County Councillors Report Nov & Dec 2021

CONTENTS: Household Support Fund, Covid, Road Safety, Council Budgets, New Chief Executive, Draft Climate Strategy, Building the Climate Emergency team, Pensions, Land Usage Strategy, Flood Risk Strategy, Removal of B1049 (Holiday Inn area) pedestrian crossing

Apology  Let me begin by apologising for not submitting a report in November there was a lot to report unfortunately it coincided with my most challenging 6 weeks for my own work.   I have combined reports but now have a strategy to avoid this happening again.

Question  Are these reports providing the information you need and want. Are they the right length?  I could, for example, go into detail about Covid figures but is that helpful?  Please let me know.  There is greater depth to a lot of this on the County Council website.

GENERAL BUSINESS
Household Support Fund – are you struggling to get by? If you need help and support this winter, whether it is for food, heating or to pay water bills, the Household Support Fund is here to help. Details of how to access the scheme are available at: https://www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/residents/coronavirus/household-support-fund  Practical support provided through the fund includes: · Vouchers to support with food for both families and individuals · Fuel and water, either by paying bills on demand, via direct debit or a pre-payment meter · Other essential supplies. The council is working closely with district councils, local community groups and other partners to identify people across the area who can benefit from the fund. People can apply via a number of local community groups signed up to the fund or apply directly by following the link: www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/household-support-fund
Covid. This is a constantly changing situation.  Case rates are very high and there is significant strain on all parts of the system.  Rules are changing regularly. The most important thing you can do is get vaccinated.  https://www.thevaccinators.co.uk/ is still the go to website.  If you have concerns about vaccination and that is leading you to hesitate please do get in touch I can find expert advice.  
Road Safety. Sadly this autumn has seen road and busway deaths and injuries including on the busway in Orchard Park. These incidents are taken very seriously with reviews, HSE reports and changes.  I will be meeting with the busway officer and a member of Orchard Park Community Council to see what can be done here to make the busway safer. An earlier tragic death of a baby on the A10 has been treated with the utmost seriousness. The Council leader, Highways leader and local councillor have worked closely with the family to improve the design of the A10 cycle path.  There has been some criticism of these measures and due to the sensitivity of the issue Councillors have not responded on social media.  The measures will improve the path but they are not a complete redesign and issues such as land ownership affect what can be done.  In some places the carriageway is to be narrowed to widen the path. The review of the Southern Busway has lead to it becoming one way for the time being with buses travelling outwards from the rail station to Addenbrookes by busway and inwards along Hills Road.
Council budgets. Next year the County Council has estimated it will need to spend an additional £13m meeting the costs of care for vulnerable adults and children, the result of a growing and aging population and to reflect increased needs which are emerging from the pandemic. This is on top of more than £12m of projected increases in prices for services, such as care and home to school transport and to reflect living wage increases in salaries. The County Council may also face rising costs of meeting environmental conditions for disposal of waste.  The new administration who were elected in May inherited a forecasted budget deficit of £64m. Overall, the County Council expects to need to find additional income and savings in the region of £26m to balance next year’s budget. 
New Chief Executive. Stephen Moir was announced as the new Chief Executive of the County Council.Stephen has held senior roles in local government and the national health service, he has previously worked for Cambridgeshire County Council between 2005-2011 at director level and was a National Adviser for the Local Government Association. He is currently Executive Director of Corporate Services for the City of Edinburgh Council and his previous positions have included Chief People Officer at NHS England and Deputy Chief Executive at the Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust.
CLIMATE EMERGENCY
Draft Climate Strategy the Environment & Green Investment Committee voted unanimously to support the new draft Climate Emergency strategy, which has brought the date for a decarbonised county forward by 5 years. A new ambition for Cambridgeshire to reach net zero emissions by 2045. An organisational target for the county council to reach Net Zero by 2030. The need for the council and others to engage, support and collaborate with its communities, partners and businesses to make positive changes themselves. I intend to discuss this separately in a blog post if you would like to read more.
Building the team At the same meeting, the Committee agreed a proposal to use £570,000 over four years of the capital spending set aside for environmental work, to increase the team to support the delivery and funding of the Council’s low carbon and
energy projects. The service generates income for the Council and has also
successfully applied for grants. £6M of Public Sector Decarbonisation Fund
money has been awarded by the Government to the Council’s projects in the last
eighteen months.
Pensions a previous County Councillor’s report lead to Histon & Impington Parish Council Chair, Denis Payne getting in touch.  Denis chairs the Cambridgeshire Local Pension Board, we met with chair of the pensions committees, Alison Whelan. This opened my eyes to the scale of the political challenge of decarbonising pensions.   Whist there is an ambitious vision encompassing decarbonisation and ethical issues the committee is majority Conservative (unlike the County Council) as it has members from other councils.   In addition to this the officers running the fund have traditionally had a conservative (note the small ‘c’) approach to running the pensions fund and changing mindsets is very challenging. If you are a member of this scheme and would like to see more action, faster on decarbonisation please contact the scheme directly with your concerns, please copy in Denis cllr.denis.payne@gmail.com  Making your views clear can make a difference.
How we use our land.  It was agreed at Full Council that a pilot Land Use Framework for Cambridgeshire & Peterborough would be developed. The framework would test a concept developed nationally by the Food Farming and Countryside Commission.  This motion was strongly opposed by the Conservatives.   In a previous full council meeting the Conservatives had asked the council to oppose the vast Sunnica solar farm development planned for the Cambridgeshire/ Suffolk border. Debate on this had spanned the issues of priorities of land usage, renewables vs agricultural self sufficiency, quality of life and way of life.  We need more renewables but it was impossible to work out how to prioritise these considerations.  To my mind trying to untangle these issues through some kind of land framework is vital. So it’s interesting that the Conservatives continue to bring motions to council specifically questioning certain usages of land whilst objecting to finding ways to evaluate and balance these concerns.   +
Flood Risk Strategy  Residents are being invited to have their say on plans to help reduce the risk of flooding in Cambridgeshire over the next six years.  As a Lead Local Flood Authority, Cambridgeshire County Council is responsible for developing, maintaining and applying a local flood risk management strategy (LFRMS) for the county. The key objectives of the strategy are; understanding flood risk in Cambridgeshire, managing the likelihood of flooding, helping residents to manage their own risk, ensuring appropriate development in Cambridgeshire and improving flood prediction, warning and post flood recovery. The public consultation runs until 23 January 2021. Residents can have their say by visiting (Consult Cambridgeshire | Homepage (engagementhq.com). If you have concerns about flooding please do comment. This document is several hundred pages long, if you can’t face reading this or can’t work it out but have concerns about flooding particularly at a strategic level please submit those concerns. Officers will be able to identify if these issues are covered or whether they should be included. Specific cases may be beyond the scope of this document but may highlight broader concerns.
Removal of pedestrian crossing B1049/ Holiday Inn area  The well used pedestrian crossing at the Bridge Road/ Cambridge Road junction (north side of A14 roundabout) was removed last autumn. This crossing was ‘temporary’ standard, however, sufficient work and materials had been invested that upgrading it further would have been far cheaper than installing a new crossing.   After a blog post and significant pressure applied from the community who emailed the county council and National Highways I was invited to a meeting.  Apparently the crossing was removed because the insurance ran out, however, no serious efforts were made to find funding solutions that could have resolved those issues and allowed the crossing to be upgraded.  One option would have been to decommission the crossing to allow additional time to look for funding and consult with stakeholders.   Whilst no one agreed to reinstate the crossing I was assured that in future more effort would be invested in finding solutions.  I remain sceptical.  This crossing functioned as an unexpected and really valuable piece of active travel infrastructure opening up connections between Histon & Impington, the busway communities & Cottenham and Orchard Park, Arbury Road & Kings Hedges Road.   The Kings Hedges Road/ Cambridge Road (end of Histon Road) junction is very inconvenient for cyclists and walkers travelling northwards.  The crossing made that journey far simpler and quicker allowing you to avoid 3 pedestrian crossings.   I will continue to press for this crossing to be reinstated.
 

INFORMATION

Report a Highways fault If you see a problem; blocked gully/ drain, pot hole or other Highways issue please report it using the tool below. https://www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/residents/travel-roads-and-parking/roads-and-pathways/roadworks-and-faults
Adult care assessment Call centre: 0345 045 5202  8am – 6pm Mon to Fri,  9am – 1pm Sat https://www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/residents/adults/organising-care-and-support/care-needs-assessment Do get in touch with me directly if you have any problems, questions or concerns.
I’ve got a problem who do I contact? Organisational structure in Cambridgeshire is complicated, just ask the question email me, a district councillor or the parish clerk we’ll all point you to the right person (or try to).
Government Structure in Cambridgeshire – I’m always happy to amend I think everyone is trying to work this out. Please get in touch if you have comments.
County Council  Responsibilities;  education, transport, highways, heritage, social care, libraries, trading standards, ­waste management, maintaining their estate.
District Council Responsibilities;  council tax payments, household bin collections, housing and housing benefits, council leisure facilities, environmental health, residential planning
Parish/ Community Council Responsibilities;  looking after community buildings, open spaces, allotments, play areas, bus shelters
Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP) ‘The local delivery body for a City Deal with central Government worth up to £500 million over 15 years;… infrastructure (decarbonising transport), 44,000 new jobs, 33,500 new homes and 420 additional apprenticeships.’ Partnership between Cambridge City Council, Cambridgeshire County Council, South Cambridgeshire District Council, University of Cambridge
The Combined Authority, Cambridge and Peterborough, our elected Mayor. CPCA A board consisting of representatives from the District, City and County Councils and Peterborough Unitary Authority, headed by the Mayor.   Responsible for – Business support, skills, housing, transport strategy-liaising with Department of Transport, environment, international, digital connectivity, resilience, research and strategy and new homes.
Police and Crime Commissioner, Cambridge and Peterborough To support and challenge the Chief Constable to provide effective and efficient policing services for the area. 
Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Fire Authority the governing body responsible for the fire and rescue service, made up of County Councillors and Peterborough City Councillors.

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