County Councillor’s Report September 2022

CONTENTS: The death of the Queen, Consultations and schemes, Household Support Fund, Civil parking enforcement, Stagecoach Service Cuts, Meeting with Stagecoach, LHI Proposals, This Land the County Council’s property development company, Orchard Park Planters, Street Trees and pavement parking.

HRH Queen Elizabeth II She committed her life to public duty and many of the commentaries illustrated both what a challenging role she had and how her unparalleled experience meant she became extremely good at the juggling act of being head of state of a number of countries with differing objectives. RIP Queen Elizabeth II and thank you.
Ongoing and forthcoming Consultations and Schemes: The new Local Highways Improvement Scheme (LHI) was agreed at the Highways and Transport Committee.  The application period opens on 31 October and closes on Friday 6th January 2023 at 1700hrs. Please read scheme details for changes to the approach.   The Greater Cambridge Partnership public consultation on the City Access Charge goes live on Monday October 17.  This provides a good summary of the proposals.
A Fairer Cambridgeshire
Household Support Fund –this is funded again by the government and will continue to provide money for those struggling to get by alongside and advice for all residents who get in touch about available benefits and offers through the County Council’s Hub. I don’t see this fund going anywhere whilst the systemic issues remain unaddressed.  
Parking enforcement (traffic wardens in South Cambridgeshire).  Parking enforcement is coming to South Cambs towards the end of 2023, there will only be one or two officers for the entire area so don’t expect tickets every day but often just one or two tickets in a village is enough to reduce habitual dangerous parking. The officer at the County Council explained the process and why it would take so long;
There is a lot of Civil Parking Enforcement preparatory work and the amount of work that we have to go through to prepare the application for the Secretary of State and this takes a long time.     We had an initial survey of the District carried out by consultants who drove around the whole of South Cambs and listed any anomaly they could find in the Traffic Regulation Orders on the ground. For example, incorrect signs, lines, no sign, not enough signs, markings worn out, incorrectly marked etc.   The survey details were passed in tranches to an officer in Policy and Regulation team who is now working through all the tranches to assess what needs to be done to rectify the anomalies. He is then creating 5 batches for passing to Milestone. Where significant works are required these need to be designed by Milestone designers for example – CAD drawings  to show the correct lining and sites for signs – some of these will need site visits. The more straight forward ones can go straight to Milestone to create an order for works on the ground like a simple re-lining scheme.  

Once Milestone have completed any design work we will get a target cost from them and if all approved by  GCP (who are funding it) we will then press go to get them to start implementation. Large scale lining work is not done over the winter period as the lines don’t set properly if it is wet or cold. However, we are aiming to progress with any signing works required over these winter months.   We also have to do the preparatory works for the application to the Secretary of State which includes having the agency agreement in place with GCP who are funding it and preparing a legal document for the application.  
Stagecoach cuts to services Bus services to Histon, Impington and Orchard Park have only been slightly affected by the recently announced cuts. Other communities have been less lucky.  If I could no longer get to work or school as many residents across Cambridgeshire find themselves I would be devastated.   The current model for buses in Cambridgeshire is based on profit.  When the route ceases to be profitable an operator can simply give 6 weeks notice and stop operating on that route.  This is not a sustainable and reliable model for public transport.  The government has the power to completely redesign this.  Technically a local authority can operate a franchising model in Cambridgeshire ultimately either the Combined Authority or Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP) but it is extremely expensive and neither body are in a position to do this without access to funding; the GCP are consulting on the city access charge which is all about making buses reliable and the Combined Authority would need government support.  

If you are unhappy with the recent bus cuts please contact our local MP Lucy Frazer. The government could resolve this issue relatively quickly by changing legislation or supporting a franchised model but from recent correspondence they are more interested in pinning the blame on the Combined Authority.  The Combined Authority  are putting a sticking plaster on a broken model by financially supporting the affected routes, rather than developing a model where the profitable routes subsidise the unprofitable routes.  The Combined Authority were unsuccessful in their recent application for Bus Back Better funding for buses.  Around 70% of local authority applications were unsuccessful it was a massively oversubscribed fund.   
Stagecoach meeting I met with Stagecoach in Orchard Park with other councillors and residents to discuss local bus services.  I think they were relatively straight about the things we did discuss. I summarise the meeting here With answers to follow up questions here  
LHI High Street proposals and double yellow lines on Cottenham Road, Histon near the Park Primary School – The County Council agreed to proceed with the double yellow lines along Cottenham Road around the junction near the new Park school. These proposals had been carefully developed with residents and the school.   The Local Highways Improvement (LHI) scheme project was for a raised pedestrian crossing at Brook Close was also confirmed.  The objections were valid but it was felt that considering the specific nature of the street furniture it would not be visually detrimental and that the original vision behind this scheme as phase 1 of a 3 year project to revamp the High Street to make it more walking and cycling friendly in line with the 2021 Neighbourhood plan seemed very sensible.  Highways projects are always extremely costly but the money is ring fenced so could not be spent on, for example, pot holes. If this money was not spent on a capital project here it would be spent on a similar project elsewhere and we would miss out.    The LHI project will also refresh line painting on the High Street and add double yellow lines to the area around Stir café on School Hill.  
This Land the County Council’s controversial property development company was set up as a profit making property company by the previous, Conservative, administration at the County Council.  The County Council are the sole shareholder and This Land are the developer of first choice for County Council land.   A capital loan of £113m was taken out by the County Council from the Public Works Loan Board to set up the company.  The County Council repay the Public Works Loan Board at a rate of 2.7%, This Land repay the County Council at a 7% interest rate.  Ie the County Council underwrites This Land’s loan at their risk but benefits from their regular interest payments.   I am advised that whilst this loan is legal the law has changed and such an arrangement would not be possible in the future.   I met with This Land’s Strategic Land Director at their Histon offices. He acknowledged that the company had had some initial issues; it was not transparent in it’s inception or operation and rather than starting small and growing This Land had taken on over a dozen projects from day one which it had struggled to manage, the current director was not involved with This Land at that time.

This Land’s new business plan was recently published. They will continue to pay the County Council annual interest repayments of around £6million with the capital (original loan money) starting to be repaid in the late 2020s and payments continuing into the 2030s. 

The new Director is confident that this can easily be a very profitable business which will hit it’s financial targets even in a challenging financial environment. There will be a focus on sustainability, affordable housing, community consultation and growth and ethical business practises. The £6 million interest repayments are extremely useful to the County Council It feels as though the company is now more streamlined and focussed. The Director was confident that it was and would continue to be an extremely profitable business model which would easily meet it’s financial obligations.  
A Greener Cambridgeshire
Orchard Park Planters, Street Trees and pavement parking. I met with Orchard Park residents on Topper Street and Council officers.  We agreed to trial street planters and to trial water filled barriers on the corner of Topper Street and Graham Road to prevent pavement parking. We also investigated the possibility of street trees in the spaces where they have been missed out on Topper Street opposite the new development.  After 14 months of trying to make this happen this finally feels like at least some progress in Orchard Park.  
Meetings attended  Communities Social Mobility and Inclusion Committee Environment and Green Investment Committee


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.
Adult care assessment Call centre: 0345 045 5202  8am – 6pm Mon to Fri,  9am – 1pm Sat 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).
Climate Emergency the county council wants to hear your thoughts.  What are your ideas?  What have you done?  What projects could do with some help?  The County Council really wants to hear your ideas email .  
Government Structure in Cambridgeshire  detailing responsibilities
County Council; education, transport, highways, heritage, social care, libraries, trading standards, ­waste management, maintaining their estate.

One comment

  1. I was pleased Ros to see that double yellow lines are planned in School Hill area. May I suggest the small stretch of road in School Hill is resurfaced before yellow lines are put in. This area is very uneven and has got worse since Bell Hill has been made one way and vehicles have to go via School Hill to access Windmill Lane, Church Street and Cottenham Road etc.
    Thank you

    Cedric Foster


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