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District and County Councillor’s Monthly Report for Gamlingay Ward

by Bridget Smith on 4 April, 2018

Councillors Report – South Cambridgeshire District Council & Cambridgeshire County Council – April 2018

Your Councillors are always ready to help. If you have any questions about these – or indeed any other – matters, please do not hesitate to contact County Councillor Sebastian Kindersley on 01767 651982 or [email protected] or write to the Manor Barn, East Hatley, SG19 3JA. District Councillor Bridget Smith is on 01767 650510 or [email protected]  You can also follow your councillors on Twitter: @Cllrbridget @Seb4SouthCambs and Facebook: CllrBridget 

Fire Authority

The Home Secretary has accepted the ‘independent’ assessment of the Police & Crime Commissioner’s proposal to take over running the Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Fire & Rescue Service. This is another blow to local democracy – a well-run organisation with elected members from across Cambs & Peterborough at the top now becomes an adjunct to a political role which – one might think – has plenty to occupy itself already just with Policing. Slowly we are seeing the democratic element of our way of life being replaced by an American-lite style of presidential rule by decree. We have lost Councillor input into the Police Authority (gone), the Fire Authority (going, probably), Transport (gone to the Mayor) and Strategic Planning (also gone to the Mayor). It’s a worry. 

So, it was a shock to learn that the Police & Crime Commissioner is decommissioning all the rural police stations and actually closing some. Warranted Officers will now ONLY be based in the 4 major stations at Parkside, Huntingdon, Peterborough and Ely. The very expensive copper clad station at Cambourne – completed less than 10 years ago will have a mere 3 PCSOs rattling around in it though we do not imagine they will be there much as they have 60 villages to cover between them.

Gamlingay Fitness Centre

One consequence of the Gamlingay Village Primary School being run by the CAM Trust is that the Fitness Centre and associated MUGA will also come under their management. After 20 years of being run by a dedicated group of community volunteers the Trust will now take on all management responsibility. We are assured that there will be no reduction in public access to the centre and that all the staff will continue to be employed. Our thanks on behalf of the community to those people who have run it so effectively for so many years.

Survey of Little Heath

Thank you to all those residents of Little Heath who attended the meeting we arranged in the Eco Hub last month and to those people who completed the subsequent questionnaire. Everyone liv-ing in Little Heath will now have received another letter summarising the questionnaire and have been invited to a further meeting to investigate the setting up of a Residents’ Association solely concerned with making improvements to the unadopted road. We are well aware that there are a number of unadopted roads in and around the village in pretty poor condition which are causing damage to cars, impacting on emergency vehicle response times and in some cases causing delivery firms to refuse to deliver to some properties. The bottom line is that it is the residents’ or road owners’ responsibility to do any reparative works and not the local authority. We are of course always happy to do what we can to help.

The Cinques Survey

Bridget has also been visiting and surveying residents of the Cinques on behalf of the Neighbour-hood Plan Working Group to find out what they value about the Cinques and what they think could be improved. Not surprisingly the top line for change has been the speed at which cars drive through the Cinques and the rat running at speed along Drove Road by HGVs and commuter traffic. This is something which we can do something about. It is a nonsense that you can drive through the Cinques at 60mph but have to reduce to 50mph when you get to the Cross Roads so we shall be talking to the Parish Council about what measures could be put in place to improve the situation. Visibility at the Cross Roads is also a big concern and is just a matter of ensuring that the grass is regularly cut. On the positive side, residents without exception loved living in the Cinques, they really valued it quietness and isolation and the separateness from the main village. These are all factors that we shall do our very best to preserve.

Dennis Green

By the time you read this we should also have conducted a survey of Dennis Green along the same lines as The Cinques. If residents of our other outlying settlements at Heath Road and Pot-ton Road The Heath would like us to do something similar for them please do tell us. We are al-ways very pleased to create opportunities to talk to you and hear your views and hopefully do something to help you.

Robinson Court

By the time you read this we expect the shared equity and market housing at Robinson Court to be advertised on RightMove. We have done our best to give local residents an early heads up about this in order that they can get in quickly as it is housing secured for local people. The six flats to rent will be advertised quite soon so it is vital that you are registered on the Council’s Homelink in order to stand a good chance of being successful in securing one of these flats.

Northstowe and the future

The new town of Northstowe is coming along slowly with all five contractors now on site. 820 units have been given planning permission and there are currently 80 occupations.South Cambs is responsible for building the allotments, the orchard, pavilion and carpark this year. The Community Centre will be built by the Council at a later date but until then any community use is provided by the Primary School which will eventually be a 3 form entry school. The Secondary school design is underway. It will be a modular design like Cambourne and will be opening in September 2019.

Some of the planning applications for the new Town at Waterbeach are also coming into South Cambs. Cambourne West now has planning permission and we expect the Local Plan Inspector to agree a new village at Bourn Airfield – although the campaign against it has been long, well fought and may yet prevail. On top of this planned development the District Council’s failure to demonstrate a 5 year housing land supply means we also have the impact of 5,000 homes that are unplanned to absorb in South Cambs. It’s going to be busy – assuming developers can resourced both personnel and building materials. 

Designation

South Cambs has exceeded the threshold on quality of decision making at which they can be designated as a planning authority. This means that we are at risk of losing our status as a planning authority because we are judged to be so poor at making correct decisions. The threshold in question is that no more than 10% of planning appeals must be over turned by the planning inspector. We are one of 14 authorities in this position. It is now up to government whether they decide to remove our status and take over our planning role. If this happens then the council also loses the revenue from planning applications even though they still have to do all the work.

Referrals to Planning Committee

Many parish councils and councillors have been frustrated in the past 2 years by regular refusals of requests for planning applications to be decided by the planning committee at South Cambs. We have now learned that there is no log of local member requests and so only anecdotal evidence that local members’ requests are routinely denied. We are interested in how many requests from parish councils have been denied. We are now being told that once a 5 year housing land supply is secured that there will be more opportunities for applications other than the large unplanned speculative ones to be heard by the committee. We wait in hope.

We are also told that there will be a review of the scheme of delegation for the new combined planning service after April when the councils will look again at the types of applications which can be decided by officer delegated powers. Parish Councils will be involved in this review.

South Cambs Local Plan

Apparently, the Local Plan is almost done and the Council is currently registering the representations from the last consultations. 950 representations were received from S Cambs residents and 250 from City. We still have no indication of when it will be finally adopted. Nor, we suspect, does anyone else. It’s been an utter disaster.

Citizen’s Advice Bureau

We were recently informed about a resident who was turned away from the St Neots Citizen Advice Bureau and told to go to Cambridge. It has always been our understanding that residents of Gamlingay can go to St Neots or Biggleswade – as there is no CAB in S Cambs. We have contacted the Council about this as they give grants to a number of CABs on the understanding that we will have access when and where we need it. If anyone else has any problems like this please let us know.

Fraud

We continue to receive reports of incidents where fraudsters are phoning people pretending to be police officers, Microsoft, the telephone preference service or bank staff. They will try to convince their victim to give their bank details or withdraw large amounts of cash. This is a scam!

The police, banks and building societies will never ask you to do this. If you ever have doubts about someone phoning you, hang up, wait at least 5 minutes to ensure the line has been terminated and call the company back on an official number (check your bank card or a statement), never call the number the fraudster gives you. Further advice can be found at www.actionfraud.police.uk. To report fraud – call 999 if it is happening now, or 101 if it’s already happened.

Church Street

The worst potholes have been filled. Not very well, but better than nothing. Thank you to the many residents who sent us images of scuba divers appearing in potholes, people planting trees and plants in them, cars/lorries/buses disappearing into them, anglers sitting by them with a rod and  – today – a shark coming out of one. All very funny. There is an underlying problem with our road maintenance and it’s worse every year. We are told Cambridgeshire apparently only has 1,100 potholes – in which case most of them are in the Gamlingay Division parishes. Government has agreed an extra £1.6m for pothole repair but it’s not going to go far and it’s not going to address the fundamental problem – so we’ll be in the same situation (only worse, probably) next year. Keep reporting them tho please! As I said at the County’s last Council meeting – If it’s CCC policy to underfund highways maintenance and to allow ‘managed decline’ can it please be articulated so that I can inform my residents? (As if they hadn’t already noticed!)

Hatley Fete

This year’s Hatley Village Fete will be held on the Playing Field on Sunday 1st July. There will be the usual array of stalls, attractions and food and drink, including this year a “beer tent”. If you would like to have a stall at the fete it will cost you £10 for the pitch and early booking is recommended. Please contact [email protected] for further information and offers of help, prizes etc

Elections

District Council elections take place on May 3rd. Gamlingay will become a single member ward rather than a 2 member ward as it has been for many years. It will still have 1 County Councillor and 1 District Councillor. The villages of Croydon, Arrington and Hatley will move into the Mordens Ward and Little Gransden and Longstowe become part of the Caldecote Ward.

Got a problem? Issue? Something you’d like to discuss?

Your Councillors are here to help you. Please do feel free to contact us with comments, questions, problems or complaints. We hope we can help but if we can’t we are likely to know someone who can!    *****************************

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