Monday 27 July 2009

Off to Germany

There will be a lack of posts this week. I am off to Germany at the Wacken Open Air festival.

As ever I will have my Blackberry with me and will be doing some work. But mostly I will be drinking Pils, eating Bratwursts and listening to some great music.

One big advantage of European festivals is that they have music on until 3am. Our archaic licencing laws mean that our over-priced festivals stop music at 11pm.

Sunday 26 July 2009

London to Cambridge on a bike

Had a great time today doing the London to Cambridge bike ride. A great event. 56 miles of pleasure and 4 miles of pain (I found the stretch between 6 and 2 miles to go quite tough).

The event was incredibly well organised. It was a pleasure to cross the finishing line and see the students from Comberton Village College doing their samba stuff again (they performed for Seb Coe earlier in the week).

I was too tired to say anything to them. I toddled off for a beer instead.

Apparently I am being lined up for an 89 miler next!!!

Friday 24 July 2009

Olympics Again

Have been to an olympics seminar today. Another very, very interesting event, that generated alot of thoughts and ideas about things we can do in Cambridgeshire. That said we are doing a pretty good job, and our programme for this weekend's Olympics open weekend is pretty good. If anyone gets a chance, please pop along to an event. I will be taking a look around Cambridge on Sunday, after I have finished the London to Cambridge bike ride.

I also got the news today that 1 in 5 Cambridgeshire schools have now signed up to the Olympics "Get Set" programme. I am really pleased with that, it is a programme that has a great deal of potential and I have been trying to promote it on my school visits. I haven't seen the detail of this numbers yet, but it certainly looks like good news.

Thursday 23 July 2009

Cambridgeshire Together

As well as a number of conversations and emails about Bassenhally Farm/Feldale Field reinforcing my wish for the exhibition to take place at a better time, I went to the Cambridgeshire Together meeting. CT is a body that pulls in all of the public services in Cambridgeshire into a single entity, creating a joined up approach to delivering services to Cambridgeshire. It is quite a bureaucratic set up which can be frustrating, but the intent is certainly right.

We had a discussion about the withdrawal of Housing Growth Fund funding. The strength of the animosity about this cannot be underestimated.

My main role at the meeting was to talk about the development of the Children's Trust, which is a new statutory board with a similar role as Cambridgeshire Together, but dedicated to Children's issues. My main concern about the Trust is that the expectations placed upon it are huge, and it may distract attention away from those with the genuine responsibility on the ground - but a joined up approach, if it can be made to work, must have a benefit for safeguarding children (which has to be our priority).

I spent ages examining my navel trying to see if there was a solution that was a bit simpler, but I eventually realised that "complicated but works" was the only way. Our officers have done a great job, along with the working party I have been part of, in putting, what I hope is our final structure, together.

Wednesday 22 July 2009

Feldale Field Mk2

The Cambs Times article is here

Apparently the development is for 500 homes, a nursing home, shops etc.

The public exhibition is to be held on Tuesday 28th July from 2pm until 7pm at the Ivy Leaf Club.

Whilst I cannot comment on the merits of the application, I will say that I think giving less than one week's notice for an application involving a development that has such huge implications for Whittlesey is totally unacceptable. I have emailed Larkfleet Homes and requested that they rearrange the date so that residents can be given more notice and so it can be held outside of the holiday period.

It is much to my regret that I cannot attend because of a trip to Germany, but I would please urge everyone to attend and make their views known.

You can let me know what you think here.

Housing Growth Fund

One other aspect of yesterday's full Council meeting was an emergency motion about the Government's decision to withdraw half of Cambridgeshire's Housing Growth Fund from £13.8m to £7.8m. It seems they have diverted this funding to Labour areas.

Cambridgeshire is supposed to be going through a huge process of growth, but it now seems that we will not get the infrsastrucure needed to support it. This will impact all of Fenland and is yet another huge betrayal to sit alongside the COWA debacle.

It is a shame that the Labour Group (albeit there are only two of them) could not support the motion, the implications of that for the next year of the Council are worrying. I hope it does not suggest a change from the position pre-election where they always supported the needs of Cambridgeshire.

The Cambs Times article is here.

Tuesday 21 July 2009

Feldale Field

I was advised by the Peterborough Evening Telegraph today that Larkfleet Homes will be shortly holding a public exhibition about a proposed development of 500 homes on Feldale Fields (aka Bassenhally Farm).

I cannot make a comment about the merits of the application because of my role as Chairman of Planning, but I would strongly urge everyone in Whittlesey to attend and make their views known. There are potentially huge implications for this development -you need to decide whether the implications are good or bad for the Town and make your opinions known.

I will publish more detail when I have it.

I am keen to get some leaflets out around Whittlesey urging people to attend the exhibition - if you would be interested in helping to put these out, please contact me

Missing the Point

The Lib Dems were up to their normal tricks again today.

For the second month on the trot they had a motion at Full Council about our Policy Development Groups, arguing that they should be held in public.

There is not an organisation in the world that does not have some sort of private meeting to discuss policy - indeed there are Lib Dem Councillors who sit on public boards that meet in private. The argument is a cheap attempt to score points, nothing more, nothing less. It is to our credit as a Conservative Group, that we have PDGs to allow them to input into the debate. Making them public would inhibit many of the suggestions and comments that need to be thrown into the melting pot, because Councillors would be fearful of press and voter reaction. Of course, all our policies are decided in public and opposition can have their say, through Scrutiny Committees, by speaking at Cabinet, or voting in Full Council. Our major policies go through huge consultation exercises.

Because they have lost the argument, the Lib Dems have thrown their toys out of the cot and have decided not to take part in PDGs. I presume this means the Lib Dems Nationally are intending to walk out of Parliament because they are not using Proportional Representation!

One of their Councillors had the nerve to stand up and suggest that this episode showed that the Conservatives hadn't learned from the expenses scandal. Strange that, they have withdrawn from a fairly large portion of their workload and, to my knowledge, have not yet requested a reduction in their allowances.

Seb Coe at Comberton VC

My role as Olympics Champion forced me to interrupt the Full Council meeting today to visit Comberton Village College who were hosting Lord Coe, in his capacity as Chairman of the London Olympic Games Organising Committee.

Seb Coe was an absolute star, answering questions and giving some great speeches to a couple of assemblies. He is a perfect example of a positive role model. He is a winner in everything he does. (oh - and he used to be a Conservative MP).

I also take my hat off to Comberton Village College, who are doing great things with the olympics - something that will undoubtedly benefit their students.

The visit was a real pleasure.