Cycleway to Fen Ditton
At a recent members A14 improvement seminar I was able to raise the issue of crossing the A14 and our new cycleway. I am pleased to say that my suggestion that the highways agency might want to engineer the problem away, when the A14 widening takes place, has now made it into the cabinet paper that will become the counties formal response to the A14 widening scheme. No promises that it will be carried out but at least it is now “officially” on the projects list of things to consider. I was pleased to see the road surveyors out and about last week preparing for the cycle way.
Gritting changes proposed to help cyclists
A range of trial improvements to the gritting service are to be piloted in Cambridgeshire over the coming months following the very hard winter last year. The initial proposals, which include trialling the gritting of major cycle bridges in Cambridge and treating of so called secondary routes earlier will inform the major in-depth review, the results of which will be implemented next year. Cambridgeshire already treats more than 40 per cent of its roads using a fleet of high-tech gritters. Government does not give extra money for gritting roads, paths or cycleways. Last year saw the fleet of 38 gritters go out around 85 times, using some 15,000 tonnes of rocksalt, costing about £1.8 million.
This initial review followed requests for better gritting of cycling facilities and last year’s record cold that this winter, 11 bridges will be gritted at the same time as the main roads are gritted. A special, less corrosive rocksalt, will be used to grit the bridges to reduce harm to the bridge structures.
Talks will also begin with District and City Council partners to see if they have any staff, such as road sweepers, who cannot carry out their normal work when snow and ice forms who could be used to put rocksalt from the County Council stocks on paths.
Cambridgeshire County Council already uses more affective and environmentally friendly forms of gritting, as used in Scandinavian countries. Gritting is a vital part of road safety strategy but we do not get extra funds from Government to do it. Government must do its bit, especially in the light of the national salt shortage, to make sure highway authorities have the resources and funding they need.
Winter Maintenance precautionary salting priorities are:
- Roads that carry the heaviest early morning traffic
- Roads linking centres of population
- B roads and busy roads adjacent to fen roads
- Roads that link salted route with those of other adjoining counties
- Making sure all road users live within a reasonable distance of a salted route
We also try to salt all bus routes where possible.
The County will now treat the secondary network when 5 days of freezing conditions are forecast, rather than after 5 days of freezing conditions have occurred. I am sure this will mean far more treatments to the secondary routes than previously.
Tough times ahead for public finances – Council warns.
Dire warnings from the main UK political parties on reductions in the money given to councils and public bodies means the way services are delivered is due for a complete re-think. Forecasts suggest Cambridgeshire County Council, which has strong rating for use of resources, could be around £113 million worse off in five year’s time than it is now. Under a new scheme – Making Cambridgeshire Count – communities will be put in the driving seat of what services they want and how they are delivered. At the same time Cambridgeshire public bodies and the County’s most influential organisations will look at ways of reducing duplication of resources and redesigning services to be more effective and focused. Council chiefs say that it is right that authorities tighten their belts at this time but ‘salami-slicing’ from services public bodies deliver will neither provide the savings needed nor the services Cambridgeshire wants and deserves. Although over the next five years funding will stay relatively the same, the Council will have to find an extra £47 million to cover inflation and a predicted £55 million is needed for the increased demand for services.
Adequate and good outcomes in Children’s Services
An inspection of safeguarding and looked after children services at the council has assessed the services as adequate overall with some good features. A team from OfSTED - the Office for Standards in Education - rated 26 of the inspected areas in the’ adequate category and 8 as ‘good’. The inspection was one of the first carried out using the new OfSTED inspection methodology. Inspectors said the overall effectiveness of the safeguarding services was adequate, with statutory requirements being met, adding that improvements in services were taking place and that there is an accelerating pace of change. They emphasised that the commitment of partner agencies to the joint safeguarding and child protection agenda was strong. Inspectors praised the ‘considerable efforts’ made towards establishing a clear vision, structures and detailed operational arrangements for its services. The inspectors remarked on the high morale of the children’s social care workforce.
Cambridge City Archives – keeping it in the family!
The County Council’s Archives Service is about to start work on a mammoth project to catalogue and preserve thousands of records which record the history of Cambridge City. The Cambridgeshire Family History Society (CFHS) has provided a £45,000 grant which will fund an archivist for two years to catalogue the records of the Municipal Borough of Cambridge after 1835 and some earlier records deposited at Cambridgeshire Archives by the City Council. The City of Cambridge archives occupy more than 150 metres of shelving with records covering a period from the 13th to 21st century. They include records of meetings, title deeds, rate books and valuations, engineer’s reports, court books, treasurer’s accounts, architects’ plans and drawings. Whilst a multitude of lists exist, there is no modern archive catalogue, so information about the contents of the archive is anecdotal and access difficult. The archivist will also work with the CFHS volunteer group and other volunteers to produce a detailed transcription and indexes of records of special interest and at the same time conservation staff will systematically clean and package documents to ensure the entire archive can be used without risk of damage and to ensure long-term preservation for future generations.
World’s oldest university printer presents collection to Cambridgeshire’s newest Library.
The world’s oldest University printer and publisher - Cambridge University Press, has boosted the stock of Cambridgeshire’s newest Library. A team from Cambridge University Press presented the books, which cover a wide range of subjects from evolution to climate change, to Cambridge Central Library. The books boosted the Central Library collection which includes more than 100,000 items for loan to the public. The Library re-opened to the public on September 29, after an extensive rebuild and refurbishment programme and welcomed more than 17,000 visitors during its first week of operation.
Drumming up excitement for real time at Cambridge bus station.
The County Council has nearly completed work on installing a new Real Time Passenger Information (RTPI) display at Cambridge’s Drummer Street bus station. The displays will give passengers an exact waiting time, much like the overhead signs at train stations or on the Underground. Currently 12 of the 31 services that use Drummer Street are equipped to deliver real time information for passengers, while a proposal for a further five services to be kitted out is underway. Two summary boards will display the information in the centre of the station, so that passengers can see exactly how long they have to wait for the next bus.
A £42 million recycling plant, which will put Cambridgeshire at the forefront of waste management in the UK, opened.
The Mechanical Biological Treatment (MBT) Plant is the first of its kind in the country and will sort and recycle much of the waste that normally ends up in landfill from people’s ” black bag” rubbish.
Rubbish collected from households across the County will be sorted at the plant which is off the A10 near Waterbeach, and run by local family firm Donarbon Waste Management Limited in partnership with Cambridgeshire County Council. The massive, hi-tech treatment plant, built by BAM Nuttall which is the length of three football pitches, houses giant shredding machines called Terminators, and the latest mechanical sorting equipment, provided by Kelagh and Komptech, which removes material for recycling before turning the rest of the waste into compost like material for use on non-food crops or a fuel.
An education centre will also be developed at the site so people can learn more about the facility and why it is so important to recycle. Waste which is normally not recycled will be sorted at the facility. At the moment just over half of the County’s domestic waste is recycled or composted. But this new facility, combined with improved recycling centres, will mean Cambridgeshire will massively reduce the tonnes of rubbish that ends up in landfill. Landfilling rubbish is not only bad for the environment but Government taxes every tonne of waste that ends up in the ground. This tax is currently £40 a tonne and will increase by £8 a tonne year on year.
Cambridgeshire is not only at the forefront of recycling and composting, but, thanks to this new plant, we now lead the way in treating waste that would otherwise be landfilled. The County Council is investing millions of pounds in providing better facilities to reduce, re-use and recycle our rubbish as part of our commitment to reducing our impact on climate change and getting value for money for our taxpayers. This new plant, together with the new recycling centres we are building, will reduce the amount of money spent on throwing rubbish into landfill and reduce the impact of waste on the environment. Cambridgeshire leads the country in using this technology and with the County’s population expected to grow by 100,000 by 2021, we need to stay ahead in dealing with our waste. We are confident that the investment in new waste treatment facilities, which includes over £10 million in two new waste transfer stations at Alconbury and March and a new in-vessel composting plant at Waterbeach on top of this fantastic new MBT plant, will ensure that all councils in Cambridgeshire meet, and exceed their targets. We are also proud to say we will be employing local labour to operate the new sites.