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I'm County Councillor for 12 villages in the south of Cambridgeshire - Duxford, Fowlmere, Foxton, Great  & Little Chishill, Heydon, Hinxton, Ickleton, Pampisford, Shepreth, Whittlesford and Thriplow.

I also represent the residents of Whittlesford, Heathfield and Thriplow on South Cambridgeshire District Council. Since 2016 I have been leader of South Cambs District Council.

 

January reports to Parish Councils

January reports to Parish Councils

I write a report for each Parish Council, covering general news about the county and my work, and then local issues that residents have raised with me...most parishes add my report to their published minutes or do a summary. Its always pleasant to finish the evening with a drink with some of the councillors - this was the Plough at Duxford - spoilt for choice!

District and County Reports to Whittlesford Parish Council

January 2017

From Councillor Peter Topping                  07825876582      peterwwtopping@gmail.com

 

County and district wide              This week sees the start of work on the Ely bypass. Why does this matter to us? It is the sort of big infrastructure work that will help move people round the county more easily. Under the Cambridgeshire Devolution proposals I am seeking to have improvements to the A505 included in our Devolution II bid to central government in 2017, together with a roadbridge at Foxton over the railway. This is long term, but it will be a start. I have a meeting with civil servants this week to discuss further.

I attended the Health Committee where we were looking at the Sustainability & Transformation Plan being put together by the health commissioning group. Savings of between 10-12% need to be achieved over the next 5 years, and the committee’s role is to scrutinize this work on behalf of residents who access health services. The Chief Exec of Addenbrookes attended and we asked him about how the hospital is improving since being put in special measures 18 months ago.

The Full County Council meeting in December agreed to reverse the decision to reduce gritting routes. This was universally welcomed. The original gritting cuts were part of a package of measures to save money, and avoid putting up the county precept. But clearly the gritting work is a key frontline service. I am proposing to the county that Station Road in Whittlesford is returned to a primary gritting route and so will be done quickly, on the argument that the station is a designated transport hub and the county encourages us to use public transport, yet makes it dangerous for cyclists and pedestrians as well as motorists trying to access the station.

The county council has to spend a lot of money on adult social care. In the next budget in February, there will be difficult choices between putting up the precept to pay for adult social care, or cutting back on other services to keep the increase as low as possible. There is a survey of Adult Carers being carried out by the county to better understand what support those people need in their role.

Devolution update                          I am leading the work to accelerate building affordable houses across the county, especially in South Cambs. These are on sites that already have been assigned, so this isn’t about building on new land. We are also trying to find ways of encouraging self-build houses. 

City Deal                                              The City Deal has been urged to consider introducing a congestion charge on people driving into Cambridge at peak times. I oppose this because I see it as an unfair tax on residents of South Cambridgeshire whose work takes them into the City. The public transport systems need to be improved first before this could be considered.  I am though in favour of an emissions charge on high-polluting vehicles in the historic centre of the City, and places like Addenbrookes which has surprisingly high pollution levels. I will be watching carefully the proposals to introduce a residents parking permit scheme on many of the City streets.

 

Closer to home

The district council has agreed some major developments at Northstowe and at Cambourne West, which puts many more thousands of houses into the building pipeline, and this takes the district closer to showing that it has a five year land supply. At the moment it does not have that supply and this is the reason why developers are being so active, trying to get their bids in before the supply gap closes. The Local Plan hearings will continue during the year under the watchful eye of the Planning Inspector. I wrote in the Cambridge Independent newspaper why we as a district wanted to build new communities such as Northstowe rather than allow a lot of extra building in the green belt.

I am arranging, with your clerk, to discuss how to secure S.106 funding for road improvements out of the Royston Road planning application, should it be approved. 

To make bin collection routes more efficient there MAY BE A CHANGE TO BIN COLLECTION DAYS because the routes may change. Further detail will be published next month together with an app that sends a prompt to your electronic diary. The routes are being joined up with Cambridge City so that there aren’t two bin teams working at either end of the same street. Next black bins 13 January!

I have written to complain to the county council about their actions in turning up at Parsonage Court before Christmas with a bulldozer to clear the scrub to see if they could get some more houses on the land they own there.

I’m pleased that the district council responded so promptly to the parish request to have the streets of Whittlesford cleaned up. There will be a site visit in February to decide where the Council has offered to plant a row of fruit trees at the end of the Lawn near the gap that leads to the Church and residents will be notified to get their views on types of trees. 

I have asked the district council planning department to explain their rules about sending applications out over the festive period. They do not have much choice as there are rules set by government, and if the developer sends the application in gift wrapped in the week before Christmas.  There is more time secured to consider both the burial ground application and also the Royston Road application.

The Neighbourhood Plan team met just after New Year to plan (naturally) the drop-in event scheduled for WEDS 18 JAN at the Red Lion for businesses and residents. The district council is running an event on how to write a NP after all the views and evidence have been gathered in. I was pleased to be able to arrange for our Neighbourhood Plan team to meet with the district officers just before Xmas to get a briefing. Thriplow Parish Council are now interested in exploring this and would like to attend the Red Lion session, as well as Duxford, Pampisford and Hinxton.

 The District Council Community Chest which gives grants of about £1,000 opens in April – last year we got two bids through – one for the scouts – so now is the time to be working up a bid.

The last rather sad looking caravan has gone from the collection of nine that were on Thriplow heath before Christmas – the district planning enforcement team visited several times – this is the land on which there is an injunction to make it easier to move trespassers on.

Peter Topping

 

 

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And that's a wrap - busy PC meetings concluded for January

And that's a wrap - busy PC meetings concluded for January

Last caravan moves on from Thriplow Heath...

Last caravan moves on from Thriplow Heath...