Funding for community-run businesses

This just in, with opportunities for funding for local community-run businesses.

My name is George, and I am a Project Support Officer for Plunkett UK and I am writing to raise awareness of a funding opportunity in your area.

Plunkett UK has received funding from Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority to support communities in the area’s market towns and rural hinterlands to save assets which are at risk of closure, or which have already closed, or to bring new services to their locale.

Plunkett supports people in rural areas to set up and run a wide range of businesses which are genuinely owned by local communities, whereby members have equal and democratic control. They represent community businesses throughout the UK, from shops and pubs through to woodlands, farms, and fisheries.

Funding from the Combined Authority has enabled Plunkett to offer community groups exploring community business as a way to address their communities’ needs, free packages of business support covering everything from financial planning to governance, plus feasibility grants of up to £5,000 and capital grants of up to £45,000.

Business support and grants will be available until March 2025 and can be accessed by contacting Plunkett on 01993 630 022 or emailing

More information can be found here:

Priors Field Sutton—NHS reaches decision

Excellent news today from the NHS in Cambridgeshire. Chief Executive Jan Thomas writes:

“As you are aware, we have been working on a longer-term solution for general practice provision in Sutton. As part of this we undertook an extensive review of existing buildings and potential land purchase options to house general practice services, for current and future residents of Sutton and the surrounding villages.  

Following this comprehensive review of options, it has been agreed that the optimal solution is to purchase and retrofit the current Priors Field Surgery building. This assessment was based on criteria relating to i) service need; ii) value for money; iii) deliverability and risk; iv) wider benefits and social value.  

We believe that the current Priors Field Surgery building (once brought up to the appropriate standard) will provide patients with continuity of care from the existing central village location, ensuring ease of access and minimal disruption to staff and patients. The decision to start negotiations with the current property owner was therefore approved by our Commissioning and Investment Committee in December 2023, and ratified by the ICB Board today (12 January 2024). 

We remain committed to working with the local community, including the Patient Participation Group with whom we’re in regular contact, to ensure Sutton and the surrounding areas continue to have general practice services that meet their needs both now and in the future. We will be updating our dedicated public webpage – regarding today’s decision and will continue to keep you informed regarding timescales and developments.”

I’ve long held the view that together, Priors Field, the One Stop, and the pharmacy are a ‘golden triangle’ that hold the centre of our village together. I’m therefore very pleased that the NHS has taken this decision which will be in the interests of all our residents.

Flooding update: Storm Henk

Flood image from 2021 (Lorna Dupré)

What’s happened so far

In the first four days of January Cambridgeshire County Council has received 37 reports of flooding across the county—and more are still coming in.

The Council is contacting all community flood groups and Parish Councils in the affected areas to offer any support it can, and will continue to check in with them over the next couple of weeks.

In some parts of Cambridgeshire over a month’s worth of rain has already fallen in just the first four days of January, onto ground that is already saturated. The Environment Agency said in mid-December that the soil moisture deficit was 0mm in places—ie the soil had no capacity to soak up any more water.

The average monthly rainfall for January locally is 48.62mm, but Environment Agency rain gauges for the first four days of the month indicate 35.4mm already in Ely, 44mm near Fulbourn, 44.8mm in March, 46.4mm in St Ives, and 52.9mm in Brampton.

The Council expects to receive further flood reports over the coming days—and indeed I received three more this morning which I have passed on to the County Council to add to the growing list across Sutton, Mepal, and Pymoor. So far, the immediate forecast is for several dry days and a period of cold weather, but some rain is forecast upstream around Milton Keynes and Buckingham which feeds the River Great Ouse. This means we could see rising river levels into next week.

I’ve reported to the County Council’s flood and water team and drainage and resilience team every instance of flooding in the first few days of this year that has been advised to me, and will continue to keep a log so that I can check progress with council officers as they carry out their flood investigations.

Reporting flooding

  • For flood or storm issues which are an immediate threat to life call 999.
  • For highways emergencies that are a risk to property call 0345 045 5212 9:00AM to 5:00PM Monday to Friday, or the Police on 101 out of hours. See also
  • To report existing flooding visit

Checking river levels

  • To check the river level at Earith before your journey, visit
  • For Sutton Gault, it’s
  • And for Welney, it’s

Help and support at Christmas

For whatever reason, not everyone will feel ready or able to join in with Christmas festivities. If you’re struggling, here are some of the people who are there to help.

  • Samaritans 116123
  • NSPH 0800 6895652 (suicide prevention helpline)
  • CALM 0800 585858 (Campaign Against Living Miserably)
  • Refuge 0808 2000247 (women and child victims of domestic violence)
  • Rape Crisis 0808 5002222
  • MAL 0808 8010327 (Men’s Advice Line—male victims of domestic violence)
  • LGBT+ 0800 0119100
  • Age UK 0800 6781602
  • ChildLine 0800 1111
  • AA 0800 9177650 (alcohol addiction)
  • FRANK 0300 1236600 (drugs advice)

Flooding at Witcham cemetery

Witcham Parish Council recently contacted me and the county council over a blocked drain causing flooding of some of the graves at Witcham cemetery.

The county council’s highways maintenance team and their contractor Milestone met with their drainage specialists onsite on Friday 22 December. They were able to remove four tankers’ worth of water to alleviate the flooding and lower the water level in the ditch. They were also able to do some jetting but hit an obstruction in the pipework between the open ditch and another ditch at the end of a hedge line.

This information is now with the county council’s Flood Risk Management Team and investigations will continue in the new year. Thanks to all involved.

The deckchairs are in a different place, but it’s still the Titanic

I was invited on to BBC Radio Cambridgeshire this morning to respond to the move of North East Cambridgeshire’s MP Stephen Barclay from Health to Environment.

What did I say?

Well, I made the obvious point that the deckchairs may be in a different place, but the Titanic is still heading towards the iceberg.

I pointed out that there are national challenges he needs to address, like climate change and the water pollution scandal. But I said Cambridgeshire also faces local environmental issues.

  • Flood risk in the north of the county; water shortages in the south.
  • The need to get 25,000 homes off oil, and retrofit many thousands more.
  • Carbon emissions from our peatland, and how to cut these while continuing to farm and to feed the nation.
  • Transport, the biggest source of carbon in Cambridgeshire.
  • And being asked to tackle all of that while meeting demands for huge growth in and around Cambridge.

There are things the new Environment Secretary can do directly. Implement sensible funding regimes, not ones where bidding rounds for funding open, then run dry within ten minutes. Real serious investment in flood defences to protect vulnerable communities and in decarbonising our homes and buildings.

But he also needs to be the voice calling for action across Government. He needs to be talking to Transport ministers about money to repair and rebuild the fen roads damaged by the effects of extreme weather on their soil base; and about major public transport and active travel investment, and an electric vehicle charging network that meets the growing demand. He needs to be talking to Defra about being helpful to Cambridgeshire in trying to move to weekly food waste collection under new Government demands when we are constrained and limited by a waste PFI (private finance initiative) contract that runs until 2036.

But most of all, we need to know where we stand with Government. David Cameron is now back in Government as Foreign Secretary, but when he was Prime Minister it didn’t take him long to move from hugging a husky to demanding that the Government should ‘cut all the green cr*p’ (a direct quote that earned a rap on the knuckles from presenter Louise Hulland). The present Government is moving away from its environmental targets as fast as it can, in response to vociferous and powerful lobbying.

Stephen Barclay needs to answer one very simple question: is this going to be a Government that is serious about tackling climate change and the threats to our environment, or not?

Flooding—Storm Babet and after

Now that Storm Babet has passed, Cambridgeshire County Council is reviewing all the flood incidents reported to it on Friday and over the weekend.

A number of residents have contacted me about local flood-related issues, and I’ve shared the information I have with the County Council’s Highways department and Flood & Water team.

If you have been affected by flooding at the weekend, and haven’t reported it to the County Council, please do so, as it’s really important to build up a full picture of what happened.

You can report flood issues affecting your home or property here. This is not the place to report flooding in an emergency.

You can report highways-related flooding (blocked road drains, sewers, gullies, for example) here.

Black sack delivery reminder

This year’s black sack delivery to East Cambridgeshire residents should be complete by Tuesday 31 October.

Residents will receive a roll of 52 sacks. If you require any further black sacks throughout the year, these can be purchased in any supermarket (or ask on local Facebook groups whether anyone has any spare). Please use only black sacks, as this avoids any confusion with any kerbside charity collections taking place at the same time.

If you have not received your black sacks by 31 October, please contact the district council before 30 November to report your sack delivery as missed. After 30 November, the council will no longer be re-delivering black sack rolls.

Can you reduce the amount you put in your black sacks? Remember, food (cooked or uncooked) and garden waste goes in your green bin, and mixed dry recyclables in your blue bin. Please see the council’s web pages for more information about what can go in your blue and green lidded bin, how to compost at home, or advice on reusable items such as nappies. You can also contact the council Waste Team for advice by emailing