Friday, 28 December 2012

Happy New Year: 2013 Will See More Great Moments (by Nick Clegg)


Nicola Adams' Gold: A Moment To Remember for 2012

The last twelve months have been lit up by moments that will stay with us forever. When Mo Farah approached the final stretch of the 10,000m final, who wasn't up on their feet, screaming at the TV?

When Nicola Adams beamed at the crowd after winning the first ever women's Olympic boxing, who didn't smile back? I was lucky enough to be there, and that's one I'll never forget.

Was there anything more British than that drenched choir in the Jubilee River Pageant, singing Rule Britannia! in the pouring rain?

Incredible images. Spectacular shows. Jaw-dropping personal triumphs.

And, above all, a year defined by shared experiences and national spirit too.

As for 2013, there will be more great moments, I'm sure, and some big challenges as well.

Many families are still feeling the squeeze. Look at the world around us and you see continuing economic uncertainty - particularly in our European backyard. We are living through fluid, difficult times.

What I can tell you is that, whatever 2013 throws at us, the Liberal Democrats will continue to anchor this Coalition in the centre ground and we will hold firm to our key purpose in this government: the Liberal Democrats are building a stronger economy, in a fairer society, enabling every person to get on in life.

Over the holidays people want a break from politics as much as from work - I know that. But as you look to the year ahead, you also deserve the reassurance that your government has a plan to steer the country onto better times - and that we're going to stick to it.

So I want you to hear it from me, on behalf of the Liberal Democrats, that this Coalition Government is not going to lurch one way or the next.

We will stay the course on the deficit. We will cut income tax bills and help with childcare bills. We will invest in boosting jobs and we'll reform welfare to get people into work.

A stronger economy - a fairer society, where everyone can get on. That's what we're about. That's what I want 2013 to be about.

And, however you usher it in, I hope you have a fantastic time. Happy New Year!

E-Cops Update

Good news since my last E-cop message Bar Hill village has had 0 crime reports.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for your help and continued support throughout the year, have a Merry Christmas .

If you wish to report a crime, suspicious behaviour or activity please rings our non emergency number which is 101. If you believe that a crime is in progress please ring 999. I also welcome anyone to contact me on bujar.mani@cambs.pnn.police.uk if you wish to let me know of any issues you may be experiencing.

Kind Regards

PCSO 7009 Bujar MANI
Histon Neighbourhood Policing Team

Nick Clegg's New Year Message 2013


Friday, 21 December 2012

Egg-Citing News For Chickens And Cyclists This Christmas


Cyclists, pedestrians, Park and Ride users, and even chickens will benefit from several transport improvements in Trumpington.

Cambridgeshire County Council has upgraded a 150 metre shared foot and cycle path from Foster Road to The Busway cycle track and have added a new black-top surface.

Part of the scheme included the County Council working with Cambridge City Council, to help provide a water supply for poultry being kept in nearby allotments.

The improved path near Foster Road runs through Trumpington allotments, and is used by cyclists and pedestrians travelling to Addenbrooke's Hospital and Cambridge station.

Ceri Galloway, a committee member and Chicken Plot Manager of Trumpington Allotment Society commented: "It was a really good experience of working with the two local councils and a win-win situation for all involved. There was a simple, straightforward negotiation that enabled us to obtain a water supply to our poultry plot for the first time, which has existed since 1947. It will make life much easier for us to care for our chickens!"

Additional improvements have been made to the 200 metre shared path which links Foster Road to Alpha Terrace and Fawcett Primary school, after parents asked for the route to be resurfaced as it was uneven and regularly flooded.

There is also good news for cyclists using Trumpington Park and Ride. Work has begun on adding 70 new steel cycle racks to the car park. There are additional plans to extend CCTV coverage to bike parking facilities and add covers to the cycle racks.

Improvements on the shared foot and cycle paths cost £30,000 and the overall works at Trumpington Park and Ride will cost £15,000. All projects have been funded by central Government through the Local Sustainable Transport Fund (LSTF). The fund aims to help maximise the county's potential for growth and attracting business by improving transport links, including the county's cycle network.

Cambridgeshire County Councillor Ian Bates, Cabinet Member for Growth and Planning, said "We're committed to working with local community groups and our partners at Cambridge City Council. The work undertaken at the Foster Road path shows a great example of how we can all work together to support the local community and provide means of sustainable transport."

Cambridgeshire County Council was awarded £5m by central Government in May 2012 to spend over three years. This was from the 'Local Sustainable Transport Fund', a fund established to enable the delivery by local transport authorities of sustainable transport solutions that support economic growth while reducing carbon. The fund also provides an opportunity to deliver additional wider social, environmental, health and safety benefits for local communities.
In Cambridgeshire, the funding will be used for a programme of measures aimed at 'Getting Cambridgeshire to Work' by making it easier for people to travel between home and work, and to other key destinations.

Programme measures will be implemented under three themes:

  • Improving links to transport interchanges and corridors
  • Improving links to employment areas
  • The provision of improved travel information

The programme incorporates projects which aim to:

  • Improve journey time reliability
  • Make journeys more attractive via sustainable, healthy and lower carbon contributions
  • Change travel behaviour
  • Reduce congestion
  • Improve connectivity and interchange facilities

Highway Chiefs Welcome Cash Boost For Road Maintenance


Highways chiefs in Cambridgeshire have welcomed a government cash boost for highway maintenance which will see further improvements to the road network across the county.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has announced a £215 million cash injection for highway maintenance across the country with Cambridgeshire set to receive nearly £2 million in 2013 with a further £1m in 2014.

The government cash follows an earlier County Council decision to create a £90m repair pot which has already been set aside for highway improvements in Cambridgeshire over the next five years.

County Council Cabinet Member for Community Infrastructure, Councillor Tony Orgee, said: "Maintaining and improving the highway infrastructure in Cambridgeshire is one of the County Council's priorities and this government cash will help us meet the cost of keeping the roads in good condition across the county.

"Some of Cambridgeshire's roads - such as those on fenland soil and running alongside waterways - have particular problems which are difficult and complex and therefore very expensive, to rectify, but the maintenance fund is also used for improvements such as road resurfacing, repair of bridges and repairing damage to the highways caused by severe weather and flooding."

Ensuring The Legacy Of London 2012 Is Not Forgotten


As an amazing sporting year comes to an end, a special film is now available for people to reflect the joy of London 2012 and the enduring cultural and sporting legacy of the Games

‘Inspiring Cambridgeshire’ is a documentary showcasing the wide variety of arts, sports and cultural events and activities which were inspired by this year's Olympics and Paralympics.

It features a range of exciting projects which took place across the county by exploring the themes such as diversity, culture and community.

From local festivals to fun days, parades to carnivals and the Olympic Torch and Paralympic Lantern Relays; the film captures a fascinating record of how people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds were inspired

The film can be seen at www.youtube.com/watch?v=S6c0lwyC7o0.



Councillor Martin Curtis, Lead Member for Olympic and Paralympic legacy at Cambridgeshire County Council, said: “There can be no doubt that 2012 will go down in the annals of history as a fantastic year for sport and culture in Great Britain. As I think back on the summer, I can’t help feeling goosebumps about the way our Olympian and Paralympians performed as well as the way local communities, towns and villages embraced the Games. Whether it was a visit by a Flame, a street party or a sports festival – we welcomed the spirit of the Olympics into our hearts.

“The ‘Inspiring Cambridgeshire’ film is a great way to remind yourself about what we did in the county. It is wonderful to see again the enthusiasm, the commitment and above all the smiling faces of all those who took part in the activities. I sincerely hope in 2013 we can build on this success to ensure the memories of this year are never forgotten.”

Timetable For Parish Council Meetings 2013

At last nights Parish Council meeting the meeting dates were agreed for 2013. These are;

Full Council (Thursdays starting at 7pm in the Parish Council Offices)
  • 17th January
  • 21st February
  • 21st March
  • 18th April
  • 16th May
  • 20th June
  • 18th July
  • 19th September
  • 17th November
  • 19th December
Environment Committee (Wednesdays starting at 7:30pm in the Parish Council Offices)
  • 6th February
  • 3rd April
  • 5th June
  • 4th September
  • 6th November
Planning Committee Meetings - these are scheduled but only actually take place if there are any planning applications that need to be discussed that could not be discussed as part of the agenda of a Full Council meeting (Thursdays starting at 1.30pm in the Parish Council Offices)
  • 10th and 24th January
  • 14th and 28th February
  • 14th and 28th March
  • 11th and 25th April
  • 9th and 23rd May
  • 13th and 27th June
  • 11th and 25th July
  • 12th and 26th September
  • 10th and 24th October
  • 14th and 28th November
  • 12th December
Cllr Andy Pellew

Thursday, 20 December 2012

E-Cops - Beat Update

There has been 1 crime report since my last E-cops message.

On Wednesday 19th December, a house burglary took place in Old Rectory DR, Dry Drayton. Entry was gained into the property through the bathroom window by unknown offender/s, a search was carried out as jewellery was found all over the place , is unknown what has been taken at this time.

I am pleased to report that a male has been arrested in regards to a number of reports relating to obtaining money and fuel by a confidence trick including gold watches. More information will follow.

There has been reports of suspicious vans driving round Bar Hill this week, please keep a look out for these vans and if you can, take their registration number and email it to me.

If you can’t attend the next Histon Panel meeting on Jan 8th 7:30pm at Orchard Park School, please take part in our online survey:

http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/GMBQX95

This link is to an external website, you will not be asked for any personal details. We will use responses to help form the next three months priorities.

Histon Police Station enquiry office will be closed for the Christmas period from Friday 21st December until Wednesday 2nd January.

If you wish to report a crime, suspicious behaviour or activity please rings our non emergency number which is 101. If you believe that a crime is in progress please ring 999. I also welcome anyone to contact me on bujar.mani@cambs.pnn.police.uk if you wish to let me know of any issues you may be experiencing.

Kind Regards

PCSO 7009 Bujar MANI
Histon Neighbourhood Policing Team

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Clock Is Ticking Down To The Creation Of Healthwatch In Cambridgeshire


Work is progressing to create a new health and social care watchdog which will help inform and improve health and social care services in Cambridgeshire.

Healthwatch Cambridgeshire will be part of a new national Healthwatch network from April 2013, giving people a powerful voice locally and nationally. Locally the County Council has been working to create the local link in the national chain of Healthwatch groups.

Through the network, Healthwatch England will make sure the voices of all people not just those use health and social care services are heard by the Secretary of State for Health, the Care Quality Commission (CQC), the NHS Commissioning Board, Monitor and every local authority in England.

Local Healthwatch organisations will:

  • have the power to enter and view services
  • influence how services are set up and commissioned by having a seat on the local health and wellbeing board
  • produce reports which influence the way services are designed and delivered
  • provide information, advice and support about local services
  • pass information and recommendations to Healthwatch England and the Care Quality Commission
  • act as an independent advocate for people who wish to complain about services. 

Recruitment to key positions within Cambridgeshire Healthwatch has started and details of the vacancies can be found on the Cambridgeshire County Council website at: www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk

"These local Healthwatch organisations will involve diverse people of all ages. They will build on the experience of Local Involvement Networks (LINks), so ensuring continuity, and will be advocates and champions for all, giving voice to whole community. With a permanent seat on the Cambridgeshire Health And Wellbeing Board they will be a fiercely independent watchdog with real power to influence and affect change for the better."

For more information on Healthwatch, go to: www.healthwatch.co.uk

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Liberal Democrat Community Newsletter (Guest Post From Cllr Susan van de Ven)


Liberal Democrat Community Newsletter

For Foxton, Heydon, Melbourn, Meldreth, Shepreth and the Chishills

We are writing to you, as your councillors and campaigners for our interlinked cluster of villages, to keep you informed of local issues involving the District and County Councils. If you would prefer not to receive this email newsletter, please reply asking to be removed from the distribution list. If you know of someone not receiving this email newsletter who would like to do so, please ask them to email susanvandeven@yahoo.co.uk.

METTLE HILL TO BE PURCHASED BY MELDRETH PARISH COUNCIL

As was known from the start, Cambridgeshire County Council as owner of the Mettle Hill disused Traveller site was required to offer ‘first refusal’ to both District and Parish Councils in any initiative to sell the site. Unbeknownst to the Parish Council or to any of Meldreth’s elected representatives, the District Council had for five months been working up a proposal to purchase and reopen the disused site, without any consultation with the community – in spite of the District’s long-held view that for profound historic reasons, the old site would be unsuitable for reopening.

Supported by all of Meldreth’s elected representatives, the Parish Council has now submitted a bid for the land which has been accepted by Cambridgeshire County Council, subject to contract. The Parish Council will be consulting with local residents on the future use of the site, for community benefit.  The District Council withdrew its interest in purchasing the site on the basis that it would be inappropriate to enter a bidding war.

Susan has been coordinating the Parish Council’s ‘Mettle Hill Working Party’ and continues to liaise between Parish and County Councils as land purchase arrangements are completed.  A newsletter from the Mettle Hill Working Party, together with a full archive of the campaign, can be found at www.mettlehill.com.

DRAINAGE IMPROVEMENTS TO MELBOURN HIGH STREET

A collaborative effort involving Melbourn Parish Council, Melbourn Village College and Cambridgeshire County Council is underway to address long-standing drainage problems in the vicinity of Melbourn High Street.  The work is taking place in tandem with the clearance of the Old Police Site, and the start of building work on 13 affordable homes and a Community Hub which will provide a permanent site for Melbourn Library. Please contact Jose with any questions.

FOXTON LEVEL CROSSING FEASBILITY STUDY

Network Rail reported to the December meeting of the Meldreth, Shepreth and Foxton Rail User Group meeting that its feasibility study into the closing Foxton Level Crossing has entered a detailed phase, following an initial scoping exercise which determined conclusively that there is a strong case upon which to go forward.  In line with its national level crossing closure policy and its intention to look at ‘all options’ in the Foxton study, Network Rail will also be considering the future of some of the more rural level crossings in the area.

The pedestrian gate upgrade package is now complete.  An electrical earth problem causing gate failure earlier in the autumn is being addressed.  A summary of the meeting is at http://melbourn.org.uk/railusergroup/foxton-level-crossing-feasibility-study-moving-forward/.

WINTER COMPANIONSHIP FOR THE ELDERLY: SUPPORT BOBBLE DAY 8 FEBRUARY

Age UK reports that last year, over half a million older people in the UK spent Christmas Day alone.  Over one million older people around us have not seen a friend, neighbour or family member in over a month, and cold weather can have a devastating impact.  Age UK is calling on people across the UK to help ‘Warm Up Britain’ on Bobble Day, Friday 8th February 2013. ‘We aim to bring lonely older people together for hot meals, friendship activities or just by supplying toasty heaters, hot water bottles and socks. With the help of your Council the money raised will help us to reach over 500,000 older people this winter.’

All you need to do is plan to wear a bobble hat or woolly jumper for the day, paying £1 to do so: Register now at www.ageuk.org.uk/bobbleday or call 020 3033 1725 for all your support materials.

SCDC ARTS GRANT CUTS – LETTER FROM MELBOURN VILLAGE COLLEGE

MVC Principal Simon Holmes has written to all parents and carers asking them to respond to the SCDC consultation on arts grants cuts, which would have a significant impact on the college.  You can read the letter at http://susanvandeven.mycouncillor.org.uk/2012/12/17/melbourn-village-college-requests-support-over-arts-cuts/  The consultation deadline is 20 December; if you miss this date, it is probably still worth communicating any concerns you may have to SCDC – please contact Jose or Surinder for more details.

SUPERFAST BROADBAND REGISTRATIONS: PRESSING ON

Thanks for continuing to register interest in bringing Superfast Broadband to our villages, via www.connectingcambridgeshire.co.uk. Some people have reported McAfee virus warnings on the website and this has been reported to the County Council.  You can also contact any of us, providing your landline number and postcode, which we will pass on directly to the Council to add to the register.  Registration rates have improved markedly in our area.  However they are still significantly lower than those in other parts of the county.

FROZEN BINS

This is a widespread problem but probably more so in the Chishills and Heydon where the average temperature is a bit lower.  There is no way that the bin men can release frozen green bin contents, and they have no choice but to leave frozen bins un-emptied. The advice is to avoid putting bins out until close to collection time, and storing bins in a shed or garage if possible, or adjacent to your house where they may keep a bit warmer.

GAS LEAK: A10 FOWLMERE RD JUNCTION, SHEPRETH

Road closure at this junction, for emergency works to repair a gas leak, should have been resolved by the end of last weekend.  Susan is liaising with County Highways.

 HEYDON BURGLARY ALERT

Melbourn E-cops reports that ‘Three burglaries have taken place at the start of the month in Heydon. One in each of the following locations; Chishill Road, Fowlmere Road and High Close. All the premises were sheds where tools have been stolen.’

REQUEST FOR PAVEMENT AND ROAD SURFACE IMPROVEMENTS

Working through the Scrutiny process, Lib Dem councillors at Cambridgeshire County Council have successfully recommended a £90 million investment over four years in roads and pavements, which have been in a state of severe decline.  A priority list of urgent areas for attention is being sought from each parish in our division.

URGENT POTHOLE REPORTING

As always, please report potholes directly to street.scene@cambridgeshire.gov.uk.

FENNY LANE AND HIGH STREET DRAINAGE, MELDRETH

A follow-up meeting by the District and County Council drainage officers to sort out possible tree root blockage in under-road drains should take place imminently, with the aim of sorting out the flood risk around the Stock which caused property damage at Meldreth Manor School last summer.

CITIZENS ADVICE BUREAU: POSTCODE ANOMALY

If you have had any difficulties accessing help at Cambridge Citizens Advice Bureau due to an SG8 postcode, please let us know. Thanks to the Melbourn resident who brought this to attention.

YELLOW LINES RESOLUTION, MELDRETH AND FOXTON

An apology has been received from County Highways on the inappropriate delay in putting down long-awaited yellow line restrictions in Station Road Foxton and High Street Meldreth.

POST-16 RAIL DISCOUNT: WEBSITE LINK FOR CAMBRIDGESHIRE DISCOUNT

Anticipating the start of a new term, some parents have been looking to renew their children’s rail discount pass, which is the best offered anywhere on First Capital Connect’s patch at 50% rather than 30% off the adult fare.  Please follow this link – there have been website glitches so don’t hesitate to get in touch with us if you have any difficulties:

http://www.firstcapitalconnect.co.uk/tickets-and-fares/season-tickets/student-connect/student-connect-cambridge-faqs/

THE CASE FOR POLITICAL PARTIES IN LOCAL GOVERNMENT

A discussion evening will take place 1 February, 7:30 PM, at the Elin Way Sheltered Housing Community Room, Meldreth.  Tea and coffee will be served. There is no charge and everyone is welcome.

SURINDER’S DROP-IN SURGERIES

Meldreth, Elin Way Community Room:  7 January, 7-8PM (and first Mondays of the month).
Shepreth, Village Hall Meeting Room:  14 January, 7-8PM (and second Mondays of the month).

SUSAN AND JOSE’S DROP-IN SURGERIES

Melbourn Library Access Point, in the green portable cabin adjacent to the Melbourn Village College Entrance in The Moor: 7 January and first Mondays of the month, 2:30-3:30 PM.

A10 CORRIDOR CYCLE CAMPAIGN: NEW YEAR LAUNCH

Thank you to everyone who has responded with interest in an A10 Corridor Cycle Campaign. The idea is to help promote improvements to cycling both along the A10 itself (between Royston and Cambridge) but also, in and between the villages that straddle the A10.

A launch meeting will take place Tuesday 29 January, 7:30PM, at the Elin Way Sheltered Housing Community Room, Meldreth.  Tea and coffee will be served and anyone is welcome to come along, whether to join or just find out more.

A very happy Christmas to all, and best wishes for 2013.

Sincerely yours,

Susan, Jose and Surinder

Susan van de Ven, County Councillor
Foxton, Heydon, Melbourn, Meldreth, Shepreth and the Chishills
Contact details at www.susanvandeven.com
Twitter @susanvandeven

Jose Hales, District Councillor, Melbourn, Heydon and the Chishills
Contact details at www.josehales.com

Surinder Soond, District Councillor, Meldreth and Shepreth
Contact details at www.surindersoond.mycouncillor.org.uk
Twitter @surindersoond (#3villagesSPEP)

Monday, 17 December 2012

Nick Clegg Speech To Royal Commonwealth Society


Below is the video of Nick Clegg's end-of-year speech to the Royal Commonwealth Society;


If you're interested in just the text then I've included that below as well;

"I don't suppose it's exactly controversial to suggest that I and my party have changed over that period. Today I will argue that we've changed for the better.

Because my purpose here today is to explain, clearly and simply, what the Liberal Democrats offer the people of Britain, and why it's an offer which speaks to modern Britain.

Our offer is different from that of the Conservatives.

It's also different from Labour's offer. That won't surprise you.
What will surprise you, perhaps, is that it's different too from the offer of the Liberal Democrats in opposition.

What I want to set out is a case for why Britain should be governed from the centre ground. A case for both a stronger economy and a fairer society, because we can have both - they are not mutually exclusive.

Serious parties know that that the centre ground is the only place from which Britain can be governed. And serious leaders try to keep their parties in the centre ground.

But in times of economic distress, when people and parties are under pressure, when there are no easy answers, no silver bullets, only tough choices - at times like these, politics quickly becomes polarised as the homing instincts of ideologues to the right and the left kick in.

The Tory right dreams of a fantasy world...

  • where we can walk away from the EU, but magically keep our economy strong...
  • where we can pretend the world hasn't moved on, and stand opposed to equal marriage...
  • where we can refuse to accept the verdict of the British people and pretend the Conservatives won a majority of their own.

The Labour left lives in a different, but no less destructive, fantasy world...

  • where their irresponsible borrowing in government can be remedied by borrowing more...
  • where every budget reduction can be opposed without explaining where the money should come from...
  • where games can be played with political reform and EU budget policy without long-term damage to their credibility.

It is at times like these that Britain needs a party rooted in the centre ground, which anchors the country there.

The Liberal Democrats are that party. We're not centre ground tourists. The centre ground is our home.

While the tribalists in other parties desert the centre ground under pressure, the Liberal Democrats have done the reverse. Under pressure, we've moved towards the centre.

Governing from the centre ground means applying pragmatic liberalism to the policy challenges of our time.

But pragmatic liberalism is not the same as dogmatic liberalism. And that is what distinguishes Liberal Democrats in opposition from Liberal Democrats in government.

The greatest strength of our party is our idealism. But in our strength lies our weakness - because sometimes idealism can turn into dogma, or at least an unwillingness to engage fully with the day-to-day experiences and perspectives of the British people we seek to serve.

A party of government knows that workable solutions need to be grounded in values - but also that they must respond to the hopes and fears of reasonable people.

This is the lesson we've learnt in government. The challenges of governing at a difficult time have given us a harder edge and a more practical outlook.

It's worth pausing here for a moment and making a point about the immediate future of my party. There are two alternatives.

If we are to become a more permanent fixture of government, then it will be, at least at first, as a partner in coalitions.

That means embracing the realities of coalition government, and becoming better and better at negotiating successfully on behalf of those in Britain who expect us to stand up for them.

It means accepting compromise.

It means putting up with people who object that we haven't got everything they wanted, and who can't see the value in getting much, much more than we ever could in opposition.

Because that is the alternative - a retreat to the comfort and relative irrelevance of opposition.

But - and let me make this very clear - choosing opposition over government is not a values-free choice.

It is a dereliction of duty. Because if our values and principles matter to us, we should want to see them deployed for the good of the British people. It's not about us, after all. It's about the people we serve.

Let me offer an example of how, in government, the Liberal Democrats have tacked towards the centre, not away from it.

In opposition, it would have been easy to decry the less pleasant consequences of austerity. No matter how rational opposition parties try to be, it's just too easy, too tempting, to go for the quick win. That's why opposition parties are so good at spending 'savings' two, three or four times over. Play budgeting with play money.

But in government, we've not been able to do that.

We know from experience now: if you protect the health and education budgets, as we correctly did, you can't oppose every reduction in the welfare budget.

If you want to protect welfare as well, you've got to accept that you'll end up gutting the crime budget, or the BIS budget, or local government. We get that now. We've learnt to live with a host of invidious choices.

Another example: in these distressed economic times, the ideologues to left and right find comfort in the shibboleths of their preferred economic doctrines and turn their backs on evidence and reason.

So the prescription of the right is all supply-side - deregulate, cut, get out of the way.

The prescription of the left is all demand-driven - tax, borrow, spend, intervene.

In government, we've rejected these Manichean alternatives and stuck with a more flexible approach.

Yes, we have to cut expenditure to bring down the deficit. Otherwise we put ourselves in hock to the bond markets, drive up interest rates and impoverish future generations.

And yes, we have deregulated:

  • We've stripped back accountancy rules for the smallest businesses.
  • We've simplified the rules around maternity leave and flexible working.
  • We've extended the qualifying period for unfair dismissal so businesses can be confident about hiring new staff.
  • But we have also taken steps to drive demand:
  • We've put money back in the pockets of the low and middle income families we know are most likely to spend it with our income tax cut.
  • We've taken every opportunity to increase investment in capital - infrastructure, roads, rail, schools
  • We've established the Regional Growth Fund, the Growing Places Fund and multi-billion pound Treasury guarantees for investment to unlock private sector growth.
  • We have resisted the false choice between a state that steps in and assumes control, and a state that backs off and washes its hands.

We have embraced the challenge of building an enabling state that acts where necessary and backs off where not…

  • Promoting, inspiring and facilitating growth and opportunity.
  • But recognising that the strong economy we want can only be built on the back of hard work and responsibility by citizens themselves.

So we've been on a journey. But our journey has been towards the centre ground, not away from it. Because the centre ground is where liberals are best able to fulfil our purpose in politics.

For Liberal Democrats, our purpose is to enable every person to be who they want to be and to get on in life. Freedom and opportunity combined. Or what the philosophers might call 'substantive freedom'.

To deliver on our purpose, we need to build a stronger economy in a fairer society.

We need a stronger economy because without resilience and sustainable growth, our economy will never be able to deliver the jobs and the opportunity people need.

We need a fairer society because unless we ensure everyone has the means to get on, some will be left behind while others race ahead, and our society will become increasingly unfair and unequal.

And so every policy we promote has to make our economy stronger and our society fairer.

What underpins our 'stronger economy, fairer society' agenda, and gives it a distinctly liberal flavour, is a very clear conception of the appropriate balance between the role of the state and the role of the citizen.

For us, that relationship is clear: it is the government's responsibility to ensure every person has the opportunity to get on, but every person must take personal responsibility for using those opportunities by working hard.

We cannot absolve people of their responsibility for improving their own lives, because to do so would be to turn them into dependants - and so deny their agency and compromise their dignity. You can't build a stronger economy with people lost to dependency.

At the same time, we cannot wash our hands of those without the means and advantages to get on in life alone. To do so would compromise their potential and diminish their dignity - a tragedy for them and a waste for society. You can't build a fair society when you deny some the chance to fulfil their potential.

Our commitment to opportunity has deep roots. Liberals have an unshakeable belief in human potential. We know that children born in the most difficult circumstances can rise above them and live the fullest of lives - but only if they're given the help to do so.

Parents know what I mean. You look at your children and yearn with hope for their future. You do whatever you can to give them every advantage. You worry about the obstacles they will face, and you plan to help them overcome them all.

But equally, parents know that kids need to learn to look after themselves. Slowly but surely, we guide them into independence and adulthood. Because we know that to be happy, they will need the means and capacity to run their own lives - and pass their love and skills on to the grandchildren they might give you one day.

Parents know instinctively that a balance of opportunity and responsibility are what human beings need to thrive. Why would the state treat people otherwise?

And so we need both - a stronger economy and a fairer society; more opportunity and more responsibility.

Every one of our policies needs to meet this test."


Friday, 14 December 2012

It’s Time We Told The Truth...We Are Losing The War On Drugs On An Industrial Scale

Days after a report by MPs that called for a Royal Commission to look at UK drug laws, Nick admitted the UK is 'losing the war on drugs on an industrial scale' and called for the UK to look at examples from overseas of what works to tackle drug addiction and drug-related crime.

Speaking to The Sun newspaper, Nick Clegg said: "It's time we told the truth. In politics, as in life, you can't keep on doing something that doesn't work. You can't keep repeating the same mistakes."

"If you were waging any other war where you have 2,000 fatalities a year, your enemies are making billions in profits, constantly throwing new weapons at you and targeting more young people - you'd have to say you are losing and it's time to do something different. I'm anti-drugs - it's for that reason I'm pro reform."

"Politicians admit the war on drugs is not working. But when they're in government, they say everything is fine. We've got to level with the British people and tell them what many people already know - it's time to do something different."

Nick also admitted that he disagrees with the Prime Minister on this issue. He said: "I was disappointed that the Home Office ruled out an open-minded, level-headed look at all this before the ink had even dried on the committee report.

"I told the Prime Minister that this was a missed opportunity. He knows my views on this. He and I don't agree on this."

Nick has asked Liberal Democrat Home Office minister Jeremy Browne to review different approaches to tackling drug addiction and crime overseas, including those used in Portugal and the Netherlands. He added: "Let's look at what works elsewhere. I'm going to make sure we look properly at the evidence in this Parliament."

You can read Nick Clegg's full interview with The Sun here.

Heads of Government Suffer Exhaustion - Andrew Duff MEP

Andrew Duff MEP
Commenting on the results of the European Council of 13-14 December, Andrew Duff MEP said:-

"After several years of hectic crisis management, the heads of government appear to have the stuffing knocked out of them. On banking union, our crisis weary leaders have just managed to agree their position for the legislative negotiations with the European Parliament. They also admit that the single supervisory mechanism now needs a properly funded resolution mechanism if it is to be genuinely effective at sorting out Europe's bust and lawless banks.

"In taking these decisions the European Council follows the lead given by the European Parliament. They also agree yet another but more protracted 'time-bound road map' - presumably liable to further delay according to the results of the German elections.

"On the negative side, however, this summit has accepted neither Mr Barroso's blueprint for fiscal union nor even Mr Van Rompuy's bid to increase the EU's fiscal capacity. One wonders how these two gentlemen will enjoy Christmas.

"What has entirely disappeared from the European Council is the notion of a reflection on federal economic government to run things after fiscal integration has eventually been deepened. This is a huge mistake for the prime ministers to make because it will leave them and their national parliaments wholly unprepared to develop the constitution of the European Union in a democratic and efficient manner.

"So it falls to the European Parliament to fill the gap and, in advance of the May 2014 elections, to provoke a debate about political union. Federalist MEPs, in particular, now have a duty to spell out the treaty changes which they want to form the agenda of the Convention which will begin in February 2015."

Thursday, 13 December 2012

A Super-Sized Christmas Thank You From Connecting Cambridgeshire



A super-size Christmas greeting is going out today (Thursday 13 December) to thank tens of thousands of homes and businesses that have supported the countywide campaign to bring superfast broadband to Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.

More than 23,000 people have registered their demand for better broadband with the Connecting Cambridgeshire campaign since it was launched in May, making it one of the fastest growing and biggest broadband campaigns in the country.

An e-Christmas thank you message is being posted on the Connecting Cambridgeshire website and sent out to thousands of campaign supporters via email.

The campaign success has been achieved with the fantastic support of 100 local Broadband Champions, who have distributed leaflets, and used community websites and newsletters to encourage registrations in their communities, particularly in rural areas.

Cambridgeshire County Councillor Ian Bates, Cabinet Member for Growth and Planning, met with some of the Broadband Champions at Grafham Water yesterday to thank them for their efforts, and to send a Christmas greeting to all the campaign's supporters.

He said: "We want to thank the thousands of people in homes and businesses who have taken the Connecting Cambridgeshire campaign sky high to show there is strong demand for better broadband across the county.

"We could not have achieved this without the support of our Broadband Champions and local councillors. They have done a fantastic job encouraging people to register and gathering local case studies to show the difference better broadband will make to people's home and work life."

Phil Wheatcroft, Broadband Champion for Perry, said: "Being a broadband champion has been surprisingly enjoyable and a real eye-opener. The downside has been hearing about how businesses, organisations and residents struggle and despair over the slow connection we have. This has spurred me on, as I can see how important it is for people to have superfast broadband in rural villages such as Perry.

"I was quite inspired after hearing Cambridgeshire County Council Leader Nick Clarke explain why he believes superfast broadband is so important to the county, how difficult it had been to convince others and to secure funding for the scheme. I could understand why, given the economic climate, but it makes so much sense ands we want to make sure the rural areas don't get left behind."

More than 6,000 people have also asked to be kept informed about the campaign through updates on the Connecting Cambridgeshire website at www.connectingcambridgeshire.co.uk which has a range of case studies showing how householders and home-based businesses will benefit from better broadband.

Active campaigning will close on 31 December, but homes and businesses will still be able to register their demand online for a little while longer. Every registration counts to show suppliers the level of demand for better broadband across the county

The next stage of the Connecting Cambridgeshire programme will be to award the contract to a supplier early next year to roll-out better broadband for all over the next three years.

Cambridgeshire County Council has committed up to £20 million with £3 million from Peterborough City Council together with £6.75 million from the Government funding body BDUK for the roll-out of superfast broadband by 2015.

Connecting Cambridgeshire is one of several UK broadband delivery projects in the 'pipeline' and will be seeking State Aid exemption during the final stages of the complex procurement process before finalising the contract award to a supplier in the early months of 2013.

Mid-December Greetings From Cambridge Carbon Footprint!

The new climate change documentary, Chasing Ice, is hitting the screens in the UK, and we have teamed up with the Arts Picturehouse to bring you a Q&A session with Dr Ed King, a British Antartic Survey glaciologist, after the matinee screening this Saturday! This is a fantastic opportunity to see this award winning film on the big screen and learn more about climate change in the polar regions, so book your tickets soon from the Arts Picturehouse and be one of the first to see this beautiful and frightening documentary.

We have three Carbon Conversations groups starting in January, and we still have places left, so if you want to start the new year with a smaller carbon footprint, pick a time and location to suit you and get in touch!

Carbon Conversation Groups starting in January

We are pleased to announce that we have three new Carbon Conversation Groups starting in January!

Transition Cambridge group: this group is for people who are involved with Transition Cambridge and who subscribe to the Transition Cambridge bulletin
Venue: Hills Road near the rail station

North Cambridge: an open group running in the evenings in north Cambridge
Venue: CCF office (Milton Road near the Westbrook Centre)

Trumpington: following our successful Warm Homes Trumpington event we are running a local Carbon Conversation course for anyone interested in attending
Venue: Trumpington Pavilion, Paget Road

Carbon Conversations is a series of six engaging meetings in which participants address climate change in a different way, focusing on values, emotions, lifestyle and identity as well as the basic facts of carbon emissions.

To learn more about Carbon Conversations, or to join an upcoming group please emailinfo@cambridgecarbonfootprint.org or phone 01223 301842.

Chasing Ice at the Arts Picturehouse 15 December

Saturday 15 December, 3 - 5.15pm, Arts Picturehouse

Cambridge Carbon Footprint is very pleased to be teaming up with the Arts Picturehouse and Dr Ed King, a British Antartic Survey glaciologist, for a Q&A session following the matinee showing of “Chasing Ice” on Saturday December 15th at 3:00pm.

Winner of the cinematography prize at Sundance 2012 and of numerous other awards, Chasing Ice is an achingly beautiful documentary about climate change. A little about the film, from the Chasing Ice website (where you can also view the trailer): In the spring of 2005, acclaimed environmental photographer James Balog headed to the Arctic on a tricky assignment for National Geographic: to capture images to help tell the story of the Earth’s changing climate. Even with a scientific upbringing, Balog had been a skeptic about climate change. But that first trip north opened his eyes to the biggest story in human history and sparked a challenge within him that would put his career and his very well-being at risk.

Tickets are available now from the Arts Picturehouse box office and can be bought online from their website in the usual way.

Grow Your Own Year Round Workshop 7 January

Monday 7 January, 7.30 - 9.30pm, Ann Dowcra Room, Friends Meeting House, Jesus Lane

Whether you’re new to growing your own food, or a seasoned experimenter, this workshop led by expert grower Keith Jordan, is essential if you want to eat your own produce all year round. “Grow Your Own Year Round” will help you plan your garden and planting schedule so that you always have something from the garden to eat, no matter the season.

Space will be limited so please book ahead by emailing info@cambridgecarbonfootprint.org or calling us at 01223 301842. All materials will be provided.

Vegetarian Cooking Workshop: Veggie Burger Delight 16 January

Wednesday 16 January, 6.30 - 8.30pm, CCF office, Milton Rd

Learn how to make a variety of your own veggie burgers, such as black bean or falafel burgers with this hands-on workshop in January. Hosted by two vegetarian and vegan cooking experts, you’ll come away from the class with great new skills and recipes, especially if you’re new to vegetarian cooking.

Materials will be provided, and the workshops will take place at our office off Milton Road (for directions and map, see here). Donations are greatly appreciated to help cover costs (suggested £3-5/person).

This will be the first in an ongoing series of low-carbon cooking workshops, this workshop has 10 places available, so please email us at info@cambridgecarbonfootprint.org or call01223 301842 to book. Please let us know if you have any particular allergies or intollerances in advance.

Climate Science in the Media: could it be done better, and how much does it matter? 22 January

Tuesday 22 January, 7.30 - 9.30pm, Lord Ashcroft Building (LAB) room 109, Anglia Ruskin University

A key route via which the public currently acquires climate science information is through the media. In 2011, a series of focus groups and a national opinion poll were conducted to assess the public’s reaction to climate science news articles and explore issues of trust in climate scientists. In this talk, Dr .  Rosie Robison, Research Fellow at the Global Sustainability Institute at Anglia Ruskin University will present the key findings of this important study, which gives interesting insights into how the public engages with climate change issues. Dr. Robison will also raise some wider questions about the differences (and similarities) between scientists’ and non-scientists’ attitudes to climate science.

This exciting talk isn’t until the 22nd of January but in the meantime you can whet your curiosity and see the report here. Please book a place for this talk, which you can do by emailing info@cambridgecarbonfootprint.org or calling 01223 301842.

Venue: Lord Ashcroft Building (LAB) room 109. Arrival either via the main entrance to ARU (on East Rd), and ask for directions, or come to the side entrance to the Lord Ashcroft Building on Broad St.

Shale Gas can Ruin the Future

Exploitation of shale gas seems irresistible to our leaders, in spite of threatening runaway climate change. In the US vast gas reserves can make them independent of Middle East oil, with global political consequences when India & China become the main customers instead.

Now George Osborne has announced a new generation of gas power stations and tax incentives for UK shale gas. Burning gas has about half the carbon emissions of coal, so some claim it’s a stepping-stone to low-carbon energy: US emissions seem to be falling as a result. But fracking for shale gas often causes methane to leak up through the ground, which may make it worse than coal, as methane is 30-times more potent for climate change than CO2. Also the “better than coal” argument only applies if you leave it in the ground. Instead rising US coal exports are driving down global coal prices, with 6 new Pacific ports planned to export more coal to Asia. In response to falling prices, UK coal consumption has risen by a quarter in a year.

Please ask Cameron to honour his pledges on “the greenest government ever” by signingthis Christmas Card to him. It’s time to make plans for our own greener 2013. What are the best ways for you go low-carbon?

If you’re house is already quite efficient, and you have a suitable roof, can you afford to put solar thermal or PV on it? Although the FITs payments for solar PV have fallen, so has their cost. See Energy Savings Trust’s calculator and Transition’s FAQ

All the best for 2013.

Tom Bragg

Cambridge Carbon Footprint
www . cambridgecarbonfootprint . org
01223 301842

Facebook - https://www . facebook . com/CamCarbonFootprint
Twitter - http ://twitter . com/CCFcambridge

Liberal Democrats Ending DNA Database For Innocent People

Image Courtesy Wikimedia

"In a fair society it is simply not right that innocent people can have their DNA stored by the state.

"That is why Liberal Democrats are restoring basic rights to millions of people.

"Under Labour, the Government collected the DNA of millions of people who had done absolutely nothing wrong. From children to witnesses, British citizens DNA was collected and stored.

"Astonishingly, the Labour Party still think it's right that the Government should hold such personal information, even if you've done nothing wrong.

"DNA is critical for police investigations, but only suspects and those convicted should be profiled. That's why this month, following the Liberal Democrat-led Protection of Freedoms Act, the Coalition Government will begin destroying six million unnecessary DNA records."

E-Cops - Beat Update

Last week, there was a report of two men behaving in a suspicious manner whilst they were carrying out construction work in Otter Close, Bar Hill. One of these men was seen walking around Bar Hill down alleyways distributing leaflets. I fear this may be related to recent thefts of lead flashing from houses in the past month.

I located these men soon after the report was made and have completed the necessary checks on them. They were both known to the police for various offences. An intelligence item has been submitted regarding these two men being in the area. Their details have been recorded and passed onto Trading Standards for them to be aware in case any reports of rogue trading come to light in the near future.

On 8th December around midnight a theft took place at the Menzies Hotel, Bar Hill a group of unknown men have stolen a metal pole from the reception area.

If you wish to report a crime, suspicious behaviour or activity please rings our non emergency number which is 101. If you believe that a crime is in progress please ring 999. I also welcome anyone to contact me on bujar.mani@cambs.pnn.police.uk if you wish to let me know of any issues you may be experiencing.

Kind Regards

PCSO Bujar Mani 7009
Histon Neighbourhood Policing Team

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

12.12.12: Time to Decide! Time for a Constituent Convention for a European Federation


The meeting of the European Council in Brussels on 13-14 December 2012 will face difficult decisions on the launch of a banking union and a blueprint for a fiscal and political union to strengthen the Eurozone. On the day preceding the summit, the Union of European Federalists (UEF) and the Young European Federalists (JEF) are carrying out a campaign-day cross Europe with the common slogan "12.12.12: TIME TO DECIDE, TIME FOR A EUROPEAN FEDERATION!"

"After four years of Euro-crisis and countless meetings of the European Heads of State and Government, it is high time to take long-term structural decisions, before growing social discontent and Euro-skepticisms across Europe will make it impossible for Europe to progress further. We need to bring together the plans for a banking, fiscal, economic and political union. We need a precise roadmap to a Convention to prepare a new constitutional pact that reshapes the Euro-zone and the other countries willing to join such a project into a democratic federation while allowing forms of looser integration for those countries who don't intend to join the Euro" declares Pauline Gessant, President of the Young European Federalists (JEF).

Andrew Duff, MEP, President of the Union of European Federalists (UEF) declares: "We welcome the proposals of Mr van Rompuy for strengthening the European monetary union by providing it with a fiscal capacity and effective and democratic decision-making. A serious fiscal union requires not only stringent controls on national budgets, but also a robust power to tax and spend at European level to promote growth and support member states when in difficulty. The power to control national budgets and to tax European citizens and corporations requires European democracy. The scale of such challenges requires a European public debate and the involvement of the representatives of the European citizens. Only a Convention can achieve that."

The Union of European Federalists (UEF), is a supranational political movement founded in 1947 dedicated to uniting Europe along federal lines.

Andrew Duff MEP, is UEF President since 2008. He represented the European Parliament at the Lisbon Intergovernmental Conference.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Public Help Cambridgeshire Library Service Join The IT Crowd

Bar Hill Library

In the New Year residents will start to benefit from free Wi-Fi in Cambridgeshire Libraries and updated public computers, to help them seek jobs, access services and stay in touch.

Earlier this year, customers were asked for their views on the current IT provision in their local library. Coupled with feedback often received by staff in libraries, it was clear that the public felt the computers could be improved to make it easier for them to access web based services.

A free Wi-Fi network will be installed in phases across Cambridgeshire Libraries, whilst public computers will be upgraded to enable a better service that supports modern software.

Cambridgeshire County Council's Cabinet for Learning, Cllr David Harty said "Our library computers are regularly used for a wide range of things from job hunting, to resources for homework and to keeping in touch with friends and family. We've known for some time that the majority of them needed upgrading and Wi-Fi is regularly requested. We're now making this investment as part of plans to create a 21st Century Library Service.

"This in turn helps to support the Governments Digital by Default initiative - by helping to provide internet access to those who may not have it at home, or who feel unsure how to use it."

Local Parish Councillor Andy Pellew said "It's vitally important that upgrades to the service like this aren't seen as one-offs, in order to ensure that Government services which are increasingly available on-line can be accessed by everyone it's vital that local libraries are kept up to date. I welcome this investment in our communities and specifically in Bar Hill".

£1.8bn Snoopers' Charter Cannot Become Law - Julian Huppert MP


Controversial plans for a £1.8 billion plus snoopers’ charter giving the government powers to access all private data through secret notices cannot be allowed to become law says MP Julian Huppert.

He been part of the largest ever piece of pre-legislative scrutiny of the Draft Communications Data Bill as a cross-party member of a panel of MPs and Peers and the proposals are “damning” and the Bill in its present format cannot proceed, he says.

“It was shocking to me just how little effort the Home Office made to work through their proposals with the mobile phone companies and the Facebooks and the Googles,” he said. “They didn’t bother to consult properly, assuming that discussions they’d had in 2009 on similar proposals by the Labour government would suffice. And they failed to talk through the details with the Commissioners here in the UK who would have to supervise the system.

“The Home Office proposals go way beyond the current rules with virtually no safeguards, asking for powers for the Home Secretary to insist on any information about any communications being kept, via secret notices.

“Our committee has looked into this, and concludes ‘the draft Bill pays insufficient attention to the duty to respect the right to privacy, and goes much further than it need or should’.

“The Police and a huge range of other bodies already have access to information for 12 months about every call you make, every text message you send and the websites you visit. It’s the ‘who, what and where’ of your call, not what you actually said.

“They use this power a lot – each year sees around 500,000 requests for this data, for everything from serious crimes to minor investigations. There are some benefits from the existing approach – communications data is undoubtedly useful; knowing who a terrorist sent Facebook messages to can be vital.”

But under the Bill everyone becomes a suspect as the new powers could be used for speeding offences, fly tipping and for vague reasons such as being in “the interests of the economic well-being of the United Kingdom.

The Home Office estimates the cost of the new powers would be £1.8 billion but the committee feared that the cost could be greater given the experience of other government IT projects.

“It beggars belief that this amount of money was being committed with so little evidence at a time like this,” said Julian. “This Bill has been put to the test, and failed.”

Andrew Watson, Cambridge coordinator of NO2ID, the campaign against the database state, said: "With the Internet and mobile phones now so much a part of everyone's daily lives, what's being proposed is nothing less than permanent, minute-by-minute, blanket surveillance of the entire country.

"We all want the police to be able to detect crime, but just as they need a warrant from a magistrate to search a suspect's house, so they should have to get a judicial warrant to investigate suspicious internet use."

"This Communications Data Bill is the most dangerous long-term threat to a free society ever proposed by a democratic government; Parliament must reject it in its entirety.”

Groping For Government- Guest Post by Andrew Duff MEP

Andrew Duff MEP

The leaders (or most of them) make their way from the high Nobel rhetoric at Oslo to the low cunning of the meeting of the European Council in Brussels this Thursday and Friday. This is a more important summit than usual because it is supposed to take the definitive decisions to install the triptych of banking union, fiscal union and political union, first outlined by Herman Van Rompuy in June. The goal is 'Genuine Economic and Monetary Union' ‑ not to be confused with the actual Economic and Monetary Union, in whose pursuit we have been since the Treaty of Maastricht was negotiated in 1991.

More work

The first report of Van Rompuy and his presidential colleagues from the Commission (Barroso), Eurogroup (Juncker) and Central Bank (Draghi) was not swallowed whole by the European Council. The quartet was sent away to do more work. A second 'Interim Report' appeared in October, and a third, presumably final draft last week (5 December). Each re-write has had the merit of putting more detail into the banking union and fiscal union package, even if the ingredients have not been consistent. Some elements have lost prominence, such as the deposit guarantee scheme for banks, and others, notably the resolution mechanism, have been put on hold until such time as the disciplinary arm of the single supervisory mechanism is in place.

The European Parliament, meanwhile, has been slaving away to improve the legislative package on banking union, adding clarity where the Commission's initial drafts were vague, and enhancing the scope and force of the supervisory mechanism. If Parliament gets its way (Thyssen and Giegold reports), all Europe's banks and not just the obvious ones will be subject to supervision, and all member states which aspire and intend to join the euro will be expected to sign contractual agreements to obey the instructions of the ECB. In return, the Bank's Governing Council will be expected to accept the decisions of the Supervisory Board, on which all participating states will have equal status. Van Rompuy's paper thanks Parliament for 'a valuable contribution'. One supposes that gratitude will become more heartfelt once we unpickle the Two Pack.

Get ready to be disappointed

However, the level of anticipation in this week's European Council meeting is such that we might be wise to prepare ourselves for disappointment. The governments seem strangely ill-prepared after months of discussion to commit themselves even to the more diluted proposals of Van Rompuy III. Mixed messages from Germany are spectacularly unhelpful. Angela Merkel comes to Parliament to praise the Community method (7 November) ‑ and bury her Bruges speech of two years ago in which she proclaimed her fondness for a more intergovernmental 'Union method'. Wolfgang Schäuble, however, dishes the hope of even a partial mutualisation of sovereign debt via the redemption fund until all the building blocks of a federal union are in place. François Hollande looks merely muddled. The dreaded Berlusconi threatens to return. David Cameron labours on A Great Speech which, we are told, will spell out how far and fast the UK wishes to withdraw from Europe.

Goaded into action, the European Commission published its own Blueprint for a deep and genuine EMU on 28 November, spelling out the large volume of secondary legislation to come. José Manuel Barroso also promises his agenda for treaty change, although apparently not before the spring of 2014, just when Parliament dissolves into election mode. That is too late if Barroso hopes to influence the electoral campaign which will be driven by those candidates for his job who are to be nominated by the European parties. The Commission's should quicken its pace and bring forward its plans for treaty revision at the latest to next autumn.

The draft conclusions of the European Council on political union are even more lame than those of the Commission. The heads of government merely commit to discuss these constitutional questions 'after the election of a new European Parliament and the appointment of a new Commission' in 2014. That is hardly a bold orientation.

Who's afraid of government?

Both Commission and European Council make the usual platitudes about the need for more parliamentary democracy. But there is also a tantalising glimpse of what the EU needs by way of more government. Van Rompuy III talks of the need for 'stronger mechanisms … to ensure trust in the effectiveness of European and national policies, to fulfil vital public functions, … to protect citizens from the effects of unsound economic and fiscal policies, and to ensure high levels of growth and social welfare'. The report admits that 'an integrated budgetary framework would require the establishment of a Treasury function with clearly defined responsibilities'. It calls for 'adequate arrangements' to reinforce the 'capacity of the European level to take executive economic policy decisions'.

What is this executive thing with 'vital public functions' to perform? In plain language, we would call this 'government'. Is it gradually dawning on our leaders that fiscal union needs to be run by a federal economic government if it is to secure confidence in the financial and political market place?

The Commission is naturally reticent about the emergence of a new level of executive authority in the Union, higher to itself. The heads of government fear to speak the truth to their voters about the pooling of sovereignty required under 'genuine' EMU. So it falls to the European Parliament to make the waves. MEPs should understand, at least, that fully fledged parliamentary democracy will only thrive as a counterpoint to fully fledged government. Can Parliament prove it is serious by using its new Lisbon powers to embark on constitutional reform?

The best we can hope for is that by Friday the European Council will manage to commit itself to the opening of a constitutional Convention in the spring of 2015. Such a decision would dispel the fog that enshrouds all these disorientating roadmaps.

EU treaty change, of course, is risky and complex. Blueprints need to survive the most rigorous critique. As Europe gropes for government, another useful decision of the heads of government would be to set up, in the course of 2013, a group of reflection to explore the parameters of the Convention's mandate and to suppress silly or simplistic ideas. The Laeken Declaration in 2001 which led to the Giscard Convention was prepared in just such a way. Reflection worked then. It is much needed now.

Andrew Duff MEP is President of the Union of European Federalists (UEF) and co-chair of the Spinelli Group of MEPs. @Andrew_Duff_MEP

European Patent Will Boost UK Businesses


Liberal Democrat MEPs have warmly welcomed today's green light for the long-awaited deal on a unitary European Patent.

The European Parliament has voted to accept a hard-fought compromise package which has taken nearly forty years to negotiate. Two states, Spain and Italy, have declined to take part on the grounds that their languages are not included in the patent filing process.

Andrew Duff MEP, who represents the important cluster of science research in the East of England, commented:
"Today sees a huge break-through for European innovation and competitiveness. The final agreement on a unitary patent will greatly reduce red tape and costs for businesses across Europe. 
"The judicial system is complicated by the fact that two states have not joined in on the grounds of linguistic envy. But the ultimate authority of the European Court of Justice is assured, and we can expect the gradual growth of case-law which will build confidence in the unitary system. 
"Those who fear that software developments will now be clobbered by excessive patenting by large firms can be reassured: software remains within the realm of copyright law. 
"It is remarkable that British Green and UKIP MEPs have united in their opposition to this new EU patent system. One can only speculate as to what solution they have to the current fractured state of European intellectual property."
Lib Dem MEP for London, Sarah Ludford, added:
"Finally, following almost 40 years of negotiations a single EU patent has arrived. This is a really important historic achievement - though none too soon - that will reduce costs by up to 80%, improving the competitive position of UK businesses in relation to the US and Japan, where patents are substantially cheaper."  
"The fact that the 'Life Sciences' section of the future EU patent court will be located in London is a great tribute to the capital's leadership in chemical and medical research. The new law will make EU-wide patents easier and cheaper to obtain for eventual commercial application arising from work in this field. This is great news for the Francis Crick Institute, currently being built at St Pancras, bringing together several research institutes to form be the largest biomedical research laboratory in Europe when it opens in 2015."
At present, patents have to be registered in each European country separately. In future, an applicant will now be able to register a unitary patent in any EU language and the request will be processed by the European Patent Office in English, French or German. Automatic translation services will be accessible free of charge in all EU languages in order to keep costs down for SMEs, universities, research organisations and ordinary citizens. The European Patent Court will be split in three locations with Paris as the administrative centre, Munich as the centre for mechanical engineering and London as the hub for chemicals, pharmaceuticals and life sciences.

Monday, 10 December 2012

£100,000 Busway Cycle Path Lighting Looks Set To Go-Ahead


A campaign led by Liberal Democrat Amanda Taylor to highlight safety issues along the city stretch stretch of the guided busway cycle track in Cambridge looks set to result in a £100,000 investment in new lighting.

Cambridgeshire County Councillors are being recommended to support the lighting project for the busway from Cambridge railway station to Trumpington Park and Ride.

Amanda Taylor raised a 230 signature petition after cyclists were injured while riding along the cycleway. Injuries ranged from bruises to broken teeth and a sprained wrist. Some people, especially women and the elderly, were worried for their personal safety on dark stretches of the cycle path.

County council officers are carrying out feasibility work to examine all options for the new lighting

“The (south) area committee agreed that lighting the busway cycleway is a top priority and this scored highly in terms of value for money and as such is being recommended for funding,” said the officers’ report. “Lighting could significantly improve safety at night and increase pedestrian and cycle usage at night.”

Amanda said: “This is extremely good news. We want to encourage people to be able to use the cycleway but they cannot do so if they don’t feel safe.

“The petition was a very clear indication that people feel strongly about this issue and want to see this project go-ahead. Lighting would significantly improve this stretch and I hope councillors will give it their support.”

Council officers are also recommending support for improvements to the cycleway on Cambridge’s Long Road following a petition by resident Sam Davies.

Sam, of Hills Road cycles along Long Rd with her children. She set up a Facebook page to campaign for improvements and has spoken at the South Area Committee on the issue.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

E-Cops - E-cops Update

We have had a total of 5 crimes reported to us since my last ecops message. Please see the relevant ones below.

Between the 04/12/2012 and the 05/12/2012 unknown offenders have entered the feed room, on a stable site in Scotland Road, Dry Drayton.A quantity of feed was taken.

Between the 08/12/2012 and the 09/12/2012 unknown offenders have stolen a bowl and metal pole from Menzies Hotel in Bar Hill.

There were three incidents last weekend where oil worth several hundred pounds was siphoned from tanks.

Thieves stole fuel from a tank in Fen Drayton, between 6pm on Friday (November 30) and 6pm the following day, in Caxton between 2pm on Friday and 7.30am on Monday and in Odsey, Baldock, between 2.30pm on Saturday and 9.30am on Sunday.

We are working hard to tackle this and have stepped up our pro active patrols around these areas. I have included some security advice below - please take the time to read this as it could reduce the chances of you becoming a victim to this type of crime.

Theft of heating and diesel oil has been a problem for many years and the police have noticed an increase in this type of crime whenever the price of crude oil rises. A rise in the price of fuel at the petrol pump inevitably leads to a rise in the costs of heating oil. This makes oil a more attractive proposition for thieves who are targeting fuel tanks at farms, transport depots and domestic properties. The thieves may be using the oil for their own central heating or selling it on at a handsome profit.

Tanks can contain many thousands of pounds worth of oil and it therefore makes good sense to take a few precautions to protect them. The purpose of this information is to give the reader a few ideas about what can be done to make life more difficult for thieves.

OFTEC or the ‘Oil Firing Technical Association for the petroleum industry’ offers advice and guidance for those who use and store oil at their premises. There are certain rules and regulations that may apply to you and OFTEC will help clarify these for you.

They can be reached at www.oftec.org or by calling 0845 6585 080. They also produce an ‘easy guide to domestic oil storage’.

POSITIONING OF YOUR OIL TANK

The position of the tank can have a significant effect on how hard a target it is in the eyes of the thief. If the tank is close to the house, with one or more windows capable of giving a view of it, then the thief may consider the chances of being seen too high. If the tank is close to a road, path, drive or alleyway then it will be a far easier target. Hiding the tank behind the garage, shed or some other type of outbuilding is fairly commonplace, but it does give the thief the advantage.

While it may not be desirable, or legal, to have the tank close to the house some sort of compromise location would be sensible. Of course this will not only be a major consideration when a new tank is to be installed but may be necessary if the tank has been targeted before. They do need to be within a reasonable distance of the road otherwise the oil supply company may not be able to refill it for you.

CONTROL SWITCHES

Control switches that control the flow of oil should be turned off and the electricity supply isolated when the tank is not in use.

PADLOCKS

A thief will usually come equipped with a limited range of tools to attack your tank so it’s worth spending a little more on good quality locks. Close shackle padlocks are the best as they offer most resistance to the most popular of burglar tools; the bolt cropper! Due to their design, close shackle padlocks have very little of the metal hoop (shackle) exposed and bolt croppers cannot get a good grip. Remember that buying a padlock is like buying a car. The more you pay the better the quality and the longer it will last.

OIL LEVEL GAUGES

Remote electronic oil level gauges are now available which will set off an audible alarm if the oil level in the tank suddenly drops or falls below a quarter full. These gauges can be located in the kitchen or perhaps a utility room to warn of any potential problem. There are two or three different versions on the market at the moment and cost between £70 and £100. Get into the habit of regularly checking oil levels so that you will know if you have lost any.

SECURITY LIGHTS

Security lights can have a very positive effect and make any property a much harder target to the thief. It’s not always necessary to floodlight the area with high power beams, as a more subtle level of lighting may be all that is needed. Low energy ‘dusk till dawn’ lights positioned close to the tank should, in most cases, provide sufficient light to illuminate any suspicious activity. This type of light can be both effective and inexpensive. High powered lights can be used but care should be taken not to cause any nuisance to neighbours or road users.

DEFENSIVE PLANTING

Defensive planting is nature’s way of helping to reduce crime. Thieves will not wish to force their way through or over a prickly hedge. The smallest trace of blood or shred of ripped clothing could help the police identify the offender. These shrubs can, if planted around your tank, provide an effective and decorative thief proof barrier. If you would like more information about defensive plants to protect your property contact your local community safety team on 101

SECURING YOUR OIL TANK

Following on from the defensive plant tactic, fences and walls can also make life difficult for the thief. A wooden or metal fence, trellis or wall can give significant protection to the tank, but it must be remembered that the oil tanker driver will need access to fill the tank! A metal or grill cage with a lockable access point across the top of this wall or fence can further improve security. The wall or fence should be as close to the tank and as high as possible. Of course a trellis could also be decorated with defensive planting. A product called ‘Tank Guard’ surrounds the existing storage tank with a metal enclosure. This sheet metal enclosure has lockable access doors to allow filling and maintenance and has internal anchorage points to fix it to the concrete base. A tank guard costs less than one tank full of oil and will last many years.

Closed circuit television (CCTV)

The use of CCTV as crime prevention and a crime detection tool has grown massively in recent years. It could play a part in the protection of oil tanks, but before you spend lots of money on equipment make an assessment of your needs.

The object of this information has been to illustrate ways in which we can make it more difficult for a thief to steal heating oil. Nothing mentioned here will make it impossible for them to achieve their goal, but if some of the suggestions made are followed it just may make a difference.

If you wish to report a crime, suspicious behaviour or activity please ring our non emergency number which is 101. If you believe that a crime is in progress please ring 999. I also welcome anyone to contact me on bujar.mani@cambs.pnn.police.uk if you wish to let me know of any issues you may be experiencing.

Kind Regards

PCSO Buajr Mani 7009
Histon Neighbourhood Policing Team

Friday, 7 December 2012

Councillor Wins Funding For Road Blighted By Speeding


An end is in sight for residents of East Chesterton blighted by years of speeding and anti social driving after a long running campaign by Liberal Democrat Councillor Ian Manning.

In a paper going to Cambridgeshire County Council Cabinet in December, money has been allocated to assess and improve the existing speed reduction measures along Fen Road.

“I'm overjoyed the county council is finally allocating money to improve residents' lives” said Cllr Manning. “The process I started in November 2011 and brought to North Area Committee has ended up with resources and money being committed to the project.”


Cllr Manning paid tribute to work done before him by previous campaigners on the subject including MP Julian Huppert when he was a county councillor for East Chesterton.

“I was building on years of work by Julian and other Lib Dem campaigners,” said Cllr Manning. “Residents on the Fen Road steering group also played a key role in bringing this forward.

“We must not lose sight of the long term aim though: this is only a medium term fix. We still need an alternative access road out of Fen Road enabling us to block the level crossing for vehicle traffic.”

£2 Million Transport Boost Set For Cambridge



Council chiefs are being asked to approve a £2 million transport boost for Cambridge that aims to reduce congestion, improve health and help support the growth of the local economy.

Some 20 new schemes which will make it easier for people to walk and cycle are proposed for funding in the Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire area.

Most of which, have been put forward to the County Council by local communities to help improve safety and accessibility on the local transport network.

More than £2million pounds has been secured from developers to pay for the improvements to the Cambridgeshire road network, necessitated by growth.

The plans have come forward after talking to local communities and listening to their ideas on what they wanted to see in their areas to help improve transport and manage local housing and business growth.

Included in the proposals are major projects such as; lighting along The Busway maintenance track at Trumpington, Orchard Park, Kings Hedges, Milton Rd & East Chesterton; improvements for cyclists and pedestrians to Cherry Hinton High Street; traffic calming for Tenison Road; a cycle route from Milton to Landbeach; improved traffic calming for Fen Road; and a shared use path named Ring Fort Path, from Orchard Park to the A14 intersection at Histon, providing a shorter route for cyclists. (See full list below)

If approval is granted by Cambridgeshire County Council Cabinet, schemes are expected to be designed and built over the next 5 years as part of a wider programme of improvements to transport.

This funding has been secured by the County Council, working with Cambridge City and South Cambridgeshire District Councils, in order to make improvements to infrastructure in line with the objectives of the Corridor Area Transport Plans.

This funding is being recommended in addition to Cabinet's earlier decision back in July, to approve over £1million worth of allocations from developer contributions in the City and South Cambridgeshire area for improving cycle ways, crossings, safety and junction improvements with the aim of enhancing accessibility.

Councillor Ian Bates, Cabinet Member for Growth and Planning, said "This is excellent news for Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire. The measures will not only deliver valuable safety improvements to the road network, but will encourage people to make healthier travel choices and improve access to employment. Walking, cycling and taking the bus will all appear more attractive if we can make them safe and accessible for everyone.

"It is also fantastic that the County Council engaged with our local communities to ensure that money is spent in the right place and in the right way. The Ring Fort Path was suggested by the Cambridge Cycling Campaign to provide a shorter walking and cycling route between Histon and Orchard Park, opening up opportunities for healthier journeys to and from these areas."

If agreed at Cabinet on 18 December, then officers will begin to develop the detailed scheme proposals in consultation with local communities next year. Further public consultation and approvals is expected particularly for the more significant proposals.


Cabinet is recommended to approve the allocation of section 106 contributions to the following schemes:

  • Lighting on the Guided Busway cycleway, from the City Railway Station to the Trumpington Park & Ride site and at Orchard Park, Kings Hedges, Milton Rd & East Chesterton
  • Feasibility study into installation of a bridge over the railway line to link the Leisure Park with the City Railway Station
  • Improvements to Long Road Cycleways
  • Re-siting of the two Brooklands Avenue bus stops away from grass verges or provide paved areas and improvements to the shared use path for cyclists and pedestrians
  • Radial Route Signing extended to include other major    routes in the area such as Babraham Road, Queen Edith's Way, Mowbray Road and Fendon Road
  • Improvements to Cherry Hinton High Street to improve safety for cyclists and pedestrians
  • Feasibility study into improving Hauxton Road Bridge
  • Refreshing cycle path and cycle lane markings around the Perne Road/Cherry Hinton Road roundabout and improvements at this roundabout to address traffic flow and safety issues
  • Contraflow Cycling Signage following audit to identify need
  • Tenison Road traffic calming scheme
  • Removal of unnecessary street signage
  • Extend footways and reduce road width at the Station Road/High Street, Histon junction to improve traffic flow and increase safety
  • Review and improve existing traffic calming measures on Arbury Road, near King's Hedges Road
  • Review bus delays and parking on Cambridge Road and New Road, Impington
  • Shared use pedestrian/cycleway between Milton and Landbeach
  • Safety improvements to cycle lanes on the Gilbert Road/Milton Road junction
  • Shared use path between Ring Fort Road, Orchard Park and the A14 intersection at Histon
  • Review and improve the existing traffic calming on Fen Road