Friday, 30 January 2015

Flood insurance scheme given go-ahead by EU

South East Liberal Democrat MEP Catherine Bearder has welcomed the news and said it will complement efforts to boost flood defences in the area.

Due to come into force in the second half of this year, the "Flood Re" scheme will allow insurers to put the flood risk aspect of a home insurance policy into a common fund that will then pay out any subsequent flood claims. This will help make sure people living in high-risk flood areas are still able to insure their homes at an affordable price.

The EU Commission had to approve the scheme to make sure it did not break EU rules on state aid. It concluded that insurance for flood-risk homes would not be adequately provided by the private sector alone and so government intervention was justified. It also pointed out that the UK government is investing heavily in flood defences, which will reduce the cost of insurance in future and should allow the scheme to be phased out in the next 20-25 years.

Mrs Bearder commented:

"I'm delighted the EU has seen sense and approved this vital scheme, which will ensure people in high-risk flooding areas have access to affordable home insurance.

"After the devastating floods of last year, we must do everything to help people rebuild their lives and make sure we're as prepared as possible for severe weather in future.

"Liberal Democrats are investing in 1,400 flood defence projects across the country.

"These vital defences will help protect high-risk homes from flooding in future but in the meantime we need to make sure everyone has access to proper insurance."

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Growth Deals firing up local economies with £1bn investment

Liberal Democrat Leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has today (Thursday 29 January) announced that the government is investing an extra £1bn in local economies by expanding local Growth Deals.

The government has struck a deal to expand the Growth Deals signed last year with 39 Local Enterprise Partnerships.


This funding will help local leaders and businesses in to train young people, create jobs, build more housing and deliver hundreds of vital infrastructure projects, such as local transport improvements and superfast broadband networks.

Liberal Democrats know that nobody knows more about what a local region needs to grow than the people who live and work there.

The funding is devolved from central government to local authorities, giving communities, not Whitehall the freedom to decide what’s best for their economy.

Growth Deals give power back to local councils, colleges and businesses, alongside billions of pounds of funding, to do what’s necessary to ensure their local communities thrive.

Liberal Democrat Leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said:

“A quiet revolution is underway in regions across the country and Growth Deals signal the death of the culture where Whitehall calls the shots. I’ve seen for myself the difference it makes to give local areas real power over skills, over business support, and over infrastructure spending.

“The Coalition Government has been relentless in our efforts to sort out the public finances and set firm foundations for growth. Growth Deals help create a stronger economy and a fairer society by boosting local economies, and providing more jobs, better transport and affordable homes.”

Some of the major projects benefitting from the expansion include:

  • The Tolgus and Barncoose junction improvement project (£5.9m matched with £1.7m) will create a gateway between Redruth and Camborne in Cornwall, unlocking access for over 600 homes, 5,000 sq. metres of commercial space, and the Kresen Kernow cultural project.
  • £8.7m investment in Greater Birmingham and Solihull to create new training facilities, in Solihull and Birmingham, helping to address skills shortages in key sectors of the local economy.
  • £25m (£5m plus £20m local match funding) towards the development of a National Maritime Systems Centre of Excellence in Portsmouth. This centre will focus on maritime and marine capabilities, safeguard and create jobs as well as increase exports.
  • £5m for the Institute for Advanced Manufacturing at Nottingham University, which has match funding from the University and industry of £95m. This project will train over 3000 manufacturing engineers and deliver research and knowledge exchange worth £60m.
  • £4m to expand Engine Shed in Bristol, the highly successful business incubation facility. This investment will provide further incubation and grow on space for high tech companies. This investment will be matched with £5m of local funding.
  • Funding for broadband networks in areas where provision is not currently available, such as remote or rural areas, including: £6m for the Heart of the South West that will contribute towards tackling the next 5% of premises in hard to reach areas (matched with £6m of local funding) and £3.6m for Cumbria to extend availability of Superfast Broadband to an additional 5,000 premises.

Going green isn't a luxury extra, it's a necessary investment in our future

Liberal Democrat Leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg discusses his vision for a greener Britain and a sustainable economic future.
The countdown has started. In 10 months time, the world will gather in Paris to agree a new legally binding global climate change agreement. It’s no exaggeration to say our future, and that of our children, depends on its success.

Of course, none of this is news to you. Yet, I believe it’s a truth that bears repeating as often and widely as possible.

The evidence of the global risk we face is clear, the science exhaustive and beyond doubt and, without a strong deal in Paris, the task ahead of us to reduce the world’s emissions and tackle climate change will only become more difficult with every year that goes by.

We are already running to catch up: the more we delay, the more the world’s poorest countries are hardest hit of all. For them, denying climate change isn’t an option. Its impact is all too plain to see on their doorstep, increasingly putting their families, homes and livelihoods at risk.

For us too, as a country, going green isn’t a luxury extra, but a necessary investment in our future.

In the years ahead, the only sustainable growth will be green growth. It’s a guarantee of jobs and prosperity for generations to come.

It’s a massive opportunity for Britain. We’re a competitive place to invest, a great place to do business and have a skilled, flexible workforce.

Most importantly, without that shift to low carbon, we put at risk the huge physical and psychological benefits, as well as the sheer joy, we gain from our natural environment. Once lost, it’s gone forever.

That’s why, in government, Liberal Democrats have always fought for an approach that doesn’t just look after today, but is also mindful of tomorrow; that doesn’t just deal with the fiscal deficit we inherited, but also the imbalances in how we treat the environment around us.

This includes reforming our electricity market to boost investment in low-carbon energy. Since 2010, we’ve more than doubled the share of electricity we generate from renewable sources - reaching nearly 15 per cent of the UK’s electricity at the end of 2013.

The UK is now a world leader in offshore wind, with more installed offshore wind capacity than any other country in the world. We’re also strengthening our global lead in wave and tidal technology. According to the latest Bloomberg estimates, clean energy investment in our country rose by 3 per cent last year, to just over £10bn.

To help each of us live our lives more sustainably, we’ve committed hundreds of millions pounds to drive forward green transport. This includes half a billion pounds to sharpen the UK’s competitive edge in the development and use of electric vehicles, and I recently announced an unprecedented £214m investment to develop the UK’s cycling networks.

We’re establishing a new generation of garden cities and all new homes will be zero carbon from 2016.

We’ve created the Natural Capital Committee to help protect our natural wealth. And, step by step, we’re preserving Britain’s natural landscape: creating marine conservation zones; securing the future of our woodlands – England now has 10 per cent wood land cover, it’s highest level in 600 years; and maintaining strong protections for the Green Belt, our National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

We’ve secured extra funding for Kew Gardens, fought hard to ensure England’s Coastal Path will be completed by 2020 and, to halt the blight of throwaway plastic bags, we’re introducing our 5p charge.

Critically, we’ve committed £3.87bn to the International Climate Fund to help developing countries protect their biodiversity and communities from the impacts of climate change also.

But this is just the start. Whatever the result on May 7, we need a clear commitment from all of the main parties to achieve a landmark global deal in Paris and secure Britain’s low carbon future.

This isn’t a job for the fainthearted. Climate Change has no respect for borders, job titles or the political divide. It demands leadership at a local, national and international level, and we all have a role to play - in politics, business and civil society.

It’s one of the central reasons why I believe the UK’s continued membership of the EU is so important. If we’re to safeguard the future for our children and their children, then we need to stand tall in the world.

That starts with us leading in Europe, working with our partners to deliver an ambitious green agenda in Paris and beyond. Together, our voices are louder and stronger.

So let’s keep pushing across all political parties for a greener world, a better future for our children and an ambitious agreement in Paris.

Supporting female prisoners through training and education opportunities

Liberal Democrat Justice minister Simon Hughes has highlighted the importance of rehabilitating female prisoners.

Work and educational opportunities are crucial to helping rehabilitate women offenders.

Commenting, Simon said:
" I'm not prepared to accept a situation where female offenders don't have the chance to turn their lives around and support themselves and their families. 
"As part of our reforms, all women's prisons are to become resettlement prisons to keep women as close as possible to their homes and families, as well as prepare more effectively for their release back into their local community. 
"We are also supporting female offenders through training and education opportunities in custody, as well as linking up with local employers to help more women find employment on release."

eCops: Congratulations…. You’Ve Won The Lottery!!!......Or Have You?

This is a message sent via eCops. This information has been sent on behalf of Action Fraud (National Fraud Intelligence Bureau)

A lottery scam takes place when criminals pretend that you have won a prize, often a lottery. The people most likely to fall victim to this tend to be over the age of 60 (although younger people do fall victim too) – but we know that it is often close family members of victims who spot the tell-tale signs of the fraud.

Criminals will normally get in touch by letter or email and will try to engage you into dialogue with them. Once they have convinced you that they are “genuine”, they will ask for a fee to be paid to release your winnings. This fee could be to pay taxes or duty, or for a solicitor, banker or judge to authorise the transaction. NO GENUINE LOTTERY WILL EVER ASK FOR ANY SORT OF FEE TO BE PAID.

Often this first fee will be small, but once they know you are willing to pay it they will ask for more and more money, with ever-changing excuses as to why they need it. Victims can end up losing tens of thousands of pounds over the course of months or even years.

Many of you reading will be surprised that this type of crime takes place. After all, why would anyone fall prey to scam like this when they never entered any such lottery in the first place? Why would they have to pay money when they are supposed to have won millions of pounds? The sad truth is that these criminals are incredibly persuasive and prey on people who are very trusting. Therefore, even if you know that you would not get defrauded like this, please spread this message widely to friends, family and to people within your community.

Prevention:
If you have not entered a lottery or a prize draw, you have not won it.
Delete any emails which detail you winning money or being in a position to make a fortune
Spread the message amongst people you come into contact with, especially older people in your family, and look out for any unusual behaviour, for instance someone paying money via money service bureaux, like Western Union or MoneyGram, or buying Ukash vouchers.

If you believe you have become the victim of a fraud or cyber crime, or have received a suspicious email, find out how to report it here.

Bid to clampdown on poor private rented homes backed by Cambridge MP

A bid to clamp down on private landlords to prevent them from renting homes that are not up to scratch has been backed by Cambridge MP Julian Huppert.

He wants landlords to be legally required to meet the government’s Decent Homes Standard which properties owned by councils and housing associations have to satisfy.

Julian co-sponsored a successful move in the Commons yesterday (Wednesday, January 28) to bring legislation to Parliament to make the change.

He said: “It makes absolutely no sense that we have rigorous standards to protect social housing tenants and yet those renting in the private sector are left at the mercy of their landlords.

“There have been cases where families are living in damp properties in a poor state of repair, some paid for by the taxpayer, and the landlords are not required to meet the Decent Homes Standard.

“A change in the law is well overdue to offer private rented tenants the same protection. We should not have a situation where people, some on low incomes, are living in below standard accommodation when we can do something about it.”

Julian’s support for the so-called 10 Minute Rule Bill is the latest move in his campaign to get a fairer deal for private rental tenants.

He is also lobbying government to get the funding formula for the local housing allowance for Cambridge changed to bring it in line with private rents.

Labour introduced a policy which based housing allowance payments for Cambridge on average property rents across a wide area including cheaper towns such as Littleport and Haverhill.

And they told families whose housing allowance failed to cover the rent, that if they couldn’t afford to pay they should move to cheaper areas.

The government is expected to announce the new rate for Cambridge soon and Julian raised the issue in the Commons recently calling for it to reflect the cost of rents in the city.

The 10 Minute Rule Bill Motion states: “That leave be given to bring in a Bill to require private landlords to ensure that any property they let meets the requirements of the Decent Homes Standard; and for connected purposes.”

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Lib Dems launch Party Political Broadcast

The Liberal Democrats have launched their first PPB of 2015, which outlines how we will cut less than the Conservatives and borrow less than Labour.


In the broadcast, Liberal Democrat Leader Nick Clegg says:
"Over the coming months, you might have campaigners coming to knock on your door. You may think you've heard it all before. You may not know where to turn or you might already have decided. 
"But, if you open your door to us we will listen to what you have to say and make a difference. Britain needs a Liberal voice in Government. One that will stop the Conservatives and Labour parties when they go too far. 
"We'll cut less than the Conservatives and borrow less than Labour. Getting the balance right. 
"Working every day to make sure we have a stronger economy and a fairer society so that everyone, whatever your background, can have the opportunity to get on in life. 
"This is going to be a long campaign with a lot of noise from the political parties. But, when we knock on your door, we want to listen to what you have to say so that you can decide what is right for you, your family and your local community."

Liberal Democrat wins fracking ban on Britain's most protected land

Cambridge MP Julian Huppert has won an outright ban on fracking in some of Britain’s most protected countryside.

In response to a Lib Dem amendment to the Infrastructure Bill, which Julian co-sponsored, the government has agreed that fracking cannot take place in National Parks, areas of Special Scientific Interest and Outstanding Natural Beauty.

And he gained an agreement from the government that if fracking is found to increase carbon emissions underground drilling rights will be halted or an explanation will be given to Parliament as to why no action is being taken.

Julian said: “This is an important step forward. We have given protection in law to the most important and sensitive areas of our countryside and made the government accountable to Parliament if fracking is found to be contributing to climate change.

“I don’t want to see fracking happening anywhere in the country, but if it is to take place this should be with explicit consideration of its impact on climate change and with a view to protecting our finest countryside.

“Disappointingly, my call for a moratorium on fracking was defeated but given the enthusiasm from the Conservatives for fracking, backed by Labour, I think we can be pleased with the concessions we secured even though they don’t go far enough.”

Julian’s stand against fracking won support from environmental campaign groups, Friends of the Earth and the RSPB.

He cited a paper published recently by the scientific journal Nature showed that a boom in shale gas extraction would likely squeeze out the development of the renewable energy section.

Communities get more say on future of pubs after Cambridge MP acts

Communities will have a greater say on the future of hundreds of pubs across the country after Cambridge MP Julian Huppert pushed for a change in the law.

Under the new legislation, developers seeking to demolish or change the use of pubs listed as Assets of Community Value will have to apply for planning permission giving residents the chance to have their say on the plans.

Six hundred pubs have already been nominated for the listing under the government’s Community Right to Bid scheme and plans are underway to make the nomination process even simpler so that more pubs can be given protected status.

Julian has fought to give all pubs protection from demolition or development unless planning permission was sought but the amendment to the Infrastructure Bill which he co-sponsored was defeated.

“It isn’t right that buildings with such value to local communities can be converted into houses or supermarkets without giving residents the chance to have their views heard,” he said.

“This move will protect those pubs listed as Assets of Community Value which will safeguard buildings at the heart of local life. There will also be an opportunity for other pubs to be protected in the same way. This is a start.

“I proposed a Bill in 2012 to give pubs greater protection from developers because we have lost so many pubs in Cambridge over the years and across the country generally. And when the Lib Dems ran Cambridge City Council they introduced a planning policy to make sure developers had to apply for planning permission to decide the future of pubs.            

“Many people rely on the pub trade for their livelihoods and their jobs, in particular many young people. But they are also a key part of our communities and a valuable part of our heritage. Once they are gone they are lost forever.

“Recently, we managed to get a new clause written into the Small Business Bill to stop large pub companies charging hugely excessive rents and inflated prices to their tenants. This will make a huge difference to the 500 or so publicans tied to big companies across the country. Now we need to act to give greater protection to the pub trade so that it will survive for future generations.”

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

UK on track to be the fastest growing G7 economy

GDP figures released today (Tuesday 27 January) shows that Britain's economy is growing.

Quarterly growth of 0.5 per cent puts the UK in pole position to be the fastest growing economy in 2015.

Liberal Democrats have anchored economic policy in the centre ground.

In government we have driven through a host of Lib dem inspired measures including income tax cuts for millions of working people, cutting the deficit fairly, boosting apprenticeships and investing in regional and local projects to rebalance the economy.

Today's figures represent solid progress, especially with many of our key markets still suffering from economic problems.

With the country on the right track, a lurch to the right with the Tories or to the left with Labour has never posed a greater danger to our economic recovery.

Paddy Ashdown writes: 100 days to go

Welcome to the final 100 days of the campaign. For many of you this is the final lap in an almighty marathon that you have been running for months if not years.

Thank you so much for what you have already done. I know that whether you are a veteran activist or one of our thousands of new members, you’re part of the Liberal Democrats because you are up for this next phase.

Well, this election HQ is for you. The team here is dedicated to helping our candidates across the UK. This is the most integrated campaign we have ever run, in the national media, parliamentary seats and council elections we will all work hand in hand. Unlike the others, we have a clear strategy, a strong message, some of the best technology and a fire in our belly to deliver more. That means more policies to strengthen our economy, but at the same time hold firm to our values which demand a fairer society.

None of which can be achieved without guaranteeing the opportunities that everyone deserves. Everyone in our HQ, which is now officially open, is proud to be working alongside you in this campaign. We need to hear from you how it is working on the ground - give us your views and tell us of your experiences. Thank you.

Enjoy this short film and see you on the campaign trail.

Free electric blankets at Golden Age event

Pensioners can exchange faulty electric blankets for new ones at a multi-agency event on Friday (30) in Cambridge.

Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service (CFRS) has teamed up with Age UK Cambridgeshire to run the winter safety Golden Age event from 10.30am until 3pm at Cambridge's Parkside Place Community Fire and Rescue Station.

Residents aged 60 or over can take advantage of the offer. Pensioners are encouraged to bring their old electric blankets along to be tested to check it is safe and any electrical blanket that fails will be disposed of in exchange for a new one.

To book an appointment to have your blanket tested please call 01354 696650.

Wendy Coleman, Community Risk Manager at CFRS, said: "As temperatures threaten to drop in the remaining winter months, many residents will be dusting off electric blankets to stay warm at night. However, electric blankets contain heating elements that can be dangerous if broken or allowed to overheat.

"We're keen to support this scheme as it is a great opportunity for residents to be safe and get expert fire prevention advice. Our staff will be on hand to provide tips to residents about electric blankets."

Faulty electric blankets are a significant fire risk, with more than 70 per cent failing safety checks at previous electrical testing events.

Representatives from Age UK Cambridgeshire will also be at the event to offer advice and information about free energy efficiency assessments.

Monday, 26 January 2015

Sir Graham meets vulnerable people he has pledged to protect

Cambridgeshire Alliance for Independent Living (CAIL) has invited the Police and Crime Commissioner to explain to vulnerable people across Cambridgeshire what his administration is doing to keep them safe and meet Cambridgeshire Police’s equality objectives.[i] Sir Graham will attend the ‘Crime, Prevention and Safety’ event on 5th February in Ely, organised by CAIL, the only pan-disability user led organisation in the county. The Mayor of Ely City, Lis Every and the Mayor of Cambridge, Gerri Bird, a long term campaigner for disability rights, will also be in attendance.

Hate crime is on the rise and whilst according to the Home Office in the year 2013/14 only 4% of all (reported) hate crime was disability related,[ii] for the same year Stop Hate UK reported that the most common hate crime motivation was Disability.[iii] It is thought that the discrepancy in the figures is due to a lack of reporting. CAIL is holding an event to raise awareness of what Hate Crime is and how to respond to it, encourage reporting, and promote local support services and resources for those affected. The event is open to all but is particularly aimed at those with a disability, their carers and families and the people who work with them; such as Service Providers, Adult Social Care officers at Cambridgeshire County Council and the many charitable organisations that support people to live as independently as possible.

Speakers will include Graham Lewis, a Trustee for Stop Hate UK who told us “Hate Crime has a significant impact on victims, their families, friends, carers and on the wider community. Our experience of working with victims of [Learning Disability] Hate Crime tells us that some people believe that the incidents they have experienced are not serious enough to report to the police.” And James Codling, Adult Safeguarding Training Organiser for Cambridgeshire County Council, who says “this event, which brings together service users, providers and the voluntary sector is a great opportunity to raise awareness of the responsibility we all share to protect people’s right to live in safety, free from abuse and neglect”.

[i] Accessed at https://www.cambs.police.uk/help/EqualityObjectiveFramework/ Cambs Police’s first 3 equality objectives are listed as:
  1. To improve the ways in which Cambridgeshire Constabulary interacts and works with those having protected characteristics in order to improve service delivery
  2. To improve the constabulary’s understanding of the views, needs and expectations of those victims with protected characteristics to ensure they are satisfied with the services they receive
  3. To protect and meet the needs of the most vulnerable individuals and communities
[ii] http://www.report-it.org.uk/files/home_office_hate_crime_data_201314.pdf

[iii] http://www.stophateuk.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Stop-Hate-UK-Stats-Report-2013-14-Final.pdf

Friday, 23 January 2015

Proposals for changes to the counties Control Room progressing

The Strategic Alliance between three police forces continues to strengthen following agreement by Police and Crime Commissioner Sir Graham Bright to progress the Business Case for the collaboration of the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Control Rooms.

Having considered an Outline Business Case the three Police and Crime Commissioners and three Chief Constables have concluded that there is sufficient evidence to develop a Full Business Case.   The Full Business Case will look at a collaborated approach to Public Contact services which includes 999 calls, non-emergency contact and crime recording.

Work is now underway to fully develop the proposal to move to fewer locations, possibly one or two, to deliver Public Contact services. The final proposal will be presented in the spring.

If the final proposals are agreed it is anticipated that this will generate savings of at least £5M per annum.

The ambitious Strategic Alliance between the three forces and Police and Crime Commissioners is an on-going programme of work which is helping the three forces meet continued financial challenges over the next few years and reduce the impact of on-going budget cuts on the frontline.

By 2019, it is anticipated that a wide range of further joint operational and organisational support functions will have been established to bring economies of scale and increased resilience.

The three forces have recognised the need to provide the public with alternative ways to contact them and are also exploring ways in which enhanced technology could provide access to key services online.

Police and Crime Commissioner Sir Graham Bright said: “This is an important step and represents the next major phase of an historic collaboration between the three forces. Crucially, this agreement will pave the way for Cambridgeshire Constabulary to work more efficiently to meet our tough spending targets while at the same time minimise the impact on local policing in the county. It will help the forces to meet the £68m funding gap over the next four years.

“I am therefore delighted that the Strategic Alliance has been able to come together and agree to further explore the proposal to move to one or two control room(s) serving the three counties.

“The three forces have an established track record of successful collaboration and I am confident that this success can be built on with this agreement.”

Chief Constable Simon Parr added: “The operational and financial advantages of joining specialist units together have already been proven. By collaborating the control rooms we will have greater resilience to deal with emergency and non-emergency calls plus manage demand on policing services.”

In May 2013, the three Police and Crime Commissioners signed a ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ to proceed with collaboration in the areas of Organisational Support (eg Finance, Human resources and Learning and Development) and Operational Support (eg Criminal Justice and Force Control Rooms).

Extensive scoping work has highlighted the advantages that extended three-force collaboration can deliver to meet the challenges the forces continue to face whilst protecting frontline policing and service delivery as much as possible.

Future collaboration will support the three force collaboration already in place across a number of Protective Services functions (operational functions that are delivered to support locally-based crime investigation, response and neighbourhood policing, e.g. Firearms and Roads Policing) with these areas also being reviewed and refined.

Each of the forces will also continue to consider further ways in which to create efficiencies within the non-collaborated parts of their business while maintaining a key focus on local policing.

Puppy law changes

Pet lovers need to be aware of a change in law making it illegal to import puppies less than 15 weeks old.

On 29 December last year the change in law took effect to stop puppies being imported in the UK if less than 15 weeks old. This also includes imports from Southern Ireland.

All imported puppies must be accompanied by a pet passport showing that it is microchipped, has been vaccinated against Rabies at no earlier than 12 weeks of age and has been treated against tapeworm.

Puppies still need to wait a period of 21 days after a Rabies vaccination before they can travel from an EU country. Any puppy found to be in breach of these rules will be put into quarantine at the owner’s expense.

If you wish to report illegally imported puppies please contact trading.standards@cambridgeshire.gov.uk or phone 01954 284619.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

HRH The Princess Royal officially opens city centre fire station development

Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal today (Wednesday 21) officially opened a Cambridge city centre community development.

Princess Anne unveiled plaques at the new Parkside Place Community Fire and Rescue Station and Hundred Houses Society affordable housing scheme Chester House, located on the development.

HRH was greeted by Cambridgeshire civic dignitaries and was then welcomed onto station by Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service's Chief Fire Officer Graham Stagg and Chairman of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Fire Authority Sir Peter Brown.

The Princess enjoyed a tour of the fire station and housing development, meeting fire service staff and residents. Schoolchildren from St Matthew's Primary School and Parkside Federation Academies, who created artwork for the fire station, also met Princess Anne, and the children of two firefighters presented her with a posy.

CFO Graham Stagg said: "It was an honour to meet The Princess Royal and to mark the official opening of this building, which has been over a decade in the making.

"We hope by meeting firefighters, community safety workers and our support staff based at the fire station that The Princess Royal has had a good insight into not just the operational service we provide for Cambridge but also how preventing fires in the community is just as important in this modern fire and rescue service."

Sir Peter Brown said: "It was an absolute pleasure to welcome HRH Princess Anne to our state-of-the-art fire station and to mark the official opening of a project we are all incredibly proud of.

"It has been a real team effort with our partners to create this development and that theme has continued on today as it pleased us to see so many organisations join in what has been a momentous celebration."

Fire crews moved to the new fire station, which is built on the same site as the former Cambridge station, in June 2013, following the completion of the two-year-building project. Parkside Place residential development, which provides 100 new homes including 39 affordable flats managed by Hundred Houses Society, was finished in 2014.

Addenbrooke's worker Rebecca O'Shaughnessy and her husband Steven, who works for Cambridge University, proudly welcomed HRH The Princess Royal into their Hundred Houses Society affordable home today.

Chris Jackson, Chief Executive of Hundred Houses Society, said: "I'm delighted the Princess Royal had a chance to see how Hundred Houses is providing homes for local people who have been priced out of the Cambridge market, particularly for key workers such as Mrs O'Shaughnessy.

"The Princess was interested to learn that the O'Shaughnessy¿s found their new home warm and conveniently close to work, when they previously had to travel 45 minutes each way. I think Princess Anne appreciated how important it is to provide affordable homes in cities such as Cambridge."

Members of the Encore Estate Management team, which took over management of Parkside Place from developers Grosvenor in 2013, also met HRH.

Carole Kelly, Encore's Estate Manager for the development, commented: "The official opening by HRH The Princess Royal was an important event for those who live here and we were only too happy to ensure the site looked great not just for the visit but for all residents and tenants all year round.

"It was a great honour for the team, including Head Porter Matt Place and Porter Ben Phillips, to be presented to HRH The Princess Royal. Matt and Ben provide a friendly face and assistance to all the residents and we're happy they were able to provide this to Princess Anne too."

Following the visit, guests enjoyed refreshments and a buffet to mark the occasion.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Delivery partner appointed to help develop Restorative Justice in Cambridgeshire

VICTIMS of crime in Cambridgeshire can now request to meet their offender in a restorative justice conference thanks to Cambridgeshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner.

Such conferences have been proven to help repair the harm caused by the crime by allowing the victim to explain to the offender the impact of their actions. It also enables the victim to understand why the offender behaved the way they did.

Police and Crime Commissioner Sir Graham Bright and Cambridgeshire Constabulary have pledged to work in partnership with other agencies to develop restorative justice in the county.

The move has seen Sir Graham appoint a not for profit Community Interest Company Restorative Solutions as a delivery partner to provide advice and expertise in the early days.

The Ministry of Justice has provided all PCCs with an initial two years’ funding, as part of the Victims’ Services Grant, to facilitate victim-initiated restorative justice.

Sir Graham said: “It is great to be able to yet again improve the experience for victims of crime in Cambridgeshire. This work follows hot on the heels of the launch of our police-led Victims’ Hub and we expect the Victim Care Co-ordinators will be instrumental in explaining to victims what is now available.

“While I have asked the Constabulary to lead this work for me, they can’t do this alone and we have already been having conversations with existing restorative justice providers in the county about how we can work together. I was also keen to ensure we had access to real experts in this area which is why I appointed Restorative Solutions to support the Cambridgeshire approach.”

Deputy Chief Constable Alec Wood has championed the use of restorative justice in the Constabulary and says it could make a “real difference” to the lives of those who choose to get involved. “The evidence is clear that victims of crime who take part in restorative conferences are more likely to be able to move on from the crime committed against them. Offenders are less likely to offend again – so it’s a win-win situation.”

Chief Executive of Restorative Solutions, Gary Stephenson, said: “Our joint approach will ensure that victims will be given the opportunity to have their say and get answers to the questions they are left with after being the victim of a crime. We know that Restorative Justice helps victims and others affected by the crime to find closure and move on with their lives. We also know from rigorous academic studies that following a restorative meeting offenders are motivated to change their lives for the better and this means less crime and fewer victims in Cambridgeshire.”

Restorative Justice (RJ) is a process which “brings those harmed by crime or conflict, and those responsible for the harm, into communication, enabling everyone affected by a particular incident to play a part in repairing the harm and finding a positive way forward”.

The process is carefully managed at all stages by trained facilitators.

Sir Graham will be launching ‘Developing Restorative Justice in Cambridgeshire’ at a conference being held on Monday February 9 – 13.30-17.00.

Monday, 19 January 2015

New firefighters pass out to serve Cambridgeshire communities

New faces can be seen riding in the back of fire engines across the county as Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service (CFRS) welcomes a group of new firefighters into its ranks.

Ten new recruits began their operational careers with the Service at the start of the month (January) following an intensive 10-week training course in Cardiff, delivered by South Wales Fire and Rescue Service.

Chief Fire Officer Graham Stagg said: "We are thrilled to welcome this group of new firefighters to CFRS to begin what is hopefully a great career with the fire service.

"Being a firefighter in a modern fire and rescue service is not about being the strongest, the biggest or the bravest anymore. With such a small percentage of crews' time spent at operational jobs, the role of a firefighter is about serving the community in so many different ways. We wish this cohort of firefighters the best of luck and hope they enjoy helping us to protect the public of Cambridgeshire."

The new recruits are:

Dogsthorpe Fire Station:

Kevin Gilbert (28), of Whittlesey, was most recently a firefighter at Marshall's Airport in Cambridge before joining the wholetime service in Cambridgeshire. Prior to this, he has also worked as a firefighter in the RAF and in Afghanistan. FF Gilbert is also an on-call firefighter in Whittlesey.

Jason Keal (27), of Market Deeping, left a career in leisure management to join the fire service. He has also been an on-call firefighter in Market Deeping more than three years.

Cambridge Fire Station:

Sarah Lamming (26), of Peterborough, worked for the Environment Agency in flood risk management before successfully joining wholetime. She also has experience as an on-call firefighter in Cottenham.

James Pearce (24) of Saffron Walden, previously worked for a delivery company based at Stansted Airport. He was also an on-call firefighter in Essex before joining the wholetime service in Cambridgeshire.

Huntingdon Fire Station:

Ross Turner (25), of Cottenham, used to work for a sound and audio technology firm in Cambridge. He has also been an on-call firefighter in Cottenham for 18 months.

John Woolfe (27), of St Neots, left his old life as an IT systems engineer to join the wholetime service. He is also an on-call firefighter at St Neots.

Andy Ellis (28), of Hampton, Peterborough, joins the Service from a business background working at an engineering company.

St Neots Fire Station:

Adam Hanney (23), of Ketttering, was previously a manager at Tesco.

Wisbech Fire Station:

Jasper Vidot (27), of Wisbech, used to work in hospitality management and was an on-call firefighter in Huntingdon.

Callum Faint, Group Commander responsible for training, said: "These are the first wholetime firefighters to be recruited by CFRS in eight years and the selection process was tough. We have some brilliant people who all have different strengths, which this group emphasised when they successfully completed the intensive training course in Cardiff. We now look forward to supporting them while they grow and develop not just as firefighters but also as people, in their careers."

Ian Greenman, Head of Training and Development at South Wales Fire and Rescue Service, added: "We have been working closely with our colleagues at CFRS to deliver an initial trainee course, in partnership with Babcock International, for 10 firefighters from their Service at its Training Centre at our Cardiff Gate training facility.

"The trainees undertook a 10-week course which included risk critical training that a modern firefighter needs to maintain their own safety and equip them with the necessary skills to meet the challenges they will face serving and protecting their communities. We also trained nine firefighters from our own area as part of the same course, which proved to be a successful joint training initiative and all trainees appeared to benefit from this joint approach."

The Service will be recruiting for wholetime firefighters again, with the recruitment process starting on February 21. Log on to www.cambsfire.gov.uk to find out more.

Cambridge MP calls for better protection for university students against sex attacks

Cambridge MP Julian Huppert is calling for university students to be better protected against the danger of sexual assault after figures revealed that one in three had been assaulted.

He has joined a cross-party group of MPs and representatives from the National Union of Students and Rape Crisis calling for action as the country meets the deadline for university applications.

In an open letter to the Telegraph he called on Universities UK and the government to work together to draw up guidelines on how universities should respond to complaints of sexual assault.

“This would send a clear message to universities that sexual assault cannot be ignored and must be addressed sensitively and thoroughly,” the letter says.

Julian acted after the Telegraph reported that one in three women experience sexual assault at university and told how students were not given proper support when attacked by a fellow student.

A Home Office report in January 2013 also found that full-time students have an increased risk of experiencing sexual violence compared to other women.

The letter says: “But unlike employees, who are given clear protection from employers, many university students have no recourse other than the police when sexually assaulted by other students. Some universities refuse to investigate claims or discipline attackers, leaving students to study and live alongside their attackers. Many have poor counselling services, unclear policies on how the university will respond to sexual assault complaints, and no obvious member of staff who handles concerns about sexual assaults.”

Julian said: “It is appalling that we are leaving young women vulnerable in our universities because there are no clear and uniform protection policies in place to make sure they are safe.

“Imagine how frightening it must be to have suffered a sexual assault, not know who to turn to for help and then find that your complaint has not been taken seriously and you are left living and working next to the very person that subjected you to the attack in the first place.
“We have come a long way in protecting women in the workplace and in other areas of society but we have a long way to go.”

Friday, 16 January 2015

Cambridgeshire County Council Bar Hill by-election candidates announced

Five candidates standing for the Bar Hill seat on Cambridgeshire County Council have been announced.

The by-election will take place on Thursday 12 February for the seat formerly held by John Reynolds, a Conservative county councillor for 33 years, who passed away in December.

The five candidates are:
  • Martin John Hale – UK Independence Party (UKIP) 
  • Lynda Harford – The Conservative Party Candidate 
  • Claudia Roland – The Green Party 
  • Alex Smith – Labour Party Candidate 
  • Fiona Elizabeth Whelan – Liberal Democrat 
On Thursday 12 February polling stations in Bar Hill, Boxworth, Dry Drayton, Girton and Lolworth will open at 7am and close at 10pm.

If you are not registered to vote and want to in this election, you must register by Tuesday 27 January. Postal vote applications must be received by 5pm on Wednesday 28 January.

For more information about how to register to vote, or apply for a postal vote, visitwww.scambs.gov.uk/elections. You can also contact the South Cambridgeshire District Council elections team who are running the election on behalf of Cambridgeshire County Council on elections@scambs.gov.uk or 03450 455 214.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Life saving advice for elderly and vulnerable in the expected cold weather

A cold weather warning have been issued with the Met Office expecting that temperatures will fall below freezing.

During this time, the elderly and those who are vulnerable are reminded of the simple life saving tips about how to stay warm and well in colder weather.

In Cambridgeshire alone there are an average of 182 deaths per year linked to cold weather.

Keeping warm in colder temperatures is particularly important for older more frail people, those with ongoing illnesses such as heart and lung conditions and the very young as the cold can affect their health. Icy ground is also a hazard that can lead to falls and broken bones.

There are six top tips to help keep you warm and safe this winter. Some may seem obvious, but they could help you to stay healthy during the colder winter months.

1. Heat your home well 

By setting your heating to the right temperature, a minimum of 18 ºC (65 ºF) day and night, you can keep your home warm and your bills as low as possible.

2. Get financial support

There are grants, benefits and sources of advice available to make your home more energy efficient, improve your heating or help with bills. It’s worthwhile claiming all the benefits you are entitled to. To find out about grants, services and organisations that call help you, your family or neighbour, please call 0345 650 0280.

3. Eat well and have plenty of fluids

Food is a vital source of energy which helps to keep your body warm. Try to make sure you and your family have hot meals and drinks regularly throughout the day.

4. Get a flu jab

People are more likely to catch flu in cold weather. It’s not too late to get a free flu vaccination if you are: aged over 65, pregnant, aged six months to under 65 years with an on-going illness such as a heart or lung condition or are a carer. Flu jabs are available from your GP or some local pharmacists. All children aged two, three and four years are also entitled to a flu immunisation delivered by nasal spray at their GP Practice.

5. Look after yourself

Keeping active is important for your health. If you do go out in cold weather it is important that you wear extra clothes to make sure that you are wrapped up warmly. During very cold and icy weather conditions it is safer for older people, very young children, and anyone with health problems to avoid going out where possible.

6. Look after your family and neighbours

If you have an older or vulnerable relative or neighbour look out for them during winter to ensure that they are warm and safe and avoid the need for additional medical care.

Dr Liz Robin, Director of Public Health for Cambridgeshire County Council, said: "Cold snaps can be life threatening if you are elderly and frail or if you have an ongoing health condition. You are more susceptible to colds, flu, pneumonia and circulatory problems when the weather is cold, and icy ground can cause people to fall and break bones. Please take notice of these simple tips to help you or a vulnerable relative or neighbour to stay well, over the forecast period of cold weather."

Cambridgeshire County Councillor Kilian Bourke, Chairman of the Council's Health Committee, added: "No one should take the cold weather lightly as it can kill. We will be working with local health services and local community organisations to make sure those at risk are helped, supported and receive advice. We can all play our part though. If you have a vulnerable person living near you, I’d urge you to check on them to make sure they are okay during the cold snap.”

Dr Fiona Head of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group, said: "It's important that patients with long term conditions, who are old or vulnerable keep themselves well hydrated and eat well. If you are concerned call 111."

Dr Keith McNeil , CUH chief executive, said: “Colds are called ‘colds’ for a reason. It is important that the frail and elderly, especially those with multiple health conditions, keep warm and well during this cold snap. Following these tips for dealing with cold weather, and checking up on family and neighbours, will help keep vulnerable people well and out of hospital. The hospital is always extremely busy when the temperature drops, so keeping warm and well helps everyone.”

More advice about staying healthy during cold weather is available on the winter health pages of NHS Choices

See the list of local pharmacies providing flu vaccination jabs

Stop the rot: new campaign highlights how cigarettes ‘rot’ the body from the inside

Stop smoking experts are urging smokers to stop the rot and quit cigarettes for good by calling Camquit, Cambridgeshire's Stop Smoking Service.

The call for smokers to take immediate action comes as part of a powerful campaign from Public Health England showing how cigarettes “rot” the body from the inside.

The campaign highlights how smoking damages the body and causes a slow and steady decline that can be compared to rotting. It coincides with a new review that highlights how smoking not only causes cancers, lung and heart diseases but also damages many other parts of the body.

The campaign includes a special message for those smoking roll ups, which warns it is a misconception that they are safer than other cigarettes when they are just as deadly.

Bones and muscles are affected causing an increased risk of broken bones and chronic back pain. There is an increased risk that smokers will have their ability to think and remember affected and to develop Alzheimer’s disease. Smoking also increases the likelihood of teeth decay and can damage eyesight.

The use of roll-ups has increased significantly. In 1990, 18 per cent of male smokers and 2 per cent of female smokers said they smoked mainly hand-rolled cigarettes but by 2013 this had risen to 40 per cent for men and 23 per cent for women. However new figures show that around half of smokers who only smoke roll-ups wrongly believe they are less harmful than manufactured cigarettes In fact, hand-rolled cigarettes are at least as hazardous as any other type of cigarette

To help smokers who are thinking of quitting, Camquit, Cambridgeshire County Council's Stop Smoking Service, has stop smoking clinics running throughout the County in GP surgeries, pharmacies, and community settings. To contact Camquit call Tel: 0800 018 4304, e-mail: CAPCCG.camquit@nhs.net, online: http://www.camquit.nhs.uk/referral-form/

New clinics across Cambridgeshire include:
  • Moat House Health Centre, Warboys 
  • St Neots Health centres 
  • Queen Mary Centre clinic, Wisbech – Wednesday evenings 
  • Comberton Clinic (alternate Monday afternoons - Comberton patients only) 
  • St Phillips Church Centre, Cambridge (on alternate Monday evenings) 
  • Staploe Medical Centre, Soham - Wednesday afternoons - changed from Mondays. 
Val Thomas, Consultant in Public Health at Cambridgeshire County Council, said: “This campaign is highlighting the many ways smoking can damage your health. There is clear evidence that you are more likely to die younger or suffer from ongoing diseases like coronary heart disease if you smoke. Camquit can quadruple your changes of giving up and their advice and help is free. They can put together a plan with you about how to quit and support you along the way. Give them a call.”

Cambridgeshire County Councillor Kilian Bourke, Chairman of the Health Committee at the Council, said: “There can be no complacency when it comes to smoking.Tobacco is a potential killer not only for smokers but also for those who are close enough to be affected by the smoke. The cost to the public purse from ill health caused by smoking runs into billions of pounds. Our message is simple, give up tobacco and live a healthier and longer life."

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Cambridge MP fights for a fairer deal for care workers

MP Julian Huppert is fighting to get a fairer deal for care workers and has called on the government to make it easier for people to report employers failing to pay at least the minimum wage.

Julian has joined a cross-party group of MPs calling for a meeting with Employment Relations Minister, Jo Swinson after the National Audit Office reported that up to 220,000 workers are not paid the minimum wage.

The government also discovered that 50 per cent of care providers investigated by the tax office between 2011 and 2013 were failing to meet the law; despite this evidence, however, no further investigation was carried out.

Health Minister, Norman Lamb called for proactive inspections of care providers during a Westminster debate in November and Julian has asked when these will begin.

He also wants to discuss the fact that only complaints made from individuals to the government’s Pay and Rights helpline are investigated despite the fact that some workers may be too intimidated to make the call. He wants the rules changed so that referrals can come from trade unions, law centres and Citizens’ Advice Bureaus.

Julian said: “Care workers do a hugely important job across our country looking after elderly and vulnerable people yet some of them are being exploited by their employers and paid far less than the legal minimum wage.

“These practices can go undetected if the individuals concerned do not feel able to raise the alarm. We have a duty to give them the protection they deserve but we can only do that if the government follows through on this investigation to put measures in place to stamp out this illegal practice.

“People have a right to be treated fairly by their employers and the national minimum wage was put in place to make sure that they were fairly paid.”

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Cambridge MP joins cross-party debate on rail travel as he fights to reduce fares

MP Julian Huppert, who has been lobbying the government to reduce rail fares, will join a cross-party debate on Friday (January 16) on the issue.

He has been invited to take part in the panel discussion organised by Cambridge University Railway Club. It will include prospective parliamentary candidates for the parties fighting the May general election and representatives from Network Rail, Passenger Focus and the Campaign for Better Transport.

Julian, who recently tabled a Commons’ motion ahead of the latest rail fare increase, has been fighting to make train travel more affordable.

“Our train fares are among the highest in the world,” he said, “and they went up a massive 66 per cent under Labour. We have been putting pressure on the government to bring fares down and they have been reduced so that now they only rise in line with inflation.

“But we need to go further and reduce them in real terms. It makes sense to encourage people to use the train, not just to commute to work but as a viable alternative to other forms of travel. It eases congestion and pollution; but people won’t use a service that is unaffordable.”

The debate aims to raise awareness of rail financing and specific party policies on rail travel.

“I welcome this debate,” said Julian, “because it gives people the opportunity to understand how our train network is funded, the pressures we face and how we can address the issues.”

The event will take place at the Riley Auditorium, Clare College Memorial Court, Queen’s Road Cambridge at 7.30pm.

Monday, 12 January 2015

Cambridge MP Julian Huppert congratulates school on Pupil Premium Award

Julian congratulates Barath and Amy
on their winning Christmas card designs
Cambridge’s Shirley Community Nursery and Primary School has been congratulated by the city’s MP, Julian Huppert after winning £1,000 in the national Pupil Premium Awards for helping disadvantaged youngsters.

Julian visited the school today (Monday, January 12) to meet the staff to find out more about the work they have been doing and how they have been invited to apply for one of the competition’s larger prizes, including the £100,000 national award.

“This is a huge achievement,” said Julian. “It is testament to the excellent work that is taking place at the school to help disadvantaged children.

“It is well-documented that these children struggle to keep up with their peer group at primary school which often leads to them not reaching their full potential at secondary school and beyond. The support they are receiving from staff with the help of the Pupil Premium funding should make a big difference.

“We launched the Pupil Premium to give these children a fair chance and it is good to see the work that is taking place at the Shirley receiving national recognition in this way.”

School across Cambridge will receive £1,835,600 this year through the Pupil Premium to be shared between 1,412 pupils.

During his visit to the school Julian also presented prizes to Barath Sathish, 10, who designed the winning entry in his annual Christmas card competition on the theme of Peace and to runner up Amy Chen, also 10.

Julian said: “We had some very impressive entries this year and the standard of work was very good.

“Barath’s winning picture Peace on Earth was extremely thoughtful especially in light of the trouble and conflict taking place in the world at the moment and I chose a lovely light-hearted design of a snowman for the back of the card. I felt the designs complimented each other well and both had a place on my card this year.”

County health care to get extra £20m - Cambridge MP welcomes news

MP Julian Huppert has welcomed the news that Cambridgeshire health services are to get an extra £20 million this year.

Cambridgeshire healthcare has been underfunded for a very long time, currently getting £35 million below the government’s own calculations for a fair share of NHS spending. Historic PFI schemes at Peterborough and Hinchingbrooke Hospitals add to the problems, sucking more money away.

Last year, Julian led a Westminster debate calling for a fairer level of funding for Cambridgeshire, and led a delegation from the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group and Mental Health Trust to see Health Minister Norman Lamb to press the case for an increase.

Julian said: “This increase in funding for Cambridgeshire will go some way to addressing the problems our health services face and is very welcome – but it still doesn’t go far enough.

“We receive three per cent less than the national average against a backdrop of a fast growing county with an ageing population. The government’s own calculations for a fair allocation of NHS money state that Cambridgeshire should receive £35 million more - clearly £20 million closes a good chunk of the gap but still leaves us a long way short.

“The Clinical Commissioning Group is working hard to identify savings but we need a fairer funding formula and I will continue to push for that.”

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group received £854 million last year - £961 per head of population compared to an average of £1,054 per head of population in East Anglia generally.

Julian has particularly been pressing for more investment in mental health care, and has demanded that a share of the extra money be used to improve services for mental health care in the county.

Last year, despite the huge financial shortfall Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commission group decided to allocate an extra £1.5 million to mental health this year and a further £2.2 million to improve patients’ access to psychological therapies.

“This is welcome,” said Julian, “and I want a healthy proportion of the extra money to also go into improving mental health care. Nationally I want the government to put an extra £500 million a year specifically into mental health.

“I am pleased that we are addressing some of the huge problems left by the last government and I am pleased to see that Cambridgeshire is to get much-needed extra funding for healthcare. The funding formula needs to be changed further, however, to address the problems facing our health services.

“Labour left Cambridgeshire with a low level of funding for health, as well as a legacy of PFI debts and the flawed privatisation of Hinchingbrooke. Just in the past week we have seen that contract, at £1 billion the largest private contract ever in the NHS, collapse.

“And it wasn’t just in Hinchingbrooke that Labour welcomed the private sector. As a result of deals they struck, medical spending on non-NHS providers increased from £1.1 billion in 1997/8 to £7.5 billion by 2009/10. They left our hospitals on the verge of bankruptcy with health outcomes well below the EU15 average.”

Liberal Democrats are the party of fair and successful economic policy

The Liberal Democrats are the party of fair and successful economic policy, Liberal Democrat Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander has said today (Monday 12 January).

Responding to the Conservatives plans to reduce the deficit by cutting spending and not increasing taxes for the wealthy, Danny said:

"The Tory approach to the nation's finances in the next Parliament is an extraordinary about turn from the balanced, fair and successful economic policy Liberal Democrats have insisted on up to now.

"By pledging that there will be no tax rises on the wealthy, the Tories are committed to putting all of the remaining burden on the working people of this country. That is unfair and wrong.

"There is no need to carrying on cutting spending after the books are balanced. It is public services and the people who use them whose future opportunities would be limited by the Tories ideological drive for an ever smaller state.

"Most people understand that we have to finish the job of balancing the books. But there should be light at the end of the tunnel - the Tories have confirmed that they want to switch it off!

"The vast majority want to balance the books fairly and for our country to turn the corner as soon as the job is done. Only the Liberal Democrats will deliver that."

Cambridge MP fights to protect Milton Road at City Deal Assembly

Cambridge MP Julian Huppert will welcome the extra funding and opportunities the City Deal brings but warn that plans should not damage the character of Cambridge when he attends the first meeting of the Greater Cambridge City Deal Assembly this afternoon (Monday, January 12),

In particular, he will highlight concerns at proposed changes to Milton Road, being considered in the first round of funding released under the City Deal. Julian fears that there may be a resurrection of previous Tory plans to cut down the trees and create a dual carriageway that would damage the appearance of the road and city and divide the community.

“The City Deal gives us an excellent opportunity to achieve a step change for Cambridge’s overcrowded transport system, and it was a pleasure to work on it with former City Council Leader Tim Bick and others. I was delighted when Nick Clegg announced it would be going ahead. In total, in will bring £1 billion of much needed investment, starting with this initial £100 million from Government.

“We do need to make improvements to Milton Road to ease congestion, and support bus travel, walking and cycling, to allow our city to grow and thrive,” said Julian, “but we have a duty to get this right to protect the character of Cambridge.

“I want to see the Milton Road maintained as a tree-lined avenue. Over the years, we have fought long and hard to make sure that diseased trees are replaced to maintain the character of this part of Cambridge.

“The previous Tory plans to cut down the trees and make this road a dual carriageway are seriously flawed. It would not only cause irreparable damage the character of Milton Road but it would divide the community, making it very hard for people to get across the road.

“The City Deal offers enormous potential for dramatic improvements to transport across our city but we have to make sure that projects enhance and improve Cambridge rather than detract from its special character.  I hope the members of the Assembly will listen to my case and ensure that their proposals are well thought through and protect our city as well as improving traffic flow.”

Julian will be launching a petition to protect the Milton Road trees.

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Liberal Democrats in government have safeguarded civil liberties for the future

Writing in today's Independent on Sunday Liberal Democrat Justice Minister Simon Hughes and Crime Prevention Minister Lynne Featherstone explain how the presence of Liberal Democrats in government has safeguarded our civil liberties for the future.

Simon and Lynne's letter comes in response to a letter published on Sunday 4 January which criticised the coalition's record on civil liberties.

A full copy of the letter is below.

Dear Sir,

We are writing in response to your editorial Common-sense rights (Sunday 4thJanuary).

We are intensely proud of the coalition's record on civil liberties. The presence of the Liberal Democrats in coalition has guaranteed that this has been the first government for a generation to restore lost freedoms and safeguard our civil liberties for the future.

In 2010, one of our first acts was to abolish Labour's ID cards scheme and physically to shred the 500 hard disk drives which made up the National Identity Register. This was the database which was going to hold our photos, fingerprints and iris scans, along with detailed records of our everyday movements and activities. In 2011, we abolished Control Orders. In 2012, the first ever Freedoms Act rolled back many of the authoritarian policies of the Labour government, including the reinstatement of the historic right to jury trial; made sure that innocent people have their records deleted from the national DNA database, and introduced regulation of CCTV for the first time.

It is true that as the coalition has progressed, the Tories have lost any interest in upholding civil liberties. We have therefore had to block a whole series of proposals which would reduce civil liberties.  These include the so-called 'Snooper's Charter', secret inquests on the say-so of the Home Secretary and ‘banning orders' which would have criminalised a whole group of people exercising their right to free speech.

Where we have needed to act to safeguard national security, we have done so. Attentive observers will note big differences between the way this government has legislated and the way that Labour behaved. With Liberal Democrats in power the police and security services have had to present clear evidence to persuade us of the case for any new powers. Unlike the other parties, we have only agreed to legislation that is proportionate, targeted and justified. We will never compromise on public safety, but equally we will make sure that we do not overreact.

It is not true that the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill grants the power simply to remove the passports of suspected foreign fighters. There were calls from some during the summer for the power arbitrarily to strip suspected foreign fighters of their citizenship. Liberal Democrats opposed this potential breach of international law and, in fact, the new legislation provides something very different - a managed return process. This will enable the police to speak to those who have fought abroad, and make sure that if they try to return to the UK this is done safely and with support - to divert them away from extremist groups.

There has never been a need to balance freedom and security. Liberal Democrats in government have taken action which shows that it is clearly possible to protect both.

Yours,

Rt Hon Simon Hughes MP, Minister of State for Justice and Civil Liberties

Rt Hon Lynne Featherstone MP, Minister of State for Crime Prevention

Friday, 9 January 2015

Cambridge MP fights to bring Hinchingbrooke Hospital back to NHS

MP Julian Huppert is fighting to bring Hinchingbrooke Hospital back into public management after private healthcare firm, Circle announced plans to pull out.

Julian is leading a campaign calling on the government to take immediate action in a bid to secure the future of the hospital and protect patients and services.

Within hours of the decision, Julian has launched a petition calling for the hospital to be brought back ‘in-house’ in an attempt to put it on a stronger footing.

He warned that the fact that a company is willing to pull out of a £1 billion contract - the largest ever private contract in the NHS – demonstrates the huge danger of privatising the country’s health care.

“Labour initiated the whole process that put the running of Hinchingbrooke Hospital out to the open market in 2009. They acted against union advice which warned that this was a ‘dangerous experiment’ and it has proved to be just that. They signed off the agreement and by the time they left office the following year every NHS bid had been elected making sure that the contract went to a private company - only Circle, Ramsey and Virgin Care were still in the running.

“Now the private provider has found it couldn’t make a profit and it’s pulling out leaving the whole future of the hospital hanging in the balance. This is a consequence of poor decisions in 2009.

“I want to see this hospital brought back under NHS control as soon as possible. We need to take firm action here. This is why I have consistently warned about the danger of putting our health services out to private ownership. It is why I fought so hard to make sure we kept the private sector out of the running of our elderly people’s services because I believe health care should be run by the people who know it best – the NHS.

“And I have always been deeply concerned that private companies have to satisfy shareholders by turning a good profit. That’s not what the NHS was set up to do. I hope that this situation will make us think twice about private sector involvement.”

Julian’s petition can be found here:

http://www.cambridgelibdems.org.uk/hinchingbrooke_petition

Coverage of the original decision to allow private company involvement in Hinchingbrooke Hospital can be found here:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/cambridgeshire/8522684.stm

Julian’s petition reads as follows:
Private company Circle Healthcare has pulled out of running Hinchingbrooke hospital, leaving its future in limbo. 
That a company is willing to announce, mid-winter, that it plans to stop managing a hospital because it can't make a profit, shows the perils of privatising NHS services. 
We the undersigned call on NHS England to bring Hinchingbrooke Hospital back into public ownership at the first opportunity.

Long arm of the law extended across EU for victims of domestic violence

From Sunday victims of domestic violence and stalking will receive the same protection across Europe as they do in the UK, thanks to the coming into force of a new EU law.

The new rules will mean that restraining, barring and protection orders issued in one EU country will be rapidly and easily recognised in another. As a result victims should enjoy the same protections as in the UK when travelling abroad in the EU without having to go through lengthy bureaucratic procedures.

Liberal Democrat MEP Catherine Bearder, a former Development Officer for Victim Support and a campaigner on victims' rights, commented:

"Almost one third of women in the UK have experienced domestic violence at some point in their lives.

"Currently victims of domestic abuse face an uphill struggle if they want to get a protection order recognised in another country.

"From now on, they will be able to live or travel abroad knowing that the protective arm of the law extends right across the EU.

"We now have to make sure that this law is properly implemented and enforced in all EU countries."

When victims wish to travel their home state will issue a European Protection Order which will then be recognised in the country they are travelling to and a similar order will be issued in that country.

If the original case was dealt with in civil matters the victim must ask for a certificate under civil regulation.

Our plans for the NHS will safeguard it for the future

The Liberal Democrats spending plans for the NHS provide a clear roadmap that will safeguard it for the future.

We are the only party to commit to investing £8bn a year in the NHS, in real terms by 2020.

Despite their rhetoric, neither Labour nor the Conservatives have a credible response to the funding challenges the NHS faces.

The Liberal Democrats are the only party to set out an NHS plan that meets that meet the financial needs of the NHS as set out by the Chief Executive of NHS England, Simon Stevens in his Five Year Forward View.

The Conservatives have made no specific real terms commitments to NHS funding and Labour have pledged only £2.65bn to be fully introduced by the third year of the next parliament.

Our plans also include to increase NHS spending in line with the growth of the economy, once we have finished the job of tackling the deficit in 2017/18.

By building a stronger economy we can safeguard a strong NHS for the future.

Only the Liberal Democrats have committed to investing £8bn a year by 2020 in the NHS.

Cambridge MP called in to help families in footpath fight

Families living in new houses in Cambridge are fighting a major development company which they claim has failed to make safe a path near their homes.

They have called on the city’s MP, Julian Huppert to intervene after they say their calls for action have fallen on deaf ears.

He met some of the residents of Royal Way today (Friday, January 9) to find out more about the problem.

Residents claim when they bought their homes from Countryside Properties they were assured the path, which leads from Clay Farm through the guided busway and will eventually serve a planned community centre, medical centre and shops, would be made up and adopted by the local authority.

But Camilla Leyland and Oliver Strong claim that more than a year after moving into their new home with their young children the path is muddy with broken wooden fencing and insufficient drainage.

Camilla says the close proximity of the path to her house was a key reason for buying the property.

“Currently the track is dangerous,” she said. “It is dark, swamped with mud and at risk of being impassable as it deteriorates further from ice and rain. People are using the path and it needs to be made safe before someone has an accident.”

Until recently, Oliver walked along the path to reach the station and Camilla claimed he had to take a change of clothes to work because of the state of his shoes and trousers after his journey.

The couple and other residents want Countryside Properties to submit a planning application to either Cambridgeshire County Council or Cambridge City Council so that the path can be made up and adopted.

Julian said: “It is important that families and people walking to the station have a safe route to use and clearly these residents feel they have been promised a proper footpath that has not been provided.

“I will be getting in touch with the developer and the local authorities to see how we can resolve this issue. It is vital that if new facilities are being provided for residents living in these homes that they can get to them safely.”

eCops: Burglary In Chippenham 09/01/2015

Burglary in Chippenham

An outbuilding in Freckenham Rd, Chippenham was burgled recently and around 15-20 expensive saddles, valued at £1,000 each plus horse tack were taken.

A horse trailer was located in Beck Row, close by with all the stolen items inside.

Kind regards

Rachel Carr
Crime Reduction Officer

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Making it easier to establish new town and parish councils

Liberal Democrat Communities Minister Stephen Williams today (Thursday 8 January) set out new measures that will make it easier for community groups to set up a town or parish council.

The measures include cutting red tape and removing bureaucratic burdens, people will have a greater say over what happens in their neighbourhood.

Town and parish councils allow communities to take control of local assets, deliver services in the area and influence decision-making.

The changes announced by Stephen today follow a public consultation which found that existing legislation required to set up a parish or town council often discourages local campaigners from establishing a council.

Three new measures have been developed to help cut red tape, improve the legislative process and help town and parish councils to play a stronger role in the delivery of local services.

These are:
  • lowering the threshold of signatures required to trigger a review of governance from 10 per cent to 7.5 per cent of residents
  • speeding up the process and creating greater certainty for local campaigners by shortening the amount of time the local authority can take to complete a governance review to 12 months from receipt of a valid petition
  • allowing Neighbourhood Forums to trigger a Community Governance Review for a new parish council without requiring them to submit a petition.
Stephen said:

“We want more people to have the opportunity to take control and have a greater say over what goes on in their neighbourhood.

“Parish and town councils have a crucial role to play, having both a democratically accountable voice and a structure for taking community action.

“However the current obligations can stifle local campaigns and constrain local democracy.

“That is why we are changing the rules and helping campaigners, by making it much easier to set them up so they can get on and start making a difference for their local communities.”

Pensioner fighting footpath cyclists calls on MP for help

A pensioner who has been knocked off his feet by cyclists riding on a Cambridge footpath has called on Cambridge MP, Julian Huppert to help make the area safer.

On one occasion the man, who has asked not to be named for fear of reprisals, was catapulted down an embankment hitting his head on a parked car.

And on other occasions he has been left battered and bruised after careless cyclists ran into the back of him on the east side footpath between Brooklands and Trumpington Road.

He claims there have been a number of accidents involving pedestrians on the narrow footpath which cyclists use despite having two designated cycle lanes in the area. Recent resurfacing work on the path has led to cyclists travelling faster making the situation worse, he says.

Julian will meet the pensioner along with a representative from Cambridgeshire County Council’s Highways Department on Friday (January 9).

The pensioner said: “It’s frightening and I was dazed and badly shaken after being knocked over. The female cyclist apologised but then rode away and I had to sit on the grass for a while before I felt able to get up.

“Another day I was walking back from posting a letter when a cyclist ran straight into the back of me. He insulted me and I was left with wheel marks on the backs of my legs and bruising from where the handlebars had hit me in the back.”

And he told how he had been walking on the path when a woman was cycling along with her dog on a lead. As they approached him the dog went one way and the cyclist the other and he was caught in the middle.

“I saw a woman knocked off her bike scattering her shopping across the path,” he added. “I helped her to pick it up. It was a good 30 minutes before she felt able to proceed.”

The man said despite raising the issue with Cambridge City Council, the police and the Crime and Police Commissioner, Graham Bright nothing has been done.

He wants warning signs put on the path and police monitoring to prosecute cyclists who flout the law.

Julian said: “Clearly there is a major issue here and thoughtless cyclists are putting pedestrians at risk.

“We do need to build better infrastructure to encourage people to cycle safely and lawfully; I am delighted that we have secured even more money from the government to do this in Cambridge. However, it is clearly not acceptable for cyclists to put other people at risk in the way this man has been affected. Cyclists should not break the law.

“I will be visiting the area to find out more about this issue and to see how I can help.”

Nick Clegg: people have to be free to offend each other

Liberal Democrat Leader Nick Clegg has today (Thursday 8 January) asserted that we cannot have freedom without society being free to offend.

Nick's comments follow yesterday's attack on the Paris office of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, in which 12 people were killed.

Responding to comments made by a caller who claimed that the focus on the magazine's cartoon's was superficial, Nick said:

"There can be no excuse, no reason, no explanation - they have killed cartoonists who have done nothing more than draw drawings which they so happen to find offensive.

"At the end of the day, in a free society people have to be free to offend each other.

"You cannot have freedom unless people are free to offend each other. We have no right not to be offended. That fundamental principle of being free to offend people…is exactly what was under threat by these murderous barbarians."

A14 Junction 31 to 32 Eastbound and Westbound Update 08-JAN-2015

Due to adverse weather conditions we have had to postpone the planned closures of the eastbound and westbound carriageway on the A14 between junctions 31 and 32. There will no longer be closures on Thursday 8 January or Friday 9 January 2015.

Subject to weather, the works are currently scheduled to recommence on Monday 12 January. There will be an eastbound closure between junctions 31 and 32 and also a westbound closure between junctions 32 and 36. These will take place between the hours of 21:00 and 06:00.

Clearly signed diversions will be in place during the periods of closure as follows:
A14 Eastbound Diversion - M11, A505, A11
A428 Eastbound Diversion - A1303, M11, A505, A11
A14 Westbound Diversion - A11, A505, M11

Two lanes will remain open in each direction throughout the day in order to support the busiest travel times.

A traffic management installation remains in place to provide the necessary working areas for the construction works to be completed safely. Two narrow lanes are maintained on the A14 through the works area but due to the reduction in lanes widths drivers of HGVs are to use lane 1 only.

The slip road layout on the westbound carriageway at junction 31 (Girton) has also been changed and there are now separate slip roads for the M11 southbound and A14 westbound respectively.

A 24 hour 50 mph speed limit is in place for the entirety of the works and is enforced by average speed cameras. Cambridgeshire Police will be prosecuting drivers who break this speed restriction.

A free vehicle recovery service is in place, as advised by the signs on site, and drivers are advised to remain in their vehicle until assistance arrives.