CONTENTS: Consultations including the Waterbeach-Impington busway to Impington/ Orchard Park, County Council budget and Council Tax, Collapse in Government funding, Teacher Strikes, free supermarket vouchers for those on free school meals during the holidays, Orchard Park Community Primary School, Coronation Road Closures, 20mph speed limits, 20mph speed limit applications, Monitoring speeds in Histon and Impington, Food waste
Ongoing and forthcoming Consultations and Schemes:
This link takes you to the landing page for the live consultations these include;
The Waterbeach busway with two potential routes both through 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.
Council Tax and the wider economic situation
The County Council Budget was agreed at Full Council on February 7th. Last autumn the funding gap was around £28.5 million due to spiralling inflation and rising energy prices, constant work has achieved a balanced budget, with really difficult decisions to cut things like the Cultivate fund which supports communities and the finding of some new funding.
The final budget was brought to full council and the following recommendation was agreed; a 2% Adult Social Care precept increase and a 2.99% increase in Basic Council Tax Precept.
Council tax for 2023/24 will be:
Band Ratio Amount
A 6/9 £1,028.58
B 7/9 £1,200.01
C 8/9 £1,371.44
D 9/9 £1,542.87
E 11/9 £1,885.73
F 13/9 £2,228.59
G 15/9 £2,571.45
H 18/9 £3,085.74
It was an extremely difficult decision to make when so many people are experiencing extreme financial challenges but not to raise council tax by this amount, the maximum amount Council’s were legally allowed to would have put the Council in an extremely risky position in future years with the need for savage cuts next year and in subsequent years to balance the budget. As far as I’m concerned if there’s one thing the last 3 years have shown us is that just when you think things can’t get any worse, something unexpected comes around the corner and things get worse. I don’t think our Highways or Adult Social care could survive another round of savage cuts.
The Council plans to spend more than £15m in one-off funds from reserves next year including
- £1m to continue free school meal vouchers for eligible children,
- £1m into highways schemes including rural roads drainage,
- £1m investment into flood mitigation,
- more than £1.3m into libraries,
- £380k investment in community services.
The council’s new ‘triple bottom line’ approach to accounting looks at the social and economic impacts of budget proposals for example putting increased investment into achieving improvements to biodiversity, and in ensuring all new schools are built to net zero standards. In purely economic terms investing in biodiversity amongst other things can reduce flood risks which will save money and is vital for Cambridgeshire. Building more expensive schools with lower running costs for their working lives makes financial sense too and this policy allows these more balanced decisions to be made.
Read the agenda here for further detail.
A cross party letter to the Minister for the Department of Levelling Up asking for more funding for the County Council from the government has been written after a massive drop off in government money. Part of the reason for this years maximum increase in Council Tax is the reduction we are seeing in government funding to the Council. Liberal Democrat, Conservative, Labour and Independent group leaders joined together (unusually) to write an open letter to the Minister for Levelling Up here is some of that letter
‘Cambridgeshire County Council has seen its core government funding cut from £143m in
2013/14 to just £68m in 2023/24, a real terms reduction of 70%’….
‘During the same period, Cambridgeshire has been and remains one of the fastest growing counties in the country, coping particularly with increased demand from the most vulnerable people in our communities who receive support from Adult and Children’s Services. For 2023-24 we have had to address a budget gap of over £30m with a combination of savings, efficiencies, use of reserves and income generation. For the following four years to 2027-28 the Council has an estimated budget gap in excess of £60m’….
‘Business Rates Retention Scheme
Under the current Business Rates Retention Scheme, 50% of business rates must be paid centrally to Government. This is to ‘share risk’. In two-tier areas such as Cambridgeshire, the 50% local share is split between the billing authority, the county council and the Fire and Rescue Service. We regret that there is not greater incentive to grow business rates locally and then retain more of that growth to meet the costs of infrastructure and local services that follow.
For example, if an extra £10m is generated in business rates in Cambridgeshire:
• 50% (£5m) immediately goes to HM Government – central share.
• 9% (£900k) goes to the county council
• 1% (£100k) goes to the fire authority
• That leaves 40% for the district councils (£4m). But the districts must pay a
50% levy on this to fund the national safety net.
So, Cambridgeshire only keeps £3m of the £10m growth it has generated, and government
gets £7m (£5m central share and £2m levy).
Fair Funding Formula – population
Core spending power is a measure of total council revenue funding, although it excludes most
ringfenced specific grants. In 2023/24, Cambridgeshire’s core spending power per head will
be £746. The average of our statistical neighbours is £831 per head – if Cambridgeshire
received this average instead, we would have around £58m of additional funding available to
us. Taking a simpler, more discrete example – the Social Care Grant, of which
Cambridgeshire receives around £47 per head compared to our statistical neighbours of £57,
amounts to £7m of difference. This is a relatively new grant, in existence for only around 5
years, and still, it does not reflect Cambridgeshire’s needs.
The current formulae used to distribute core government funding to local authorities
recognises that population levels are a significant driver of need to spend on services. The
formulae all use historic population data based on population projections prepared by the
Office for National Statistics (ONS). In the ten years between the 2011 and 2021 census
points, the population of Cambridgeshire grew by more than 9 times the rate for England as a
whole, but this is not reflected fully in funding allocations. We therefore call on government to
use population figures from the 2021 census as soon as possible.’
Read the full letter here
Teacher Strikes. Teachers in schools across Histon, Impington and Orchard Park have been striking recently. Schools always work hard to protect their children as best as possible from the impact of these strikes and teachers do not take taking strike action lightly as they are fully aware of the consequences this has on children and families.
Free Supermarket Vouchers during holiday for those receiving Free School Meals, supermarket vouchers to the value to £15 were sent automatically to eligible families using school data and information held by the County Council during the half term holiday. The vouchers will also be sent out at Easter. Those eligible for the vouchers will be pupils who meet the following 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.
Cambridgeshire County Council is urging families to check whether they may be eligible for free school meals during term time, which in turn would make them eligible for supermarket vouchers in the holidays.
Families currently paying for school meals would save around £450 a year for each primary school child if they were entitled to free school meals. Providing free school meals can add up to £2000 a year in Government funding to a school’s budget.
Orchard Park Community Primary School I have been working with the head of Orchard Park School, we will be meeting Lucy Frazer, MP on Friday 10 March to discuss the extremely difficult financial situation the school finds itself in through no fault of it’s own. Whilst all schools are struggling with their budget it is far harder for a small school to mitigate the impact of effective budget cuts due to increased costs. The situation across the north of the City and neighbouring communities has been seriously impacted by the opening of the Cambridge University Primary School a government free school which added 3 classes worth of places into the system. Although this opened 8 years ago the impact on numbers across the north of the city is still being felt with very few schools full and some almost half their full capacity.
Safer Greener Communities Rethinking our Highways
Road closures for Coronation events apply now! If you are planning on holding a party for the King’s Coronation and plan on closing a road, here are the links to apply:
Event in cul-de-sac/small residential street: https://pulse.ly/xuf3988ht4
Event in street with high level traffic/bus route: https://pulse.ly/jp8314yvb7
Applications can take 8-12 weeks, if you’re unsure email firstname.lastname@example.org
20mph speed limit applications – Applications can be submitted for new 20mph schemes in Cambridgeshire to help improve road safety and reduce pollution.
Cambridgeshire County Council has put in place a new process and funding to install more 20mph zones or limits, with around eight expected to be delivered in each application period (per year).
Between 27 February and 28 April this year, applications can be submitted by any person as long as they have the support of their local parish/town council and county councillor. Once an application has been submitted it will be processed and prioritised, until all schemes have been delivered.
Improving road safety through 20mph schemes is a priority of the council’s Joint Administration which has highlighted several benefits from the programme, including safer streets which allow residents to feel safe when walking or cycling and reduced noise and pollution.
Speedwatch Speed Monitoring Units – After working with a group of residents from The Coppice, Impington for over 12 months I was thrilled when the Speedwatch team finally put the speed monitoring unit in it’s first fixed position. This was a real team effort with The Coppice residents kicking off the process and the local Speedwatch coordinator and Parish Council putting in a lot of time. It all has to go through the County Council and I was able to help nudge that process through whenever it stalled. We are putting the units in fixed locations to collect data on speeds of traffic in the village to then talk about next steps with accurate data.
Food Waste – as the County Council member of RECAP the board which attempts to coordinate cooperation and understanding across County, District and City Council waste operations I find myself in the eye of a storm. Ever since I joined the Council nearly 2 years ago the government have been late in reaching a decision on whether to roll out weekly food waste collections for every household. They finally made an announcement earlier this year but despite all the promises for costs to be covered it resulted in a potential financial black hole for the County Council. We now find ourselves in a situation where government is pulling District and City Councils in one direction and the potential financial risk the County Council is presented with due to the waste contract it is in until 2036 is forcing the County Council to consider using it’s legal powers to instruct those councils to do something different or risk a significant financial black hole which it cannot afford. All of which is causing a lot of tension and a lot of disruption. As the Councillor for the often overlooked and unloved waste service I now find myself sitting in the area the Council is red flagging as high risk. I will keep you updated. There is no risk to anyone’s household waste collection services.
|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).|
|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 email@example.com .|
|Government Structure in Cambridgeshire detailing responsibilities|
|County Council; education, transport, highways, heritage, social care, libraries, trading standards, waste management, maintaining their estate.|
|District Council; council tax payments, household bin collections, housing and housing benefits, council leisure facilities, environmental health, residential planning, local emergency, community policing contact point.|
|Parish/ Community Council; looking after community buildings, open spaces, allotments, play areas, bus shelters, community projects.|
|Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP) ‘The local delivery body for a City Deal with central Government worth up to £500 million over 15 years to deliver 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.|