Fair trade at Mill Road Winter Fair

Fair trade market stallThis Saturday is the eagerly anticipated Mill Road Winter Fair, an eclectic mixture of exciting events and chic commerce, from ale tasting to Yamuna body rolling! See the Fair’s website for details: http://www.mill-road.com/winterfair.aspx

Cambridge Fair Trade City, a coming-together of fair trade merchants and campaigners like me, has a market stall in Ditchburn Gardens and will be displaying goods from Abantu – arts and crafts from all over the world that you can purchase knowing you will be helping people while not hurting the planet, and Traidcraft. We hope to have some samples of fair trade goodies for people to try out.  Here’s a photo of our fair trade stall in Cambridge’s central market during Fair Trade Fortnight this year.

Hope to see you there!

Stagecoach bus changes postponed

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I am very pleased to report that the bus changes proposed by Stagecoach have been postponed — see their website http://www.stagecoachbus.com/cambridge/news2_7282.html

This is welcome news, especially given the announcement from the Conservative County Council that the Guided Bus will not be open until January or later.

If you haven’t signed our petition yet, then please do. If you have, please get your friends to sign. And keep those comments coming! Stagecoach bus petitionBus petition

Hills Road Bridge cycle lanes – the new idea

County Council officers will be showing new plans for a central hybrid cycle lane on Hills Road Bridge this week. The design will build on the trial scheme already in place and you can view plans on Tuesday 24th and Monday 30th November:

Tue 24th: 5.00 – 7.30, College Hall, Hills Road VI Form College

Monday 30th: 5.00 – 7.30, Science Lecture Room, Hills Road VI Form College

From hanging baskets to old soldiers – and the boys in blue too!

Hanging basket This Thursday, the South Area Committee meets at the British Legion Hall, Fisher Lane, and will be deciding on environmental improvement grants. These grants are funds to improve the appearances of an area visible to the public. We will be considering a range of bids, from  hanging flower baskets in Cherry Hinton to the Trumpington war memorial.

There will be a presentation from the police for the south area, and people at the meeting plus councillors will give their views to help set priorities for the coming months. Councillors will also be voting on planning applications  in Glebe Road, Alpha Terrace and Shelford Road.

Here is the agenda. I look forward to seeing you there!

If you can’t come along but would like me to raise an issue on your behalf, please let me know.

Here is an agenda: http://www.cambridge.gov.uk/public/councillors/agenda/2009/0924areas/00.pdf

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.

bus-petition.pdf

David Howarth to stand down at the General Election

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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.

Nightingale Avenue Recreation Ground

Bench and binLib Dem councillors had a conference in Queen Edith’s last Saturday, so we took the opportunity to show our colleagues ‘the sights’. We took the City Council’s Executive Councillor for Sports and Recreation, Julie Smith, to the Nightingale Avenue Recreation Ground to show her where the all-weather games area is to be.

She noticed the poor condition of the park benches — missing and loose slats — and she has put in a complaint, asking for them to be repaired/ replaced.

The toilets at the ‘rec are another cause of contention. The ladies’ loos suffered severe criminal damage to its fixtures and fittings last month and it has taken a few weeks to put things to rights. Even the sign with the emergency phone number had been removed!

It is hoped they will be open again by this weekend.