Addenbrooke’s responds

Ruth Murphy, a director of Addenbrooke’s Hospital,  has now responded to my letter about staff smoking and leaving litter in residential streets. While they are entitled to have a cigarette in their break, leaving litter behind is not.

Ms Murphy writes that there are now smoking shelters on the edge of the hospital site, and she has undertaken to have signs put up to encourage staff not to smoke near people’s homes. The hospital is making other efforts to get people to stop smoking altogether.

Any problems, get in touch with her.

Beyond the Blue Bin

MRF, PeterboroughStarting 16th November, Viridor will be handling the recycling materials    from Cambridge blue bins.

Cambridge blue bins are the place to throw all your dry recyclables —   cardboard, paper, aluminium and steel cans, Tetrapaks, glass,   aerosols and plastic bottles.

On Tuesday 10th November, five city councillors, three City Rangers, two customer services staff and Vicky Kelso, from the Council’s recycling team, visited the Materials Recycling Facility (MRF) – pronounced ‘Murf’ by those close to it – at Fengate, Peterborough, which is operated by Viridor, one of the UK’s leading recycling companies, and owned by Peterborough City Council.

We were briefed about the facility’s operations in the Viridor Education Room, suitably bright and green with information boards, new items such as pencils and mugs made out of recyclables and material samples, before donning blue hats, yellow tabards and microphone for a tour of the works.

We were given the fire instructions and warned not to wander from the official tour route. The thought of ending up in a pencil or a coffee mug was enough to concentrate my mind!

First, we went to the Pre-sort Cabin and saw conveyor belts with a broad mix of material, including some that should not have gone in the recycling bins in the first place.

Several people were grabbing large pieces of cardboard and non-recyclable waste from the line rather in the manner of snatching suitcases from a luggage belt at the airport (should you be ungreen enough to fly in these carbon-aware times).

One of the big problems is people putting their recycling into plastic bags before they go into bins and there was also all sorts of other stuff to extract.

There were plenty of nappies which cannot be recycled and should go into general waste – or even better they could be avoided by using washable cloth nappies.

Next came the Trommel, a large spinning drum which sorts the rubbish by size.

I had been wondering how the bottles and cans would part company with the paper. In the Ballistics section, flat paper rises to the surface, while cylindrical objects such as bottles and cans roll to the bottom.

Next, steel cans come out and aluminium is separated from steel by the clever use of magnetic attraction and repulsion. By this stage my school physics lessons were coming back to me…

Plastic materials were detected by an optical sorter and blown into a bunker and finally, the various materials were fed into a baler for crushing and wiring.

To see the processes for yourself, see Viridor’s MURF video on their own website.

The new system has been introduced to increase Cambridge recycling rates, and we are hoping to reach our target of recycling 45% of household waste by April 2010.

It is important we all keep our recyclables clean and only put the right items into our new blue bin to ensure everyone’s recycling efforts result in quality raw materials for new products.

For more information about what to put in the bins, see the Cambridge City Council website, which has detailed instructions on what you can put in your blue bin and on the collection schedule.

Bus cuts campaign

Stagecoach, the major bus operator in Cambridge, has announced changes to services, as reported previously. The changes include cutting two services, the Citi 2 and Citi 7, which will go down from six an hour to four. The changes are set to take effect on 29th November. There has been no consultation with the public, only with the Conservative-run County Council, which has raised no objections.

The changes will affect hospital patients as well as sixth-form students at Hills Rd and Long Rd VI Form Colleges and the Lib Dems are asking Stagecoach to reconsider.

If you would like to do the same, please sign our petition – and pass it on to your friends.

 The City Council has no powers over bus operators — it has been thus since the deregulation of buses under Margaret Thatcher — but we will pass on any comments to Stagecoach.


David Howarth to stand down at the General Election


It is with sadness that I post the news that the Liberal Democrat MP for Cambridge, David Howarth, has decided not to defend his seat at the forthcoming General Election.

I have known David since I arrived in Cambridge in 1992, he was my Group Leader on the City Council for ten years, and always an inspiration. He will be a loss to Parliament.

 Liberal Democrat MP David Howarth announced yesterday that he will be standing down from Parliament at the next election to concentrate on his career as an academic.

David Howarth said: “After nearly 22 years of elected public office, the time has come for me to concentrate on my other life, as an academic. It has been a privilege to serve the people of Cambridge over that time, both in local government and in parliament.

“I would like to thank the very large number of people who have helped me in politics over the past two decades, and especially those who have worked for me during my time in the Commons.

“I will continue enthusiastically to support the Liberal Democrats and Nick Clegg and I wish the party all success in the future. I also look forward to continuing to play a role in the party’s policy-making process.”

Nick Clegg said: “David will be sorely missed. His colleagues here in Westminster – across all parties – recognise him as a politician of huge integrity and intellectual ability. The Liberal Democrats have benefited greatly from the powerful lead in parliament he gave on a number of touchstone liberal issues such as climate change and the right to protest.

“As the leader of Cambridge City Council and a key member of our Federal Policy Committee before being elected an MP, David has a long history of helping to shape the party’s policy making.

“I wish him every success in his career in academia. Academia’s gain is very much politics’ loss.”

Mr Howarth has reassured his Cambridge constituents that he will continue to serve them and hold surgeries until the general election.

Gordon Brown, from Mr Bean to Mr Mean

Gordon Brown has proposed the meanest attack on children since Maggie Thatcher the Milk Snatcher.

Since 2005, working parents have been able to save on childminder and nursery costs via a childcare vouchers scheme. It’s a salary sacrifice scheme that means you don’t pay tax or national insurance on childcare up to a certain amount and you can save a few thousand pounds a year. While it wouldn’t pay for full-time childcare, it helps. As the care providers have to be OFTED registered it supports quality childcare too.

Gordon Brown told this year’s Labour Party conference he was planning to phase out the scheme, to pay for free childcare for two-year-olds.This seems bizarre, as the two-year-olds will presumably grow older and still need childcare before they start primary school and even then, they’ll need supervision after school and in the holidays. The current scheme has its problems. There are several voucher providers, each with their own system. The onus is on the employer to offer a scheme and carers to accept vouchers before a parent can benefit. But taking the concession away will be an admission of failure for the Government as well as a financial blow to hard-pressed working parents.

You can read more about this here  and sign a petition here

This week, the Guardian has picked up the issue. I have written to comment. Letter to the Guardian

November bus changes

I have been notified* of changes to Stagecoach and Whippet bus services from Sunday 29 November 2009. The table shows which services are changing and the impact of that change. Bus changes No 09

One change that affects us is to the Citi 1 and Citi 2 routes. The Citi 1 will now go down Queen Edith’s Way not Wulfstan Way, while the Citi 2 will go down Wulfstan Way instead of Queen Edith’s Way. The Citi 2 will also reduce to one bus every 15 minutes, so residents of Wulfstan Way and the Gunhild Estate will have a less frequent service.

The Citi 7 and 2 will also reduce to a 15-minute frequency, instead of 10.

Above, I used the word ‘notified’ not consulted because I wasn’t! But I am of course very willing to pass on comments and make views known before the changes take effect.

Addenbrooke’s responds to complaints about staff smoking

Hospital letter on smoking litterI have now received a response to my letter of 16th September to Addenbrooke’s director Stephen Graves about staff smoking and leaving litter in neighbouring streets such as Red Cross Lane and Greenlands. See previous post.

He confirms that staff do have smoking shelters on site and should not need to go off site to indulge.

Progress is slow. A month after my initial letter, he has passed the complaint on to another director, Ruth Murphy. I shall be hoping to hear from her soon! I would be interested to hear from anyone in either of these two streets as to whether you notice any improvement.

Free versus Fair Trade debate

Free versus Fair Trade?fairtrade_logo1.gif

Wednesday 4th November, 5.00 p.m. for 5.15 p.m. start
DAV 014 (David Building), Anglia Ruskin University, East Road, Cambridge

Free entry

  • What are the relative merits of free and fair trade?
  • Is there any common ground?
  • Can trade benefit the developing world?

Sir Teddy Taylor, Free Trade League, one-time MP for Southend-on-Sea
Toby Quantrill, Head of Public Policy at the Fairtrade Foundation

There will also be a short account of a visit to a Fairtrade project

  • Does Fairtrade benefit the developing communities to a degree consistent with its price premium?
  • Would eliminating British, or EU, trade barriers, agricultural subsidies and such like effectively help developing countries?
  • And are these two schemes in any way comparable in benefits, ease of introduction, or potential competition as methods?
  • Should there be competition among Fairtrade certification schemes?

Waiting at the bus stop … for the time display, not the bus!

The real time information display at the bus stop near Hills Road VI Form College has been out of action for some time, meaning people have to walk down to the next bus stop to find out whether there’s a bus due.

I reported this to the County Council on the 12th September, and so did two of our Focus deliverers. A response has been a long time coming!

It transpires that there has been a power failure to the shelter, which has burnt the fuses. What alarms me is that neither the City nor County Council had staff available and able to repair it – which is the main reason for the delay.

 See my latest mail from the County Council, which promises a remedy soon.

Dear Cllr Taylor,  Apologies for the delay in getting this display up and running. Our
contractor’s engineers did inspect the site almost immediately. It was found that there
was a power failure to the shelter, which has burnt the main fuse to both the shelter and the display. Because this is not part of the display’s circuitry, our contractors were
neither able nor authorized to replace the fuse.  I have since then been in contact with
the Street Lighting team at the council, who as well is not responsible for power to
shelters, and we have sourced a certified electrician to do the job. I am expecting that
they will visit the shelter sometime next week, and let me know what the outcome is.
Hopefully this should be sorted out next week, but if there are any further delays, I will
let you know.