Wednesday, 30 November 2011

The 10:10 Times - November 2011

On the 23rd November, about 10 million people sat down to watch episode five of Frozen Planet, the BBC's natural history blockbuster documenting the Earth's polar regions in all their otherworldly glory.

It's an amazing spectacle, with the apparently immortal David Attenborough guiding us through all the fierce drama and haunting beauty of life at the Poles. But for all its sweep and grandeur, Frozen Planet makes it clear that these assorted wonders are just as reliant on a stable climate as everything else.

Everyone has their own reasons for doing 10:10, and you don't have to care about baby polar bears to know that saving energy and cutting carbon make good sense; but I bet it's not just the environmentalists that woke up this morning wondering how they can do more.

For some of us, that might mean an extra effort to bring down our emissions at home or at work, and – as 10:10ers are proving week after week – there's no shortage of options on that front. But more and more people are looking for a way to do something on a larger scale without losing the personal touch that keeps things manageable.

And that's where community energy comes in. Community energy is a catch-all term for projects that aim to save or generate energy on a local level – on a street, for example, or through a shared building like a school or sports centre – and it's becoming a bigger part of our work through things like Energise Barnetand Solar Schools.

If this sounds like your kind of thing, you're in luck. Two members of the 10:10 team recently wrote a book on this topic, and it's being distributed for free thanks to some sponsorship from M&S. The Rough Guide to Community Energy walks you through all the basics: the pros and cons of popular energy technologies, getting a group going (or finding one that's already out there) and the different stages of a typical project.

To get your free copy in either print or ebook format, just head over to the website.

Elsewhere on Planet 10:10, there's absolutely loads going on...
The Welsh Government aimed for 10% and ended up hitting 11.
A flood of letters to MPs and ministers from Lighter Later supporters got the Daylight Saving Bill moving again. Energy-saving lighter evenings are another step closer...
We weigh in on the solar cuts debate, and explain what the government's plans mean for you.
Oh, and an entire village cuts its electricity use by 10%. And then doesn't tell us.

And there's plenty more where that came from – just keep scrolling down.


Angela Bryant
10:10 executive director

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Danny Alexander: Treasury Autumn Statement

Today’s Autumn Statement has been delivered in incredibly difficult and uncertain economic times. But as Liberal Democrats, Nick, myself and the Ministerial team have worked hard to ensure the Autumn Statement as a package of measures remains true to our party’s values and to the commitment we made to the British people when the coalition was founded. Every decision has been informed by our desire to help to people working hard to make ends meet in difficult times and to put the economy on the right course for the long term.

Getting the economic fundamentals right is crucial. Throughout Europe, countries are being held to ransom by their bond markets. Their failure to take firm control of their spending has had catastrophic consequences. But our resolve to pay down the deficit is sheltering households and businesses across the country from the worst impacts of this storm.

Before the General Election, British long term interest rates were roughly equivalent to Spanish and Italian ones. Now they are much lower. It doesn’t just mean the cost of government debt is cheaper, it keeps mortgage rates and business borrowing costs down too.

These benefits of economic credibility have been secured by the Coalition’s firm resolve to tackle the terrible economic legacy left by Labour. Meanwhile, not only has Ed Balls failed to learn from Labour’s past mistakes, he is also ignoring the sobering evidence from the Eurozone. Labour wants to spend more, borrow more and increase debt - just at the point where we see that countries that borrow more end up in a state of crisis.

In tough times, it’s even more important to ensure that every penny of public money is well spent. As Liberal Democrats we have pressed for resources to be prioritised towards offering practical help to those that need it most and towards investing in infrastructure and social mobility to rebalance our economy

Liberal Democrat policy being delivered in Government has already secured income tax cuts for people on low and middle incomes and action to tackle youth unemployment through the Youth Contract announced by Nick last week. The Autumn Statement goes further – offering help with fuel duty, rail fares, and extending care for 2 year olds so it now reaches 40% of children. It has also increased in the bank levy to ensure they continue to pay their fair share.

Most important, the Autumn Statement secures further investment for the long term – delivering an extra £5bn in capital spending on projects across the country, an extra £1bn to the Regional Growth Fund, and a credit easing package of £20bn to secure cheaper access to finance for small businesses.

This is a package we as Liberal Democrats should be proud of – in difficult times for everyone, working together as a coalition we are taking action to protect the British economy from the storm around us and build a better, more sustainable economy in the future.

Best Wishes,

Danny Alexander
Chief Secretary to the Treasury

E-Cops - Update from Cambridgeshire Police Authority

Cambridgeshire Police Authority will face a difficult decision in the coming months about council tax.

The Government is encouraging all local authorities not to increase their council tax in 2012-13. To offset this financial pressure it is offering local authorities a one-off additional government grant instead of raising council tax to fund services, including policing, in 2012-13. For the Police Authority the grant would be £1.5m.

Ruth Rogers, Chair of Cambridgeshire Police Authority, said: “On the face of it, this looks like an easy decision. After all, who would turn down the offer of additional money?

“However, this grant is for one year only whereas a council tax increase provides ongoing funding in future years. Unless this lost, ongoing funding can be recovered by a council tax increase in 2013/14 – over and above the increase required to pay our increasing costs – then the police service in Cambridgeshire would need to find a further £1.5m per year in savings. This is the equivalent of 37 police officers. This leaves the Authority with a dilemma - raise the council tax from April 2012 or take the grant and leave the new Police and Crime Commissioner with the decision either to raise council tax significantly from April 2013 or accept a further £1.5m per year in cuts.
“And for council tax payers the news might not be as good as it first appears because it could result in a bigger increase in council tax in 2013.” 

Follow the link below for more information on this story and to have your say – comments can be left on the police authority website or you can email the police authority at

You can now also keep in touch with Cambridgeshire Police Authority on Twitter. Follow us; @PACambs - Tough decision for Cambridgeshire Police Authority - Follow Cambridgeshire Police Authority on Twitter

E-Cops - Your weekly news 29-NOV-2011

Between the hours of 19:00 and 21:00 on Sunday 13th November in Thruffle Way, Bar Hill, unknown offender(s) have thrown white paint on a front door, window and walls at a residential bungalow. Empty tins of white paint were found near by the affected property and are with our crime scene investigators for analysis. 
Between 19:30 on Wednesday 23d November 2011 and 06:40 on Thursday 24th November at The Willows, Bar Hill, we have had a report of non dwelling burglary. Unknown offender(s) have entered the building by breaking the front door glass, only a CCTV desk top box has been stolen.

I have recently conducted door to door police surgeries along with Trading Standards in Pheasant Rise and Hanover Close, Bar Hill. I am pleased to say that during our time spent engaging in conversation with the residents, there were no issues of any kind raised.

I have continued with high visibility patrols mainly in Bar Hill and Girton. I have also dealt with a number of crime enquiries mainly shoplifting from Bar Hill Tesco and drivers making off without paying for their fuel from Tesco petrol station. There have been various crimes/incidents in South Cambs villages recently, thefts and burglary mainly so please continue to remain vigilant and look out for your vulnerable neighbours as much as you can and report any suspicious activity by calling 101 or informing your Neighbourhood Watch Co-ordinator.

If you are thinking of going away this Christmas, please make sure only people you trust know about your trip, don't discuss this over the shop or in a crowded place where strangers can hear you. On occasions when people come home from their break/holiday, they find they have been burgled. 

If you wish to report any other crime, suspicious behaviour or activity please ring 101. If you believe that a crime is in progress please ring 999. I also welcome anyone to contact me via if you wish to let us know of any issues you may be experiencing.

Kind Regards
PCSO Bujar Mani 
Histon Neighbourhood Policing Team

Monday, 28 November 2011

Tim Gordon appointed new Liberal Democrat Chief Executive

It is with great pleasure that I can today announce the appointment of Tim Gordon as the Party’s new Chief Executive.

Tim will take up this position on 9 January 2012.

Tim Gordon brings to the role a lifetime of commitment to the Party, as a volunteer, campaigner and candidate, but also a strong commercial background and clearly demonstrated leadership qualities.

Tim Gordon has been a Party activist since his teens, when he first volunteered for the SDP “Yes to Unity” campaign, and has since campaigned in every major election. He stood as parliamentary candidate in Rotherham in 2005. He worked as a researcher for David Steel when he was Foreign Affairs spokesperson, and has been a member of several policy working groups over the years. He is currently an active member in Islington.

Tim Gordon’s professional career has been shaped in the world of strategic business management. He started at the Financial Times, before working at The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and most recently as Group Development Director at European Directories, a large European media company. Through this career Tim has demonstrated strategic thinking, use of online technology to deliver change, fundraising ability, an understanding of internal organisation dynamics and experience of building alignment around common priorities.

Tim takes over from Chris Fox, who leaves us on Wednesday to take up a new role as Director of Group Communications at a FTSE100 engineering company.

During the five week interim period, the Federal Executive-appointed recruitment panel have asked Hilary Stephenson, the current Director of Elections and Skills, to serve as Acting Chief Executive. Having known Hilary for many years I know that she will very ably hold the fort for this time and I am delighted that she has agreed to take on this challenge.

Best wishes,

Tim Farron
President of the Liberal Democrats

Cambridge MP Julian Huppert Welcomes News Of £20M For A14 Safety Improvements

MP Julian Huppert, who has been pushing for more than a decade for safety improvements on Cambridge’s notorious A14, has welcomed today’s news that the project will get £20 million of government funding.

The A14 is one of 40 road projects across the country to benefit from a £30 billion government investment in infrastructure.

Full details are expected to be announced tomorrow (Tuesday, November 29) in the Chancellor’s autumn statement but early indications suggest improvements to road junctions to increase safety and reduce congestion will be included in the scheme.

Julian said: “We have waited for such a long time for this news; it is very welcome.

“It will be a great relief for all those who travel on the A14 and see first-hand how dangerous this road can be. Hardly a day goes by when there isn’t an accident on this road.

“I have always maintained that the best and fastest way to solve the problems on the A14 is through safety improvements rather than a massive new road building project.  Now the government has taken this on board and I am hopeful that this work will be underway quickly.”

Julian recently raised the issue of the A14 with Business Secretary, Vince Cable and Transport Minister, Norman Baker.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Nick Clegg: Today I have launched the Youth Contract

Today I have launched the Youth Contract, a £1bn programme to get every unemployed young person earning or learning again before long-term damage is done.

We cannot afford to lose the skills and talent of our young people – right when we need them most. We need the next generation to help us build a new economy.

Across the UK, youth unemployment has risen to 21.9% and in South Cambridgeshire, there are currently 350 young people claiming Job Seekers Allowance. We owe it to them to make sure that even in tough economic times, we will do everything we can to find them a job, training or education.

That is why today I have committed the Coalition to investing £1bn to tackle youth unemployment. You can read more about the contract here, but it includes:
  • A work experience place for every unemployed 18 to 24 year old who wants one
  • 410,000 new work places over the next three years
  • 20,000 more incentive payments to encourage employers to take on young apprentices
  • 250,000 new work experience placements
  • And because we know businesses are struggling to take young people on, we will pay half their basic wage for six months
Young people have been hit particularly hard in the recession, but even in the boom years, Labour failed to tackle the issue. During Labour’s 13 years, youth unemployment rose by 40%. With Liberal Democrats in Government, we won’t allow the children brought up in the boom to bear the brunt of the bust. The next generation must not pay the price for my generation’s mistakes. So the Coalition Government won’t sit on our hands and let a generation fall behind.

Nick Clegg MP
Leader of the Liberal Democrats and Deputy Prime Minister

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Huppert Acts To Lower Drink Drive Limit To Save Lives

A call for a change in the law which would almost halve the drink driving limit is being supported by Cambridge MP Julian Huppert.

Julian is backing a Ten Minute Rule Motion in the Commons tomorrow (Tuesday, November 22) which aims to reduce the permitted blood alcohol limit for drivers from 80mg per 100ml of blood to 50mg.

It would also give the police the power to suspend a driver’s licence while assessment is carried out to see whether he or she is suitable to drive. The motion is proposed as the country marks national Road Safety Week.

“This would be a major step forward in cutting deaths on our roads especially among the young,” said Julian.

“We know that drinking alcohol severely impairs a driver’s judgement; reducing the limit might just make those prepared to take the risk to think again. Anything we can do to cut the needless loss of lives on our road has to be worthwhile.”

Julian is also supporting a campaign by road safety charity, Brake, to introduce graduated driving licences to allow new drivers to develop driving skills and experience gradually, while restricting exposure to higher risk situations.    

It is estimated that graduated driver licensing would prevent 200 deaths and 14,000 injuries every year.

Julian said: “I am supporting this Road Safety Week campaign because too many young people are dying in road crashes and that has a devastating effect on their families and our communities as a whole. It is time we took decisive action to protect them.”

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Two weeks to save your South Cambridgeshire constituency!

It has been a few months since we emailed you about the ongoing review of constituency boundaries in our region and I thought you might appreciate an update.

Earlier this autumn the Boundary Commission published its proposals for reducing the number of MPs from 650 to 600 while equalising the size of most constituencies.

While some of the new boundaries the Commission is proposing are sensible, many more needlessly tear the heart out of the communities they serve and will make effective representation in Parliament much more difficult.

We are now in a period of consultation and as a regional party - supported by colleagues in Liberal Democrat Headquarters - we have put in a series of counter-proposals.

These back the Commission where we feel it has got it right and put forward better solutions where we feel it is necessary, using the expertise of our members from across the region.

We know our plans are better because they have been produced by people who live and breathe the communities affected.

However, to stand a chance of persuading the Commission to adopt our counter-proposal, we need your help.

Please, take a look at what the Commission is proposing for your constituency (here). Then download a summary document of our counter-proposal (here) - there are maps and a list of wards included in the file.

If you could then take a minute to add your voice to the consultation via the Commission's website (here), we stand a far better chance of persuading them. There's just two weeks before the deadline on December 5th.

If we are backing the Commission's proposal for your constituency, please explain why they got it right. If we are arguing for different boundaries, please add your voice to ours in explaining why you feel they better serve your community.

The Commission is considering four areas which it would be useful to address: whether their plans split natural communities; whether they needlessly break up existing constituencies; whether they take in wards from too many local authorities; and whether there is a feature of physical geography (i.e. a river, a mountain range) that makes it difficult to cross from one part of the proposed constituency to another.

The consultation is open to everyone and you can be sure the Conservatives and Labour are encouraging their members to take part too. As may be expected, those parties' counter-proposals are not designed to make our lives any easier!

Thanks in advance for your support. Those links again:

The Boundary Commission's draft proposals: Click here
The Liberal Democrat counter-proposal: Click here
The Commission's consultation form (deadline December 5): Click here

Best regards
Julie Smith
Chairwoman, East of England Liberal Democrats

A14 Begins To Move Thanks To Cambridgeshire-Led Campaign

The new Secretary of State for Transport has been praised by Cambridgeshire council chiefs for listening to their arguments and moving improvements to the A14 a step closer.

Cambridgeshire County Council has been leading discussions for partners with the Department for Transport (DfT) on finding ways to improve the congestion blighted A14 corridor.

This week the DfT has announced that money has been made available to carry out the first two stages of a new A14 survey with the first phase due to be completed by Christmas.

The first short stage will see experts reviewing the problems and challenges surrounding the A14 corridor given the cancellation of the previous road improvement scheme. The second stage will be looking at what solutions, including rail freight and public transport as well as road measures, could meet these challenges. All parties are clear that this work is not about revisiting the detailed study work done some time ago (the Cambridge to Huntingdon Multi Modal Study, or "CHUMMS"), but rather looking at the current situation and deciding how best to move forward.

Ever since the Government announced there was not enough money for the original proposed improvements the County Council has been leading on negotiations with Government for the importance of this transport corridor not to be forgotten.

Together with support from a wide range of partners, including District and City Councils, neighbouring County Councils and the Local Enterprise Partnership the County Council has made sure that Cambridgeshire will be part of any future decision making for the A14 corridor. The improvement of this corridor is critical if jobs are to be created and Cambridgeshire is to play its full part in the national economic recovery. .

Cambridgeshire County Council Leader Nick Clarke, said: "Addressing the transport problems along the A14 corridor is a top priority for this council. It is of local, national and international importance that we can find a way forward, to reduce congestion and delay, unlock development opportunities, and most importantly save lives. From the point when the Government announced they did not have the funding for the original scheme we have been campaigning for action on these issues, and made sure Cambridgeshire and our partners have been able to have a say. I am very pleased to see the new Secretary of State for Transport has listened to us and given the green light for the funding of these important stages of the survey. We will continue to work with the DfT and our partners, and to campaign for the much needed improvements along this corridor."

Neville Reyner, CBE DL, Chairman of the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Local Enterprise Partnership added : "Finding a solution to east-west movements across this part of our area is absolutely critical to our economic growth aspirations. We know that we have many of the right ingredients to generate significant private sector job growth and to allow our existing companies to grow, and to attract others from overseas. However, until a solution is in the offing for the problems of the A14 corridor, it will continue to hamper our growth prospects. As the LEP for this area we are committed to working across the private and public sectors to find a resolution to a problem that we all know cannot be allowed to remain unresolved."

Monday, 21 November 2011

E-Cops - Weekly Update 21-NOV

Since the last weekly update, there have only been two reported crimes within Bar Hill to date;

Between the hours of 19:00 and 21:00 on Sunday 13th November in Watermead, Bar Hill, unknown offender(s) have stolen the front and rear number plates from a vehicle that was parked unattended on a driveway.

Between 17:15 and 17:45 on Monday 14th November in Tesco, Bar Hill, unknown female has attempted to remove grocery and electrical items from the store within foil lined bags. Security have monitored the female who has then left the trolley and all the contents at the door before leaving empty handed.

If you have any information relating to the above two crimes that may assist us, please call in using our new non-emergency number 101.

Although we have had no further reported burglaries within Bar Hill, Dry Drayton and the surrounding villages since our last update, please can we remind all residents to remain vigilant by keeping an eye on neighbouring properties and businesses that may be vulnerable to any suspicious activity and to report anything that seems unusual.

If you wish to report any other crime, suspicious behaviour or activity please ring 101. If you believe that a crime is in progress please ring 999. We also welcome anyone to contact us on either or if you wish to let us know of any issues you may be experiencing.

Kind Regards
PC Claire Reeves & PCSO Bujar Mani

E-Cops - 101; Single Non-Emergency Number For Police

I wanted to let you know that you can now contact Cambridgeshire Constabulary on 101 for all non-emergency calls. The 0345 456 456 4 number will remain in use alongside 101 for several months to allow people time to get used to the new number.

The change comes part of a national programme to make 101 the single non-emergency number in England and Wales, giving residents an easy-to-remember number to contact local police wherever they are.

The call system is designed to recognise where you are calling from and connect you with the local police service. If you did not want to speak to your local force, or the force area you are in, you will be given the option to be connected to different one. 

The number change does not affect the way that calls are handled and we will continue to take non-emergency calls 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 

Please continue to call 999 when an immediate response is needed because a crime is happening, someone suspected of a crime is nearby, or someone is in danger.

Kind regards,
Superintendent Mike Brown
101 - Details on 101 and the national roll-out

Sunday, 20 November 2011

County Youngsters To Benefit From Extended Early Years Education

Cambridgeshire Liberal Democrats have welcomed the news that 1,100 two-year-olds from the poorest families across the county will benefit from extended free early years education.

Youngsters will be entitled to 15 hours of education per week and it will be more flexible so that it can be taken between 7am and 7pm across two days instead of being spread across the three days as at present.

Peter Downes, Shadow Cabinet Member for Health on Cambridgeshire County Council welcomed the announcement by Lib Dem Children’s Minister, Sarah Teather.

He said: “Giving youngsters the best start in life through high quality education can make a real difference to their futures.

“It could mean that by the time these youngsters start primary school they are able to keep up with their classmates and don’t find themselves falling behind. This is crucial if we are to give them the best possible start.

“It’s also good news that that this early years education will be flexible and easy to access giving parents, trying to balance work and home, the help they need.”

Saturday, 19 November 2011

County Tories Making Money On Children’s Cycle Training

Cambridgeshire Tories have been accused of making money out of teaching youngsters to cycle even though the full cost of the courses are funded by the government.

The Conservative-run County Council has started charging schools £15 for each pupil taking part in its cycling schemes – Bikeability and Safer Cycling – despite receiving a government grant to pay for the training.

In the past, the cycling courses had been offered free of charge to Year 5 and 6 schoolchildren.

Susan van de Ven, Lib Dem Shadow Cabinet Member for Transport has questioned the county council on why it has suddenly decided to raise money on the back of the cycle training schemes.

She is worried that schools will not be able to afford the new charges and youngsters will no longer receive the training.

She said: “Bikeability, which is delivered by trained professionals, has full funding available from central government, so the steep county council admin charge makes no sense.

“Safer Cycling is delivered by volunteers, often school teachers and parents. Schools don’t understand why they are suddenly being charged this fee. The cost of £15 per head is prohibitive for many schools and there is a real concern that cycle training take-up will drop off.”

Cllr Sarah Whitebread, Lib Dem Spokesperson for Climate Change, added: “‘Habits taken up at an early age have a good chance of sticking, and walking and cycling bring so many benefits.

“I’m very keen for the council to find a way of making primary school cycle training more accessible. We want to encourage youngsters to see cycling as a viable means of transport so that they continue riding as adults.”

Friday, 18 November 2011

£375,000 of developers' cash to promote Guided Bus - "scandalous"

Angry Liberal Democrats have attacked Tory plans to spend £375,000 of developer’s cash on promoting the Guided Bus while ignoring pedestrian safety and cycling improvements.

They say the promotional campaign for a service that is out of reach for many residents is “scandalous”.

The move came in draft proposals for how to spend developer’s contributions received by Cambridgeshire County Council for the Cambridge University North West site development.

The Tory-controlled Cabinet gave its backing to the proposals which included just £5,000 to improve the junction at the city’s Northampton Street and nothing to improve pedestrian safety at Lady Margaret Road. 

Councillor Belinda Brooks-Gordon, in whose Castle ward the development falls, and Councillor Lucy Nethsingha, member for Newnham, told Cabinet members today (Tuesday, November 15) that they need to rethink their plans.

Cllr Brooks-Gordon said: "Spending over a third of a million pounds on a promotional campaign for the Guided Bus would scandalise residents."

"It would be an insult to spend this money promoting a service out of reach of many residents when there are safety improvements badly needed in the city.”

Councillor Nethsingha said: “This development needs to be very heavily focused on cycling as the main transport option; yet there is nothing suggested under these proposals for improvements to cycle access across Magdelene Street, Silver Street or other points for crossing the river.”

Concerns were also expressed during the meeting that highway designs for the new development, which will include thousands of new homes, businesses and community facilities, will encourage high vehicle speeds.

Primary School Applications

The County Council is currently reminding parents across Cambridgeshire who have a child born between 1st September 2007 and 31st August 2008 that they need to apply to the school they wish their child to attend from September 2012.

The application process opened on the 14th November and parents have the choice of returning a paper form (which can be obtained from Bar Hill Primary School, of in fact any Primary School) or applying online via the Counties website;

The completed form needs to be received by the Admission Team before 15th January.

Applications received after that date will be dealt with last which could mean some children will not only not receive a place at one of their preferred schools but they might not even get a place in the school in the catchment area in which they live.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Lib Dems Optimistic Hospital Will Be Saved Under New Deal

Cambridgeshire Liberal Democrats are optimistic that the franchise deal for Huntingdon’s struggling Hinchingbrooke Hospital will bring security for patients and staff.

They believe the move to allow private provider, CIRCLE, to run the hospital was the only way to guarantee its future.

Geoff Heathcock, Cambridgeshire County Council Shadow Cabinet Member for Health welcomed the news saying: “I hope now that we can see this hospital turned around to give security to both staff and patients.

"But patients and staff need re-assurance through full details of the financial arrangements so that they can see exactly how CIRCLE will find the £40 million to balance the hospital’s books which was the whole reason it was brought in in the first place.”

“The situation was so severe that the future of Hinchingbrooke was in serious doubt. It was vital to take this action so that we did not lose it.

“The most important thing to remember here is that patient care will continue and be protected. The hospital will continue to deliver NHS services to patients free of charge, and the hospital will return to the NHS when the franchise ends.”  

The process for selecting Circle is not connected to the coalition government’s Health and Social Care Bill. It started under the last Labour Government and the decision was made to transfer the management of Hinchingbrooke under powers set up by Labour in 2001.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Cambridge MP Backs Move To Scrap Second Homes Council Tax Discount

A government proposal to allow councils to scrap council tax discounts for second homes would give Cambridge an extra £88,000 in lost income.
The move, for which the Liberal Democrats have long campaigned, will help Cambridge residents says MP Julian Huppert.
In addition to ending the mandatory discount of between 10 and 50 per cent on council tax on second homes they would also allow councils to charge an Empty Homes Premium of up to 50 per cent on any home left empty for two years or longer.
Cambridge has 614 second homes and the owners are entitled to an average discount of 10 per cent.
Julian said: “These proposals are long overdue and would bring in extra money for our services to help our residents rather than giving incentives to people who live miles away.
“These reforms would also go a long way to easing the housing shortage by generating income to bring empty homes back into use. We have families waiting for housing but there are not enough affordable properties in the city to allow us to help them.
“I am pleased that the government has taken our ideas on board and untied the hands of councils across the country allowing them to make a real difference to people who need their help.”

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

E-Cops - Burglaries 16-NOV-2011

There has been an increase in burglaries in Bar Hill and the surrounding villages for the past few weeks. May I please ask that all residents of Bar Hill and Dry Drayton be vigilant and keep an eye on surrounding houses and businesses that may be vulnerable to any suspicious activity.

On 7th November 2011, just after midnight we had a report of burglary in Bar Hill. Unknown offender(s) have smashed the front window of Fish and Chicken Take Away and stolen two cash tills.

Between 4th November 2011 at 14:45 and 5th November 2011 at 08:00, there has been a report of another burglary in Bar Hill. Unknown offender(s) have gained entry into the Parish Council office. A petty cash tin was stolen, all cabinets and drawers were open and searched.

Between 9th November 2011 at 11:30 and 10th November 2011 at 09:30, There has been a report of a dwelling burglary in Pettitts Lane, Dry Drayton. Unknown offender(s) have gained entry into the property by forcing a ground floor rear window and stolen various items. A suspect has been arrested in relation to this burglary ad enquiries are ongoing.

If you have any information that may assist us with any of the above crimes, please contact me, or telephone our new non-emergency number on 101.

Last week I have completed a Cubs visit at Dry Drayton Primary School, I spoke about safety and explaining the job role of a Police Community Support Officer along with showing the children the police car.

This week I have carried out speed checks in Scotland Road, Dry Drayton. As a result three motorists were seen travelling in excess of the speed limit, and letters have been sent to the registered keepers. 

I also carried out speed checks in High Street, Boxowrth. As a result, two motorists were seen travelling in excess of the speed limit, and letters have been sent to the registered keepers.

If you wish to report any other crime, suspicious behaviour or activity please ring 101. If you believe that a crime is in progress please ring 999. I also welcome anyone to contact me if you wish to let me know of any issues you may be experiencing.

Best Regards
PCSO Bujar Mani 
Histon NPT

Monday, 14 November 2011

Huppert’s Victory As Government Gives Extra £10m For Schools

MP Julian Huppert is celebrating victory after today’s (Thursday, November 3) announcement by the government that it will be giving Cambridgeshire schools an extra £10.2 million.

Julian had been pushing for more money for the county’s schools which are among the lowest funded in the country.

He joined MPs from across the county to campaign for extra funding and raised the issue in the House of Commons.

In February, Education Minister, Michael Gove promised Julian a review the county’s grant allocation – and today he announced the county would be among 100 benefiting from an extra £500 million to provide more school places.

Julian said: “This is good news for Cambridge and Cambridgeshire as a whole.

“It goes some way to addressing the major shortfall in funding which puts the county’s schools near the bottom of the pile compared to other local authorities across the country. Even with this payment, however, the county is still £25 million short of the national average and we cannot afford to be complacent.  

“But in allocating this money, the Minister has recognised that our region is experiencing rapid growth and that we are facing a severe shortage of school places in the city and across the county. It’s a start in giving our children the education they so rightly deserve.

“The fight is far from over, however, and I will continue until Cambridgeshire is put on a par with the rest of the country and receives the money from government to which it is entitled.”

Liberal Democrat Peter Downes, Cambridgeshire County Council’s Shadow Cabinet Member for Education said: “I am pleased that Cambridgeshire’s plight has been recognised by the government and it has been chosen to receive this extra money.

“Our schools have suffered from years of under-funding by successive governments and finally steps are being taken to address that.

“I hope that the coalition will build on this and allocate Cambridgeshire schools the money they need to meet the growing demand for places across the county.”

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Councillor’s Victory As Lords Back Campaign To Help Students

A Cambridgeshire County Councillor’s campaign to get a fairer deal for part-time university students under the government’s education loans scheme cleared another hurdle last night (Tuesday, November 1).

In the House of Lords, the government agreed with the Liberal Democrat amendment for the move, clearing the way for it to be written into the government’s Education Bill and become law. It was then also supported cross-party in the Lords.

Dr Belinda Brooks-Gordon teamed up with former Cambridgeshire County Council Liberal Democrat leader, Baroness Sal Brinton, to make sure part-time students were not discriminated under the scheme.

From 2012 eligible part-time students will be able to borrow the full cost of their tuition fees for the first time. Students become eligible to start making repayments four years after they begin their studies instead of the three years originally planned by the government.

“I am absolutely delighted,” said Cllr Brooks-Gordon. “The Lords have supported this move which gives part-time students the same rights as enjoyed by their full-time counterparts.

“This will make such a huge difference to those people struggling to get a university education against a backdrop of financial hardship. These are the very people that we need to help and this change will make it possible.”

Cllr Brooks-Gordon and Baroness Brinton were both mature students at Cambridge’s Churchill College and fully admit what without support they would have struggled to achieve their qualifications.

“I was determined that part-time students, many of whom are single parents, mature students or disabled, should not be discriminated against in the loans system” said Dr Brooks-Gordon, a Reader at Birkbeck, University of London and past tutor at the Open University.

Part-time students make up 40 per cent of undergraduates and Cambridge is national hotspot for part-time students including Anglia Ruskin, the Open University, and Cambridge University."

Baroness Brinton said: "It was clear when I made the case repeatedly in the House of Lords that the Government’s original proposal was bizarre and illogical.

“The Lords and now the government have backed our proposals and cleared the way for these changes to become law. That will bring a great deal of relief to many part-time students and hopefully encourage others to embark on courses that might otherwise have been completely out of reach.”

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Lib Dems Act To Make Two Minutes’ Silence Truly Silent

Cambridgeshire Liberal Democrats have gained the backing of the police for their call to make the two minutes’ silence on Remembrance Day truly silent.

Councillor David Jenkins, who represents Cottenham, Histon and Impington on Cambridgeshire County Council, pushed for a strategy which would allow traffic to be stopped when wreath laying and the Act of Remembrance was taking place near main roads across the county.

He said: “I am delighted with the common sense response from the police to my request to make the two minutes’ silence really silent.

“The Act of Remembrance is a very sensitive matter and it is difficult to observe two minutes’ silence with vehicles streaming past. Stopping the traffic for just two minutes will give everyone a chance to reflect.

“It is only once a year that this happens and it is right that people should take time out of their busy lives to remember those who gave their lives for us.”

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Be Bright, Be Seen As The Nights Draw In

Road Safety Officers at Cambridgeshire County Council are urging all road users to take extra care on the roads once the clocks go back this weekend.

The change of the clocks means it will be darker in the afternoons, when many people are making their way home from work or school. The darker conditions make it harder for pedestrians and cyclists to be seen by other road users.

Parents are being encouraged to make sure they and their children 'be bright, be seen' by attaching reflective strips to their bags and coats or other clothing. Cyclists are also reminded that they must use lights during hours of darkness and should ensure their bike reflectors are clean and clearly visible.

To support this message, Richardsons Cycles are providing reflective bands to be given to children at selected primary schools around the county, along with advice for parents from Road Safety Officers.

Matt Staton, Road Safety Officer for Cambridgeshire County Council, said: "It is very important that pedestrians and cyclists ensure they can be seen when making journeys in the dark, but it is equally important that other road users are extra vigilant in the knowledge that pedestrians and cyclists will be harder to see."

Simon Haydn, Bikeability Project Officer for the County Council, added some extra advice for cyclists: "All lights should be fitted to the bike, and although helmet or head torches are useful, they can be potentially blinding for other road users."

Friday, 4 November 2011

E-Cops - Your weekly news 04-NOV-2011

On 29th October 2011, we had a report of a theft from a person whilst shopping in Bar Hill Tesco. Unknown offender(s) have stolen a mobile phone from the persons handbag.

On 31st October 2011, a stolen vehicle from Bedfordshire was found in Gladeside, abandoned in the layby opposite the Library in Bar Hill. The vehicle has been recovered and is waiting to be examined by scenes of crime. Please contact us on 101 (new non-emergency number) if you can provide any information relating to the arrival of the vehicle or any activity around the vehicle that may assist us.

I have also recently issued a what we call CLE2/8’s, a Police report notification to DVLA, this was in St Vincent Close, Girton. A vehicle was parked in the area without valid road tax, therefore the necessary report was completed and sent to DVLA. Residents can make a report themselves directly to DVLA regarding un-taxed vehicles. 

Can I make you aware that you can report vehicles without current road tax direct to DVLA. It is quicker and more effective to report vehicles not displaying a current road tax disc direct to DVLA yourself via the reporting line directly on 0300 790 6802”.
You can also report this by post or visit and follow the links to reporting an unlicensed vehicle online (opens a new window)

Best Regards

Appeal For More Adoptive Families

An appeal has been made by Cambridgeshire County Council this week for more families to come forward and offer a home to children waiting to be adopted.

Figures released today show that 80 per cent of looked after children in Cambridgeshire who were adopted during the year were placed within 12 months of the decision being made.

Government statistics also show that 14 per cent of looked after children in the county were placed for adoption last year, ranking Cambridgeshire 62nd out of 149 local authorities.

Cambridgeshire's success is partly down to a partnership agreement signed in July with Coram - a national children's charity and specialist voluntary adoption agency - in response to the Government's call for local authorities to improve their adoption services.

Cambridgeshire County Council is looking to intensify its efforts to recruit more adopters for vulnerable children waiting for adoptive families.

The Council's adoption service particularly needs to find more families who may be able to parent children with more complex needs. 

In Cambridgeshire there are currently 51 children waiting to be adopted - 34 single children of various ages and 17 in sibling groups of two or three whom the Council wish to keep together.

Most of the children have complex needs such as developmental delay, physical disability and uncertainty about their long term development resulting from complex family backgrounds of mental ill health, substance abuse during pregnancy, neglect and domestic violence.

Cllr David Brown, Cambridgeshire County Council's Cabinet Member for Children and Young People's Services said: "I am pleased with these figures. They illustrate our commitment to securing positive outcomes for young people in Cambridgeshire. But we are not complacent, and believe that with improved planning and decision-making we can reduce delays even further.

"An important initiative towards achieving this was the partnership agreement the County Council signed in July with Coram - a national children's charity and specialist voluntary adoption agency. We are confident the partnership will result in improved practices and fewer delays. I would urge anyone interested in adopting to come forward."

As part of national Adoption Week this week, the County Council is urging people to come forward to offer a home to children waiting to be adopted. Anyone interested should call 0800 052 0078. An adoption social worker will be available to give information and answer any questions about adoption.

Trading Standards: Making Sure Vitamin Sales Are ‘Healthy’

At Cambridgeshire County Council’s Trading Standards Service we have seen a sudden rise in complaints from older residents and their families on their behalf, about the pressure selling of vitamin pills over the telephone.

Some residents have had calls from people alleging to be doctors telling them that they must buy certain vitamin pills to protect their health. Others have been receiving persistent calls to the extent that they have felt bullied into buying these pills, only to find they have been sent more and more, resulting in mounting costs. In fact, some residents have parted with hundreds, even thousands of pounds.

The advice from Trading Standards is to never agree to anything on the spur of the moment, either on the phone or at the door. If the company is using high pressure selling techniques it often means their products aren’t good value. Take your time to think about it. Talk to friends or relatives if it involves a lot of money. Particularly when it comes to vitamin pills (or any form of medication), it is important to speak to your own GP to make sure the products are suitable for you.

If you do feel pressured to enter into an agreement over the phone, then you are usually allowed to cancel and return the goods up to 7 working days after you receive them. Furthermore, if you agree to buy something face to face from a salesperson that calls on you in your home, and you agree to pay more than £35, you usually have 7 days to change your mind. By law the salesperson must give you a written notice of this right to cancel.

If you think you have been mis-sold something, or been pressured into buying a product or having some work done, our partner advice team, Consumer Direct, is here to advise you. It is a free, confidential and impartial government advice service, who can be contacted on 0845 4040506.

You can actually take steps yourself to help reduce the number of sales calls you receive by registering with the Telephone Preference Service. This allows you to opt out of receiving sales and marketing calls and businesses are obliged by law to abide by that. To register, call the Telephone Preference Service on 0845 070 0707 or register online at

Furthermore, if you would rather people didn’t call at your door offering to sell you things or do work for you, we can provide you with a free ‘We’re not buying it’ sticker for your front door. Call Consumer Direct on 0845 4040506 and we will post one to you.

If you have internet access, visit our website,, for news on current issues we are addressing, advice and information. 

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Councillor Wins Fight For A Fairer Deal For Part-Time Students

Following a determined campaign from Cambridgeshire County Councillor Dr Belinda Brooks-Gordon, the Government has just announced that it will now give part-time university students a fairer deal under the government's education loans scheme.

She  teamed up with Baroness Sal Brinton, former Cambridgeshire County Council Liberal Democrat leader to make sure part-time students are not discriminated under the scheme.

From 2012 eligible part-time students will be able to borrow the full cost of their tuition fees for the first time. Changes announced today will see students becoming eligible to start making repayments over four years after commencing study, up from three years as previously planned.

Cllr Brooks-Gordon and Baroness Brinton who were both mature students at Cambridge’s Churchill College, fought to get changes to the Education Bill. They were tireless in their campaign, relentlessly pursuing the matter with Minister.

“I was determined that part-time students, many of whom are single parents, mature students or disabled, should not be discriminated against in the loans system” said Dr Brooks-Gordon, a Reader at Birkbeck, University of London and past tutor at the Open University.

“I took my degree as a single parent with two children and would not have had an academic career without my university education. I was determined that students should get the best possible deal in these difficult times.”

"It is an important and life-changing decision for students to embark on a degree. I am delighted that the Minister has acknowledged our campaign and finally relented to make loan repayments for part-time students more progressive"

"Part-time students make up 40% of undergraduates, and Cambridge is national hotspot for part-time students including Anglia Ruskin, the Open University, and Cambridge University"

"We have fought all the way to support the educational journey of these students, and are delighted to have secured a real victory for their sake"
Baroness Brinton said: "I'm delighted that after four months of lobbying, the Minister has finally accepted the logic of making the fee loan repayments for part-time students the same as for full-time students. It was always bizarre that Government proposed that part-time students were being asked to start repaying at 3½ years.

“It was clear when I made the case repeatedly in the House of Lords that the Government’s original proposal was bizarre and illogical, and my thanks to the universities for giving me good examples to help make the case. I’m grateful that the Minister has recognised this, and changed the arrangements so that they are now the same as for full-time students.”

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Councillors' Allowances Rise Rejected As Process Was Flawed

A controversial decision to raise county councillors’ allowances by 25 per cent has been thrown out after it was found that the process was flawed.
Mistakes made by the Tory-run Cambridgeshire County Council have wasted over £5,000 of public money and means the whole process must go back to square one.
The decision is a victory for Cambridgeshire Liberal Democrats who had voted against the increase and campaigned to overturn the decision.
It came after former Liberal Democrat councillor, Clare Blair, called the issue into the council’s Standards Committee today (Tuesday, November 1) claiming the process broke the rules of the council’s constitution and government legislation.
Committee members agreed after discovering that the council had made serious errors in the process of appointing members to the Independent Remuneration Panel which recommended the 25 per cent increase in members’ allowances and failing to advertise its report for public comment.
Cllr Blair, a former Cambridge City Executive Councillor who represented East Chesterton, spoke at the Standards Committee meeting calling the whole process into question.
Later she said: “This whole process was flawed. The Conservative administration made one mistake after another by rushing this matter through the council.
“This is has been a terrible waste of public money. Now the process must begin again. I hope ordinary residents will also consider joining the new Independent Panel and that the Conservatives will see that a 25 per cent increase at this time is totally inappropriate.”
In the meeting Lib Dem group leader Kilian Bourke said: "To retrospectively ratify this decision would almost certainly lead to a judicial review, which could end up costing the council as much as the 25 per cent pay rise itself.
Later he added: "I welcome the fact that the 25 per cent increase will now be overturned, although the Tories should not have voted it through in the first place. The increase was totally inappropriate at a time of wage freezes, redundancies and cuts to frontline services and the public have made their anger at this decision clear.
"I want to thank the 3,000 people who supported our campaign to have the increase reversed. I have no doubt that the weight of public opinion contributed to the decision to scrap the report."

Trading Standards: Why Pay When You Don't Have To?

Each month at Trading Standards we receive enquiries about things people have paid for that they could have got for free. In this article, we give advice on where you may be able to save unnecessary expense.

Warranties and Guarantees
When you buy goods, whether on their own (like a washing machine) or as part of a larger piece of work (such as a new bathroom installation), by law those goods must be of “satisfactory quality” and be “fit for their purpose”. They must be of a standard that a person would expect, bearing in mind the price paid, and be free from minor defects, be as described, and last a reasonable length of time for a product of that type. So if, for instance, the normal life of a washing machine is 5 years and yours stops working after two years due to a defect, you may be able to claim for a repair or replacement from the business you bought it from. This is the case regardless of whether you bought a warranty or guarantee. So consider carefully whether a warranty gives you anything extra.

Claiming from your debit card or credit card
If you are in dispute with a trader, instead of taking them to court, find out whether your bank may be able to help you. If you paid for something on a debit card and there turns out to be problems with the purchase, many banks offer a ‘chargeback’ scheme where they refund you. Furthermore, if you pay for something worth over £100 and pay for at least some of it on your credit card, the credit card company is equally as responsible as the business that breaks its contract with you. So, if your holiday isn’t as it was described, if your new dining table arrives damaged, or if your new TV breaks down soon after purchase, you can insist that your credit card provider helps you if the shop won’t. This is even the case if you have paid off the amount you put on your credit card.

Personal Protection Insurance
We have received a number of reports about companies offering to claim compensation for the mis-selling of personal protection insurance on residents’ behalf, whether in relation to a loan, mortgage or credit card. This is actually something you can do yourself. The Financial Ombudsman has produced a leaflet which is available on on how to make the complaint yourself. If you don’t have access to the internet, you can contact the Financial Ombudsman for advice over the telephone on 0800 0234567.

European Health Insurance cards
Even though some companies sell them, you can actually obtain a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) free of charge which entitles you to medical treatment that becomes necessary, at a reduced cost or sometimes free, when visiting a country in the European Union, Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and Liechtenstein. This is limited to treatment provided under the state scheme and you will need to produce your EHIC card. Visit to find out more and apply.

Legal advice
There are many sources of free legal advice available to residents. Trading Standards, in partnership with Consumer Direct, offers advice to residents on issues with businesses. Visit to see how we can help you or call us on 0845 4040506.  The Citizens Advice Bureaux offer advice on a wide range of issues including debt, benefits, employment, housing and family issues. Visit or call 08444 111 444. Also, many people can get free legal advice under their home insurance policies; check yours to see if you can get assistance.