Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Free Cycle Safety Training For Thousands Of Cambridgeshire Youngsters

Cllr Pellew at a Bikeability event
at the Grove Primary School in
King's Hedges

A bid for government funding and reductions in spending elsewhere will mean that thousands of Cambridgeshire youngsters will get free cycle safety training thanks to the County Council.

The spending savings which have resulted in an extra £10,000 boost from the County Council budget and the grant from DfT will see 4,000 training places during 2012/13, 4,500 the next year and 5,000 the following year - a total of 13,500 youngsters who will receive the training in primary schools at no cost - currently the training costs £15 a head.

The Bikeability training grant bid of £540,000 will be used by the County Council to provide the road safety education sessions which will be delivered in partnership with School Games Organiser Host Schools (formally known as School Sports Partnerships).

Cambridgeshire County Councillor for King's Hedges Andy Pellew said "It's fantastic news that the County Council has finally recognised the folly of charging youngsters for this sort of necessary training. It was always very frustrating that despite being in receipt of Government money the Conservative-Controlled County Council had decided to place a charge and it's good to see it going from the start of the next academic year."

"Given the importance of Cycling to the general health and well-being of youngsters not to mention the nett benefit to removing school-run cars from the roads I look forward to as many youngsters as possible benefiting from this change of heart as quickly as possible."

During the last 12 months for which figures are available, 355 pedal cycle casualties were reported on Cambridgeshire's roads.

Cambridgeshire County Council pioneered on-road practical cycle training for 10/11 year olds, during the late 1970s, which eventually became the benchmark for all such schemes nationally. Since then the County has trained thousands of children every year.

The County Council will receive a Bikeability payment retrospectively from DfT for every young person who undergoes the training and the free training sessions will be introduced from the beginning of the next academic year.

E-Cops - Foreign Vehicles In The UK

Apologies: Some correction on my last E-cops I sent out to you all regarding the period of time foreign vehicles visiting or staying in the UK can remain before being required to re-register to a UK number plate;

Visitors coming to the UK that don’t intend living here can usually use a vehicle displaying foreign (non-UK) number plates for up to six months in a 12 month period. This can be one single or several shorter visits, adding up to a six month period. During this time the vehicle can travel displaying the non-UK plates but only provided the vehicle is still fully registered and tax paid, in the country it came from (the driver’s home Country).

For anyone wishing to stay in the UK for longer than a six month period, their vehicle will normally need to be registered and taxed at Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA). There are exemptions for students and workers who normally live outside the UK but are only in the UK for a set study or work period.

Kind regards
PCSO Bujar Mani
Histon Safer Neighbourhood Team

Tories In Pay Increase Row Told Help The Elderly Not Yourselves

Cambridgeshire Tories should invest £100,000 in cash-strapped care for the elderly rather than setting it aside to give themselves a pay rise, Lib Dems claim.

They have called on the Tories to allocate the money to Adult Social Care rather than use it to line their own pockets.

“At least that way if the Tories give themselves a pay rise the public will be able to see where they are taking the money from,” said Cambridgeshire Liberal Democrat Leader, Kilian Bourke.

“We should not be giving ourselves a pay rise when front-line services are being cut and people are losing their jobs.  Adult Social Care has been chronically underfunded for a number of years and desperately needs that money.”

The outcry follows a decision by the Tory administration on Cambridgeshire County Council to allocate £100,000 in its budget to fund an increase in councillors’ allowances. The decision comes despite the fact that the allowances panel which will discuss the matter has not even been appointed yet.

 "Given the outcry over the 25 per cent increase in councillor allowances some months ago, I find it incredible that this administration has chosen to set aside £100k in its budget for this purpose," said Cllr Bourke.

"It may only be a provision for a pay rise, but it is the equivalent of a 17.5 per cent increase in our basic allowances and that sends out a frankly incongruous message to members of the public who are facing hardship but paying their council tax."

E-Cops - Your Weekly News 31-JAN-2012

We have had one crime report in Bar Hill recently;

On Sunday 22nd January, between 14:30 and 16:00 hours, three men described as Eastern Europeans have entered Tesco store and walked towards the computer equipment display, one of the men has cut the lock securing the laptop to the display shelf and one of the other men has removed the laptop from the shelf and placed the laptop up his jumper and made an attempt to walk out of the store. These men have realised that they were being watched on CCTV, then they have dumped the laptop in the store and left.

I have collected and viewed the CCTV which clearly shows the males removing the laptop from the display shelf. A number of clear images of suspects have been circulated for identification.

On public request, I have been making some enquiries regards foreign registered vehicles being used in Bar Hill. An Audi A6 that is normally parked in Appletrees has been in the UK for over a year and the keeper has been warned by myself and colleagues to register the vehicle with DVLA immediately or they could be liable for prosecution. Further enquiries are to be made with this vehicle owner.

The other vehicle parked in Pheasant Rise, Bar Hill, has only been in the UK for two months which is perfectly legal. Foreign vehicles are entitled to stay in this Country up to one year with their Country registration plate. After a year, they are required to register their vehicles on British number plates with DVLA, if they are wishing to stay in the UK any longer.

At the last Parish Council meeting some parking issues were raised for Pheasant Rise, Bar Hill. So far I have managed to speak to three residents regards the manner of their parking, they have agreed to park elsewhere in the area where obstruction is not caused to other drivers, I have issued one warning notice to one of the residents for parking inconsiderately.

I have carried out speed checks in Crafts Way, Bar Hill last week. Good news as no vehicles were seen travelling in excess of the speed limit.

Also I have carried out speed checks in Oakington Road and Scotland Road, Dry Drayton last week, as a result two vehicles were seen travelling in excess of the speed limit. Both drivers have been dealt with regarding their speed.

Just to remind you all of the upcoming panel meeting which is a great opportunity to have a say in our policing priorities over the coming few months.

21st February, 2012
Swavesey Neighbourhood Panel
19:30 - 21:00
Location: Willingham Primary School

If you wish to report any other crime, suspicious behaviour or activity please ring our non-emergency number, 101. If you believe that a crime is in progress please ring 999. We also welcome anyone to contact us by replying to this email if you wish to let us know of any issues you may be experiencing.

Kind regards
Safer Neighbourhood officers
PCSO Bujar Mani and PC Claire Reeves

Monday, 30 January 2012

Cambridge MP Huppert Congratulates City And Quizzes Government On Empty Homes

MP Julian Huppert has quizzed the government on how Cambridge can access its £150 million empty homes fund to bring disused houses back into use.

He raised the question with Communities and Local Government Minister, Andrew Stunnell as work continues by Cambridge City Council to make empty homes available to families on its waiting list.

And he praised City Council Leader, Sian Reid and her Deputy Catherine Smart, who has responsibility for housing, in their work on empty homes.

Julian asked Mr Stunnell: “Will he join me in congratulating Sian Reid and Catherine Smart from Cambridge City Council for their work in reducing the number of empty homes in Cambridge since 2004?

He went on: “The government’s £150 million Empty Homes Fund is welcome but how can Cambridge City Council access this in order to bring even more empty homes back into use?”

Mr Stunnell told him: “For the £100 million announced for providing affordable homes, local authority bids will be invited shortly and I hope Cambridge will be right there.

“For the £50 million for empty homes to tackle the worst concentration of empty homes, we are currently drawing up the criteria. I know that a number of community and voluntary groups in the East of England have their eyes on Cambridge as well.”

Later Julian said: “Cambridge City Council has done some excellent work in bringing empty homes back into use for families who need a permanent place to live.

“I am delighted the government is making money available for this purpose; it shows its true commitment to this problem. I would urge anyone who knows of a property which has been empty for a while to get in touch with the city council so that action can be taken to make it a home again.”

Figures released by the Empty Homes Agency show that there were 1,172 empty homes in the Cambridge in 2010 and 364 of these were long term vacant. The figure has fallen, however, from 1,428 in 2004.
Cambridge City Council has over 7,000 people on its waiting list for homes and works with private landlords to try to make empty homes available.

Julian is supporting a campaign launched through the website www.reportemptyhomes.com which encourages people to report empty houses across the country.

Vince Cable: Putting More Money Back In *Your* Pocket

As families face more of a squeeze, today Liberal Democrats are arguing for greater tax cuts for hard working people.

Between now and the Budget, Nick and Danny and I will be arguing for faster tax cuts, giving you a reward for hard work. And Nick will be setting out our case in a speech today.

Given the budget constraint we have to raise money for the tax cut elsewhere and have plans to raise an equivalent amount from the wealthiest taxpayers.

At the last election the Liberal Democrats promised to raise the personal allowance for ordinary taxpayers to £10,000. I am proud that the Coalition has committed to doing so over the course of this Parliament.

For millions of ordinary hard working people, that means paying £700 less in income tax each year. Low earners, mostly women will benefit from being lifted out of tax altogether.

But times are tough and quite simply, Liberal Democrats in Government want to help families who are currently being squeezed by moving more quickly.

Whether it’s targeting an extra £7bn from tax evaders and avoiders, taking an extra £2.5bn every year from the banks in a balance sheet tax, or the announcement I made on Monday to curb the excesses of executive pay, this Coalition is taking important steps to deliver a fairer economy.

And we have already made a big difference, click here to see how.

We are building a new economy, one that benefits the whole country, not just bankers in the City of London. Making the tax system fairer is crucial to that. This is a huge task that will make Britain a fairer and more liberal country for generations to come.


Vince Cable MP

Member of Parliament for Twickenham and Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Government Investment In Social Services Will Help Reduce Delayed Discharges

Adult Social Care Services in Cambridgeshire have been given a £1.5 million government boost towards efforts to reduce delayed discharges from hospitals in the county.

The Department of Health today announced a one-off £150 million grant to Primary Care Trusts in England, for immediate transfer to local authorities for investment in social services which also benefit the health system.

In Cambridgeshire, £1.45 million will be channeled to Cambridgeshire County Council via NHS Cambridgeshire. The two organisations already work closely together and in partnership with hospitals in the county to ensure that people are able to leave medical care as soon as possible.

County Council Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care, Councillor Martin Curtis, said: "Health and Adult Social Care Services in Cambridgeshire are already under pressure and the demand inevitably increases during the winter months, so this extra money from Government is very welcome.

"We already work very closely with our partners in the health sector and examples of new services being set up in Cambridgeshire to help ensure a smooth and rapid transition of patients from medical to social care include GP out of hours services, GPs working with acute trusts in Emergency Departments, rapid response services staffed by nursing and social care teams and increased work with private sector and voluntary organisations to reduce the number of people who need to go into hospital in the first place.

"This relationship between hospitals, GPs, NHS community partners, social services and the independent and voluntary sector is pivotal to ensuring that patients who are admitted to hospital only remain in beds for the time they require specialist acute care and are discharged out as soon as they are deemed safe to leave - this extra money will enable us to build on that existing partnership."

Cath Mitchell, NHS Cambridgeshire and NHS Peterborough Director of Integrated Commissioning said: "NHS Cambridgeshire is set to receive £1.45m from the government which will be transferred to Cambridgeshire County Council. This one off payment will assist us in strengthening our links and embedding joint working between the PCT and the Council.

"W already work closely with the Council in areas to ensure patients are able to leave hospital when they are ready. Through greater co-operation and joint planning we are seeking to improve health outcomes through access to a range of services in the community. This work supports the NHS's goal to help people spend less time in hospital and live more independently with access to re-ablement support programmes from both the NHS and the Council."

Friday, 27 January 2012

Taxpayers Fork Out £120,000 For One Bus Passenger

Cllr Susan van de Ven
(LD, Melbourn)

A flagship Tory bus replacement project which no-one wants has already cost Cambridgeshire taxpayers £120,000 with another £40,000 committed.

Since launching a pilot for the planned countywide scheme, only one passenger has travelled three times between Sawston and Duxford Station. The traveller didn’t have to buy a ticket as the route hadn’t been registered so the journey was free.

The pilot for the Cambridgeshire Future Transport scheme has been running for seven weeks across 11 villages in the Duxford area.

 It is the brainchild of Cambridgeshire County Council’s Tory administration which wants to sink £1.5 million of taxpayers’ money into it as a replacement for £2.7 million worth of subsidised buses across the county.

A website has been set up to allow residents to book journeys, but there has been no take-up.

Cambridgeshire County Councillor, Susan van de Ven, Lib Dem Shadow Cabinet Member for Transport said: “The Conservatives claim their new project will be a model of efficiency but in seven weeks it has transported one passenger at a cost of £120,000.  This is is a disastrous waste of taxpayers' money.

“The administration hasn’t thought this through. They saw the bus subsidies as an easy way of clawing back money to bolster their finances. They said they didn’t want empty buses running round the county but now they have used taxpayers’ money to buy new minibuses which are standing empty.

“The Tories don’t understand what people want because they haven’t done their research,” added Cllr van de Ven. “What the administration does with £1.5 million had better be effective.  Cambridgeshire Future Transport is not the answer, let alone what the administration has promised – something better than what we had before.”

Cllr  van de Ven has launched a petition against the bus cuts which can be found here:

Lighter Later: The One That Got Away

As you may have already heard, Sir George Young has decided not to give MPs a chance to vote on the Daylight Saving Bill.

Under pressure from MPs, Young insisted that even if the bill was given more time in the Commons, there'd be no chance of it getting through the House of Lords and back again before parliament goes into recess.

This isn't the end. After a record 4,500 of you wrote to Sir George to ask for more time, MPs are already demanding that the policy be taken up again in May, when the next round of private members' bills are submitted. If the wording stays the same, it stands a very good chance of going through.

But Young's decision does bring this chapter of the campaign to a close, and it feels like a good moment to take a step back and remember how far we've come...

Lighter Later so far: 4 things to be proud of
Together we've pushed this issue further forward than it's been for decades. Here's how...

1.Lighter evenings everywhere
Together we pushed lighter evenings right up the national agenda. Mountains of media coverage – everywhere from Nuts to Newsnight – played a big part, but it was also thanks to supporters like you spreading the word and debating the issues with family and friends.

2. Busting the myths
We worked hard to challenge the popular myths and show that clock change would be good for Scotland. As a result, the Scottish branch of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents joined the Lighter Later coalition, and the National Farmer's Union in Scotland came out in favour of the bill.

3. Breaking the rules
People told us that no-one would bother contacting their MPs without a pre-written letter, but you proved them wrong. As of midday today, Lighter Later supporters (many of whom had never done anything political before) have used our lobbying tool to send 26,349 individually-written messages to their MPs. And that's not counting all the phone callsmeetings and Tweets you racked up at the same time.

And it worked. Thanks to your lobbying, 144 MPs (including yours – Julian Huppert) turned up in the Commons on what should have been the quietest day of the week. If the debate had been allowed to go to a vote, the bill would have passed with a huge majority.

4. Fixing parliament?
But there's a silver lining to this cloud of injustice. The scandal of 'the vote that never was' has shown just how broken the current system is, and electrified the campaign for reform. We'll be keeping an eye on this as it develops, and getting behind it when the moment comes. Who knows, we may end up changing more than just the clocks!

Taking a breather ... or not!
So for the next little while, things will probably go a bit quiet on the lighter evenings front. Until things start moving again in parliament, we can take some time to catch our breath.

We first got interested in clock change because it shows how we can save energy and tackle climate change while making communities healthier, safer and stronger. If you like the sound of that, you should take a look at the other projects we run:

The 10% challenge
More than 100,000 people, families, schools, hospitals, churches, shops, offices factories and farms are working together to cut their carbon footprint by 10% in one year.

Click here to give it a try.

Solar Schools
A groundbreaking project to help schools get solar panels by raising money from the local community. We're currently trialling the programme with schools in Reading, Cambridge, Norwich and the Scilly Isles, and are hoping to launch it nationally later this year.

Click here to find out more.

It's been a real privilege to work with you on the Daylight Saving Bill, so if you're not one of the 10,000-or-so Lighter Later supporters that's already involved with other 10:10 projects, we'd love to have you on board.

Thank you for all your amazing work so far – I really can't say that enough!

Onwards and upwards,

Daniel Vockins
Campaign manager, 10:10 Lighter Later

P.S. Lots of you have been asking for more details about what happened in the Commons last week, so we've written up a summary of the day's twists and turns, including a full list of the MPs that supported and opposed the bill.

Go-Ahead Given For New Cambourne Secondary School

Cllr Andy Pellew

Planning permission has been granted for a new 750-place secondary school to serve the village of Cambourne.

The need for a secondary school has arisen as a result of the growth of Cambourne. Secondary school aged children living in the village currently go to Comberton Village College - the catchment area school.

Some pupils, in certain year groups, have been offered places at Chesterton Community College or other nearby schools when Comberton Village College has been full.

Comberton Village College has already indicated that it will have insufficient places to meet the demand from its catchment area from 2013 - hence the need for a new school.

The school - which will accommodate 750 pupils and 100 staff when fully occupied - will be built on the western side of Cambourne, adjacent to Lower Cambourne and the Business Park. It will be close to the offices of South Cambridgeshire District Council.

The two-storey building will feature a central corridor, with a sports hall, a dining hall and classrooms running off either side.

Access for vehicles will be from Sheepfold Lane, but Cambridgeshire County Council - who submitted the application - hope the majority of pupils will walk and cycle, since the school's catchment area will be limited to Cambourne itself.

The County Council's Development Control Committee approved the application when it met today (January 27).

Local Parish Councillor Andy Pellew said "It's fantastic that this much needed and much campaigned for new school is finally being built. This should serve as a lesson to those planning the new development in Northstowe that it's vitally important to get new infrastructure, like schools, in place as early as possible. The residents of Cambourne have waited too long for this development, but I'm delighted to see that by the start of 2014 they will finally have a a secondary school."

Lib Dems Launch Petition To Reverse Tory Bus Cuts

Stagecoach Bus on Guided Busway

Cambridgeshire Liberal Democrats have launched a petition to reverse the Tories’ 100 per cent cuts to rural bus services.

The petition, called "Stopping the cuts to bus services in Cambridgeshire" reads:

"We the people of Cambridgeshire are opposed to the Conservative County Council's decision to scrap 100% of funding for subsidised buses, which led to an application for Judicial Review.

"Socially necessary bus services are vital to the whole of Cambridgeshire, especially for young people who need to access to centres of employment, those with mobility issues who wish to access the wider community and its resources, and for tackling the root problem of "rural isolation".

"We also believe that the "Cambridgeshire Future Transport" project, to which half of bus funding has been transferred, is fundamentally flawed and not capable of delivering an adequate replacement for the existing public transport network, never mind the improved system that has been promised.

"We call on the Conservative administration to reinstate 100% of the cuts to bus funding and to conduct a systematic view of Cambridgeshire residents' transport needs before making any changes to it."

The petition can be found here: http://epetition.cambridgeshire.public-i.tv/epetition_core/view/Buses

Speeding: No-One Thinks Big Of You

Cambridgeshire County Council Road Safety Officers have launched a new campaign targeting young male drivers who speed.

The campaign, titled 'Speeding: no-one thinks big of you', is inspired by a similar campaign in Australia and aims to use peer pressure in a cheeky, subtle way to reduce young male driver and female passenger casualties.

Given the target audience, the campaign centres around information, advice and discussion on the Road Safety Team Facebook page and Twitter feed.

This will be accompanied by posters, featuring students from Huntingdonshire Regional College, which depict young females waving their little fingers, 'pinkies', at guys who are speeding or driving dangerously to show off.

Cambridgeshire County Council Cabinet Member for Community Infrastructure, Councillor Steve Criswell, said:  "In 2010 there were 923 road casualties aged 17 to 25 in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, which is higher than the national average.  This casualty rate is also at double the rate for all other age groups.

"This campaign steers away from the hard-hitting campaigns used previously to target the young male driver audience and aims to stimulate discussion and give passengers the confidence to tell their friends to slow down."

Matt Staton, Road Safety Officer for Cambridgeshire County Council, added:  "The aim of this campaign is to encourage teenage girls to tell their boyfriends/friends when they don't like their driving and show they are not impressed.  We also want to make young male drivers aware that they don't impress people when they show off in their cars."

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Tories Set Aside £100,000 For Their Pay Rise As They Cut Services And Jobs

Cllr Kilian Bourke
(LD, Romsey)

County Tories have put aside £100,000 in their budget to pave the way for giving themselves a pay rise.

The money provides for an increase Members’ Allowances despite the decision to cut £43 million from Cambridgeshire County Council’s spending and axe 154 full-time jobs.

Cambridgeshire Liberal Democrat Leader, Kilian Bourke said: “This is utter hypocrisy.  On the one hand the Tories are cutting services and making staff redundant while on the other they are hoping to give themselves a pay rise.

"It is particularly tasteless that they have budgeted for a £100k addition to their pay packets while increasing council tax, a grossly unfair tax that hits the poorest hardest."

"It is also worrying that there seems to be a presumption in favour of a pay rise."

"This money would be better spent protecting frontline services like libraries and buses, not lining Tory pockets."

Putting this £100,000 into services could have:

  • Kept two small libraries open for a year
  • Put two new community mini buses on the road
  • Paid for more respite care packages for families with disabled children or the elderly
  • Reinstated the city shuttle bus

The increase has not happened yet, it is merely provided for in the budget.

Reference to it can be found by following the link and going to P159:


Andrew Duff Welcomes £800K EU Investment In Renewable Energy Infrastructure In Cambridgeshire And Peterborough

Andrew Duff MEP

Andrew Duff, Lib Dem Euro-MP for Cambridgeshire welcomed the decision of the County Council (on 17th Jan) to invest in the renewable energy infrastructure across the county. The EU grant of £800,000 will be geared to help provide over £18 million of investment across the County.

The EU-funded project Mobilising Local Energy Investments in Greater Cambridge and Greater Peterborough will set up delivery vehicles to manage the scale of infrastructure delivery above, including an energy services company that can commission, design, build and manage new energy generating schemes (community scale and larger), and a special purpose vehicle to support delivery of large scale retrofit in public assets which will reduce their costs of operation.

Mr Duff said ‘The investment of EU funding toupgrade Cambridgeshire’s renewable energy infrastructure will help ensure that the switch to a low carbon economy has Cambridgeshire at the forefront.’

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Tories Heed Lib Dem Advice On Buses, Libraries And Roads And Back MP's Station Plan

Cllr Kilian Bourke (LD, Romsey)

Cambridgeshire Liberal Democrats have welcomed the fact that county Tories have listened to their advice and scaled back cuts to buses and libraries and invested more in care for older people in their budget.

The Tories have also taken their lead from the Lib Dem Highways Review in proposing a massive up-front investment in roads, pavements and cycleways to halt the ongoing decline.

And they have supported a Lib Dem plan for a new railway station in Chesterton which is a personal triumph for Cambridge MP, Julian Huppert.

But the Lib Dems have expressed fears as to whether the Conservatives, who have a poor record at managing big projects, will be able make a success of this budget with its extra capital spending.

“This budget is half good and half bad. It shows the influence of an effective opposition as many ideas previously promoted by the Liberal Democrats have now been accepted by the Conservatives.

“The Conservatives have accepted that their cuts to many core services went way beyond what was necessary and scaled-back some of the worst. As a result the huge cuts to rural buses and plans to close libraries have been reduced; but substantial cuts will still go ahead and people who use these services will be far from reassured.

“The extra investment in Adult Care is a long overdue recognition from the Tories that this service has been chronically underfunded and mismanaged.

"The County Council's support for a new railway station in Chesterton is a great personal triumph for Cambridge’s MP, and the massive overhaul of our roads comes straight out of a Lib Dem Highways Review, and should stop the steady decline in their condition that the Tories have allowed."

“In terms of the overall financial picture we are deeply sceptical about the ability of the Conservatives to manage projects on this scale,” said Lib Dem Leader, Kilian Bourke. “With £90 million at stake in the Guided Bus court case, their track record on contract management is not reassuring.

But they added that their alternative budget will expose Tory inefficiency and waste, safeguard vital services and better provide for the long-term future of the people across the whole county.

Cambridge MP Honours Those Who Died During The Holocaust

MP Julian Huppert Signing Book of Commitment

Cambridge MP Julian Huppert has honoured those who died during the Holocaust by signing a Book of Commitment in the House of Commons.

The signing was organized by the Holocaust Educational Trust to mark the 67th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration camp, Auschwitz-Birkenau, the site of the largest mass murder in history.

Holocaust Memorial Day will take place on Friday (January 27) when thousands of commemorative events will be arranged by schools, faith groups and community organisations across the country to remember the victim of the Holocaust and subsequent genocides.

Julian said: “It is crucial that we remember the victims of genocide and the extraordinary men and women who survived. By this simple act of remembrance, we are also encouraging people to speak out against any form of prejudice today.

“We also need to continue to educate our young people about the mistakes of the past so that we can build tolerant, cohesive societies for future generations.”

Faster Broadband For Another 34,000 Homes And Businesses

Another 34,000 Cambridgeshire homes and businesses will have access to faster broadband by summer 2012.

Histon, Kimbolton, Woolley, Wansford, Bottisham, Crafts Hill, Sawston, Soham, Madingley, Melbourn and Somersham are among 51 East of England communities included in the latest roll-out plans for BT's next generation broadband service delivered over copper lines.

The BT investment makes available broadband speeds of up to 20 megabits per second (Mbps) more than double the maximum speeds previously available to most homes and businesses.

It is in addition to the roll-out of superfast fibre-based broadband, which is expected to bring even faster speeds to two-thirds of UK premises by the end of 2014.

Cambridgeshire County Council is part of the partnership of councils, businesses and partners in health and education working together to bring superfast broadband to Cambridgeshire and Peterborough to boost business and community wellbeing.

Welcoming the development, Cambridgeshire County Councillor Ian Bates, Cabinet Member for Growth and Planning, said: "Faster and better broadband is vital to the economic success of Cambridgeshire. In an increasingly competitive and technological world it is essential that local businesses and households have access to high speed communications.

"Broadband is a key part of our community infrastructure and will bring many benefits including increasing opportunities for people to work from home, reducing the need to travel to work so there is less congestion on our roads."

Dave Hughes, BT's East of England regional director, said: "At a time of economic uncertainty these major improvements will provide a big boost for local businesses and offer many additional educational and entertainment opportunities for local households.

"We want to work with the public sector to find ways of bringing faster broadband to areas, which are geographically and commercially more challenging."

Monday, 23 January 2012

City Must Be Given The Power To Shape Its Own Future

Cllr Sian Reid

Cambridge City Council Leader, Sian Reid is to call on the government to give the city the power to play a larger part in its future.

Cllr Reid will speak out on Monday (January 23) at the launch of a new report by Centre for Cities, which names Cambridge as one of five cities well placed to drive the country’s economic recovery.

She will tell Minister for Cities, Greg Clark to take notice of the Cities Outlook 2012 report which calls on the government to give Cambridge the financial and political powers it needs to make the right decisions for growth.

The report, compiled by the Centre for Cities, shows how well Cambridge has fared in the downturn compared to other cities and spells out how well it is placed for economic growth.

Sian will tell Mr Clark that his City Deal programme, which gives cities the chance to play a much bigger part in determining their own futures, must be offered to all cities prepared to step up to the challenge not just the larger ones.

“This includes Cambridge,” said Cllr Reid. “We, with our neighbouring areas form an exciting and dynamic city region keen to take charge of our own future.  We need a new relationship with government so we can act and invest for our area.”

The Cities Outlook 2012 report compares the economic performance of 64 cities in the UK. On the measures used, Cambridge is shown to be the UK’s most successful city, coming top in six out of the fifteen measures of success, and second in three others.

The runner-up is London, coming top in three measures of success.

The six measures on which Cambridge comes top in the UK in the study are:

  • Patents per 100,000 of population (with Cambridge three times higher than the next best);
  • lowest percentage of residents with no qualifications;
  • lowest employment disparity between neighbourhoods in the city;
  • lowest Job Seekers Allowance claimant count;
  • lowest increase in Job Seekers Allowance claimant count since February 2008
  • lowest youth claimant count rate.

Cllr Reid added: “But there is absolutely no room for complacency over unemployment figures in the city, especially for young people. That’s why we are very pleased that our Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire Local Strategic Partnership has agreed that getting young people into work should be one its top priorities for spending its last round of grants money, about £100,000.”

Duff Calls For Change To Parliament's Electoral Procedure

Andrew Duff MEP

Andrew Duff (ALDE/UK), who is Parliament's rapporteur on electoral reform, has triggered a revision of the Parliament's own rules for its internal elections. He has written to newly-elected President Schulz to propose a change to the Single Transferable Vote (STV).

In his letter to the President, Duff says:

"STV would allow Members to express their order of preference for candidates and would considerably speed up the election of the Bureau. Under STV no vote is wasted. STV is a much more sophisticated form of election than the simple agglomeration of equal preferences which we use at the moment.

"STV is in fact ideal for use in a small, well integrated and highly political institution such as ours."

Andrew Duff, who is Liberal spokesman on constitutional affairs, adds:

"The spectacle of the European Parliament spending nearly three days to fill up its own Bureau is faintly ridiculous. It is also depressing that MEPs cannot express priorities under the present system, but only crude support or opposition to a slate of candidates.

"I hope that our reforming President Martin Schulz will agree to expedite this reform as fast as possible."

Saturday, 21 January 2012

E-Cops: Update on Parking Issue In Pheasant Rise and Foreign Vehicles

The following is an update from our local PCSO to the Parish Council regarding the issue of Parking in Pheasant Rise as well as Foreign Vehicles;

"Just a quick update regards the parking issue in Pheasant Rise, Bar Hill. I have visited the location and assets the parking issue, there is no illegal parking as such, but there a is a slight obstruction. I have managed to speak to the motorist parked inconsiderably in the area and have discussed with them the light obstruction they causing to other road users in the way their vehicles are parked on daily bases. They were very understanding and apologetic, and have agreed to park elsewhere in the future, making sure no obstructions are caused.

One of the vehicles parked on the grace verge has been issued with a warning, due to not been able to speak with the owner. I will continue to visit Pheasant Rise whilst I am out an about on patrols and monitor the parking issue.

The Foreign vehicles in the village. I have for the second time visited a Bulgarian family in Appletrees regarding their vehicle not been registered in the UK. A final warning has now been issued to the registered owner of that vehicle, and has been strongly advised not to use his vehicle until he has all the paper work in order. If the motorist chooses not to comply with this warning, action will be taken against him, he could be heavily fined and have his vehicle seized by the police.


I have located the second foreign vehicle in Pheasant Rise, I have not been to find out who the owner of this vehicle is, but I will continue to make further enquiries.  

Please update the rest of the residents if you see them before I do.

Kind Regards
Histon Neighbourhood Policing Team"

Friday, 20 January 2012

E-Cops - Weekly Update 20-JAN-2012

We have had two reported crimes within your area since our last ecops message;

Between 11:30pm on Friday 13th January and 8:00am on Saturday 14th January, unknown offender(s) have stolen a white Vauxhall Brava pick-up from outside the victim's home address in High Street, Lolworth. The vehicle's registration number is P512 DAB. If you see this vehicle or this registration plate attached to another vehicle, please contact us immediately.

Between 6:00pm and 6:20pm on Thursday 19th January, while sitting in the dining area of Cambridge Services at Boxworth with their mobile phone next to them on the table, victim has been approached by a male selling greetings cards for 50p. Victim has declined to buy the cards and the male has left. A short time later the victim has realised that their mobile phone has gone missing from the table. The male is described as being of a European appearance, approximately 5'8" tall, aged between 20 and 30 years, short black hair, dark brown suede jacket with fur trim and dark trousers or jeans.
***Please be aware of this incident and do not leave valuables on display in public areas or in vehicles***

If you can provide any information that would assist us with either of the above crimes, please call us on 101 or call Crime stoppers, an independent charity, anonymously on 0800 555 111.

We are continuing to pay added attention to metal theft, burglary, rogue traders and road safety in our areas in line with our current panel priorities. We also continue to patrol around the areas of Post Offices to offer reassurance to staff and customers.

If you wish to report any other crime, suspicious behaviour or activity please ring our non-emergency number, 101. If you believe that a crime is in progress please ring 999. We also welcome anyone to contact us by replying to this email if you wish to let us know of any issues you may be experiencing.

Kind regards
PC Claire Reeves and PCSO Bujar Mani

Cambridge MP Furious After Daylight Saving Bill Scuppered On Third Reading

MP Julian Huppert today (Friday, January 20) attacked the disgraceful behaviour of a handful of MPs who killed off the Daylight Saving Bill during its Third Reading in the House of Commons.

The Bill called on the government to conduct a comprehensive review of the costs and benefits of putting clocks forward an hour throughout the UK, giving lighter evenings every day of the year.

But a dozen MPs who opposed the Bill proposed amendment after amendment during a five-hour long debate forcing it to run out of time, even though the vast majority of MPs there supported it, and tried to ensure it made progress.

Julian said: “The disgraceful behaviour of MPs who abused the process has killed off this very worthwhile proposal. The Bill ran out of time, because a few people talked it out.

“This was a simple low-cost policy which would bring a huge range of benefits to the UK. It could have saved lives on our roads, reduced the fear of crime in the evenings and brought much needed jobs in the tourism industry.

“It also made sense from an environmental point of view; we would be using less energy and generating less light pollution.

“I hope the campaign will continue so that we can eventually see this change implemented.”
The campaign for change is being co-ordinated by the Lighter Later group.

Campaign manager, Daniel Vockins said: "The Daylight Saving Bill was supported by over 90 national organisations from The AA to SAGA and The FA.

“On the year the Olympics come to Britain, it would have been a brilliant legacy for our young athletes.”

Lib Dems Victory As Tories U-Turn On Bus Cuts – But Fears For Future

Cllr Van de Ven

Cambridgeshire Liberal Democrats are celebrating victory after the Tories staged a dramatic U-turn over their decision to axe 100 per cent of bus subsidies across the county.

Lib Dems, who had fought a sustained campaign against the cuts for a year, have welcomed the move to invest £1.5 million – just over half the bus subsidies cash – into newly organized public transport.

The money will be handed over the next three years to provide new forms of transport through a one-year old project called Cambridgeshire Future Transport

But Lib Dems have expressed their concerns about Cambridgeshire Future Transport which has a poor track record so far.

Cambridgeshire Future Transport project has already suffered its first failure after an expenditure of £120,000 toward a pilot service in Duxford, launched before Christmas, was boycotted by residents in protest at the prospect of losing their subsidised buses.
Lib Dems have called for a commitment to continue the financial support to existing bus services, if it is needed, to ensure that vulnerable and isolated residents are not left stranded.

Lib Dem County Council Shadow Cabinet Member for Transport, Susan van de Ven said:  "This partial U-turn is a big victory for the Lib Dems and good news for local bus users.  The Tories have finally relented and accepted the principle that you cannot provide socially necessary rural transport for nothing.

“Abating 50 per cent of the cuts is a big improvement on the 100 per cent cut that was planned, which was the worst in the country.

"This will allow some of the bus services the Tories still intend to cut to be replaced with some form of alternative; it is just a shame they didn't listen to the public's concern and reinstate more of the funding.

 “We are extremely concerned that Cambridgeshire Future Transport is not the best way to deliver these services; in one year it has delivered almost nothing.

“Money spent on the failed pilot in Duxford could have paid for three new mini buses for Cambridge Dial-a-Ride or other established community transport providers.  Cambridgeshire cannot afford to play games with lifeline transport and scarce public money.”

A recent consultation by Cambridgeshire County Council on bus subsidies showed that 37 per cent of residents have no other means of transport and only three per cent of residents supported bus service cuts.

Cambridge MP Backs Live Music Bill As Boost For City Pubs

A Lib Dem-led Live Music Bill, which could help the survival of threatened Cambridge pubs, passed its Third Reading in the House of Commons today (Friday, January 20) with the backing of the city’s MP. This is the final step before Royal Assent, expected shortly.

The Bill, which allows live music to be played in pubs and other small venues without red tape licensing restrictions, has been welcomed by Cambridge MP, Julian Huppert.

“This Bill will bring huge advantages to small venues that are being crippled by unnecessary licensing restrictions,” he said. “It means publicans and the organisers of small events held in school and village halls across the city will not have to apply for licenses to play music.

“This simple easing of the present restrictions could mean the difference between a pub surviving or struggling to attract customers in this difficult economic climate.

“A live gig, especially on a quiet night in the week, could mean the difference between people turning up to a pub or choosing to stay home. With so many pubs in Cambridge closing in recent years, this could be a way for some to generate enough income to weather the storm.”

The Bill, championed by Bath MP, Lib Dem Don Foster, will remove licensing restrictions for unamplified music and for amplified music performed to audiences fewer than 200 people.

Cambridgeshire To Transform Way Subsidised Travel Delivered

Council chiefs are being asked to consider plans to invest £1.5 million into providing targeted community and alternative transport solutions in place of bus subsidies.

Cambridgeshire County Council has reviewed its previous decision to reduce subsidies to bus services, in order to save £2.7 million. This included a thorough public consultation to assess the impact that this reduction may have and therefore help to mitigate the impact.

This money is used to subsidise bus services that are currently not commercially viable.

Following an analysis of the survey results, members of the cabinet will be asked to consider bringing in phased reductions in bus subsidies over the next three years. A thorough assessment of local needs will be made first and alternative local transport measures identified wherever possible.

These proposed solutions would be developed as part of the forward looking Cambridgeshire Future Transport project that aims to develop more targeted, effective and locally needed transport provision. This could include community transport, sharing of transport services with other providers such as the health sector or working with bus operators to make existing subsidised services commercial. The Council will work closely with communities to bring in alternative transport measures to better suit local needs and save money at the same time.

Transport Minister Norman Baker has written to councils backing plans where authorities are using community transport in areas where commercial services are not viable.

Some 81 per cent of respondents to the survey did not support the withdrawal of all bus subsidies as this would have an impact on elderly, women, people with disabilities and the young and this proposed approach will address these concerns.

Nearly 68 per cent of respondents said they were likely or quite likely to use alternative travel links if they were available in their local area.

Cambridgeshire County Councillor Steve Criswell, Cabinet member for Community Infrastructure, said: "It is clear that people value their subsidised bus services which is why we paid for them even though commercially they were not viable.

"But with the large savings we, like other authorities, have to make we have to look at whether these bus services can be better provided rather than using large vehicles to carry a relatively small amount of people. That is why we are considering investing £1.5 million into alternative transport solutions and phasing reductions over three years. If agreed we would work closely with communities to make sure alternatives are in place that are tailored for local needs. The Government is encouraging councils to look at community transport solutions to meet the needs of residents where commercial services are not viable. These could be much more responsive for smaller cost. Operators are already talking to us about how changes can be made to make some services commercially viable and where there is no alternative we will consider keeping a subsidised bus.

Local Authorities To Bid For Government Cash To Repair Drought Damaged Roads

Local authorities across the East of England have joined forces to bid for government cash to help repair millions of pounds worth of damage to roads in the region caused by the ongoing drought conditions.

Information from the Environment Agency indicates that the fen areas of Cambridgeshire, Norfolk, Lincolnshire, Suffolk and Peterborough, are considered to be suffering drought conditions which have caused extensive damage to roads in the affected areas.

Now a group of local authorities is about to make a joint bid to government for financial aid to meet the cost of repairing the roads and is trying to enlist local MPs to help lobby for central funding.

Cambridgeshire County Council Cabinet Member for Community Infrastructure, Councillor Steve Criswell, said: "The Environment Agency considers that an extensive area of the eastern region is still suffering drought conditions with low water levels.

"As a result of the drought the moisture content in the soil beneath the roads has fallen and the soil has shrunk causing serious damage to the roads - we have been trying to keep pace with the repair work, but now the extent of the damage means we need to look for assistance to meet the cost of carrying out the required extensive repairs which are well beyond the financial resources of individual local authorities in the region."

The consortium of local authorities has written to the Secretary of State for Transport, Justine Greening MP, inviting her to view the road damage in the region and 'requesting that the Government review their capital funding to be able to accept a formal bid for additional capital funding to enable damage caused by the drought to be rectified.' The bid for Government funding is expected to be submitted at the end of February.

The local authorities are still working on a comprehensive list of problem sites, but the number across the region grows continuously with an ever-rising bill for repairs which is already estimated to run into several millions of pounds.

Local MPs have also been contacted and asked to lend their support for the bid for Government funding.

EU Rule Breakers Left With Egg On Their Faces Over Battery Hens

Andrew Duff MEP

Lib Dems have been given assurances from the European Commission that countries which do not comply with new welfare rules for laying hens will be closely investigated and, if appropriate, taken to court.

Under intense political pressure from Liberal Democrats in the European Parliament, the Commission confirmed its commitment to put in place infringement procedures as of January 2012.

Lib Dems met with EU Commissioner Dalli to push for swift actions against any country ignoring the new EU ban on battery cages.

Andrew Duff, Lib Dem Euro MP for the East of England said, "It is great news that the Commission refuses to postpone the legal deadline for a ban of battery cages for chicken and will hold to account countries who try and cheat.

"The Commission must also support those countries such as the UK who are using every means at their disposal to try and ban illegally produced eggs from entering their markets.

"Egg farmers in Britain and other countries that have met the new standards must not face competition from those with less concern for animal welfare.

"Until a full ban on illegal eggs and egg products is put in place, consumers can take care to only buy products labelled free range or organic with regard to their egg content."

According to EU Health and Consumer Commissioner John Dalli, inspection teams will start their investigations in targeted EU countries as of January 2012 to collect evidence of non-compliance to back up the prosecution when it goes to court.

Duff pointed out that the Commissioner will be limited in what he can do.  Duff said, “John Dalli pointed out that he has no police force and no army.  He only has court processes and sometimes these take time!”

In the UK, DEFRA has revealed that 30 UK farms still use battery cages for up to 500,000 laying hens. However, the Government announced that it expected full compliance with the new hen welfare law by February and would prosecute any farmers using battery cages after this date.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Decision of BASF to move Scientific Research from Europe to USA 'A Strategic Mistake'

Andrew Duff MEP

BASF have announced that they are to relocate their plant science research hub from Europe to the United States.  Lib Dem Euro-MP Andrew Duff says he regrets the decision of a leading European Science Companies to move to the USA.

Mr Duff said "Until we intensify research into GM we will be unable as a society to take informed decisions about the future of plant biotechnology. GM science offers the prospect of long-term solutions to problems of disease, drought, nutrition and food insecurity.”

"For Europeans to leave the hard science to the rest of the world is a big strategic mistake. Prejudice against genetic modification of any kind displays a kind of NIMBYISM which is detrimental to science and does not contribute to a higher level of public debate.”

"I hope the many successful bio-scientists in the East of England will not be tempted by BASF's removal to up-sticks for Asia and America."

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Tim Farron: Are Two Eds Better Than One?

Are two Eds better than one? I’m not sure - but the two Eds said something very interesting over the weekend: apparently they don’t have a ‘Plan B’ for the economy after all.

You’ll have heard Simon Hughes and I over the weekend rightly calling on the two Eds to apologise. We want them to apologise to the British public for deceiving them for 18 months. However, there is one apology we didn’t call for publicly, but which they still should make – that’s an apology to you.

Last May across the country, from Lancaster to Sheffield and Manchester to Newcastle, many of you lost your council seats to undeserving Labour candidates who were fighting their elections on a false platform with dishonest messages. They stood on a platform that the Eds now admit was wrong. Shame on them – but I’m proud of you.

In addition, Nick Clegg deserves an apology. Nick has been berated and abused by the Labour leadership for having the guts to stand up and work as part of the Coalition in the best interest of the country. Now Labour have admitted that their attacks were inaccurate - but there’s no hint of apology. They have gone from being in the wrong place, to all over the place.

That leaves the Liberal Democrats as the only political party with the backbone to tackle the country’s problems, but with the heart to do everything to ensure that fairness, compassion and justice are written through everything we do.

As this article from The Times recognises, the Liberal Democrats are a progressive force in Government. We are the Party delivering tax cuts for working people, we are the party investing in the poorest school pupils, we are the party delivering the largest ever state pension rise and importantly, we are the party prepared to take the tough decisions needed to get this country back on track.

So don’t hold your breath waiting for an apology from Labour – but rest assured you are most definitely owed one!

I have written more about this on Lib Dem Voice, and you can see my full article here.

Best wishes,

Tim Farron
President of the Liberal Democrats

Monday, 16 January 2012

Cambridge MP Gives His Support To Big Energy Week

MP Julian Huppert dropped into a one-day event designed to give residents advice about energy consumption and encourage them to think about energy efficiency today (Monday, January 16).

He gave his support to Big Energy Week organised by the Citizens Advice Bureau and other leading charities at Cambridge’s Grand Arcade.

The event included advice about swapping energy suppliers and making sure people are on the right tariffs and how to conserve energy.

There was also information on national campaigns designed to help vulnerable people with energy consumption and costs.

Julian said: “These are difficult economic times and some people are struggling to pay increasing energy prices.

“This event offered some extremely valuable information and advice. It might be that by swapping suppliers or changing the energy tariff, significant savings could be made. But we lead busy lives and sometimes we simply don’t have the time to even think about this. And too often, people don’t think about ways to reduce the energy they use, despite the government schemes to support insulation programs.

“If this event has made people think about how they use energy, it could give them significant savings over the course of a year and cut their energy consumption. This is extremely good news.”

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Government's Ban On Credit Card Surcharge - A Victory For Cambridge MP Julian Huppert

Cambridge MP, Julian Huppert is celebrating victory after the government announced it will ban credit and debit card surcharges just days after he called for action during a Parliamentary debate.

Julian secured the debate called ‘Credit and Debit Card Surcharges’ on Tuesday (December 20) in the House of Commons to highlight the problems people face with these hidden costs.

He said that the surcharges had become a business model in their own right seriously undermining legitimate economic growth. And he warned that if the government failed to act, it risked stifling the country’s fragile economic recovery.

Julian has been pursuing the campaign for change and tabled a Commons’ Early Day Motion in July calling for government action. This followed a complaint to the Office of Fair Trading by Consumer magazine Which? earlier this year.

In late December the government announced it will ban these excessive fees by the end of 2012.

Julian said: “I am delighted. This is the only way forward if we are to protect consumers from being at the mercy of businesses making money through credit and debit card transactions.

“More and more people are shopping on the internet which has been giving businesses more and more opportunity to get away with these hidden costs. People feel cheated and let down and the desire to buy is greatly reduced.

“I am pleased that the government has taken action to stamp out the practice which could have had serious implications for economic recovery and growth in this country. Hopefully banning excessive charges will make the whole process of shopping by debit or credit card much more straightforward and transparent.”

Friday, 13 January 2012

E-Cops - Weekly Update 13-JAN-2012

The first ecops message since the New Year and only five crimes have been reported within the two week period;

Between 00:30 hrs and 02:30 hrs on 1st January, a local New Year party has spilt out into the street and subsequently some criminal damage has been caused to a neighbouring property. This occurred in The Green, Lolworth.

Between 11:30 hrs on 2nd January and 02:00 hrs on 3rd January, unknown offenders have damaged a padlock to a side gate of a business premises in Trafalgar Way, Bar Hill. Offenders have been seen on CCTV to enter the site and attempt to jemmy metal shutter before appearing to change their minds and leave the site.

At approximately 18:00 hrs on 6th January, at Tesco Petrol Filling Station in Bar Hill, an unknown male has filled up his vehicle with fuel before driving off without making any attempts to pay for the fuel obtained.

At approximately 15:40 hrs on 9th January, at the Total Service Station at Lolworth, an unknown person has filled up their van with fuel before driving off without making any attempts to pay for the fuel obtained.

At approximately 10:30 hrs on 13th January 2012, an unknown offender has been seen to remove something, possibly metal, from the roof of an elderly residents property in Acorn Avenue, Bar Hill. When challenged by a neighbour, the male has run off in the direction of Foxhollow or Gladeside. Unfortunately, an area search for the male conducted by the Police proved negative. The male is described as a young male, wearing a black woolly hat, short jacket and jeans.

If you can provide any information that would assist us with any of the above crimes, please call us on 101 or call Crime stoppers, an independent charity, anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Kind regards
PC Claire Reeves and PCSO Bujar Mani
Histon Safer Neighbourhood Team

Free Energy Saving Advice For Businesses

Small businesses in Cambridge are being offered free energy saving advice including how to tap into the government’s ‘green’ grants through an event promoted by the city’s Liberal Democrats.

The drop-in event will take place at the SmartLIFE Centre following a request from East Chesterton County Councillor, Ian Manning who is concerned about the problems facing small businesses across the city.

It will take place on January 16 between 8am and 11am and offers free advice to local businesses with fewer than 250 employees.

Topics covered will include:

  • Skills and the government’s new Green Deal which aims to establish a framework to enable private firms to offer consumers energy efficiency improvements at no upfront cost, and recoup payments through a charge in instalments on the energy bill.
  • Energy audit advice - take advantage of a free energy audit of your premises
  • Water efficiency advice from Anglian Water and Cambridge Water
  • Retrofitting housing
  • Recycling Waste
  • Green travel plan to work to save money.

Cllr Manning said: “I hope businesses will support this extremely worthwhile event which could help them to save money and cut their carbon footprints at the same time.”

MP Julian Huppert said "I'm pleased to support this event which backs up work we have been doing to support the character of Cambridge and small businesses in particular."

Cllr Sian Reid, leader of Cambridge City Council added: "Improving energy consumption can save small businesses money and ultimately give them more chance of surviving these tough economic times."

Lib Dem Campaigner Given Assurances Over Blue Badge Fears

Leading Cambridgeshire Liberal Democrat campaigner, Clare Blair has received assurances that national changes to the Blue Badge system, designed to prevent fraud, will not affect existing users.

Clare contacted Cambridgeshire County Councillor, Ian Manning, who represents East Chesterton because she was worried that existing disabled users might have to immediately changeover to new style badges leaving them without their permits.

She said: "It can take a long time to get a new or replacement badge and I was worried that the changes could have meant users having their service interrupted while the new badge was sent.

“I've received assurances that existing users won't be affected and current badges will continue until they expire. For new badge applications the process will remain exactly the same as before although new style badges will be issued. This is good news for all disabled people who rely on their badges."

The Department for Transport has launched changes to the badges to reduce the potential for fraud and misuse and to streamline administration of the scheme, which is carried out by local authorities. The move will save up to £20 million per year.

Other changes include the potential to increase the price of a badge from £2 to £10, to cover the cost of the new technology. But a decision will not be made on whether to pass this onto users until Cambridgeshire County Council’s Cabinet meets in January.

Cllr Manning said: “I know how valuable these Blue Badges are for people with limited mobility and the thought that they might lose them while the new system is rolled out can be extremely worrying.

“The assurances Clare has been given will put a lot of minds at rest.”

Cambridge MP Quizzes Government On Lack Of Safeguards For Cyclists

The lack of cycling infrastructure across the country and its safety implications have been raised with the government by Cambridge MP, Julian Huppert.

He questioned Transport Minister, Mike Penning on the steps being taken to improve the quality and amount of cycle infrastructure on the country’s roads

Julian told the Minister in the House of Commons yesterday (Thursday, January 12): “Cycle infrastructure is sadly lacking across the country and that causes a number of safety problems such as a recent tragedy at King’s Cross and many others around the country. What steps is the Minister taking to improve the quality and amount of cycle infrastructure on our roads?”

Mr Penning acknowledged the importance of cycling, saying: “Cycling is vital not only to community and enjoyment but to the health of the nation.”

And he assured Julian that his concerns had been heard in the chamber by Liberal Democrat Transport Minister, Norman Baker who is responsible for cycling.

Julian said later: “If we want people to see cycling as a safe alternative to other forms of transport we have to do everything we can to improve the safety of cyclists on our roads.

“In Cambridge we have invested a great deal of money on cycle lanes and improvements to junctions and signage and the result has been that we have the largest number of cyclists commuting to and from work and school and riding for pleasure than anywhere else in the UK.

“Sadly, this is not replicated across the country as a whole and as a result, particularly in London, cyclists do not enjoy the same level of safeguards. This leads to accidents involving cyclists and recently an accident between a lorry and a cyclist claimed the life of a young fashion student.

“We have to make cycling infrastructure a priority across the country; only then can our government expect people to really take it seriously on this issue.”

The full wording of Julian’s question and response are as follows:

Dr Julian Huppert (Cambridge) (LD): Cycle infrastructure is sadly lacking across the country and that causes a number of safety problems, such as a recent tragedy at King’s Cross and many others around the country. What steps is the Minister taking to improve the quality and amount of cycle infrastructure on our roads?

Mike Penning: Most of the roads I am responsible for are part of the national road infrastructure, and I hope there are no cyclists on that part of the infrastructure. However, the hon. Gentleman is absolutely right: cycling is vital not only to local commuting and enjoyment but to the health of the nation. I am sure that the Under-Secretary of State for Transport, my hon. Friend the Member for Lewes (Norman Baker) was listening closely to what the hon. Gentleman said.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Double Broadband Speeds Will Help Boost Business Growth

Cambridgeshire County Council has welcomed the announcement that Virgin Media is to double broadband speeds for users of its cable network as a boost for business in the region.

Virgin Media has announced that subscribers to the cable network's services offering between 10Mb and 50Mb will see their speeds at least doubled, with 100Mb customers getting up to 120Mb in a nationwide upgrade over the next 18 months.

The fibre-optic network currently passes by around 130,000 homes in the Cambridgeshire region including Burwell, Cambridge, Ely, Godmanchester, Huntingdon, Sawston, St Ives, St Neots, Wisbech and March.

Cambridgeshire County Council has agreed to invest in superfast broadband as part of a drive to encourage business and enterprise and support the prosperity and well-being of communities.

The County Council is part of the partnership of councils, businesses and partners in health and education working together to bring superfast broadband to the majority of premises in Cambridgeshire by 2015.

Cambridgeshire County Council Leader, Councillor Nick Clarke said: "We welcome this move by Virgin Media, which supports our commitment to ensuring Cambridgeshire is open for business to attract investment, encourage enterprise, and create new jobs.

"Faster broadband is central to boosting the local economy, which in turn helps to improve the quality of life of our communities. We will be working in conjunction with commercial providers to improve the broadband infrastructure across the county, including our market towns and rural parishes."

Virgin Media chief executive officer, Neil Berkett, said: "As people are increasingly doing more online, and getting connected to the internet with lots of different devices, having a fast, reliable broadband service should not be a luxury. We want to make sure that consumers have access to the best value broadband service and that means a superfast connection." Find out more about Cambridgeshire and Peterborough's Broadband plans


Christine Is Busway's One In A Million

Cambridgeshire Guided Busway
The millionth Busway passenger took a ride today, Thursday, January 12, on the highly successful and record breaking transport facility opened in August last year.

Christine Chandler from Colne was picked as the millionth passenger as she took her father Len Burrow, the millionth and one passenger to Addenbrooke's from St Ives Park and Ride.

To celebrate this momentous occasion Bus operators Stagecoach and Whippet together with representatives from Cambridgeshire County Council were there to surprise them and hand over mementos of the occasion.

More than 200,000 trips a month are being taken on the worlds longest Busway since its opening in August 2011.

Christine, who is a regular user of the Busway since it opened, said: "We use the Busway regularly to go shopping or to the hospital. It is really convenient and means you don't have to go on the A14. It is really regular, reliable and efficient and has got us where we want to go on time. It was a complete surprise to be the millionth passenger and we are really pleased."

Cambridgeshire County Councillor Steve Criswell, Cabinet Member for Community Infrastructure, said: "This is a massive milestone for the Busway and is ahead of our business forecasts. The Busway is proving very popular as a fast and reliable way to travel and I was pleased to see our millionth customer ride the Busway."

Andy Campbell, Managing Director for Stagecoach in Cambridge, said: "The Busway has been a much bigger success than we had hoped for and have already had to put more services on. We are now looking at buying more new buses and running further extra services. We look forward to seeing the next million journeys."

Peter Lee, Director of Whippet Coaches, said: "The Busway is an ideal way of avoiding the A14. We are really pleased with just how successful it has been from day one. This is a great benefit for Cambridgeshire and Whippet is delighted to be part of its success story."

A14 Update/ Briefing Note For Councillors

The following is the contents of a briefing note provided for County Councillors on developments regarding the A14 (this is a public note we're actively encouraged to circulate). The full text is below;


Members will have seen in the media various reports about the A14 Wider Study and associated with that, the announcement following the Budget Statement of £20m of ring fenced money to assist key congested points between Ellington and Fen Ditton. Also included are measures to help traffic avoid congestion caused by accidents and other incidents.

The A14 Wider Study
Following the withdrawal of the A14 Ellington to Fen Ditton scheme, the Government announced that it would lead a study which examined the congestion problems of the A14, taking account of the needs of strategic freight as well as the needs of locally based development traffic within Cambridgeshire.

To this end, the Department for Transport (DfT) has established and is chairing a steering group to oversee the study which will examine these issues, draw conclusions and make recommendations as how to address these problems. Apart from senior DfT civil servants, the Steering Group comprises representatives of the Highways Agency, Cambridgeshire, Northamptonshire, and Suffolk County Councils, Huntingdonshire, South Cambridgeshire and Cambridge City Councils, the Greater Cambridge, Greater Peterborough, New Anglia and Northamptonshire LEPS, and Felixstowe Port.

The study work is being undertaken in three phases. The first has been very quickly undertaken and has identified the main issues that any improvement schemes need to address.  The report can be viewed as the “A14” PDF report on the Department for Transport website at http://www.dft.gov.uk/consultations/dft-20111212/

The following two phases of the study will see consultants examining and evaluating alternative ways of addressing those issues. This will lead to a programme of deliverable and fundable schemes which address the corridor’s problems. The Wider Study is scheduled to finish in June 2012.

The A14 “Challenge”
To coincide with the recent Chancellor’s statement, DfT launched its “A14 Challenge”. This document, “A14 Challenge –finding solutions together” can also be viewed as a further PDF at the above website and reaffirms the Government’s commitment to long term improvements for A14 travellers. The challenge is seeking ideas that are deliverable and can be shaped into comparable options. 

An area where ideas are especially sought is that of the finance of improvement measures, but whilst not ruling out the tolling of new or enhanced infrastructure, the Government would not expect to toll existing infrastructure.  The Challenge is open to suggestions of shared funding.  Whatever, the Government expects the price of new schemes to be considerably less than that of the withdrawn scheme, priced at some £1.2bn.

The timescale for Challenge indicates that it will conclude by the end of January and feed into the Wider Study. 

The Challenge Stakeholder Event   
To assist the Study process and feed into the Challenge, the Local Authorities will be staging a stakeholder event before the end of January. This will draw on the views of those with a significant interest in seeing the successful improvement of the different transport facilities in the A14 corridor.

The Ring Fenced £20m to Provide Short Term Measures
This money is intended to provide the Highways Agency and the County Council with funding to introduce a variety of measures which should give some assistance to the current congestion. The schemes being developed are:

1. Cambridgeshire County Council. The expansion of St. Ives’ Park and Ride site to the full size of 1,000 spaces included in the original Guide Busway orders.  The current usage of this site and experience of demand for parking at other sites, suggests that shortly demand may exceed supply on frequent occasions in the near future. The use of the Guided Busway instead of driving to Cambridge benefits traffic conditions on the A14.  The necessary land and the permissions have previously been granted for the completion of this site.

Also to be provided, are six real –time VMS signs on County roads leading from Huntingdon and Godmanchester to the A14 and on four County roads from Cambridge to the A14. The Council already operates two similar signs on Milton Road and the A10. These give real time information on any delays on the A14 and wider Trunk Road network. This approach enables many motorists to avoid trunk road congestion and would benefit trunk road traffic by not joining congested queues. The messages themselves will be co-ordinated with those of the Highways Agency, (see below). 

2. Highways Agency. A list of potential measures is to be examined for deliverability. These measures include alterations at the Spittals Interchange to smooth traffic flow both in a west and east bound direction. Between Bar Hill and Girton measures to improve the east bound traffic flow, especially in the morning peak period. These could involve provision of a “Tiger Tail” between the centre and near side lane to separate Huntingdon Road traffic travelling into Cambridge from A14 traffic. Additionally, measures to confine A428 east bound traffic to one lane as it approaches the Girton Interchange to enable a free flow lane onto the A14 Northern bypass, with the provision of an extra east bound lane to Histon Interchange will be investigated.

The Agency is also planning a “Minute Man” service to assist with the swift removal of breakdowns and series of mobile VMS signs to be co-ordinated with its existing signs elsewhere along the A14."