Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Bar Hill Library: Opening and Closing Times Christmas 2010

I have received the following email (sent to all County Councillors) from the Acting Head of Libraries, Archives and Information relating to Christmas opening hours of Libraries across Cambridgeshire (including our local library in Bar Hill);

"Dear Councillor,

This is to inform you of the arrangements for Libraries and Archives over the Christmas period. Libraries with the exception of Central Library, will be closed from 1pm on Friday 24th December through to Tuesday 4th January 2011, when normal service will resume.

This was originally a staff suggestion for saving money, and the vast majority of staff have agreed to take their leave on these days in order to help make savings. We know that libraries are traditionally quiet during this period and it is estimated that the service will save in the region of £11,000 as a result.  Please note that the loan period for all items will be extended accordingly, items may be renewed online or by telephone, and that extra items may be borrowed on request.

Cambridge Central will remain open during the festive period because statistics show this is the busiest library over the Christmas period and Cambridge is very busy with shoppers at this time.  People increasingly expect the library to be open whenever the shopping centre is open - including public holidays.  Central Library will also provide support for Contact Centre referrals and enquiries to libraries.

If you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact me.


Christine May
Acting Head of Libraries, Archives and Information"

I think this shows the dedication of the staff who work in the Libraries across Cambridgeshire. The details of the library service review will be published soon although there are some disturbing items appearing in the National Press about "swinging cuts" in Cambridgeshire. I will update this blog as soon as there is news.

Guided Busway: Full Speed Testing *Soon*

For those of you who aren't avid readers of the Histon Impington Courier the following article has been published;

“We have received three independent reports .........that FULL SPEED tests on the guided busway have been planned for early December without public notice.  Parish councils have asked to be informed of the dates so people can be notified, however, it is uncertain if this will happen.   They were told that anyone who uses the guided busway track is technically trespassing.  The implication is clear - any injuries are solely the responsibility of the trespasser. 

As we all know, the unused busway has become a de-facto cycleway, walking path, and dog exercise area.  Go any day and you will see scores of people using it including many school children.  That fact is well known by all of the parties involved in the Busway Project. The lack of any signage to warn people it is unsafe means that the public has been placed in a position of unacceptable risk. 

The tests are to be carried out at 'full speed' - meaning 50-60 mph - and may begin as early as this Wednesday 1st December.   Those using the track as a cycle way may suddenly be surprised by a speeding guided bus coming up fast from behind.  Injury or death could result. 

We have been told the lack of public notice has to do with legal disputes between the busway contractors and County Council. "It's complicated" we have been told. No it's not! PUBLIC SAFETY COMES FIRST.”

Clearly this is very very alarming stuff - or would be if it was true. The County Council has released a "clarification";

“The note received from Histon and Impington Courier is incorrect and no buses are planned to run on the route this week.

BAM Nuttall need to complete the process of testing traffic signals and part of the work will be done this week - but without any buses running. BAM Nuttall has said buses will run on the route in the next couple of weeks, but as agreed with local parish councils at a Forum meeting last week, Cambridgeshire County Council will send a press release in advance and Forum members will also be informed. At the Forum meeting last week the Council initially expected BAM Nuttall to run buses later this week, but the contractor has confirmed this will be in the future.

Please note that buses have already run at full speed on every section of the Guided Busway successfully.

As has been stated throughout the project, the entire Busway route is BAM Nuttall's construction site and officially members of the public should not use the route to walk or cycle. However, as the route has been in the main complete (apart from defects that need to be corrected) for some time it would not have made sense for BAM Nuttall to block the route so people could not use the maintenance track.

The Council still expects the contractor to complete all the project by mid-January, but work will be required to fix the defects.

As the commissioning period for BAM Nuttall comes into effect people will still be able to use the maintenance track, but using the concrete track is not advisable.”

The guided busway has been a massive drain on the transport resources across the County but as it nears completion the Bus Operations are very conscious that members of the public have been using the busway as a cycleway/ dog walking ground/ etc. for the last year it's very unlikely they think that one Monday morning they're going to be able to have buses tearing down the guideway without giving any kind of warning and not having an accident.

And despite what the original article says because it's clear the Busway has been used as something outer than a Busway for quite a while (something the County Council response seems to accept) I severely doubt that any court would put the sole blame on the "trespasser" for any accidents.

This does of course assume that buses will actually start to run;


PFI Street Lighting Coming to Bar Hill in April 2011

As part of the annual process of paying for Street Lighting renewal and maintenance costs has begun with Parish Councils across Cambridgeshire receiving the letter attached giving them notice that the County has begun the process of signing over all the street lights to a private company who will be responsible for upgrading the 80% of existing stock that is past it's design life and rolling out new stock where required.

The letter to Parish Councils is available here.

PFI projects have always been a bone of contention (see here for a good Guardian commentary on the subject). The whole "buy now pay later" idea has led to a lot of problems in this Country and it's no better when a government does it than when anyone else does it except, let's be honest, the risk of the Government defaulting on a PFI deal is practically zero whereas as the banks have learned to their cost the same can't be said of the public at large.

Given the incredibly poor state of street lighting across Cambridgeshire (something for which the County Tories seem very keen on blaming central government) the company that takes on the Counties lights will certainly have it's work cut out! We shall see how it goes ...

As the letter says; more details of the arrangements will follow.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Fairer Votes: No surprises

Yesterday the No campaign released a list of its "Patrons." And the list is packed with figures from the tired, old political establishment.

It is no surprise to see the usual suspects attacking a system that will give voters more of a say. Sadly we shouldn't be surprised that they don't want a change that will mean politicians will have to work harder to get elected.

While these "big beasts" are busy trying to block progress, it's you, the people, who are leading the Yes campaign. And today, I need you to help us prove that.

Please step up today to invest in Yes. Can you donate £5, or whatever you can afford, to support our people's campaign?

We want to get as many people as possible to donate this weekend to show the opposition that while they have the old political establishment on their side, the Yes campaign has the people.

What they just don't see - and we've got to make clear - is that our politics have changed.

Like the No campaign's patrons, our voting system is stuck in the past. Voters have moved on, and it's high time politics caught up.

What's so objectionable about asking MPs to get the support of more than half of the communities they seek to represent? What's wrong with making them work harder?

The Alternative Vote is a small change that will make a big difference.

Help make that big difference happen. Donate today:


Thank you for all your support,

Jonathan Bartley
Yes to Fairer Votes Council

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Yes! To Fairer Votes: Why Ralph is voting Yes

Yes to Fairer Votes
Over the coming months, the nation will be asking: how will you vote on 5 May?

Ralph Hill, 86, knows how he'll be voting - Yes.

Ralph fought for democracy in World War II - and he wants to make ours better this May.

Watch him explain why. Then tell us your own story:

Watch Ralph tell his story

If the Yes campaign is to be a success, we must be ready to answer the most common and important question we'll be asked - "Why should I vote Yes?"

Ralph's answer is: "I've voted in every election for 64 years but my vote has always been confiscated by the system." He wants to have a say in the democracy he fought for.

Whether on the street corner, your neighbour's doorstep, or on the phone at your local phonebank - we all need to have clear and compelling reasons to win the vote.

Why will you say Yes to AV, and what do you think it will take to make others say yes? Watch the video today, and then share your own story.


Thank you for campaigning with us.

Best wishes

Katie Ghose
Facebook twitter

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Yes! To Fairer Votes

I've recevied the following email from the "Yes! To Fairer Vaotes" campaign looking for Organisers in the East of England. Whilst I fully support the Campaign I'll be working with local Liberal Democrats in favour of a "yes" vote.

If anyone is interested in running the Campaign from a non-political persepective feel free to sign up, I'll happily work with anyone to ensure a Yes vote in May!

Andy Pellew

Yes to Fairer Votes


My name is Stephen Robinson -- I'm your Yes campaign regional organiser.

I am here to help Yes campaigners like you to build your own campaigns so that East England says "Yes" to AV on 5 May 2011.

Your leadership will be critical to this effort. Right now, I am looking for local organisers to help build the campaign where you are. Will you take up the challenge and join me?

Lead the Yes campaign in your area

The Yes campaign got off to a fantastic start on Bonfire Night, with people coming together at events across the country. Now we need organisers in your area to keep up that momentum.

We have just under six months to make sure that the country is ready to seize this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

This is your chance to make a difference to the Yes campaign and change the future of British politics. Click here to find out more about becoming a local organiser and how you can help make East England say "Yes":


I am really looking forward to campaigning with you for a new way of doing politics!

Best wishes,

Stephen Robinson
East England Regional Organiser

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Could You Be a Liberal Democrat Councillor?

With the General Election an increasingly distant memory thoughts are beginning to turn to the District Council elections coming in 2010. The Liberal Democrats are currently looking for people willing to stand as Councillors across the County.

Are you interested in becoming more involved in your local community? Are you interested in local politics? Do you have the time to spend listening to both your local residents and your fellow Councillors? Are you able to make meetings (time off work, evenings, etc)? 

Do you have about a million other questions that I couldn't even begin to answer here?

If you're interested a good place to start is by visiting the following website;

If you have any questions about what being a District or County Councillor involved drop me an email and I'll get you a much more detailed response.

There is also a Be A Councillor event on 23 November at 7pm, for anyone in the Eastern Region who might like to stand for their councils. This requires you to register online. There are other dates (but these are in other Counties) as well.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Flickering Street light Reported

Whilst on our way to the Fireworks display on November the 5th I spotted this flickering street light next to the Parish Council Officers.

I've reported it on FixMyStreet so it should be addressed by the County Council fairly quickly.

As the nights draw in and it's getting darker it becomes very important that problems like this are raised and fixed as quickly as possible.

If you notice something (Broken light, Graffiti, fly tipping, etc) then please report it; the District and County Councils are much more likely to fix problems they know about! If you're not sure which Council is responsible for what then usea website like FixMyStreet as this takes care of who-is-responsible-for-what for you.