Milton and Beaches Lib Dems

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Milton update

by Hazel Smith on 9 June, 2012

Hazel reported to the Milton Annual Parish meeting in April about the year’s activities.

Council housing

We have 44 council houses in Milton. The council’s 5,800 houses are now to be maintained by a large private company, Mears, who have taken on the council’s staff from the depot at Waterbeach. They have promised to try to keep the standards of service high, and they will have specialist call centre staff answering the phones on the council’s usual number, which should be an improvement. Let us know if you experience any problems.

Because South Cambs District Council still owns its housing stock it has been forced to pay the government a one-off levy of £205.123m (over 205 million pounds, and the second-highest levy per house in the country). This took the form of a loan that was taken out on behalf of us all on 26th March 2012, and will be paid back over up to 49 years. This replaces the money that the council used to pay the government each year, which amounted to more than half of the £24m raised from council house rents. This change is seen as ‘not so much a tax, more an opportunity’ as being allowed to borrow this money at quite easy interest rates, means that the council will be able to pay the interest on the loan AND build up a fund to finance building new council houses in the future.

Planning and localism

The big news in Planning Policy from the government is the ability for either Parish Councils or local residents to create a Neighbourhood Plan, to allow for greater development (not less) than planned for in the District Development Plan. This could also specify the nature of local development. We’ll wait and see how much local areas use this power.

The District Council is just starting a new round of plan-making, to cover development up to the year 2031. Their Gypsy and Traveller Development Plan will continue through its stages in parallel and is now not due for adoption until late 2013. The lack of a completed Plan Document will leave the Council area vulnerable to unauthorised encampments, as from April 2013 the Council will need to show that it has a strategy to provide enough legal plots for local Traveller families when it turns down planning applications for more.

The new town of Northstowe, which featured in the previous plan, is coming closer to being a reality, and the application for Phase 1 has arrived at the council offices. There will be rounds of public consultation before it is put to the Planning Committee in the autumn of this year. Our main worry in Milton is over the possibility that some of the construction aggregates will be brought into the area through the railhead at Chesterton Sidings, behind Cowley Road, and opposite the Science Park. With construction of the new station in the same area happening possibly between 2012 and 2015, we must expect to see a lot more traffic on Milton Road in future.

“Cambridge Science Park” Station and Fen Road

The new station will be in Milton Parish, which includes the old sidings at Chesterton as well as the land between the railway and the river Cam known as Chesterton Fen.

4 years ago, I organised a petition to Anglian Water for a mains sewage connection to the Travellers area of Chesterton Fen Road, as outflows have caused lots of environmental problems down there beside the River Cam. The request was turned down, and this year the appeal was also lost. We considered going for a Judicial Review but it was likely to be too expensive. The guidelines which govern the duty to provide mains sewerage are now being reviewed by Communities and Local Government, and I asked Jim Paice MP, who is a minister in that department, to pass on our case to be considered. Julian Huppert, the Cambridge City MP also knows about it. We are pinning our hopes now on a change in the guidance, but this seems unlikely.

The caravan site owners in that area have had to improve the state of rented caravans, and have paid for some dredging of the ditch by Grassy Corner. In the Milton Environment Group, we arranged some litter picks there over the summer and more recently South Cambs has organised for Community Service workers to clear some of the worst of the litter from the road. However the regular litter picking by SCDC operatives is anything but regular.

Residents of Fen Road Chesterton in the City area are very keen that a second road is laid into Chesterton Fen in conjunction with the new station scheme. They suffer from large numbers of skip lorries passing their doors, day and night, going to the businesses down there. This was the most popular action point from a packed meeting earlier this year, which was discussing improvements to Fen Road.

Planning in Milton

The Gemmix concrete batching plant at Cambridge Road beside the cycle bridge is still causing a serious nuisance: planning conditions are being breached and planning enforcement officers are in contact with the operators of the site.

A new development in the same area beside the cycle bridge will be a Fire Tower and training facility for Cambs Fire and Rescue, which will replace their facilities which were behind the fire station at Parkers Piece. This should be up and running by the summer this year, so in future we should have firefighters on hand in the village in case of emergency for much of the time.

The field by the A14 is now being marketed for ‘Open Storage’ and I have asked the planning department whether there has been any advice from them to the owners or agents, as this would seem to be a most unsuitable land use at this prominent entrance to the village.

The Section 106 agreement for the Rowing Lake has still not been signed, so the planning permission has not been issued.

Licensing

There has been an application to extend the hours of operation at the Jolly Brewers, to which there have been a large number of objections. This is likely now to be decided at a licensing committee hearing in May. [This was granted, with slightly earlier closing times than some of the pubs in the village, as a concession to the quiet nature of the surrounding area.]

Ageing well – healthy living

SCDC hosted a half-day local session of consultation between professionals, local older people and their carers and helpers on what services need to be improved for older people, to help them remain in their own homes and living active and healthy lives for as long as possible. We talked about Community Care schemes, day care centres, sheltered housing, transport, GP referrals for exercise schemes, and a multitude of other topics. As County Social Care budgets are being cut, it will be more and more necessary for communities to take the sort of role that our parish council does and more.

This is now a District Council responsibility, to promote healthy living, under the Health and Wellbeing Board structure.

Liaison with Tesco

We met with the manager a couple of times, but only heard after the event that they intended to close the pedestrian entrance by the filling station – the one used by many people on foot and by bike. After protests the old route in was reinstated. I am due for another meeting with the Tesco manager – please let me know if there are any issues you would like me to raise.

Neighbourhood Watch

At the last Neighbourhood Panel (police) meeting in Cottenham, they were trying to promote NHW in various villages. While some villages had nothing, Milton has had 9 different roads with area NHW coordinators, though I think some may be less active than others. If anyone is keen to find out how to get involved, please let me know.

I would like to thank the parish council and the assistant clerk for their support throughout the year, and particularly thanks to Jim, our clerk, for his service to the village over the last 30 years, on his imminent retirement. Having an approachable clerk and a well-run parish office does make the job of district councillor a lot less burdensome and a much more pleasant experience.

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