Fly-tipping at Pound Lane

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Yesterday evening a group of Sutton residents – Mark Inskip, Brett Collard and myself – asked a series of questions at the Community & Environment Committee of East Cambridgeshire District Council.  Our aim was to get the council to commit to doing something about the perpetual nuisance of fly-tipping.

Mark (pictured here with me at the Pound Lane recycling point) asked whether the council would improve the signage at the site and consider using CCTV to identify fly-tippers.  The current rather weather-beaten sign directs residents to the recycling centre at Grunty Fen, which was closed 18 months ago!  The council’s response was that there was no money for better signage, though they would put up some small laminated notices on the bins at the centre directing people to Witchford.  They also, apparently, have the wrong kind of CCTV equipment, which can’t be installed at Pound Lane – and no money for better equipment, either.

Brett asked whether the council would stop discouraging residents from preserving evidence of the identity of fly-tippers gathered from dumped rubbish.  The council’s response was that this made it more difficult for the council to prove its case against fly-tippers in court – although, as the council has not mounted any prosecutions at all in the last three years relating to fly-tipping in Sutton, it’s hard to see the logic of this answer.

Finally, I asked whether the council had any plans to improve on the current three full working days which is the target for the council to clear up fly-tipping at Pound Lane after it has been reported.  The council did agree that this has been a problem, and has said it will introduce a regular three-day-a-week clean-up schedule for the Pound Lane site in view of the ongoing problems we have experienced here.  That at least is good news.

The council has only one enforcement officer to deal with fly-tippers across the whole of East Cambridgeshire.  It’s therefore little surprise that the council’s record of action on fly-tipping isn’t as robust as, for example, that of next-door South Cambridgeshire.  But the residents who set this campaign in motion have been promised a meeting with the enforcement officer, where we’ll be able to discuss what else could and should be done to address this all-too-regular nuisance.

Annual meeting of the electorate

Tonight saw the annual meeting of the electorate for residents of Sutton, at the Glebe.

Sgt Mark Yeldham from the Ely South policing team gave an informative presentation on tackling crime in the district, with the good news that most forms of crime have been reducing while detection rates have been rising, and that Sutton is an area of comparatively low crime.

County and district councillor Philip Read – currently chairman of the Planning Committee – arrived at that point and made a similar presentation to the one at Tuesday’s parish council AGM.  A questioner asked him why the district council had flown in the face of planning principles in choosing to site Ely’s new leisure facility in the proposed out-of-town location, to which Cllr Read replied that the council owned the land concerned.  I’m not convinced that that’s a sound argument for locating leisure provision somewhere where it can’t be reached by public transport and is disconnected from the rest of the city and its amenities.  Surely a leisure park near to rail and bus services would be more appropriate?

Representatives from the Youth Club then spoke about some of their recent projects; they were asked whether they were keen to have a permanent skate park locally, and if so where in the village they would suggest it be placed.  The temporary skate park which had visited recently had cost £700 for six hours.

Parish councillor Ian Dewar reminded everyone that there are three vacancies on the parish council.  The next election to the parish council is in 2015 so the term of office would be less than two years.  If you are interested, or know someone who might be, more information is available on the parish council’s web site including an email address to contact the parish clerk.

Sutton Parish Council AGM

Just back from sitting in on the Parish Council AGM at the Pavilion tonight, where Bob Browne and Mark Inskip have been re-elected unopposed as Chairman and Vice-Chairman respectively.

There were questions from parish councillors to county councillor Phil Read about improving the road between Willingham and Earith, and about why the district council has taken the unusual step of abolishing its scrutiny committee and thereby reducing its accountability.  And the decision was made to grant £1,000 to the Feast Committee – hurrah!

It’s good to see the Parish Council in such a healthy state considering the situation it was facing two years ago.  There’s an appropriate amount of money in reserves, and some good work by the various working parties and panels bringing the council into shape with improved IT and tidier procedures.  All very heartening.

Good news for local small businesses

1,570 small businesses in North East Cambridgeshire will benefit from a cut to employers’ National Insurance contributions announced in the recent Queen’s Speech. The National Insurance employment allowance of £2,000 will reduce the cost of employment and help small businesses which want to grow and hire their first employee or expand their workforce.  In these difficult times, that’s really good news.

Nellie’s new charities

Excitement at Nellie’s community café at the school this morning as two large cheques were presented to local organisations: £250 to Sutton Rangers for equipment for the youth football team, and £900 towards the church floor appeal.  The money was raised by café volunteers and customers.

Nellie’s has announced the charities it will be supporting for the coming six months.  One is the Triangle Club for local senior citizens; the other is to support local children who use wheelchairs to play boccia at the Upside Down Sports Club in St Ives. Both excellent causes, and even more of a reason to come along to Nellie’s and enjoy a coffee and cake or one of their legendary bacon sandwiches.

Nellie’s opens its doors from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm on the second Wednesday and last Friday of every month, at the school and Scott Court respectively.

Fly-tipping

The recent episode of fly-tipping at the recycling centre at The Brook in Sutton has caused a great deal of comment.  A group of residents gathered at The Chequers tonight to start putting together a series of questions to East Cambridgeshire District Council about their service standards for tackling fly-tipping; their policies and practice on enforcing the law on fly-tipping and dealing with offenders; and what help they might be prepared to give to adequately sign the recycling area at The Brook and monitor what goes on there.  The next meeting of the council’s Community & Environment Committee is on Thursday 13 June which is when we’re expecting to put our questions to councillors.

Fun4Life

A brilliant event at The Glebe in Sutton this afternoon. Rain didn’t stop play, and there were all sorts of stalls and events promoting healthy living, including a presence from organisations such as Weightwatchers, St John Ambulance and Care Network.  Various demonstrations were on offer from yoga to the young people’s dance; and I ended up bringing home a plastic measure showing units of alcohol in various drinks; and a mango!  A big well done to all involved in making it happen.

The result

Thursday’s election in Sutton resulted in Conservative Philip Read holding his seat with 817 votes.  I’m very grateful to the 542 local residents who voted for me, resulting in second place.  The Labour candidate came third with 295 votes.

Across Cambridgeshire as a whole, the Conservatives have lost overall control of the county council.  In the process their leader Nick Clarke was defeated in his Fulbourn seat by Liberal Democrat John Williams, who worked hard for his win and will make an excellent county councillor.

We wait now to see whether the Conservatives will try to run the council alone without a majority, or to form a coalition with the newly increased UKIP contingent on the council. The second option would be interesting, as many new UKIP councillors appear not to have been prepared to win their seats, and in many cases didn’t even turn up to the counting of the votes.  What sort of contribution will they make to the council?

Wheelie bins update

Wheelie bins are on the way in East Cambridgeshire, to help address our area’s appalling recycling record – the worst in the county.

Over the course of the next six weeks or so, the council will be carrying out a survey of all properties in the district.  Clearly they can’t visit every property, so this will largely be a desk exercise – spatial mapping, aerial photographs, and so on, though some of it may be done on foot – and they hope to have it completed at the end of May or so.

Once that is done, the information will be uploaded to the council’s web site, and there will also be a publicity campaign. Residents should then be able to visit the website to see whether or not their home is expected to house the new bins, or contact the council by phone once the information is ready (not yet, as they won’t have the data). The council can then explore options.

The kind of properties that are likely to be judged unsuitable for wheelie bins include flats, terraces with no rear access, communal properties, or properties with slopes and steps. The council will also talk to its existing waste collection contractors to take a view on some properties.

The more properties can house the new bins, the better the improvement in recycling rates is likely to be – though the arrangements the council is putting in place are a strange half-way house with black sacks for non-recyclables as well as wheelie bins for recyclable waste.  But if you know your property can’t accommodate wheelie bins, you’ll have the chance to discuss this with the council before too long.