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

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