Cambridgeshire Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) Programme

The Cambridgeshire Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) Programme is starting up again for the summer holidays.

The scheme offers funded places for eligible primary and secondary school children, and young people can attend subject to availability.

This summer’s programme is open between 23 July and 30 August. Registered holiday schemes will offer up to 64 hours of free attendance with a range of fun experiences. A healthy meal and snacks will be offered.

Find out more here about eligibility and booking, and see the directory of providers here. Locally in the Sutton division, schemes will be operating at Butterflies Forest School in Witchford, and at Sutton Primary School in Sutton. Other schemes are also available in Ely, Soham, Littleport, and elsewhere across Cambridgeshire.

Join the conversation: shaping our new and improved bus routes

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority have been designing improvements to the public transport network, with thirty new and improved bus routes funded by the Mayoral Precept. (I’m particularly excited about the prospect of a bus service from Sutton to the guided busway at Longstanton, something I’ve been lobbying for since 2016!)

These services are intended for implementation this autumn. The detail of these services is available here: Better Buses

There are online sessions tonight and tomorrow where you can have your say on the new and revised bus routes, provide feedback, and help shape the future of public transport in our community.

Event Details

  • Wednesday 12 and Thursday 13 June 2024
  • Time: 6:30PM – 7:30PM

These events will be online, and a link will be provided when you register.

Why attend?

  • Look at the proposed route maps and detailed plans for each new and improved bus route.
  • Share your views and feedback directly with the planners and decision-makers.
  • Help refine and perfect these routes before they are finalised.
  • Learn about the next steps in the process, including procurement and the release of individual route posters this summer.

How to take part

  • Secure your spot—register at
  • Use the registration form to submit your questions for the session      
  • Participate in the online event on your chosen date.
  • Engage in discussions and provide your valuable input.

Don’t miss this opportunity to influence the future of our area’s public transport system.

Shingles and pneumonia vaccinations—are you eligible?

I’ve just had my first shingles vaccination today, with excellent service from the practice nurse at Priors Field GP practice in Sutton.

It’s the first in a course of two, with the second due in eight weeks. Older patients who had their shingles vaccination more than a couple of years ago will have had just one injection, with a live vaccine called Zostavax. But because that was not usable for immuno-compromised people, it’s been replaced for everyone with a two-part course of a non-live vaccine called Shingrix.

On 1 September 2023, the Shingles National Immunisation Programme changed, and more people are now eligible for free shingles vaccination on the NHS. You are now eligible if you’re:

  • 50 years and over with a severely weakened immune system (severely immunocompromised)—those aged 18-49 receiving a stem cell transplant may also be eligible (speak to your specialist).
  • Turning 65 years old—you’ll be eligible from your 65th birthday.
  • 70-79 years of age.

Check your eligibility at and contact your GP practice if you meet the criteria.

While I was there, the practice nurse also told me I was eligible for a pneumonia vaccination, and recommended I had it, which I did, in the other arm.

This is a single injection which helps protect against serious illnesses like pneumonia and meningitis. It’s recommended for people at higher risk of these illnesses, such as babies and adults aged 65 and over.

Check your eligibility at and again contact your GP practice if you meet the criteria.

Cambridgeshire County Council annual meeting

Today’s annual meeting of the County Council took place at Alconbury Weald, and began at 10:30AM with the re-election of Cllr Sebastian Kindersley as Chair and Cllr Doug Dew as Vice Chair.

The meeting marked the deaths of two former members of the Council’s staff with a minute’s silence. There were a number of public questions, all related to highways and transport matters, and recommendations for changes in the Council’s constitution which were agreed without debate.

The chairs and vice-chairs of committees, and members of committees, for the coming year were agreed.

Five motions had been submitted for debate.

The first motion, from Cllr Alex Beckett (Lib Dem), was about the opportunities and risks of new technologies. The motion was altered by the proposer before being moved and debated, and its main proposal was to work with the Combined Authority to create a technology partnership to predict and prepare for future technological change. It was approved by 51 votes in favour, none against, and three abstentions.

The second motion, from Cllr Dr Geoff Seeff (Lib Dem), was about food labelling for allergens, and the devastating effects for those with allergies resulting from failures of labelling. There were several first-hand anecdotes, and I felt somewhat isolated in having neither an allergy nor a doctorate. This was also approved, by 54 votes in favour, none against, and just one abstention.

The third motion, from Cllr Steve Count (Conservative), called for all existing and new 20MPH proposals to be reviewed to ensure compliance with new non-compulsory guidance from the Government, and a change in the constitution to require such proposals to be decided by committee. Cllr Piers Coutts (Ely South) spoke extremely well to put facts straight about the consultation on the Ely scheme, and challenge the idea of full compliance with non-compulsory guidance. I also spoke in the debate, as did many other councillors. The motion was defeated by 20 votes in favour to 32 votes against.

The fourth motion, from Cllr Lucy Nethsingha (Lib Dem), concerned the withdrawal by the Government of funding to improve air quality. It was approved by 36 votes in favour to 11 against, with seven abstentions.

The fifth and final motion, from Cllr Dr Susan van de Ven (Lib Dem), was a call for the council and its partners to strengthen international links and rebuild more collaborative relationships with international partners. This too was approved, by 35 votes to just one against, with sixteen abstentions.

Finally there were questions to the Leader of the Council Lucy Nethsingha in her role as the council’s appointee to the Combined Authority Board, and to Cllrs Anna Bradnam and Mark Goldsack as appointees to the Combined Authority’s Overview & Scrutiny Committee, all about bus services. The meeting concluded at 2:28PM.

Post office services update for Sutton

As recently reported the Mepal Post Office branch and shop are closing temporarily for a refurbishment until Thursday 29 August 2024.

Meanwhile the Post Office has announced today that its Sutton branch in the One Stop is due to close on Thursday 27 June at 5:30PM. As previously advertised, the One Stop national management no longer wished to host the facility at its Sutton store. Instead the Post Office will be opening a reduced service called Drop & Collect in the One Stop, starting on Saturday 6 July at 9:00AM.

The Post Office says: “Drop & Collect will offer services from a handheld device, allowing customers to maintain access to bill payments and prepaid parcel services from the current branch location.” The services available will be parcel collect and return (prepaid only), bill payments, and mobile top-up services. These will be open Monday to Sunday 7:00AM to 10:00PM.

For Post Office services other than this very limited offer, residents are advised to travel to Witchford or Ely.

As there will be a two-month overlap between the closure of the Sutton Post Office and the reopening of the Mepal Post Office and shop, I have asked what will happen in this period. The Post Office has said it is exploring whether a temporary service can be provided to customers during this time and will share further updates if this is possible.

Meanwhile in the longer term, the Post Office did advertise the opportunity to run a Post Office branch from another retail outlet in Sutton. Not surprisingly, given everything we have seen on television recently about the experiences of sub-postmasters, this appears not to have resulted in any applications. If anyone is interested in providing this service in the village, then they might want to contact Post Office Limited.

New and improved bus routes for our area

New bus routes and improvements to existing routes are on the way, paid for by the Mayor’s Precept.

Locally these will include an additional Ely Zipper between Sutton and Ely taking in villages in between. And a new service will operate between Ely and Longstanton Park & Ride, via Witchford, Sutton, Earith and Willingham—something I have been lobbying for for years.

A demand-responsive travel solution for rural areas across most of East Cambridgeshire is also being worked on. Development will focus on Isleham and Little Downham and wider communities.

I’m delighted that significant moves are being made to improve bus provision locally—despite the Leader of East Cambridgeshire District Council voting against this funding when the Combined Authority Board was asked to approve the budget.

The routes still need to be procured and individual posters for each route will be released in the summer.

The Combined Authority’s web page on the bus proposals includes district-by-district explanations of the proposed routes, with maps. There’s also a very quick survey to fill in—please do!

Greener Together

Community energy was abundant at the Greener Together event at the Gardiner Memorial Hall in Burwell, which Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate Charlotte Cane and I attended today.

Billed as ‘showcasing local community-led green initiatives’, the afternoon did just that, with stalls full of information and a packed programme of speakers.

Paul Webb from Burwell Parish Council and Wendy Lansdown from Cambridgeshire County Council welcomed everyone to the event, and then three speakers – me, Eithne George from the County Council and Emma Danielson from the District Council – set the scene for the day.

I referenced the County Council’s environmental ambitions, and the variety of opportunities there were to ensure a ‘just transition’ – a move to a more sustainable economy and environment with local support that leaves no-one behind. For me, communities are at the heart of these ambitions, which is why I put forward East Cambridgeshire to the County Council as a pilot area to explore decentralisation of some of the decision-making around the environmental agenda.

The discussion group leaders for the afternoon then introduced the topics for their sessions: community energy plans with Eithne George and Chris Parkin, repair cafés with Sandy Skelton, retrofitting the Gardiner Hall with Paul Webb, biodiversity net gain with Peter Bates of East Cambs CAN, and the Top 20 Actions for East Cambs with Emma Danielson.

This was a great opportunity to gather together so many like-minded people and share ideas, opportunities and the commitment we have to a greener, fairer Cambridgeshire.

Mepal Post Office temporary closure

Due to extensive building work planned at Mepal Post Office, Post Office Ltd has announced that its branch there will need to close temporarily.

The service will close on Wednesday 29 May 2024 at 5:30PM. The work is expected to take approximately three months to complete, following which the service is set to re-open on Thursday 29 August 2024 at 9:00AM.

A letter about the temporary closure of Mepal Post Office is available on the Post Office website. It refers residents to two alternative post offices, Sutton and Witchford. It advises that Sutton Post Office ‘offers similar services, with the addition of Vehicle Tax, and Euro Travel Money’.

However, Sutton Post Office was subject to a consultation last year which stated that ‘Sutton Post Office will be closing March 2024’ but that ‘One Stop has agreed to operate a Post Office Drop & Collect, which is a lighter branch format, from the same location’. A vacancy for a full Post Office in Sutton was advertised in the early part of 2024 on, but that advertisement has now closed.

I have therefore written to Post Office Ltd to query the current status of Sutton Post Office and the services available from it, and to ask what the result was of the advertisement of the Sutton Post Office opportunity which closed in March, and what the plans of the Post Office are now regarding provision of Post Office services at the One Stop in Sutton or elsewhere in the village.

Post Office branch information can be found on the Post Office website.

Regional Flood & Coastal Committee

An all-day meeting of the Anglian (Great Ouse) Regional Flood & Coastal Committee today—in the bracing sea air of, er, Alconbury Weald.

A formal morning meeting discussing funding for, and progress of, flood defence work in the Great Ouse catchment area, with presentations on flood modelling, and on Fens 2100+. I’ve been involved in these meetings for a few years now, and it seems that the Environment Agency is increasingly being robustly challenged on its performance.

Unusually there’s a large number of residents present, for an item on the agenda scheduled for just ten minutes—dilapidation of the sluices at St Ives and Brownshill Staunch, where some of the gates have had to be left stuck in the down position, affecting water levels. Government funding for maintenance like this just isn’t anywhere near enough—we’re told that the Environment Agency received one-tenth of the funding they asked for from the Government.

In the afternoon, there’s an informal workshop for Committee members to discuss priorities for the future. Lots of post-it notes as always, and useful discussion about asset management, funding, collaboration, data and community engagement.

EV charge points in village car parks

Cambridgeshire County Council is looking to work with parish and town councils to provide locations to host one or more electric vehicle charge points in their village car parks.

Following a successful first information session, the council will be hosting a second online session on Thursday 9 May 2024 at 1:00-2:00PM for parish and town council representatives who were unable to attend and want to find out more.

If you are a parish or town council interested in this scheme please sign up for the online information session by Tuesday 7 May.

The County Council is developing a funding application to the Government’s Local EV Infrastructure (LEVI) fund. This is supporting large-scale deployment of slow (7kW) chargepoints where residents without access to off-street parking (ie no driveway or garage) can charge an electric vehicle near their home. The Council wants to ensure an equitable distribution of chargepoints across the county, and to work with parish councils to enable a faster roll-out across more rural communities.

Parish councils would need to own or have a long-term lease for the proposed car park, and wider community-owned assets are also eligible. For those communities that do not have such assets, the Council will be looking to support with chargepoints on the public highway.