Sunday, 13 July 2014

Gamlingay Division Councillors Report – South Cambridgeshire District Council & Cambridgeshire County Council – July 2014

The Gamlingay Division comprises the Parishes of Arrington, Barrington, Croydon, Great Eversden, Lt Eversden, Gamlingay, Lt Gransden, Haslingfield, Harlton, Hatley, Longstowe, Orwell & Wimpole.

Your Councillors are always ready to help. If you have any questions about these - or indeed any other - matters, please do not hesitate to contact County Councillor Sebastian Kindersley on 01767 651982 or skindersley@hotmail.com or write to the Manor Barn, East Hatley, SG19 3JA.

District Councillor Bridget Smith is on 01767 650510 or bridget@glockling.com and District Councillor Aidan van de Weyer can be called on 01223 870 869 or email him aidan@mishmush.com

South Cambridgeshire’s Local Plan

You’ll recall that we campaigned against a number of proposals contained in the Local Plan (eg Waterbeach New Town, Bourn Airfield new village) on the basis that 1) they were unsustainable especially when it came to transport infrastructure 2) there was a better place – the planned new town of Northstowe which already has a high quality public transport link without a single house being built (as yet) and 3) large number of South Cambs residents told the Council they did not support the proposals – to name but some.

We were told by Those In Power that one of the reasons we had to move forward with their Plan was to fulfil the statutory requirement for all Councils to demonstrate a rolling 5 year land supply for housing. Repeatedly we were told that the only way to demonstrate this housing supply was the Local Plan. We were in fact warned that any delay as a result of our campaigning would place the District in grave danger of speculative unplanned development. So instead of taking our time to plan for the future taking into account all views and proposals we were bludgeoned into accepting a Plan many of us disliked.

And it has now come to pass that not only do we get a terrible Plan – but the Planning Inspectorate has – in the course of two planning appeal decisions – told the Council that it does not, in fact, have a 5 year land supply. We are therefore wide open to whichever developers can get their planning applications in for unplanned large-scale speculative development on a first come first served basis. The worst of all possible combinations.

So while you and I might be extremely anxious about the implications of this – and indeed might be pursuing legal attempts to reverse the Inspector’s reasoning - the Council’s political administration appears much like a rabbit caught in headlights – and this rabbit is going to be squashed.

So enough whining… Do we have a solution? One possibility is the redevelopment of the old Waterbeach Barracks site for 1,400 houses. Currently programmed for 2026-31 it could be brought forward via an application. Unlike almost everywhere else in the country, and certainly unlike the other sites in South Cambs proposed for large developments, Waterbeach does not object to the 1,400-house Brownfield development. As far as Waterbeach is concerned that land can be designated for housing and the diggers can move in tomorrow without significant local opposition. The question then is: Would it solve SCDC's problem of a shortage of supply of land for housing if the 1,400-house Waterbeach Brownfield site were fast-tracked? We await a response. Sadly, of course, it relies on the landowners playing ball and the word on the block is they are not.

In the meantime please rest assured that some Councillors at South Cambs are going to be fighting any idiotic proposals very hard – and may well need your help!

Partnerships

Very pleased to report that finally South Cambs has grasped the partnership nettle quite enthusiastically. Firstly the Cabinet has agreed to share a waste and recycling depot and single management team for Cambridge and the surrounding villages in a move that could save between £170,000 and £500,000 a year with a final business case to be agreed in October.

The business case will give further details on how both councils' waste and recycling teams will be overseen by a single management and support team - saving taxpayers £170,000 a year – with a possible £300,000 of further savings through changing bin collection rounds to achieve the most efficient routes irrespective of the council boundaries. In addition, Cambridge City Council's team would relocate to South Cambridgeshire District Council's depot in Waterbeach, which is next to AmeyCespa's centre where waste from black, green and blue bins from both councils is currently tipped.

So far so good. There are concerns here, tho - because of different terms and conditions the service is likely to deteriorate in the short term until city working practices come in line with SCDC. The project might save 6 rounds eventually - savings to be seen within 6 months but the integration will take 5 years to complete. The EU 70% recycling target will apply to the joint service and there are difficulties with this as Cambridge City recycles very poorly compared to SCDC.

Also to be presented in Autumn will the business case for South Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire district councils for a strategic partnership and shared service programme which could save over £500,000. Building control, legal and ICT services will be the first services to be shared under the agreed plans – which look to improve resilience, provide specialist skills and deliver efficiency savings to help meet savings targets owing to continued cuts to funding from government – and Cambridge City Council may also participate.

This sort of arrangement already exists at Cambridgeshire County Council which has teamed up with Northamptonshire. This has saved the taxpayer nearly £20 million so far so it’s odd that the Leader of South Cambs (himself an ex-County Cllr) should regard it as a failure…

Post 16 Transport

Anyone aged 16-18 headed from our villages to sixth form or further education or training can choose from several transport options, outlined at:

http://www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/info/20059/schools_and_learning/496/school_transport/2

Those wishing to travel by public bus can apply for a pass which is partially subsidized by the council, though the lion’s share of the cost falls to the student. Those wishing to travel by train from Meldreth, Shepreth or Foxton stations can apply for a Cambridgeshire Student Discount fare which costs the student significantly less that the council subsidized bus. Those wishing to travel by bicycle are entitled to a £40 per term payment to help maintain their bicycle.

North Herts Citizen Advice Bureau

North Herts and District CAB, a charity with offices in Royston, Letchworth and Hitchin, is looking to recruit two new volunteer trustees: a Treasurer and someone to lead on fundraising initiatives. For further information please contact Giles Woodruff on 01462 451274. South Cambs part funds this CAB.

Mobile Warden Scheme

Aidan has been working hard to explore the options for a Mobile Warden Scheme across more Parishes than are currently served and has made presentations at a number of Parish Councils to gauge support.

Broadly, it looks like the best option is to work with Harston's current mobile warden scheme and greatly expand it. The Harston scheme is very small (7 members and 1 part time warden) but is well established and has all the structure in place (charity status, constitution etc) and they are keen to expand into new villages. Another big advantage is that we would be able to get something going more quickly, hopefully this coming autumn.

Aidan is currently putting something together to present to Orwell, Barrington and Arrington PCs shortly – with a better handle on the costs, which would be included in the proposal (they are much lower than envisaged at the start of the year).

With agreements in principle from the PCs and the current scheme trustees the next stage would be to recruit a new warden or wardens to cover the new areas. So this all looks very promising.

Speed Reduction Schemes

We have been asked formally to comment on speed reduction schemes at the Wheatsheaf junction on the A603 shared between Harlton and the Eversdens, a 50mph zone on Heath Road in Gamlingay and a 40mph bugger on Barrington Road Orwell. Needless to say we are very supportive of these Parish-driven projects (and delighted that they are part-funded by the County Council!). Work on a reduction on Hurdleditch Road Orwell continues…..

Potholes

Yes – you will be pleased! Perhaps… The County Council has been successful in a bid to Government for extra funds for road repairs and has been given an extra £1,933,337(a very precise number!). This is on top of the £1,531,297 that the council was awarded in March this year to help repair potholes following the bad weather – and this comes on top of the £10 million road maintenance grant it had already been given. Good news.

Connecting Cambridgeshire

The first phase of the broadband roll-out is close to completion with 90 new fibre cabinets going live providing superfast broadband access for over 20,000 premises. The second phase of the roll-out runs from June to September 2014 and will see the programme reach over a third of its final target of 90,000 + premises. Check if you are covered with the NEW coverage map available on the Connecting Cambridgeshire website which shows by postcode areas covered and when – eg Haslingfield in September 2014.

Pre-planning application increase in charges

The District Council has always been very keen that applicants take Pre Planning Advice before submitting a planning application. The rationale for this is that you are more likely to get the desired outcome if the planners have been able to highlight any potential problems at the outset. This saves time and money for everyone. Up till now this has been quite a cheap option (under £100) but the cost is now set to increase by almost 4 fold. We have pointed out that it will be difficult to argue that this delivers value for money for the applicant and are being assured that it will be a superior service that is being offered in order to justify the increased cost. Initially we were told that applications would be dealt with more speedily but we have pointed out that that is going to be unlikely and this claim has been withdrawn.

BikeBus Explorer

Yes you do remember this…Parishes will – for the first time – have a Sunday and Bank Holiday Bus service. Four times a day from Cambridge Rail Station to Gamlingay and back and with a trailer to pop your bike on. The service will launch on 27th July – please contact us if you need more info – timetables are now available and hopefully being widely distributed.

Wimpole Traffic Cones

A number of residents have enquired as to the traffic cones which are in resident in Wimpole currently. The County Council is delivering an extension to the footway alongside the A603 which will then cross the ditch and take walkers onto a footpath towards the Avenue – opening up another way into the countryside. Part-funded by Wimpole PC this should be an excellent addition to the area’s rights of way.

Fun Facts about the Haslingfield Ward

Last month we staggered you with fun facts about Gamlingay – now it is Haslingfield, Harlton & the Eversden’s turn. The population is 2,656 which represents 1.79% of the total S Cambs resident population of 148,755 split 50.4% female and 49.6% male. With a mean age of 44 96.7% are white people spread across 1084 households. Nearly half (46%) own their homes outright – not even with a mortgage! - compared with 34.5% for England and only 88 homes have children 4 or under – and you’re a bright lot with exactly half the population educated to University level or higher (compared with 27% in England).



Got a problem? Issue? Something you’d like to discuss?

Your Councillors are here to help you. Please do feel free to contact us with comments, questions, problems or complaints. We hope we can help but if we can’t we are likely to know someone who can! *****************************