Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Cllr Sebastian Kindersley - September Councillor Notes 09-Sep-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

Cambridge Park & Ride Parking Charge

Ho hum. Lots of complaints about queues etc at the introduction of P&R Charging. So we made some enquiries….Apparently the County “experienced issues with some local users who do not seem to have experienced this type of system before” altho tourists and visitors especially from the Bedfordshire area are familiar with the system and seem to have no issues at all using it.

It operates by automatic number plate recognition and stores a picture of each vehicle coming into the site and then leaving the site. Everyone has a free hour to cover those who are picking up or dropping off passengers so they are not charged or if they wish to pick goods up from the John Lewis distribution centre.

Ticket machines on site sell tickets for (1) parking only - Some people simply park their car and then cycle or walk to work or concessionary passholders who will not pay for their bus travel but will need to purchase a parking ticket under the new system (2) parking and riding - those with a vehicle that need to pay for parking and then for the ride ticket(s) to go on the bus (3) ride only - those that have been dropped off or who have walked to the site and only need to purchase a ticket to ride.

If a user presses the parking only or park and ride button on the ticket machine they will be asked to put in at least the first 3 digits of their vehicle registration system. The system will scroll through images of the vehicles and come up with either the exact match or a number of close matches. The user simply confirms that the image is their vehicle.

There is then the option to park for up to 3 days so the user will press either 1, 2, 3 or 4 depending on how long they wish to stay.

The system may sound complex but the machines are step by step and most of the concessionary passholders we have taken through the system think it is simple once they have done it the once – so says the County. What say you? It is also possible for users to purchase tickets for parking in advance for a single day, a week, 4 weeks, annually or pay per usage. The final option allows you to set up the system and it automatically deducts the number of times you use the car park at the end of each month. This can vary but it is a much more flexible system for those who may require the service irregularly but often. The details are provided on the park and ride website www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/parkride

Policing & Anti-Social Behaviour

We have met with the Police to set out a number of concerns relating to response times, patrols and a small upsurge in antisocial behaviour. With budget cuts, maternity leave and long term sickness the Police are hard-pressed at the moment locally. However some interesting news about new powers for the Police effective from October 22 which will allow them to apply for an injunction to prevent anti-social behaviour similar to an ASBO – and which may include ‘positive’ action such as making the miscreant undergo drug or alcohol rehabilitation. The powers mean a lower level of evidence but still with power of arrest and indeed of imprisonment. Evidence is already being prepared for repeat offenders so if’s that you – it’s time to get out of town!

Northstowe

A public consultation on proposals for the town centre, secondary school, two primary schools and around 3,500 homes for the new town of Northstowe has been launched – please have your say via the South Cambs website over the next two months.

Oh for heaven’s sake I’ll be long gone before a brick is laid you say and up to now I’d be inclined to agree but it is now coming and we must face the construction of South Cambridgeshire’s first Town – after all your children and grandchildren may well end up living there - although perhaps not as the application (by the Homes and Communities Agency which should Know Better) is peculiar in that it utterly fails to deliver any kind of reasonable affordable housing level. The first phase – now consented – has a level of affordable housing below the required 40% - argued for on the basis that later phases will then have a higher % - averaging 40% over the total build out.

Needless to say SCDC fell for that and it’ll surprise nobody to learn that this phase 2 proposes only 20% affordable housing on the basis that it also includes lots of infrastructure and the Town Centre – so again no 40%. At this rate the final phases will need to deliver over 100% affordable housing….and no developer is going to do that without a fight (= appeal).

In any case this Phase 2 includes outline details of employment and recreational areas as well as new roads including a dedicated link through the town for the existing Busway – and an access road toward the A14, also a new sports hub and two new large flood attenuation ponds. But have your say!!

Cambridgeshire County Council Budget

We are currently reviewing our annual business plan which includes looking at the authority's priorities and setting our budget for the year 2015/16. We want your views!! We’d be very grateful if you could take the time to view the proposals and complete the questionnaire – which you can access here: http://www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/budgetconsultation

If you have any questions, please do get in touch. It would be greatly appreciated if you could promote this consultation to members of your household, your friends and your colleagues to complete this survey as well. It’s going to be hard. Due to increased demand and inflation coupled with cuts in funding from Central Government, our current business plan sets out the need to save £149.1 million over the next five years, with £30.7 million to save next year. This inevitably means the Council (along with all local authorities) will need to make more service cuts. This year the budget has to be balanced with 7.1% less money from Government and increased pressures on services from inflation and rising population.

So help us to decide where to make the cuts…….

Bins & Recycling

South Cambridgeshire District Council will be implementing new bin collection rounds from September that will improve efficiency, reduce costs and contribute to savings of around £400,000 a year to meet reductions in government funding and rising inflation – all good stuff, obviously. How did they achieve this? By producing more efficient collection routes, which have been generated using new route mapping technology – so less travel, less fuel, less time travelling … The scale of bin rounds in South Cambs is huge - 180 collection routes, performing 180,000 collections a fortnight to 60,000 properties – only nine of which will see a change in their collection days. Be warned tho - collection times may vary and you need to put your bin out the night before, or by 6am on the day of collection. Some rounds will continue to 5pm so Don’t Panic (until the next day…!)

Good news too from the Waterbeach site that was processing all our green waste until the Environment Agency stopped them from doing so – the facility is now cured and accepting a certain amount of green waste again – “albeit initially with reduced levels of input which might mean that some waste continues to be transported to alternative composting facilities in the UK” which tells me that they aren’t entirely certain the remedy has worked….

Robinson Court

South Cambs has asked Gamlingay for help. Between 31st October 2014 – 31st March 2015 there is a short term gap in temporary accommodation and this will have a significant impact on households who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. Normally this is provided at Waterbeach - managed by Sanctuary Housing - but it’s temporarily unavailable because it is being re-developed and modernised. The new units will not be ready until 31st March 2015. In the interim Sanctuary leased some ex MOD properties in Waterbeach but is unable to extend the lease beyond 31st October 2014. The District Council will therefore be left with a gap of approximately twenty five weeks. It is keen to avoid the use of Bed and Breakfast placements as these are extremely costly to the Council (the tax payer - you).

So – this is where Robinson Court comes in….The only realistic alternative to B&B is to bring some of the empty units back into use – they would otherwise be sat empty whilst the service placed homeless households in Bed and Breakfast.

The intention is that Sanctuary Housing Association will manage the temporary accommodation with a full time manager who works a thirty seven hour week Monday – Friday, located in Robinson Court for much of this time. In addition, Sanctuary operates an out of hours on-call system for managers in the event of emergencies or problems on site. The on-call number will be publicised locally so that nearby residents are able to contact a member of Sanctuary staff if required.

Temporary Accommodation residents housed in Robinson Court will return to Waterbeach once the new accommodation provision is completed there in March 2015. Plans for the re-development of Robinson Court are currently underway and further discussion/consultation with local residents is anticipated in October/November in respect of the development of the site.

Sebastian has met with SCDC and raised concerns - mostly to reduce the impact on the services in Gamlingay and on local residents which the District has undertaken to address – in particular making sure there is proper and full consultation with neighbours and residents with easy and effective contact in case of difficulties; and reduced or no impact on schools and the medical services. SCDC is also about to talk to the Parish Council to get their views.

In return the District will try and progress the redevelopment as quickly as possible – hopefully with boots on the ground very shortly after the last tenant has moved out in March. We are very mindful of the issues around Robinson Court and are anxious that this goes smoothly and with no impact on local people. Please contact us if you have concerns or if you’ve heard another terrible version….

Gamlingay is always very welcoming and new albeit very temporary residents will no doubt be treated no differently…but we have asked that Robinson Court is not used for anyone with a drug dealing conviction, a serious alcohol issue or a sex offender.

Solar Farms in South Cambs

Many people have been in touch over the past few months to ask about the proliferation of solar farms in South Cambs – at the moment heading to 24. Most recently an application has been submitted for a 28-megawatt installation 121 acres in Sawston. Several other sites are yet to be made subject to a planning application but have had environmental impact assessment requests submitted to the council. These include the 165-hectare (407 acre) site at Childerley Farm, west of Dry Drayton, which could be one of the largest in the UK. South Cambs is Britain’s solar panel capital, boasting more installations – including arrays on homes and businesses – than anywhere else in the UK.

But…are they something we should be concerned about? Are you? Please let us know your thoughts…

School Funding

We wrote previously about the good news for underfunded Cambridgeshire schools – now even more – with an extra £23.2 million from the Government next year – more than expected. The cash is equivalent to another £311 per pupil. The settlement means Cambridgeshire is no longer the poorest-funded authority in the UK per pupil, rising to 14th from bottom – Hurrah! The Government had previously announced Cambridgeshire would get an estimated £20.5 million but, following a consultation, increased the offer. Many individual schools can expect to get an increase of more than £100,000 in their budgets. Obviously we welcome this but concerns remain that there was no reference to whether the funding was permanent or would apply to 2015/16 only.

A428

Gamlingay residents as well as those Parishes on the A1198 have been only too well aware of the increase in traffic (rat-running) through the villages as a result of the growth of Cambourne – and no surprise to learn that the A428 is experiencing some of the highest traffic growth in the county.

Concern is growing as to whether the route will cope with growth planned from the Bedfordshire end to St Neots through to Cambridge - 20,000 homes are planned to 2031 in this Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire corridor, with significant growth planned for Cambourne and Bourne (altho we are fighting this). Additional capacity is needed to facilitate this growth especially for the stretch between Caxton and the Black Cat.

So the County Council has written a letter to a Minister pointing this out. Sigh.

Grants

Congratulations to Gamlingay Football Club who have been awarded a grant of £1000 from South Cambs to help pay for the installation of an officials' shower room at the Ecohub.

Mobile Phone Reception

…might improve if you’re an O2 or Vodaphone customer as the Fuller’s Hill Lt Gransden phone mast is to be upgraded to enhance current 3G coverage in the area and provide new 4G coverage.

Central Bedfordshire Gypsy and Traveller Local Plan

Those residents of the Heath in particular and Gamlingay in general who were clear that Central Bedfordshire had really mucked up its Gypsy and Traveller Local Plan have had their views entirely endorsed by the Planning Inspector who said the plan was so bad it all has to be done again. The Inspector raised numerous issues and asked the Council to undertake a considerable amount of additional work – which would take more time than the three weeks given, to clarify the matters. Perhaps CBC might take comments from local affected residents rather more seriously if there’s a next time.

Flooding at the Cinques

Sebastian has been pressing the County Highways to sort out the problems at the Cinques. The road gulleys are not draining as the outflow pipes are blocked in the field. Our super-efficient Highway Supervisor has ordered some works but a bigger job needs to be done to sort it perman

Roads

We are pushing South Cambs to resolve some issues in Church End Arrington where works have taken place – rather badly – and hopefully this will be resolved shortly. Also very happy to report a good piece of road and pavement replacement in East Hatley following a resident’s concerns about the state of the patch – and of course good news that the A1198 through Arrington has been beautifully resurfaced including the dreaded junction with Church Lane that has had potholes in it since 1858. Some good things do happen! Speeding on Larkin’s Road continues to be a worry despite the development of natural speedhumps – please do consider the residents here as you zip by.

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! *****************************