Councillors vote to reshape Children’s Centres

News from Cambridgeshire County Council

Date: 17/10/2017

Councillors vote to reshape Children’s Centres services for Cambridgeshire

Plans to focus funding on increased outreach services for children and families in Cambridgeshire, by reducing spend on building maintenance, have been given the go ahead after a full and wide ranging debate by Cambridgeshire County Councillors, with strong views shared on both sides.

Councillors at today’s (17 October) Full Council meeting voted 31 to 22, to support proposals, which look to transform Children’s Centre services from next April, creating a more flexible, targeted and responsive service delivered from 27 buildings supported by increased outreach services.

The decision followed a debate on the response to a ten week consultation from 2280 people – the largest response to a Cambridgeshire County Council consultation and one of the largest for a Children’s Centre consultation across the Country. Having reviewed the consultation responses, the plans now include more outreach services sited in areas across the County, including the southern part of Cambridge City.  This change will see £100,000 of a planned £1m saving re-invested in the service.

Following the change £4.3m will continue to be spent on the new Child and Family Centre services, complementing Early Help services of the council, which have an additional budget of £7.2 million.

Cambridgeshire County Councillor Simon Bywater, Chairman of the Children’s Committee, said: “We have listened carefully to what people have been saying during the consultation and I want to reassure people we will continue to listen as we begin to implement these proposals. I recognise that feelings have run high during this debate, but I now call on all councillors, partners and communities to come together to help take these plans forward so we can fulfill the ambition of creating a service for more families to get the right help, at the right time and in the right place.

“Today’s decision means we remain heavily committed to early intervention for families, something we believe is essential. The new service is intended to be embedded alongside our district early help teams, health and other community services providing a flexible, targeted and responsive service in order to meet the needs of a rapidly changing and growing County.”

Overall, respondents to the consultation supported the key ambitions of the proposals – that funding should be directed towards those most in need, that services should be co-located with partners such as health wherever possible, and that the services should be widened to support families with children aged 0 -19. The changes to the proposals which followed consultation include:

  • Investing an extra £100,000 back into outreach services across the County, including the southern parts of Cambridge after feedback identified potential gaps in provision, not included in the initial proposals.
  • Resolving issues at Caldecote Children’s Centre to ensure wrap-around childcare is protected alongside identifying capacity for additional childcare provision

Cambridgeshire County Councillor Samantha Hoy, Vice Chairman of the Children and Young People Committee, added: “Children’s Centre Services across the country are changing to help them meet the needs of our most vulnerable families, who remain our top priority. Our plans are very much in line with those of other counties who, like us, also have reducing budgets for a whole range of services where demand continues to grow. The Council is sending a strong message to Government that the long-term underfunding of large rural counties like ours cannot continue as part of our fairdeal4Cambs campaign.”

Ten-in-a-row: Wisbech’s golden achievement



October 16, 2017

Ten-in-a-row: Wisbech’s golden achievement

Horticultural champions have been honoured in Wisbech at a special event to celebrate the town’s extraordinary In Bloom achievements.

Last month, Wisbech became one of only a handful of towns in the region to reach ten consecutive gold awards in the history of the annual Anglia In Bloom contest.

During this time, the town has also been crowned Britain In Bloom winners in 2009, and achieved a Gold award in the Britain In Bloom finals in 2016.

Wisbech also scooped the top ‘5 Blooms’ award in the International Communities in Bloom contest in 2010, a tough competition which attracts high calibre entrants from countries including Canada, the Czech Republic and Japan.

On Monday, October 9, Fenland District Council invited everyone who played a part in this year’s Bloom campaign to St Peter’s Church gardens to commend the achievements and thank them for their continuing efforts.

Volunteers from the town’s In Bloom, Street Pride and Friends groups joined councillors, council cleansing staff and contractors for the celebration.

Bob Ollier, the council’s parks and open spaces manager, said: “The In Bloom judges were taken on a grand tour of Wisbech in July, when they picked up on many of the fantastic achievements that have not only been undertaken in the last 12 months, but also projects that have now matured after several years of nurturing.

“The number of projects has been astonishing, and all those involved have all contributed to help make Wisbech a blooming great town. 2017 has been a great year and once again been one of the very best for community and partnership working.”

Councillor Peter Murphy, the council’s Portfolio Holder for the Environment, said: “Wisbech has now achieved ten gold awards in Anglia In Bloom, from 2008 to 2017. It’s a considerable achievement and one which not many have achieved, or will do in future, and everyone involved should be justifiably proud.

“Our dedicated volunteers continue to work hard for the benefit of everyone in Wisbech, and we can’t thank them enough.”

Busy Weekend

Busy Weekend

I had quite a busy weekend. Off to St. Neots on Saturday to attend the Freedom of the Town being given to their squadron of the Air Cadets. A lovely sunny day and nice to visit St. Neots again. It’s been a few years since I was last there.

Then on Sunday all the way up to Mablethorpe for the Mayor of Mablethorpe’s Civic Service. It was a long drive through Lincolnshire but I made it to the church on time and enjoyed the service and meeting civic leaders and local people.

Tougher street drinking rules come into force



October 16, 2017

Tougher street drinking rules come into force

New powers to reinforce ongoing work to tackle alcohol-fuelled incidents and antisocial behaviour in Wisbech will come into force this month.

Fenland District Council is introducing a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) in the town on Friday, October 20.

The order intends to restrict alcohol consumption in three street drinking hotspots – Tillery Fields, St Peter’s Church Gardens and the memorial garden in The Crescent – and enable authorised officers to tackle alcohol-related antisocial behaviour across a wider area covering Wisbech town centre.

The robust approach will form part of a wider alcohol action plan being delivered by the council through the Wisbech Alcohol Partnership to address the issues and also provide support to dependent drinkers and local residents.

Other initiatives in the 14-point plan include recovery walks from the Inclusion Adult Substance Misuse Treatment Service and recruiting a dedicated outreach worker to engage with street drinkers through funding secured from central government.

After a successful bid to government, Wisbech has also become a Local Alcohol Action Area, one of only 33 locations in the country, which is working towards reducing the sale of alcohol to people who are drunk and help improve the health outcomes of the local community affected by alcohol misuse.

A Cumulative Impact Zone has also been implemented in the town making it harder to get a licence to sell alcohol, with a number of licences having already been refused through the use of the order.

Associated issues such as homelessness and poor management and condition of private rented homes are also being tackled through a partnership approach.

Under the new PSPO, which was approved by the council last month, it will be an offence to possess any open containers of alcohol in the three hotspot areas. It will also be an offence to drink alcohol in the town centre if someone continues to drink when asked to stop and refuses to surrender their alcohol.

It can be enforced by police officers, Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) and authorised persons representing Fenland District Council.

Anyone caught breaching the order could be issued with a Fixed Penalty Notice of £75.

Councillor David Oliver, the council’s Cabinet member for community safety, said: “We are introducing the PSPOs to respond to areas of need in Wisbech that have been impacted by alcohol misuse and harm.

“It will form part of our wider partnership work as it is essential we continue to address this complex issue through both enforcement and ongoing support to alleviate it long-term and ensure people are able to feel safe and enjoy the town.”

Councillor Steve Tierney, the Member in whose District Ward all the PSPO areas fall, said: “This is what I have been proposing is tried for the last two years and it’s great to see it being rolled out.  The main thing is going to be enforcement.  Without solid enforcement and support from the Police it just won’t work – so it’s important to keep reminding the Police and District Council not to forget that words alone won’t be enough, action must be taken.”

For more information on the PSPOs visit:

Riders & Cadets, Freedom Of Wisbech

Riders & Cadets, Freedom Of Wisbech

Yesterday, Wisbech was host to a parade marking the Freedom Of The Town being given to two groups. The Wisbech Detachment of 1 Company Cambridgeshire Army Cadet Force and the 876 Committee of the Riders Branch RBL
As Mayor I led the Civic Procession, (Town Councillors and family, and guests of the Town) to meet the Riders and the Cadets in Museum Square. I was honoured to be asked to take part in a military review, and then give a short speech. After this we moved to the Crescent war memorial where the Riders and Cadets marched past us at the end of their parade. They were very impressive indeed.
This is the speech I gave in Museum Square:
“Freedom of The Town is an ancient honour granted to martial organisations allowing them the privilege to march into the Town with drums beating, colours flying and bayonets fixed.
In December 1996 the Wisbech Town Council and Mayor Joan Diggle granted the Wisbech Detachment of 1 Company Cambridgeshire Army Cadet Force the Freedom of the Town of Wisbech, recognising that the founder of the Cadet Force was none other than the famous Wisbech social reformer, Octavia Hill.
Then in the Summer of 2015, Wisbech Town Council and Mayor David Hodgson granted the 876 Committee of the Riders Branch RBL the Freedom also.
This allows both organisations to March through the Town with Band Playing and Banners flying. But due to the tightening of regulations since 1996 we will not be seeing bayonets fixed today.
The Town of Wisbech grants Freedom of the Town where it wishes to show its profound honour and respect.
Those who have freedom of the town should be assured of our support and of our trust and will always find a warm welcome here”

Peterborough Bridge Fair 2017

Peterborough Bridge Fair 2017

Last week I took my family to the opening of the Bridge Fair in Peterborough, which is a Civic Event hosted by the Mayor of Peterborough.
All the various Mayors and Civic people met at the Town Hall and processed from there to the Fair, led by a military / cadet parade.
Lots of young Peterborough people wanted to know about the Wisbech chain, which was nice. “Do you work for the Queen,” they commonly asked. :) it was nice to meet so many Peterborough folk, who were all welcoming.
After the Fair there was a Sausage Supper raising money for the Peterborough Mayor’s Charity fund.
All in all a very pleasant evening.

Boogie Tots, QMC

Boogie Tots, QMC

I went along to meet the Boogie Tots today at the Queen Mary Centre.
Boogie Tots is an activity group for young children, where their parents can take them for some music, dancing and gentle exercise.
It was brilliant actually. Holding the attention of a roomful of very small children is incredibly difficult, but the Boogie Tots team made it look easy. They wouldn’t be out of place as the hosts of a kids TV show, in my opinion, and their enthusiasm and joy was infectious. All the young children were clapping and dancing and generally having fun and even the parents were joining in.
If you have a tiny tot and would like to join in, I highly recommend paying Boogie Tots a visit. The interaction and activity will be incredibly healthy for the kids, and the company and chat seems pretty good for the adults too!

Macmillan Coffee Mornings

On Friday morning it was my pleasure to visit two of the many Macmillan Coffee Mornings being held in Town. First I was at the event held by VIP Hairdressing, in Walsoken. After that I was a guest at the coffee morning organised by the staff and students of Meadowgate School. Both were well attended by many local people and were very enjoyable. Hopefully plenty of money was raised for this important cause.

Future Of The LEP

Future Of The LEP*

This is an important post, from Mayor James Palmer of the Combined Authority of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.

In fact, I’d say it is vital.

It is patently clear to anybody who looks that the LEP in Cambridgeshire has utterly lost its way.  It has lost the confidence of MPs, Councillors and local people and it would appear that it has also lost the confidence of Government.

As a personal viewpoint, I think it was an ill-fated scheme from the start.  Putting a broadly unelected and mostly unaccountable body in charge of such huge chunks of public funding was never going to end well.  Business folk are very good at looking at the bottom line, but Government is not just about bottom lines.  It’s also about places, communities and people.  It’s about ambition and dreams and the glue that holds us together.

Having an eye on the money is all well and good, but there’s nothing visionary about judging everything by a simplistic cost benefit ratio.  Primarily because you can fudge the figures to say what you want them to say, sometimes accidentally as a form of confirmation bias.  “We’d love to do this, but the business case doesn’t stack up” can be translated into: “Our friendly economist looked at this through the lens we selected, and saw the image we expected them to see.”

I hope the LEP is bundled into the Combined Authority.  I think that’s the perfect place for them, where they can offer business input into political decisions, but where those decisions are ultimately made by elected people.  That’s how a democratic system works best.


* LEP = Local Enterprise Partnership