Good news on mobile phone chargers

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If you’re anything like me you’ve probably got a drawer full of old mobile phone chargers that came with phones you’ve long since ceased to use, none of which work with other phones.

So I was pleased to hear that soon we’ll be able to use the same mobile phone charger for any phone (even Apple!) anywhere in Europe. Not only is this more convenient – and will leave more room in my house! – but it will save 51,000 tons of electronics being dumped every year.

This is all thanks to a vote in the European Parliament by our region’s Liberal Democrat MEP Andrew Duff and his colleagues. The new rules will mean all manufacturers selling electronics in the EU will be required to make them compatible with a universal charger.

Currently most phones use the same micro USB charger, following a voluntary agreement between the EU and 14 mobile phone manufacturers in 2011 which put pressure on them to introduce a common charger. However, several manufacturers including Apple did not sign the agreement.

Andrew Duff said: “This is a great victory for common sense.  Being part of Europe, the world’s biggest market for mobile phones, means we can put pressure on manufacturers to put an end to cable chaos. We’ve made a lot of progress towards a universal charger in recent years but this will mean that finally every electronic device will have to be compatible.”

Great stuff!

Sutton post office services: the Post Office responds

The Post Office has published its response to residents’ views about its changes to the post office services provided at the One Stop in Sutton.  You can read its statement here.

The shop will close while the changes are made; a free hourly bus service from Sutton to the Haddenham post office will run from Monday 24 to Friday 28 February between 10am and 4pm while the work on the shop is being carried out.

Park & Ride charges

Did you know that Cambridgeshire County Council is proposing to introduce parking charges from May 2014 for all the park and ride sites around Cambridge?

Up to 1 hour parking will be free, then the charge will be

  • £1 for between 1 and 12 hours
  • £10 for between 12 and 24 hours
  • £20 for between 24 and 48 hours
  • £30 for between 48 and 72 hours.

Season tickets will cost £5 for a week, £18 for four weeks, or £230 for a year, and will be valid for 1 to 12 hour parking only.

If you want to make representations to the County Council on these plans, you need to do so in writing to Policy & Regulation, Box No: SH1204, Shire Hall, Cambridge CB3 0AP or by email no later than Friday 14 February 2014.

Post Office changes: five days to have your say

There are still five days for residents to comment on proposed changes to Post Office services at the Sutton One Stop.  You can take part in the consultation here.

I’ve just added my comments.  This is what I said in response to the questions asked.

“I use this Post Office predominantly to post parcels, mail shots and large letters; buy postage stamps; and withdraw cash.  I like the convenience of the location; the usually short queues; and the friendly, knowledgeable and helpful staff.

Extended hours of access to Post Office services would be helpful.  However, I am concerned at the proposal to locate Post Office tills on the retail counter, as this affords little privacy to customers enquiring about personal financial matters. It may also lengthen waiting times and increase queue volumes at the main retail counter which can already be lengthy on some occasions.  I would also be very concerned at losing the facility to collect missed parcels or letters from Sutton rather than going to Ely.  And while dedicated Post Office counters usually have plenty of postage stamps, retail tills often run short of the books of 6 or 12, or of first or second class stamps altogether.  I do sometimes buy the books of 100 stamps and not being able to do this will be mildly irritating.

Longer opening hours will be useful; it would be even better to have these without loss of service.

The greatest loss would be no longer being able to collect parcels or missed letters from the local branch; it is not clear whether residents will be able to continue to do this.

I would hope that any disruption to services during the transition would be kept to the absolute minimum.  Many residents do not drive, and though there is a bus to Ely in the daytime this will be inconvenient for some.”

Ely Road build-out petition

I’ve just signed the petition asking Cambridgeshire County Council to support our parish council’s bid to remove the build-out on Ely Road near the turning into Tramar Drive, and replace it with a more suitable traffic management scheme.  Evidence of local support is important in persuading the county council to back the parish council’s bid, so please sign the petition too if you would like to see an improved scheme in place here.

Postal services in Sutton: have your say

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Like a number of other Sutton residents, Mark Inskip and I are concerned about the consultation that appeared in the One Stop just before Christmas about the future of postal services there.

The plan is to close the dedicated post office counters at the shop, and provide post office services from the general counter. This would have the advantage of enabling longer opening hours for postal services, which would be available seven days a week from 7am to 10pm. However, it would have disadvantages, including potentially longer queues while complex queries are dealt with, lack of privacy when dealing with benefits issues, and increased vulnerability for staff.

It’s also possible that we may no longer be able to collect parcels from the One Stop, and will need to go to Ely and pay a £1.50 collection fee.

The consultation closes on 15 January, and the changes are proposed to be implemented from February. If you want to have your say about the proposals you can do so online – and leaflets are available in-store.

£62,400 for Sutton Primary School

Sutton Primary School is set to receive £62,400 next year through the pupil premium – the money given to schools to support pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds. By 2015 our local primary school will have received £143,820 in pupil premium funding since the scheme was introduced by the Liberal Democrats in government. The pupil premium is intended to help children from less advantaged background catch up academically with their peers – and new figures suggest this is working.

Young people in work

Very pleased to hear the announcement in the Autumn Statement today that employers will no longer have to pay employers’ national insurance contributions on behalf of any employee under the age of 21. Here in East Cambridgeshire that’s 1,700 young people – a real boost for the businesses that employ them, and hopefully an encouragement to get more young people into work.

A14 toll

The Financial Times reports today that the Government is set to drop its proposal for tolling on the A14 after the proposed widening is put in place.  If so, that is truly excellent news, as it will give hauliers no incentive to avoid the A14 and thunder through villages such as Sutton and Haddenham.

However, it does make one wonder: if the Government is in a position to forgo the estimated £300 million in income from tolling, the £1 million East Cambridgeshire district council is giving the Government from our taxes towards the A14 project does rather pale into insignificance.  Even more so in view of the overall cost of the scheme, estimated at £1.5 billion.  But that £1 million, small change to a national government in a context like this, will make a huge dent in a small district council’s finances – something for which local council tax payers here in Sutton and across East Cambridgeshire will be paying for years to come.