Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Neighbourhood Panels - I am still a sceptic

Despite the icy weather (which we thought was going to get worse, but hasn't as yet), to Burwell Village College last evening for a meeting of the South Area (of East Cambridgeshire District) Neighbourhood Panel. Though I am still a sceptic with regard to the value of Neighbourhood Panels, I have not missed one of the South Area meetings - yet.

The meeting was chaired by my Newmarket-based friend, Councillor Carl Poole, and I was pleased that Carl commenced with a mention of the late Private Rob Hayes of Burwell and of the Royal Anglian Regiment. Rob was only 19 when he died in Afghanistan during the weekend.

We had some interesting reports, most notably from the Police, and our new Inspector, Andy Bartlett, impresses me considerably. It is very evident that he means business.

We also had an address from the Chairman of the Cambridgeshire Police Authority, Ruth Rogers, who was there with her Chief Executive.

There were useful updates regarding Neighbourhood Watch and Speedwatch.

Members of the public as well as members of the Panel were given a chance to speak up during the 'Open Public Forum' as well as elsewhere and I am truly sorry that so few take that chance. Indeed, I wonder sometimes why some people attend such meetings, for there are some who say nothing at all.

I, of course, am not backward about coming forward and I 'went to town' on two matters, one very important and one less so but very topical during this period of 'global warming' that we are all shivering in.

First, I commended the chairman on having recently written a very good letter about the vexed issue of speeding and heavy traffic along the B1102 through Burwell, Swaffham Prior, Swaffham Bulbeck, Lode and Stow-cum-Quy, and the severe heavy traffic hold-ups being experienced on the A142 on the approaches to the A14.

There are traffic-calming installations in or at all of the villages mentioned but the ones at Quy are not of the best design and everybody - including Mr Philip Harper of the Parish Council who was specially invited to the meeting - recognises this. However, Quy needs traffic-calming because of the speeders (who are not from Quy but speed through Quy, mostly to and from Cambridge). I just wish that the installations that are there were of a different design.

So far as heavy traffic is concerned, everybody knows that the trucks use the B1102 because the accesses to the A14 trunk road from the A142 Ely to Newmarket road are inadequate. They cause back-ups in both directions. This junction (the A142 - A14) urgently needs to be re-designed and rebuilt and I recommended that, instead of writing to the relevant County Councils - Cambridgeshire and Suffolk - a direct approach should be made to Lord Adonis, the Secretary of State for Transport, and that the support of our present M.P., Mr James Paice, should also be enlisted.

I believe that one should always 'go to the top' on such topics and I also touched on the troublesome Ely railway bridge that is becoming more and more subject to traffic hold-ups due to increased rail and road use. That bridge, with a clearance of only nine feet (vehicles higher than nine feet must use the level crossing, which is increasingly frequently closed, hence the hold-ups) must have been designed during the horse-and-cart age. We have moved on a bit since then.

Secondly, I had a dig at the County Council's Highways Department, making it quite clear that I was not having a dig at either of my friends, County Councillor David Brown and County Councillor Mathew Shuter, both of whom regularly and diligently attend the Neighbourhood Panel meetings. I mentioned the recent snowfalls and recalled an earlier age when Cambridgeshire villages had their own snow ploughs. Farmers in the villages operated the village snow ploughs and they turned out when snow ploughing was needed. Because Cambridgeshire villages have no snow ploughs now, the farmers don't do the needed snow ploughing and the result is that when we get more than an inch or so of snow, instead of it being ploughed and cleared to the roadsides, it becomes rutted in the roads and a great danger to all. I asked, 'Can we turn the clock back just a bit, please?'

The 'Newmarket problem' (the old Town being divided and being situated in two Counties and two Districts) was raised again, much to the delight of my friend, Councillor Peter Cresswell, the present Chairman of East Cambridgeshire District Council who also lives in Newmarket, and myself and, with that, the meeting ended on a happy note.

When I got home, I found that the padlock on my gate was frozen solid. I had a problem - but I solved it with an unusual method.

1 comment:

  1. And please don't ask me what the 'unusual method' was!


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