Lib Dem Motion to Tackle Structural Racism in South Cambs Passed by Huge Majority at Full Council

A far-reaching motion to eradicate structural racism through a series of practical actions was passed at South Cambridgeshire District Council’s full council meeting on Tuesday 14th July.

The motion, put forward by Lib Dem district Councillor Sarah Cheung Johnson (Longstanton, Oakington & Westwick) and seconded by Councillor Tumi Hawkins, was passed by all councillors present bar one.

The motion addressed insidious racism in a range of areas, including education, employment, health, housing and policing. It proposed:

  • Black History Month is made an annual event in South Cambridgeshire

  • Reviewing the council’s own structures to ensure ethnic minorities are not disadvantaged in employment or in access to housing and welfare

  • Auditing street names and public monuments for racist historical associations

  • Writing to the Secretary of State for Education to call for a review of the national curriculum to ensure the inclusion of BAME history and culture in lessons, and asking South Cambridgeshire schools to include such material proactively

  • Asking the Police and Crime Commissioner to report on measures for eradicating racism within South Cambs policing
  • Requesting a review of the impact of Covid-19 on the local BAME population

  • Calling for the Combined Authority to produce a toolkit for businesses to help broaden their understanding of race inequality in the workplace

  • Working with the NHS to ensure that it fully compensates BAME staff, who have been disproportionately affected by Covid-19

Cllr Cheung Johnson said: “The death of George Floyd sparked a renewal of the Black Lives Matters movement and it's imperative that we don't allow this to be merely a moment. We must understand that the work of sustained anti-racism is constant and requires our attention at all times. Black Lives Matters doesn't mean they matter more but that they matter equally - which they currently don't. To that end I hope you agree that this motion is one with practical actions we can take. The list is by no means finite and I hope that we would build on it with suggestions from council members, officers and residents on how we do this.”

“I would like to reiterate that racism isn't just about people expressing prejudice - it's not just about Cllr Tumi Hawkins being followed around shops because of her skin colour, or my Chinese friends being called C-words and being blamed for bringing Covid-19 to the country - although these things should not be happening in 2020. It’s about tackling structural racism - the unseen but very real barriers which mean those who are not white do not have equality in our society today. We as a council have a duty to lead these efforts across our district.”


Cummings Must Go - Ian Sollom. Sign Our Petition If You Agree

A letter calling for Dominic Cummings' resignation by Ian Sollom, local Lib Dem parliamentary spokesperson, was published in the 27th May edition of the Cambridge Independent. Below is the full text. If you agree with Ian that Cummings must go in order to restore public trust in the government's response to the pandemic please sign our petition.

It’s time for Dominic Cummings to resign

During times of national crisis, politics as usual is generally suspended. There is a natural and just tendency to 'rally to the flag': to will our Prime Minister, our government and our institutions to do their best regardless of our political allegiances. We all chip in and do what we can to help the national collective effort.

As a South Cambs district councillor, it’s been fantastic to see the army of volunteers and organisers step up in our communities to support the most vulnerable. But simply obeying the rules laid down to help prevent the spread of this deadly virus is the single most important contribution any individual can make. The sacrifices we have all made – and for some of us, there have been some truly heart-breaking sacrifices – have undoubtedly saved many lives.

In this context, Dominic Cummings’ actions in travelling to Durham during lockdown must be condemned. His trip risked spreading the virus around the country and flouted rules we all need to obey to protect each other. That Mr Cummings believes his actions were reasonable in exceptional circumstances is an extremely poor defence. These were not exceptional circumstances: countless families with young children have, as instructed by the government, isolated without support at home in this crisis, gritting their teeth and battling on. Many are rightly angry that someone at the heart of government did not keep to rules we were all told we must follow.

The Prime Minister’s backing of his advisor, denying any breach of the rules in letter or in spirit, risks undermining wider public trust and adherence to government guidelines. The possibility of more infections and more deaths as a result cannot be ruled out, and it is deeply concerning that the Prime Minister would put lives at risk in this way, apparently encouraging Conservative backbenchers to do the same: in tweeting similar unapologetic support for Mr Cummings on Saturday, South Cambs MP Anthony Browne revealed his own priorities for his time in office.

I would urge Mr Browne to reconsider his stance. As we move into the next phase of this crisis and new guidelines emerge, it is vital that we continue to feel we are all in this together, making the personal sacrifices that will continue to be necessary. For as long as the government continue to stand by Mr Cummings they show contempt for that collective effort. It is time for him to go.

Ian Sollom
Liberal Democrat parliamentary spokesperson for South Cambs


South Cambridgeshire Pulling Together

One month into this very challenging period of lockdown, the number of volunteers that have come forward in virtually every village in the area has been astounding and heartening; it really has been a time when the best in people has shone through adversity. 

We have been working closely with these community volunteer groups and putting them in touch with people who need their help, while our district councillors have been calling all elderly residents in their wards to check if they are ok or need any assistance. Find a volunteer group in your locality

The Lib Dem team and the staff at South Cambs District Council have been working very hard to offer residents as much practical help, continuity of service and reassurance as possible. They have compiled a huge amount of advice and support information on their coronavirus page, covering bill payments, housing, help for businesses, domestic abuse and emergency baby supplies among many other things. They have also produced a comprehensive advice pack for parish councils, to support their efforts to help the most vulnerable people in their communities.  

Led by Peter McDonald, Lib Dem councillor for Duxford, a dedicated team at the district council have been working at breakneck speed to distribute government grant money to small businesses. They have transferred funds to about 1500 businesses so far, and are trying to track down another 500 that are thought to qualify for aid. If you think you may be one of them and you haven’t heard from the council, please contact them, they are ready to help.

Another piece of good news is that the council is able to start a phased return of green bin collections from 4th May. After a difficult few weeks when they were suspended due to severe staff shortages, a skeleton service will resume, which will ensure safe distancing for the operatives. Find out full details 

This is undoubtedly one of the most difficult times that many of us have ever faced. But through pulling together as a community with acts of compassion and generosity, we can make some difference to those who need help the most. Take care everyone, and stay well.


Coronavirus Community Taskforce

In these very difficult times, your local councillors are here to signpost residents to accurate information and community support, especially for those who are most vulnerable. Please also check South Cambridgeshire District Council's coronavirus page to find out about the latest advice, council services and help available.

It’s been amazing to see volunteer groups springing up all over South Cambs to assist people affected by the coronavirus in their communities. The groups are offering to pick up supplies for people who are having to isolate themselves and check up on those who may need help. 

As part of a national initiative by the Liberal Democrat Party, South Cambs Lib Dems have set up a local taskforce to coordinate our network of councillors, members and activists with the volunteer groups’ efforts. We want to help ensure that all those self-isolating, especially the vulnerable and elderly, get the support they need. 

We’re pleased to be making the most of our leaflet delivery networks by sharing our street lists and maps with the volunteer groups to support their activities. We’ll also be calling elderly people in the area to check if they need anything.

Whether you are someone who needs help or you would like to volunteer, you can find out what group is active in your neighbourhood here. (If you know of a group that isn’t on this list, please get in touch to let us know.)

In a joint statement, local Lib Dem parliamentary candidates Ian Sollom and Pippa Heylings said:

"As the coronavirus crisis continues, people in South Cambs are rightly concerned about their family, friends and loved ones. Even more people are keen to do something to help.
This crisis is leaving the most vulnerable in our communities at risk and we are determined to do what we can to help them.
 
"That is why local Liberal Democrats are setting up the Coronavirus Community Taskforce. This will coordinate our network in South Cambs to help ensure that those who are in most need get support."

Take care everyone, and whatever happens, together we can make a difference.


South Cambs News March 2020

Lib Dems Win County Council By-election

Many congratulations to Peter McDonald, the sitting Lib Dem district councillor for Duxford ward, who won last month’s by-election to also become county councillor for his local division.

Following the resignation of a Conservative councillor, a double by-election for Duxford division and Whittlesford ward was held on 27th February. Peter won by a comfortable majority of 517, gaining 60% of the vote.

A great campaign was also fought in Whittlesford ward by first-time Lib Dem candidate James Hobro. Commiserations to James, who came close with a big swing, achieving 45% vote share. Next time!

Safer, Greener Taxis

The Lib Dem District Council has adopted a new taxi licensing policy that will improve both personal safety and air quality on the roads. From March 2021, CCTV will be compulsory in all Hackney cabs and private hire vehicles based in South Cambridgeshire. And from December 2021, new licences will only be granted to taxis that are ultra-low or zero emission, and licences will be refused to vehicles more than nine years old. These environmental requirements support the Council’s goal of making South Cambs a carbon neutral district before 2050. Full policy details

Extraordinary Times at the Combined Authority

In February Mayor James Palmer announced that his Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority would take control of public transport improvements in the area. A final decision on the Cambourne to Cambridge Guided Busway was due to be made by the Greater Cambridge Partnership on 19th February, but the papers were pulled after the Mayor’s announcement, in which he said that the scheme didn’t fit with his plans for the Cambridge Autonomous Metro.

This despite the fact that the GCP has been working alongside the Mayor’s office, which had not raised any concerns since late 2018, when the Mayor agreed that the outline plan would fit with his vision for CAM. The proposals include delivering phase one of the CAM, covering connections to Cambourne, Waterbeach, Granta Park and towards Newmarket. So his announcement is completely at odds with recent Combined Authority decisions. It’s not clear if he has the power to take control from the GCP in this way, but we understand discussions with central government are ongoing.  

Dire Finances at the County Council Set to Continue

Cambridgeshire County Council has approved a budget that includes a £4-million deficit, while once again not raising Council Tax as much as it could. Council Tax will go up this year by 1.59% instead of the permitted 1.99%, which will further contribute to the tide of disappearing public services - and save the average Band D property 11p a week. The Council's annual revenue is now £22 million less than it would have been, had the Conservatives agreed to go up to permitted limits for Council Tax increases in recent years. 

Lib Dem county councillors have consistently voted for permitted Council Tax rises, in line with most local authorities around the country. But even this would not fill the enormous gap created over many years - most dramatically through central government's total withdrawal of the Revenue Support Grant, which used to be the lion's share of spending power for councils. The Conservative government's strategy of issuing one-off capital grants creates good-news headlines, but doesn't enable councils to plan and manage their finances in order to run effective public services. 

The Council is now introducing controversial and complex new charges to vulnerable people receiving Adult Social Care as a drastic measure to generate revenue. Meanwhile, in the realm of highways maintenance, you only have to look at local streets and pavements to see the effects of 'managed decline'. There are countless other stark examples of how services are falling apart and unable to meet growing demand, with a hard impact on so many people's daily lives.  


Lib Dem Council's Greening Plans for South Cambridgeshire Hall

As part of their continued efforts towards making South Cambs carbon neutral by 2050, Lib Dem councillors have drawn up a bold plan to dramatically reduce the energy bills and carbon emissions of the District Council building in Cambourne.

This includes a ground-source heat pump, which will reduce gas consumption by 80%; a solar canopy over the car park to generate more than 20% of the electricity needed; LED lights to save around 15% on energy; much more efficient systems for heating, cooling and air circulation in the building; and 20 electric-vehicle charging points.

These measures will save the Council about £100,000 within the first year as well as reducing its carbon footprint by almost half. The investments will pay for themselves within 16 years, after which they will start to generate revenue - and they will have lower ongoing maintenance costs too. It’s a win-win-win!

This is part of a £5-million investment to tackle the climate crisis in the Council’s 2020-21 budget, agreed by councillors in February 2020. It includes spending £1.3 million on improving the energy-efficiency of council homes, replacing 1800 streetlights with LED lighting and purchasing an electric bin lorry to see whether it’s viable to shift to an all-electric fleet.


South Cambs News February 2020

East West Rail route confirmed

Lib Dem district councillors have welcomed the route selected for East West Rail, the new railway that will link Cambridge and Oxford. The line will go through Cambourne, which was the option South Cambs District Council had supported. The environmental impact of the route was a top consideration in the decision-making. Details of the route 

Lib Dem councillor Aidan Van de Weyer, Deputy Leader and Lead Cabinet Member for Strategic Infrastructure at SCDC, said: “We are pleased and relieved that an announcement has finally been made on the route of East West Rail. We are also supportive of the decision to run the new railway from Bedford to Cambridge via Cambourne. We were told that one of the key factors in determining the route was the environmental opportunities that this option offers. Any project of this size has an impact, but overall it will offer huge scope for environmental enhancements, much of which will be in South Cambridgeshire. The decision on whether this will be an electrified line has not yet been made but we are told that it will be a net zero-carbon railway, which is exactly what we would want as we move towards being a zero-carbon district by 2050.”

Councillor Bridget Smith, Lib Dem Leader of SCDC, said: “I have asked East West Rail to work very closely with local councillors and officers, and to fully engage with all of our affected villages from the outset. This is vital so they know exactly what is going on and have every opportunity to input their views during the whole process.”

Have your say on these local issues

Cambridge South Station: Please find a moment to respond to the consultation on the proposed Cambridge South Station serving Addenbrookes, Royal Papworth and the Biomedical campus. The consultation closes on 2nd March 2020.

Fire Authority: Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Fire Authority is proposing a 2% increase to the fire service’s portion of council tax for 2020/21. This equates to an extra £1.41 a week for a Band D property. The government’s grant for the Fire Authority will stay the same, so the council tax increase will only cover inflation, enabling the Fire Authority to maintain the current service (but not to make any additional investments). Do you support the proposed increase?

New police stations: Cambridgeshire Constabulary is consulting the public on a proposal to “replace our outdated facilities at Parkside with both a new city centre police station and a police hub on the outskirts of Cambridge.” Find out more and have your say before 29th February 2020.

Schools funding (or lack thereof)

South Cambs Lib Dems are disappointed that the County Council has had to ask the Department for Education if it can redirect 1.8% of the main schools budget to the High Needs Block, to help provide for the increasing portion of children needing extra support. This would mean that funding in mainstream schools would decrease by £50 per pupil. Another illustration of the dire lack of government funding for the education of our children. 

Helping you to save on energy bills

The Lib Dem District Council carried out a survey of all houses in South Cambs to identify those that are least fuel-efficient. It has contacted 250 such homes to help improve their insulation or heating systems, as the Disabled Facilities Grant now covers this type of upgrade. Applicants are means-tested and there is a cap of £10,000 per household. Depending on the initial uptake, the Council will be able to extend the offer to more homes, as the grant was underspent in recent years.

The Council will also be offering an energy-efficiency advice service in due course. Owner-occupiers, and both council and private tenants, will be able to have a free assessment and receive advice on how to obtain grants or get discounts for energy-saving improvements. Look out for info on when this will be available! 

Find out about the Lib Dems' plan to make South Cambs carbon neutral by 2050.


New Year's Update from South Cambs Lib Dems

Whilst we were very disappointed that the huge 23% swing wasn’t quite enough for the Liberal Democrats to win South Cambs in the General Election, we are not in any way slowing down with the work we do for local residents all year round at South Cambs District Council. We have plenty to update you on about new projects and initiatives getting underway this year, to help make South Cambs a healthier, happier place to live for all.

Keeping it green

The Lib Dem Council has just launched a hugely popular Three Free Trees project, which is offering free trees to every village in South Cambs. We hope this will encourage parishes, businesses, residents and farmers to plant lots more trees. We have fewer trees in our district than almost anywhere else in the country, so a scheme like this was badly needed. 

The Council's Zero Carbon Communities grants scheme, which was successfully set up last year, has recently awarded just under £121,000 to community projects that tackle carbon emissions and climate change on a local level. The pot was increased because the Council wanted to support all the brilliant ideas that met its criteria.The scheme will continue this year with a boosted pot of £100,000 for further projects.  

These are just two of the many initiatives that form the Lib Dems' plan to make South Cambs carbon neutral by 2050.

More Mobile Wardens

The Lib Dem Council has proposed investing an extra £200,000 to expand its popular Mobile Warden Scheme. Mobile Wardens provide practical help with daily tasks to older people, to enable them to continue living comfortably in their own homes for longer while helping to combat social isolation and loneliness. The expansion will make the scheme available beyond the current 20 villages.

Nurturing local businesses

The Lib Dem Council is planning to create a Business Support Service to attract and nurture businesses in the district, especially small and medium-sized enterprises. The Lib Dems want to enable village economies to flourish, so that small communities become vibrant places where people can work and shop close to where they live, thereby minimising their impact on the environment too.

The Lib Dem Leader of the Council, Bridget Smith, said: "Our villages have so many fantastic small and medium-sized businesses and world-renowned names, farming, rural enterprise and tourism - and we want to ensure South Cambridgeshire is a place where they can all grow and prosper. I also want to ensure that our residents have the choice of working locally and avoiding long commutes to work, which we know are detrimental to wellbeing and productivity as well as damaging to the environment."

Potholes… again

We continue to receive complaints from residents about potholes across the district. Our roads are in such a bad state because of the government’s cuts to local authority funding in recent years. Central government has now promised extra funding for councils to repair potholes, so we are pressing our MP on when this will be delivered and when we will start to see improvements.

A better-run Council

The Lib Dem Council has reported that its investment programme, which aims to generate 25% of required income from its own investments by 2024, is ahead of schedule. This has been achieved through sound investment in business property among other things. It should enable the Council to offset central government’s funding cuts and spend more on much-needed local services.

New Local Plan consultation launched!

South Cambs District Council and Cambridge City Council are jointly embarking on the next Local Plan, which will affect where and how we live, work and play in the Greater Cambridge area over the coming decades. Encompassing everything from housing, community facilities, business development and job creation to climate change, biodiversity, wellbeing and social inclusion, this is "the most important document most people have never heard of". And both councils are keener than ever to get as many residents as possible involved in the process, starting with the initial consultation, called Issues and Options, which is running till 24thFebruary 2020. Find out more and begin shaping your future

There will also be a ‘Big Debate’ on the evening of 18th February 2020, when local groups are invited to share their ideas about what should be in the Local Plan, in a fun, provocative and lively public event. If you are interested in being one of the groups to present, please contact Hana Loftus at localplan@greatercambridgeplanning.org










 

 


Thank You - And Let's Take Heart

All of us at South Cambs Lib Dems would like to thank everyone who voted for Ian Sollom, and everyone who has offered us their support and encouragement, both before and after the election.

Whilst the result is of course very disappointing, we must also take heart from the great success of the campaign. The Lib Dems achieved a huge 23.4% increase in vote share in South Cambs, which was one of the largest swings in the country.

With a 4.3% difference in vote share between the Consevatives and the Lib Dems, South Cambs has now become a marginal constituency, and we have created a solid platform from which to fight for the seat next time around.

So thank you once again to the 28,111 people who put their faith in Ian as their chosen candidate. It’s going to be more important than ever now to make the case for the kind of society we want to live in, and after the Christmas break the Lib Dems will be getting back to work to do just that.

In the meantime we wish you all a happy and peaceful Christmas and New Year.


South Cambs News September 2019

Transport updates

We have to wait a bit longer for a decision on the CAM Metro Cambridge to Cambourne route, as the Greater Cambridge Partnership has postponed this till October while more studies are completed.

Hopefully we’ll hear the outcome at around the same time that we know what route the East-West rail will take. The Lib Dems support a northern route through St Neots with a station at Cambourne, which would link thousands of residents to the London mainline as well as to Oxford, Milton Keynes and other towns.

What we don’t want is a route running via Sandy through Bassingbourn to Cambridge, which would create a semi-impermeable barrier right through the centre of South Cambs and potentially split established communities in two. There would also be the environmental damage of running a rail line through virgin farmland. The northern route, on the other hand, would hopefully hug the A428, creating a transport corridor where opportunities for environmental enhancement can be exploited to the full.

A14 victory - Highways England withdraws appeal

Following a huge number of complaints by residents affected by the A14 expansion works, Histon & Impington’s Lib Dem councillors helped to bring about South Cambs District Council’s deployment of Section 61 of the Highways Act 1980. This means the council demands stricter thresholds for noise and vibration, and requires Highways England to obtain permission for any night-working and give residents sufficient notice.

We were extremely disappointed when Highways England lodged a legal challenge against SCDS’s use of Section 61. But the Lib Dem council stood firm on protecting the health and wellbeing of residents, and Highways England recently withdrew its appeal at the eleventh hour.

Pippa Heylings, Lib Dem district councillor for Histon & Impington, Chair of the council’s Climate and Environment Advisory Committee, and recently elected Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for South East Cambs, said:

“In our last meeting with David Bray, Director of A14 Project, I let him know how disappointed I was that Highways England had made this legal challenge now that the new thresholds had made things better for residents. Communications have also been much better, which had always been a problem. I let him know that SCDC felt confident in its arguments. This has not gone the way Highways England thought it would. It thought it would create a precedent to stop other local authorities insisting on stricter conditions in residential areas. But it also creates a precedent if the local authority wins and strengthens its hand in setting adequate provision and control.”

SCDC is applying the same level of thresholds to the night-works about to take place at Bar Hill. It will also continue liaising with Highways England to make sure the A14 improvement happens as smoothly as possible, with due consideration for residents. 

Beating our target for council houses

South Cambs District Council bought 144 new council houses in August (81 at Northstowe and 63 at Sawston), using funds raised through the government’s bonus on new market homes built, as well as receipts from the Right to Buy Scheme. With the 91 council houses currently being built and the further 178 in the pipeline, the Lib Dem council continues to exceed our target of providing 70 new council houses each year. More affordable homes coming to South Cambs 

Get your skates on

We’re excited that, after 25 years in the making, the Cambridge Ice Arena is finally open! This public ice rink on Newmarket Road meets International Ice Hockey Federation standards and is also home to the Cambridge University Ice Hockey Team.

The Lib Dem South Cambs District Council provided a large loan for the rink to be completed, so that it could finally open as a new amenity for local people – let us know what you think of it!

Water pressures

We continue to experience very little rainfall in the Cambridge region and the resulting low water levels we see in the surrounding environment are starting to raise concerns among residents.

Cambridge Water has said that, while it’s not at the point of declaring a drought and it currently has enough reserves, it is very conscious of the environmental impact of having to abstract water. It has also said that pressures on supplies look to worsen in the future as the population in the region increases.

South Cambs Lib Dems recognise that we all have a part to play in conserving this precious resource. The Lib Dem district council has published proposals, in conjunction with Cambridge City, to make new housing developments as green as possible, minimising the pressure on water sources as well as carbon emissions, flood risks and pollution. Find out more  and have your say  on the proposals before 23rd September. Read more on South Cambs' green initiatives

Community Chest grants

The district council’s Community Chest scheme awards up to £1000 each to grassroots projects and good causes that benefit local residents most in need, and help to build a sense of community.

Recipients of grants in the past two months include:

  • Melbourn Mobile Warden Scheme – to pay for 50 meals at a Celebrating Ages event
  • Duxford Preschool – to provide a training workshop for staff to work in a new way
  • Sustainable Cottenham – to fund Sunday social events
  • Meldreth Village Hall Trust – to replace the stage lighting with energy-efficient alternatives
  • The George Long Charity for Swavesey Memorial Hall – to transform a derelict piece of land into a remembrance garden
  • Cottontails Preschool in Girton – for equipment that promotes intergenerational and environmental learning
  • Wilbrahams Youth Group – to buy a New Age Kurling kit

The Chair of South Cambridgeshire District Council’s Grants Advisory Committee, councillor Jose Hales, said: “All of these projects do very valuable work in their communities and it’s excellent that these small grants help them to continue to make a positive difference. The benefits of the funding that we recommended at our meeting will be felt by lots of people because two of the grants will go directly towards bringing communities together for social events. This Community Chest scheme is a fantastic way of providing valuable funding to local community and voluntary groups.”

The council’s Lead Cabinet Member for Finance, Lib Dem councillor John Williams, added: “I was pleased to sign off on all of these grants because they all support excellent local good causes. We’re committed to being a modern and caring council and our Community Chest scheme is a good way of showing this. Funding remains available so I’d urge groups to submit their bids now.”

Local groups can apply for Community Chest funding here. To quality, the project or activity must achieve one or more of these aims:

  • Help promote healthy and active communities
  • Enable inclusive communities
  • Develop skills
  • Enhance the natural environment

It must also meet a local need, leave a legacy for the community and ensure equality of access.

The council also runs the Zero Carbon Communities scheme - find out more


South Cambs News August 2019

The future is green

The Lib Dems pledged to make South Cambs carbon neutral by 2050, and we are pleased to say that one of our initiatives towards this goal, the Zero Carbon Communities scheme, is now up and running, and accepting applications until 31stOctober. Community groups can bid for grants of up to £15,000 each on projects that reduce carbon emissions and reliance on fossil fuels, or spread awareness and promote behaviour change towards low-carbon lifestyles.

Non-profit organisations based in the district and parish councils can apply. Schools, colleges and community-interest companies can also apply as part of a partnership led by a parish council or not-for-profit group.

Funding is available for things such as:

  • Energy-saving improvements to community buildings - insulation, secondary glazing, energy-efficient lighting, battery storage for solar panels or other low-carbon energy-generation measures
  • Solar panels, wind turbines or battery storage for community use
  • Electric-vehicle charging points for community use
  • An electric vehicle for community use
  • Tree planting, to absorb carbon and increase biodiversity
  • Schemes to scale up local circular economy initiatives (food, fashion, waste, travel)
  • Cycle paths or cycle racks, for example at bus stops
  • Projects that tackle fuel poverty
  • Drinking fountains to encourage the use of reusable water bottles

Apply here

A networking and information event for potential applicants will be held at the council’s offices in Cambourne on Wednesday 4 September from 6pm to 8pm.

The chair of SCDC’s Climate and Environment Advisory Committee, councillor Pippa Heylings, said: “We put the environment at the front and centre of everything that we do as a council and this grant scheme is a fantastic way of giving a helping hand to communities who want to be greener. I’ve said many times that we are facing a climate emergency and grass-roots projects like the ones that this scheme will fund give local people the chance to make a real difference. It all contributes to our goal to be green to our core and make South Cambridgeshire a zero-carbon district by 2050.”

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South Cambs and Cambridge City have jointly published proposals to make new housing developments as green as possible, through sustainable design and construction that minimise carbon emissions (as well as running costs), flood risks, pollution and pressure on water sources. Find out more  and have your say  on the proposals before 23rd September.

Read more on our environmental initiatives

Clean streets

South Cambs District Council has overhauled its street-cleaning system to deliver more efficient and effective operations. Its cleaning teams are now assigned across five zones in the district, with their tasks of bin rounds, litter picking, fly-tip removal and dead-animal disposal consolidated, meaning more accountability in each zone.

The council has also integrated its mechanical road sweepers into the new system, with the aim of improving the monitoring, scheduling and targeting of sweeper use across the district. A maximum of five sweepers will now operate in each zone for two weeks, up to five times a year.

All street-cleaning enquiries or reporting should be sent to streets@scambs.gov.uk with as much detail of the location and supplementary information as possible.

Meanwhile SCDC staged a mock fly-tip to highlight its campaign to tackle this growing problem. A mattress, a fridge and a pallet among other things were dumped from a truck at Milton Park & Ride during morning rush hour, but surprisingly nobody called the police to report the crime. Watch the video

More than 900 fly-tips a year are recorded in South Cambs, costing hundreds of thousands to clear up. Most of them originate in well-intentioned households. What you can do to help end fly-tipping

More affordable homes completed

South Cambs District Council continues to make good on our promise to build more affordable homes. Following the 44 affordable-rent and shared-ownership properties completed in the past year, 91 council houses are currently being built across six sites, with a further 178 in the pipeline.

The council’s Lib Dem Lead Cabinet Member for Housing, Hazel Smith, said: "Our ambitious Business Plan pledges to double the number of energy-efficient council homes that are being built in South Cambridgeshire and it’s great to see that progress is already being made." Read more

Financial mismanagement revealed 

South Cambs District Council received a damning report from auditors about the previous administration’s management of the council’s finances.

The Audit and Corporate Governance Committee heard that the extent of the Conservative regime's chaotic accounting came to light with the appointment of an interim finance director last year, and that errors go back over several years. Full report

The Lib Dem leader of the current council, Bridget Smith, is pleased to give assurance that "The council’s finances are now in excellent health as we are now following accountancy rules and balancing the books."

Councillor John Williams, the council’s Lead Cabinet Member for Finance, said: "When we took over from the Tories the council’s accounts were a shambles and shockingly not in a fit state to be audited. This extraordinary and unacceptable situation was made worse by their continued failure to ensure that corrections requested by previous external auditors were done effectively and comprehensively."

Councillor Smith added: "I am relieved to report that we now have the finances under good control but because of the extent of the Tory mismanagement, as explained in the officer’s report, the auditing of last year’s accounts and those of the year before cannot be closed before this autumn. We have put measures in place to ensure this situation does not affect the setting of the budget for next year." 

Lib Dem PPC Ian Solom addresses the underfunding of schools

Ian Sollom, Lib Dem councillor for Harston and Comberton and Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for South Cambs, highlighted the severe lack of government funding for South Cambridgeshire schools, and the deep concern felt among parents and teachers that this is jeopardising the education and future opportunities of children in the district.

He proposed the motion to make representations to the Secretary of State for Education and the Chancellor, calling on them to:

  • Reverse, in full, the real-terms cuts to per-pupil school budgets since 2015, meaning schools in South Cambridgeshire would receive £3,837,946 additional funding in 2020.
  • Guarantee that all basic equipment and resources, including support staff, are provided so that teachers can focus on delivering a high-quality education and the number of talented teachers leaving the profession due to excessive workload may be reduced.
  • Provide additional funding to support children with special educational needs and disabilities.
  • Fix the historic underfunding of Cambridgeshire schools by putting in place genuinely fairer funding through the National Funding Formula.

This motion was seconded by Lib Dem councillor for Milton and Waterbeach, Judith Rippeth, a former teacher, who pointed out how parents are increasingly having to fundraise for essentials such as furniture, books and play equipment. The motion was carried. Full motion

Lib Dem councillor Pippa Heylings calls for doubling nature in South Cambs

Another motion carried was one proposed by Lib Dem councillor for Histon and Impington and chair of SCDC’s Climate and Environment Advisory Committee, Pippa Heylings. Her motion called for doubling the area of rich wildlife habitats, tree cover and accessible green space in South Cambridgeshire in response to the ecological emergency we now face. She proposed that this can be done, among other things, through planning policies and development control. (Public consultation for the council's current proposals for green development is now open.) Full motion

Her motion recognised that:

  • We are facing an ecological emergency as well as a climate emergency.
  • The challenge to balance economic growth with measures to protect and enhance nature has never been more urgent, given the unprecedented investment in infrastructure in the district alongside the increasing decline in biodiversity.
  • Opportunities are available through the planning system for improving nature by embedding the 'environmental net gain' principle into development, including housing and infrastructure, in order to deliver environmental improvements.
  • The conservation and enhancement of the natural environment play a pivotal role in our economy and wellbeing, providing wide-ranging benefits such as clean water and air, food, timber, carbon capture, flood protection and recreation.

She therefore called for the council to double the area of rich wildlife habitats, tree cover and accessible green space by:

  • Ensuring the delivery of biodiversity and environmental enhancements through its planning policy and development-control functions by providing high-level guidance to support existing biodiversity policies as part of the Greater Cambridge Sustainable Design and Construction SPD and more detailed guidance for developers through the forthcoming Greater Cambridge Biodiversity SPD.
  • Enabling the development of a mandatory 'biodiversity net gain' policy for South Cambridgeshire and Cambridge through the new Joint Greater Cambridge Local Plan, ensuring that this is a core principle for all future development across the Greater Cambridge Shared Planning Service.
  • Identifying areas for tree planting for carbon sequestration, flood management, air quality improvement and other environmental services.
  • Adopting the Developing Nature Toolkit and directing developers to use it to assist them in demonstrating a net gain in biodiversity, to be used from the very outset of planning new developments, and ideally at the time of selecting sites to acquire for development.
  • Collaborating with local communities, parish councils and schools to encourage the planting of trees and the management of wildflower verges alongside roads.
  • Continuing to support Natural Cambridgeshire, the Local Nature Partnership (LNP), to deliver the Doubling Nature Vision for "Cambridgeshire to be an exemplar for the landscape-scale restoration of the natural environment".

A505 ignored by Mayor

The Mayor has put forward improvements to the A10 north (Cambridge - Ely) for government funding and refused South Cambs District Council's plea to also put forward the A505, which already exceeds its limited capacity.  

The Lib Dem leader of the council, Bridget Smith, had previously persuaded the Combined Authority and the Mayor to consider a project confined to upgrading the junctions on the A10 at a cost of about £40m, rather than full dualling, which will cost £500m and which the Mayor favours. Junction improvements were shown in a County Council study to be the most cost-effective option, offering significant benefits to road-users within a much shorter timeframe. The Mayor has now submitted both projects.

 

 

 


More Affordable Homes Coming to South Cambs

South Cambs District Council continues to make good on our promise to build new affordable homes. Following the 44 affordable-rent and shared-ownership properties completed in the past year, 91 council houses are currently being built across six sites, with a further 178 in the pipeline.

The Lib Dem council’s Lead Cabinet Member for Housing, Hazel Smith, said: “Our ambitious Business Plan pledges to double the number of energy-efficient council homes that are being built in South Cambridgeshire and it’s great to see that progress is already being made.”

Hazel, along with Fen Ditton and Fulbourn councillors Claire Daunton and John Williams, were pleased to help lay the first bricks of a new development of affordable homes on Balsham Road, Fulbourn in July.

The project will offer a mix of 14 one-bedroom apartments and two- and three- bedroom houses to people with a connection to the local area, to be allocated in conjunction with the council.  

Due to be completed by spring 2020, the new homes have been designed to be in-keeping with their rural surroundings. They are also being built to high energy-efficiency standards using modern construction methods. They include photovoltaic panels and thermal building fabrics, which keep heat in during winter and out during summer.

Hazel said: “I was really pleased to go and lay some bricks as part of this valuable new development of homes that will be affordable for local people to live in. Helping deliver these types of homes is one of our top priorities. As a council we’ve worked hard to get all the parties together and bring these new homes forward. Importantly, these homes will be affordable to run, meaning their new occupants will be left with a little more money to live life and have fun. I’m very impressed with how quickly they are coming out of the ground and pleased that local people trying to get on the housing ladder will soon have this helping hand.”

 


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