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.

Cambridgeshire school children lose out by £600 per year

Did you know that children in schools in Cambridgeshire receive less money from central government for their education than anywhere else in the country?  The government gives us £600 less per pupil than the national average.

It’s really time for a fair system of funding for schools that doesn’t discriminate against pupils based on where they live.  There’s an online petition being run by the Cambridge News that you can sign.  It’s backed by all 32 state secondary headteachers in the county.

Children’s services under Notice to Improve

Somewhat disturbed, actually, to hear that Cambridgeshire County Council is under a formal Notice to Improve due to ‘poor performance in Children’s Services’.  This follows its Ofsted inspection last October.  Let’s hope progress has been made: when things go wrong with a local authority’s role of protecting vulnerable children, the results can be tragic.  An initial progress report should be due shortly, and a further report in the summer.  One to keep an eye out for.

Would you like to help my campaign?

Thank you very much to all the lovely people who have offered to help my campaign.  You’re all very much appreciated.  If you’ve got an hour or two to spare in the next few weeks and would be willing to deliver some leaflets for me, please let me know – you can:

  • use the How You Can Help link at the top of the page
  • email me
  • let me know through Facebook
  • contact me via Twitter (follow me at @lornadupre)

Money for school sport

Primary schools in our area are set to receive extra cash from the government to boost school sports.  Among those benefiting will be Downham Feoffees Primary School with £8,860, Mepal & Witcham CofE Primary School with £8,330, and Sutton CofE Primary School with £9,265.

The funding will be provided in 2013/14 and 2014/15, and is the equivalent of around two days a week of a primary teacher’s time to provide more sport for their pupils.  It consists of a lump sum of £8,000 for each school with 17 or more primary school pupils, plus a premium of £5 per pupil.  The final calculation will depend on the exact number of children on the school roll next year and the year after.

Free childcare for over 1,000 children in Cambridgeshire

1,045 two year olds in Cambridgeshire will benefit from 15 hours free child care a week from this September.  This is in addition to the £100m for additional nursery places across the country announced by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg last year, and means an extra £3m here in Cambridgeshire to support child care costs for disadvantaged families.

Families with a child turning two this April or later, and who are receiving one of the following, meet the criteria for free childcare from September:

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Job Seekers’ Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • the Guaranteed element of State Pension Credit
  • if you have an annual income of less than £16,190 and get Child Tax Credit, provided you are not also entitled to Working Tax Credit.

If you think your family meets the criteria, contact your local nursery provider or the county council – by telephone (0345 04 54 014) or email.