January 2023 County Councillor’s Report

CONTENTS: Consultations including the Waterbeach-Impington busway to Impington/ Orchard Park, Greener Electricity, Progress with zero carbon initiatives, 20mph speed limits, Community grants, Holiday supermarket vouchers for Free school meals students and Household Support Fund, Soil affected rural roads, Pot holes, Political changes at the council, furniture and upholstered items

A Greener Cambridgeshire
Ongoing and forthcoming Consultations and Schemes: https://www.greatercambridge.org.uk/get-involved/consultations-on-consultcambs This link takes you to the landing page for the live consultations these include; The Waterbeach busway with two potential routes.  There will be an East Impington bus stop but this will be a good way out of the village each route puts this in a different location and impacts upon Butt Lane/ Milton Road in different ways.  Have your say now on which route you prefer and if any infrastructure is missing (such as an improved connections from Histon and Impington).

St Ives Greenway consultation – creating cycling links to the busway between the city and St Ives closest to us are the Oakington/ Westwick/ Cottenham connections. There are various other greenway consultations which are live.
Greener electricity Concerns over the carbon credentials of its current provider of electricity have led Cambridgeshire County Council to defer a decision to sign up for a further four years while it looks into further options, including netting off electricity use by generating its own green power.

In recent discussions with ESPO (Eastern Shires Purchasing Organisation), the opportunity has arisen to allow the council to offset the energy it purchases with energy it generates, such as from the North Angle solar farm which is due to become operational later this year. Once fully operational, North Angle solar farm is expected to generate around 40 GWh per year, which is more than twice as much electricity as the Council uses at all of it’s other sites combined.
A Greener County Following the update of the Council’s Climate Change and Environment Strategy and its action plan last February, the council agreed a £2.175m investment from its ‘Just Transition’ fund, designed to increase the pace and scale of carbon emissions reductions across all its services.

So far the first phase of the council’s work includes

Developing plans for the decarbonisation of waste, highways, rural estate and schools, totalling £300k with tenders for the work due out this month, and 40 council buildings with tenders for work £109,000 due in February

Construction underway of two smart energy grids on the St Ives and Babraham park and ride sites – which will offer solar car ports, EV charging for a range of vehicles, battery storage and the ability to sell clean energy to local customers

The first 12 businesses going through the Council’s low carbon business support programme

A £2m investment into low carbon heating systems and other energy measures in seven Cambridgeshire schools beginning this month

852 Cambridgeshire households solar and/or battery installations completed in the year to December under the Solar Together scheme

The first five homes connected to the Swaffham Prior Community Heat project – (a BBC Radio Four Money Box programme on December 28th outlines more details of this scheme)

Internally 16 councillors (including me) and 105 officers have been trained on a one day Carbon Literacy Training programme, and a new Climate and Environment e-Learning module has also been developed to help the council’s whole workforce understand the basic science behind the issue and help them develop ideas for taking action in their service.
Thriving Communities
20mph and 30mph – After a lot of effort from local residents, myself, the parish council, Speedwatch and the County Council it has been great to see the mobile speed unit on the B1049 in Impington near the busway bridge.  This will enable us to gather data on speeds.  All communities can apply for a 20mph zones (although this may be a popular scheme so funding is not guaranteed).  
I look forward to working with Parish and Community councils to put forward bids for this scheme when it goes live.  Please email me with any thoughts you have about this scheme.
Community groups in Cambridgeshire can apply to celebrate national events; the National Lottery Community Fund offers grants between £300 and £10,000 for a number of causes, including mitigating the impact of the cost of living crisis and supporting the Covid recovery. It is also helping communities mark in style landmark events including the coronation of King Charles, the Eurovision Song Contest and the 75th anniversary of Windrush.

The National Lottery funds projects and organisations which aim to build strong relationships in communities. Applications must be made at least 12 weeks before groups wants to spend their money, so time is tight to get a funding bid in before with the coronation taking place 12 weeks on Saturday. Further information on how to apply can be found here: https://www.tnlcommunityfund.org.uk/funding/programmes/national-lottery-awards-for-all-england.  
A Fairer Cambridgeshire
Once again the County Council is funding Supermarket vouchers during the holidays for children eligible for free school meals.  These vouchers are automatically sent to all eligible families. It is easy to forget this is a decision the County Council has made and is not available nationally these are the eligibility criteria. 
-Early Years Pupil Premium Children eligible for income related funded two-year-old education
-Eligible for income-related Free School Meals Students
-eligible for 16+ bursary.

Information about free school meals and how to apply can be found here: Free school meals – Cambridgeshire County Council – all that is required are basic details and a national insurance number.

There is also support for the cost of living through the Hardship Fund administering central government and some county council funds and advice. https://www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/residents/coronavirus/household-support-fund
Council Business
Climate change is already devastating our roads.  Alongside the winter which has really hit roads hard with increased pot holes there has been a significant impact of extreme heat during the summer and cold during the winter. Particularly in the fens and other rural areas. Soil Affected Roads, such as those across the Fens, are subject to a different form of road deterioration. In these areas the whole road is moving, cracking and deforming due to the expansion and contraction of the soils and embankments they sit on.

We are tackling these from two perspectives. Firstly, and as our priority, we are keeping them safe to use through local repairs and traffic safety measures such as speed limits. Secondly, we are assessing the technical and financial requirements to Many of the soil affected roads require major reconstruction which is likely to be a significant cost to the council and may only last up to five years. We are looking at innovative solutions and preparing for what we can do in the meantime, whilst making sure the roads are safe for the public. As part of this work, we are looking at both engineering and funding solutions, as well as working with neighbouring authorities about this regional issue, such as Norfolk, Peterborough and Suffolk, and the Department for Transport.
The increase in potholes at this time of year is something seen every year across the UK. The Highways Maintenance teams increase the numbers of gangs dealing with potholes to make sure we do all we can to keep road users safe. We currently have 8 teams focused on fixing potholes around the County and the City. We are also using two of our Dragon patchers in the rural areas. In recent months we have been recording up to 5000 defects a weekend and fixing around 1000 defects in any given week.

This is higher than in the summer months where we will see a steady weekly record of around 3000 potholes when we would have 4 or 5 teams. The situation we are seeing in Cambridgeshire is shared across the whole of the UK with many authorities including our neighbours facing a similar situation on their roads. Like us, many are experiencing a significant increase in the number of potholes recorded and fixed over this winter. Read more in my full report with an officer briefing on my blog. https://hiopcouncillors.org/2023/02/11/potholes-and-highways-maintenance-winter-22-23/
Political changes at the council. Councillor Doug Dew (Hemingfords and Fenstanton) moved from the Conservative group to become a Libdem at the start of the year.
Furniture and upholstered items at household recycling centres –  Legislative changes imposed by DEFRA at extremely short notice meant there was a brief period when the Household recycling centres stopped accepting furniture and upholstered items.  They are now being collected and stored in a compliant manner.

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