Local elections 2017
A party political broadcast by the CONservatives…
Council leaders are warning of deep cuts to services despite nearly every local authority in England planning to raise council tax in 2017.
Increases of up to 4.99% are expected across the country, but libraries, bin collections and other services will still face funding gaps.
The Local Government Association says the cost of care for increasing numbers of elderly people is forcing up bills.
The government insists it is giving more money to councils.
The Department for Communities and Local Government said local authorities had been given a “historic” four-year settlement, giving them the certainty they needed to plan ahead, with almost £200bn available “to provide the services that local people want”.
Once again the CONservatives rise taxes for the people of Cambridgeshire…
The Gravy Train
We look forward to the MAJOR elections, in May 2017, at £70k a year for doing nothing, there plenty of candidates.
Reverse street light switch off and put more cash into gritting pleads Cambridgeshire county councillor Daniel Divine
Cllr Daniel Divine will make his plea for change at a full meeting of the county council on December 13.
In his motion he wants colleagues to acknowledge “that the gritting proposed is not adequate for the safety of Cambridgeshire residents.
“This council also believes that ensuring the roads remain open during periods of bad weather, particularly roads to local secondary schools, is crucial to ensuring the economic prosperity of the county.”
His motion asks the chief executive “to reinstate as many of the gritting routes from last year’s gritting plan as possible, using money from the council’s reserves to fund any shortfall above the budgeted cost, up to an additional £650,000”.
On street lights he says the decision to switch off lights in villages, towns and cities was wrong.
“Given the large number of concerns from residents, and especially those working shifts or unsociable hours, the decision should be reversed and the lights in residential areas should be kept on during the hours of darkness,” he says.
“In order to make savings, street lighting in the rural roads outside villages, towns and cities in Cambridgeshire can be switched off in accordance with current policy.”
He wants the council to “reverse the decision made on February 16 to switch off and/or dim the street lights throughout Cambridgeshire and to fund any budget shortfall from the general reserve”,
He also hopes future budgets can be accommodated to pick up the extra costs.
Cllr Divine said: “I’m sure residents want me to back both motions. I’m in favour, are you?”
Littleport councillor says “if people would stop driving too fast” the amount of accidents on Branch Bank and Padnal Bank would decrease
Branch Bank, Littleport.
Councillor Daniel Divine says he has working hard to try to tackle the growing number of accidents on these stretches of road.
His comments come after the latest collision left a driver trapped in a vehicle earlier today and follow the report by a resident who has seen 14 collisions there in just 10 weeks.
Cllr Divine emailed the Highways Agency last week having met with Bruce Heaps, a New River Bank resident.
Mr Heaps told him that his main concern in regards to the road is “the current speed limit of 40mph, which is being largely ignored by drivers.”
Mr Heaps also told Cllr Divine that he visited Geoff Hobbs, a local haulier that uses the road. The owner reportedly said that his drivers were not exceeding the speed limits, and that using this road saves him diesel.
Mr Heaps also explained that he had visited Ely police station to voice his concerns. Officers told him that heavy good vehicles should be doing 10mph less, and that they would monitor this road.
Cllr Divine has now written to the Highways Agency with the observation that “historically this road has had its share of accidents. Sadly this year there has been one fatality.
“In 2013, an 18-year-old was killed at Sandhill Bridge junction that is connected to this road.
“I know there was a £50,000 scheme to improve safety and visibility at the New River Bank junction.
“I met with the owners of The Caravan Park, and at peak times they have up to 100 people coming to stay, and when caravans pull out of their park, it’s highly dangerous.
“People from this park also cross the road to visit the pub, and the owners went on to say that there have been seven accidents.”
Cllr Divine said that both residents told him they are in favour of a speed camera, “as 40 mph signs do very little.
“I myself stood there for some time, and it is frightening; it’s used heavily by hauliers.”
In the letter Cllr Divine goes on to question the validity of a speed watch group survey carried out on 153 vehicles.
“Fourteen were travelling at 46mph in a 40 zone – the fastest was 60mph,” said Cllr Divine.
“A quarter of all vehicles were travelling in excess of 41mph, but this survey is not a true account.
“If a speed watch team stand there with a speed gun wearing yellow fluorescent jackets, every driver will naturally slow down.
“These surveys should be done with a hidden camera, to gather more accurate data.”
He added: “My concern is that more fatalities are likely to happen. Drivers simply need to drive with care and slow down, so what is the solution?”
September Update – County Council News
The Old Vicarage – Residential Care Home, Littleport
The County Council has been informed that the above named home intends to close within the next 28 days.
The Old Vicarage currently accommodates 9 residents. 5 are funded by the County Council, 2 are funded by other LA’s and 2 fund their own care. There are no outstanding Safeguarding issues at the home, However, the home is currently rated as “Requires Improvement” by CQC.
The local team are working with all of the residents at the home to source alternative care homes. Officers are working with the CQC and the home to ensure a smooth transition for all residents. Where possible the focus will be to retain friendship groups and move people who wish to move into the same home at the same time. Early discussions have already taken place with 2 other homes in Littleport who have both indicated that they are willing to accommodate people who may want to move to these care homes.
I spoke to a senior representative from the home at the end of last week and was informed that the home would not close until all of the current residents have found alternative accommodation. There is a weekly conference call with the CQC to ensure that the home‘s closure happens with the minimum of disruption to current residents and staffing levels are maintained to the required levels as residents move out.
The Locality Team have been in contact with the other funding LA’s so that they can work with us and the relatives of residents to arrange suitable alternative accommodation.
A revised school bus network will be in place in the pilot area (in the north part of East Cambridgeshire covering Ely, Soham and Littleport) from September 2016. We’ve written to the parents who were invited to take part in the consultation in the spring, setting out the results and summarising these changes. Letters to individual pupils, along with their specific journey details and new smartcard were sent out around 25 August. We expect to remove several vehicles from the network from September 2016, but still provide journeys for all students up to year 11, who qualify for transport.
Discussions with day centre users who travel into Ely Community Centre and Bedford House are continuing. These will be led by staff based at Ely Community Centre, who will try to get a full picture of what impact changing session times would have. Their work will be brought together in a report for County Councillors in November 2016. Changing times would allow us to provide the same number of journeys but with fewer vehicles, so it’s a good option if there are enough ways that we can reduce the impact on existing users. No decision will be made until November 2016.
There’ll be a new Flexible Minibus Service from January 2017. This will replace the current dial-a-ride and weekly bus routes 117/129, as well as the Coveney and Wardy Hill section of the 125 (Little Downham to Ely will continue). It will also provide journeys to day centres, either at the current times or possibly at new times (see the point above).
Sensory Garden Project, Ely Community Centre
This project was thought of by the staff at Larkfield who had been left an amount of money in a will by an Ely resident who was unknown to the services. They wanted to do something with it that would be of benefit to the service users and the idea for the Sensory Garden was born. The money was enough to get the project started, but not enough to finish it as we wanted so we approached Little Miracles, who base themselves on the premises of Ely Community Centre. They were very enthusiastic about the idea and brought in the extra funding needed.
We have put together a page on the project for ease of people to reference and you can find it at:
Work is expected to start on the construction of site compounds and enabling works in September 2016 with main construction work starting in late 2016 on Section 1; A1 Alconbury to Brampton Hut.
Highways England has secured funding to undertake Feasibility Studies to support Legacy projects for flood mitigation and improvements to local non-motorised user provision, including a new footbridge over the existing A14 to improve links between Conington and Fen Drayton.
Cambridgeshire County Council continues to liaise with Highways England and their Integrated Delivery Team on delivery of the approved scheme
Early option selection is being undertaken by Network Rail (NR) to identify possible scenarios for station provision at Soham. This is being considered in relation to the wider project to dual track the line between Soham and Ely.
Lasting Thoughts: “I am hopeful that the residents of The Old Vicarage, will find suitable accommodation, a smooth transition is vital , and most importantly be happy in their new surroundings”.
Its good to sponsor a hive or 2…
Honey from Littleport, Anvil Cottage Honey…
Teachers and pupils in Cambridgeshire have been given an end-of-term kick in the teeth – with the news that the Government is shelving plans for fairer school funding.
New Education Secretary Justine Greening has revealed that plans to bring in a fairer system in the 2017-18 academic year are being put on hold.
Through its Fair Deal For Our Schools campaign, backed by politicians, heads and unions, the News has been battling to get the cash formula changed – and last November, then-Chancellor George Osborne said the Government had agreed to take action and overhaul the system.
Ms Greening told MPs yesterday: “The Government is firmly committed to introducing fairer funding for schools, high needs and early years. This is an important reform, which will fairly and transparently allocate funding on the basis of schools’ and children’s actual needs, rather than simply on historic levels of funding tied to out of date local information”
But she added: “I am also confirming that, for 2017-18, we will retain the current minimum funding guarantee for schools, so that no school can face a funding reduction of more than 1.5% per pupil next year in what it receives through the local authority funding formula.
“To ensure that local authorities can start planning their budgets for next year with certainty, I do not intend to proceed, for 2017-18, with proposals to create a new central schools block, allow local flexibility on the minimum funding guarantee or to ring-fence the schools block within the dedicated schools grant.
“These will be covered, for 2018-19 and beyond, in my response to the first stage consultation in the autumn.”
Littleport Schools Update
The appointment of ALT (Active Learning Trust)as sponsor will hopefully be confirmed by the Regional Schools Commissioner hopefully within the next few weeks. Once that is confirmed we can begin implementation.
We already have confirmation from the Greenwood Dale Trust Board that they have formally withdrawn their sponsorship following its meeting on 18th March.
I know from my discussions with ALT on the update of its original proposal that they have identified that the early steps required include engagement with the local community.
By this they mean all elements including the Leisure Trust, prospective parents and the parish council.
I am sure that they would welcome the opportunity to do this at a village meeting and any other opportunities that may arise.
I have today called the DFE (Department For Education) to ask them to confirm as soon as they can that the changes have been approved and we can then ensure we get the messages into the community as soon as we can and listen to any concerns and hopefully engage their support for the success of the new schools
Headteacher of ‘deeply concerned’ Littleport Community Primary School receives backing from Cllr Daniel Divine over housing scheme
The headteacher of Littleport Community Primary School has spoken of his fears over children’s safety from hundreds of cars linked to a major new housing scheme, and has received the backing of his local Cllr Daniel Divine.The 250 house scheme has a single access road situated directly opposite to the Littleport primary school, funnelling hundreds of cars into an already congested area during mornings and afternoons. This is creating significant child safety concerns at the 435-pupil school.Headteacher John Cattermole said he had no problem with the housing development itself, but that he is “deeply concerned and strongly opposed to the location of the main entrance to this development.” He added that he believed that the safety of children will be compromised with lives put at serious risk.Cllr Divine, himself a father of two young children, said consideration is needed for an alternative access road, either an existing road used for industrial traffic from Wisbech Road or from a new route connecting to the A10 roundabout.
“It is clear there are legitimate and well placed concerns from Mr Cattermole and his school governors with the current proposed road access directly opposite Littleport Community Primary,” he said.
“More work is needed to ensure we do not endanger children accessing the school, and this requires a change in the main access route.”
Littleport Railway Station/Parking – Questions Unanswered
Dear Cllr Divine
I have spoken with East Cambridgeshire District Council (ECDC) officers and have now received more information regarding your questions about improvements to Littleport Station Car parking.
Why did the original deal announced by Steve Barclay in Sept 2013 break down?
The land prices quoted at the time did not make acquisition viable.
What alternative sites have been looked at and which of those are still viable?
The 2 sites originally looked at were not viable. An ECDC project team is being re-established to look at alternative sites. The first meeting of this group is being held on 9th December 2015.
Why 2 years on have we not found a solution to this problem yet?
Because of a lack of affordable land available.
How much has this delay cost the tax payer? how much has the working group/committee cost because of this delay? can I issue a FOI for this information if not freely given?
No cost to delay.
When will we have a clear and agreed solution and plan.
The project team will looked for alternative sites in the area, but a solution depends on availability of land and the cost of purchasing it so it is difficult to give timescales.
if the above is unknown what are the problems causing the delays?
The main issue causing delay is the lack of affordable land and the Council taking time to appraise the options available to move this forward.
How can individuals help?
No help is required from individuals. If the Council feels there is a case for individuals to become involved we will communicate this at the appropriate time.
How can individuals be kept up to date on what is happening with this issue? how are updates reported?
The project group will work up a communications strategy.
Who can we contact for updates or progress?
Tracey Harding 01353 665555 or email email@example.com
Can I issue a FOI request for copies of all committee minutes or working group minutes for the last 2-3 years on this matter? if so what is the working group / committee called.
All committee minutes are available online via www.eastcamb.gov.uk. The relevant committee is Asset Development Committee (also referred to as Asset Development Sub-Committee during the time referred to)
County Councillor questions why Sanctuary Housing leased strip of land in Littleport to former council leader Fred Brown
A county councillor has stepped into the row over access to community woodland in Littleport by calling for a lease with a former county councillor to be torn up.
Littleport’s ‘secret’ garden off Parsons Lane
County Councillor Daniel Divine is questioning why Sanctuary Housing offered the lease to former East Cambs Council leader Fred Brown.
Cllr Divine, who beat Mr Brown in the 2013 county council elections, is angry that a woodland garden off Limes Close and behind Parsons Lane is not more readily accessible to the public.
“In 2010, green space was identified in The Littleport Mater Plan, ‘to enable residents to connect with the natural environment’, and over £13,700 was raised to support the project,” he said.
“That project was administered by ECDC, and trees were planted.”
He said the land “has been forgotten about, and it seems to have been kicked into the long grass, and many residents that I have spoken to, simply didn’t know that this was a public open space”.
He said the primary access to the woodland garden was blocked off in 2010 by the former leader, Cllr Brown, after securing a lease from sanctuary Housing. Cllr Divine said he had been told it was because of “anti social behaviour, although records show that these incidents were only reported by one individual.
“I would question why was the access strip leased for a peppercorn rent, when most land that is leased is charged at the going rate? I feel that there is a need for transparency and honesty”.
Cllr Divine said: “This decision to lease the land at peppercorn rent was only for the benefit of one, and not a decision that would favour the community.
“In my opinion Sanctuary should cancel the lease on the access; there is a break clause after December 22 of this year, it makes sense, common sense.”
He added: “This woodland garden, yet to be named, by local residents, would be of much benefit to the community, local schools for educational purposes, and other interested groups.”
Once owned by East Cambs District Council, later sold to Hereward – then Sanctuary- Housing Association, the plot of land off Limes Close has become a wilderness.
Planning applications to build there (the application details have been withdrawn from the East Cambs website) were considered but then abandoned seven years ago by Sanctuary.
Four years ago youngsters planted 300 saplings there as part of a nationwide campaign involving school children in a “long last legacy” on the one acre site: Sanctuary announced they had ‘donated’ both the trees and the land to the community.
But in recent months parish councillors – and hundreds of residents- have taken to social media to question why the area is not being cared for and questioning its future.
A public meeting has already been held to challenge Sanctuary over the land and a second meeting is planned for Monday November 2 at 11am in the village hall.
Cllr Divine said this meeting would have a volunteer coordinator present “to advise on setting up Friends of The Woodland Garden group, and everyone who shares an interest is welcome to attend.”
Sanctuary has promised more detailed explanations of the lease at Monday’s meeting.
Currently working on a new website for Littleport called https://www.facebook.com/LittleportMatters
Barclays Bank (Littleport)
We’ve all known for sometime that Barclays Bank in Littleport would close, due to lack of use and the rise of online banking.
Important information relating to street lighting in Littleport
Following my earlier email, please find attached the second series of relevant maps. These maps are for the following roads:
White Hart Lane
Following my earlier email, please find attached the first series of relevant maps. These maps are for the following roads:
Henry Crabb Road
We are due to plant the columns your area w/c 10th August 2015. You have 21 working days to look at these plans and provide feedback to Balfour Beatty, by 14th July 2015.
Balfour Beatty are now in the process of producing the street lighting designs for the streets in your area / ward. I have attached a summary document which should provide you with a further explanation of the changes that you can expect to see.
I will shortly be emailing you the street lighting design maps. Your in-put to these designs are critical to the success of the project and we would encourage you to take time to view them in detail.
We have provided new lighting designs to all traffic routes, which will see some of the street lights being re-located from their existing position. In the residential areas the street lights are being replaced on a one-for-one basis, along with some columns that will be permanently removed as part of the wider energy saving project.
We have used our extensive street lighting design experience to make decisions that are likely to have the most positive affect. We would urge all Councillors to provide a local view on any decisions that may impact the area that we may have not foreseen. The Councillors’ Pack provides the information to help you to do this, along with selection criteria and a comprehensive explanation of the designs.
Expansion of Littleport Primary School
I would like to ensure that you are made aware of the agreement that has been made with Littleport Primary school to over admit an additional 15 reception children this September.
This has been a last minute agreement and followed a larger than expected number of applications for reception places at the two schools in Littleport.
We were left in a situation where approximately 10-15 children from Littleport would have had to attend primary schools in Ely and even as far as Soham.
The solution will involve the installation of a double mobile classroom and some alterations inside the school. The application for planning permission will submitted around 23rd June.
This double mobile classroom will ensure that the school has excess space for a couple of years and will enable us to cope with an expected very large cohort of reception children in September 2015
Funding for Cambridgeshire job clubs
Job clubs offering a digital approach to finding work are springing up across Cambridgeshire with the announcement of new funding.
The initiative from Cambridgeshire County Council is being funded by the Department of Work and Pensions and is worth £50,000 over 12 months.
The clubs aim to help people find work, but also to boost their confidence and their I.T. skills. People attending the clubs will receive training from an advisor on how to complete job searches, how to use I.T. to write a CV and how social media can be helpful when looking for work. A selection of free training courses will also be on offer to develop people’s I.T. skills further.
Local people can drop into the job clubs, which are running at:
· St Barnabas Centre, Huntingdon – Thursday (weekly), 12.30 – 2.30
· Ramsey Library – Monday (weekly), 10.00 – 12.00
· The Fletton Centre, Fletton – Tuesday (weekly), 2.00 – 4.00
· YPL, Littleport – Tuesday (weekly), 10.00 – 12.00
· Soham Library – Friday (fortnightly), 2.00 – 4.00
· Whittlesey Library – Tuesday (weekly), 9.20 – 12.00
· Chatteris Library – Friday (weekly), 12.00 – 2.00 & 2.00 – 4.00
· Church Rooms, Manea – Wednesday (weekly), 9.30 – 11.30
· March Library – Thursday (weekly) 10.00 – 12.00
· Wisbech Library – Wednesday (weekly), 10.00 – 12.00
· Wimblington Library – Wednesday (weekly), 10.00 – 12.00
People looking to gain experience in providing training are invited to come along and volunteer.
Ely & Soham Dial A Ride
Just to clarify that ESACT will be covering all of the services formerly operated by ESDAR.
This accounts for about 80% of the district.
The Voluntary Network will continue to run Dial a ride services form some east cambs villages to Newmarket.
Ely and Soham Association for Community Transport (ESACT) is being established and will be in place very soon ready to take on Dial A Ride from 1 April 2015 in the East Cambs area.
ESACT will be covering all of East Cambs for Dial a Ride services.
The County Council grant funding covers purchase of new minibuses and set up costs of the new organisation.
Just to add that there are not vehicles within the ESDAR fleet that are suitable to take on Dial A Ride going forward. Hence if the funding of £110 000 noted below was not made available then Dial A Ride in East Cambridgeshire would cease at the end of March.
Fenland Association for Community Transport (FACT) intended to establish a new organisation as soon as possible to run Dial A Ride services in the East Cambridgeshire Area. The organisation is in the process of being set up In common with other community transport organisations there will be the opportunity to bid for other contracts such as Home to School Transport or more commercial bus services routes.
FACT have requested of the County Council for £110 000 to help with the costs of establishing the new organisation. £90 000 of the funds will be used to purchase 3 minibuses to run Dial a Ride services. The County Council will receive the VAT element of that back as soon as FACT have reclaimed it.
The other £20 000 will be used to cover other operation costs such as vehicle insurance. The £20 000 will be repaid to the County Council by FACT/the new organisation once they are in receipt of the residual ESDAR funds noted below.
The funds are required immediately to ensure that Dial A Ride Services continue in the East Cambs area from 1 April 2015 and can be covered from the current financial year’s existing community transport allocation.
Littleport Community Primary School
Well done to Littleport Community Primary School for their recent Ofsted inspection report, going from Requires Improvement to Good, all credit to the teachers, staff and pupils, it’s a great achievement for all those involved.
“An improving school, where pupils are polite and courteous and show good attitudes to learning and take pride in their work”, a few words taken from the report, well done.