Category Archives: Cambs County Council
One Year On
It’s a year since I was elected as the County Councillor for Wisbech West.
A year which has been filled with a lot – and I do mean a lot – of people upset about the state of the roads in and around Wisbech.
I have spent the year working my socks off, pressing for funding and services and urgent work, alongside my colleagues. And it’s been slowly paying off, with the work accumulating.
There are still too many potholes and poor roads and pathways. But it feels like we’re on the mend now. Lots of works are happening or are scheduled to happen very soon. Even the faded and missing lines that have upset many people are being repainted.
The worst area by far is Waterlees, where the roads have been so very neglected.
These roads did not get into this state magically overnight. They fell into that state under the previous County Councillor. Luckily, this is so patently obvious that even the opposition crew who would normally try and spin it another way would struggle to convince anybody that those roads supernaturally became pothole-ridden and crumbling last May.
The infrastructure was allowed to fall to pieces and the previous County Councillor seems to have done basically nothing about it. Nor did the Waterlees District Councillors seem to have any issue with this, or at least I never heard them criticising his performance or the awful state of the highways there? Perhaps I missed that. Perhaps, because the road they live on was resurfaced – an odd thing, since it was nowhere near as bad as many other roads in the area which were left to decline – this caused them not to notice the state of most of the other roads in the area? Who knows?
So I’ve had a lot to pick up on in my first year. Luckily I’ve had supportive Town Councillors who have communicated issues to me well, and local people who have helped by using the online reporting system or contacting myself or the Town Councillors. It is beginning to work and I think people can see that. But those four years of neglect are going to take a long time to catch up on. I will continue to push for decent roads and pathways and I hope that when my four year term comes to an end, I can hand a decent slate on to the new Councillor. I wouldn’t want to leave them, whoever they are, with the sort of situation I inherited.
Public consultation helps shape Wisbech transport schemes
Proposals for a new Wisbech access road have been amended following feedback from the public to ensure the scheme does not jeopardise prospects to re-open Wisbech Rail.
The Southern Access Road scheme, which would link New Bridge Lane and Boleness Road, is one of a number of transport improvement projects in the Wisbech Access Strategy, which was developed to address congestion and accident blackspots, while increasing road capacity and supporting much-needed housing and job growth.
A series of public consultation events last November showed support for the overall programme of schemes, but there was concern the Southern Access Road would negatively impact the railway project. Objectors and local representatives said the road would cut through the March to Wisbech railway line and prevent the re-opening of a railway station in Wisbech town centre.
Now Fenland District Council, Cambridgeshire County Council and Wisbech Town Council are proposing a phased approach to the road, to take the railway line into account and ensure any decisions taken now will not prevent any future delivery of rail.
The phased approach involves designing a new roundabout on the A47 to provide access into south Wisbech so that if railway studies conclude that the preferred location for the station is north of New Bridge Lane there will still be access into the South Wisbech Development area. If the preferred station location is determined to be south of New Bridge Lane, New Bridge Lane could be reconnected.
The amended approach would allow the Wisbech Rail study to conclude the station location without any impact from the Wisbech Access Strategy, and enable the plan to proceed within government-specified funding timescales.
Fenland District Council along with the County Council and the former Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Local Enterprise Partnership (GCGP LEP), now The Business Board, successfully bid for funds from the Government’s Growth Fund to develop the transport schemes and £10.5 million to implement them – and the funding has to be spent implementing the first package of schemes by 2021.
The two councils are also proposing to amend the original short-term package of schemes, which, if approved by the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority, could secure an additional £10.5 million of funding from the Combined Authority.
A scheme to relocate the A47/Elm High Road roundabout further east has been brought forward from the medium-term package of schemes (being delivered by 2026) to the short-term package (to be delivered by 2021).
Although this part of the project will require more development and further public consultation with the affected communities of Cambridgeshire and Norfolk, bringing it forward means the smaller improvement scheme at Elm High Road/A47 will no longer be required, resulting in money being saved. Completing the project sooner will also mean inflation savings and transport benefits will be felt more quickly.
The revised preferred package of short-term schemes now consists of (refer to attached map):
- New Bridge Lane/Cromwell Road signals
- Southern Access Road Phased Approach – development of new A47 roundabout
- Elm High Road/Weasenham Lane roundabout
- A47 / Broadend Road Roundabout
- Relocation of A47/Elm High Road roundabout, with further development and delivery towards the end of the short term package (subject to funding approval)
The phased Southern Access Road approach, and the new package of short-term schemes, will now be taken to the County Council’s Economy and Environment Committee, Fenland District Council’s Cabinet and Wisbech Town Council later this month to seek approval to recommend these schemes to the CPCA and The Business Board.
These important transport enhancements are a partnership approach which has not only support from the Wisbech, Fenland and Cambridgeshire councils but also the Borough Council of King’s Lynn and West Norfolk along with Norfolk County Council due to the location of the town’s infrastructure and communities straddling the county border.
A Wisbech Access Strategy spokesperson said: “The local community feedback has helped shape the future of transport in Wisbech to ensure both road and rail proposals support each other and that the important government funding for the Wisbech Access Strategy is not jeopardised.
“These essential improvements to the infrastructure of Wisbech will enable the much needed housing and economic growth for this area of North Cambridgeshire. It also demonstrates the effective partnership approach across all tiers of Local Government and the important role the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Local Enterprise Partnership and the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority have played with funding support.”
The spokesperson added: “The Wisbech Access Strategy has been tested to make sure it offers the best solution to address existing transport problems in and around the town of Wisbech. Local people were very clear about the need to protect the Wisbech Rail project, as a result the plans were amended after listening to the consultation responses. The improvement schemes will encourage growth and regeneration, improve accessibility, and help support the delivery of more than 3,500 new homes and 2,500 new jobs for the Capital of the Fens.”
The outline scheme design drawings along with detailed reports for each location, and the process followed can be found on Fenland District Council website at: http://fenland.gov.uk/wisbechaccess
Area Champion Update
After some careful consideration, I have taken the decision to step down as Area Champion for Fenland and have emailed the decision to the relevant people this afternoon.
I will continue to do everything I can to be a champion and a Councillor for the areas I represent, just as I always do.
I wish my replacement, whoever they may be, all the best in the Area Champion role.
Number 46, Revisited
I have just received confirmation that the County Council has agreed to fund a replacement service for the 46 bus route from 30th April, which is exactly what County Councillors have been calling for.
I will post the revised timetable shortly.
The service will continue to be operated by Stagecoach and the new contracts have been let until the 25 August 2018.
In regards to the possible loss of important bus services in Wisbech:
Although this is a private company, its important that the County Council challenge and try and work through damaging proposals to get the best for local people.
County Council officers have been working hard since the worrying announcement to find a suitable resolution to the issue.
Although its not 100% decided, the news so far seems to be positive.
A tender to ascertain the cost of replacing the 46 service, that will be withdrawn by Stagecoach from 28 April, has been issued this week. County Council are tendering for three potential options.
The first is based on the existing timetable, which operates on an hourly basis. The second is on a revised 90 minute timetable which has the benefit of protecting the service and being more affordable as it reduces the vehicle requirement from two buses to one and should therefore be more economical to provide.
The final option is for an operator devised timetable, where they can make their own proposal built around their availability of vehicles and drivers.
The company are engaging with the County Council to try and find a way forwards that doesn’t let local people down and leave them without an important service.
So there’s no need to panic at this stage and County Council are doing their best to negotiate something which will prevent the problems of losing the service.
Your County Councillors have pushed hard and will continue to press as best we can for a deal which gets a good resolution for our Town. I hope this update is useful to you.
I was off this morning delivering leaflets across North Ward / Waterlees to remind residents of our Councillor’s Coffee Morning at the Oasis Center. I was joined by most of the Conservative North Ward team and a bunch of residents with issues they’d like resolved, and ideas they’d like to share. We drank quite a lot of coffee and it was a useful way to meet with residents and get their views and concerns.
Then, on with my “Mayor hat.”
This afternoon I visited the St. Augustines Day Care Centre for their Christmas Carols and Afternoon Tea. We were entertained by some excellent singers from the Walsoken Church and a very nice time was had. I always enjoy spending time with the St Augustine’s gang, lots of laughs and merriment.
I had to leave before the end in order to make the Magdalene House Christmas Service at St. Peters’, where the children were responsible for most of the singing and bible readings. Proud parents watched on and, I am sure, had just as lovely a time as I did.
There is always so much happening in Wisbech, but never more so than Christmas!
A quick drive to March followed, where I switched hats again and attended the last FDC Full Council meeting of the year. A fairly straightforward agenda was cleared in short order and that’s it for FDC for 2017! Since CCC had its last Full Council meeting on Tuesday that means we only have next Monday’s Town Council meeting to go and then it’s holiday time! For a few days anyway.
News from Cambridgeshire County Council
Wisbech rogue trader sentenced
Christopher Ferreria, 42, of Poppy Mews, Wisbech, Cambridgeshire was given a financial penalty today (Wednesday 29 November) at Peterborough Magistrates Court.
Ferreria pleaded guilty to three charges under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations following an investigation by Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Trading Standards.
He repeatedly failed to attend the work, failed to complete the work, he took payment for work which was not delivered in the timescales agreed and failed to repay his victims for some or any of the deposit paid for the work with reasonable promptness.
Ferreria, as CB Property Maintenance, took £3,350 from three victims for home improvement work he promised. One victim was a single parent and wanted to make a small improvement to the family home by dividing a room with double doors, another cashed in their work pension for some sewer work and the final victim wanted to make improvements to their utility room.
During the hearing the magistrates took into account the compelling victims statements and felt Ferreria became ‘dishonest over a period of time’. He was ordered to pay £1,100 of compensation and £700 costs. The rest of the money has been promised to be paid back to the victims by Ferreria through outstanding civil court actions.
Cambridgeshire and Peterborough’s Head of Trading Standards Peter Gell said: “In all of these cases the victims wanted to make home improvements and were lied to by Ferreria.
“The victims have had to find new traders not only to complete the work, but correct some of the work done and this has caused much embarrassment to them. In one case, the victims missed out on seeing their grandchildren in Cornwall as they didn’t have the money to get the work done and go on holiday.
“We will continue to work with our partners to keep the people of Cambridgeshire safe and we won’t tolerate rogue trading in our county.”
Press Release: Cambs County Council
Work begins to identify targeted services aimed at children’s needs in Cambridgeshire
Cambridgeshire Children’s Centre are to benefit from funding targeted to support more families – following last week’s council decision to refocus the services to areas of highest need.
After Full Council reviewed the results of the council’s consultation –the largest response ever to a Cambridgeshire County Council consultation – an originally planned £1m saving was reduced to £900k.
Of this additional £100k, 7% (£65,995) is going back into the pot for front line delivery.
The additional re investment, of more than £34k, which completes the £100k, will be used for management and business support, building and infrastructure costs of Children’s Centre service.
Work continues with communities to shape where this reinvestment will be made but initial plans allow for
- the creation of 10 extra apprenticeship positions, providing further services on the front line
- more flexible use of existing staff within a new outreach approach.
- more targeted support aimed at vulnerable families particularly in the north of the county.
“Over the coming weeks and months we will be able to firm up the ideas of how this re investment will be used – but currently our emphasis is working with communities to see what they need and where our more flexible approach will pay dividends” said Simon Bywater, Chairman of the Children’s and Young People’s committee.
A short film based on the Broadleas Children Centre in St Ives showing a possible blue print for this new service can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1D8MccBNnd0
News from Cambridgeshire County Council
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.”