Cambridgeshire Liberal Democrats were very disappointed to hear the news that the Chief Constable of Cambridgeshire Constabulary has proposed cuts to neighbourhood policing in the county.
The plans, announced in October, have been drawn up in an attempt to address the force’s budget deficit and help make savings of £1.7 million in 2021/22.
They include halving the number of PCSOs, removing the community safety team, closing nine enquiry offices, and introducing an appointments-based system for members of the public to speak to police officers.
The Lib Dems are concerned about the impact of such changes on grassroots policing in local communities.
Rupert Moss-Eccardt, the Lib Dem candidate for Police and Crime Commissioner for Cambridgeshire, said:
"We are worried about what these proposed cost-saving changes will mean for the communities of Cambridgeshire. It is clear that halving the number of PCSOs – leaving just 40 of them to cover all of our cities, towns and villages - will make it more difficult to prevent or tackle neighbourhood crime. We will lose a highly experienced body of officers who have engaged with the communities in which they work."
"All the proposed measures, which will reduce public access to police officers as well as PCSOs, have been announced with very little detail or impact assessment. We call upon the Chief Constable to halt any changes until after a new Police and Crime Commissioner is elected next May, when there can be proper public scrutiny of the proposals."
The roundabout at Lancaster Way on the A142 in Ely could see a new crossing installed that will benefit not only pedestrians, but cyclists and horse-riders too.
At Cambridgeshire County Council’s Highways & Transport Committee this morning (Tuesday 10 November), the Council’s Lib Dem highways lead Cllr Ian Manning successfully proposed that the Council ask Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authority to install a ‘Pegasus’ crossing to serve the needs of all road users.
He also successfully proposed that Ely Cycling Campaign and the British Horse Society should be consulted over the design and location of the crossing.
Cllr Manning said: “This proposal is far better than the original design, and better also than the alternative the Committee was given of a pedestrian-only crossing on the east side of the roundabout. A crossing at this roundabout is very much needed, but by cyclists and riders as well as walkers. And both of those groups are calling for a crossing on the west side of the roundabout, not the east.
“That is why I asked for them to be consulted on the location of the proposed crossing, not just the design. I’m pleased that this suggestion received unanimous support.”
Cambridgeshire Lib Dems are calling on the ruling Conservative group on Cambridgeshire County Council to listen to the views of road users other than car drivers, and move the location of a pedestrian crossing on the Lancaster Way business park roundabout in Ely.
Further, given the number of equestrians in the area, the type should be a ‘Pegasus’ crossing - accommodating horse riders as well as cyclists and pedestrians.
A decision on the roundabout design is to be made at tomorrow’s (Tuesday 10th November) Highways & Transport Committee of the County Council.
Lucy Nethsingha, Lib Dem group leader at Cambridgeshire County Council, has expressed shock at the revelation that the council paid more than £200,000 to a former BBC presenter for a PR contract for its fostering services.
It was recently revealed in Cambs Times and Royston Crow that Cambridgeshire County Council paid former BBC Radio Cambridgeshire presenter Paul Stainton £216,000 for PR services to help recruit foster carers, out of a total budget of £480,000 for "a step change in the marketing, recruitment and support for foster carers in Cambridgeshire".
Lucy said: "The amount of Cambridgeshire taxpayers’ money being handed out to PS Media (Paul Stainton) in fulfilling this project has shocked me. Our in-house foster carers are crucial to the care of some of the most vulnerable children in the county. But it would now appear that a significant portion of the money intended to go towards supporting foster carers has been spent on PS Media. I am afraid there are many questions to be asked about the way in which this project was carried out."
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Cambridgeshire Liberal Democrats have asked the Conservative-run County Council to make sure that none of the county’s vulnerable children go hungry this Christmas. Lib Dem-run South Cambridgeshire District Council has even offered £25,000 to help fund the provision of Free School Meals vouchers.
Lucy Nethsingha, Leader of the Liberal Democrat opposition group on Cambridgeshire County Council, said, "The government is refusing to feed the most vulnerable children in our country, just as the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic is becoming more severe.
"The response to the fantastic campaign by Marcus Rashford to ensure no child goes hungry has shown the strength of feeling across the country.
"Along with Liberal Democrat colleagues, I am calling on the government to make food vouchers available during school holidays throughout the pandemic to all pupils eligible for Free School Meals. As we saw during the summer, this is one of the most effective measures that the government could take.
"If the government won’t do the right thing by hungry children this Christmas, I urge Cambridgeshire County Council to step in now so that support is available.
"Other councils, including some run by Conservatives, are stepping up to help feed children. We need to see the efforts increased in Cambridgeshire."
Bridget Smith, Lib Dem Leader of South Cambs District Council, said, "This Christmas is going to be especially hard for so many of our residents due to Covid-19. At South Cambs, we are able to pledge £25,000 towards food vouchers for our most vulnerable children. This will ensure families do not have to make the harsh decision between a gift for their child and feeding them or heating their home.
"I have written to Cambridgeshire County Council to offer to help fund a Free School Meals voucher scheme for the children in our district. It is essential that we plan now to have the scheme in place well before the Christmas holidays. I look forward to discussing with Conservative councillors how we can work together to help the children of our area.
"Since the very start of the pandemic, Liberal Democrat campaigners have been working hard to support members of their communities who are struggling, by raising funds, organising food banks and cooking meals. We are continuing this through the autumn half term."
Read Bridget's letter to the County Council
Liberal Democrats on Cambridgeshire County Council have successfully persuaded the Council to investigate overruns on recent council highways projects which may have been due to poor information from utility providers.
Cllr Ian Manning (Lib Dem Highways lead member) who proposed the motion says: “With recent high-profile hold-ups on completing projects like the Fendon Road roundabout on the A1307 near Addenbrooke’s, I want to know how much of this is down to poor information on the location of underground infrastructure, and how much is down to deeper issues at the Council”.
Image by Tomasz Mikołajczyk from Pixabay
In a few weeks, the government will announce plans for big changes to local government, encouraging all areas of the county to accept powerful mayors, writes Aidan Van de Weyer, the Lib Dem candidate for Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.
Liberal Democrats on four councils in Cambridgeshire have proposed action in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Groups on Cambridgeshire County Council, South Cambridgeshire and East Cambridgeshire District and Cambridge City Councils have tabled motions demanding action.
The County Council Public Health team produce a summary of Covid-19 in Cambridgeshire once a week, and we're publishing the most recent one here.
Cambridgeshire Liberal Democrats, who, along with all other parties, supported the pop up schemes at County Highways and Transport Committee this week, release a statement on how these schemes should be rolled out.
Importantly, they stress the need to gain public trust in order for experimental measures to be understood.