Sunday, 7 September 2014

Liberal Democrat Community Newsletter 07-Sep-2014 from Cllr Susan van de Ven

We are writing to you, as your councillors and campaigners for our interlinked cluster of villages, to keep you informed of local issues involving the District and County Councils. If you would prefer not to receive this email newsletter, please reply asking to be removed from the distribution list. If you know of someone not receiving this email newsletter who would like to do so, please ask them to email philippajhart@btinternet.comjose@josehales.me.uk or susanvandeven@yahoo.co.uk.  
200 MORE NEW HOMES FOR MELBOURN?  PUBLIC MEETING 11 SEPTEMBER
A public meeting will take place on Thursday 11 September 7PM at the Melbourn Hub, in anticipation of a planning application by Endurance Estates to build ‘up to 200 homes’ on land off New Road.  This prospective development site was rejected during the formulation of the South Cambs Local Plan, but a recent assessment by the Planning Inspector over the district’s five-year land supply has cast doubt on the soundness of the Plan, and afforded an opportunity for the developer to pursue planning permission. This would be in addition to the site for 65 homes off Victoria Way which is already included in the Local Plan.  The meeting will be chaired by Melbourn District Councillors Jose Hales and Val Barrett and supported by South Cambs District Council Planning Officers, and offers an opportunity to ask questions and get informed ahead of what could be a fast-moving process. 
16-18 EDUCATION TRANSPORT
Students from our area who need help with transport to Comberton Sixth Form have discovered that the college is not within the County Council’s catchment for transport subsidy.  This is a strange anomaly which Susan is following up with the council.  Comberton’s privately run bus transport costs sixth formers about £1000 per year.   For transport to Cambridge-based sixth forms, the annual rail discount will be continued by First Capital Connect’s successor Govia through contact with the Rail User Group, at £466 from Meldreth and Shepreth (£452 from Foxton) or £636 for council-subsidized Stagecoach bus travel.   
The council’s policy is to subsidize post-16 transport costs if a child is attending a ‘Nearest Designated Education Centre’ but even so the subsidy comprises a fraction of the total cost.  Given the enormous and continuing across the board local authority cuts it is notable that the basic subsidy plan still exists.  Nevertheless anomalies must be unpicked.
NEW TRAIN OPERATOR
Govia takes over from First Capital Connect on September 15, and have been invited to the Rail User Group meeting on September 24, 7:30PM, at Foxton Village Hall.  Please come along to ask any questions, or to get involved.
BIODEGRADABLE PLASTIC BAGS: CONTAMINANT
The Waterbeach waste and recycling plant is open for public visits every Monday, and many community groups – recently the U3A and last year the St George Allotment holders – have taken the opportunity to visit. A noticeable feature of the site is the vast number of plastic bags that blow into hedges and trees.  We were interested to learn that most biodegradable plastic bags available for purchase are not of a good enough standard to go into green bins – and plastic bags in green bins comprise the most damaging contaminant to green waste.  
SHEPRETH POPPY GARDEN STRIMMED AND HERBICIDED
The beautiful poppy and wildflower garden that was carefully cultivated and tended at Shepreth Railway Station over a period of 18 months, in commemoration of local people who served in the First World War, has been inadvertently but carelessly destroyed by Network Rail routine ‘maintenance’.  Not only was the site strimmed, but herbicide was generously applied as well, which greatly sets back the task of starting over.
The Meldreth, Shepreth and Foxton Rail User Group, which had obtained formal permission from Network Rail to maintain a sustainable wildflower garden on the site, is awaiting full reimbursement of £400 in donations spontaneously given by local businesses and residents for the project.  Kind offers of help to restart the garden are greatly appreciated.  It is suggested that Network Rail itself should take the initial steps.
A10 CYCLE PATH MAINTENANCE
The A10 Corridor Cycling Campaign is working with County Highways on maintenance questions and especially cyclic grass cutting, which in common with all county grass cutting happens at a less frequent basis than in the past. Almost all hedging along the route is privately owned and good maintenance by private land owners is needed, in the same way that hedge maintenance along village footways is important.  The campaign is looking to operate a warden system whereby volunteers keep an eye on any localized maintenance issues that could be expedited.  Meanwhile County Highways will tackle the worst of the brambles near Foxton Level Crossing where safe passage is essential. Please come along to the campaign’s next meeting on 15 October, 7PM for 7:30, at the Coombes Community Centre in Royston.  The agenda will be posted in advance at www.a10corridorcycle.com.
NEW ROAD MELBOURN SURFACE DRESSING
Thanks to those who have sent in questions about the surface dressing of New Road Melbourn.  Yellow and white lining is replaced in stages and all should be reinstated very shortly.  This type of preventive road maintenance treatment, while messy, has been proven to be the most cost-effective means of extending the life of a road and the treatment is therefore used as widely as possible. It is not designed to deal with all problems and roads at a further point of deterioration require more substantial (and expensive) measures – though tight budgets restrict more expensive activity.  
HIGH STREET MELBOURN RESURFACING 
The long-planned resurfacing of the High Street between the Cross and Water Lane is scheduled to take place in November.  The height of the road will not be increased as the surface is to be removed and replaced.  Jose and Susan are talking with individual residents about specific local concerns.
MORE BUDGET CUTS
Local authorities continue to face sweeping budget cuts and many public services are subject to further cost-cutting over the next few years.  Under the new committee system proposed by the Liberal Democrats, councillors from all parties are working together at Cambridgeshire County Council to understand the implications of different choices, though the grim reality is that no service will be unaffected.  A handful of very small grants to community groups, as well as sport and arts grants, act as a trigger for significant multiple match funding and Susan is helping to make the case for protecting these. 
RECYCLING CENTRE CLOSURE?
Some of the big cuts which must be made this year will be in household waste recycling and disposal services.  Various options are set out in the council’s current consultation: http://www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/recyclingcentreservice.  It may be that significantly reducing opening times can prevent outright closures.  Please fill out the questionnaire to get your views across. 
The council operates nine household waste and recycling centres in Cambridgeshire but is only obliged to run only two.  Other local authorities face similar reductions in spending and the future of neighbouring county recycling facilities is not known.
METTLE HILL WORKING PARTY
Philippa is gathering a working party to help formulate possible outcomes for the use of Mettle Hill. Thanks to those who have been in touch, and please do make contact with her if you’d like to know more or to put your name forward.
WHAT NEXT FOR 128 AND 31 BUSES
The County Council’s effort to transform reducing subsidies for public transport means that all subsidized buses are in the process of being reviewed.  If you are interested in the 128 service that connects Meldreth, Shepreth and Melbourn with Royston, a consultation event is scheduled for 6 November, 2-4PM, at the Melbourn Hub.
Meanwhile the Cambridgeshire Future Transport team is communicating with Heydon and Chishill Parish Councils on options for a new service to replace the 31.  
BEFRIENDING: LIFTS TO LUNCH
A new team has taken over the running of the Melbourn and Meldreth Lunch Club, which meets every Thursday for lunch at Vicarage Close Community Room, Melbourn, and supports elderly and isolated people to socialize and enjoy a meal together on a regular basis.  Attendance has doubled over recent weeks and therefore a few more volunteer drivers are needed.  If you can provide a lift for Meldreth or Melbourn residents on Thursdays (to arrive at Vicarage Close at 11:30, collecting to return home at 1:15) this would be greatly appreciated.  Please ring Nikki or Julie on 07599292327.
HEALTH PROFILES FOR CAMBRIDGESHIRE VILLAGES
Quality of life as measured via health outcomes is hugely varied across Cambridgeshire villages. Public Health England has published detailed data that offers a window on these disparities. Find out about your village – and any other in the county – at www.localhealth.org.uk
MVC 100 CLUB: SUPPORT OUR VILLAGE COLLEGE 
If you’d like to support the Melbourn Village College 100 Club, as new, returning or former parents, or simply as members of a community that benefits from having a secondary school in our midst, this would be much appreciated.
One annual payment of £12 puts you in the running for the monthly cash draw. For on line payments, bank details are Barclays Bank PLC, POB 2, 15 Benet Street, Cambridge CB2 3PZ, Sort Cod 20-17-22, Account Number 40338346. Please insert your surname after the reference number (e.g. 1694563340-smith) and drop a line to Sian.Biddlecombe@ntlworld.com to let her know that you are joining and have made a payment. 
COMMUNITY TRANSPORT EXTRAS
Shepreth and Meldreth residents are thanked for their patience while plans for new regular excursions to Letchworth and Melbourn, as discussed at the June coffee morning, are worked out via Royston and District Community Transport.  There has been an unexpected delay but all should resume as normal soon, with details to be disseminated.
CITIZENS ADVICE AT THE HUB: FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Free CAB drop-in sessions at the Melbourn Hub (first Mondays and third Tuesdays, 9:30-12:30) continue.  Advisors have been asked to deal with queries about benefits and pensions, and problems with private rent agreements, insulation, adult education, inheritance and inheritance tax.
TRUMPINGTON-HAUXTON CYCLE PATH
The Trumpington Meadows developer, Grosvenors, have contacted us to say that the anticipated opening of the Country Park cycle link on 13 September is to be pushed back to ‘late May/early June 2015’. This is in spite of the fact that the cycle path has now been constructed and is actually ready to use.  The path is on privately owned land and so we have no sway.
DROP-IN ADVICE SURGERIES
Jose and Susan hold a surgery on the first Monday of the month, 2:30-3:30 PM, at the Melbourn Hub. Philippa and Susan hold a surgery on the first Monday of the month alternating between The Plough Shepreth (3:30-4:30, October) and Elin Way Community Room Meldreth (3:30-4:30, November).  If these are not convenient and you would like to arrange an appointment for a different time or closer to home, please get in touch. 
ANY ITEMS TO RAISE?
If you have any issues which you would like us to help address, or to highlight via this newsletter, please let us know.
Sincerely yours,  
Philippa, Jose and Susan 
Philippa Hart
District Councillor, Meldreth and Shepreth
Jose Hales 
District Councillor, Melbourn, Heydon and the Chishills
Susan van de Ven, 
County Councillor, Foxton, Heydon, Melbourn, Meldreth, Shepreth and the Chishills
Twitter@susanvandeven