Several residents of Sutton say they’ve noticed an increase in the noise from the straw-burning power station. I’ve taken this up with the council’s environmental health team, who have asked me to forward details of anyone who would be willing to speak to them about this. If you’re experiencing increased noise levels, and would be happy to be contacted by an environmental health officer, email your contact details to me and I’ll pass them on.
East Cambridgeshire District Council is consulting on changing where people vote in a number of wards, including Sutton. The consultation document is now online.
The council’s current proposal for Sutton is to move the polling station from the Pavilion to another location in the Brooklands Centre, on the grounds that this would offer a ‘larger room with better disabled access and easier route to polling station from car park’.
Members of the public are invited to comment, and the council would particularly welcome comments from individuals or organisations with expertise in all kinds of disabled access. The deadline for comments is 12 September, to the Electoral Services Officer, East Cambridgeshire District Council, The Grange, Nutholt Lane, Ely, Cambs, CB7 4EE. Comments will be open to public inspection at the council during office hours.
Yesterday saw the county council’s transport strategy consultation road show visit Ely. I was far from being the only Sutton resident to drop in to The Lamb to speak to county council officers and see what they had to say.
There is much to absorb in the draft strategy, and I’m sure I’ll return to it here shortly, but the section of it that is the most immediately disappointing relates to heavy vehicles passing through villages.
The document rightly states that movement of freight is important to our economy, and predicts that freight traffic will quadruple by 2030. It recognises that the impact on our villages can include congestion, noise, and poor air quality, with effects on people’s quality of life, health, and well-being.
The strategy includes transferring more freight onto rail, which is fine. However, it then goes on to state that the county council will
continue to work with freight operators to promote the use of the most appropriate strategic routes for road freight
[give] freight companies information on appropriate routing when planning their journeys
[as part of planning agreements] work with operators to secure routing agreements to ensure freight operators are using the most appropriate routes for their journeys and minimising impacts on local communities, and
explore the use of faster broadband and improved ICT to improve freight efficiencies, logistics and fleet management
In other words, no change to the current, failed strategy which has seen heavy vehicles continue to pour through our villages to the detriment of residents’ quality of life. There is no mention of weight limits, restrictions or any other effective action to tackle the problem.
It is quite clear that the present arrangements aren’t working, and there is no evidence that continuing to do the same thing will have any different result. I’ll be arguing for a far stronger strategy to address this problem in my response to the consultation, and I would encourage fellow Sutton residents to do likewise.
The draft strategy document is available for download, and there’s a website to enable residents to respond online by the deadline of 11 July. It’s a document with a lot to say, about all forms of transport across the county, and I’ll be commenting on other issues in the weeks ahead.
During the recent by-election, I said that I would set up regular ‘Meet Your Councillor’ surgeries for local residents. I’ve now done this (with many thanks to Rosie and Melissa at the parish council for sorting out room availability).
The district council is prepared to pay for councillors to hold surgeries in their wards, but only four times a year. Personally I don’t feel this is often enough, so I’ve decided to hold a monthly surgery anyway.
These events will take place in the Community Room, from 6:30 to 7:30pm. You don’t need an appointment, just drop in. And you don’t need to have a problem, either – if you’ve got a gripe or a good idea, or just want to talk over a local issue, that’s fine too.
The dates from now to May next year are as follows:
- Monday 23 June
- Thursday 24 July
- Tuesday 26 August
- Thursday 2 October
- Monday 27 October
- Thursday 20 November
- Monday 22 December
- Thursday 22 January
- Monday 23 February
- Thursday 19 March
- Monday 27 April
Sutton is one of a number of parishes which some years ago formed a joint group to try to address the issue of heavy vehicles cutting through our local villages. The group met again tonight, and I attended for the first time. We agreed a response from the group to the consultation on the government’s proposals for the A14, which will have an impact on traffic through many villages, and discussed the group’s work on gathering evidence about the effects of heavy vehicles on local communities, from noise to air quality.
I’m keen to see this group achieve its objective of ensuring that effective action is taken to reduce the numbers of heavy vehicles on village roads and to reduce their effects. It’s the number one issue mentioned to me by local people and we need to ensure that the group’s work benefits Sutton and its residents as well as our neighbours.
We heard today that there’s a fresh consultation on the Local Transport Plan and Long Term Transport Strategy for Cambridgeshire. Both raise significant issues for our village, so it’s worth trying to get along to the consultation event at the Lamb in Ely next Wednesday (11 June) any time between 3:00 and 7:00 pm.
I’ve got permission from East Cambridgeshire District Council for local residents to attach 30 mph stickers to our wheelie bins. In many villages outside East Cambridgeshire, such as Willingham for example, residents attach 30 mph stickers to their bins to give motorists a visible reminder on collection days to stick to the speed limit. I think this is a great idea and one that would be useful here in Sutton.
The Sutton Focus team has placed a bulk order for stickers to distribute to village residents. If you would like to buy one or two for your bins at 60p each (which is what we have paid for them) please contact myself or Mark.
The district council has asked us to remind residents not to leave their stickered bins out on non-collection days.
Tonight I attended the Annual Meeting of the Electorate at the Glebe (not to be confused with the Annual Meeting of Sutton Parish Council, which was on Tuesday – see earlier blog post).
Parish Council chairman Bob Browne reported on the parish council’s year, and I gave much the same report I gave to the Parish Council two days before, so apologies to those who had to hear it twice. There were two questions from the public: whether we yet knew what was going to happen to the planning application for the southern Ely crossing (we don’t – but I do hope it doesn’t end up being decided by Eric Pickles), and what my view was on the government’s Help To Buy scheme and its effect on affordable housing locally (I think the greater problem in this area is the spiralling housing market in Cambridge fuelled by foreign speculators buying up investment properties).
Mark Nokkert then gave a presentation on the Ouse Washes Landscape Project, in which Sutton Parish Council has recently joined as a partner. It’s only a year since Mark staffed a stand at the Gault Day to show residents what was being proposed: since then, it’s been great to see Sutton with a seat at the table in this venture.
There were several questions to the parish council from members of the public, mostly about traffic through Sutton, as well as praise for the restoration of the Bury Lane footpath.
There was also a suggestion for the parish council to facilitate the hosting of the various Sutton-related websites that are in existence – something that the parish council’s Community Engagement working party will be asked to consider.
Tonight I attended the Annual Meeting of Sutton Parish Council (not to be confused with the Annual Meeting of the Electorate, which is on Thursday at 7:00pm at The Glebe), at which the Chair and Vice Chair were re-elected, and the membership of the parish council’s various committees and representatives to various bodies was confirmed. A number of financial and planning issues were also discussed. Monthly parish council updates are published here after each meeting.
The parish council agenda always includes a slot for a report from the local district councillors. I reported on Cllr Read’s leave of absence from the district council, the reorganisation of the district council’s committees, the district council ruling group’s priorities for the year, the under-provision of affordable housing in the district, and the proposed dates for my Meet Your Councillor surgery events. (More on these last two in due course).
There was also an interesting presentation about the Ely Food Bank, and whether and how the parish council could help facilitate this in Sutton.
The next meeting of the parish council is on 24 June.
Cambridgeshire County Council has submitted a planning application* to locate a seven-bay mobile classroom at Sutton C of E Primary School until 31 August 2021.
The application is the result of the expected ‘bulge’ in pupil numbers over the coming years. The school can accommodate 330 children. There are currently 317 pupils on the school roll, in eleven classes, but in September this year this will rise to 345 pupils in 13 classes, and according to NHS data the school will not be below its maximum capacity for another seven years.
The planned classroom block is proposed to be sited on the land behind the school that backs on to 30-34 Bellairs, where the play tyres are.
*On the Documents tab, click on View associated documents to see the various pieces of paperwork that form the application. You can then click on each item individually. If your computer is set up to block pop-ups, you may find you have to tell your computer to allow pop-ups for this site in order to read the individual documents.
East Cambridgeshire District Council held its annual council meeting tonight, to – among other things – elect its Chairman (Cllr Tony Cornell from Soham) and its committees.
There are only three main committees now (apart from Planning and Licensing), and I’ve been appointed to two of them – Corporate Governance and Finance, and Regulatory and Support Services.
Of specific relevance to Sutton:
- The Sutton by-election result was reported, and I was welcomed to the council.
- In a report on its corporate priorities, the council claimed that installation of superfast broadband in East Cambridgeshire was complete and would be live by next month. I reminded the council that St Andrew’s Close and Stirling Way were still waiting for a date for Cabinet 9. (Not, in fact, that superfast broadband is the direct responsibility of the district council anyway – it’s a county council project with a private sector contractor).
- Sutton’s other councillor Philip Read was given leave of absence by the council while he undergoes medical treatment. Normally if a councillor goes six months without attending a meeting he or she is disqualified, but the council can extend this if the absence is due to some good reason and approved by the council. Cllr Read’s absence has been extended to the end of 2014, with the option to renew this at the council meeting on 27 November. I’m sure we all wish Cllr Read well for his medical treatment and a swift return to robust health.
I did point out that Sutton currently has two district councillors, so will not be left without representation while Cllr Read is absent. However, the council has asked the local government boundary commission to consider cutting the number of councillors on East Cambs council, and moving to single-councillor wards for rural areas like Sutton. If a similar leave of absence were to be granted in that situation, Sutton could be left completely unrepresented for almost a year. It’s just one of several reasons why I disagree with the council administration’s view on this.