridge and the lack of alternative homes.”

The problem occurred because LHA rates for Cambridge were based on average rents taken across a wider area including cheaper areas such as Littleport and Haverhill. The cross-party Department of Work and Pensions Select Committee in 2009 specifically highlighted the failures of the scheme in Cambridge, but Labour refused to act.

Julian raised the issue in the Commons yesterday because he was concerned whether under 35-year-olds had been made homeless in relation to the shared accommodation rate of LHA. Single tenants are given an amount which would pay the cost of a single room in a shared home despite the fact that they may have found a self-contained place of their own.

“The situation worries many of my constituents, and a recent study by Crisis showed that in many parts of the country such as Cambridge only a tiny fraction of shared houses are available for people to rent,” Julian told Work and Pensions Minister, Steve Webb.

“When he considers the review, will he change the broad rental market areas and ensure that people can find somewhere to live if they wish to be in Cambridge, Blackpool or any other location?”

Mr Webb said: “We have used targeted funding to provide additional local housing allowance rates in areas of pressure, so although the general increase in the LHA rate is one per cent, four of the five LHA rates for Cambridge, including that for shared accommodation, increased this April by four per cent.”

Later Julian said: “People have faced real hardship over this issue. I am pleased to see that we have been able to achieve an independent review into the whole system and an increase in the LHA rates for people in Cambridge.

“I will continue to monitor this situation to see how people are affected by the changes and it will be interesting to see the results of the review.”

The full wording of Julian’s questions and the answers are as follows:
Dr Julian Huppert (Cambridge) (LD): What assessment he has made of the effect on homelessness among under-35-year-olds of the extension of the shared accommodation rate. 
The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Steve Webb): The Department has commissioned an independent review of the changes to local housing allowance, including the extension of the shared accommodation rate. The final report of that review is due to be published this summer. 
Dr Huppert: I thank my hon. Friend for that answer. The situation worries many of my constituents, and a recent study by Crisis showed that in many parts of the country such as Cambridge only a tiny fraction of shared houses are available for people to rent. When he considers the review, will he change the broad rental market areas and ensure that people can find somewhere to live if they wish to be in Cambridge, Blackpool or any other location? 
Steve Webb: My hon. Friend has made repeated representations about the broad rental market area for his constituency. We have used targeted funding to provide additional local housing allowance rates in areas of pressure, so although the general increase in the LHA rate is 1%, four of the five LHA rates for Cambridge, including that for shared accommodation, increased this April by 4%.

Friday, 20 June 2014

County gets £1.9m for pothole repairs after Cambridge MP takes issue to Westminster

Cambridgeshire is to get £1.9 million from the government to repair 36,000 potholes on the county’s roads just four months after Cambridge MP, Julian Huppert took the issue to Parliament.

The announcement has been welcomed by Julian who said the money would make a big difference to the network.

Julian led a Westminster debate on the issue and launched a campaign encouraging Cambridge residents to log broken and dangerous pavements on a website. He also took a petition to Cambridgeshire County Council calling for urgent repairs and a year-on-year maintenance programme.

“This money is extremely welcome to improve safety on our roads,” said Julian. “For far too long maintenance on the county’s roads and pavements has been seriously neglected resulting in many of them being in a poor state of repair.

“The Lib Dems achieved a highways review after many years of calling for one and we have seen some improvements but our roads, pavements and footpaths are still in a poor state. This money will be hugely helpful and I hope it will lead to the county council setting up a rolling programme of maintenance for the future.”

The money is part of £168 million being allocated across England through a Pothole Repair Fund.

Julian launched a Fix Our Pavements campaign with Paralympic hopeful, Claire Connon who took councillors on a wheelchair tour of the city last year giving them first-hand experience of how difficult it is to navigate cracked and broken pavements in a wheelchair.

Cambridge MP backs charity searching for super hero life-savers

Cambridge MP, Julian Huppert is backing national charity Anthony Nolan in its search for super heroes from the city to save the lives of strangers.

The charity wants volunteers to sign up to a national register of people willing to donate their stem cells or bone marrow to help those suffering from blood cancer.

There are 993 donors already registered in the city and more than 525,000 across the UK have joined the world’s first bone marrow register launched 40 years ago.

Julian said: “It’s a big ask to encourage people to come forward to donate to help someone they’ve never met, but I know our city is the type of place where people would be more than willing to help.

“The Anthony Nolan charity has been literally a lifeline for a huge number of people over the last 40 years and that has been achieved by people stepping forward because they can.

“I am very proud that we have already got almost a thousand people on the register but I know we can do much better than that. I hope everyone will find out more about this charity and join the register if they can.”

Two thirds of UK patients will not find a matching donor from within their families; instead they turn to Anthony Nolan to find them an unrelated donor. But the charity can currently only find a match for around half of those who go to it for help.

To join the Anthony Nolan register you must be 16-30 and in good health. It involves filling out a simple online form and spitting into a tube. To find out more go to: www.anthonynolan.org/superhero

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Cambridge MP pushes green energy as Britain's investment doubles

Cambridge MP, Julian Huppert has quizzed the government on how it plans to drive forward its investment in low carbon electricity as it is revealed that Britain now has the largest number of offshore wind farms in the world.  

Julian asked Energy and Climate Change Minister, Michael Fallon what the government is doing to extend the success of its programme after figures show that investment in green energy has doubled since 2010.

His question in the Commons today (Thursday, June 19) came after East Anglia’s new 325 wind turbine farm off the Suffolk coast is given approval.

“According to Bloomberg, there was a 59 per cent increase in finance for new renewables in the last year, making a total of £7.3 billion,” said Julian. “Just in the last couple of days the East Anglia ONE scheme was approved, which will power 820,000 homes using clean energy. What will the Government and Minister do to extend this success and to tell people about our great success in renewables?”

Mr Fallon said: “We estimate that nearly £29 billion has been invested in renewable electricity generation projects in Britain since 2010, and the Energy Act 2013 provides the framework for an increase in that investment.

“Last month, we signed investment contracts for eight projects, five offshore wind farms, two coal to biomass conversions and one dedicated biomass plant.”

And he added that investment increased by 20 per cent last year at a time when it was falling in Germany.

“We now have the largest amount of offshore wind installed anywhere in the world. Two of the biggest wind farms opened last year.”

Julian said later: “We are becoming world leaders in green energy and that is something of which I am extremely proud. There is a real determination now to lessen our reliance on fossil fuels and find alternative sources of energy that will help to combat climate change.

“This is at the heart of Lib Dem policies and we are in a position to push this forward and make a real difference and the results are clear. And the Energy Act which we pushed through puts a legal requirement on future governments to continue this work.”

Liberal Democrats and the Economy

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

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

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

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

We’re cutting your income tax bill by £800. Council tax freezes mean that, on average, households are £1,000 better off over the course of this Parliament. Families with young children will save £2,000 per child through our tax free childcare. And, on top of that, if they’re in infant school, you’ll save over £400 per child, per year because we’re going to provide free school meals.

We’re helping people with the cost of living in other ways. On 2 December, we announced proposals to cut £50 a year from energy bills, while maintaining our support for vulnerable households and green commitments.

We have created more than 1.7m new jobs since 2010 and now we’re working to create even more. There are more people in work today than at any other time in our history.

We’re helping young people find work. Since 2010 we’ve helped create more than 1.6m new apprenticeships, at twice the rate that Labour managed. Nick Clegg’s £1bn Youth Contract is supporting work experience, wage incentives and apprenticeships.

We still have a long way to go, but we are moving in the right direction. We have had five successive quarters of GDP growth. Under Labour, the economy shrunk for five consecutive quarters. Other economic indicators are also positive:
  • Thanks to our changes, disposable income was higher last year than in any of the 13 years under Labour. And the amount of money people had in their pockets adjusted for inflation grew by 1.6 per cent in 2012
  • By fixing the economy we have helped keep interest rates at historic lows, saving £2,000 per year for a family taking out a standard fixed-rate mortgage of £100,000
  • In the first quarter of 2014, the UK economy grew by 0.8 per cent, with a 3.1 per cent increase on the same time last year

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Cambridge MP Raises Early Learning Fears With Government

Concerns from Cambridge teachers and academics that children may be forced to start formal learning too early under Education Secretary Michael Gove’s education reforms have been raised in Parliament by the city’s MP Julian Huppert.

Julian quizzed Mr Gove on what assessment he had made on the benefits of creative, play-based learning after concerns were raised by Cambridge academics and members of the National Union of Teachers.

They met Julian to call for his support for the Too Much Too Soon campaign which shows that starting children on formal learning too early can hamper achievement and affect their health and well-being.

Julian asked Mr Gove in the Commons yesterday: “Is he aware of the evidence that has been produced by the Too Much Too Soon campaign about play-based learning? What assessment has he made of the benefits of a sustained period of creative play-based learning before children are exposed to more formal learning environments?”

Mr Gove replied: “Early years practitioners know that we need both structured play and appropriate introduction at the right time to more formal methods of learning to get the most out of every child. We are very fortunate that we have no just a revised early years’ foundation stage but more and more talented people teaching in the early years.”

Later Julian said: “Young children are learning from the moment they are born through looking and listening and early play. It’s so important that we give them this time before we put them into a structured classroom setting and start teaching them formally.

“I am concerned that Michael Gove’s changes will push very young children into formal education at a time when some of them are just not ready. They could miss the basic building blocks of education because they are just not able to cope and that could affect later learning and ultimately achievement.

“We all know how important education is for our children but it’s also important that they are allowed the freedom to be little children.”

The Queen’s Speech: What It Means For You

The Queen’s Speech reinforced the party’s key priorities:

TaxThe Liberal Democrat commitment to raising the tax threshold to £10,500, giving 25m people a further income tax cut in April next year.

Cutting income tax for working people remains a top priority for the Liberal Democrats. It was on the front page of our 2010 manifesto. The Liberal Democrats have had to fight to keep this on the agenda in the internal coalition discussions running up to each fiscal event in the parliament.

PensionsThe biggest reforms to the pension system since its inception, conceived and driven by Liberal Democrat pensions minister Steve Webb. It will be the major centrepiece of the Government agenda, ensuring fairness in retirement and the long-term dignity of our pensions.

ApprenticeshipsThe Liberal Democrats and Vince Cable have been the driving force behind the growth in the number of apprenticeships. We are now setting the ambitious target to have create 2m new apprenticeships in this Parliament.

Childcare and Free School MealsChildcare has been a top priority for Nick Clegg. Major reforms to help parents and young children will be legislated for; giving vital help and support to ensure every child has the best possible start in life. This is in addition to the extra hours of childcare we have already delivered and in addition to the pupil premium.

Free School Meals are a vital and signature Lib Dem achievement. Free school meals will be offered to every infant, in a bid to improve educations attainment and child health.

HousingLabour oversaw a major housing crisis. The Coalition is tackling the problem. New starts in house building are up 31% on last year, and new orders in residential construction are at their highest levels since 2007. But there’s a lot more to do.

Garden Cities A key commitment for Nick Clegg. We will pioneer a new generation of locally-led garden cities to provide vital housing where it’s needed and wanted.

Environment, Energy and Climate ChangePlastic bag charges – announced by Nick Clegg in September 2012, will come into effect in 2015. 7bn plastic bags were used in England alone last year, 133 for every person. Wales saw a 76% decrease when it introduced the charge.

The large scale electricity market reform, led by Ed Davey, will ensure the lights stay on, bills are kept low and that the UK remains committed to green energy.

This is on top of the Energy Act which will significantly boost green energy and create green jobs - 200,000 of them by 2020 - as we move to decarbonising the electricity sector. It will do this in a way that is affordable, by boosting 'homegrown' energy rather than relying on ever increasing imports.

Thanks to the Liberal Democrats, the Coalition is a strong international leader in tackling climate change. Ed Davey has pushed through significant wins - in the UK we’ve doubled the amount of electricity generated from renewables since 2010.

Climate Change – Ed Davey has secured cross UK government agreement on proposing an ambitious target of a 40% reduction (on 1990 levels) in greenhouse gas emissions. He is working to build agreement on this target with our European partners through a ‘Green Growth’ group that he established.

Liberal Democrats work in Government has ensured that the Government will meet the target of zero carbon homes by 2016.

Small BusinessesThe Liberal Democrats insisted from the start that the recovery would be about more than just cutting the deficit, which is why Nick, Danny and Vince have led to the government’s focus on infrastructure, help for small businesses and support across all regions of the UK.

Vince's proposals to help small businesses get greater access to finance and to facilitate access to public sector contracts show that Lib Dems are matching our words with proposals that will make a difference to new as well as existing small businesses.

National Minimum Wage - Vince is determined to protect lower paid workers and the toughening up penalties faced by rogue employers who don’t pay the NMW is a demonstration that Lib Dems have the interests of the most vulnerable at heart. The Conservatives alone wouldn't do this and Labour never did it despite 13 years in Government.

Zero Hours Contracts – As part of the Small Business Bill, Vince Cable will bring forward plans to tackle abuse of Zero Hours Contracts.

Ethical and responsible business practices – Liberal Democrats will crack down on rogue directors and strengthen whistleblowing protections ensuring that the way in which Britain does business - which is already one of the best - is one of the most trusted in the world.

A campaign led by Greg Mulholland, and delivered by Liberal Democrats in Government is providing greater protections for pub landlords, ensuring they get a fair deal from their contracts.

Serious CrimeThe ‘Cinderella’ law will be part of this Bill. This is the culmination of a long campaign from both Mark Williams and Annette Brooke. The Bill will make it explicit that cruelty which is likely to cause psychological harm to a child is an offence.

The Bill would improve our ability to recover criminal assets by amending the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, as called for by the Liberal Democrats.

As minister for drugs policy, Norman Baker is committed to tackling the drug trade in ways that work, not just talk tough. This Bill will establish new powers to seize, detain and destroy chemical substances suspected of being used as cutting agents for illegal drugs.

Under the guidance and perseverance of Norman Baker and Lynne Featherstone, there will be tougher powers to prosecute the perpetrators of FGM.

Fuel DutyPetrol and diesel costs are a significant item on the budgets of millions of people and hundreds of thousands of businesses. Danny Alexander is the most senior member of HMG to meet with leading fuel duty campaigners and establish an ongoing dialogue about how fuel duty affects the economy. Danny pioneered the 5p per litre fuel duty rebate now in effect for island communities. He is leading efforts to extend this rebate to some parts of the UK mainland.

Political ReformRecall – The Liberal Democrats believe in disrupting the system, and have long argued for political reform. While we have been often knocked back by the establishment, we will continue to fight for reform.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Cambridge MP argues for NHS to provide improved health service for the elderly

MP Julian Huppert has called for combined acute, community and mental health services for the elderly to be provided by the NHS.

He has made it clear to the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group that he strongly favours the bid made jointly by Cambridge’s Addenbrooke’s Hospital Trust and the Cambridge and Peterborough Foundation Trust to run the new joined-up services.

“Bringing these services together has the potential to benefit older people greatly,” said Julian, “but I firmly believe that these services should be provided by the NHS and not privatised. I opposed Andrew Lansley's Health and Social Care Bill, and want to see services improved within the NHS.

“The current division of care is confusing for older people and can lead to care being duplicated or missed out, or communication being broken down. This change should result in a much more cohesive care service.  

“I also want to see dementia awareness training provided for people across the organisation who are involved in these services. People with dementia who are admitted to acute wards often find their needs, outside their acute illness, are not well catered for.

“It is also important to train paramedics and other staff to enable people to give assessments and where appropriate treatment in their own homes so that they are not admitted to hospital unnecessarily.”

Julian made his comments as part of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commission Group’s consultation on the improvement plans.

He welcomed an emphasis on prevention and the opportunity for older people to undergo regular health checks.

And he supported the development of a record system which patients can access giving details of their medication and the doctor responsible for reviewing that medication. He said this would provide useful information not only for patients but also for carers and health professionals involved.  

“The service should aim to enhance and provide dignity of care for older people and they and their carers should be involved in discussions about the care they receive,” he added.


“Where living wills and non-medical directives have been put in place by the patient, these should be respected. End of life care should enable people to die with dignity and free of pain wherever possible.”

Cambridge MP tells Government not to attack Iraq

MP Julian Huppert has welcomed Foreign Secretary William Hague’s statement that he was not planning military intervention in Iraq but warned that he and many others would be keeping track to make sure there was no U-turn.

Julian had been one of one million people marching against the last war who were “ignored by the government of the time”, he reminded Mr Hague.

And he challenged the Minister over what steps he was taking to make sure Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki does not use the emerging crisis to extend his powers inappropriately.

Mr Hague told Julian in the Commons yesterday (Monday, June 16): “Inclusive politics and a more inclusive political leadership in Iraq would not involve the abuse of power by the Prime Minister of the day, and it would have to include some degree of people not only working together in government but genuinely sharing power. Otherwise it would not work.

“It would be built into a broader political unity in Iraq that Sunnis and Kurds would be well consulted and have leadership positions in the political process, but it would be up to them to determine the details of that.”

Julian’s intervention has been welcomed by Cambridge Stop the War activist, James Youd.

He said: “I am glad that at a time when the media attention seems to be focused on when western forces will intervene in the Iraq. Julian is asking those questions that lie at the route of the current crisis, namely the illegal invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the subsequent sectarian behaviour of the Maliki led government which ensues. His opposition to the Iraq war and subsequent interventions allows him to do so in a principled manner."

Julian said later: “We have all heard the Foreign Secretary tell the country he is not planning to send the military into Iraq and I want to make sure the government stands by that.

“We have been dragged into a war in Iraq we didn’t want once before. I will do everything in my power to make sure that doesn’t happen again.”

The full transcript of Julian’s question and the answer is as follows:

Dr Julian Huppert (Cambridge) (LD): I was one of the 1 million who marched against the war in Iraq, although we were ignored by the Government of the time. I very much welcome the Foreign Secretary’s comment that he is not planning military intervention by the UK. I and many others will keep track of what happens in that regard. What steps will he take to ensure that Prime Minister Maliki does not use this crisis to try to extend his executive power in inappropriate ways?

Mr Hague: Inclusive politics and a more inclusive political leadership in Iraq would not involve the abuse of power by the Prime Minister of the day, and it would have to include some degree of people not only working together in government but genuinely sharing power. Otherwise, it would not work. It would be built into a broader political unity in Iraq that Sunnis and Kurds would be well consulted and have leadership positions in the political process, but it would be up to them to determine the details of that.

A14 Closure J36 to 31 (Girton) 9pm to 6am ** TONIGHT **

The following notice has been published in relation to the A14 (Girton) improvement works. Basically on Tuesday 17th June the westbound carriage will be closed from 9pm to 6am.

Here's the notice in full;

Costain is pleased to be working with the Highways Agency on the delivery of planned road improvements on the A14 in Cambridge between J31 at Girton and J32 at Histon. The improvements are part of the targeted improvement and pinch point programme and are by their very nature intended to improve traffic movements through this very busy section of road.

The improvements include adding an additional lane in both directions and improving the existing westbound slip roads to both the M11 and A14 at the Girton interchange. The works commenced on the 14th April and will take up to 10 months to complete.

For the past four weeks the work has in the main been undertaken during the day with two lanes running in both directions and a 50 mph speed limit. Some lane closures have occurred at night but single lane opening has been maintained throughout the period. However, on Tuesday 17th June 2014 the westbound carriageway will be closed between 21.00hrs and 06.00hrs between Junction 36 and Junction 31 to realign the safety barriers. The procedure can only be undertaken within the safe environment of a full carriageway closure and we very much regret any inconvenience the closure may cause.

The closure and diversions will be well sign posted and details of the diversions can be found on the Highways Agency website- http://www.highways.gov.uk/roads/road-projects/A14-Junction-31-to-32-Eastbound-and-Westbound-Improvements

You can also keep up to date with live traffic announcements by following the Highways Agency on Twitter: @highwaysageny

We very much regret any inconvenience caused by the work and if you have any questions regarding the project you can contact Brian Greaves our Community Relations Manager on the 24 hour helpline 0845 600 2664.

Monday, 16 June 2014

Cambridge MP supports care home open day

Cambridge MP, Julian Huppert is supporting National Care Home Open Day on Friday, June 20 with a visit to the city’s Hope Residential and Nursing Home.

Julian has been invited to meet the residents of the home in Brooklands Avenue who will be taking part in a variety of activities throughout the day.

The home opens its doors along with thousands of other care homes across theUK to connect residents with the community and give people the chance to look round and change perceptions of care homes.

Owned by the religious order, the Holy Family of Bordeaux, the home is managed by the Healthcare Management Trust charity which was founded in 1985.

Julian said: “I am looking forward to my visit and meeting the residents and staff.

“It’s unfortunate that the negative press received by a small number of poorly-run homes has coloured some people’s perception of the care home sector. Hopefully, this open day will go a long way to changing those views and helping people to realise that there are many well-run homes across the UK offering a lively and caring community for their elderly residents.”

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Liberal Democrats: Opportunities for Everyone

Nick made a speech on Monday June 9 entitled ‘Opportunities for Everyone’ – to launch our Summer Campaign.

Ultimately we believe that the job of government is to enable people to realise their own potential. As Liberal Democrats we are innately optimistic about people.

We don’t write off anyone and we don’t think that politicians and governments know best. It's in the DNA of all liberals.

On the Economy:Two rules will underpin how the party wants the economy to be run over the course of the next Parliament and beyond.

Firstly, the Liberal Democrats are committed to finishing the job we’ve started and to eliminating the structural deficit by 2017/18. We will abide by a new debt rule in which we will significantly reduce national debt as a percentage of GDP year-on-year when growth is positive.

Secondly, we will balance the overall budget but do it in a way which still allows investment in the things present and future generations need. The Government will be able to invest in infrastructure that generates economic growth with a particular emphasis on investment to combat Britain’s chronic lack of housing.

The plans contrast with the ideological commitment of the Conservatives to an ever-shrinking state and to Labour’s reckless borrowing.

On the Party:Liberal Democrats need to do more to take on the critics who claim that, in Coalition, we have lost our soul. We are not and will never be a split the difference party and are not interested in coalition at any cost. Liberal Democrats are in Government to deliver a more liberal Britain.

On the Summer Campaign:The Summer Campaign will outline the Liberal Democrats’ record of delivery in Government with a promise of more. The campaign will also champion what the Liberal Democrats have achieved in Government while also outlining the party’s key manifesto commitments for 2015 in a series of announcements.

Saturday, 14 June 2014

New Solar Farm in Dry Drayton - Public Meeting

The company, Belectric, who is behind a proposed new Solar farm at Childerley Farm in Dry Drayton are keen to meet members of the public to discuss the project. The company will be at Dry Drayton Village Hall on Tuesday 17th June from 3pm to 8pm.

If you're not able to make the meeting then you can always email them on cambridgesolarfarm@arup.com or call 01895 452 640.

For more information the company you can view their website at www.belectric.co.uk

Here's a scan of the document they circulated;


The document is available view Google Drive here.

eCops: General Area Crime Update

Between June the 9th at 19:00, and June the 10th at 04:05, a theft took place in Trafalgar Way, Bar Hill. Perpetrator(s) have broken in to a lorry parked overnight in the Industrial Estate area and have removed 5 full pallets of boxed alcohol.

Between June the 10th at 16:00, and June the 11th at 08:00, a theft took place in Hollytrees, Bar Hill. Perpetrator(s) have stolen two bay plants from the front garden of a property in the area.

On June the 11th at approximately 03:25, a theft took place in Foxhollow, Bar Hill. Perpetrator(s) have stolen a large ornamental plant and pot form the front garden of a property.

On June the 12th between 15:20 and 18:20 a theft of pedal cycle took place in Pheasant Rise, Bar Hill. Mountain gent’s cycle was left on the side of the property leaning against the shed. At stated date and times cycle was taken.

On June the 9th at approximately 2020hrs there was a report of arson in the wooded area opposite Appletrees, Bar Hill.  When fire brigade arrived, they spoke to a gentleman who had been walking his dog, he said that he had seen smoke and went to investigate; two young children between the ages of 8-10 (a boy and a girl) were seen running away from the area.  A collection of small twigs had been gathered at the bottom of the tree.

If you have any information to assist with the above crime reports, please get in touch by calling 101 or simply just reply to this e-mail.

On Wednesday June the 11th I was on patrol in Bar Hill and come across a lorry parked on the roundabout in Saxon Way.  As I pulled over, drive returned from Tesco and stated that he had run out the driving hours, driver was dealt with accordingly.

Regards
PCSO Bujar MANI
Safer Neighbourhood Team

New Solar Farm in Dry Drayton - Public Meeting 3pm - 8pm ** TODAY **

Just a quick reminder that from 3pm today (until 8pm tonight) the company, Belectric, who is behind a proposed new Solar farm at Childerley Farm in Dry Drayton are keen to meet members of the public to discuss the project. The company will be at Dry Drayton Village Hall.

If you're not able to make the meeting then you can always email them on cambridgesolarfarm@arup.com or call 01895 452 640.

For more information the company you can view their website at www.belectric.co.uk

Here's a scan of the document they circulated;


The document is available view Google Drive here.

A14 Consultation - Closes ** TOMORROW **

This is to remind you that the A14 consultation closes on 15 June 2014. The Highways Agency is keen for all those who use the A14 and who live or work nearby to have their say on the scheme before the consultation closes.

To find out more please visit the schemes web chat page.

To find out more about this scheme and comment on the consultation please visit the project homepage.

Please note that roadwork information it is not updated in real time. Please check Traffic England for the latest information and current traffic conditions.

Friday, 13 June 2014

Lib Dems Elect Kindersley As Parliamentary Candidate for South Cambs

South Cambridgeshire Liberal Democrats have selected Sebastian Kindersley as their next Parliamentary candidate. 

Sebastian, 47, who polled more than 20,000 votes for the Lib Dems in the 2010 election taking the party’s share of the vote to 34 per cent, was elected at a meeting of party members on Sunday evening. 

His election comes ahead of a possible by-election for the seat if South Cambridgeshire MP, Andrew Lansley is appointed the new EU Commissioner. 

Sebastian is a former Lib Dem leader of South Cambridgeshire District Council. He represents Gamlingay on the district council and Cambridgeshire County Council. 

"It is a great honour to be selected again to fight for South Cambridgeshire people,” he said. “This is where I have lived for many years, where I have a business and where I have been working hard for local people for 15 years already - this is the community I know and belong to. It is such a huge privilege to have this opportunity again."

Works Information Notice: A14 Girton to Histon Pinch-point Programme

The following notice has been published in relation to the A14 (Girton) improvement works. Basically on Tuesday 17th June the westbound carriage will be closed from 9pm to 6am.

Here's the notice in full;

Costain is pleased to be working with the Highways Agency on the delivery of planned road improvements on the A14 in Cambridge between J31 at Girton and J32 at Histon. The improvements are part of the targeted improvement and pinch point programme and are by their very nature intended to improve traffic movements through this very busy section of road.

The improvements include adding an additional lane in both directions and improving the existing westbound slip roads to both the M11 and A14 at the Girton interchange. The works commenced on the 14th April and will take up to 10 months to complete.

For the past four weeks the work has in the main been undertaken during the day with two lanes running in both directions and a 50 mph speed limit. Some lane closures have occurred at night but single lane opening has been maintained throughout the period. However, on Tuesday 17th June 2014 the westbound carriageway will be closed between 21.00hrs and 06.00hrs between Junction 36 and Junction 31 to realign the safety barriers. The procedure can only be undertaken within the safe environment of a full carriageway closure and we very much regret any inconvenience the closure may cause.

The closure and diversions will be well sign posted and details of the diversions can be found on the Highways Agency website- http://www.highways.gov.uk/roads/road-projects/A14-Junction-31-to-32-Eastbound-and-Westbound-Improvements

You can also keep up to date with live traffic announcements by following the Highways Agency on Twitter: @highwaysageny

We very much regret any inconvenience caused by the work and if you have any questions regarding the project you can contact Brian Greaves our Community Relations Manager on the 24 hour helpline 0845 600 2664.

News From Cambridgeshire Libraries 13-JUN-2014

Read It Again! award. And the winner is...

The winner of this year's Read it Again! Cambridgeshire Children's Picture Book Award is Weasels by Elys Dolan.

Now in its 9th year, "Read it Again!" is an award for a debut picture book where the words and pictures are the work of one person. Over 10,000 children from 65 local schools took part in the event, reading, discussing and then voting for their favourite book from a shortlist of eight titles, all first published in 2013.

Elys, a graduate of Anglia Ruskin University received her award at a special presentation ceremony held at the Bellbird School in Sawston on Tuesday 3 June. Over 200 pupils from four local schools attended the event where they met all of the shortlisted authors along with last year's winner, Jenni Desmond who presented the award.

The award celebrates and promotes exciting new talent in the world of children's books and encourages children to enjoy exploring words and pictures.

More than books - Hire a DVD or audio book

With thousands of top titles to entertain you and your family, why not hire a DVD or audio book (CD) when you next visit your library?

Standard DVD hire is now available from £2 and audio books from £1.50. Premium DVDs (on display at Central Library) are also on special offer, £2.75 for a 7 day loan.

Search the catalogue now.

Tour de France - 7 July

We hope you are looking forward to the visit of Le Tour. Don't forget that all Libraries, Archives and Information services will operate as usual on Monday 7 July. The County Council's Parking Services desk at Central Library will be closed on that day.

Find out more about 7 July, stage 3 of the Tour de France.

Le Peloton d'Art

To celebrate the visit to Cambridge of one of the world's biggest and most exciting races, the Tour de France, Central Library will host one of 15 Tour sculptures, "Le Peloton d'Art". In association with Alliance Francaise Cambridge, local artist and cyclist David Mitchell has created the unique sculptures. The figures represent individual elements of a large 'peloton' which can be viewed around Cambridge.

Thanks to Cllr Noel Kavanagh, cycling champion and Cllr Edward Cearns, local Member for welcoming the arrival of the sculpture.

The British Newspaper Archive

The British Newspaper Archive, available free at Cambridgeshire Libraries, added 300,000 new pages to its website last month, including articles from the Cambridge Independent Press between 1871 and 1920. Six new titles have also been added - Hamilton Advertiser, The Lancashire Evening Post, The Oxford Times, Perthshire Advertiser and The Shetland Times, bringing the current total to over eight million pages.

Changes to the eBook service

Many of our eBooks can now be read via the internet without the need to download the title, while at any time in the loan period there is still the option to download the title.

View eBooks now.

Guided walks of Cromwell's Huntingdon

Every third Sunday of the month from now until September the Cromwell Museum in Huntingdon will be running a guided walk to the sites, buildings and features that Cromwell would have known. Much of 17th century Huntingdon still remains to be seen, but it is often concealed behind layers of later development. The walks which start at the Museum at 2pm go to Cromwell's birthplace and end at Huntingdon Castle, and last about an hour and a half. The next walk is on 15 June.

A Year In The Life of A Bee Colony

Eleanor Witter from the Cambridgeshire Beekeepers' Association will be delivering a talk on this fascinating subject, covering: what the beekeeper has to do through the year, bee biology, development from egg to worker bee, forage and foraging, swarming and the production of a new queen.

To book your free place, email us.

19-23 years old? Unemployed? A Traineeship may be the answer!

There's no need to worry, Cambridgeshire Learning Services can help you to take that first step and kick start your career with a Traineeship. Contact us to find out more information.

Rock Road Library reopens

Thanks to a partnership between Cambridgeshire County Council, Cambridge City Council and the Friends of the Library a new community space has been created at Rock Road Library. The new space makes it easier for community groups to meet in the library, host events and activities, and supports the Council's drive to develop Community Hubs.

Volunteers required!

Are you aged 12-16 years? Do you have some time to spare this summer? Would you like to gain some work experience helping us with the Summer Reading Challenge in Libraries? If so, please ask at your local library for further details.

Recommended read, June

Looking for inspiration when choosing your next book? Our Hot new books, Author profile of the month and Top 100 popular authors provide a great place to find your next book.

Why not visit our Reading page to find out how you can join a local reading group?

Cambridge Liberal Democrats vote not to call for a leadership contest

Cambridge Liberal Democrats have voted to support party leader, Nick Clegg in the run up to the General Election.

After a lively debate at a meeting in Cambridge this evening (Friday, June 13) at the city’s Unitarian Church attended by around 80 members, members decided by secret ballot to back Mr Clegg to lead the party through to May 2015.

The meeting discussed and voted on the following motion: “Cambridge Liberal Democrats hereby propose to submit a requisition for a leadership election to the President of the party.” The decision was made with 45 votes to 32.

Cambridge Liberal Democrat Chair, Spencer Hagard said later: “Our party is committed to the full participation of all citizens in every aspect of our democracy.

“This commitment must embrace the party itself, and tonight Cambridge party members have demonstrated once again that it does, and have done so with reason and dignity.”

Cambridge MP, Julian Huppert said: “Our members have made their decision and I believe it is the right decision.

“Nick Clegg made a brave move when he decided to take our party into coalition. Working with another party is always going to be tricky, and doing so in such tough financial times is particularly difficult. When we went into government, for every four pounds the government was spending it was borrowing one. Whoever you blame for that, it is clear that such a situation could not continue. But now, thanks to our work in Government under Nick’s leadership, the economy is growing, and unemployment is down, and the deficit is slowly coming under control.

We have reformed our income tax system so that the poorly paid no longer pay income tax and millions of others keep an extra £800 in their pocket. We’ve closed loopholes to stop tax dodging – just last year we collected £23.9 billion from people who hoped to avoid paying.

“Our pensioners are better off, we have much more renewable energy and we are making huge investments in our railways. And our young people are getting the training they deserve through our apprenticeship programme, work and training placements. We have seen more young people from deprived backgrounds going to university thanks to our generous bursary and scholarship schemes.

“Working within the government has brought huge benefits for Cambridge not least the £1 billion Cambridge City Deal which will give us the investment we so badly need for infrastructure improvements to allow the city to grow. Our long-awaited Science Park Station is now making progress and we have seen many new homes built in Cambridge including the first council houses for many years. The Lib Dem led City Council introduced the Living Wage, and substantially increased recycling. Our schools are going to get extra money after being short-changed by successive governments for 30 years.

“There is still so much more we can do for Cambridge and our country and I hope we can move forward now. The next election will be a tight fight between me and the Labour candidate and I will continue to stand up for Cambridge and fight for the city and its values.”

Tackling Extremism in Education

The greatest antidote to extremism in any community is moderation. We must not tar all Muslims with the taint of extremism. We must never forget that the vast majority of Muslims oppose extremism.

As Liberal Democrats we support, in principle, the idea of Ofsted carrying out no-notice inspections where they have legitimate concerns.

However we believe there should be tougher curriculum rules on academies and free schools. Some of these schools, while under a duty to deliver a balanced curriculum, are not under any duty to teach the national curriculum.

We need to make sure that a core body of knowledge, a core curriculum, is taught in all schools, regardless of the nameplate at the school gates.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Liberal Democrat Manifesto: The Parental Guarantee

Liberal Democrats have today announced that the Liberal Democrat manifesto will include a commitment to a “parental guarantee” – so that every parent can be confident that their child will be taught a core curriculum by a properly qualified teacher.
Our policy, first passed by our federal conference in March 2013, would change legislation so that, by September 2016, all schools will have the same requirement to employ qualified teachers. We have also planned for every state school to deliver a minimum curriculum entitlement, setting out the basic skills and knowledge that every child needs. 
These plans have been strongly supported by both the National Association for Head Teachers (NAHT) and the Association for School and College Leaders (ASCL) – who between them represent the overwhelming majority of head teachers in this country.
In 2012, Michael Gove announced he would remove the requirement for academies to employ qualified teachers. As well as this, academies and free schools are exempt from teaching the National Curriculum. This has meant that some schools have abused their freedom over the curriculum, excluding vital subjects.
The Liberal Democrats want to provide greater clarity to all schools on what should be taught. We believe that our children should have the chance to study content that is as engaging and stretching as in the best performing countries. 

Move to force letting agents to be open about fees welcomed by Cambridge MP

MP Julian Huppert, who has been lobbying for a fairer deal for private rental tenants, has welcomed a government move demanding letting agents publish a full tariff of their fees.

Julian, who is worried that tenants and prospective tenants are facing exorbitant fees from some agents, claims the move is a step in the right direction to getting a fairer deal.

He tabled a Private Member’s Bill in the Commons to tackle the problem of excessive letting fees, calling for a review of the law as it applies to the private rented sector.

“It’s good to see the government is taking these concerns seriously,” said Julian. ”There is no overarching regulation of the private rental sector and I am worried that some unscrupulous agents are taking advantage of the situation to charge exorbitant fees.

“The huge demand for rental properties in Cambridge leaves people vulnerable to being exploited in this way. I hope that this move to force agents to be open and transparent about their charges in the first step to a complete overhaul of the law covering the private rental sector. I would like to go further and end exorbitant fees altogether, but this is a move in the right direction.”

Agents will be required to publish a full tariff of their fees on their websites and prominently in their offices. Anyone who fails to comply with the new rules will face a fine – a much stricter penalty than currently exists.

In a letter to Julian, Housing Minister, Kris Hopkins added that the move was part of the government’s wider work to bring fairness to the system. The government is making sure that the country’s nine million private rented sector tenants have the knowledge to hold their landlords to account without introducing excessive regulation that would force up rents and reduce choice, he said.

The government is working with industry to:

  • develop a code of practice for the management of residential property;
  • introducing regulations to force the remaining 3,000 letting agents and property management agents to join one of the three approved redress schemes;
  • developing a Model Tenancy Agreement, including clauses that can be used for longer, family-friendly tenancies;
  • undertaking a review of property conditions to ensure tenants are satisfied their homes are safe and healthy.

A new guide "How to Rent: The checklist for renting in England" is available online at www.gov.uk/government/publications/how-to-rent

Julian added: “I will be keeping up the pressure to make sure that the new regulations are enforced so that letting agents are in no doubt that those who see the private rental sector as a licence to make easy money will be held to account.”

eCops: New Way To Request Speed Checks In South Cambridgeshire

Speeding is regularly raised as a concern at our local panel meetings and we have encouraged local residents to speak to their Parish Council if they feel there is a particular problem in their village, and to consider setting up a speedwatch made up of volunteers who are trained to carry out speed checks. A number of these schemes are now in existence and they are doing a great job reminding drivers of the need to keep to the speed limit.

To support these schemes and address community concerns about speeding we have set up a system whereby anyone can ask for a police speed check by using the link below:

http://tinyurl.com/SCSpeedTeam

You will be asked to give the location, any particular times when vehicles are regularly speeding and what the speed limit of the road is. We cannot carry out checks on roads where the limit is over 50 miles an hour for officer safety reasons. Once the speed check is carried out we will feed back the results to the relevant Parish Council and if appropriate speedwatch to help identify whether further road safety options should be considered.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Cambridge MP welcomes big fall in unemployment

Cambridge MP Julian Huppert has welcomed another fall in unemployment in Cambridge as the country as a whole records its biggest drop in 16 years.

Figures in the city showed that the number of people claiming Jobseekers Allowance last month dropped by 422 compared to the same period last year and was 93 lower than in April 2014.

Youth unemployment also continues downward with 210 claimants aged between 18 and 24 last month, 110 lower than in May 2013.

The number of long-term unemployed has also fallen with 235 people claiming for longer than 12 months compared to 370 during the same period last year.

“These figures for Cambridge and the country as a whole are clear indications that our economy is growing and that measures we have put in place to encourage that growth are working,” said Julian. “This is very good news.

“I am also encouraged to see that youth unemployment is continuing to fall. Our apprenticeship programme is proving hugely successful in the city and across the country and more and more young people are finding work placements and training. This means a brighter future for those young people and good news for business.

“Clearly, there is still some way to go to help those still out of work, especially the longer term unemployed. It is not easy for them and I hope their fortunes will soon change. But as our economy grows and businesses grow in confidence more opportunities will be created.”

Cambridge MP attacks move to force students to leave or forfeit degrees

Cambridge MP Julian Huppert has attacked a Labour suggestion that foreign students should forfeit their university degrees unless they leave the country, as “profoundly damaging”.

He told the Commons that the idea would be incredibly damaging to Cambridge’s economy and many other areas of the country.

Julian said: “Once we have trained some of the brightest and best people here, we want them to contribute to the economy. We want them to set up companies that will employ people here locally.”

Julian spoke out in the Commons after Labour MP Frank Field said that university vice-chancellors should be ‘refusing to award degrees until students fulfil their promise to go home’,

“The idea that we would say to students that they have to leave the country before they can graduate strikes me as profoundly damaging,” said Julian.

“There is also the question of post-study work visas, which are incredibly valuable. If he talks to the vice-chancellors of Cambridge University and Anglia Ruskin University—two universities in my constituency—he will hear that there is demand.”

Julian acknowledged that there were issues around immigration but that the country benefits massively - financially, culturally and socially – from immigration.

“There is far too much negative rhetoric that is, frankly, xenophobic,” he said. “That is something we have to try to avoid. It has no place in the discussions we are having.”

Later Julian said: “I was shocked that anyone would suggest students should have to leave the country to get a degree.

“Leaving aside the fact that it seems harsh to deprive them of their graduation ceremony, it makes absolutely no sense to push out some of the world’s brightest and best young people as soon as they have finished training.

“There are many examples of foreign students who have stayed in the UK and gone on to contribute substantially to our economy, setting up businesses and employing many other people. Additionally, education is one of our great export markets - I was shocked that a Labour MP would want to damage our economy so badly.

“Immigration is overall good for our country, but there are downsides and we need to address those problems. Where there is a need for more school places, we should build those; where houses are needed, we should construct more homes and where wages are illegally forced below the National Minimum Wage, we should crack down on that.

“What we should not do is close the doors and make Britain an unwelcoming place. That would have serious implications for our economy and our world-class standing in education, science and business.”

Kerbside Electrical Collection - 12th June 2014 ** TOMORROW **

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.

Monday, 9 June 2014

Cambridge MP welcomes tax-free childcare package for thousands of families

Almost 3,000 families in Cambridge and more than £17,000 across the county will benefit from a major tax-free childcare package.

The news that working families will receive up to £2,000 towards the cost of childcare has been welcomed by Cambridge MP, Julian Huppert.

“This is a huge boost for hard-working families,” said Julian. “We have fought hard in government to make it easier for families to afford the high costs of good childcare and I am delighted that we have been able to deliver this.”

In Cambridge, 2,900 families will benefit from the childcare package and 17,740 families will be better off across the county as a whole.

It means a family with two children under 12 could benefit by up to £4,000 a year.

“This is a significant amount of money,” said Julian, “and it could make the difference between both parents being able to work, or one being forced to stay home because they can’t afford childcare. We want both parents to have that choice.”