Cambridge News

Cllr Paul Sales, Leader of the Labour Group on Cambridgeshire County Council, has criticised plans proposed by an independent panel to increase basic allowances for county councillors.

The independent panel reviewed the allowance structure as the council moves from a cabinet to a committee system. The plans would increase the basic allowance for all councillors from £7,610 to £8,600. There would also be new allowances to recompense chairs and vice-chairs of the new committees. Savings from the current allowance structure will come from the abolition of the cabinet member allowances.

Cllr Sales commented: ‘The panel has ignored the clear opinion of the electorate on allowances. When the council is making cuts due to the government’s austerity policy, we need to make sure the public think the allowance structure is fair and reflects the work that councillors do.

‘Labour suggested to the panel that there should be no increase in the basic allowance. Labour also called for an overall reduction in the total £760,000 budget for allowances. We are pleased the council is producing a small saving in the total budget by abolishing the cabinet. But we believe much more could have been done to produce savings for Cambridgeshire tax-payers.’

County Council Labour Leader Criticises Allowances Plans

Cllr Paul Sales, Leader of the Labour Group on Cambridgeshire County Council, has criticised plans proposed by an independent panel to increase basic allowances for county councillors.The independent panel reviewed...

Councillor Kevin Price, Labour’s Lead for Housing on Cambridge City Council, has spoken out after uncovering a huge backlog of fencing repairs on council estates. Officers at the Council have confirmed this was estimated HA Tenantsat over £1 million some four years ago and that the backlog is now so large that data is no longer collected and analysed centrally. City Councillors will debate the Liberal Democrat plans for the 2014/15 Budget for the Housing Revenue Account, which manages all its council homes, at Guildhall tonight (27 February).

Councillor Price said: “This is a truly shocking figure and represents years of underinvestment in fencing by the Liberal Democrats.  Last month when challenged Councillor Smart said that fencing on council estates was a ‘nice to have’ rather than a necessity.  Tenants don’t see it that way. Fencing on council owned open spaces is not only falling down and not repaired or replaced but is being left to rot on the ground for weeks and sometimes months on end. Rent is being increased yet again this year way above inflation and tenants are getting a very poor deal from it and being asked to pay for their own fencing to boot.”

Cllr Price added: “We want to see a complete overhaul of the capital plan and a new City Homes Estate Improvement Programme to restore pride in our council estates across the City.  Council homes are very important to ensure as many residents as possible are not priced out of housing in Cambridge and our management should set an example not show a lack of care. Tenants have already said they agreed with Labour’s plans for rents and our council estates only to have their voice ignored.”

Shock at £1 million backlog on City Homes fencing repairs

Councillor Kevin Price, Labour’s Lead for Housing on Cambridge City Council, has spoken out after uncovering a huge backlog of fencing repairs on council estates. Officers at the Council have...

Councillor Lewis Herbert, Leader of the Labour Group which will be fighting for control of the City Council in May 2014, will lay out plans today to revitalise Area Committees and strengthen planning decisions.Empty Development Site
Speaking ahead of the debate tonight (27 February) on the City's 2014/15 Budget, Councillor Herbert said: " We want to return all planning decisions to be heard by the main planning committee and free up ward councillors to be champions and advocates for their communities and their residents, untying their hands to speak forcefully on local planning issues unlike now.

Our plans will also mean area committees can concentrate on their core purpose of community engagement on local matters, giving more time for setting local policing priorities or considering how to use developer money to improve local neighbourhoods. It's clear that too often area committees are just saying the same things to the same small group of people and that they need to be a real place of challenge on everything affecting local residents.”
Councillor Herbert added "On the improved and consistent handling of planning applications, all applications are equally important and deserve the full facilities available to the main planning committee. Basing them in Guildhall will mean the actual case officer can present and be part of the discussion as well as enabling vital access to advice from officers across the Council in departments like Legal or Design and Conservation. It will also open up the possibility of costing a webcasting trial of planning committee meetings which we see as a potentially important step forward for transparency for residents who rightly want involvement in planning decisions large and small in our high growth city."

Labour Leader lays out plans to revitalise the City Council's Area Committees and strengthen Planning

Councillor Lewis Herbert, Leader of the Labour Group which will be fighting for control of the City Council in May 2014, will lay out plans today to revitalise Area Committees...

Councillor Ashley Walsh, County Councillor for Petersfield and Labour's Spokes on Resources at Cambridgeshire County Council, has said it's good news that the Tories are reducing some planned cutsWalsh 2 but far more needs to be done.
Speaking after details of changes to the Conservative-led County budget plans for 2014/15 have been released, Cllr Walsh said: "It's a reflection of the new political reality at Shire Hall that the Conservatives realise they cannot simply push through their own harsh budget plans as they have done in the past. Of course we welcome news of increased investment in transport and gritting but we think more can be done to reduce the savage cuts planned for vital services like children's centres, adult social care and mental health services. The new plans still mean over a million pounds will be cut from children's centres which will leave a massive gap in what is provided for struggling families across the County. It's a start but we'll be continuing the round table talks to get a better deal for the County's residents."

County Labour welcome change of heart on cuts by Tories but say more needs to be done

Councillor Ashley Walsh, County Councillor for Petersfield and Labour's Spokes on Resources at Cambridgeshire County Council, has said it's good news that the Tories are reducing some planned cuts but far more needs to...

Leading Labour councillors have welcomed the suggestion from the City’s Liberal Democrats that the Council’s Budget plans are amended to include the Labour proposal for an in-depth review of the City Centre to bird-2consider how to improve its accessibility.  The review has been championed in the City Council by Councillor Gerri Bird, a longstanding disability rights campaigner, who has regularly highlighted the need for better accessibility through a range of initiatives such as: a wheelchair tour of the City Centre in 2011 with the then Mayor and other councillors; the successful campaign to save Lion Yard toilets and the recent revisions to the city council’s plans to remove some disabled parking spaces in the centre.

Speaking after the Strategy and Resources committee meeting on Friday 7 February where Labour accepted the offer to include the £15,000 review in the City’s 2014/15 Budget, Councillor Lewis Herbert, Leader of the Labour Group, said: “This review is vital to ensure that the City Centre is not a hostile environment for those who have mobility, sight or hearing problems but remains a place where all the City’s residents and visitors feel they belong. By identifying the core issues together with partners like the Cambridge BID and the County Council, we hope to suggest a range of solutions and an action plan to implement them in the short amd medium term.“

Cllr Bird said: “I am really pleased that this review will go ahead. In the last year many disabled people have raised concerns alongside me about a wide range of issues. Advertising A-frame boards and street cafes can make negotiating the pavements difficult for those in wheelchairs or with sight problems. The state of some pavements which are uneven and breaking up can cause tumbles, and we need to have seating in public places and make sure disabled parking places are in the right locations. The city centre mustn’t just be a place for the young or the fit to go.”

Green Light for Labour’s City Centre Accessibility Review

Leading Labour councillors have welcomed the suggestion from the City’s Liberal Democrats that the Council’s Budget plans are amended to include the Labour proposal for an in-depth review of the...

Leading Labour Councillors have said that the success of the City Council’s Mill Road Co- ordinator scheme could be a way forward to support other small shopping centres in the City. The Labour Group will battle for OReillycontrol of the City Council in May and their alternative budget plans for 2014/15 include a bid for funding for a 2 year part time Chesterton Co-ordinator who would work with local traders, the council and community groups.

Councillor Carina O’Reilly, the City Labour Group’s Deputy Leader who lives close to Mitchams Corner, said:  “The recent shop closures in Mitcham’s Corner show there are no easy solutions to supporting independent traders in a difficult economic climate and we need a multi faceted approach.  We welcome the Council’s plans for some long overdue investment in the Mitcham’s Corner itself but it will take time to filter through, not least because of the number of different planning applications affecting major parts of the site and the way the gyratory road system makes the area hard to access. In the meantime we are losing far too many independent shops now like the ‘Vogue’ furniture shop and the well known jewellery store S F Gawtry, as well as having long standing empty units like the old Co-op store.”

“We have seen that having a City officer post dedicated to working with shops and residents in Mill Road has brought real benefits. We now want a Chesterton Co-ordinator who would cover the shopping areas from Mitchams Corner down Milton Road and within East Chesterton. This part of the City is undergoing significant change with the new station and it’s vital to ensure it isn’t left behind whilst a new urban quarter is built. We will be asking the Liberal Democrats to support this in the budget debate later this month.”

Labour says Chesterton Co-ordinator vital for Independent Traders

Leading Labour Councillors have said that the success of the City Council’s Mill Road Co- ordinator scheme could be a way forward to support other small shopping centres in the...

Cambridge City Labour Councillors have published their budget plans for the City for 2014/15, saying they offer a real herbertchance for all city residents to share in the City’s success even though Cambridge is facing a further savage 14% cut in its 2015/16 funding from the Coalition government.

Cllr Lewis Herbert, Leader of the Labour Group which will be fighting for control of the City Council in May 2014, said:  “We are determined that, if we win people's support in the May election, all Cambridge residents will be given the chance to benefit from our city's future prosperity.  Everyone contributes to the growth of our great City so everyone also deserves a share.  Despite the further savage cuts to the Council’s funding in 2015,we are also committed to protecting essential services that residents value like street cleaning and pest control.

"On the Liberal Democrat proposed Keep Cambridge Moving Fund, we think there is a role for the City Council to support what is essentially the County Council's job - to shift incoming car traffic towards more sustainable transport such as buses and bicycles.  However, we cannot see why this needs a huge and immediate one year splurge of £1,500,000 as the Liberal Democrats propose, when this is almost all of the City's remaining scarce resources and there are many other priorities at such a difficult financial time for council services and for local people. "

"Our number one priority will be low and middle income young professionals and families who are suffering the full strain of rocketing rents and house prices despite often stagnant incomes, and to contribute to solutions to the problems they face.  Our new Sharing Prosperity Fund will support cost-effective projects between now and 2017, working with employers and voluntary organisations,   to help those residents who are struggling, tackle wage inequality and develop employment skills. “

Councillor George Owers, Labour’s Lead on Finance, said: “We have carefully scrutinised every department’s spending and are confident that measures such as increasing the Council’s income from investment and reducing some internal council costs in line with other similar sized councils are not only possible but long overdue.  We want to see a far more imaginative use of resources, freeing up money for priorities we know residents want and need.”

"We have already pledged to reverse the Liberal Democrat plan to shut down pest control, and will ensure it remains a free service for residents. We will increase help for independent local shops and traders including a new role for a Chesterton Co-ordinator. We will lead a bid for Cambridge to be a Living Wage City with a new officer post to help external promotion as well as helping tackle the rising problem of unemployment in under 25’s through an expanded apprenticeship programme.  We will also be funding a big expansion of the public realm enforcement team to help keep Cambridge free from litter and other anti-social actions. We will be unveiling many of these schemes in detail over the next week.”

Budget proposals include new Sharing Prosperity Fund to Tackle "Two Tier Cambridge"

Cambridge City Labour Councillors have published their budget plans for the City for 2014/15, saying they offer a real chance for all city residents to share in the City’s success even though...

The Labour Group on Cambridgeshire County Council have published a detailed Budget amendment setting out their proposals for the County Council’s 2014/15 Budget.  The Walsh 2Budget proposals come at a critical time for the Council which was left without a majority administration after the May 2013 elections and is moving to a new committee system where minority groups on the Council will have significant influence on its policy and decision making process. The Labour amendment will be debated at the County’s Resources and Performance Scrutiny Committee on Friday 7th February.

Councillor Ashley Walsh, County Councillor for Petersfield and their Spokes on Resources, said: “Our budget plans lay out clear plans to maximise backroom savings, protect frontline services and help the most vulnerable in the community.”“Cambridgeshire County Council can lead by example at a time when the impact of almost four years of harsh cuts from central government  is taking so many residents across the county to the edge.  We can ensure our own staff and those employed by contractors are paid the Living Wage and we can invest in our young people by an increased apprenticeship programme and free public transport for under 25’s going to job interviews and training.  We can ditch the Tory-led plan to slash children’s centres funding which is a false economy, given the work they do in helping vulnerable families. And we can tackle problems of isolation and inability to work or live full active lives by increasing help for those with mental health problems and reversing planned cuts to personal budgets for those with learning difficulties.”

Councillor Walsh added: “We will be robustly challenging the Tories to accept our plans which have balanced the investment in our communities with mainly backroom savings and increased shared services.  This is the County’s chance to stand up to Whitehall's slash and burn austerity policies and show that there is a different way.”

County’s Labour Group Budget proposals revealed as negotiations continue on new Council structure

The Labour Group on Cambridgeshire County Council have published a detailed Budget amendment setting out their proposals for the County Council’s 2014/15 Budget.  The Budget proposals come at a critical time...

Cllr Peter Roberts, Labour’s Lead on Environment and Waste at Cambridge City Council, which is finely balanced between Liberal Democrat and Labour control, has said that the planned cuts to the City’s pest control Robertsservice are wrong and the City’s Labour group would reverse the cuts if they took control in May 2014. Labour plan to fund the pest control service through cuts to the Council’s subscription budget to organisations and professional institutes.

Councillor Roberts said: ”The decision to end the Council’s pest control service is short- sighted and represents a false economy once the costs of bringing in commercial pest control contractors for parks, play areas and council owned properties is also factored in.  Further, the £10,000 the Liberal Democrats propose to set aside to help those who cannot afford treatment won’t even scratch the surface of need in a rapidly expanding City.”

“Pests such as rats not only pose a serious threatto people's health but they are also responsible for the spread of disease among pets. If someone on your road cannot afford to call in pest controllers, it can soon become a major problem for all nearby properties.  Anyone who walks through town at night can see that discarded food everywhere brings a risk of a rat problem to the city centre or busy areas like Mill Road, and the Council needs to ensure it can tackle this.  Unlike the Liberal Democrats, Labour will not play Russian roulette with disease in our City. We value the significant experience and expertise our frontline staff bring to this area so we want to be clear that if the Liberal Democrats proceed with this planned cut, we would reverse the decision immediately upon taking control, and re-instate pest control as a free service for residents in Cambridge".

Labour Pledge to Reverse City’s Pest Control Cut

Cllr Peter Roberts, Labour’s Lead on Environment and Waste at Cambridge City Council, which is finely balanced between Liberal Democrat and Labour control, has said that the planned cuts to...

Councillor Lewis Herbert, Leader of the Labour Group on Cambridge City Council, welcomed the good news in the report for Cambridge on its world-class strengths in educationEmpty Development Site and innovation, but warned that the City’s growth and prosperity needs to be far better managed to ensure that the benefits are shared by all.
Speaking on the publication of the annual Cities Outlook 2014 report from the Centre for Cities thinktank on Monday 27 January, Cllr Herbert said: “There is no doubt that Cambridge leads the way for the UK in many areas – and its outstanding reputation in innovation is proven by its success in the number of patents granted. But the report also highlights the stark reality of average wages in Cambridge falling faster in 2013 than anywhere in Britain, down an average of 5.7%  which means average local earnings fell by more than £1000 per year in a single year."

"Meanwhile, the Cambridge house price rise bubble makes it a double whammy for local people in housing need with Cambridge having the fastest rising house price in the UK, beating even London. Our lack of affordable social housing is hurting hundreds of young Cambridge professionals and families on low and middle incomes whilst also resulting in skyhigh rents in the private rental sector."

"The report highlights that the real challenge for Cambridge’s decision makers is how to make sure our City’s prosperity reaches all residents, rather than leaving Cambridge increasingly a two tier city of 'haves' and 'have-nots'.  The councils in the Greater Cambridge area must respond, working with local employers and business. We think this demands a new plan of action from the City Council and an end to the dangerous complacency which could leave too many residents unable to afford to continue living in our rapidly growing City.”

City’s Labour Leader welcomes City’s growth but warns of danger it is leaving too many behind

Councillor Lewis Herbert, Leader of the Labour Group on Cambridge City Council, welcomed the good news in the report for Cambridge on its world-class strengths in education and innovation, but warned that...

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