County Councillor’s Report May 2021

Cllr Ros Hathorn Tel: 07548 745197,  Ros.Hathorn@cambridgeshire.gov.uk

Like many months during the pandemic looking back to the start of the month from the vantage point of the final week the events of the first week seem like the distant past.  So let me take you back to where my journey as county councillor began on a rainy and sunny election day on Thursday May 6.

A lot of hard work and planning behind the scenes was necessary to achieve this but May 6 demonstrated that Covid safe elections were possible.  The next Covid change to standard procedure was attending the count, this was on a strict invitation only basis and took place at Duxford Imperial War Museum.  I left Duxford several hours later with the exciting and nerve wracking prospect of being the next county councillor for Histon & Impington division. I have added a paragraph about numbers to the end of this report.

This is my first monthly report as your county councillor. Thank you to everyone who put their faith in me and voted for me. I know there is a lot to do to make sure I do a good job. I hope to have a good relationship with the parish and community councils and the residents and businesses in this division.

Full Council

The election results have lead to a change in leadership on the county council. Leadership of the county council has switched from the Conservative group to a joint administration of Liberal Democrats, Labour and Independents with Lucy Nethsingha (Newnham, Lib Dem) taking becoming leader of the county council and Elisa Meschini (Kings Hedges, Labour and Orchard Park resident) as deputy leader.   There was procedural business and motions of thanks but the main business of the full council meeting on May 18 was to formalise the change of leadership and a change in committee structure with numbers reduced by 1 to 6 with Health and adult Social care merged into a single ‘Adults and Health committee’.

This was the only committee meeting in May, committees are scheduled to begin again after June 21.

Libraries

The Histon & Impington Mobile Library has a new home at the old infant school, New School Road, Histon, CB24 9LL Mondays 10am-6pm and Thursdays 2-6pm.  I spoke to the libraries service who advised me that the Histon service was the most popular mobile library service during the pandemic.  The new library building on the school hill development is set to open in the autumn but prior to that there will be public consultation on the design.

Cycling and Walking Consultation

Hot on the heels of the EW Rail consultation is the Cycling and Walking Consultation which will inform strategy for the county and runs until 6 July.  I would encourage as many people as possible to contribute to.  I will be raising the profile of this and trying to really pin down the local issues to feed them back into the survey myself so please get in touch and let me know what is important in terms of planning for walking and cycling.

https://consultcambs.uk.engagementhq.com/ccc-local-cycling-and-walking-infrastructure-plan-consultation-2021

Recycling Centre Consultation

Residents are being invited to have their say on plans by Cambridgeshire County Council to develop a new household recycling centre (HRC) at Milton via a virtual exhibition where they can find out more about the proposed facility, view site layout plans and leave their feedback. The virtual exhibition will go live at 9am on Tuesday 15 June, with residents having until 11.55pm on Monday 28 June to have their say.

The recycling centre will be ‘decoupled’ from the landfill part of the site as that is due to be decommissioned.  ‘This new proposed facility at Milton will offer many benefits to our residents. As well as offering increased capacity to accommodate the needs of our growing population, the proposals also include better traffic management on site to reduce queueing, a roofed-over reuse shop, and access and parking for cyclists. The site would also be split-level, enabling residents to dispose of their waste without needing to climb steps.’

More information about the proposals, including details of the virtual exhibition, will be available at www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/milton-HRC-consultation ahead of the start of the consultation.

Highways

Highways I met with the Local Highways Officer (LHO) for Histon & Impington and hope to meet with the LHO for those south of the A14 next month (I already have a camera full of photos for issues in Kings Meadow and have had an initial tour of Orchard Park with Andrew Chan). 

Reactive Maintenance – Local Highways Officers deal in reactive maintenance, they will fix potholes, request that hedges are cut back, cut back county council hedges (by hand during nesting season if necessary), scrape back pavements which have become covered in organic matter and vegetation, unblock gulleys (drains on public roads as I have always known them) and all other maintenance issues.  They are also responsible for decisions about road resurfacing (see below). 

Reporting Faults – The process for getting reactive maintenance done is to report the issue on the ‘report a fault’ page on the county council website.

https://www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/residents/travel-roads-and-parking/roads-and-pathways/roadworks-and-faults

Standard faults (not including major work such as resurfacing a road) will be assessed and a decision made within 10 working days.  Work will take place within 12 weeks but it will be much faster in some instances.  If you have concerns about any maintenance issue please report it but feel free to send me an email and I can follow up. 

There is no space within the LHO’s system for an ‘I’d like to keep an eye on this’ type of issue.  So if something is a problem but hasn’t quite reached the criteria where it should be mended it will be recorded as ‘not needing work’.  This is frustrating for residents and something it would be good to remedy (councillors are aware of this).  The only solution to this currently is to keep on reporting issues over a period of months until the problem does reach the criteria required to be fixed.  For example, potholes will not be mended until they are sufficiently large. 

Reduced Mobility – Reactive maintenance goes as far as dropping a kerb and installing an unmarked crossing.  I have already raised one issue of disability access (the blob of concrete at the Cambridge Road/ Bridge Road traffic lights) but this is something it would be great to work on as a community.  So please if you have reduced mobility and you really need a dropped kerb installing or there is another issue get in touch.  Lets see if we can really improve access for those with reduced mobility.

Overgrown Hedges – The LHO will contact residents about overgrown hedges but suggested the parish council could helpfully remind residents twice a year that cutting overgrown hedges is the householder’s responsibility.   It may feel like people have heard it before but I think this is a useful message to repeat ongoingly.

Here are some answers to commonly asked questions about roads in Histon & Impington (the parallels between LHO’s and beauticians are quite pronounced).

Why have Alstead Road, Clay Street, Highfield Road etc been resurfaced they weren’t in bad condition?  – There are three types of surface treatment.  These roads were identified as starting to show wear and if you treat them now as part of the Micro Asphalt/ Gripfibre surface treatment program they may last another 10-15 years.  So these streets have had a top level re-surface as a preventative measure.  I don’t know why it’s spelt ‘program’ not ‘programme’.

Why don’t they resurface Station Road?Station Road is on the list for the next level of treatment, the micro crack scheme.  Which Park Lane received in the last couple of years.  This is a deeper and more expensive process so we will only get this in one area once a year (if we are lucky).

Milton Road is in a terrible state what are they going to do about this?  -The LHO fully acknowledged that it is in a poor state the only option apart from patching up was a full resurface; the most expensive treatment.  This is a consequence of too much traffic using an aging road.   The road is on the list for a full resurfacing, which means it would ideally be done within the next 3 years, it’s currently around number 8 on the list, however, it is subject to being bumped down the list if other roads in an even worse state of repair come to light.

There is a willingness within the new administration to make the money go further although they will be sticking to the budgets already agreed for the next 12 months.   The new administration know only too well that they have 4 years to prove themselves in terms of improving the quality of the local road network.  Fingers crossed that leads to tangible improvements here. 

….and finally for the budding psephologists the Local Elections by numbers

The turnout for the county council election in Histon & Impington division was 45.95%

The turnout for the neighbourhood plan referendum was 51.24% (across a different and smaller group of voters).

I have struggled to find a turnout figure for the entire county but in many divisions turnout was around 30% so we do have an engaged electorate.

Turnout for the December 2019 General election in SE Cambs was 74.2%.

The results for Histon & Impington in the local elections May 2021 were:

Ros Hathorn Liberal Democrats 2240 votes, 57.1%

Steven Mastin, Conservative 725, 19.5%

Khadija Arsalan, Labour 630, 16.1%

Sandra Ann Archer, Green 327, 8.3%

Final numbers for the full county council by political group are;

Conservative 28

Liberal Democrat 20

Labour 9

Independent 2

St Neots Independent group 2

The map below demonstrates what a challenge it is for both the opposition and controlling groups to make decisions which work for everyone in the county.  Life in Cambridge city centre is very different from life in Wisbech how you reconcile that with the types of decision you make is an ongoing challenge particularly considering the political differences by area.

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