Celebrating trees … with talks and tea in Hills Road

human tree

A young tree Ambassador

As the old Chinese proverb goes, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”

If you love trees and enjoy the benefits they bring to the environment, then come and join in the fun next Saturday (24th November). The creative Hills Road Residents Association is putting on an event to celebrate both National Tree Week AND the first planting of new trees.

Cambridge City Council will be planting the first 4 of 44 new street trees in the grass verges in Hills Road — a mixture of Zelkova and Persian ironwood trees that are known for giving good autumn colour.

The trees are being planted to take their place as the next generation of trees in Hills Road. Apart from their natural beauty, they will bring other benefits, notably mitigating the effects of climate change. City Council Tree Officer Matthew Magrath* will be speaking on why Cambridge needs more trees, and there will also be a talk by Cambridge’s Tree Ambassadors about why trees are important.

There’ll be a chance to chat and to enjoy tea, coffee, cakes and biscuits too. Download more details here: Cambridge tree planting invitation .pptx.

11 a.m. Saturday 24th November, St John the Evangelist Church, Hills Road.

Matthew Magrath of Cambridge City Council writes:

Most trees in the City grow in gardens. So if you have space in your garden please consider planting a tree to enhance Cambridge’s unique urban forest. If you live in Cambridge you can also claim a free tree on behalf of your child of up to four years old through the Council’s Free Tree for Babies scheme. Happy planting.

There’s another tree treat on 2nd December, when the Queen Edith’s Community Forum is holding a Tree Dressing Day, celebrating the contribution that trees make. They promise lights, decorations, songs and stories. They are also asking us to come up with tree-related sayings, to hang on the trees — get your thinking caps on and post your leafy lines on the QECF Facebook page.

11 a.m. – 1 p.m., Sunday 2nd December, outside the shops in Wulfstan Way

Library computer charges crash

The Conservatives’ decision to charge people for using library computers has been a complete failure.

Computer use is down 55% in Cambridgeshire’s libraries and the charging scheme has raised £4000 against a prediction of £50,000.

The Liberal Democrats and thousands of residents (see our petition) opposed the charges, saying it would both put people off using the computers and fail to raise money. We raised an amendment for the council not to go ahead with charges for computer use, but unfortunately our amendment was not supported by Labour/ Conservative councillors. For the background, see https://amandataylor.focusteam.org/2018/02/18/lib-dem-petition-against-library-computer-charges/.

When the Conservatives proposed bringing in charges for using the computers at libraries we were worried about the reduction of information to people who don’t have computers at home. We also thought that people would simply stop using the computers, just as they stopped parking at the Park & Ride sites when charges were levied there.

This is exactly what has happened: usage has slumped and the money raised won’t even cover the cost of collecting it (c 18K).

Don’t the Tories ever learn?

It’s not just the clocks you need to check on Sunday

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This is just a quick reminder that this Sunday, 25th March, The UK will switch to British Summer Time at 1am on Sunday morning, meaning people will effectively lose an hour’s sleep. 

The change will mean there is more daylight in the evenings but less in the mornings.

Most electronic devices these days will change the time for you, so you’ve no need to worry but I want to make sure residents do not miss that extra hour.

When changing your clocks manually, it is also a good time to check the batteries in your smoke alarm.

Working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms can save your loved ones’ lives as well as your own.

Smoke alarms provide the best early warning system in the event of a fire by combining smoke detection and alarm sounding in one unit.

For further information on these lifesaving devices go here.

Liberal Democrat petition against library computer charges

Campaigning against the Library Enterprise Centre plans

Liberal Democrats in Cambridgeshire have launched a campaign to protect free use of computers at libraries.

County councillors last week considered a package of measures for the future of the library service, building on workshops with the public and library campaigners as well as with councillors. The measures included several sensible initiatives, such as improving occupancy of library meeting rooms and co-locating council services — for example, showcasing assistive technology in libraries, providing support to vulnerable people. Other suggestions were to raise income to support the library service by putting on some paid-for events and maximising room income from commercial users. You can read the paper here.

One of the proposals Liberal Democrats object to is charges for use of library computers. The Conservatives are proposing to introduce a £1 charge for using library computers after the first half hour. We believe that the charge will be damaging to people on very low incomes, especially to people applying for jobs – as many employers now require applications to be made on line. People on Universal Credit need to spend time job-hunting, and to prove that they are doing so.

Machines to collect the charges will cost £18,800. You do the sums for how long it will take to recoup the initial outlay. I don’t think the Conservative councillors have!

I also question the raison d’être of the charge, to generate revenue. Experience with bringing in charges for services has shown that usage drops off dramatically. Have Conservative councillors learnt nothing from the fiasco of their petty parking charges at the Park & Ride sites?

The County Council committee responsible for libraries is the Highways & Community Infrastructure Committee, on which I sit. I am one of two Liberal Democrats on the committee; there is also one Labour councillor, one Independent one — and six Conservatives, including the chair and vice-chair.

Liberal Democrat councillor Henry Batchelor proposed an amendment to scrap the computer charges. We were outvoted and the amendment fell, meaning that the charges might still be introduced. We were sorry that the Labour councillor on the committee, Jocelynne Scutt, refused to support the amendment.

Liberal Democrats believe that access to the internet is a key element of equality in the modern world, and that the County Council has a responsibility to provide access to computers to those, who for reasons of finance or where they live may not have high quality internet access in their homes.

The Liberal Democrats have set up a petition opposing the charges.  Over 500 people had signed even before the meeting.  You can sign it at http://www.cambridgelibdems.org.uk/library_computer_charging.

Help make local environmental history by planting an apple tree!

Are you an apple lover? Not the hi-tec sort, but the lovely fresh tasty delicious fruit that links us with our history and which comes in an incredible 800 varieties.

The Cambridge Community Collection, under the auspices of the City Council, is running a project to plant two of each variety of apple tree, creating a unique orchard between the new developments south of the city and the city centre.

There’s a planting day on Saturday 25th: would you like to get involved and be a little part of Cambridge foodie and environment history?

Planting events are as follows:
Saturday, 25th November meeting at 10 AM on Addenbrooke’s Road next to Hobson’s Brook.
Saturday, 25th November meeting at 2 PM at Brabaham Road Park & Ride.

More information on the group’s website, please visit  or Facebook page.

Council relents on visitor parking permit rise

I’m pleased to report that the County Council Highways Committee did not vote through the very steep price rise for visitor permits in residents’ parking schemes today. Instead, they asked the officers to look again at the charging structure, particularly ways in which the charges could remain affordable by people depending on family visits.  Here is the Council’s decision notice, and here is the Cambridge News report of the meeting. http://www.cambridge-news.co.uk/news/cambridge-news/parking-permit-charge-fee-increase-13901885

We were pleased that most of our fellow councillors on the committee (Conservatives + I Independent, but not Labour) understood where we were coming from and some had constructive ideas such as cheaper, part-day permits for short visits, and exemptions. I very much hope that we will see more acceptable proposals when we consider this again next January.

Thank you to everyone who wrote to councillors on this issue.

Children’s centres petition is IN. Decision will now be put to ALL county councillors

The councillor who chairs the Cambridgeshire County Council Children and Young People Committee, Simon Bywater, has announced that the debate on the children’s centre closures will be pulled from the 10th October committee meeting, and will instead be on the agenda of the full council meeting on 17th October. This means all county councillors will vote on the proposals.

Cllr Bywater, who took the chair of the committee in May, has issued the following statement:

“We have had a good response to the Children Centre Public Consultation with over 2000 completed responses. We welcome the level of detailed feedback and engagement we have had during this period of consultation and understand that whilst there has been some substantial support for the proposals from many residents there is also concern from others about some of the proposals.

In acknowledgment of this we have made the decision to take the consultation response and recommendations to Full Council on October 17. This will replace the planned presentation to Children and Young People Committee on October 10. We feel that this will give a wider group of councillors an opportunity to hear a wide range of views and take part in a debate before voting on the recommendations.”

Today, I went to Shire Hall to hand in our petition opposing the children’s centre closures, now on over 3,800 signatures. We will present it on the 17th October. This meeting will be open to the public, but if you wish to speak at the meeting you must inform the council by 10th October.

More children’s centre drop-in events

Following pressure from a number of concerned councillors and campaigners, the county council has announced eight more drop-in sessions about the proposals to close 19 children’s centres. The times should also be better for many working parents too. Here is an updated list of events with the new ones shown in bold.

Tuesday 15th August, 13:00-15:00, Waterbeach Children’s Centre

Wednesday 23rd August, 13:0-15:00, Oasis Children’s Centre, Wisbech

Thursday 24 August, 16:00-18:00, Cambridge Professional Development Centre, Trumpington
Wednesday 30 August, 14:00-16:00, Murrow Children’s Centre
Tuesday 5 September, 17.00-19.00, Sutton Children’s Centre
Wednesday 6 September, 17.00-19.00, Bar Hill Children’s Centre
Monday 11 September, 17.00-19.00, Linton Children’s Centre
Monday 11 September, 17.00-19.00, Bottisham Children’s Centre
Tuesday 12 September, 16:00-18:00, Ramsey Library
Wednesday 13 September, 18.30-20.00, Papworth Children’s Centre

Children’s centres consultation

Many thanks to everybody who’s signed our petition opposing the  County Council’s theats of cuts to children’s centres. It’s grown like wildfire since we launched it last Monday; this shows just how much the children’s centres and services are valued, not just by the people who use them but by the whole community.

There are two more things you can do to help:

SPREAD THE WORD

We are on 1,500 signatures after just a week, but we are aiming to get to 3,000 by September, as this will mean we can have a council debate and challenge the decision. So: can you please share the petition with your friends and family (even if you have  done so already)?

We also have some paper forms, so you can collect signatures in person and tell people about the campaign. Please email Amanda: [email protected], or leave a note on our Cambridgeshire Children’s Centres campaign Facebook page and we’ll get some forms to you.

SPEAK UP

The County Council has now launched its official consultation, which you can find at https://www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/residents/children-and-families/children-s-centres/children-s-centres-consultation/. As you can see, there are very few facts or figures behind their proposals, and they seem to be struggling to justify what is really a vicious cost-cutting exercise. Please take part, and make sure they know what you think of their plans.

The consultation runs until 22nd September. As  the school holidays are a difficult time for families, we asked the Council if they would keep the consultation open later, but our request has been ignored.

The County is putting on a consultation event on 3rd August (2.30-4.30pm) at the Arbury Community Centre in Campkin Road. As in other areas, the consultation events are not near the centres that are under threat.

Homerton Children’s Centre will have staff available to discuss the consultation at their summer events, starting with one in Holbrook Park this Friday morning (21st July), 10-1130am. Tesco’s is kindly fundingsnacks.

Homerton CC SUMMER 2017

 

Meet the Candidates: St John the Evangelist

Amidst all the excitement of an impending General Election and a metro mayor election, I am working hard defending my county council seat. Elections take place on 4th May.

Tomorrow night, Thursday 20th April, I shall be at St John’s Church for the Queen Edith’s Community Forum’s hustings for the county council elections, along with the three other candidates.

Do come along and ask questions about local issues and hear how we address these on the County Council. The County is responsible for vital services including transport, highways (streetlighting and roads maintenance) social care, health scrutiny, children’s and young people’s service, libraries and heritage.

We Liberal Democrats have published a manifesto for Cambridgeshire, which you can read here.