Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Residents Wait Five Years For Guided Bus Compensation

Cllr Caroline Shepherd
(LD, Trumpington)

Five years after Cambridge residents were ordered to hand over valuable stretches of their gardens for the guided bus they haven’t received a penny in compensation.

Thirty-four householders in the Lantree Crescent and Cranleigh Close areas were issued with Compulsory Purchase Orders in the summer of 2007 by Cambridgeshire County Council.

Now five years on, and almost a year after the £116 million busway started running in the Trumpington deep cutting at the bottom of their gardens they are still waiting for the county council to hand over their compensation.

The deal had reached stalemate until Liberal Democrat Councillor, Caroline Shepherd, who represents Trumpington on the county council, stepped in to fight for residents.

Since May 2009, Caroline had chaired the Local Liaison Forum, set up to provide feedback from residents to the county council on the guided bus project. Within days of her complaint to Cambridgeshire County Council Chief Executive, Mark Lloyd and Cambridgeshire Guided Busway Project Manager, Bob Menzies surveyors were sent out to value the gardens and compensation offers were issued to residents.

But the county council still has to carry out conveyancing work and draw up the legal documents for land transfer and residents fear the situation could continue to drag on.

Cranleigh Close resident, Peter Dawson lost a third of his garden for the busway and is concerned that the county council may not pay interest on the compensation dating back to 2007.

“I am apprehensive that when we do get our compensation it won’t include interest on the money backdated to when we received the original order,” he said. Furthermore, I have restructured my garden at a cost of about £500 but I can’t claim back that money.”

He added: “The cutting was full of mature trees, which provided a lovely screen, and it was an officially designated a County Wildlife Site. This is a formal designation. We have lost a lot of peaceful, green atmosphere. Now we look into each other’s windows and we can hear the noise from the roads.”

Mr Dawson’s solicitor, Paul Ross of Cambridge-based Hewitsons said: “These residents have waited a long time for payment. Valuations were supposed to be carried out a year ago.

“Cambridgeshire County Council still has to get on with the conveyancing work. These pieces of land are not all the same so there won’t be a block transfer. It could take some time yet.”

Cllr Shepherd said: “This is absolutely outrageous. These residents have been as helpful as they possible could be so that the county council could build the busway and this is how they have been repaid.

“I have been told that this ‘is in the hands of the solicitors’ and ‘it is in the interest of the solicitors to spin things out’. No wonder the guided bus was late when the council takes no ownership in getting things finished, but just passes the buck to other people.”

Nick Clegg: "We Must Fix Our Broken Establishment"

We are reaching an important phase in our challenge to reform the British establishment.

David Cameron, Ed Miliband and I all have to step up, and make sure we don’t let this moment pass us by.

One by one, some of the pillars of the establishment - Parliament, the media, the banking sector - have been disgraced. So there has never been a more urgent time to fix our broken establishment.

That is why I hosted a summit yesterday with some fantastic democracy campaigners, including 38 Degrees, the Electoral Reform Society, Compass, the Fabian Society and Unlock Democracy.

Read more about this in the Independent.

We are in the final stages of cross-party talks on party funding, we are about to publish a Bill for Lords Reform, we are enacting major reforms of our banking sector, and the Leveson Inquiry is opening a lid on politics, the media and the police.

It is important that we all work together to deliver long lasting reform.

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

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Cambridge MP Huppert Welcomes Victory For Open Justice

Cambridge MP Julian Huppert

MP Julian Huppert, who gained party conference support for his fight for civil liberties, has welcomed the government’s decision to scale back plans to hold more court hearings in secret.

Julian, who rallied support at the Liberal Democrat’s Spring conference for open justice and an end to heavy handed police tactics, says the decision is a victory for the party nationally.

The Lib Dems had called for closed hearing to be restricted to cases of national security only. A judge not a minister should decide whether a hearing is closed and it should never apply to coroner’s inquests, the Lib Dems said.

Today (Tuesday, May 29) the government agreed to the Lib Dem’s conditions in full  announcing that plans to hold more court hearings in secret would be dropped from the Justice and Security Bill.

Julian said: “I am delighted with this outcome; it is a victory for the Lib Dems. We have worked hard to retain our system of open justice in this country and the government has listened to our concerns and acted upon them.

“We have already invested much time and effort in government to defend civil liberties. ID cards have been scrapped, DNA databases curtailed and surveillance controlled. It is unlikely that these changes to Labour's legacy would have been adopted by a Conservative government alone. And we will continue the fight.”

Monday, 28 May 2012

Belinda’s Bra Collection Gives Cancer Research Cash An Uplift

Cambridgeshire County Councillor, Belinda Brooks-Gordon has found an uplifting way to support charity by donating old bras to Africa.

Belinda, who represents Cambridge’s Castle ward on the county council, is urging residents to donate their unwanted underwear to raise money for breast cancer research.

The bras will be collected by BCR Global Textiles which sells them to traders in the Developing World allowing support for the local economy.

BCR Textiles pay £1 per kilo for bras collected and send a cheque directly to the Breast Cancer Campaign charity. So far the bra appeal has raised almost £8,000.

“This is an excellent way to raise money for breast cancer research,” said Belinda. “By donating their unwanted bras people can provide much-needed support to countries in the Developing World while at the same time helping the thousands of women in the country who are diagnosed with breast cancer every year.

“There have been huge breakthroughs in breast cancer research over the years and more lives are able to be saved; but if we are to continue the fight against this major disease we need to help support that research.”

Belinda joins Police Community Support Officer, Alicia Parker collecting bras donated by residents at Histon Road Co-Op

Century Of Celebrations To Mark Queen's Jubilee

Cambridgeshire has gone jubilistic with a century of celebrations organised around the county to mark the Queen's 60 years as Monarch.

Communities around the county have notified the County Council of 99 street party celebrations and when the Commemorative Beacon lighting event at the authority's Shire Hall headquarters is added to the list - the total number of events hits the magic 100 mark.

The County Council made the road closure application process easier for anyone who wanted to get their community together for a street party - and for small community events the council waived the usual road closure fee.

County Council Cabinet Member for Community Engagement, Councillor Mac McGuire, said: "By making the road closure application process much easier and in some cases free, we hoped to encourage people to get into the spirit of the Queen's Jubilee celebrations and I am delighted to see that so many communities have responded by organising events in their area.

"I am sure that Cambridgeshire will ensure that this very special occasion is celebrated in a way which people will remember for years to come."

A beacon will be lit on the Castle Mound in Cambridge on June 4 as part of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

The beacon will be lit by the Chairman of Cambridgeshire County Council and the Deputy Mayor of Cambridge at 10.15pm - the time allocated for all local authorities to light their beacons.

For a list of street party road closures, go to:

Recycling Centres Ready For Jubilee Weekend

While many will be celebrating the Queen's Diamond Jubilee this weekend, the county's recycling centres will be open to dispose of party leftovers, rubbish created from DIY jobs and garden waste created by green fingered residents.

The County Council's nine recycling centres run by AmeyCespa will all be open normal summer Sunday opening times on both Late May Bank Holiday and the Diamond Jubilee Bank Holiday:

Alconbury               8am to 5pm
Bluntisham              8am to 5pm
March                   9am to 4pm
Milton                  9am to 6pm
St Neots                8am to 6pm
Thriplow                        8am to 5pm
Witchford               9am to 6pm
Whittlesey              9am to 4pm
Wisbech         8am to 5pm

Cllr Mathew Shuter, Cambridgeshire County Councillor for Business and Enterprise said: "If you are planning to use the opportunity this long weekend to have a jubilee party, work in your garden or tackle some DIY task don't forget your local recycling centre accepts a huge range of items for recycling including garden waste and timber, electrical items, plasterboard, cardboard, metal, and hardcore as well as more commonplace materials such as textiles, glass bottles and metal cans. To make your visit is even easier, separate your waste into different types before you visit your local centre."

Lib Dems Condemn Plans To Cut Fire Service Frontline

Cllr Nigel Bell
(LD, Ely North and East) 

Conservative and Labour Councillors on the Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Fire Authority have voted to agree deep cuts to emergency fire services while rejecting repeated calls from Liberal Democrat members to protect the front-line. While the scale of the cuts is dependent on the grant settlement from central government, it is expected to be up to £6 million over 4 years and could result in the closure of 4 fire stations, the loss of 10 Fire Appliances and over 40 firefighter compulsory redundancies. The losses include the removal of the second fire appliances at both Soham and Ely and the downgrading of Ely Fire Station to Retained status.

Lib Dem members tabled a motion to protect the frontline by finding savings through cuts to senior management costs, closer working with neighbouring counties and reviewing plans to limit the Fire Authorites Council Tax rises to 2.5 per cent over the next three years. However, Labour and Conservative Councillors rejected this motion.

“We condemn these cuts completely and the inevitable rise in response times they will cause,” said Nigel Bell, Lib Dem Opposition Leader on the Fire Authority. “We have a moral duty to protect the public and these unacceptable cuts could cost lives.”

Cllr.Bell will also be taking his concerns to a meeting in June with Bob Neill, the Government's Fire Minister, to press him to ensure that the government grant is fairer to rural authorities.

The losses planned are:

2 Rescue Vehicles, 2 Turntable Ladders and 6 other fire appliances (from Ramsey, Swaffham Bulbeck, Ely, Soham, St.Ives, Manea, Thorney & Gamlingay).

The closure of Swaffham Bulbeck, Manea, Thorney & Gamlingay Fire Stations.

The reduction of Huntingdon Station to day-crewed, the downgrade of Cambridge's second appliance to Day Crewed, the downgrade of a Peterborough appliance to Day Crewed, and the downgrade of Ely, St Neots and Wisbech fire stations to retained.

Friday, 25 May 2012

What's Behind The £5 Million Local Sustainable Transport Fund (Guest Post)

Cllr Susan van de Ven
(LD, Melbourn)

The Local Sustainable Transport Fund (LSTF) is one of Norman Baker’s helpful local transport scheme funds, and it’s an example of a Lib Dem government minister doing something good and practical.

The fund is worth £5 million, though the media is calling it £9 million due to various other funds unlocked. We expected that the bid would be successful, because the county council has worked so closely with the Department for Transport to ensure that all the necessary criteria were met.  This follows on from last year’s disaster, when the LSTF bid was lost as a direct result of the council’s legally challenged 100% bus subsidy cuts decision. The council tried to plug the resulting public transport gap via the LSTF, hoping the fund would cover new community transport schemes.  The government wasn’t having it and instructed the council to go back to the drawing board.

Money is obviously a good thing and this fund will make a difference.  The idea now is to improve the infrastructure of access to public transport along two main growth corridors: the Guided Bus-dominated stretch from Cambridge-St Ives-Huntingdon, extending to the planned Alconbury Enterprise Zone; and the rail link from Cambridge-Waterbeach-Ely. There will be lots of cycle parking and some new cycle paths, station improvements, Travel for Work discount schemes, etc.  It will help people get to employment centres and it will contribute to modal shift, hopefully mitigating the inevitable increase in traffic congestion that will come as the county’s population multiplies.  If you want to see the detail it’s a very readable document:

The downside is that this LSTF package is entirely focused on two areas and leaves out everywhere else.  For the rest of the county there is nothing in this fund, and it’s important that this fact is constructively and repeatedly brought to attention and the council asked to find other ways of supporting those areas which lack a transport funding strategy.

If you were to ask the question, ‘What’s the transport strategy for South Cambs?’ you might be directed to the Local Transport Plan.  But there, the ‘Integrated Transport Budget’s largest single annual expenditure is ‘Busway: £1 million.’  That’s not a grant to improve the Guided Bus.  It is taxpayers’ money to pay into the Guided Bus Legal Contingency Fund, in anticipation of the court battle yet to be had to settle a £58 million overspend.  Meanwhile the same taxpayers are losing a total of £1.5 million on subsidized buses – or should that be, ‘other’ subsidized buses. The Guided Bus would seem the most supremely subsidized bus of them all.
Had the 100% bus subsidies cuts decision not been forced through last year, we might have had a different version of the Local Sustainable Transport Fund, which could have approached the county’s transport needs on a more equitable and comprehensive basis.  Nevertheless, £5 million to support public transport is very welcome indeed, and hopefully there will be some knock-on effect  to the county’s public transport-starved rural areas.

Diamond Jubilee Beacons Mark Weekend Of Events Around The County

A beacon will be lit on the Castle Mound in Cambridge on June 4 as part of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

The beacon will be lit by the Chairman of Cambridgeshire County Council and the Deputy Mayor of Cambridge at 10.15pm - the time allocated for all local authorities to light their beacons.

The lighting will be a symbolic event only, to coincide with other beacon-lighting ceremonies being held in Cambridgeshire and across the country at the same time. It is organised jointly by Cambridgeshire County Council and Cambridge City Council.

Castle Mound - the site of the former Cambridge Castle in front of Shire Hall - will be cordoned off for safety reasons while the beacon is lit.

The Deputy Mayor of Cambridge (Councillor Paul Saunders) will also be visiting around 20 Jubilee associated events, including a civic service in Ely Cathedral on Sunday 3 June at 10.30am and a University/City service in Great St. Mary's Church at 3pm on Sunday 3 June. Speaking about the Diamond Jubilee the Mayor (Councillor Sheila Stuart) said: "The City of Cambridge has a connection with the monarchy going back over 800 years and the people of Cambridge are delighted to celebrate this latest milestone in that long history."

County Council Chairman John Powley said: "I am delighted the County Council and Cambridge City Council have joined forces to recognise the Queen's Diamond Jubilee in this way. Our beacon will be one of many being lit across the country, and it will re-affirm our loyalty to the Queen in this historic year of her reign."

The lighting of the beacon is one part of a weekend of events around the county to mark the Diamond Jubilee. Other events include:

Ely - A Diamond Jubilee party in the park at Cherry Hill, Ely on Monday 4 June starting at 4pm, with local acts performing alongside bands. A beacon will also be lit at 10.15pm.

Huntingdon - The RAF will conduct a flypast on Saturday 2 June together with bands in the bandstand. On the Sunday there is the Big Lunch for pensioners at the Medway Centre and on the Monday there will be a procession to the beacon at Castle Hill, followed by fireworks.

St. Ives - A street party will take place in Market Hill and Bridge Street with street entertainment and a flypast by RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight on Saturday 2 June.  An open-air concert and Big Lunch will take place on Sunday 3 and celebrations in All Saints Church on Monday 4 June.

Wisbech - Entertainment throughout the day at Market Place from 12noon to 8pm on Monday 4 June.

St. Neots - The climax of a weekend of entertainment in St Neots will be riverboat illuminations at 10.30pm, followed by fireworks on Sunday 3 June.

Numerous street parties/big lunches are also planned across the county and anyone wishing to hold their own street party can apply for a grant to support local celebrations for the event.  Cambridge City Council has funding available via Area Committee Grants to help voluntary and community groups organise local events.

Constituted organisations can apply using the online application form on the Cambridgeshire Community Foundation website Groups wishing to discuss their project or funding request should contact Marion Branch at Cambridgeshire Community Foundation on 01223 410535. Groups without constitutions should contact Elaine Shortt in the council's Grants and Voluntary Sector Support team for further information: email or telephone 01223 457968.

E-Cops - Your Weekly News

'Good news'

There has been no crime reports for Bar Hill ward since my last E-cop message.

On Wednesday, 16th May ,there was one incident report drug related in The Fox Pub, Bar Hill. One male was searched by the police and cannabis was found on him. He was banned from the Pub, and was issued with a formal cannabis warning.

I have completed various foot and vehicle patrols on day and late shifts, paying attention mostly to the Bar Hill Skate Park engaging with youths making use of the area. I have also assisted colleagues with crime enquiries in Papworth Everard.

Some good local news, on 15/05/12 a search warrant was carried out at an address in Willingham, two persons were found to be in possession of small amounts of suspected Herbal Cannabis.

I have been out and about conducting further speed checks in Scotland Road, Dry Drayton. As a result no motorists were seen travelling in excess of the speed limit.

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

Have Your Say On Expansion Plans For Babraham To Be Park And Ride

Two exhibitions are being held next week to showcase the proposed expansion of the Babraham Park and Ride site and encourage people to have their say on the proposals.

This successful site, which is part of the Council's award-winning park and ride network, now needs to expand to meet the needs of its users.

Residents are invited to come along to the events to view the plans, discuss the application with planning officers and get involved in the consultation process.

The planning application for the site, submitted by Cambridgeshire County Council, includes plans to add a further 510 car parking and 80 sheltered cycle parking spaces at the Babraham Park and Ride site at Babraham Road in Cambridge.

The additional car parking spaces would be accommodated within the existing site of the Park and Ride. This will be achieved through reducing some of the current landscaping within the site.

Additional parking is also proposed for the area to the west of the bus terminal which is already being informally used for overflow car parking. Sheltered cycle parking would be located near the existing terminal building.

The pubic exhibitions will be held at the Babraham Park and Ride Passenger Terminal Building on Monday 28 May between 3.30pm and 6pm and at the Pavilion Room at Netherhall Sports Centre, Queen Edith's Way, Cambridge on Wednesday 30 May between 4pm and 8pm.

Officers from Cambridgeshire County Council will be available on both occasions to answer any questions and explain the proposals.

The consultation will run until 21 June 2012 with a decision expected to be made on the planning application by the County Council's Development Control Committee in summer or autumn 2012.

Tesco "Click and Collect" Planning Application

Side Elevation of New Pod
Tesco have submitted a planning application for a new pod and collection point to be erected in the "quiet" part of the Car Park (near the Primary School).

This was discussed at the last two Parish Council meetings and will be discussed again by the Parish Councils Environment Committee over the new few days.

Here are the documents associated with the planning application;

1. Application Form (No Personal Information)
2. Design and Access Statement
3. Location Plan
4. Pod and Canopy Location Plan
5. Pod and Canopy Elevations and Plan

Here is the response I've submitted and while I am calling for the Planning Application, as it stands, to be rejected I am not against the idea of Tesco expanding and offering this service, just the proposed location;

These are a mixture of objections, requests for more information, and comments; 
  • Due to the location of the pick-up point any traffic disruption in the car park would appear to adversely affect the other businesses on site including restricting access to parking spaces for their customers. Looking at section 7 of the Design and Access Statement there does not seem to have been any assessment of the impact on the other businesses which share the car park (and which will all have their entrances closer to the new pod than Tesco). At the very least these local businesses should be contacted and their views sought. 
  • The document does not seem to contain a Noise Assessment given that a relatively quiet area of the car park (3.2) will now be seeing regular traffic from customers cars and delivery vehicles as well as the loading/ unloading of goods. Given that the location is less than 20 meters from the local Primary School and we are approaching Summer when windows will be open this would seem to be a serious omission. 
  • The access path from the local Library to Tesco runs adjacent to the new pod (to the right of it on the map). It is not clear that the impact of additional traffic on this well-used walkway has been considered (section 8.2. mentions pedestrian routes but this seems to be internal/ around the pod rather than access for local residents) 
  • Given the increase in consumer visits to the store (section 9.1) what assessment has been made on the likely rise in traffic at peak periods? 
  • No indication of the hours of operation of the service has been given in the document. This would be useful in assessing the overnight impact on Gladeside (the adjacent road overlooking the car park). Given this lack of information can I suggest that the planning application restrict opening hours of the pod to no later than 11pm and not before 6am. 
In summary can I ask that this planning application be refused on the grounds that; 
a) the consultation with affected local businesses has been inadequate, and
b) there is no assessment of noise and disruption to Bar Hill Primary school 
Finally might I ask that consideration be given to relocating the pod two parking lanes over (onto the third bloack of parking spaces from the right on the Pod and Canopy Location Plan)? This would increase the distance from the Primary School, negate any disruption to the pedestrian access, and I believe be much more acceptable to local residents.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Lib Dem Minister’s £5M Boost For Transport Welcomed

Cllr Susan van de Ven
(LD, Melbourn)

A £5 million boost for Cambridgeshire Transport from Lib Dem Minister, Norman Baker has been welcomed by the county’s Liberal Democrats and Cambridge MP, Julian Huppert.

The funding will boost cycling, opening up new routes and improving cycle parking, and encourage people onto public transport in key areas of employment and growth across the county.

Julian said: “It is great to see a Lib Dem minister in government delivering on public and sustainable transport for Cambridge and the county generally.

“Norman Baker has shown time and time again that he genuinely understands the problems faced by years of neglect of our transport systems and infrastructure under the previous Labour government.

“In a short time, he has worked to put this right and we are seeing funding for real improvements on the ground. This money will make a big difference to the lives of people in Cambridge and across the county.”

Susan van de Ven, Lib Dem Shadow Cabinet Member for Transport on Cambridgeshire County Council said: “This funding is very welcome, badly needed and desperately important in a fast growing county where we need to avoid congestion and enable people to take up job opportunities.

"I hope that a strengthened public transport network in the county's more populated areas could also have a knock-on effect to more rural areas."

The Local Sustainable Transport Fund grant is designed to encourage people onto public transport, in key areas of employment and growth such as between Huntington  and Cambridge, Northstowe and the Guided Busway and the Cambridge to Ely rail corridor.

The fund allows improvement to a whole range of transport interchanges and practical support for Travel for Work schemes.

It will support cycle parking at Cambridge and Ely rail stations and  the Guided Busway and there will be some new cycle routes

“I hope the fund sees a bigger take-up of public transport as the best way of moving around the county,” added Cllr van de Ven.

More Successful Prosecutions For Truancy

Three more parents have been prosecuted for failing to ensure their children attend Thomas Clarkson Community College in Wisbech.

All three pleaded guilty to the charges at Peterborough Magistrates' Court. One was given a 6-month conditional discharge and ordered to pay £100 costs and a £15 victim surcharge, while the other two were each given a 12-month conditional discharge and ordered to pay £100 costs and a £15 victim surcharge.

The prosecutions were brought by Cambridgeshire County Council.

Education welfare officers, who are conducting regular truancy sweeps in the area, thanked local shops and supermarkets for their support.

Thomas Clarkson Community College Vice-Principal David Gray said: "Children need to go to school.  The courts play an important role in ensuring parents take their responsibilities regarding school attendance, seriously.  Schools work closely with parents to help them do their best but sadly in some cases court action like this is necessary in the best interests of our young people."

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Liberal Democrat News: South Cambs Mail

We (the Liberal Democrats) are currently in the process of delivering a South Cambs Mail across the Division. The top stories of this issue are;
  • Guided Bus Interest To Cost 10m
  • EU Investment Helps Economic Recovery
  • Join Our Campaign For A Tax On Bank Transcations
  • The Apprentics - Numbers Hit Record Levels
  • Raise Tax Threshold Further And Faster, Say Lib Dems
  • Opinion: Tories Can't Cut Services With One Hand And Grab Taxes With The Other
  • Lib Dems Oppose Tories Move To Increase Pay For Councillors
  • SCDC Tories Fail To Condemn Loss Of Rural Transport Funds
  • Only The Lib Dems Can Beat The Conservatives Here
If you are interested in helping us deliver the this leaflet to your street please get in touch, I can be contacted on 07814 871 752 (or via email at

An electronic version (PDF) of the newspaper is available here (via Google Docs).

Cambridge MP Huppert Backs TV Chef To Ensure Academies Don't Serve Junk Food

Television celebrity chef, Jamie Oliver’s fight to get the government to make sure new academies and free schools don’t serve junk food to their pupils has been backed by Cambridge MP Julian Huppert.

Julian raised the issue with Education Minister, Michael Gove after he received a letter from Jamie and an email from a resident both expressing their concerns.

He has also signed a Commons’ Early Day Motion welcoming Jamie’s campaign and calling on Mr Gove to change the law to make academies and free schools serve food that meets nutritional regulations.

Julian said: “It is vital that our children receive good, nutritional meals, not only to promote healthy living now but also to teach them how to eat well for the future.

“We have children across the country who are obese because of poor diets and lack of exercise. We cannot afford to take any chances that this problem will be compounded by poor nutritional standards in our schools when we have introduced laws to protect against it.

“All schools teaching our children should be bound by the regulations put in place to safeguard the health of pupils in their care; there should be no exceptions.”

Mr Gove told Julian: “Free schools and new academies which have been set up from September 2010 are not required to comply with the school food standards.

“Studies by the School Food Trust now provide good evidence of the benefits of a balanced meal on pupils’ concentration, behaviour and ability to learn. Given this evidence we expect that free schools and academies will still want to promote healthy eating and good nutrition through the provision of high quality lunch services.

“We have asked the School Food Trust to survey the quality of food in a sample of academies in response to concerns raised by Jamie Oliver and we expect the trust to report to us within the next few months.”

The full wording of the EDM is as follows:

That this House recognises the impact of unhealthy eating and obesity on children's health and well-being; expresses its concern that academies and free schools opened since September 2010 are not required to adhere to the mandatory standards for school food; welcomes the joint Jamie Oliver Children's Food Campaign, Food for Life Partnership, LACA and School Food Matters Save Our School Food Standards campaign; and calls on the Secretary of State to amend the Education (Nutritional Standards and Requirements for School Food) (England) Regulations 2007 to require academies and free schools to adhere to the standards for school food so that the one million children now attending these schools can benefit from this commitment to their health and well-being.

Cambridge MP Told Of £4M Station Ticket Hall Improvement After Complaint

MP Julian Huppert has received assurances from train operator Greater Anglia that £4 million worth of improvement work is planned at Cambridge railway station’s booking hall after he received a complaint.

The number of entry gates is to be increased to improve the flow of customers to platforms and the ticket hall will be opened up to create more space for additional ticket machines.

Julian was given news of the planned improvements after a complaint about the length of queues as customers waited to use ticket machines.

He was told that on one occasion the queue stretched out of the building across the road in front of the taxis to the car park.

After passengers complained, a railway station worker came out with a portable ticket machine and started selling tickets.

At the same time, a train arrived and the ticket hall was jammed with customers and there were fears that someone could be seriously injured in the crush.

Julian said: “This whole scenario was extremely worrying. Clearly, the ticket hall is inadequate for the amount of passengers using the station.

“I am pleased, therefore, that Greater Anglia is planning major works which will open up the ticket hall providing more space for passengers moving through and an increased number of machines.

“Cambridge station is very busy with commuters and passengers and priority has to be to get these people to and from their destinations safely and efficiently.”

Greater Anglia Customer Relations Manager, Lynsey Flack told Julian: “The booking hall at Cambridge station is due for considerable improvement during the lifetime of our current, short rail franchise. This is part of the Cambridge redevelopment plan.”

And she acknowledged that the experience relayed to Julian was “far from acceptable”.

Cut Fire Service Senior Management Costs To Protect Front-Line

Cllr Nigel Bell
(LD, Ely North And East)
Savings should be made from the fire service’s senior management costs so that the county’s front-line can be protected, claim Cambridgeshire Liberal Democrats.

They will remind Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Fire Authority tomorrow (Thursday, May 24) that the safety of the public and staff is their primary responsibility as they meet to discuss cuts of over £5 million.

"Support services and fire-fighters have faced the brunt of the cuts agreed so far but senior management have so far seemed immune from this austerity,” said Nigel Bell, Lib Dem leader on the fire authority.

“Fire-fighters have reluctantly agreed shift changes and staff reductions that create £900k of annual savings and it's time that the senior management team costs were included in the savings review.

“We cannot support cuts to the front-line, they are unacceptable and could cost lives, and we must pursue all other options.”

The Lib Dem Members proposed council tax rises of 3.5 per cent for four years, instead of the proposed 2.5 per cent for three years, to fill the estimated funding gap, an increase of 1p a week or 58p a year for Band D properties. This would have meant frontline cuts on the current predictions for government grant settlement levels could have been avoided.

They will tell the authority tomorrow to:

  • Reject many of the Phase One cuts (numbered four to 12 in the table in the fire authority papers attached) and the Phase Two cuts;
  • Review all the fire service’s senior management costs, including the 'Silver Fleet' vehicles, with a view to achieving savings:
  • Examine all opportunities for closer working with other Fire Services to achieve potential savings;
  • Consider the prudent use of reserves to offset short-term shortfalls in funding levels;
  • Continue to press the case with MPs and the Fire Minister for a fair grant settlement for the county’s fire service.
  • Review the level of Council Tax rise for future years.

The fire authority papers can be found here:

Cambridge MP Huppert Learns How To Cut His Energy Bills

MP Julian Huppert is to find out more about how he could save up to 30 per cent on his household energy bills when he meets representatives from a new company on Friday (May 25).

Collective Power UK promises to aim to lower gas and electricity prices by collective buying for customers across the Eastern region.

By collecting together the details of a large pool of consumers, the company, based in Haslingfield Road, Harston, will negotiate with the energy companies to cut bills.

The service is free to customers and could save between 10 and 30 per cent on household fuel costs.

Julian said: “I am interested to find out more about this idea. We have all noticed how energy prices have soared in recent months and any idea which could help us to save money has to be worthwhile.

“Collective purchasing already seems to be working well in Holland so there is no reason why it shouldn’t take off here. And it is time that we made the big energy suppliers realised that if they want to keep us loyal they have to be compete for our business in the same way as any other company.”

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Ed Davey: A Clean Energy Revolution

Over the next decade, around a fifth of existing power plants are due to close, against a background of increased energy demand and increasing prices. We need new investment simply to keep the lights on.

But more than that, we need a clean energy revolution to meet our ambitious climate change goals and make this the greenest government ever.

That’s why I am bringing forward a new Energy Bill today.

You can read more about our clean energy revolution here.

We also need to transform our energy market to reduce the risk and cost of low carbon technologies.

That’s what our Bill does.

The UK is fast becoming a world leader in renewable energy, especially in off shore wind. I want us to lead the world in Carbon Capture and Storage too.

And we are also tackling rising energy bills. Without reforming the energy market bills will rise by around £200 in the coming years. Our reforms will mean bills are around 4% lower than they otherwise would have been.

Going green is good for the economy, good for Britain and good for you.


Ed Davey MP

Bar Hill Parish Council Meeting 15-MAY-2012

With apologies for the delay posting an update but last Thursday Bar Hill Parish Council held its monthly meeting. The first order of business was to elect a New Chair and Vice Chair after the previous Chair, Margaret Sellars (who was at the meeting Chairing this item in the agenda) stood down.

Two nominations came forward, one for each role, which meant that there was no hustings (which went well with there being no campaign or manifestos) and each candidate was elected unanimously. With the newly elected Chair in place we then proceeded with the rest of the agenda.

I'm not proposing to re-run it here (if you're interested read the minutes once they are published) - just to comment on a few of the items.

Item 4.1 street lighting update. One slight concern (with my other hat on as a County Councillor) is that one of my fellow Parish Councillors called Balfour Beattys helpline and was told that their local County Councillor (in our case John Reynolds) had approved the removal of their street light. I wonder if he actually did! It was also revealed that three Streetlights in Foxhollow have been removed but were not down for removal on the paperwork sent to the Parish. Apparently this was an accident (not that they were removed, that they didn't appear in the paperwork). The County Council has invited us to a meeting to discuss Street lighting however it was thought, given that the work in Bar Hill is almost complete, it wasn't worth attending the meeting.

It was also revealed that, due to a slight labelling mix-up, the contractor isn't always aware of where a street light actually is in the village. Hence the light I reported on the ring road as being always on taking almost 3 weeks to fix!

Item 4.2 was a discussion on the two planning applications for Tesco. One of which had already been approved for a dry cleaners (although the Council noted that that the new Dry Cleaners won't actually be doing any dry cleaning - just a drop off/ pick up point). We then discussed making a representation on the other one, a few of us (including me) had already done so and I provided some helpful(?) advice based on training i received while on the County Councils Development Control committee. Suffice to say that while the Parish Council broadly supported the idea of the new "Click and Go" service being introduced there were some issues being raised with its location in the Car Park. I took an action to see if I could find one of Tescos older planning applications which related to spaces in the car park.

Item 4.3 Minor Highways Improvements. It was pretty clear given the comment on the list of proposed improvements I obtained via a FOI request that the Parish won't be getting the money. Hopefully the terrible state of the paths can be addressed as part of the normal maintenance process. Hopefully. The Parish is still awaiting a formal letter from the County giving the result of the process, that should have arrived prior to the next Full Council meeting.

Item 4.4 called for new projects to be suggested and I raised the issue of park benches along the spine routes. In the end we settled on budgeting £1,000 which should buy us 2 or 3 with at least one bench going next to the football pitch - assuming the County Council agrees as it owns the land.

Also under this item there was a suggestion that the Parish Council should invest some more money in play areas within the Village. It was agreed this was desirable and I'm going to bring back some proposals to the next Parish Council meeting (primary just some examples of what has worked in Kings Hedges and Orchard Park).

One item from note from Item 5 (General Correspondence) is the letter in relation to Viking Way from lawyers representing a company on the business park attempting to force the Parish Council to pay for repairs to the road.

Viking Way, Bar Hill
The history behind this is long and complicated so here is the potted version; the Parish Council is responsible for the road but lacks the resources to actually do anything about it (previously Tesco paid for the resurfacing). This issue is ongoing, the Parish Council has written back to the Company.

Item 7.3, adoption of the Tree Management Policy. This policy appeared in draft form for the last meeting and Council was asked to adopt it. Unfortunately changes were suggested and it wasn't felt that it was ready, it was sent to Environment Committee to re-draft (a committee on which I sit so if you have any comments let me know). It's worth noting that one of the things we all agreed on is that the Parish Council does not want to cut down any trees!

Under Any Other Business I raised the successful Timebanking project in Somershom and wondered if there was any interest in embarking on a similar scheme in Bar Hill. Apparently something similar had been tried previously with tokens and had not really worked - one of the comments was that after a few months a few people ended up with all the tokens! - but there was general interest in trying again. I agreed to bring something back to the next meeting.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Mobile Library Stops In Dry Drayton and Lolworth

Just a quick update to let you know about the two Mobile Library stops within the Bar Hill Division.

The first is in Dry Drayton on Pettitts Lane between 12:20 and 12:50 on the 2nd and 4th Friday every month;

Pettitts Lane, Dry Drayton
The second is in Lolworth on The Green on the 4th Thursday of every month between 14:20 and 14:50;

The Green, Lolworth
More details are available on the My Cambridgeshire website.

Both maps are courtesy of

New Bus Service Will Put Rail Travellers On The Right Track

Stagecoach Guided Bus on the
Cambridgeshire Guided Busway

Cambridgeshire's highly rated park and ride service is introducing new stops at Cambridge Railway Station to help travellers take the strain out of catching the train.

From June 10, new Green Route Park and Ride Service stops will be introduced at the railway station bus station - allowing rail passengers to reach the station without the need to drive into Cambridge or pay for parking at the station.

The Green Route runs regular buses between Park and Ride sites at Milton and Babraham Road on the southern edge of Cambridge. The service runs from Milton at 6.21 am in the morning with the last bus returning from the station at 8.31 pm in the evening during the week.  The first bus from Babraham Road starts at 7.06 am in the morning with the last bus returning from the station at 8.26 pm in the evening.

The new railway station stops replace previous bus stops outside the Centennial Hotel on Hills Road, and mean that rail travellers will no longer face a walk to the station to catch their train.

County Council Cabinet Member for Transport, Councillor Ian Bates, said: "These new stops will be another important part of the County Council's efforts to integrate rail and bus services by providing direct access for our passengers to this excellent new facility at the railway station.

"Guided Busway passengers are already able to use the new bus facilities at the station and we are pleased to be able to expand this to the already successful Green Route Park and Ride Service."

Friday, 18 May 2012

Unlock Democracy: Lobbying Campaign Progress

Yesterday, the minister in charge of government policy to introduce a lobbying register gave evidence to the House of Commons’ political and constitutional reform committee. You can watch the evidence session here:

In the meeting, he acknowledged that most of the responses to the recent consultation demanded stronger rules on transparency than the ones he had proposed. This accords with Mark Harper’s comments at our own public meeting in Birmingham last month where he admitted that he had united both transparency campaigners and the lobbying industry in demanding the regulations cover a wider range of lobbying activities!

The government is now due to publish a white paper and draft legislation for the lobbying register in this session of parliament - alongside a second consultation process. We welcome this but are concerned by the minister’s repeated assertions that the government intends to “take its time” over the proposed rules, although he insisted that the register would be created by 2015 at the latest. Of course it is crucial the government gets the rules right, and the proposals in its initial consultation were so poor it is clear it will have to go back to first principles. But it doesn’t take years to get the legislation right; it requires political will.

Unlock Democracy: Lobbying Campaign Progress
Thank you to everyone who took part in our campaign in response to the consultation. Last month we handed the Cabinet Office a letter signed by more than 7,000 people (as well as a similar letter, pictured, signed by 28 organisations). As a result of this pressure, it is clear the government now accepts that its initial proposals were unacceptably weak and it has had to go back to the drawing board. You can be assured that we will be continuing to monitor the situation very closely and will alert you the next time an opportunity to influence the process arises.

Yours sincerely,

Peter Facey
Director, Unlock Democracy

PS Help us to ensure we only send you emails you’re interested in. Let us know your preferences here:

Lighter Later: Let's Get Our Bill Back!

A new session's just kicked off in parliament, and that means another chance to change time!

Today 20 MPs have been picked to put forward a bill on any subject they like[?] – and we need one of them to choose clock change.

Your MP Julian Huppert wasn't picked this time, but you can still help make sure one of the 20 decides to bring the Daylight Saving Bill back to parliament.

Last week an MP called Adrian Sanders tabled an Early Day Motion (EDM) supporting clock change. An EDM is like a parliamentary petition – an easy way for MPs to nail their colours to the mast on a particular issue.

Right now, the 20 Chosen Ones are deciding which cause to support with their bill. If they see fellow MPs throwing their support behind clock change through this EDM, it could swing the decision in our favour.

The last clock change EDM got 76 signatures. This time, with your help we can hit 100. Can you convince your MP to sign Adrian Sanders' Early Day Motion?

Our unique tool makes it easy, giving you talking points and writing tips customised to your MP's position on the issue. Click here to get started

Let's get our bill back!

Daniel Vockins
Campaign manager, Lighter Later

P.S. Totally baffled by the whole process? Check out Maddy's blog for a beginner's guide to Private Members Bills.

A New And Improved Library System

Cambridgeshire County Council is installing a new, modern library system that will improve the  library catalogue and provide you with a wider range of services, including a new Library App for mobile devices. The system has been funded by Improvement East and will pave the way for  improved customer service.  

To make sure the new system is installed successfully we will need to close libraries briefly,  however during this time we’ll be increasing book loan periods.

We will do our best to keep disruption to a minimum and most libraries will be shut for a single  day or less. The closures will take place as follows:

  • Wednesday, 20 June 2012 – Libraries closed in City and South Cambs   
  • Thursday, 21 June 2012 – Libraries closed in Huntingdonshire   
  • Friday, 22 June 2012 – Libraries closed in East Cambs and Fenland   

To find out which District your library is in please go to or call 0345 045 5225.

In preparation for the changeover, the following services will not be available between 11 – 22  June 2012:

  • Telephone renewals  
  • Wi-Fi in libraries   
  • e-books or on-line information sources  
  • Online catalogue, renewals and requests   

This is unavoidable for technical reasons, and we apologise for any convenience caused.    All other services will continue as normal, and customers will be able to borrow and return items  in libraries, and use the PC's.  

Local Parish Councillor Andy Pellew said "While it's undoubtedly an inconvenience to have the library closed for a single day these improvements are vital in ensuring that we have a library service that can meet all the needs in our local community for the years to come."

"Given that the threat of closure that was hanging over our local library has been lifted it's vitally important that we make use of this facility as often as possible for as much as possible and in order for us to do that it must broaden it's appeal and lower it's costs - something these changes are designed to achieve"

Fire Cuts Hit £5M - With Fears Over Grant Reduction

Cllr Nigel Bell (LD,
Ely North and East)

Estimates of the potential cuts required to fire services across Cambridgeshire have been increased by £800,000 to a minimum of £5 million with fears this could go even higher if the government grant settlement for the service is low again this year.

The news has prompted the Tory-controlled Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Fire Authority to revise its savings plans and led to reinforced opposition to front-line cuts from the county’s Liberal Democrats.

They are calling again for the fire authority to review its plans to limit Council Tax rises to 2.5 per cent over the next three years to reduce the impact on front-line services.

Nigel Bell Lib Dem leader on the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Fire Authority said: “These deep cuts are a worrying prospect for our county and we must continue to lobby central government to ensure a fairer grant settlement this year to protect our front-line services.”

The Lib Dems plan to take their concerns to Bob Neill, Minister for Communities and Local Government urging him to ensure that the government grant is fairer to rural authorities.

And Cllr Bell welcomed Cambridge MP Julian Huppert’s move to arrange a meeting with Mr Neill, representatives of the fire authority and other county MPs to discuss the issue.

The fire authority has already agreed £3 million of support staff savings in the first phase of cuts.

It is also proposed that 25 full-time fire fighter posts go through changes to shift patterns and a recruitment freeze, but a further 24+ full time fire-fighters could be made redundant under the plans and 16 retained fire fighter posts lost.

Retained fire engines could go from St Ives, Ramsey and Soham and other possible savings on the table include the amalgamation of Swaffham and Burwell fire stations, the closure of Manea fire station and reducing Huntingdon from wholetime crew to daytime crew only.

But a second phase has been proposed to the spending cuts plan in the event of the government grant being even lower than expected and savings of over £5.5 million required.

This could include the closure of Thorney and Gamlingay retained stations and the loss of the second retained crew at Ely. There is also the possibility of Ely, St Neots and Wisbech becoming retained stations only.

Cambridge’s second crew could be downgraded to day crew only along with the downgrading of a Peterborough appliance.

Cambridge MP And Lib Dems Answer Call For Blood Platelet Donors

Cambridge MP, Julian Huppert and Liberal Democrat councillors answered a call for more blood platelet donors on Friday, May 18.

Julian and the five city and county councillors supported a campaign by the NHS Blood and Transplant service to find more platelet donors for the Cambridge Blood Donor Centre.

Cambridge City Councillors, Susannah Kerr, Sarah Brown and Paul Saunders and Cambridgeshire County Councillors, Sarah Whitebread and Ian Manning joined Julian at the mobile blood unit for a one-off testing session at the Star Radio studios in Cambridge’s Mercer’s Row.

They were tested to see if they could donate platelets – tiny cells in the blood which enable clotting and help to step blood loss. These crucial supplies have only a seven day shelf-life and are used to treat patients whose bone marrow isn’t working properly, including cancer and leukaemia patients undergoing chemotherapy.

The Cambridge Blood Donor Centre, on the Addenbrooke’s Hospital site, is one of only two in the East of England to collect platelets and supplies hospitals across East Anglia.

Julian said: “This was such a simple process which took just 15 minutes but if any or all of us are able to donate platelets we will be able to help some very sick people.

“I hope more people will be encouraged to take this test because clearly with such a short shelf-life and the fact that only around one in four people will have a high enough platelet count to make a donation, supplies are needed regularly.

“None of us knows what the future holds but we could find ourselves in the position where we desperately need this service.”  

Platelet donors are encouraged to donate regularly, at least once a month and more if possible.

 Anyone aged between 17 and 65 can be tested to become a donor along with those aged between 66 and 70 who have given blood before. Those over 70 need to have given a full blood donation in the last two years.

Julian is joined by (from left) Sarah Whitebread, Paul Saunders,
Sarah Brown, Ian Manning and Susannah Kerr stand
up to be counted at the mobile blood unit
NOTE: Platelet donation is a specialised process and can only be done at a handful of centres across the country – including a donor suite at Addenbrookes Hospital. Blood group A negative donors are particularly needed, as their platelets can also be given to patients with other blood groups

Chemotherapy or radiotherapy can destroy healthy as well as diseased cells in the blood. A patient with a low platelet count may be at risk of severe bleeding problems, so they can need many transfusions over the course of their recovery period

Platelets are collected in two ways. A donation of platelets given using a machine which separates the platelets and returns the rest of the blood can give enough for three transfusions. Alternatively, the platelets from four donations of whole blood can give enough for one transfusion. It takes around one and a half hours to make a platelet donation.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Help Sought To Support Work With Disabled Children

The Short Breaks service will be visiting Addenbrooke's hospital in Cambridge next week to encourage local people to help disabled children and their families.

Staff from Cambridgeshire County Council representing a range of disability services will be at the hospital on Wednesday 23 May to provide more information about how people can get involved.

The Short Breaks service allows parents to have a break or spend time with their other children and gives the disabled child opportunities to enjoy new experiences and to meet other children and families.

A range of leisure, cultural, and educational activities are offered to disabled children, which help contribute to personal and social development and help reduce social exclusion. The service relies on a team of dedicated carers to support its work and currently has opportunities available in the Cambridge area and south of the county. There are also opportunities for people who are interested in being employed directly by a family to help with their disabled child's care.

One Short Breaks provider is the Family Link Service, which matches disabled children and their families with carers who can regularly welcome the child into their home. This provides the child with a 'home from home' and gives their family regular breaks from caring.

Short Breaks are also provided by the Community Support Service, where support workers go into a child's own home to help parents with caring tasks or to take their child out.  The service also runs a number of its own regular clubs, as well as holiday clubs, and helps disabled children to access other activities within the community.

In addition, a number of other services are also commissioned to help meet the needs of disabled children and their families.

Richard Holland, the County Council's Head of Service for Disability said: "We are delighted with the opportunity to highlight the Short Breaks service in Cambridge and we look forward to meeting local people to show how they could potentially make a huge difference to the life of disabled children and their families."

Councillor David Brown, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, added: "The Short Breaks service provides much needed support for families across Cambridgeshire. It also offers opportunities for members of the public to build a career working with disabled children. We hope these opportunities will appeal to people in Cambridge and that, with their help, the service will continue to thrive in the local area."

If you have experience working with disabled people and feel you could help support this important and rewarding work, look out for the County Council stand at Addenbrooke's Hospital on Wednesday 23 March. You can also contact the team on 01480 379800 or visit:

E-Cops - Your Weekly News

Good news, since my last E-cop message there has been no crime reports for Bar Hill ward.

On Wednesday 9th May, at 19:30hours, there has been an incident report in Hillcrest, Bar Hill. A suspicious man was in the area trying to sell Government funded insulation. This man did not produce an ID and was very vague, he was not able to confirm the company he was working for. Police were notified and soon after were able to locate this man. There was no offences revealed, the mans details were recorded and he was asked to leave the area. Please do continue to ring in and report these type of incidents, even though there was no offences revealed, it is very useful for us to know who is in our area.

I have been out and about conducting speed checks in the following locations this week:
Scotland Road, Dry Drayton where two motorists were seen travelling in excess of the 40mph speed limit.

Oakington Road, Girton where two motorists were seen travelling in excess of the 30mph speed limit.

Saxon Way, Bar Hill where one motorist was seen travelling in excess of the 40mph speed limit.
All have been dealt with accordingly.

I have been out and about on visibility patrol, mostly in Bar Hill paying attention on the Skate Park consulting with local youths. All appears to be in order.

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

Cambridge MP Huppert Receives Assurances On Green Deal's Credentials

Cambridge MP Julian Huppert

MP Julian Huppert has received assurances from the government that its new Green Deal will give investors long-term confidence to invest in companies tackling climate change, such as the newly-launched Cambridge Retrofit scheme.

Energy and Climate Change Minister, Gregory Barker paid tribute to the organisation which is working to retrofit buildings throughout the City to help make Cambridge the first UK city to meet national carbon reduction targets.

“My department is already working with Cambridge Retrofit which is just the sort of ambitious city-wide retrofit programme the Green Deal is designed to support,” he said during Questions in the House of Commons.

Julian welcomed Mr Barker’s endorsement saying: “Cambridge Retrofit is indeed an excellent programme which will make a huge difference.”

And he asked the Minister: “How will the government ensure there is the stability of energy and climate policies in the long term so investors are willing to put finance into major schemes such as Cambridge Retrofit?”

Mr Barker replied: “We know what investors want; they want TLC, transparency, longevity and certainty and unlike previous short term or stop go policies, the Green Deal is designed to run well into the 2020s giving investors exactly the sort of longevity and certainty they need.”

Later Julian said: “This is very welcome news. I am delighted that the government has shown this commitment to the Green Deal and the fight to tackle climate change.

“For major programmes such as the one run by Cambridge Retrofit, the confidence of investors to put their money into green, carbon reduction companies is vital. These companies rely on the government having a strong, green agenda and that has been clearly demonstrated today.”

Cambridge Retrofit 40-Year Venture Website

Elderly Left Isolated After Bt Phone Lines Down For 10 Days

Cambridgeshire County Councillor, Geoff Heathcock has sent a formal complaint to telecom giant, BT, after frail, elderly residents were without working phone lines and unable to summon emergency help for 10 days.

Cllr Geoff Heathcock
(LD, Queen Edith's)
Some of the pensioners rely on Personal Emergency Response Systems worn around their necks which allow them to raise the alarm through the speaker on the phone without having to reach the receiver.

But phone lines were cut off around Cambridge’s Mowbray Road when underground equipment was flooded. BT told customers they couldn’t get authority from Cambridgeshire County Council to dig up the road for repairs.

Cambridge City Councillor, George Pippas was unable to leave the guest house that he runs without paying someone to step in because the fire alarms are connected to the telephone lines.

If the alarms at the Aylesbray Lodge in Mowbray Road had been trigged, Cllr Pippas would not have been able to been automatically notified.

Eventually his business number was re-connected but calls were sent through to a residential customer and he received the calls intended for them. He finally got full service resumed after 14 days.

Now furious Cllr Heathcock who represents Queen Edith’s ward, has sent a formal complaint to BT demanding an explanation.

He said: “There was an appalling lack of communication overall and nearly 10 days elapsed before a solution could be found.”

Cllr Pippas said: “There were elderly people who have out of hours emergency call systems around their necks to summon help if they are ill. They clearly couldn’t raise the alarm because the phone lines were dead. This left them on their own and isolated.

“I pay extra on my BT bills to have all my UK land line calls included in the price. But I had to use my mobile for all calls which has cost me e a fortune. I had no apology or compensation.

“I was getting calls for a local family and they were getting mine. They must have had a horrible time being inundated with inquiries for accommodation and prices and cold sales calls.”

And Cllr Heathcock added that among the excuses given to customers by BT was flooding of underground boxes. They were told there was no-one at the county council who could authorise permission to dig up roads to make repairs.

“Customers were being contacted by mobile to tell them there was no news as to when they were going to get the phone line back,” said Cllr Heathcock. “But of course not everyone has a mobile so some elderly were left isolated and confused.

“I have been in touch with the county council highways officers and they confirmed they had no contact with BT.”

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Partnership Funding Opportunities For Flood Risk Management Schemes

Cllr Ian Bates (Con, Hemingfords
and Fenstanton)
Cllr Ian Bates, the Conservative Cabinet Member for Growth and Planning has sent a letter to all Parish Councils (presumably across Cambridgeshire) inviting them to fund Flood Defence Work (a County Council responsibility).

My issue with this is that what we are really talking about here is the same money, our taxes, which traditionally has been split between Westminster, Cambridgeshire County Council, South Cambridgeshire District Council, and Bar Hill Parish Council being recombined to spend on a specific area. We've seen it with with the Minor Highways Improvements Panel and now we're seeing it with this. It's the same money. What we're talking about is paying someone to split it, and then someone else to put it together again just so Cambridgeshire County Council (or whatever the responsible authority is, South Cambridgeshire is just as guilty!) can freeze their Council Tax while forcing authorities lower down the chain to raise theres.

I'll say it again; It's the same money!

Anyway, here's the text from Cllr Bates letter;

As you may aware, the Parish Councils (General Power of Competence) Order 2012 came into force on the 27 March 2012. This order is made to exercise the powers conferred by sections 8(2) and 235(2) of the Localism Act 2011. The enactment of the order gives powers to eligible parish and town councils to fund schemes, such as flood alleviation, above Section 137 of the Local Government Act 1972.  
Cambridgeshire County Council as a Lead Local Flood Authority in the County is pleased to see the commencement of this order. We have been working in partnership with many parish and town councils, and found that sometimes they were unable to commit the level of funds desired because of restrictions under the Local Government Act. The Government has now addressed this issue, by changing the funding mechanism for local flood risk management schemes - which emphasises partnership contribution to schemes at a local level.  
The principle of the new funding mechanism is that higher levels of local partnership contributions have a greater chance of accessing Government match funding. This new approach allows more local schemes to go ahead, and also enables local communities to have a greater say in the management of their flood risk.  
In line with the new funding mechanism, this order provides a good opportunity for local communities to secure local contributions for flood risk management schemes.
More information on the order can be found at the following link: 
If you have any questions related to this letter, or would like to discuss it further please contact Cambridgeshire County Council’s Flood and Water Manager – Sass Pledger, at 
I'd encourage every Parish Council to reject this. What's next? If Waterbeach want's to keep the Army Barracks then the local Councils need to pay the Army some money?!

Drives me wild.

Cambridge MP Huppert Pushes Government To Put Life-Saving On School Timetables

Julian at the Westminster
launch of the Red Cross

MP Julian Huppert joined forces with a leading national charity today (Tuesday, May 15) to push the government to include life-saving skills on school timetables.

Julian and members of the British Heart Foundation met Education Minister, Nick Gibb following the charity’s high profile campaign for emergency life support to be taught in biology lessons.

The meeting came after Julian led on an open letter signed by 44 MPs to Education Minister, Michael Gove last month calling for schoolchildren to be taught CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation).

And he visited the British Heart Foundation shop in Cambridge’s Burleigh Street in January to support the campaign.

Julian has also give his backing to a similar campaign, Pupil, Citizen, Lifesaver being run by the Red Cross which was launched in Westminster last week with politicians, pupils and teachers.

“Teaching our children basic life-saving skills would put hundreds of thousands of potential lifesavers out on the streets every year,” said Julian, who used to volunteer with Cambridge’s St John Ambulance.

“We made a strong case to Nick Gibb for including life saving skills on the National Curriculum and he took on board the huge benefits that it could bring to society as a whole.

“Only a handful of primary schools offer this teaching at the moment. Putting it on school timetables across the country would mean that the next generation would be equipped to tackle an emergency situation calmly and efficiently and more lives could be saved as a result.”  

Utility Companies Could Face Daily Charges To Close Roads

Cllr Sarah Whitebread (LD, Market)

Utility companies could be charged a daily fee for road closures while they carry out work across Cambridgeshire.

The idea has been put forward by Liberal Democrat Councillor Sarah Whitebread and would apply to companies laying new gas or water mains or carrying out similar work in the county.

Cllr Whitebread, who represents Cambridge’s Market Ward on Cambridgeshire County Council, claims the move could prevent lengthy closures such as the one which brought the city’s East Road to a virtual halt for weeks while new gas mains were laid.

She made her suggestion during Question Time at the county council meeting today (Tuesday, May 15) and it was agreed to look into such a scheme.

A similar idea, approved by the Department of Transport, will allow Transport for London to charge companies in the capital up to £2,500 a day for closing major roads. Companies will face lower charges if they carry out work outside of peak times.

"The county system at the moment has no incentive for speedy work, or to encourage work outside peak times" said Cllr Whitebread. "Given the frequency with which utilities companies need to carry out road works in Cambridge, I think a charging scheme of this type needs serious consideration.

"I also pushed the council to look at ways to encourage utility companies, when carrying out works, to keep roads open for cyclists. Often there is road space around the works that could be made available, but instead cyclists told to wait with cars or dismount and walk.  In a city where so many people travel to school and work by bike, this clearly needs addressing."

The county council’s Cabinet Member for Community Infrastructure, Tony Orgee, agreed to look into such a scheme.