Thursday, 1 April 2010

To Kirtling Village Hall for another Neighbourhood Panel meeting - no longer just a talking shop

I eschewed electioneering last evening in order to go to Kirtling Village Hall for another Neighbourhood Panel meeting. These gatherings, organised by East Cambridgeshire District Council, encourage the attendance of panel members, members and officers of the District Council, representatives of our local Police, members of Parish Councils and the public. I go along - and have not missed a single one since the series started (I made the point during the meeting that I was the only Parliamentary candidate to take the proceedings seriously) - as a member of Swaffham Prior Parish Council.

The meeting was chaired by my friend, District Councillor Carl Poole, of Newmarket (pictured right).

We heard splendid reports from Mr Darren Dixon, of the District Council, who updated the meeting on a number of matters that have caused concern; from Ms. Nikki King, of the Cambridgeshire Youth Service, who volunteered to speak to Parish Councils about her work; from Police Sergeant Will Davis, who gave impressive news of a large drug haul found under a person's bed in one of our villages; from Mr Tony Jolley, of Bottisham Parish Council, on progress that he and County Councillor Mathew Shuter are making with Speedwatch; and from Mr John Fuller, who keeps tabs on the issues that are raised at these meetings.

I had a moan about the state of the roads in our County. It appears to me that the problem this Winter has not only been potholes, of which there have been thousands, but also the whole approach to road maintenance. In the old days, rural roads had 'grips' by their sides to take water run-off. I haven't spotted a properly-dug grip anywhere in my recent travels. What I have seen are numerous rural roads with elongated puddles at their sides. If and when these puddles freeze, the edges of the roads are liable to break up and effectively to be ruined. Repairs are going to cost millions this year whereas preventive measures might have helped and, years ago, would have helped. How about a return of the traditional rural road men? I only ask.

I voiced the concerns expressed to me as I have been going round our villages. Allied to those concerns about the potholes, etc., have been many rude remarks about millions of money having been expended - and being expended - on the guided busway. People tie these subjects together and tell me about neglect of the former and the alleged idiocy of the latter. My friend, County Councillor David Brown, of Burwell (pictured left), said that he was taking notice. I am sure that he was. Thankfully, he had no involvement in the guided busway planning.

My friend, Councillor Peter Cresswell, the present Chairman of East Cambridgeshire District Council and another resident of Newmarket (pictured right), raised problems associated with parking near and at Ditton Lodge School, Newmarket.

Peter and I find it maddening that the town of Newmarket is split between two Districts, East Cambridgeshire and Forest Heath, and two Counties, Cambridgeshire and Suffolk, and we plan soon to do something about this silly anomaly.

I believe that these meetings, formerly feared to be mere talking shops, are beginning to achieve something. Even if elected to the House of Commons on the 6th of May (this must be assumed as the date), I will do my best to continue to attend them.

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