County Councillors Report June 2022

National Highways tree planting efforts

CONTENTS: Ongoing and forthcoming consultations, Household Support fund, Bar Hill Maintenance and the local impact, Homefield Close and the entrance to Histon Tescos, A14 Trees, Orchard Park Trees and Ring Fort Path, H&I Park School parking, Mere Way

Ongoing and forthcoming Consultations: The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority’s Transport Future consultation

Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP) City Access Charge Consultation this autumn. I don’t know the detail of this so I can only answer very broad questions. This is the potential charge for driving within Cambridge City to fund bus services in the Greater Cambridge area. This charge will be unpopular but this is the only mechanism available to significantly improve bus services. There will be strong opinions on this.  It is really important that the communities of Histon, Impington & Orchard Park think very carefully about what they think will be the impact of the charge on their area so we can express extremely clearly what we need to see here. No one else is going to speak up for what will happen in our area if this charge is introduced.
A Fairer Cambridgeshire
Household Support Fund – government money available for households struggling with the cost of living crisis.  The government has made older people a particular focus. These types of support are offered:
Support for pensioners who are struggling financially
Support via Trusted Partners Cambridgeshire Holiday Voucher Scheme (CHVS) Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) Programme
Support with food and household energy
Support for pensioners who are struggling financially
Support in regards to applying for additional benefits

Support for pensioners – You are eligible to access this support through the Household Support Fund if:
You were born on or before 30 September 1956
You live in Cambridgeshire
You are experiencing financial hardship
No one under the age of 19 (born after the 30 September 2003), lives with you Apply to Age UK CAP on 01223 221929 or email

Other households are eligible to access this support through the Household Support Fund if you earn less than £17,940 per year or are in receipt of one of the following: Income Support Income-based Job Seekers Allowance Income-related Employment and Support Allowance Pension Credit Universal Credit Working Tax Credit Apply online
Bar Hill Maintenance – a pair of bridges at Bar Hill the County Council had adopted from National Highways after the A14 upgrade have begun to fail.  There were rumours as we are within the same Highways maintenance operational area that the cost of fixing those bridges would fall within our maintenance budget and impact upon road maintenance in Histon and Impington (not Orchard Park). 

Concerned about this I raised it directly with the Chief Executive of the Council, by return it was confirmed and clarified that resolving this issue would not come out of our maintenance budget, it also lead to more decisive action with first dates for bridge resurfacing remedial works.   Discussions between National Highways and the County Council are ongoing. 

These bridges had fallen out of their 12 month warranty period but National Highways has acknowledged there is an issue.
Tescos’ entrance, Homefield Close and how local maintenance issues operate after resident walk abouts with Council officers the resurfacing of footpaths in Homefield Close has been moved up the schedule and will happen earlier in the summer.   A resident attended the Parish Council Full Council meeting in May to raise the issue of the road surface in the entrance to Tescos, High Street, Histon.   Whilst that has been in a poor state and marked up for maintenance it had deteriorated further.  

I felt there was an expectation within the Parish Council meeting that I could answer definitively questions about if and when that entrance would be fixed and to what standard. This may not have been the resident’s intention but that was how the dynamics of the meeting made it feel.  So I would like to take a paragraph to explain my role.  

As a County Councillor I do not personally do the roadworks, decide where roadworks will happen directly or oversee schedules.  The best I can do is raise an issue, make direct requests to officers, if I don’t like the response I can go up the chain of command all the way to the Chief Executive of the council, at the same time I can raise the issue through political channels and if I can get a majority of the Councillors to support me I can get things done that way and is understandably hard for division (my area) specific problems. This all takes time.  I do not get to interfere directly in the works plan of individual officers.   A council could not function that way, it is a large professional organisation which I can attempt to hold to account and scrutinise.     

If people want answers to questions in meetings I need advance notice of those questions and sufficient time to contact Council officers to get those answers.   After the meeting I raised the issue of the Tescos’ entrance with officers and instead of just the original filling of pot holes which had been scheduled, the entire surface will be planed down and resurfaced.  This is a far bigger job so has to go on a maintenance schedule.  It is too late for this month’s schedule but will happen soon. 

I will attempt to get an update.     As always the best way to raise maintenance issues is through the Report a fault portal and I am happy to be emailed.  Particularly over the summer replies may take longer.
A Greener Cambridgeshire
A14 Trees  – a recent meeting between Councillors, County Council officers and National Highways finally got answers to some questions.
Trees are on a 5 year replanting schedule ie if they are found to be dead they will be replanted for 5 years although unfortunately it seems that replanting is occurring on a 2 yearly basis giving a maximum of 2 replacements.  
The failure rate of trees for the scheme is 70% rather than the expected 30%. 
Neither of these figures are ideal but certainly the ‘we are planting 2 trees for every lost tree’ is brought into perspective when failure rates like this are revealed.  
Discussions in the Facebook A14 Histon, Impington and Orchard Park Action Group elicited some good questions I will follow up with with National Highways.    We are due to meet again in August. I will post the questions on the HIOP Councillors blog.
Orchard Park, Street trees & Ring Fort Path – I have submitted requests for tree street holes on Topper Street and am due to have a site visit over the summer. 
Trees would need to be found by the Community Council as the County Council does not have a trees offer.   I chased up the Ring Fort Path project and they are awaiting a new quote before proceeding, if (as is now quite likely) costs have escalated there may be further delays whilst new funding is found to cover the short fall.  
Histon and Impington Park School Parking –  there was a useful meeting with residents.   Further discussions are necessary before agreement is reached, however double yellow lines on Cottenham Road around the junctions near the school have been consulted on.
Mere way – I met with the Director of Highways and Assistant Director of transport planning and a group of councillors to discuss this scheme.  It is likely that the scheme and the A10 cycle path will see some improvements over the original plans but I am still frustrated by the lack of ambition for schemes such as this locked into the planning approach.
Meetings attended  No committee meetings took place for me this month but I attended 22 diarised Council meetings in June.  

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