Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Cambridge Urban Festival 2012 ** TOMORROW ** 12.00 – 6.00pm


Just a quick reminder for tomorrow's event in Cambridge City!

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On 1st November, young people will have the opportunity to participate in a variety of “Street” Sports and activities at the first Cambridge Urban Festival to be hosted in the Grafton Centre car park.

The Festival will run from 12.00 – 6.00pm, providing FREE activities such as:

  • Streetwise Soccer
  • Ramps for skateboards, BMX and scooters
  • Breakdancing
  • Boxing
  • Freeland BMX
  • Graffiti

This has been made possible through the generous support of the Grafton Centre and Cambridge City Council’s Parking Services, and is one of the first such events in the Country to be hosted in a multi-storey car park.

The Festival is being planned and run by Cambridge City Council’s Sports Development, the Children and Young Peoples Participation Service and the City’s Parking Services, including the involvement of a group of 20 young people.

After initial discussions between the City Council’s Sports Development team and Parking Services, it was recognised that the Grafton East multi storey car park car park offered not only a superb venue but a fantastic opportunity for a joined-up approach between Council services for this event to take place.

Recent consultation with young people, carried out by the City Council Community Development Department, highlighted a wish for greater access to sports activities and provision of events / Festivals targeted at young people and the car park offered the location.

The Cambridge Urban Festival is a direct response to these views provided by young people. The City Council hopes that the success of this Festival will mean that it is the first of many such events targeted at young people in the future.

Bar Hill Village Fete 2013 Stall Bookings Available


Are you part of a local group that could do with some publicity and an opportunity to raise some funds? Is there a charity close to your heart that you'd like to help raise money while having a great day out?

If so then you might be interested in attending next years Bar Hill Village Fete which will be held on Saturday 6th July 2013.

The Stall Booking form for the 2013 Bar Hill Village Fete has just been published on the Village Fete website (see here).

It's available as a direct download (via Google Drive) here;

http://goo.gl/4fHp5

Feel free to pass this link on!

If you have any questions relating to the stalls at the Fete you can email stalls@barhillvillagefete.org.

I'm planning on being there to help out on the day, if you'd like to join me (many hands making light work and all that!) please let me know - you can email me at andy.pellew@gmail.com. Already looking forward to it!

Cambridge MP Julian Huppert Presses Government On Commitment To Green Energy

Julian Huppert MP

MP Julian Huppert has pressed the Prime Minister, David Cameron, on whether the government is committed to green energy following a leading Tory minister’s controversial comments on wind farms.

Julian raised the issue in the House of Commons today at Prime Minister's Questions (Wednesday, October 31) after Energy Minister, John Hayes said that the UK had “enough onshore wind farms”.

Mr Hayes comment sparked fears that there had been a change in government policy away from renewable energy. But Ed Davey, Lib Dem Secretary of State for Environment and Climate Change said "There has been no change to Government policy on renewable energy" stressing that "Onshore wind is one of the cheapest renewables" and "has an important role to play in our energy future.”

Julian highlighted the importance of green growth to the economy, and asked: “Is the Prime Minister still committed to this being the greenest government ever, particularly in relation to its policy on renewables?”

Mr Cameron replied: “Under this government there has been more investment in green energy in the last three years than we have seen in the last 13 years from the party opposite. The green investment bank that we promised is up and running and the carbon floor price that we spoke about is in place.

“This is, indeed, a very green government and it is sticking to its promise.”

Julian said later: “This is a very important issue, and people need to be reassured that John Hayes' comments are not the government's position.

“With Lib Dem pressure at every step, the government has indeed achieved a great deal on green energy in a very short time and nothing must deter it from this. This reassurance is important particularly for Cambridge’s cleantech industry which is leading the way in green technology and driving the move towards a greener UK economy. This will create strong sustainable businesses and new jobs for the future.

“This industry is designed to be among the beneficiaries of our Lib Dem-led Green Investment Bank which will bring huge opportunities for businesses helping them to grow and thrive.

“We have also been able to help millions of people insulate their homes through the Green Deal and that has lifted families out of fuel poverty. When we went into coalition government, we made sure our commitment to green energy would play a key part of everything this government stands for. We set out plans to show we expected to reach our target of getting 30 per cent of all UK electricity from renewable sources by 2020.

“I am proud to represent a city which is leading the way on green technologies and I will do everything in my power to make sure this government sticks to its promises on green energy which is so vital to our future as a country and for the planet.”

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Millions Of Family Records Safely Moved

Cllr Steve Tierney (CON,
Roman Bank and Peckover)

A major project to transfer around two million family records to a new online system, and continue to make them freely available, has been completed in Cambridgeshire.

The project means the information is now online on a much easier to use and more reliable system. It has been made possible thanks to a partnership agreement between Cambridgeshire County Council Registration Service and the Cambridgeshire Family History Society which has led to a new system being developed.

This ensures continued access to the several million entries already online, and will now allow work to continue to complete the project.

Customers from around the world are able to search birth, marriage and death entries that have been recorded across Cambridgeshire from 1837 to the current decade, although it is a work in progress.

The free search facility, accessible through the County Council's website at www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/community/bmd/certificate, allows people to find details about their family tree and order certificates easily. It also allows people to apply for more recent entries online and apply for copies of their own family's records.

Customers often tell the County Council they want more information and services online to ease access to information, and this is a good example of what can be achieved through partnership working.

Cambridgeshire County Councillor Steve Tierney, Cabinet Member for Health and Well Being, said: "This has been a major project which ensures that index details can continue to be freely available at the click of a mouse. It spans nearly 200 years of history in Cambridgeshire. The project is part of the County Council's commitment to make as much information as available as it can, as well as using the internet to help everyone access services and keep costs down. Customers can not only use CAMDEX to search their family history but also order and pay for certificates. I would like to thank the Cambridgeshire Family History Society as this project could not have been achieved without their support and the meticulous hard work of numerous volunteers."

Terry Garner, Chairman of Cambridgeshire Family History Society (who have numerous resources available on their website at www.cfhs.org.uk) , said: "Volunteers of various local Family History Societies have worked, and will continue to work, with Cambridgeshire County Council tirelessly over the past 10 years to make this valuable resource available to people around the world.  We are pleased that a partnership approach has secured easy access to this index data for many years to come"

Bar Hill Community Market 03-NOV-2012 10:30am to 4pm


Just a brief announcement on behalf of the Bar Hill Community Market which will be taking place this Saturday (3rd November) at the Bar Hill Octagon and in the next door Church.

Please come along and help support your local community.

Stalls will include fruit and vegetables, home-made cakes, jewellery, greetings cards, sweets and other confectionery, locally made jams, knitted items, patchwork, bags, wooden crafts, and other beauty products.

There will also be opportunities for raising funds for local projects.

Refreshments will be available and (Weather Permitting!) there will also be a BBQ.

If you wish to be part of the market and have your own stall please contact either or the organisers;

  • Karen Austen 01954 781085, or 
  • Sue Gadsby 01954 200875

Woodland Trust: The Threat To The Common Ash Grows


We'd like to thank you for your support in helping raise awareness of Chalara fraxinea (ash dieback). Your efforts are going a long way to assist us and the government in understanding the true scale of the disease across the UK.

Over the weekend we have seen the Secretary of State, Owen Paterson MP, introduce a ban on the import and movement of ash across the UK. We will do all we can to mitigate the spread of this disease in line with government instructions and advice, but there is still much more to be done.

Unfortunately, we can confirm that the disease has been found in both the mature ancient woodland and woodland creation areas on our estate at Pound Farm in Suffolk. In light of this discovery, we need government scientists to give urgent and clear advice to all woodland owners on how to manage the disease.

We are now calling on the government to set up an emergency summit bringing together representatives from all areas of forestry, plant health and conservation. The Woodland Trust will play an active role in any task force that is created.

Today ash is under threat, but tomorrow yet another of our precious native trees could be at risk.

"I think I've seen a tree with ash dieback – what should I do?"

Please report any sightings at once. The disease is most likely to be found in newly planted young trees. You can report your findings to the following:

Forest Research Tree Health Diagnostic and Advisory Service
Call: 01420 23000
Email: ddas.ah@forestry.gsi.gov.uk

Forestry Commission Plant Health Service
Call: 0131 314 6414
Email: plant.health@forestry.gsi.gov.uk

Fera Plant Health and Seeds Inspectorate
Call: 01904 465625
Email: planthealth.info@fera.gsi.gov.uk

Thank you for your continued support. We will keep you updated as the situation develops. We are committed to protecting our great native trees.

Yours sincerely

Sue Holden
Woodland Trust, Chief Executive

Campaign To Protect European Policing Support Backed By Cambridge MP

Julian Huppert MP

A national campaign calling on the government not to pull out of European cross-border policing and justice has won the backing of Cambridge MP Julian Huppert.

Julian has signed a petition by the campaign group Justice Across Borders which believes the move would leave British citizens more vulnerable to crime.

He also plans to meet members of the group to discuss how he can help further in their campaign.

Julian said: “These measures have been hugely successful in breaking up pedophile rings, preventing terrorism and bring criminals who escape across borders to justice.

“If the government goes ahead with its plan to abandon some of them it will be a backward step, making it more difficult for British police to catch criminals who escape overseas or expel foreign law breakers from the UK.

“We have to accept that the criminals who break the law on our streets don’t always stay on our streets and if we have the chance to bring them to justice, we have to cooperate with forces across Europe.”

Thais Portilho-Shrimpton, Director of Justice Across Borders said: “In recent years, measures such as the European Arrest Warrant, Europol and Eurojust have broken up paedophile rings, prevented human trafficking, caught terrorists and other criminals attempting to flee justice overseas, and allowed us to deport criminals swiftly to other European states.

“Britain must work with its European partners to keep us safe. In the modern world, crime crosses borders, justice should too.”

Monday, 29 October 2012

Cambridge MP Julian Huppert Welcomes City Deal Bid To Drive Growth


MP Julian Huppert has welcomed the chance for Cambridge to bid for more government funding and radical new powers to boost economic growth.

Julian has been working hard to make sure the government acknowledges the importance of Cambridge’s economic strengths and its pivotal position in helping to drive forward the UK economy generally.

And he vowed to continue to do everything in his power to make sure the bid from Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire is successful.

He said: “This is an excellent opportunity for Cambridge demonstrate what it is capable of - freeing us to do what we want with less interference from Whitehall.

“Cambridge has always struggled because of the lack of government funding for major infrastructure. Despite this, the city has proved it is one of the strongest economic centres in the UK; but it could do so much more with the right financial support.

“Now we have the chance to secure the funding we need to help businesses thrive and grow and generate jobs.”

Julian’s comments came after Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg announced that the city and South Cambridgeshire were being invited to bid for a “city deal” for government funding and new local control.

“This initiative supports the government’s commitment to localism, diverting control away from central government to the people on the ground who know how Cambridge works and what it needs,” said Julian. “If our bid is successful, it will open up a whole range of new opportunities for our city; the possibilities are endless.”

Greater Cambridge City Deal Welcomed By Council Chiefs


Council chiefs say a possible new City Deal with Government could bring massive benefits to the local economy and help keep more of the money generated from future growth within the local area.

Cambridgeshire County Council, Cambridge City Council and South Cambridgeshire District Council and the Local Enterprise Partnership have been invited by Government to enter into negotiations around a City Deal for the Greater Cambridge area.

This means negotiations will start shortly with Government on how this could benefit Cambridge and the surrounding area.

A City Deal could see more funding and powers coming straight to the Cambridge city-region, putting more decisions into the hands of the local area, rather than Government.

It could see the three Councils working even more closely together on issues such as managing the major growth sites such as those on the fringes of Cambridge and the new town of Northstowe, and a more integrated approach to transport, strategic planning and skills.

Government will be asked to consider allowing more funds that result from growth, such as taxes and business rates, to stay in Cambridgeshire and be reinvested to support infrastructure and enhance quality of life locally, rather than going to the Treasury as now.

If a deal can be struck then Cambridge and the surrounding area could benefit from being able to make quicker and more joined up decisions aimed at boosting the local economy.

Cambridgeshire County Council Leader Nick Clarke said: "We are pleased that Government has recognised the ambitious plans for growth in the Greater Cambridge area through inviting us to take part in the second wave of City Deal negotiations. This is an exciting opportunity for local councils to take advantage of the devolution of powers and funding streams from Government for the direct benefit of our communities across Cambridgeshire.

"We hope that through the City Deal more control will be put in the hands of local councils so that we can tackle issues such as housing, transport and other infrastructure that currently are a barrier to economic growth and prosperity. This will help secure more jobs, better quality of life for our residents and show we are open for business. We look forward to continuing the good work we are already carrying out with local councils and businesses as well as Government."

Councillor Tim Bick, Leader of Cambridge City Council said: "Cambridge and the South Cambridgeshire rural area surrounding it are the seat of world beating university education and research and the home of a unique cluster of leading edge technology businesses. It's already a proven economic success story.

"Our challenge is to create the conditions for the local economy to continue to grow and thrive, by addressing our housing shortage and transport problems while respecting the unique character of the area, which is very much part of the winning formula.

"The three local authorities with responsibility for the area already work together, but the possibility of additional powers from central government to help us is a real spur to try and take this to a new level and present a joint strategic lead across the boundaries that separate us."

Cllr Ray Manning, South Cambridgeshire District Council's Leader added: "Our plans for growth puts the area at the heart of driving the national economy forward, and we are pleased to see the Government has recognised our success as this deal could help us deliver real benefits for our residents and businesses. Putting more funding and power in the hands of local authorities mean we can work even closer together to make sure all aspects of housing and transport are considered together, while we also strive to create an environment that promotes the creation of more new jobs. We are very much looking forward to continuing our discussions with the other councils involved, and the Government, about the deal over to see how the best results can be achieved."

Mark Reeve, Acting Chair of the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Enterprise Partnership, added: "The opportunity to bid for a City Deal for the Greater Cambridge area is an exciting prospect, and one we have been supportive of from the start. We look forward to working with our partners to submit a strong bid to help bring more local control back to the development of our economy."

Cambridge MP Huppert Joins Medical Profession In Condemning Drug Trial Secrecy


MP Julian Huppert has joined eminent doctors and researchers to raise concerns that patients are being put at risk by the secrecy surrounding drug trials

In a letter to The Times, Julian and 27 leading medical professionals claim that despite being legally bound to report both positive and negative results from clinical trials, information is being withheld from doctors and the public.

Those who have signed the hard-hitting letter include Dr Fiona Godlee from the British Medical Journal, Dr Richard Horton from The Lancet and Dr Clare Gerada from the Royal College of General Practitioners.

The letter comes in response to Lord Howe’s comments on the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 that drug companies are obliged by law to report both positive and negative results from clinical trials.

“In reality, vitally important information about drug trials continues to be withheld from doctors and the public meaning that patients are harmed and money is wasted,” says the letter. “The public remain largely unaware of this issue.

“The current best estimate is that half of all drug trials are never published in academic journals. The UK has spent £500 million on stockpiling Tamiflu, and yet Roche continues to withhold information about trails on this drug from the widely respected Cochrane Collaboration, which produces summaries of evidence for doctors and patients.”

The letter accuses politicians of neglecting the issue for too long. It claims new legislation passing through the European Parliament is weak and US legislation has been widely ignored.

“In an age of increasing transparency, and open access to knowledge, there is no justification for this ongoing secrecy,” it says.

The letter’s signatories have been granted a meeting with the Health Minister to discuss the issue.

Julian said: “Drug companies have been allowed to run these trials without being open and transparent about all the information they have discovered.

“This has left doctors in a difficult position prescribing medicines for their patients without having all the facts; similarly, patients are accepting prescriptions without knowing that some information is being hidden in this way.

“This is totally unacceptable and puts patients at risk. The government must act to resolve this issue. Drug companies must give full results of their clinical trials so that when medicines are released onto the market they are supported by full documentary evidence.”

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Lighter Later: Clocks Go Back This Weekend - Stay Safe!

The clocks go back in the early hours of tomorrow morning, and although time reform's going through a quiet spell in parliament, members of our Lighter Later coalition are still out there making the case for change.

With darker evenings on the horizon, road safety's been a strong focus, with some good coverage reminding readers that lighter evenings would mean fewer accidents.

We’re keeping an eagle eye on things and will keep in touch with any developments.

In the meantime, some good news...

Campaign for a green grid: signs of success

Back in July, loads of you teamed up with the 10:10 community to call for clean power, asking our old friend Ed Davey MP for an energy plan that puts us on the road away from dirty fossil fuels. A huge thank you to everyone who got involved!

This one looks set to run and run, but we've been following the Westminster rumour mill (someone has to!) and it looks like Davey has managed to get a decent' decarbonisation' target included in the bill!

If that's true it'll be a big step forward, but we're keeping those chickens firmly uncounted until the formal announcement in a few weeks time. Stay tuned!

Till next time, walk, drive and cycle safe.

Daniel Vockins,
Lighter Later

P.S. The Lighter Later Facebook page is a great place to stay informed and keep the clock change conversation going. Visit the page and click Like to get started.

P.P.S. Another reason to love the sunshine: a new class of schools just joined our Solar Schools project! The schools are raising money to get solar panels, and they're off to a flying start! Is there one near you?

Friday, 26 October 2012

E-Cops - E-cops Update


We have had a total of 7 crimes reported to us since my last ecops message. Please see the relevant ones below.

Between the 14/10/2012 and the 15/10/2012 unknown offenders have stolen 700 litres of diesel from 3 lorries parked overnight located at a farm in Dry Drayton.

Between the 16/10/2012 and the 17/10/2012 unknown offenders have snapped the locks to an outside shed located at Menzies Golf Club, Bar Hill. Offenders have stolen various garden equipment.

On the 17/10/2012 3 males were stopped by PCSO Bujar Mani and PCSO Tom Baugh in Appletrees Bar Hill, 2 were in possession of a Cannabis. Males were dealt with accordingly.

Between the 01/01/2012 and the 16/10/2012 an unknown offender have deliberately pulled out hedging stretching approx 220m. They have also stolen 5 fencing marker posts.

On the 24/10/2012 unknown offenders have stolen a Nissan X Trail whilst left locked and secured on a grass verge in Battlegate Road, Boxworth. Keys were with the victim so vehicle was taken by unknown means.

PCSO Bujar Mani is currently annual leave and will return on the 06/11/2012. If you wish to report a crime, suspicious behaviour or activity please ring our non emergency number which is 101. If you believe that a crime is in progress please ring 999.

Kind Regards

PCSO Thomas Baugh 7048
Histon Neighbourhood Policing Team

Thursday, 25 October 2012

National Adoption Week: 5-11 November 2012


Cambridgeshire is supporting national Adoption Week's campaign to recruit more adoptive families in the county.

Adoption Week is an annual event which begins on Monday 5 November. It aims to raise the profile of adoption and help find homes for the many looked after children in local authority care across the country who are currently waiting for an adoptive family.

Organised by the British Association for Adoption and Fostering (BAAF), this year's theme is Rule yourself in to demonstrate that adopters can be of all ages and walks of life.

Adopters must be over 21, happy to make space in their life and home for a child, be patient, flexible and energetic, and determined to make a real difference to a child for a lifetime. There is no upper age limit for potential adopters. People from all ethnic origins and religions, disabled people, single people, unmarried couples, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people can all apply to adopt. Those without children and those who are parents already, and homeowners or those in rented accommodation can all also apply.

During Adoption Week, Cambridgeshire County Council will be holding an information session in Huntingdon for potential adopters. Anyone who is interested in attending can call 0800 052 0078 or visit www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/adoption for more information.

To help find families for children who are waiting to be adopted, staff regularly invite all approved adopters to special events to discuss potential matches with these children. The next event will take place in Adoption Week.

The adoption service will also be attending a national event where the details of local children waiting to be adopted will be introduced to potential adopters from around the country. The Adoption Register is also used to raise the profile of local children nationally.

Local Parish Councillor and King's Hedges County Councillor Andy Pellew said; "Here in Cambridgeshire there are around 40 children of all ages waiting for loving families. Events like 'National Adoption Week' are vital in raising their profile and helping the County Council match the needs of these children with the good parents these children deserve and I welcome Cambridgeshire County Councils' commitment to this years event."

"The National Government has worked hard in removing many of the barriers that had previously prevented people from adopting, and it's good to see these national campaigns raising the profile of this very important issue. The rewards for those who adopt a child are huge; this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to transform a child's life forever."

Huppert Calls For Climate Change Debate After Clarke’s Blog


Cambridge MP Julian Huppert has called for a Parliamentary debate on evidence informed policy after Cambridgeshire County Council Leader, Nick Clarke doubted the existence of global warming.

Julian challenged Andrew Lansley, Leader of the House of Commons on whether he agreed with Cllr Clarke’s view today (Thursday, October 25).

He told Mr Lansley that Cllr Clarke had written that global warming may not exist and if it does it is not caused by human activity.

“He describes it as a theory espoused by Bourgeois left wing academics,” he said. “Does the Leader of the House join me in condemning this irresponsible and anti-scientific position and will he find time for a debate on evidence informed policy?”

Mr Lansley refused to back Cllr Clarke’s view on climate change but defended his right to have his own opinion.

Referring to the work of the scientists at the Cambridge-based British Antarctic Survey, Mr Lansley said that when one speaks to them it “amply illustrates the character of climate change, what is going on and indeed the threat that it poses”.

Cllr Clarke said in his blog that climate change science was “not backed up with facts” after Met Office figures showed there had been no discernible rise in global temperatures in the last 16 years.

Later Julian said: “I am pleased that Mr Lansley does not feel that Cllr Clarke spoke for all Conservatives in doubting the existence of global warming.

“Cllr Clarke and his Conservatives on the county council have made it abundantly clear in recent months that they don’t take this threat seriously. This flies in the face of scientific evidence and I hope the government will take the opportunity to debate this issue so that this evidence can be brought to the fore.”

UK's First Glimmer Of Economic Recovery Welcomed By Huppert


News that the UK has pulled out of recession with one per cent growth in the last quarter has been welcomed by Cambridge MP Julian Huppert.

“This is very good news,” he said. “Our economy is moving in the right direction and I am delighted that the Olympics and Paralympics had such a positive effect on the summer’s GDP figure - as they also did to people's happiness and wellbeing.

“It is important to realise, however, that we still have a long way to go. We are pulling the UK out of a deep economic recession brought on by huge borrowing and poor financial planning by the previous government; it will be a slow recovery. The problems in Europe are not helping, but I am pleased we are managing despite that.

“I am also pleased the Cambridge has managed to weather this recession better than most. We have seen unemployment remain consistently low - it has never been as high as it was at the time of the General Election - and companies are still confident enough to be able to offer new jobs. The city has managed to buck the trend and I am hopeful that those who still find themselves out of work will soon see their fortunes improving.”

UKIP Plays "Fast And Loose" With East Of England’s Research Budget

Andrew Duff MEP

Local Lib Dem MEP Andrew Duff has slammed attempts by UKIP to slash EU cash headed for local universities.

Under the current EU research budget, the UK has received almost £500 million a year, nearly 10% of the national science budget. But during a vote on the new long-term EU budget this week in Strasbourg, UKIP supported an amendment to reduce this funding for the new programme from 2014.

Commenting local MEP Andrew Duff said;

"It's scandalous that UKIP has voted to slash EU cash for some of the research projects in our local universities including Cambridge.

"Their claim that they are standing up for British interests is laughable."

"Almost 10% of British funding for science projects comes from the EU research budget, which is why it is vital for many of our local universities. For example Cambridge University recently received €97.8 million of grants for 215 separate science projects."

"UKIP have shown they have no regard for our universities and the excellent research they do"  

Dr Joanna Newman, Director of the UK Higher Education International Unit said that if Europe is to meet its Europe 2020 objectives for growth and jobs, of which the Innovation Union is a central element, the EU needs to ensure that strategic commitments to research and innovation are adequately reflected in its long term budget, the so-called Multi-annual Financial Framework (MFF).

"In the current economic climate, the EU must look at ways to stimulate future economic growth and jobs. As its own Europe 2020 strategy states, the Innovation Union has been placed at its heart recognising the role of innovation and research in stimulating growth and jobs.

"Therefore the EU should be willing to shift its budgetary priorities to reflect its focus on innovation and research, by, for example, re-prioritising funds from the Common Agricultural Policy and other areas to meets it Europe 2020 targets," Dr Newman said.

MEPs this week voted on a resolution on the so called "Multi-annual Financial Framework", which sets out the European Parliament's priorities for EU funding from 2014 - 2020. UKIP's political group in the Parliament tabled an amendment to the text calling for cut in the money for, amongst other things, the Horizon 2020 programme, the EU's science and R&D programme after 2013.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Brook-Gordon's Campaign Pays Off As Disabled Access Improved


Workmen moved in to improve access for the disabled on Cambridge’s Huntingdon Road after a sustained campaign by councillor, Belinda Brooks-Gordon.

Cllr Brooks-Gordon who represents Castle ward on Cambridgeshire County Council, took up the fight to help wheelchair user Ian Howell and other disabled residents living on the NIAB development.

They were finding it difficult to make the short trip from their homes to the garage shop in Huntingdon Road because the lack of a dropped kerb on the north side of Whitehouse Lane meant they had to go in the road.

Ian, of Kings Court, who suffers from Cerebral Palsy was worried about going out on his own for fear that he might fall out of his wheelchair.

When workmen finally arrived to install the new kerb, Cllr Brooks-Gordon, who suffers from Lupus and is registered disabled, put on a hard hat to make sure that the job was finished.

She said: “I have campaigned tirelessly for this work to be carried out and I am delighted it has finally been done.

“It might seem a very simple issue but for disabled people who rely on a wheelchair the lack of this drop kerb has meant they have had to go into the road to get to the shop. This was totally unacceptable and fraught with danger.”

Cllr Brooks-Gordon Puts On A Hard Hat To Check The Work
Outside The NIAB Development

Cambridge MP Julian Huppert’s Bill To Save Pubs And Shops Gets Second Reading


Cambridge MP Julian Huppert’s Bill giving greater protection to pubs and independent shops receives its second reading in Parliament on Friday (October 26).

The Local Services (Planning) Bill has been drawn up after the idea was suggested by a number of city residents.

If given the go-ahead it would give power to planning authorities across England and Wales to prevent the demolition or change of use of a pub or local independent shop without planning permission. Planning permission would also be needed before the premises or land could be used for a supermarket.

The new Act would come into force two months after it were passed and lead to an amendment of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

Julian said: “This Bill gives our pubs and independent shops the support they need to survive. Too often we are seeing these sites used for housing or other development. Once they are lost, they are lost forever.

“This changes the face of our city and towns and cities across the country. We need to give more power to local authorities to make the decisions that directly affect their residents; this Bill gives them that power.”

The Bill follows the so-called Cambridge Amendment which the Liberal Democrats took to the House of Lords last year calling on the government to change the law in this area under its planning reforms.

The full text of the Bill is available here (via Google Docs).

Government Decision To Delay Badger Cull Welcomed By Cambridge MP

Julian Joins Queen Guitarist Brian May Who Is Supporting
The Drive To Protect Badgers From A Government Cull

A government decision to delay a planned badger cull has been welcomed by Cambridge MP Julian Huppert.

Julian has always maintained that a cull should not take place unless that there is absolute certainty that it will prevent the spread of bovine tuberculosis in cattle, and no other working alternative.

Julian has received numerous letters from constituents concerned about the government’s plans for a badger cull.

He met with leading animal welfare and conservation groups, including the Badger Trust, RSPCA and League Against Cruel Sports, to discuss the issue in depth.

And last week he met Queen guitarist Brian May who is supporting the campaign to save badgers from the cull and who was in the Commons yesterday to hear the news that it had been postponed.

He has promised to push for an evidence-based approach to this issue while discussing alternative methods of tackling the problem.

“I have continually maintained the position that I do not want any animal to be killed unnecessarily as, as a scientist, I believe that it is vital that any decisions made regarding this issue should be based on reliable evidence,” he said.

“My view has always been that we need more evidence, both to check that we can be certain that if a cull is carried out that it will be effective, and to see if an alternative, such as a vaccine would be better. So far, the evidence is not there. Culling may or may not have the desired effect, but we need to be far more sure.

“I therefore welcome the statement about the postponement of the cull. It would have been foolish in the extreme to go ahead with it,

“Bovine TB does continue to be a very serious problem, however, and something must be done to prevent its spread so that we can avoid the mass destruction of cattle herds which may be affected. The financial impact is also devastating with £91 million being spent by the taxpayer last year alone to tackle this problem.

“But the government should not just revive its badger cull proposals next summer; before that, serious work must be done to look at alternative methods to protect cattle from TB.”

MEPs Call For Better Passenger Rights


Each year over 25 million Brits choose to go on holiday elsewhere in Europe, using planes, trains, buses and boats.

MEPs will today vote in favour of further strengthening passenger rights, in particular obliging carriers to inform passengers about their already existing rights.

Commenting ahead of the vote on Tuesday (23rd Oct) evening, local MEP Andrew Duff , said:

"Guaranteeing rights for passengers is key to encouraging people to travel within the UK and across Europe.

It is a real shambles that many people are not aware of already existing EU rights when facing delays, cancellations and luggage problems during their trips by plane and train.

Passengers must be better informed about their rights, starting when purchasing their tickets but also in departure and arrival halls.

The EU should also look at more price transparency, in particular with regard to online airfares, better protection of passengers in case of insolvency and more accessibility and assistance to individuals with reduced mobility."

Passenger rights in the EU:

http://europa.eu/youreurope/citizens/travel/passenger-rights/index_en.htm

New passenger rights for waterborne and bus/coach transport will enter into force in December 2012 and March 2013 respectively.

The Commission is currently planning to come forward with a revision of air passenger rights by the end of 2012 or early in 2013.

Andrew Duff Regrets ACAA Vote By EU Parliament

Andrew Duff MEP

Following the vote on the controversial EU-Israel Agreement on Conformity Assessment and Acceptance of Industrial Products (ACAA) Andrew Duff said:

"I regret that this agreement on Israeli pharmaceuticals has been approved by the Parliament - although it is a good thing that Parliament as a whole was finally able to take a decision on this controversial question that had been blocked in committee for more than four years.

"I do not think that all the legal uncertainties surrounding ACAA have been resolved. And I trust that the Israeli government will not interpret this decision as being an expression of moral or political support for its refusal to make progress on a peaceful settlement of the Palestinian question".

Travel Plan Plus Newsletter Issue 29/ November 2012


In this issue of the newsletter;

  • An Interesting Year,
  • Busway Hits The Headlines Again And Again,
  • Ben Hayward Help Cyclists Prepare for Winter,
  • Get Motorcycling And Scootering,
  • RSC Health Week,
  • Abcam Health Week,
  • Qualcomm Commuter Stand, and
  • Cambridge Science Park Railway Station Consultation Events
The newsletter is available here (from the TP+ website), or here (via Google Docs).

Superfast Campaign Calls For Surge Of Support In Cambridgeshire



The superfast campaign for better broadband across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough is calling for a surge of support to show record levels of demand in the closing stages of registrations.

Connecting Cambridgeshire is one of the fastest growing broadband campaigns in the country and is expected to reach a milestone of 20,000 registrations in the next few weeks.

Households and businesses are being urged to demonstrate there is countywide demand for better broadband by registering for the campaign at www.connectingcambridgeshire.co.uk before the end of December, when a supplier will be selected.

More than 80 Broadband Champions are helping villages and parishes with the final push for local support, as well as gathering examples of how communities and home-based businesses will benefit from being able to access better broadband.

The complex bidding process is on track to select the supplier able to make the maximum investment in rolling out superfast broadband (min. 25Mbps) to at least 90% of homes and businesses with better broadband (min 2 Mbps) for all other premises in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough by 2015. Planning for the roll-out will begin in January 2013, but it is too early to say which areas will benefit first.

Cambridgeshire County Council and Peterborough City Council as well as the Government body Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) have together committed up to £30 million for the Connecting Cambridgeshire project to bring better broadband access to as many places as possible.

Cambridgeshire County Councillor Ian Bates, Cabinet Member for Growth and Planning, said: "We need everyone to support this registration campaign so the whole county can benefit from better broadband. Reliable internet access is becoming part of everyday life in our homes, schools, health and public services, and it is vital for our businesses and economy to thrive.

"We are getting close to selecting the supplier to roll-out superfast broadband across Cambridgeshire and we are determined to get the best investment we can to improve connectivity for all."

The Connecting Cambridgeshire project is being supported by local councils and partners in business, health and education.

Councillor Nick Wright, South Cambridgeshire District Council's Cabinet Member for Economic Development, said: "Residents and businesses have already shown impressive support for this campaign, but if you are yet to log on and sign up please make sure you take the time to do so before the end of the year. Slow broadband access is a constant frustration in rural areas of South Cambridgeshire and every registration helps to bring better broadband a step closer for communities."

Councillor Jason Ablewhite, Executive Leader and Portfolio Holder for Economic Development at Huntingdonshire District Council, said: "Broadband infrastructure is so critical in districts such as Huntingdonshire if we are to play our part the high-tech global economy of the future. I urge all our businesses and residents to demonstrate that they want and need access to superfast broadband."

Councillor Tom Kerby, who leads on Economic Development at East Cambridgeshire District Council, said: "There has been huge support for the campaign so far but we all know more people should register if we are to make a difference. In East Cambridgeshire, superfast broadband has the potential to transform the way businesses operate and will ensure local jobs and growth are created to support our economy."

Councillor Chris Seaton, Fenland District Council's Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for the Economy, said: "Better broadband provision is absolutely vital for Fenland's future economic development. It is particularly important for our rural communities, many of whom still have comparatively poor access to services and information. The more people who register their support for this campaign, the greater our chances of getting the service we urgently need."

People who cannot register online at www.connectingcambridgeshire.co.uk, can pick up a Freepost reply form in leaflets and flyers widely available in libraries and council offices.
Anyone interested in helping with the campaign in their area, can email contact@connectingcambridgeshire.co.uk for more information.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Cambridge MP Huppert Backs Call To Give City Council Staff Living Wage

Julian Huppert MP

A call for Cambridge City Council workers to be paid at least the living wage has been backed by the city’s MP Julian Huppert.

He gave his support to a motion being brought before the council on Thursday (October 25) to raise the minimum pay for council staff to the living wage of £7.20.

In a letter to Cambridge City Council Leader, Tim Bick, Julian said: “In a city such as Cambridge where living costs can be high, it is extremely pleasing to see the Liberal Democrat group on the city council pushing for the introduction of the living wage for council staff.

“The living wage clearly brings economic benefits to recipients who might otherwise be earning less. However, a living wage can also be an attractive benefit for employers to offer to staff; companies and organisations which already pay a minimum living wage have reported higher employee retentions rates and lower absenteeism.

“The evidence available suggests that the introduction of a Living Wage is not only good for employees but also makes good business sense.”

But he added that he is also aware that many local businesses are facing tough times in the present economic climate.

“I am well aware of the fact that, for some businesses the introduction of a living wage for employees would not be feasible,” he said. “However, I hope they will at least consider the possibility of introducing a living wage for their staff.”

He said that he was delighted that the city council was setting an example for other organisations in the city and hoped that they would look at the possibility of introducing the living wage.

Cambridge Urban Festival 2012 - 1st November 12.00 – 6.00pm


On 1st November, young people will have the opportunity to participate in a variety of “Street” Sports and activities at the first Cambridge Urban Festival to be hosted in the Grafton Centre car park.

The Festival will run from 12.00 – 6.00pm, providing FREE activities such as:

  • Streetwise Soccer
  • Ramps for skateboards, BMX and scooters
  • Breakdancing
  • Boxing
  • Freeland BMX
  • Graffiti

This has been made possible through the generous support of the Grafton Centre and Cambridge City Council’s Parking Services, and is one of the first such events in the Country to be hosted in a multi-storey car park.

The Festival is being planned and run by Cambridge City Council’s Sports Development, the Children and Young Peoples Participation Service and the City’s Parking Services, including the involvement of a group of 20 young people.

After initial discussions between the City Council’s Sports Development team and Parking Services, it was recognised that the Grafton East multi storey car park car park offered not only a superb venue but a fantastic opportunity for a joined-up approach between Council services for this event to take place.

Recent consultation with young people, carried out by the City Council Community Development Department, highlighted a wish for greater access to sports activities and provision of events / Festivals targeted at young people and the car park offered the location.

The Cambridge Urban Festival is a direct response to these views provided by young people. The City Council hopes that the success of this Festival will mean that it is the first of many such events targeted at young people in the future.

Recruitment Of Top Science Graduates For Schools Welcomed By Cambridge MP


Cambridge MP Julian Huppert has welcomed a government initiative to encourage top science graduates to take up teaching posts in the country’s schools.

The graduates will be offered £20,000 scholarships to train as computer science teachers.

Tough new requirements are being introduced for the subject knowledge and attributes of the new recruits who will be part of a project to train around 500 computer science teachers through a Network of Computer Science Teaching Excellence.

Julian said: “This is an excellent initiative to improve science teaching in our schools. It   should bring huge benefits not only furthering youngsters’ understanding of the world around them but encouraging them to take the subject further.

“By encouraging top graduates to consider teaching as a career, we are building secure foundations for the future which will help to produce highly skilled scientists to take forward this country’s research and development capabilities.

“Science is so important to our country’s economy and yet many youngsters have failed to be inspired resulting in them dropping the subject after GCSE.”

Lib Dems Call For Parking Profits To Pay For Shuttle Bus


Cllr Sarah Whitebread
(LD, Market)

Liberal Democrats have called for the £800,000 profit from residents’ parking schemes in Cambridge to be used to pay for the city centre shuttle bus.

The bus was axed by the Conservative-run Cambridgeshire County Council in April last year despite 67,076 passenger journeys the year before and more than 1,000 signatures on petition calling for the service to be saved.

It costs the county council around £100,000 to subsidise the bus and Lib Dems claim it could be financed out of profits from the council’s on-street parking schemes.  

City centre councillors Colin Rosenstiel and Sarah Whitebread put forward the idea at a city and county council joint traffic committee meeting and it received unanimous support.

Cllr Whitebread said: "The surplus from the residents parking charges could be used to fund the city centre shuttle eight times over.

“It is unfair that the council charges residents such high premiums for residents’ parking but does not use the profits for anything that will directly benefit them"

Cllr Rosenstiel added: "The city centre shuttle was a vital lifeline service to provide access to the city centre for people of limited mobility and to link the shops across the city centre.

“The county council should use some of the money taken from more mobile people accessing the city centre to help those less able to do so, residents and visitors alike."

The traffic committee’s suggestion will now go to Cambridgeshire County Council’s Cabinet for their consideration."


Cambridge MP Huppert Quizzes Government On New Cancer Treatment


MP Julian Huppert has quizzed the government on the action it is taking to make sure breast cancer patients benefit from the latest treatment trialled at Cambridge’s Addenbrooke’s Hospital.

The technique, called intensity modulated radiotherapy treatment (IMRT), works by targeting a tumour with more precise doses of radiation while minimizing the damage to surrounding healthy tissue. It has been shown to have reduced side effects and improved cosmetic outcomes.

Julian reminded Parliament that the first UK clinical trials of IMRT were carried out at Addenbrooke’s Hospital funded by a Breast Cancer Campaign.

 And the government is launching a new £15 million fund which could provide thousands more patients with access to the advanced technique.

Julian asked Health Minister, Anna Soubry: “How many breast cancer patients a year can benefit from IMRT and how will she ensure they all manage to do so?”

 Ms Soubry said: “We know that nine per cent of all radical radiotherapy treatments should be delivered using forward planned IMRT and this forward planned IMRT should be used to benefit breast cancer patients.

“A survey of radiotherapy centres was carried out in preparation for the new fund and it showed that 26 per cent of activity was being delivered using forward planned IMRT.”

She offered to investigate the matter further and give more details in writing if Julian wished.

Julian said later: “It is vitally important that cancer patients have access to the best treatment that we can provide. This new treatment provides targeted radiotherapy to where it is needed making it less destructive and producing less uncomfortable side effects.

“I want to make sure that the money that the government is investing in this new treatment benefits as many people as possible across the country and is not restricted to just a few pilot centres.”

Monday, 22 October 2012

URGENT (Unlock Democracy): A Storm Is Brewing ...


The Speaker of the House of Commons is attempting to block moves to publish the names of MPs’ landlords under a freedom of information request. He is arguing that this is on security grounds, although it would be perfectly possible to publish the names without having to publish addresses.

It seems as if we’ve been here before, with the expenses scandal in 2009. We want to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past; will you sign our letter to John Bercow demanding he agrees to publish the list?

http://action.unlockdemocracy.org.uk/bercow

The scandal in 2009 was as much about the attempted cover up as it was about the expenses abuses themselves. Far from the gaze of public scrutiny, the system had been left to fester.

There are serious questions being asked about whether MPs are continuing to milk the system by renting out one property they own (often initially purchased under the old expenses system) while getting the taxpayer to pay for rented accommodation elsewhere. It has even been alleged that it is possible for MPs to rent out properties to each other, and use the new system to make a profit. We can’t make an informed judgement on this, and how the system could be improved, unless the identities of landlords are published.

If there are any major abuses going, it would be far better for parliament to come clean about them now, rather than for them to emerge years later with the parliamentary authorities fighting publication of the list every step of the way. If we have learned nothing else from 2009’s expenses scandal, it is this.

We want to get as many people to sign our letter to John Bercow as possible by next Tuesday. We will be presenting it to him on Wednesday, so we need you to add your name now:

http://action.unlockdemocracy.org.uk/bercow

With public trust in the political system at such a low, we can’t afford parliament and Speaker Bercow open up yet another self-inflicted wound. Let’s nip it in the bud right away.

All the best,

Peter Facey

Taxis May Get Go-Ahead To Bypass Diversion During Roadworks


Taxis could be given the go-ahead to travel directly to the station along Cambridge’s Hills Road avoiding a diversion set up while roadworks are taking place.

The move follows complaints from Cambridge Liberal Democrats after taxi passengers were facing increased fares from drivers forced to use the lengthy diversion.

Cambridge City Councillors, Jean Swanson and Colin Rosenstiel raised the issue with Cambridgeshire County Council’s highways department asking for permission for taxi drivers to use the private bus way.

But this was refused on the grounds that it would have involved driving over private land. Lib Dems do not accept this excuse, however, but claim it will not be overcome in time to make a difference during the present roadworks.

After further discussions officers promised to allow access only for taxis and buses to the railway station via Hills Road and Station Road. But Hills Road will remain closed to other inbound traffic which will continue to use the diversion.

The change was due to be implemented before the weekend but now notices are expected to go up in the city today (Monday, October 22) announcing the new regulation.

Cllr Swanson, who represents Queen Edith’s ward, said: “Taxi customers were facing fare increases of up to five pounds because drivers weren’t able to take a direct route to the station.

“This wasn’t acceptable and we were determined to find another way. I am pleased to say that common sense has prevailed and the county council has created access only for buses and taxis.”

Cllr Rosenstiel, who represents Market ward, added: “Traffic has been very heavy along the diversion route and the taxis themselves were adding to the congestion and charging customers high fares.

"Fortunately, the county council has finally listened to our concerns and we have found a solution which will allow direct access to the station for taxis until the road works are completed.

“It is very disappointing, however, that this was not implemented before the weekend as promised."

Cambridge MP Calls On Residents To Take Up Energy Saving Grants


Cambridge residents on low incomes are being urged to make sure they benefit from funds available from the government to cut their fuel bills this winter.

The call comes from the city’s MP Julian Huppert as Big Energy Saving Week is launched across the country today (Monday, October 22).

With energy companies announcing price rises of up to nine per cent, it is more vital than ever for people to take advantage of the £1.1 billion of Warm Home Discounts available nationally and the £48 million available from the Warm Front Scheme which has to be spent before January, said Julian.

“The rising cost of energy along with spiralling food prices is making it incredibly hard for many people especially those on low incomes,” said Julian. “It is vitally important, therefore, that residents take advantage of the help that is available.

“Big Energy Saving Week offers the ideal opportunity to find out more about how you can make your home more energy efficient while at the same time reducing the money spent on heating.

“More than two million low income households can be helped each year by government grants and I want to make sure that Cambridge residents apply for the money to which they are entitled.”

Further information on the Warm Home Discount can be found here: http://www.decc.gov.uk/en/content/cms/funding/whds/whds.aspx and details on the Warm Front scheme can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/warm-front-scheme

Friday, 19 October 2012

Child Protection Issues Will Be Tackled, Promises County Council



Inspectors from OfSTED - the Office for Standards in Education - have praised many aspects of child protection arrangements in Cambridgeshire, but rated the overall effectiveness of the County Council's provision as inadequate.

They highlighted inconsistencies in case recording, and variable practice in teams. Inspectors particularly noted shortcomings in a former temporary team operating in the north of the county.

Inspectors also found some cases where children were not visited frequently enough, and examples of where procedures for recording child protection investigation decisions were not always followed.

Work has already started to address these weaknesses. Many of the issues raised were already being tackled when inspectors arrived, and an action plan to accelerate improvements is already in place.

Inspectors also praised many areas of provision. They said the Council worked hard to improve the services they provide to children and families, and praised the early effectiveness of the new social work model Social Work - Working for Families.

They particularly highlighted the work of children's centres, schools and professionals who work with families, particularly highlighting the Multi-Agency Referral Unit (MARU) and Contact Centre as first points of contact.

They said 'ambitious' leadership was exercised across the Council, including elected Members, the chief executive and through engaging key stakeholders.

"This is very clearly demonstrated through the determination to change traditional social work practice through the introduction of the new social work units," said their report.

"The investment in all staff to be trained at different levels in systemic practice is impressive. The political will to preserve child protection services and to improve them through a number of spend to save initiatives provides a strong foundation on which to complete these ambitious plans."

Cllr David Brown
(CON, Burwell)
Cllr David Brown, Cambridgeshire County Council's Cabinet Member for Children and Young People's Services said: "We accept the findings of the OfSTED inspection, which identified much that is good about the authority's arrangements to protect children, but also weaknesses.

"It is important to recognise that this was not an inspection of Children and Young People's Services as a whole. It was an inspection of a small - albeit very important - aspect of what we do.

"The key weakness concerning the practice of the team in the north had been identified by the authority and actions were taken to review the cases concerned and some staffing changes were made. The cases are now back on track and appropriate action is being taken.

"An improvement plan was drawn up immediately after the inspection and actions have been taken to address the most immediate issues identified by the inspectors.

"The findings reflect why we are in the process of making fundamental changes to how children's social care is delivered. Practice and recording have been too inconsistent and this will be improved by the new ways of working that are being introduced. The inspectors reported that they could see the positive difference that these changes are already making."


Government Investment Boost For The East Of England– Andrew Duff MEP

Local Parish Councillor Andy Pellew and
Andrew Duff MEP
The Regional Growth Fund will be investing in the East of England it was announced today [Friday].

This is part of the third round of investment of £1.05bn by the Regional Growth Fund. The Regional Growth Fund is overseen by Liberal Democrat Leader and Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg and has already announced £2.4bn of investment in the first two rounds.

Commenting, Andrew Duff said:

"Today's announcement is another massive investment in new jobs for Peterborough, South Norfolk, Chelmsford and South Cambridgeshire It is a vote of confidence in our area and a well-deserved boost for all the people involved in securing this investment.

"Instead of concentrating on the City of London like the previous government did, Liberal Democrats in the Coalition Government are doing everything possible to make the East of England the economic powerhouse it deserve to be.

"For too long, our economy has been lopsided and over-reliant on financial speculators in only one Square Mile. Liberal Democrats are doing the right thing to rebalance the economy: by investing in areas like ours through the Regional Growth Fund.

"This is only one part of what the Coalition Government is doing: it has also set up a Green Investment Bank that will help create sustainable jobs, overseen an 80% increase in apprentices and given young people the chance to earn or learn through the £1bn Youth Contract."

Commenting further, Leader of the Liberal Democrats and Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg said:

"This £1bn boost for growth in towns and cities across England is creating jobs that will last in the parts of the country that need it most.

"In tough economic times the Regional Growth Fund is good value for taxpayers' money - this £1bn round of the fund is pulling in £6bn of private sector investment.

"I have seen for myself the real difference this makes on the ground - from iconic businesses like Eddie Stobart expanding in Widnes and creating 3,450 jobs in the local area, to the Sunderland car parts factory, Unipres who have used their funding to buy a new 3,000 tonne press, letting them accelerate production and take on an extra 316 people.

"The Regional Growth Fund is working, on track and supporting businesses to create jobs and grow the economy."

Cambridge MP Huppert Aids Push To Get Green Bank Full Borrowing Powers


MP Julian Huppert has helped to win assurances from the government that the Lib Dem-led Green Investment Bank will be able to borrow from the capital markets.

Julian backed an amendment to the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill aimed at clarifying the position so that the bank would be more than just a fund spending money allocated by the government

The amendment was proposed by former Energy and Climate Change Minister, Lib Dem Chris Huhne after a motion calling on the government to “expand the bank’s scale and remit as fast as possible” was backed at the Lib Dem autumn conference.

In response, ministers provided reassurance that the government would act to give the bank full borrowing powers.

Now Julian is hoping ministers will bring forward a government amendment when the Bill reaches the Lords which will clarify the position.

Julian said: “The Green Investment Bank has the potential to drive forward the green economy, helping to create new jobs and further new technologies. But it can only do that effectively if it has the powers of a proper bank to borrow and lend rather than being limited by the government.

“We need this commitment written in law so that this and future governments allow this bank to operate as it was intended. It has enormous potential to become a real asset giving green organisations the borrowing power to thrive and grow.”

The full wording of the amendment signed by Julian reads:
 Page 3, line 24 [Clause 4], at end add - 
 ‘(7) Subject to approval by the European Commission of the State aid notification concerning the establishment of the UK Green Investment Bank, it is the duty of the Secretary of State to provide the European Commission with State aid notification concerning the intention to allow the Bank to borrow, including borrowing from the capital markets. 
(8) The duty in subsection (7) must be fulfilled not later than 31 December 2013.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Lib Dems Unite Against Outsourcing To G4S

Rupert Moss-Eccardt With Local Parish
Councillor Andy Pellew

Police and Crime Commissioner candidates, Rupert Moss-Eccardt (Cambridgeshire) Christopher Townsend (Hertfordshire), and Linda Jack (Bedfordshire) have today united against the outsourcing of police services to G4S.

Given recent events, such as the Olympics fiasco and the lack of public accountability, they do not have confidence that G4S can handle police support work.

Instead they are calling for a collaborative approach between Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire, in order to provide cost efficient police support services.

“We are aiming to lead the way here, the key is working together across our three counties and that is why, along with my Lib Dem colleagues, I support this proposal,” added Rupert Moss-Eccardt.

“Unfortunately Conservative candidates are obsessed with privatising key public services regardless of whether it leads to the kind of chaos we saw in the run up to the Olympics. We say hands off our police forces."

Christopher Townsend believes the whole process regarding outsourcing has been mishandled from the start. "Whilst alternatives are possible at this stage, the vast majority of work has focused on an outsourcing arrangement with G4S. There is no developed Plan B, this is despite there being 2 years during which plans could have been developed and it is being left to Police and Crime Commissioners to pick up the pieces."

He added: “I don't see how, after two years, there is only one option on the table? I feel badly let down by the existing leadership of the Hertfordshire Police Authority,”

Linda Jack, who warned against the doomed Beds CC outsourcing contract with HBS when she was Unison Branch Secretary said: “I don't see why the same savings allegedly offered by G4S taking over the support services cannot be made through the three services working together, after all, there will be no imperative to make a profit for shareholders."

Tories Attacked For “Closing The Door” On Democracy


Cllr Ian Manning
(LD, East Chesterton)

An opportunity for residents to have greater influence over county decision-making has been blocked by the Conservatives.

The ruling Tory group on Cambridgeshire County Council rejected a call to lower the number of petition signatures required to trigger a council debate.

Their decision came despite support from opposition parties and independent councillors who wanted to see the figure reduced from 15,000 to 3,000.

Cambridgeshire County Councillor, Lib Dem Ian Manning, who represents Cambridge’s East Chesterton called for the change to encourage greater participation in local democracy.

“Conservative leader, Nick Clarke and his Tory group talk about opening up democracy so I gave them that chance,” said Cllr Manning. “But they have slammed the door shut in the public’s face.

“I want to encourage debate and participation, so that it isn’t just local politicians who influence council, but local people as well. It’s a shame the Conservatives don’t share the Liberal Democrat view that politics should be opened up to give the residents they were elected to serve a fair say.”

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Cambridge MP Huppert Welcomes Decision Not To Extradite Mckinnon

Cambridge MP Julian Huppert

MP Julian Huppert has welcomed the Home Secretary’s decision not to extradite computer hacker, Gary McKinnon to America.

Julian said: “I am delighted that the Home Secretary has seen fit to intervene in this case. This is excellent news.

“Mr McKinnon’s case is not clear cut. He is clearly unwell and needs to be treated with compassion. He has suffered 10 years of torment and I hope now he can start to get the help he so clearly needs.”

Julian has been fighting the extradition warrant against Mr McKinnon, who suffers from Aspergers Syndrome. He admits hacking into US government computers but claims he was looking for evidence of UFOs.

Julian has been in regular contact with Mr McKinnon’s mother, Janis Sharp and joined her in at 10 Downing Street in February to mark 10 years since his arrest in 2002.

He has also been fighting Mr McKinnon’s case through the Parliamentary Home Affairs Select Committee and it featured prominently in the recent inquiry into UK-US Extradition Treaty.

International expert in the field of Autism, Cambridge University-based Simon Baron- Cohen has given advice in the case.

Julian congratulated Home Secretary Theresa May in the House of Commons today for taking the correct decision at long last.

He said later: “This is an historic decision which I hope will lead the way for change.”

Cambridge MP Huppert Attacks Move To Pull Out Of European Policing Support


Cambridge MP Julian Huppert has attacked government plans which could see Britain pulling out of European policing and justice measures.

He fears the move would be a backward step in the international fight against drug trafficking and pedophilia, making it more difficult for British police to catch criminals who escape overseas or kick out foreign law-breakers from the UK.

The move has already been condemned by 13 former high-ranking UK police officers who are worried that it will put the public’s safety at risk.

Julian said: “These measures have been hugely successful in recent years in breaking up pedophile rings, preventing terrorism and bringing criminals who escape across borders to justice.

“We have to accept that the criminals who break the law on our streets don’t always stay on our streets and if we are to have a chance of bringing them to justice we have to co-operate with forces across Europe. Withdrawing from these measures would be short-sighted and ill-thought out.

“Unfortunately, some Conservatives are allowing their hatred of all things European to cloud their judgements. They have to step back and think about the repercussions of their actions on the people they have been elected to serve.  

“I accept that some of these measures are outdated and some need reform, like the European Arrest Warrant; but the police are adamant that many are essential for our national security and public safety. They are working with these measures on the ground and we should be listening to them.”

The UK can decide to opt out of all existing European measures for police and justice cooperation under the Lisbon Treaty – a move backed by 102 Conservative MPs. If the government decided to take this action, it may choose to try to negotiate to rejoin specific measures.

  • Julian has called on the government to encourage police forces across the country to study Cambridgeshire Chief Constable Simon Parr’s methods of working after he cut crime across the county by a fifth in two years and recruited 100 new officers against a backdrop of cuts to his budget.  He praised Mr Parr in the House of Commons yesterday (Monday, October 15) and suggested that Policing Minister, Damian Green might encourage other Chief Constables to follow Mr Parr’s lead.  

“Will he suggest that other chief constables look at that model?” asked Julian

Mr Green said: “It shows that good chief constables can decide how to deploy their resources effectively. The vast majority of them around the country are seeing crime fall in their areas, and that is what the public want.”

Later Julian said: “After joining Cambridgeshire Police just two years ago, Mr Parr has reduced crime significantly and recruited 100 new officers despite a 20 per cent cut in his budget.

“He should be congratulated for his excellent management skills which not only instills confidence in his force but also in the general public.”

The full wording of Julian’s question and Mr Green’s reply are as follows:

Dr Julian Huppert (Cambridge) (LD): Will the Minister join me in congratulating Cambridgeshire chief constable Simon Parr, both for reducing crime by about a fifth in two years and for announcing the recruitment of 100 new police officers? Will he suggest that other chief constables look at that model?

Damian Green: I am grateful to my hon. Friend for making that point. It shows that good chief constables can decide how to deploy their resources effectively. The vast majority of them around the country are seeing crime fall in their areas, and that is what the public want.