District Councillors’ Report – Jan 2022

Here is our latest report. You can also download it as a PDF.


District councillors’ monthly report for the communities of Histon & Impington, Orchard Park and King’s Meadow.

Your Councillors are always ready to help. If you have any questions about these – or indeed any other – matters, please do not hesitate to contact us.

  • Steve Hunt: 01223 455180 Cllr.HuntS@scambs.gov.uk
  • Martin Cahn: 07826 748407 Cllr.Cahn@scambs.gov.uk
  • Pippa Heylings: 07837 228416 Cllr.Heylings@scambs.gov.uk

You can also follow us on our webpage & blog at http://hiopcouncillors.org, where this report and previous ones can be read or downloaded in PDF form. Keep in touch with us on Twitter @pippa4hiop @stevehunt4hiop, and on Facebook @pippaheylings4hiop

More time to apply for latest business support grants

The deadline for South Cambridgeshire businesses to apply for the latest COVID Government support grants has been extended until Friday 11 March 2022.

South Cambridgeshire District Council is currently administering two business support grants. One is the Omicron Hospitality and Leisure Grant (OHLG) and the second is the Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG). Payments will be made by 31 March 2022.

Local businesses in the hospitality, leisure and accommodation sectors are encouraged to closely check the eligibility criteria at www.scambs.gov.uk/omicron-grants and then apply if they are eligible. Businesses affected by the emergence of the Omicron variant of Coronavirus are being encouraged to find out more. This includes those impacted by the ongoing fear of Omicron and could include hotels, pubs, restaurants and bed and breakfasts. Those who supply the hospitality and leisure industry with services, such as those working in events, mobile catering, hairdressing and private fitness classes should also check to see if they are eligible.

Since the middle of January 2022, a total of £611,355 in Government funding has been paid out to 175 South Cambridgeshire businesses under the OHLG scheme. £151,000 in Government funding has been distributed to 44 local companies under the ARG scheme.

Bin Collections

The Shared Waste team has been struggling with significant staff shortages mainly due to Covid self-isolation. Where it has been necessary to miss some collections, they have chosen to miss the green bins and focus on keeping up with the black bin collections (statutory duty) and the blue bins (biggest tonnage of recycling). Where green bin collections are missed there will be a catch-up plan announced on SCDC social media channels which may entail leaving your bin out for several days.

There Shared Waste team has vacancies for drivers and loaders so if you know anyone who might be interested in applying, please refer them to https://www.scambs.gov.uk/jobs/current-vacancies/

SCDC’s Children and Young People’s grant

We were delighted that the Grants Committee approved in full two local bids for funding from SCDC’s Children and Young People’s grant pot. Both applications scored highly in the judging process.

Orchard Park Community Council, in collaboration with Romsey Mill, will use their grant to run a project to engage with the young people of Orchard Park, including the most hard to reach young people, with the goal of reducing anti-social behaviour via outreach, dialogue and provision of a range of new activities.

HI Friends will use their grant to train a team of students at IVC to be wellbeing champions to help tackle the growing problem of mental health problems in young people. The project will run wellbeing workshops, share information, engage with sports clubs and youth organisations, and open up conversation to help break down the stigma surrounding young people’s mental health issues.

Council’s Climate and Environment Fortnight returns for second year

Residents, businesses, community groups and Parish Councils are invited to a fortnight of free online events as part of South Cambridgeshire District Council’s second annual Climate and Environment Fortnight.

The webinar series comes after the news that the Council has been selected out of hundreds as a finalist in the Public Sector Transformation Awards 2022, for its ‘Green to our Core’ programme of work.

These webinars will be held online to celebrate climate action taking place in the district, as well as looking at some of the things that the Council is doing to mitigate and adapt to climate change in the future. The events form part of our Green Connect networking and will cover a variety of topics, featuring guest speakers, activities and information for different audiences. All are welcome to join any of these free online events.

Monday 21 February: 7pm to 8pm: Community Action in Response to the Climate Emergency

What next after you’ve declared a Climate Emergency? A session introduced by Council Leader and Lead Cabinet Member for Climate Change, Cllr Bridget Smith, featuring a talk by Cambridge Carbon Footprint for Parish Councils and community organisations on how to get community action going in your area. Tickets are free and available here.

Wednesday 23 February: 7pm to 8pm: Cycling for Sustainability

Led by local campaign group Camcycle, and chaired by District Councillor for Milton and Waterbeach ward, Cllr Paul Bearpark, this session will explore action taking place on cycling in the district, including campaigns such as School Streets. Come along to this online event for ideas, inspiration, and information. Tickets are free and available here.

Thursday 24 February: 1pm to 2pm: Making your business greener

This case study-based webinar hosted by the Council’s Business Support Team will feature a panel of speakers demonstrating ways businesses can operate more sustainably, reducing not only their carbon and waste but also being more efficient and saving money by embracing renewable energy. Tickets are free and available here.

Tuesday 1 March: 1pm to 2pm: Planning for the Climate Emergency

Want to know more about how the Council is planning for climate change? This session with officers from the planning service will look at how we are designing homes for the changing climate and how our new planning guidance better protects and enhances biodiversity. Tickets are free and available here.

Thursday 3 March: 1pm to 2pm: Installing Electric Vehicle Charge Points for workplaces and public use

Want to know more about installing Electric Vehicle Charging points? Find out more through a session for Parish Councils, local businesses and residents, including information on funding options. Tickets are free and available here.

Monday 7 March: 6pm to 7pm: Post Covid Community Support Workshop

This session will be held by the Council’s Sustainable Communities Team and explore sustainability in the widest sense of the word, exploring community led planning and featuring a talk from HIHUB, Histon and Impington’s Community website and communication hub. Tickets are free and available here.

Find out more about what the Council is doing to tackle climate change in South Cambridgeshire at www.scambs.gov.uk/climate-emergency-and-nature/what-are-we-doing-to-tackle-climate-change-in-south-cambridgeshire

Contaminated water from Duxford supply

The Council heard via a journalist that there could have been a pollution incident in our area, and that Cambridge Water knew about it months ago. Some potentially affected parish councils received the same email the same day. As the information in the email was unsubstantiated SCDC made every effort to ascertain all the facts. The Council contacted Cambridge Water who were unaware of an enquiry. The news story revealed information about the supply of water containing dangerous levels of perfluorooctane sulphonate (PFOS) to residents in Cambridgeshire. PFOS is a man-made chemical widely used in the foams used in firefighting especially on airfields; it is associated with increased cholesterol levels, low birthweights and suppressed immune response, and is designed never to break down in the environment, so can readily leach into aquifers. It is one of a group of chemicals known as perfluoroalkyl/polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and in May 2009 was recognised as a ‘Persistent Organic Pollutant’ under the Stockholm Convention of 2001.

Cambridge and the surrounding region draw most of our water from aquifers in South Cambridgeshire, sources that are already stressed from development and climate change. The media report stated that testing of water in one source fed by the aquifer identified levels of PFOS to be four times the legal limit allowed by the Drinking Water Inspectorate, a limit that itself is already one of the highest in the world.

Cambridge Water have confirmed that once the contamination was identified in June 2021, the source was removed from the water supply. Also, the company advise that water delivered to customers is a mixture from several extraction points, so if there is a problem with one source then any detrimental impacts would be lessened.

Once SCDC was fully cognisant of the facts, the Council immediately turned to looking at our own responsibility for monitoring private water supplies, (Private Water Regulations 2016 as amended 2018) which amounts to a small number of private wells and bore holes in the district.  We have sent officers out to talk to residents in the surrounding area and are implementing additional testing. The council is now taking proactive steps as that information becomes available. Proactive because up until this point, the government directive only includes guidance for water companies regarding PFAS, (which must surely be a grave oversight).

Meanwhile, at the request of the Leader and the CEO of the County Council, the Director of Public Health has contacted the Health Security Agency to get reassurance about health implications and the CEO of the County Council has written to the Minister at DEFRA asking questions of Cambridge Water about their duty to keep residents informed about ‘near misses’ as well as actual incidences. The MP for South Cambridgeshire has called for an inquiry by the DWI.

Pippa Heylings has raised Parliamentary Questions through the Liberal Democrat MP Spokesperson for Health, Daisy Cooper, to the Secretary of State for DEFRA today whether his department knew about the high levels of toxic chemicals found in the Cambridgeshire Water supply, whether he knew that CW were blending contaminated water with other sources before it reached households and what date he has arranged to meet with the Drinking Water Inspectorate to discuss the high levels of toxic chemical in the Cambridgeshire Water Supply. There are definitely further questions to be raised about the way in which CW is monitoring the water at the taps in households, the potential longer-term health implications of exposure to such chemicals; as well as what looks like potential UK divergence from the EU in the banning of PFAs, through the UK REACH regulations that are yet to take a decision on banning PFA/PFOs and other toxic chemicals.

 

Darwin Green development

Cllr Cahn has flagged up with planning officers the application to demolish the derelict farmhouse, Impington Farm, which stands on part of the proposed Darwin Green country park. This building has local historic interest in being the last farmhouse remaining from the farmhouses built following the enclosure act for Impington in 1806. It has fallen into a derelict state, but the property retains the form of an early 19th century farmhouse. Cllr Cahn has asked whether it is possible to find a way to retain this building and renovate it for a new use, such as a visitor centre for the Country Park. For this to take place it requires the agreement of all the parties with options in the Darwin Green development.

Biodiversity Net Gain

The new Environment Act provides for mandatory net gain attached to new developments – and this will probably come into force in 2023. South Cambridgeshire already requires 10% biodiversity net gain which will be the new statutory requirement, but are proposing to increase this to 20%. It has been confirmed to us that this will be possible, but how that should be delivered, how should the calculation be carried out, how local should provision of offsite provision of net gain be, and how much should be allocated on-site are matters up for discussion. There is a consultation with an online questionnaire currently out on these matters, and this can be accessed on the following link: https://consult.defra.gov.uk/defra-net-gain-consultation-team/consultation-on-biodiversity-net-gain-regulations/ .

Solar Together

A new call for expressions of interest will be made this year. The first phase of this joint-buying scheme with Cambridgeshire County Council and other districts was very well received in South Cambridgeshire with over 400 installations so far. The Council has enthusiastically supported this project and is keen to offer other residents the opportunity to participate.  Preliminary interest can be registered on the Solar Together website on https://solartogether.co.uk/cambridgeshire/home  .

Hidden Rights of Way

It has recently been announced that the Government is abandoning the deadline of 1st January 2026 to register definitive rights of way (footpaths, bridleways and byways) that are used but are not recorded on the definitive map. Cllr. Martin Cahn is the South Cambridgeshire representative on the Local Access Forum and there has been great concern expressed by this group that this will not provide adequate time to record and process all the rights of concerned.  Therefore this is excellent news, and it is to be hoped that local walkers, riders and cyclists will now actively ensure that supplications are duly made for unregistered paths that they use as of right.

Future Parks Accelerator

The Future Parks Accelerator project, in which the Council has participated, is to terminate this spring. It has been looking at the benefits and provision of access to greenspace, including parks, in the County. It has been decided that there is need for a coordinating structure at County level and provision is being made for this. South Cambridgeshire is particularly interested in this due to the information that will be provided for local planning provision and it will contribute towards this from its Planning budget.  This will pose the question as to South Cambridgeshire’s own provision and active management of greenspace – it is the only Council in Cambridgeshire that has no parks and open spaces department and your councillors have been and will be drawing attention to this issue. Feedback from the Parish Council on this issue would be welcome.

Civil Parking Enforcement

CPE came a step closer when SCDC Cabinet supported an application by Cambridgeshire County Council to the Department of Transport to introduce Civil Parking Enforcement across South Cambridgeshire, and granted delegated authority to the Head of Transformation, in consultation with the Lead Cabinet Member for Strategic Planning and Transport, to provide feedback on behalf of the Council to the application for CPE to DfT and the Funding Agreement between CCC and Greater Cambridge Partnership.

The proposed level of funding will initially provide for two parking enforcement officers to serve the South Cambs area, and their vehicles.

Staff Excellence Awards

The New Housing Team in the Council, which is led by Kirstin Donaldson who lives in our village, won the team awards in the South Cambridgeshire Staff Excellence Awards. They have managed to triple the number of new council houses constructed in the District. Many congratulations Kirsten!

Rental Scooters

The trial period of Voi rental scooters and e-bikes is due to come to an end in March. If you have feedback on the scheme, please send it by email to contactus@cambridgeshirepeterborough-ca.gov.uk. The government will make the final decision on whether such schemes should become permanent, and how they should be regulated, but we councillors would also be glad to hear your thoughts on the scheme.

Meetings in January 2022

12 JanClimate Change and Environment CommitteePippa, Martin
18 JanFuture Parks Accelerator Nominated Members Gp.Martin
18 JanScrutiny and Overview CommitteeSteve, Martin
19 JanPlanning CommitteePippa, Martin
20 JanFuture Parks Accelerator – Natural Capital WorkshopPippa, Martin
20 JanCultural Working GroupMartin
27 JanStaff Excellence AwardsMartin
27 JanHolocaust Memorial Day Meeting for CouncillorsMartin
28 JanSpecial Planning CommitteePippa. Martin

Meetings in February 2022

8 FebLocal Access ForumMartin
8 FebScrutiny and Overview Committee -Cancelled
9 FebPlanning CommitteePippa, Martin
9 FebNorth East Cambridge Community Forum 
10 FebFuture Parks Accelerator (FPA) Natural Capital Workshop – Health and WellbeingMartin
16 FebBiodiversity Net Gain Consultation WorkshopMartin
21 FebHIPC  Meeting 
22 FebFPA Natural Capital Workshop – Growth and DevelopmentMartin
22 FebCouncilMartin, Pippa, Steve
23 FebLicensing CommitteeSteve
24 FebDarwin Green ConsultationMartin, Pippa, Steve
25 FebGrants CommitteePippa, Martin (re Zero Carbon Grants)
28 FebSpecial Planning CommitteePippa. Martin

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