Monday, 30 April 2012

BHA: Holy Redundant! Remove Privilege In Parliament

Over 100 years on from the call for immediate reform of our second chamber in the House of Lords Act 1911, House of Lords reform continues to be a constant in our political landscape, defying every cliché about how quickly things change in politics.

However, as the Draft House of Lords Reform Bill makes its way through the early scrutiny stages, and is likely to be included prominently in the Government’s agenda for the next parliamentary session, we have a unique opportunity to remove one of the most archaic, unjust, and peculiar of parliamentary customs – the reserved places for Church of England Bishops in our legislature.

Unfortunately, both the government and the Joint Committee scrutinising the Draft Reform Bill have called for the retention of a number of Bishops.

This is why we’ve launched our new campaign ‘Holy Redundant’, as we think that automatically awarding seats in our legislature to senior clerics is antithetical to the principles of a democratic and just society. Not only is it unfair, it is unpopular, and entirely at odds with a culture which is both increasingly non-religious and religiously diverse at the same time.

Whatever direction this reform takes, we cannot miss this opportunity to push for the removal of the Bishops; we won’t get a chance like this again.

Please go to, read about what is happening, help with our campaign, and donate if you are able.

Cambridge MP Huppert Secures Meeting With Minister Over Fire Service Funding

Cambridge MP Julian Huppert

A government minister is to meet Cambridge MP, Julian Huppert to discuss future funding for the county’s fire service.

Bob Neill, Minister for Communities and Local Government agreed to the meeting in the House of Commons today (Monday, April 30) after Julian called for greater clarity over the government’s funding plans for the service.

“Fire services, such as ours in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough which are already low cost and largely have retained fire-fighters, are extremely vulnerable to excessive funding reductions and have no alternative other than the withdrawal of some appliances and the closure of fire stations, beyond a certain point,” Julian told the minister.

“I do accept the need for some savings, but there is still a lack of clarity as to how much this service will have to save. Will he meet with me, staff from the Authority and Service, and other local MPs, who are also concerned, to discuss how much funding there will be available in the future?”

Mr Neill said: “In relation to funding overall, the reduction to funding in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough is 1.5 per cent in terms of reduction of their spending power.

“I am glad to say that their joint bid for Suffolk to improve fire control room services was successful and they will receive £400,000 revenue and £180,000 capital funding.

“I am always happy to meet with Honorable Members to discuss the circumstances in their own constituencies.”

Later Julian said: “I am delighted that the minister has agreed to meet to discuss this issue.

“The Fire Authority cannot be expected to make decisions about the future of our fire service without having all the facts. The government has to be completely clear about the level of funding that the service can expect in the future so that our fire cover can be protected.

“Now l am hoping that we will be able to get the answers to our questions to give the fire authority a much more solid base from which to work.

"I spent an evening recently with the White Watch in Cambridge, and it was clear what a great job they do - they deserve to know what they will be able to do in the future"

Truancy Sweeps Improve Attendance At Fenland Schools

A joint initiative has been launched by Cambridgeshire County Council and the police to improve school attendance in the Fenland area.

The truancy sweeps - which will focus on Chatteris, March and the surrounding villages - will also aim to promote child safety by emphasising the importance of making sure children are in school.

All children of compulsory school age will be stopped even if they are accompanied by parents, carers or relatives and live outside the targeted areas.

Parents or carers of truanting pupils will then be contacted by an Educational Welfare Officer and notified of the Education Welfare Service procedures. Their school will also be contacted and made aware of the absence and their attendance at school will be monitored.

The sweeps will take place in March, Chatteris and the surrounding school catchment areas, with the aim of reducing levels of unauthorised absence.

Education Welfare Officer Julie Rutterford said: "Although Cambridgeshire's school attendance rates are in line with the national average and truancy is minimal, there is still room for improvement in Fenland.

"As a joint initiative with schools and police we want to send a clear message that it is unacceptable for a child to miss school without good reason and also that truancy is not necessarily the only explanation or cause for poor school attendance.

"Parents of persistent absentees or truants and are being warned they could end up in court facing fines and - in a worst case scenario - imprisonment. Children need to be in school learning, Parents have a legal duty to ensure their child or children are attending school regularly.  By missing out on school children are limiting their potential and missing out on vital learning at a particularly important stage of their lives. Children who attend school regularly are four times more likely to achieve five or more good GCSEs, including English and maths, than those who are persistently absent."

County Council Invests £2 Million To Ensure Cambridgeshire Roads Are Well Dressed!

The County Council is about to begin a £2 million project to ensure hundreds of kilometres of Cambridgeshire roads are maintained and improved.

The surface dressing programme, using a thin film of bitumen and stone chippings, keeps the road surface in good condition and improves safety for all road users.

The technique costs around 20% of conventional asphalt resurfacing, enabling a far greater length of road to be treated from within the available financial resources.

Starting from May 8 work will be carried out in all areas of Cambridgeshire (the programme list is available here via Google Docs).

Drivers are being asked to be aware of the work and to allow extra time for their journey if necessary. In some areas traffic management measures will be in place and some localised short-time road closures are possible.

Local Councillor Andy Pellew said; "It's good to see some of Cambridgeshire's roads that have suffered from decades of Tory neglect are now being brought back up to standard. It's a shame some of our local roads here in Bar Hill, such as Field View and The Spinney, have not made the list for these repairs despite the serious wear to their surfaces."

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Dog Takes A Bite Out Of Election Candidate!

Cllr Neil McGovern
(LD, King's Hedges - Cambridge City)

Cambridge City Councillor, Neil McGovern discovered a dog’s bite is certainly worse than its bark while out election canvassing last night (Wednesday, April 25).

He was bitten on the hand as he tried to put a note through a door in the city’s Atkins Close to let the homeowners know he had called while they were out.

Suddenly, the dog leapt at the letterbox and took a bite out of Cllr McGovern, who is standing for re-election in the King’s Hedges ward.

Cllr McGovern abandoned his canvassing and went to the accident and emergency department at Addenbrooke’s Hospital.

“It was quite a shock and totally unexpected,” said Cllr McGovern. “It was a minor bite but I decided I ought to get it checked out at the hospital.

“The staff were fantastic. They gave me a tetanus jab and a course of antibiotics and I was ready to go in just 15 minutes. My partner had gone to get some coffee because we expected to be there for a while, but by the time she got back I had been seen and patched up.

“I was so impressed with the service and can’t thank the staff enough.”

Saturday, 28 April 2012

E-Cops - Your Local Crime Update

As some of you may know, I have been off work for a period of 4 weeks. Below you will find a crime update for the last month.

On 23d of March 12, there has been a crime report of a stolen motor vehicle from Peterborough area, vehicle was a recovered by the police in Bar Hill Industrial Estate. This crime remains undetected and under investigation.

On 26th March 12, at 01:45, there has been a crime report of a burglary in a building at Tesco Petrol Station IN Bar Hill. At stated times 4 unknown persons have gained entry into petrol station by forcing the fire exit door open. Large quantity of a cigarettes and other items have been taken. Crime remains undetected and under investigation. If you was in the location at the time and saw this happened, please come forward.

Between 19:00 hours on 26th March and 08:00 hours on 27th March, there has been a crime report of theft from a motor vehicle. Unknown person (s) have stolen catalytic converter from the vehicle. This crime has been filed due to insufficient evidence.

On 1st April 12, there has been a report of criminal damage to a vehicle in Almond Grove, Bar Hill. Unknown person(s) has chipped off metal form a vehicle parked in the location.

On 7th April 12, there has been a report of drug use by a group of patrons in The Fox Bar Hill. The group and their vehicles were was searched and cannabis was found on the suspects. All suspects were issued with a cannabis warning.

On 21st April, between 12:00 and 12:40 there has been a report of theft from a motor vehicle whilst parked in Viking Way, Bar Hill. At times stated unknown offenders have removed both front and rear index plates from a parked and secure vehicle by unscrewing them from the mounting plates. No damage caused.

On 20th April 12 at 17:00 and 23d April12 at 12:45, there has been a crime report of theft from a motor vehicle in Stonefield, Bar Hill. Unknown person(s) have removed both front and rear index plates from a vehicle that was parked in a communal car park, and the index plates were secured with screws and sticky tabs.

On Thursday 26th April I attended Bar Hill Annual Parish Meeting, I am pleased to say that there was no issued raised from Bar Hill residents. If you have any issues in your village that may need my attention, please get in touch.

I hope that you find the above information useful. If you have any information to support these, please do get in touch.

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. I also welcome anyone to contact me directly by emailing if you wish to let me know of any issues you may be experiencing.

Kind regards
Histon Safer Neighbourhood Team

Council Accused Of Misleading Villagers Over Highway Safety

Cllr Kevin Wilkins
(LD, West Chesterton)

Cambridgeshire County Council has been accused of moving the goalposts over plans to give villagers funding for safety improvements.

Parish councils were told before Christmas that they could bid for funds to make improvements in their areas.

But problems started even before they had even submitted their bids; the county council delayed the submission date and then changed it twice.

Now villagers have been told by Cambridgeshire County Council that economic development is now its top priority and they must meet a whole range of new criteria before the money will be released.

“Parish councils feel they have been misled and badly let down,” said Hardwick Councillor, Fiona Whelan. “The county council led them to believe that they could get this money and then moved the goalposts at the last minute.  

“This is absolutely absurd. All nine parishes in my area have submitted good ideas for making local safety improvements; but they now feel they’ve been lied to.”

She said that before Comberton Parish Council submitted its bid, she asked officers how much information the parish council was expected to include in its submission.

Cllr Fiona Whelan was told only basic information was required and officers would refer back to the parish council if they needed more.

Now the parish council has been told it has to meet a whole range of criteria that it knew nothing about when submitting the bid; and Cllr Whelan said the same applies to all the other villages she represents.

“When the Leader of the Council talks about Cambridgeshire being ‘Open for Business’, it is clear that business does not mean addressing local safety issues,” she added.

Cllr Kevin Wilkins, County Council Shadow Cabinet Member for Highways, raised the problems at the council’s Cabinet meeting on 17 April but his concerns were dismissed.

“The Conservatives running the Council don’t seem to realise that they are saying one thing then doing another,” he said. “Some parishes have been treated really badly

Friday, 27 April 2012

Cambridge to Bar Hill (Citi 5) Timetable Changes

There has been a lot of confusion lately regarding the changes Stagecoach is proposing to the Citi 5 from 10th June. This issue has been raised both on other articles on this blog (see here) and also at the annual meeting of Bar Hill Parish Council which took place last night at the Octagon.

Given these uncertainties I contacted Stagecoach Managing Director Andy Campbell and received clarification on exactly what the changes to the Citi 5 will be.

Here is the new timetable;
Citi 5 Stagecoach Timetable (from 10th June 2012)
The highlighted services (18:56 to 22:56) are the services that it was suggested would be cut (see here) and as you can see they are very much in place. It looks like there has been some misunderstanding regarding the changes to the services beyond Bar Hill and changes to services between Bar Hill and Cambridge.

The new timetable is available direct from the Stagecoach site here.

(Thanks to Andy Campbell for promptly responding to my email for clarification).

Better Bus Area Fund (BBAF) Statement

As part of a request from Liberal Democrat County Councillor Sarah Whitebread a statement will be released to the West Central Area Committee shortly detailing the plans for spending the 1.7m allocated to the Cambridge City for bus improvements in Cambridge City.

The original statement is available here (via Google Docs).

The text is below;

"Written Statement for the West Central Area Committee meeting on 26.04.12 regarding the Better Bus Area Fund (BBAF)

Cambridgeshire County Council has been asked to prepare a statement for the West Central Area Committee for 26th April regarding the Better Bus Area Fund (or BBAF), providing some background information on the bid and our plans to consult on aspects of the programme once this is finalised.

The County Council has secured £1.7m funding from Government to invest in improving the reliability of bus services, particularly through Cambridge city centre. The overarching aim of the bid is to improve accessibility, bus journey times and reliability on key bus routes.

One of the proposals included in the bid is the possible removal of motorised traffic, except buses and emergency service vehicles, from St Andrews Street between Emmanuel Street and Hobson Street, during the day time. This would be accompanied by the proposed removal of the taxi rank on St Andrews Street, at least during the day time. If this proposal is taken forward, the current taxi rank in Drummer Street would become the primary taxi facility for the historic city centre.

Buses using the route currently experience delays associated with over ranking by taxis, deliveries to premises and unauthorised vehicles using the street. There are also conflicts between buses, cycles and pedestrians which need to be addressed. Our intention is to enhance the environment and safety in this area and improve accessibility, especially for bus services. In doing this we will consider all access requirements by all users including those with mobility impairments.

To help us in achieving this, we will be consulting widely with all sectors of the city centre community before designing any detailed proposals. We are keen to hear from all those who live in and use the area and we will shortly be publicising details of when and how the consultation will be undertaken and details will be made available on our website at

We look forward to engaging further with the West Central Committee as part of this process.

Yours sincerely

Dearbhla Lawson
Head of Transport Infrastructure Policy & Funding
Cambridgeshire County Council

Background Information

  • The bid was prepared in partnership with South Cambridgeshire District Council, Cambridge City Council, Stagecoach East and Whippet Coaches Ltd and is for a total of £1.724m of Department for Transport (DfT) funding. The total programme cost is £5.192m.
  • The overarching aim of the bid is to improve accessibility, bus journey times and reliability on key bus routes in Cambridge.
  • The programme will be implemented during 2012/13 and 2013/14.
  • The full bid document is available here.

The BBAF programme area:

  • The bid focuses on the core area of Cambridge City Centre and on four of the inner radial routes that are heavily used by buses (Hills Road, Milton Road, Histon Road and Mill Road). It also focuses on outer radial routes from the Trumpington Park & Ride Site and the villages of Sawston, Cambourne and Linton.

Benefits of the programme:

  • The programme will improve journey times and reliability, and result in increased bus patronage (an estimated 508,000 more passenger journeys over the two years of the bid). It will improve access to employment, reduce carbon emissions (by reducing bus mileage in the bid area) and improve air quality in the core area (due to older vehicles being replaced with cleaner, newer vehicles).
  • The programme will also result in wider economic benefits by reducing congestion and helping to enable planned growth to occur and that people can access employment and other key destinations.


  • Cambridgeshire County Council is planning to consult on a number of the measures which are included in the BBAF programme. As we were only advised of the success of the bid in late March, detailed work on a programme including project plans/ options has yet to take place.
  • County Council officers are currently working up a draft programme which will clarify how the various BBAF programme elements are proposed to be taken forward in the next two years. This will include consideration of how and when detailed scheme designs and proposals will be consulted upon. Our aim is to have a programme completed by June for publication and to share it with Members of the West Central Area Committee."

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Huppert Quizzes Government On Ethical Pensions

Cambridge MP Julian Huppert

Cambridge MP Julian Huppert has quizzed the government on the action it is taking to make sure pension holders have the chance to invest their retirement funds in ethical companies and not just those offering short-term returns.

He paid tribute to Cambridge Retrofit, who aim to retrofit Cambridge buildings by 2050. He spoke at their launch last week, welcoming the landmark energy efficiency initiative to make Cambridge the first UK city to reach national targets of an 80 per cent reduction in carbon emissions.

Julian told Parliament that he wants pension fund trustees to look closely at investing funds in companies such as this.

He asked Pensions Minister, Steve Webb in the House of Commons: “How will he make sure that trustees are aware that their fiduciary duties do not prevent them from doing this? How will he communicate this, as many of them seem to be unaware of this?”

Mr Webb assured Julian that trustees are allowed to look at wider social aspects of their investments, and that the pension regulator communicates regularly with trustees and provided a tool kit on his website setting out trustees’ duties.

He also highlighted that "auto enrolment does provide the opportunity for ethical investment, for example the National Employment Saving Trust, will specifically have an ethical fund for people who want to invest in that way,” he said, “ and I hope that his schemes will seek to find investments through that particular route.”

Julian said later: “We have a huge number of companies in this country working on programmes which aim to improve our environment, reduce inequality and generally make life better for us and future generations.

“These companies need investment to grow and flourish and pension fund trustees should be looking at them seriously. We should be looking to the companies of the future, those that have excellent ethical credentials and that are working towards what we want to achieve environmentally.”

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Talk About Employment Event To Help Young Disabled People

Local employers and organisations are backing a Cambridgeshire County Council event designed to help young disabled people live independent lives by accessing employment and training opportunities.

The 'Talk about Employment' event has been set up by the County Council's Transitions Team and pinpoint in response to requests from parents and carers to raise awareness of the issues facing young people with disabilities wanting to find suitable employment and training or volunteering opportunities or work placements.

The County Council wil also be giving information on employment and training it offers to disabled people as a major employer in Cambridgeshire. The authority will be joined by representatives from Anson Packaging; Cambridgeshire Mencap; Red2Green; Branching Out; Burwell Print; Papworth Trust; Young Lives; Sainsbury and the National Child Minding Association.

More than 60 young people from eight schools and colleges, including special schools and the inclusion units within mainstream schools are expected to attend the event.

The Talk About Employment event at St Ives Corn Exchange on May 3, will be run by Pinpoint Cambs which has been commissioned by the County Council to support the participation of parent carers in decision making around the planning and delivery of services designed to support young people as they move between children and adult services.

Parents are invited to attend, and local employers interested in attending or sending information should contact Lynn Powell on 07871 558850 or

South Cambridgeshire Minor Highways Improvements Panel

This is a new feature of Highways Management by Cambridgeshire County Council which is being run this year for the first time. The scheme itself is basically that the County Council has created a 55,000 pot for South Cambridgeshire Minor highways work which organisations in South Cambridgeshire can then bid for on the understanding that they must contribute 10% of the overall cost. The entries will then be viewed by a panel of elected County Councillors for the area who will then decide which schemes should get the money based on, well, whatever criteria they want to base their decisions on.

The original application form is available here (on the CCC website), if you'd like some idea of how much these improvements costs then click here (via Google Docs) for the costing document that went along with the application form.

Our area, unlike some of the other areas, has seen an absolute flood of applications from Parish Councils asking for everything from gateway features to a village, speed reductions, resurfaced foot path, etc.

I raised a Freedom of Information request with the County Council (via the excellent What do they Know? website) to get the list of bid submissions as I believe it's vital, especially given the fact that this process could become a permanent fixture, for Parishes to be able to see what makes a successful bid and what doesn't.

The full list is available here (via Google Docs).

As you can see there have been 59 separate submissions some of which contain multiple bids for the funding (Bassingbourn for example put in 2, as did Coton, 3 for Eltisley etc). The huge majority of bids seem to be costed, and fall within the sample amounts for the scheme (the 25,000 mini-roundabout is definitely out unless the Parish wants to stump up 15,000!).

So what now? Well now it's down to the Councillors on the panel (the details of which doesn't seem to be on the County Councils website ... unfortunately) to make the decisions on what schemes will go ahead.

Visually Impaired Student Becomes Latest Victim Of Tory Bus Cuts

Warren Wilson joins Lib Dem Councillors,
Susan van de Ven and Tim Stone
at the bus stop where the Citi 7 will no
longer stop

Cambridge student, Warren Wilson, whose sight is failing due to a rare genetic condition, has become the latest victim of Tory county council spending cuts.

The Citi 7 bus that takes him to Anglia Ruskin University will no longer call at Duxford leaving 21-year-old Warren stranded at home in Kingsway.

A decision by the Conservative-run Cambridgeshire County Council to withdraw the Citi 7 subsidy has led to bus company, Stagecoach terminating the service at Sawston Health Centre.

And Warren, who is in the second year of a history degree, has been left trying to find alternative transport to continue his course.

“This makes me really angry and very frustrated,” said Warren. “I am about to enter the third year of my degree; it a big dissertation year and I’ve been left with no transport. I won’t be able to go to any activities.

“I’m trying to put a contingency plan in place but I shouldn’t have to be worrying about this. The council needs to realise that they are messing with people’s lives and money must come second to that.”

Warren suffers from Leber’s Hereditary Optic Neuropathy which has led to his eyesight failing.  His whole field of vision is affected leaving it blurred although he can make out high contrast objects, large objects or those which are close and his condition has stabilised at that level.

His eyesight began failing while he was studying A Levels at Cambridge’s Long Road Sixth Form College and he now uses a long white mobility cane.

Despite his condition, Warren retains his independence and with the help of support workers has learnt his return route to university.

Withdrawing the Citi 7 service means Warren will have to learn a new journey which would involve crossing the M11 slip road with the A505 and walking to the station or relying on a bus from his girlfriend’s home in Stapleford.

“The last thing I want is to be a burden on them or anyone else,” said Warren. “I will have to learn a whole new route and new pathways which is totally unnecessary.”

Duxford’s neighbouring village, Whittlesford is also losing its bus service under the latest round of cuts.

The two villages used to share a bus until the route was split in recent years. Warren believes reinstating a shared bus could save money and increase passengers.

“The road layout between the villages makes it perfect for a shared bus,” he said. “This seems a sensible option to me rather than leaving these villages totally cut off.”

Cambridgeshire Liberal Democrats have taken up Warren’s fight in a bid to get funding to save the bus.

And Warren has given his support to a petition launched by Shadow Cabinet Member for Transport: Susan van de Ven which can be found at:

He will also be supporting a meeting on bus cuts and transport at the United Reform Church in Whittlesford at 7pm on Thursday (April 26) which is chaired by Lib Dem Councillor, Tim Stone who represents Duxford on the county council.

Cllr van de Ven said: “It is easy for the Tories to make spending cuts on a balance sheet without thinking about how those cuts are impacting on ordinary people in our villages.

“Warren has battled against all the odds to retain his independence and now that is in danger of being taken away because the Tories need to balance their books.

“I am absolutely appalled by these cuts which are leaving rural communities isolated and causing real hardship to people like Warren.”

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Changes to Stagecoach Commercial Services

Citi 5 Bus Stop Sign On
Crafts Way (Bar Hill)

The key word in the title is "Commercial", these are the services Stagecoach runs without any subsidies from the County Council and so can pretty much change anything it likes to anything it likes at will (with the obvious proviso that the key is to make money, not to provide a service).

The following changes are improvements to the existing services;

New Route X4 – Eaton Socon – St Neots – Cambourne – Cambridge 
Combined with route X5 will offer a service to Cambridge every 15 minutes throughout the day. Provides direct links from Eaton Socon and Loves Farm and a faster Cambourne to Cambridge service.
Route 9 – Cambridge – Ely – Chatteris/Littleport 
The off peak frequency will be increased to hourly; connections will be made at Chatteris for March on some journeys.
Route 35 – March – Chatteris – Warboys – Huntingdon 
Now offering additional buses between March rail station and Chatteris this route will replace current route 9 on this section (with connections to Ely), continuing every two hours to Warboys and Huntingdon.

These changes are reductions in service;

Cambridge Citi 1 – section between Cherry Hinton and Fulbourn revised to two journeys per hour that then become the Citi 3.
Cambridge Citi 3 – revised route in Cherry Hinton with buses terminating at Bridewell Road (two per hour), Tesco Store (two per hour) and running direct to Fulbourn (two per hour).
Cambridge Citi 4 – will run from Madingley Road into the city centre serving Northampton Street and Mitchams Corner – West Cambridge and Grange Road remain served by the Uni 4. The section of this route between Cambourne and St Neots is covered by new route X4, see above.
Cambridge Citi 5 – will continue to extend beyond Bar Hill serving Longstanton, Willingham, Over and Swavesey hourly. Buses will circle these villages either clockwise or anti-clockwise calling at Longstanton Park & Ride site to offer interchange with The Busway.
Cambridge Citi 8 – Minor changes to timings
Route 11 – Revised timetable, basic frequency retained with reduced early morning/evening positioning journeys removed
Route 12 – Revised timetable, basic frequency retained with reduced early morning/evening positioning journeys removed
Route 33 – March – Whittlesey – Peterborough
Following many requests the link between Whittlesey and March is restored, running every two hours during the day. The frequency between Whittlesey and Peterborough remains every 30 minutes.
Routes 62/63/64 – St Neots Town Services will now link Eaton Socon and Loves Farm to Cambridge as new route X4, with Eynesbury linked through to Little Paxton and Huntingdon as route 66.
Route 66 – Huntingdon – Buckden – St Neots 
Commercial route 66 retained hourly and extended to Eynesbury store.
Route 91 – Withdrawn

I'll post details of the proposed changes to the non-commercial services later.

Unlock Democracy: Elect The Lords

As you will have gathered from the news over the past 24 hours, the Joint Committee on the Draft House of Lords Reform Bill finally published its report yesterday[1].

This represents our best opportunity to hold elections for the House of Lords since Parliament first committed itself to holding them over 100 years ago.

With the light at the end of the tunnel now in sight, we can’t let this opportunity pass; will you write to your MP today and ask them where they stand?

Write to your MP

Overall, the Joint Committee has endorsed the government’s proposal to hold the first elections to the House of Lords in 2015, aiming for an 80% elected second chamber by 25 years.

This report is highly significant. A group of MPs and peers have come together on behalf of the main parties and crossbench lords and agreed a set of proposals. Some of the awkward squad on the committee have come up with their own “minority report” but it is a confused and rambling mess; most significantly, the authors of the minority report themselves couldn’t agree on whether to introduce elections to the Lords. It is clear that the only meaningful consensus is for reform.

We don’t agree with everything the report has to say but there is much in the report that we strongly endorse. What’s more, they appear to have agreed quite a lot with us. The report cites Unlock Democracy 46 times and adopts several of our recommendations. Thanks a lot to our thousands of supporters who took part in our consultation response and submitted their own evidence: you made a real difference.

But now the focus is squarely back on MPs: we have a workable consensus position now; will they stick to their manifesto commitments or not? The House of Lords Reform Bill will now almost certainly be included in the Queen’s Speech next month, with MPs set to debate it in the next few weeks. We’ve written to them already but we need you, as their constituents, to put pressure on them as well.

We’ve modified our tool so that if we have already received your MP’s response we won’t ask you to ask them again. Simply click on this link to get started:

Write to your MP

Ignore the nay-sayers; we have a golden opportunity here. It may not be the top issue on everyone’s agenda, but the public is overwhelmingly in support of reform. On Monday we published a poll showing that 69% want at least half the Lords elected (33% want fully elected) - just 5% want to stick with a fully appointed upper house[2]. What they really want is for politicians to stop making excuses and to get on with it. With your help we can help concentrate their minds.

Thank you,

Peter Facey
Director, Unlock Democracy

[1] See
[2] See

E-Cops - Sixteen Arrested In Dawn Drugs Raids In Cambridgeshire

This morning saw one of the constabulary’s largest ever drugs operations, codenamed Operation Vanguard. Eighteen dawn raids at properties in areas including Sutton, Waterbeach, St Ives, Burwell, Needingworth, Cottenham, Fulbourn, Huntingdon, Milton and Cambridge resulted in 18 arrests. This was the culmination of a long-term investigation into the large scale supply of class A drugs in Cambridgeshire, mainly high purity cocaine.

Arrests were also made today by police in Northamptonshire and Hampshire in connection with the same conspiracy. Of the arrests by Cambridgeshire officers, one was made in Chelmsford, Essex, and another at a property in Red Lodge, Bury St Edmunds, where cannabis plants were also discovered.

Officers will be visiting properties in the vicinity of the raids to update local residents on the policing operation.

I’d like to reassure you that these raids are part of the force’s ongoing campaign to stop class A drugs being sold in Cambridgeshire. The use and supply of drugs in not only illegal, it also fuels other types of crime.

We take this type of offending very seriously and would urge anyone with information about drug dealing to contact Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111 or you can leave details online using their secure contact from – see link below.

Chief Inspector Darren Alderson,
Silver commander
Operation Vanguard - Crimestoppers online contact form

Bus Subsidies Roller Coaster

Cllr Susan van de Ven
(LD, Melbourn)

Stagecoach’s announcement of changes to its bus services comes in the wake of the county council’s timetable for comprehensive withdrawal of bus subsidies.

Cllr Susan van de Ven, Liberal Democrat Transport Spokesperson, said:  “While there is good news for some people there is very bad news for many others.

“The additional services announced by Stagecoach are welcome, but reflect just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the transport deficit that plagues rural Cambridgeshire. For those people who are losing services with absolutely no warning, the county council needs to step up its game and consider how it will help them.

“The earlier than expected withdrawal of some subsidised services means that the council’s flagship Cambridgeshire Future Transport project has even less time than expected to get in place its alternatives – which it has promised will be ‘as good or better.’”

Whittlesford County Cllr Tim Stone, said, "There are many very worried people in our villages. The county council needs to act rapidly to explain how it is going to re-arrange services in the face of the Citi 7 moves.”

“Whittlesford, Heathfield and Hinxton residents, as well as people who work there, will want to know how they are going to get to work, go shopping and visit doctors and medical centres."

Cllr van de Ven said, “The council has been caught-out because it has dictated to commercial operators a subsidy withdrawal schedule to suit itself.     If the council wants more leverage with commercial operators it should consider a Quality Bus Contracts scheme.”

Monday, 23 April 2012

Apprenticeships On The Increase In Cambridge City

Apprenticeships in Cambridge City are on the increase with 2,190* people joining a training programme between August 2011 and January 2012.

This new figure comes on top of record numbers of apprentices in the city last year – 1,630 apprentices were on a training programme in 2011/12 an increase of 53 per cent on the previous year.

The news has been welcomed by Liberal Democrat Cambridge MP Julian Huppert who says the programmes are vital if people are to be given the chance of full-time employment.

“Apprenticeships are extremely valuable in teaching our people the skills which employers are looking for in new recruits,” said Julian. “By working closely with education providers such as Cambridge Regional College, employers can help to train people to make a much-needed contribution to the workplace.

“In return, employers have people who are trained from the very beginning to meet their specific requirements and who can help to grow their businesses.”

Through the government’s Regional Growth Fund the Eastern region and the South East have benefited from a £92 million investment creating a total of 10,214 jobs.

“For this region to continue to be successful, people need the skills and experience to take advantage of new jobs being created in the area,” added Julian. “Apprenticeships offer these skills while at the same time helping companies to be more productive.”

To support more employers, especially small businesses, to take on apprentices, the Coalition Government has taken a number of measures: a) Offering employers with up to 50 employees an incentive payment of £1,500 to take on apprentices aged 16-24. This will encourage small employers to take on up to 20,000 apprentices, b) Streamlining processes so that it takes just a month for an employer to advertise for an apprentice, and c) Ensuring that the National Apprenticeship Service better supports the needs of small employers – through more effectively targeted advice and guidance and helping training providers work more effectively with local SMEs.

*- Figures for the period August 2011 – January 2012 are based on data from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and are provisional and provide an early view of the number of apprentices for the academic year 2011/12.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Cambridge MP Huppert Launches Search For Paid Intern To Join His City Team

Cambridge MP Julian Huppert has launched a search for a paid intern to join his team at his Cambridge constituency office.

The new recruit will work up to 30 hours a week on casework and will be paid the national minimum wage.

Responsibilities will include drafting responses to constituents’ enquiries, conducting research, attending meetings and surgeries and answering the phone.

The ideal candidate will have a good understanding of the political system and a good grasp of the issues affecting Cambridge residents.

Full training will be provided and the internship is offered for a period of three months.

Julian said: “I am delighted to be able to offer this paid internship. This is an excellent opportunity for someone to get first-hand experience of constituency casework and be at the centre of issues that are important to the people of our city.

“It is also a chance for someone to take the first step on a career in politics while learning every aspect of constituency work which is one of the most important elements of an MP’s role.”

Applications close on Wednesday, May 9 at 5pm with interviews taking place on May 14 in Cambridge. Ideally, the internship will begin on Monday, May 21.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Lower Energy Bills And A Green Recovery In Cambridge And The East Of England

Thousands of households across Cambridge and the East of England are set to benefit from lower energy bills, new jobs and the basis of a green recovery.
Liberal Democrat Leader and Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, has announced a landmark deal with the major energy suppliers. From now on, energy suppliers will have to inform their customer if they are paying too much, and help move them on to a cheaper tariff.

In addition, over 3,300 homes in Cambridge have benefitted from home insulation, with plans for much more. From autumn this year the Government's Green Deal, headed by Ed Davey, Liberal Democrat Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, will implement the most ambitious home insulation scheme the UK has ever seen.

Meanwhile, Liberal Democrat commitment to a green economy has paved the way for over £300 million of private sector investment in the East of England, with a further £30 million in the pipeline. Overall, this would create nearly 500 jobs in the green economy.

Julian Huppert, Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament for Cambridge, said "rising energy prices and a boom in the number of tariffs have left people confused and paying more than they should. That is why Liberal Democrats have made the energy companies take responsibility and let people know how to knock the bills down.”

"As a Liberal Democrat, I know this is only the first step. Our reliance on dwindling supplies of oil and gas, mostly from volatile regions, is bad for consumers and bad for our energy security.”

"We are therefore absolutely wedded to a green recovery. We've fought hard to generate investment in a sustainable economy, so I'm delighted to see over £300 million of new investment in green industries in our region."

"These measures will help put our country on to a sustainable economic and environmental footing once and for all."

The Green Deal - a Liberal Democrat manifesto commitment - will come into force across Britain later this year. It is the most ambitious home insulation scheme the UK has ever seen and eliminates the need to pay upfront for energy efficiency measures and instead ensures that the cost of the measures will be covered by savings on bills.

Currently, energy companies are obliged under the Carbon Emissions Reduction Target (CERT) to help households in Great Britain reduce their use of electricity and gas to lower their carbon emissions. CERT will end when the Green Deal takes over.

Friday, 20 April 2012

Cambridge MP Huppert Urges City’s Manufacturers To Bid For Uk-Wide Awards

Cambridge MP Julian Huppert
Cambridge’s businesses could win up to £20,000 free consultancy advice in a competition to celebrate manufacturing excellence across the UK.

MP Julian Huppert has urged the city’s manufacturing businesses to get involved and showcase their work.

The Manufacturing Excellence 2012 awards are run by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

Julian said: “This is an excellent opportunity to put Cambridge on the map for manufacturing.

“I would encourage all manufacturing businesses to apply not only to win one of these prestigious awards but also to take advantage of the chance to win thousands of pounds worth of free consultancy advice.

“Manufacturing is crucial to the UK economy and we have excellent companies here in Cambridge. This is their chance to publicise their work through a UK-wide competition and show what our city has to offer.”

Entry to the awards programme is free and applications must be submitted by June 1, 2012. The Manufacturing Excellence Awards will take place in November.

Categories for this year are: Best Manufacturer; and Best SME; Business Development and Change Management; Customer Focus; Financial Management; Innovation in Products and Processes; Logistics and Operational Efficiency; Partnership with Education; People Effectiveness; Sustainable Manufacturing and Most Improved Company.

Last Night's Parish Council Meeting

Bar Hill Village Sign
The meeting started with the traditional Open Forum which (equally traditionally) no-one turned up to. I'm pretty sure that if the three Tesco planning applications which arrived last minute had been on the published agenda then we would have had slightly more local interest! (they are available on the South Cambs planning website, I'll do a detailed post on them later - the Parish Council will be responding as will I as a local resident).

I'm not going to go through the agenda point-by-point (that's what the minutes are for), I'll just highlight items I think might be of interest.

The first came under Item 3.1 (which relates to the sale of 130 Appletrees). Now as a fairly-recently arrived resident I can understand the complexity of purchasing property in Bar Hill and the difference between freehold and leasehold properties but it does seem that the original developers (Ideal Homes) have made life very hard for both themselves and local residents.

Normally (as was the case with other developments) when the development was finished the small bits of land that were left dotted around were given to either the Parish Council or the County Council (usually depending on what they were used for). In the case of Appletrees it seems that the developer decided to hold on to them.

In the case of 130 Appletrees "permission" was required from the Land Owner - something the Parish Council is usually happy to do - but as the Parish Council wasn't the land owner it took a long time to resolve the situation; it would have taken a lot longer if the original assumption that Ideal Homes had gone out of business had proved to be correct!

Suffice to say that the entire situation was an absolute nightmare for the owner but that it has now (after the Parish Council funded a legal investigation) been resolved and is clear should the issue arise again in future property sales in Appletrees.

The next item of interest came under "Correspondence Received" as item 4.2, a letter from Anglia Water informing us of an imminent hosepipe ban. Of course it was quickly pointed out that the village gets it's water from Cambridge Water (Anglia Water handles it's sewage), the Clerk contacted Cambridge Water who confirmed that while they were monitoring the situation there are no immediate plans for a hosepipe ban and consequently Bar Hill residents shouldn't feel they can't use their hosepipes.

Of course it's pretty clear that if everyone rushes out and washes their car the situation will change, but at the moment everything looks under control.

Spine Path showing removed Street Light
(by the tree in the centre)
The next piece of correspondence (of interest!) was 4.7 in relation to Street Lighting in Chestnut Rise and the litter being left behind by the engineers fitting the new lights. The litter issue has been raised with Balfour Beatty and they have promised to make sure it doesn't happen again (well, actually they just said people will be spoken to - that's the same thing right?). I raised the lighting issue on the Spine Path in the first section from the library, of the three street lights the middle has been removed but the two end lights are partially obscured by the chestnut trees which leads to a very dark patch in the middle.

Under section 7 the report from County Councillor touched on the ongoing fiasco with the South Cambridgeshire Minor Improvement Panel (which has now been delayed again and looks like it will turn into multiple meetings rather than everything being resolved in a single meeting). I also took the opportunity to highlight the money going into improving the right road between the A14 and Tesco (which I've blogged about previously).

There was a brief discussion regarding some tree-trimming which had gone on near 187 The Spinney, a letter will be sent to the resident involved registering the displeasure of the Parish Council regarding both the work that was done and the quality of cleaning up that was done afterwards.

Tesco Car Park - Site of New Planning Application
The next item I'm going to raise is the three new planning applications that came in from Tesco. These came in very last minute. The first thing to note is that the planning landscape has totally changed and these three new applications will be dealt with under the new system. The Parish Council will be responding to the planning application.

My view is that first of all it's disappointing that Tesco are putting in a dry cleaners and key cutters - which we already have - rather than something that we don't have but could actually use! Secondly the new proposed "pick up" structure is in the wrong place both for traffic to be correctly managed into and out of the car park and for it's own staff who are going to have to take the stock from the store and put it into the pick-up point. To me it would be better placed somewhere nearer the entrance.

I'll be responding to the planning applications and if you'd like to respond as well I'll be posting details of how you can at some later stage.

On a side note I did wonder as the Dry Cleaning "Pod" (Pod. Really Tesco? Really?) and the sign age are separate items what would happen if they got the sign but didn't get the Dry Cleaners?!

Finally last night was the final full meeting that will be Chaired by Margaret Sellars who is standing down both as Chair and as a Parish Councillor at the AGM next month. Margaret has been on the Parish Council for over a decade and, based on my own experience since I've been on the Parish Council, has been an excellent and impartial chair who works tirelessly for local residents. She will be a very hard act to follow.

The next meeting in May will be the AGM at the Village Hall. Hopefully I'll see you there!

PLEASE NOTE: These are my views, and represent my recollection of the meeting. I haven't said this before on this website but it's important; the record of the events at the meeting is the Meeting Minutes. Not this blog. I'm happy to make corrections where I've misreported something, and I'm always happy to respond to comments but the views where are my own and should not be interpreted as coming from anyone else or any other body.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

10:10 Remade Month (aka How Superglue Solves Climate Change)

We've all been there.

When your favourite pair of jeans loses a button, your computer slows to a crawl or your bike gears start rattling, it can feel like the end of the line – time to get a new one.

Everyone knows it's possible to repair stuff like this, but most of us don't know where to start. Now all that's about to change.

Introducing Remade

April 2012 is Remade month, when 10:10ers around the world share the skills and build the confidence to fix their clothes, bikes, computers and anything else that we can keep alive with a few basic repairs.

One of the biggest barriers to a truly low-carbon world is the energy used to make the things we buy and use every day, especially when we need to replace them every time something goes wrong.

By sharing the skills and resources to keep our stuff going for longer, we're giving ourselves choices, saving money and laying the groundwork for a smarter approach to making and owning things.

But we can't take any credit for the idea. Remade is inspired by Remade in Edinburgh, a community repair and reuse project that walked away with the public vote at last October's Pitch Pledge Party event.

Get involved

To spread the Remade magic as far as possible, we’ve teamed up with a whole host of experts, 10:10 hubs and volunteer groups to run repair events and workshops around the world.

If there's no 10:10 event happening near you, this is a great time to find and get involved with similar projects in your area. We've listed a few in right-hand column of this newsletter for starters – let us know if there's any gems we've missed.

Or if you're already a bit of a repair expert already, why not share your Remade tips and success stories on Facebook or Twitter (@1010) or even organise your own Remade workshop? It could be anything from a sewing session in your living room to a computer fixing workshop in a local community centre.

Let's get repairing!

Julika Niehaus
Global campaign manager

Highway Network Service Plan 2012-13

The County Council has published it's plan for the maintenance of the Highway Network in Cambridgeshire over the coming 12 months. This plan represents the works programme for the Economy, Transport & Environment Directorate for the forthcoming year.

It was passed at the last cabinet meeting and has just been made available on the County Councils website at the following address;

Of particular interest to residents of Bar Hill will be the South Cambridgeshire link near the bottom which shows the works scheduled to go on in South Cambridgeshire by Division (and Parish). Looking through the list there are two items which are happening in our Division;

Dry Drayton - Bridleway 1 - Surface, vegn and drainage (part of bigger scheme)
Bar Hill - Ring Road (A14 roundabout to Tesco roundabout) 

The Dry Drayton scheme relates to a public Right of Way and will be starting in the second quarter, with the Carriageway Repairs in Bar Hill taking place in Quarter 3 and costing around 100,000.

It's a shame the road surface work that The Spinney/ Field View so desperately needs isn't down for this year, I'll continue pressing for the work to be reviewed and added to the list as a first step to getting it done.

Lib Dems Act To Defeat Move To Restrict Shared Homes

Cllr Catherine Smart
(LD, Romsey)

Cambridge City Liberal Democrats will tonight (Thursday, April 19) call on their city council colleagues to reject a Labour move to restrict the number of shared houses in Cambridge.

They will also ask for rejection of Labour’s demands to look at options for regulating houses in multiple occupation.

And they will advise the council that smaller shared houses, where three or more people live in two or more unrelated households, cannot be licensed because conditions required to meet the legislation are not present in Cambridge at the moment; the situation will continue to be monitored.

The Lib Dems have raised an amendment to a Labour motion calling for the restriction and will ask the city council to “recognise the vital contribution that well-run houses make in providing homes for family, students, professionals and migrant workers”.

Catherine Smart, Romsey Councillor and Deputy Leader of Cambridge City Councillor said: “Without shared housing many people living and working in our city would not be able to do so. Property prices make home ownership unaffordable for many in Cambridge but they can live in the city by sharing the cost of renting.

“We are fortunate that we have a diverse mix of people in our city and we don’t want to discourage that. This could be bad for our economy and our community in general.

“It is vital, therefore, that we make sure we support the contribution made by these properties and the people who live there. But at the same time, we do acknowledge that not all of them are run as well as they could be and sometimes there are problems as there are with all types of housing. We have procedures in place to deal with this.”

Lib Dems will ask for an annual report to be brought to the council’s Community Services Committee detailing the number and type of complaints received by the Environmental Health Department in all types of housing in the city and how they have been dealt with, including the number of prosecutions.

The full wording of the Lib Dem amendment is as follows:

'The Council recognises the vital contribution that shared rented housing makes in providing homes for students, professionals, migrant workers and many people on low incomes.   It acknowledges that housing is expensive in Cambridge and that this is the only way many people can afford to live in the city.

Council therefore rejects the idea of limiting the number of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) in the city or part of the city.  If restrictions are put in place, rents would rise and people would quickly be priced out of the city.   Making it difficult for people to access shared housing in the city, could have a disastrous effect on the economy of the area.  

Council notes the desire of some to “extend the current HMO definition to include all properties with 3 or more people in two or more unrelated households, regardless of the building layout”  but also notes that the conditions required in the legislation are not present in Cambridge to extend the licensing system in this way and agrees that it should be kept under review.    However, Council also recognises that the implementation of the licensing of smaller properties can be deeply intrusive and lead to complex enquiries about details of people's relationships and domestic arrangements which are no business of the council.  Any extension of the licensing system would need to be framed to avoid this.

The Council also notes that, while the majority of landlords are responsible and manage their houses in a satisfactory way, a minority are not, causing severe problems both to their tenants and to the neighbours.   It further notes that while the majority of residents are responsible people, some are not and are inconsiderate, irresponsible and cause considerable problems to their neighbours

The Council therefore endorses the actions of the Environmental Health Officers in responding to complaints and working towards changing the behaviour of the irresponsible minority in all types of tenure whether landlords, tenants or home-owners.     It notes that advice, warnings, enforcement letters, injunctions, confiscations and full prosecution are all used to this end. 

However, Council requests that an annual report is brought to Community Services Scrutiny Committee detailing the number and type of complaints received by the Environmental Health Department and how they have been dealt with, including the number of prosecutions."

Cambridge MP Huppert Welcomes Extra £12.5M For County’s Schools

Cllr Peter Downes

An extra £12.5 million of government funding for Cambridgeshire schools has been welcomed by Cambridge MP Julian Huppert.

The money is designed to relieve the pressure on school places and comes after Julian joined MPs from across the county to campaign for extra funding, raising the issue in the House of Commons.

He received a promise from Education Minister, Michael Gove to review the county’s grant funding and the latest investment is part of an additional £600 million for schools across England this year. It comes on top of the £800 million already announced for 2012-13 to address the shortage in pupil places.

Julian said “This extra money is good news and will so some way to addressing the massive shortfall in funding for schools across Cambridge and the county as a whole.

“I am pleased that we are putting money into schools; they have been neglected by previous governments for far too long. Educating our children must be one of our top priorities but we cannot give them the schooling they need and deserve without investment.

“Our schools have been near the bottom of the pile compared to other local authorities across the country and while this payment helps with school buildings, we are still millions of pounds short of the national average for what we can spend on our pupils. There is no room for complacency here.”

Liberal Democrat Peter Downes, Cambridgeshire County Council's Shadow Cabinet Member for Education said: "I am pleased that Cambridgeshire's plight is finally being recognised by the government.

“There is a growing demand for school places across the country and this county in particular, but until now there has never been the money to address this problem. Finally we have a government which is taking this issue seriously and I hope the coalition will continue to build on this and give Cambridgeshire schools the money they need.”

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Bar Hill Parish Council Meeting 19th April 2012

Bar Hill Village Sign
As always tomorrows Bar Hill Parish Council meeting will start with the "open forum" which is the opportunity for any member of the public to turn up and raise an issue they'd like to see the Parish Council to discuss. If you have anything for the Open Forum please feel free to come along, if you can't make the meeting just let me have your comment and I'll raise it (as a Parish Councillor) on your behalf.

The full agenda for tomorrows meeting is;

  1. Apologies for absence/ declarations of interest
  2. Approval of minutes
  3. Matters for discussion; Sale of 130 Appletrees, Income from The Willows (Possible projects 2012/13), The Farmhouse - Energy Performance Certificate, and Standards Committee - Adoption of Localism Bill
  4. General Correspondence Received - At the moment there are four items; Bus Subsidies (from the County Council), Drought situation and imminent hosepipe ban (Anglia Water), Integrated Plan 2012-13 (County Council), and Footpath repairs at the Hollytrees Bridge (County Council)
  5. Clerks Financial Report (includes proposed works)
  6. Chairman's report; possible policy on felling of trees, and the Village Emergency Plan
  7. Receive reports from other public bodies
  8. Items for information (none are included
I'm sure the report from the PCSO's will include something about the recent (minor) fire at the Skate Park.

Hopefully I'll leave myself a little more time to publicise the agenda prior to the next meeting, but as always if you have anything locally you'd like discussed let me know.

Cambridge MP Hopes Indian Restaurant Will Curry Favour In National Contest

MP Julian Huppert has nominated Cambridge’s Saffron Brasserie for a national competition to find the country’s best South Asian restaurant.

Saffron Brasserie in Hills Road serves Indian and Bangladeshi cuisine and will compete for the Tiffin Cup.

The competition is an annual event organised by a cross-party group of Members of Parliament known as the Tiffin Club.

Each MP is invited to nominate on South Asian restaurant from his or her constituency to go through to a regional final.

The competition raises money for charity and this year it is supporting World Vision which aims to combat poverty and its causes especially as they affect children across the world.

Winners of the regional finals will be among 10 restaurants to cook in the Bellamy’s Restaurant in Parliament to compete for the overall title and the cup.

Saffron Brasserie director, Hannah Begum said: "We are delighted to be nominated by Julian for the Tiffin Cup.

“To be chosen as the best South Asian restaurant in Cambridge is a wonderful compliment for the Saffron Brasserie restaurant. We work hard to provide great food and flavours for our customers to enjoy authentic Indian & Bangladeshi cuisine in the heart of Cambridge.

“To win the Tiffin Cup would mean fantastic recognition of our commitment to bring great food, flavours and customer service to the residents of Cambridge and beyond. We have our fingers crossed that we win!"

Julian said: “I am delighted to be able to nominate the Saffron Brasserie for this award.

“The Tiffin Cup aims to seek out the finest South Asian restaurant and along the way we uncover some excellent restaurants across the country, which are bringing fabulous South Asian food and regional specialties to their customers.”

Julian Huppert joins the team at the Saffron Brasserie. Pictured (from left) is Abdul Matin founder of the restaurant which is now run by his daughters, Hannah Begum and Shelina Miah and son, Shahidu Jaman.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Agenda for next Wednesday's meeting of the Northstowe Parish Forum

Northstowe Development Site
The next meeting will be on the 18th April 2012 at Cottenham Village College, the agenda is;

  1. Welcome & introductions
  2. Agree minutes from the last meeting/ Matters arising (available here - via Google Docs)
  3. Legal matters
  4. Review of the representations
  5. Feedback from the first meeting of the Northstowe Economic Development Group
  6. Update on the Northstowe Team
  7. Upcoming site visits
  8. Any other business
  9. Future meeting dates: 16th May and 20th June

The agenda is also available as a document here (via Google Docs).

The representative for Bar Hill at the meeting will be our County Councillor John Reynolds, if you have any comments you'd like raised at the meeting (or have anything on any of the agenda items let me know).

Children Across Cambridgeshire Get Cycling Boost

Cllr Andy Pellew
4,000 children across Cambridgeshire are to get free cycle training over the next academic year as part of Transport Minister Norman Baker MPs boost to cycling. The Government will hand £160,000 to Cambridgeshire County Council to fund training in 2012/13 as part of an national strategy that will deliver £11 million as part of a national fund.

In addition, Norman Baker has increased the funding for the following two academic years by £2 million. This means that the Government will spend over £35 million on teaching children to cycle safely, competently and confidently on the road over the next 3 years.

Andy Pellew, Bar Hill resident and Local Parish Councillor said "This is excellent news for cyclists across Cambridgeshire and specifically here in Bar Hill. Despite the design of the village protecting people from vehicles along the paths it's vital that children are taught at an early age to travel safely both for their own benefit and that of other users of the paths!"

"Cycling is one of  the most efficient methods of transport we have, not to mention the health benefits of regular exercice. I am delighted that Liberal Democrats in Government are supporting cycling nationally and investing in the children of Cambridgeshire"


Details of today’s announcements can be found here
A breakdown of funding can be found here

Friday, 13 April 2012

Updated Northstowe Frequently Asked Questions

Northstowe Proposed Development
The Northstowe Parish Forum has just received an update on the Frequently Asked Questions relating to the new development. I've extracted the list and duplicated it below;

Why do we need Northstowe now?
The Council has a duty to deliver housing to meet an identified need. A percentage of these new homes will be ‘affordable’ and will accommodate some of the large number of people on the Council’s housing lists. In planning policy terms the principle of Northstowe has been established for a number of years and this latest application seeks to comply with the policy requirements set out in the Northstowe Area Action Plan 2007 (NAAP).

The housing and employment opportunities at Northstowe are needed in addition to the other large sites that are being developed on the fringes of Cambridge, and the sites that will come forward as the Council develops its new Local Plan.

Why is Phase 1 being brought forward ahead of the A14 upgrade or without a bypass of the B1050?
Although the previously proposed scheme for the A14 was unaffordable the Government is committed to increasing capacity on the road. South Cambs. and other local councils are on the steering group overseeing a study on the upgrade of the A14 that is being carried out by the Department for Transport (DfT), the outcomes of which are expected in July. Any decision on Phase 1 of Northstowe is likely to be taken following the announcement of the outcomes of this study. In the short term there is £20m to fund a package of measures, which can be implemented almost immediately, to increase capacity by smoothing traffic flow or providing opportunities to remove local traffic from the A14.

Phase 1 could take between seven to ten years to build out, with the build rate being affected by market forces. A Transport Assessment (TA) has been submitted as part of the application to identify any impacts of Northstowe traffic on the existing highway network during construction and once Phase 1 is completed. The applicant proposes the use of travel plans (residential, schools and workplace) to encourage more sustainable modes of transport and limit the impact upon local highways. Moreover, the mix of residential and employment within Phase 1, and the proposals for more direct routes for pedestrians and cyclists to services and facilities, are an attempt to internalize traffic as much as possible and limit the need for residents to use the private car.

The impact of traffic is recognised as a significant concern locally, particularly on the B1050, and the County Council, in its role as the Local Highway Authority, will be reviewing the TA in order to evaluate the implications on local highways.

Why isn’t the airfield being developed before the golf course?
In planning terms the airfield and golf course constitute developed land and they both fall within the core area identified in the NAAP. Previously an inspector considered the loss of the golf course and concluded that it was not reasonable to require its replacement. New sports facilities are proposed at the sports hub and new footpaths and cycleways would be provided across the site linking up formal and informal open spaces. It is proposed to retain all existing public rights of way, though some would be rerouted. Every effort would be made to keep these routes open during the construction period.

The rationale of starting Northstowe in the north is that Phase 1 would benefit from being near to the CGB Park and Ride and would have access from the B1050 and the Longstanton bypass. The local centre buildings, uses and associated green space would form an important gateway into Northstowe and the retail units would benefit from passing trade on the B1050, making them more viable. Phase 1 also contains a number of strategic facilities that serve the wider town (one of the dedicated employment areas, one of the sports hubs, the site for the household recycling facility, the terminal foul water pumping station and a significant part of the surface water drainage infrastructure).

An early development of the airfield site would either result in residential and construction traffic being routed through Longstanton or require accesses to be provided from the north or south. There would be significant cost implications in providing such accesses, which could affect the viability of the project, as well as providing the strategic infrastructure to serve the development, most of which would come from the north and could result in the loss of parts of the golf course.

Will there be enough water to serve the development?
Cambridge Water and Anglian Water have been aware of Northstowe as it has gone through the planning policy process that allocated the site, and they have been consulted on these latest proposals. Both bodies are aware of the strategic importance of Northstowe and have always stated that they can serve the new town. Moreover, the proposals involve a range of measures designed to reduce water consumption within the new town.

Is adequate provision made for schools?
A three-form entry primary school is proposed as part of the Phase 1 application in order to meet the needs of the population. Moreover, the school providers are proposing interim secondary education within the primary school when it opens, which would be a temporary arrangement until a secondary school came forward. The developers would make a financial contribution towards secondary education and the County Council is working on proposals for a secondary school on land adjacent to Phase 1. This school would be the subject of a separate planning application and could be delivered as early as 2018 in order to take children from Northstowe and Longstanton.

It is proposed that both schools would provide a focus for the new community by offering space for evening classes and groups to gather. The secondary school would be a major destination in Northstowe and its association with and proximity to the town centre, a sports hub and the eastern water park, would provide a critical mass of facilities and services in a central and easily accessible location.

Does Phase 1 provide sufficient local jobs and recreation and community facilities to reduce the need to travel?
In order to limit the need for people to travel outside of Northstowe to meet their daily needs, as well as providing schooling, 5ha of employment land is also proposed. The shops and community building at the local centre would provide jobs, in addition to those at the primary school and sports hub. The applicant indicates that over six hundred jobs could be created within Phase 1.

The proposed community building would include flexible space for use by a range of organisations including clubs, societies, health providers, the police and faith groups. It is expected that community facilities would also be provided in the primary school and at the sports hub. There would also be allotments and a community orchard with the green separation.

Does the Phase 1 development provide sufficient green separation for Longstanton?
The width of the proposed green separation extends from 70 metres adjacent to the B1050 roundabout up to approximately 290 metres at the southern end. The majority of the separation is over 200 metres wide. Uses that are proposed within this area include informal recreation, sports pitches and facilities and allotments, all of which would accord with the policies of the NAAP.