Newsletters

Newsletter April 2021

Elections 

As you know there will be elections on 6 May. You will only be required to vote during the Parish Council election if there are sixteen or more eligible candidates otherwise the election is non-contested and those who apply are appointed. If you want to stand you can obtain guidance and nomination papers from the electoral commission website https://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/i-am-a/candidate-or-agent/parish-council-elections-england but beware as by the time this Willingham News goes out you will have very little time left to submit your nomination: they must be returned to SCDC by 4pm on 8 April. For more information about Willingham Parish Council go to our website, click on ‘Documents’ then ‘Policies & Procedures’, and select ‘Who we are and what we do’ and ‘Why become a councillor’. 

Drainage Problems 

A huge amount of work has gone into trying to understand exactly what went wrong over the Christmas period. The parish council is grateful for the considerable assistance received from our county and district councillors and, in particular, our local experts who have the detailed knowledge to ask probing questions and are part of the working group that has now been formed. 

We are being repeatedly told that the underlying causes were due to the exceptionally wet weather. This was clearly a major factor but if climate change predictions are correct, we will need infrastructure that can cope with wetter winters and hotter summers. A major failing appears to be poor communication from Anglian Water. The parish council is working hard to improve that and has a meeting scheduled with them in April. 

Recreation Ground 

The recreation ground was severely affected by the very wet weather, with extensive flooding. We have had discussions with the Environment Agency regarding the lode, and are working on getting the under-pitch drainage pipes cleaned out. We are also exploring ways of remedying the lack of sports pitch provision in Willingham. It is currently well below the SCDC requirement. 

Parish Carbon Footprint Tool 

The Centre for Sustainable Energy has produced a community level carbon footprint tool available at https://impact-tool.org.uk. You can search for Willingham’s carbon footprint and compare it to others from around the country. The aim is to enable communities to look at ways of reducing their footprint. To get more information, click on ‘Council’ on the Parish Council website and select ‘Environment’. 

Willingham in Flower 

In conjunction with the WAG Environment Group the Council is working on two new initiatives – turning unused ground at the QEII field into a wildflower meadow and coordinating tubs of flowers at various locations in the village, hopefully with the help of village groups and local businesses. 

The B1050 

The parish council has been pressing for some years for a permanent solution to the poor surface in the section of the B1050 north of the village along the river bank. Thanks to hard work by our county councillor, the county council have responded with a major scheme to totally rebuild that section of road. It will certainly be an improvement but is not the complete answer. Willingham desperately needs a bypass and should have had one before construction began at Northstowe. The danger is that by simply improving the B1050 to the north of the village we will have even more cars, vans and HGVs coming down the High Street day and night. 

Anti-Social Behaviour 

There have been reports of youths gathering in the Ploughman hall car park in the late evening and causing noise and general nuisance. The police have been informed and asked to increase patrols in the area. If you do witness ASB please report it. Single reports may not carry huge weight but the cumulative effect does. We do not want a repeat of the summer of 2019. 

Meetings 

It is not yet clear when physical meetings will resume but for April they will remain on Zoom. These will include the Full Parish Council meeting on April 7 and the Annual Parish Meeting on April 28 plus any Planning Meetings that are needed at a new starting time of 6.30. You are welcome to join any of these with joining instructions available from the parish clerk and listed on the appropriate agenda.

Newsletter March 2021

Flooding and Drainage Issues in Willingham

Over the past few weeks Willingham has experienced issues with flooding and sewage in parts of the village. The Parish Council has been liaising with the County and District Councils with regards to gullies and ditch clearance and has been advised that those in need of clearing will be done as soon as possible. In addition, there has been frequent interaction with Anglian Water who believe they have resolved the issue of the sewage leak in Church Street and Green Street, although further leakages have come to light in other village locations.

The current sewage capacity, future maintenance and upgrade by Anglian Water have been issues we need addressing. Our MP Lucy Frazer has also been made aware of our issues, plus the District Council Environmental Health team at SCDC have been contacted to liaise and resolve the problems as quickly as possible. We would encourage all residents experiencing problems with their foul water to contact Anglian Water directly as well. The February Council meeting was well attended by parishioners and the Council welcomed and appreciated their input. We are hopeful that now we have requested a multi-agency meeting between the PC, CCC, SCDC and Anglian Water, we can start a discussion on how we can resolve this in the long term. The village will be updated via the website.

Community Plan

As described in December News, the 2008 Community Parish Plan is due to be revised and updated to show the needs of the changes within the parish. Such a Community Plan has no set content since it can reflect whatever the community identifies as important. Following the call for volunteers – ideally seeking a wide variety of individuals who could work together and focus on the village needs – we can now move forward and more will be published on this. It takes a lot of work at all levels so an army of helpers will be called for at different times and I am sure Willingham will step up as they did in 2008.

Outside spaces

The arrival of our two sparkly new table tennis tables with their surrounding matting are already a hit! Plans are going ahead for some bike shelters nearer the pavilion also, which will encourage outdoor enjoyment. Please follow any guidelines that are current as well as observe requests that may be made. Thinking ahead, the football fields will need residents to keep off until it is clear the fields can cope with a resurgence of ball games and the Council drain cleaning programme is completed.

Last month more energy, time and parish money was spent on making the Meadow Road village field a place we can appreciate. Fly-tipping and the heap of litter was cleared. Importantly, the commemorative oak trees there have been replanted, so we all hope this time they do well and provide a fitting avenue of trees for future generations to enjoy. On the southern side of the village the piece of land donated to the village will also be prepared to benefit us all: find more details in this month’s News.

Closer to home our own boundary hedges and trees that provide winter berries and seeds for birds will be needing attention and should be well trimmed. There are still a few that encroach on the footpaths; we would all be grateful if they could be chopped back so that we can walk around safely. The Council will be flailing the field hedges – also before nesting begins.

As we move into spring it will be hoped that we can begin to enjoy better weather and take advantage of our outdoor spaces. The first week of March is ‘Food Waste Action Week’: choosing each piece of fresh food as we need it would certainly make a difference. Considering our drive to achieve a better carbon footprint, not only would growing our own vegetables be a good way forward, but making use of our local suppliers could reduce that carbon footprint – as well as supporting local businesses for our tasty, carefully selected food.

Parish Council meetings and elections

Meetings will continue to be held remotely using zoom for the time being. Full Council meetings are held on the first Wednesday in the month starting at 7.30, with agendas posted on the website as well as at the Public Hall and library. We usually begin meetings with members of the public being able to speak briefly or asking questions, (agendas have the details).

Keep an eye out for any lifting of restrictions on the use of indoor facilities and use of the carefully cleaned public halls in the village. We are still unclear as to how or even if the elections will take place as planned on Thursday 6th May. However, we are assuming they will go ahead and the clerk is preparing the Ploughman Hall for ‘covid friendly’ accessibility for this event. It is an ideal venue for moving people through safely, but have your own pencil sharpened ready!  

Newsletter February 2021

Flooding and Drainage Issues in Willingham 

Over the past few weeks Willingham has experienced issues with flooding and sewage in parts of the village. The Parish Council has been liaising with the County and District Councils with regards to gullies and ditch clearance and has been advised that those in need of clearing will be done as soon as possible. In addition, there has been frequent interaction with Anglian Water who believe they have resolved the issue of the sewage leak in Church Street and Green Street, although further leakages have come to light in other village locations. 

The current sewage capacity, future maintenance and upgrade by Anglian Water have been issues we need addressing. Our MP Lucy Frazer has also been made aware of our issues, plus the District Council Environmental Health team at SCDC have been contacted to liaise and resolve the problems as quickly as possible. We would encourage all residents experiencing problems with their foul water to contact Anglian Water directly as well. The February Council meeting was well attended by parishioners and the Council welcomed and appreciated their input. We are hopeful that now we have requested a multi-agency meeting between the PC, CCC, SCDC and Anglian Water, we can start a discussion on how we can resolve this in the long term. The village will be updated via the website. 

Community Plan 

As described in December News, the 2008 Community Parish Plan is due to be revised and updated to show the needs of the changes within the parish. Such a Community Plan has no set content since it can reflect whatever the community identifies as important. Following the call for volunteers – ideally seeking a wide variety of individuals who could work together and focus on the village needs – we can now move forward and more will be published on this. It takes a lot of work at all levels so an army of helpers will be called for at different times and I am sure Willingham will step up as they did in 2008. 

Outside spaces 

The arrival of our two sparkly new table tennis tables with their surrounding matting are already a hit! Plans are going ahead for some bike shelters nearer the pavilion also, which will encourage outdoor enjoyment. Please follow any guidelines that are current as well as observe requests that may be made. Thinking ahead, the football fields will need residents to keep off until it is clear the fields can cope with a resurgence of ball games and the Council drain cleaning programme is completed. 

Last month more energy, time and parish money was spent on making the Meadow Road village field a place we can appreciate. Fly-tipping and the heap of litter was cleared. Importantly, the commemorative oak trees there have been replanted, so we all hope this time they do well and provide a fitting avenue of trees for future generations to enjoy. On the southern side of the village the piece of land donated to the village will also be prepared to benefit us all: find more details in this month’s News. 

Closer to home our own boundary hedges and trees that provide winter berries and seeds for birds will be needing attention and should be well trimmed. There are still a few that encroach on the footpaths; we would all be grateful if they could be chopped back so that we can walk around safely. The Council will be flailing the field hedges – also before nesting begins. 

As we move into spring it will be hoped that we can begin to enjoy better weather and take advantage of our outdoor spaces. The first week of March is ‘Food Waste Action Week’: choosing each piece of fresh food as we need it would certainly make a difference. Considering our drive to achieve a better carbon footprint, not only would growing our own vegetables be a good way forward, but making use of our local suppliers could reduce that carbon footprint – as well as supporting local businesses for our tasty, carefully selected food. 

Parish Council meetings and elections 

Meetings will continue to be held remotely using zoom for the time being. Full Council meetings are held on the first Wednesday in the month starting at 7.30, with agendas posted on the website as well as at the Public Hall and library. We usually begin meetings with members of the public being able to speak briefly or asking questions, (agendas have the details). 

Keep an eye out for any lifting of restrictions on the use of indoor facilities and use of the carefully cleaned public halls in the village. We are still unclear as to how or even if the elections will take place as planned on Thursday 6th May. However, we are assuming they will go ahead and the clerk is preparing the Ploughman Hall for ‘covid friendly’ accessibility for this event. It is an ideal venue for moving people through safely, but have your own pencil sharpened ready!

Newsletter November 2020

Parish Plan Volunteers Needed

The Willingham Parish Plan was created in October 2008 by the Willingham Parish Plan Committee. This enthusiastic group of volunteers worked for over a year, writing and distributing a questionnaire to each household, collecting and collating the results and finally producing the Plan and a Summary Report. The report is still available on the Parish Council website (under Documents>Policies and Procedures).

The Plan helped map out existing services and identify gaps for future development. Some of the issues identified have been addressed in the intervening years, but others remain. Special thanks are due to the Willingham Action Group, formed after the Plan was published, which has been a major force for change and improvement in the village.

It is now time for the Plan to be updated, to identify priorities for both the Parish Council and other organisations in the years ahead. The Parish Plan is not a Parish Council plan. It is produced by and for the community. The Parish Council will co-ordinate the initial recruitment of volunteers and will assist wherever possible. South Cambridgeshire District Council also provide support for what they call Community-Led Plans: see https://www.scambs.gov.uk/your-council-and-democracy/parish-councils/community-led-plans/ for details and plans which have been produced by other villages.

Contact the Council Office to volunteer and help guide Willingham into the future.

Newsletter September 2020

Coming back to Life! 

As restrictions are being lifted and we are all now imbued with Risk Assessment terminology, it is good that groups are beginning to restart. In spite of at times problems in marrying up guidelines which as a Council we need to follow and those of a specific group, it is encouraging to see that ‘Willingham Wolves’ are back in training and that the Pavilion is open on a limited basis. 

Regular Classes are also returning to the ‘Ploughman’s Hall’. 

Planning White Paper 

District Councillor Handley reported that once Officers at SCDC have finished reviewing the Report, SCDC would be commenting on the White Paper, regarding changes to the planning System. 

The Council will be updated once District Councillor Handley had had further information. 

Willingham (B1050) Earith Road Speed Reduction 

As mentioned in last month’s magazine, last year we made a bid under the ‘Minor Highways Improvement Scheme’ for a 40mph buffer on the Earith Road where it enters the village. 

Councillor Harris circulated his proposal for this year at the last Council meeting. This was accepted at the September meeting. 

This will be submitted. 

A lot of time and research has gone into this proposal, including ‘Community Roadwatch’ with traffic monitoring and ‘Mick George’ drivers being instructed to slow to 20mph through the village. 

We also purchased our own MVAS system to warn drivers and monitor speeds, and carried out pollution and sound monitoring tests. Results from data logging 200 metres inside the 30mph zone showed average speeds that are above the 30mph limit. 

This is particularly dangerous to the increasing numbers using the ‘Community Orchard’ for recreation, and also adjacent bridleway for exercise. 

On-going work on the village roads. 

County Councillor Wotherspoon will be meeting with Highways Officers to discuss issues within Willingham. The Council along with many residents have reported problems with, blocked drains, flooding, ridges along the edge of the roadway along Station Road, amongst other issues, on the Highways Portal. Other issues will also be raised. 

We look forward to resolutions to these issues. 

Ploughman’s Hall and ‘Public Hall’ 

New doors have recently been installed in both halls. 

‘QE11 field’ and ‘Recreation ground’. 

AS part of on-going maintenance to provide a safe environment, the Council replaced two logs on the QE11 field. 

A floodlight will be repaired on the ‘Recreation Ground.’ 

Environment and sustainability 

As reported in one of the early online-only versions of Willingham News, in May 2020 Willingham Parish Council adopted the following statement: 

“Willingham Parish Council fully supports the urgent need to tackle the issues surrounding global warming and its impact on climate change. Within its limited resources the Council will do what it can to assist in the aim of ensuring the long-term sustainability of our environment.” 

Cllrs Linda King and Valerie McKee are the council contacts for these issues. As mentioned last month, we are applying for an SCDC Zero Carbon Communities grant towards the cost of changing the heating in the Ploughman Hall to a much more efficient IR radiative system, which will provide significant savings in both carbon emissions and costs and also be more comfortable for users. The energy survey on which the application is based also identified changing lights throughout the building to LED and installing solar panels, and we shall be looking into implementing these. 

On the theme of energy saving in buildings, the Local Energy Advice Partnership (LEAP) is offering local residents free advice on energy saving measures in the 

home. Eligibility criteria include low income, poor health or vulnerability (see leaflet on page …). Further details can be found at www.applyforleap.org.uk or 0800 060 7567 

And if you are thinking of installing solar panels then sign up before 6 October to the Local Authority led group-buying scheme ‘Solar Together Cambridgeshire’ at www.solartogether.co.uk/cambridgeshire

Newsletter August 2020

Parish Council Meetings 

With the coronavirus situation still ongoing, as since early April, all council meetings are held as virtual with the same procedures as normal. These can be ‘attended’ by members of the public who still have the same right to speak. Details can be found on the Parish Council website at https://willinghamparishcouncil.gov.uk/ or by contacting the clerk. 

QEII Field 

At last, from 8th July, we have been able to reopen the playground since it was closed following government advice at the start of the lockdown. We have set some guidelines for use of the equipment which are posted at the entrances to the area. These are for the safety of all users of the field and equipment to ensure everyone is kept as safe as possible. Please note, though, that the playground is not supervised and equipment is not regularly cleaned. Also, whilst all possible practical measures have been put in place, the users of the equipment do so at their own choice and risk. 

All the advice regarding your personal safety still apply and we encourage everyone to keep safe and adhere to the rules set out at https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus 

Dogs 

Unfortunately there has been evidence of dog owners not clearing up after their dogs in the cemetery. There are signs that guide dogs only are permitted so this shouldn’t happen anyway. This is not only unpleasant for visitors to the cemetery but also disrespectful to the long term residents. 

Dog walkers are reminded to always clean up after their dogs. This is not only on the streets and pavements, but also footpaths, bridleways and all verges. Also, please take it home or use the litter bins and not leave plastic bags on display on the ground or hanging on fences or bushes. 

Recreation Ground 

It has been good to see the recreation ground being used so much in the past few months. With the playground out of action people have been using it for exercise and social activities, hopefully with all obeying the social distancing rules! 

Alas, some people seem to leave their rubbish behind after enjoying themselves. This, apart from being unsightly, can be dangerous causing risks to other users and the parish council litter pickers. Can we ask you to take all your litter with you when you leave? After all, you brought the rubbish so please take it away with you. 

Also, please remember that the recreation ground is for all to enjoy. For this reason it is NOT to be used for dog walking, cycling, golf, barbeques nor for flying drones. 

Planning 

Several months ago the planning departments of SCDC and Cambridge City were merged to create savings and become more efficient. Despite a few glitches, this is generally working well. The Parish Council planning committee still meets regularly to discuss all applications currently with virtual meetings. We are not the planning authority however, but play a part in adding our comments to the planning process. 

Most of the applications we receive fall into 3 categories – outline, full or conditional. Outline planning is usually for larger or more difficult proposals where the applicant wants to get approval in principle for a scheme prior to developing the full application. The full application presents the complete proposal. In both these cases the approval by the planning authority is final though conditions to this may have been set. Conditional applications address these caveats to the approval though don’t change the decision. If an application has been refused by the planning authority, the applicant has the right to appeal the decision to the Secretary of State; unfortunately this doesn’t apply in reverse. 

Climate Change 

As mentioned in the last newsletter, the Parish Council will continue to work on policies and strategies towards net zero carbon. The council has appointed as liaison Councillors, Linda King and Val McKee. They will be the Council point of contact for climate change, environment, and sustainability matters and help facilitate any initiatives within the Council’s remit on these matters. They would be attending the Zero Carbon Community Grant workshop and would then be looking at the grant application for the heating in the ploughman hall.

Newsletter July 2020

Multi-Agency Meeting

At a recent multi-agency Zoom meeting, Willingham Hub were rightly praised for the work that they have been doing and some astonishment expressed that they have over a hundred volunteers working for them. For anyone that does not know, Willingham Hub was set up in March, soon after lockdown, to support anyone in the village who needed help with obtaining food or medicines. A very professional structure was rapidly put in place to meet basic needs and monitor those at risk.

The Parish Council has been very pleased to support this excellent group with some basic tasks such as printing and most importantly some funding. Fortunately, the Council had an Emergency Plan written many years ago to help deal with problems such as flooding. A pandemic was not foreseen but parts of the plan were still useful in authorising rapid access to cash. When the world returns to a more normal state the plan will be updated.

The meeting was attended by various housing and support agencies as well as County, District and Parish Council Officers and Councillors and Cambridgeshire Police. There was a review of the anti-social problems that had beset Willingham last summer and the action that had been taken. The view was expressed that this year had been much quieter with the caveat that we may see more problems as the lockdown is relaxed. As always, everyone is encouraged to report any incidents however trivial. Whilst no action may be taken on an individual case, providing it is logged, it will add to the cumulative picture.           

A benefit of lockdown has been the massive reduction in traffic. The flip side has been an increase in speed from a few inconsiderate drivers. The police have been made aware of this but say that they do not have the resources to do anything about it for now. They have asked if the village could restore a ‘Speed Watch’ team.

Increased fly tipping has been another downside of the lockdown process. With the closure for a while of recycling centres and restrictions on vehicle movements some unsociable folk have used the droves around Willingham as dumping grounds. There is a backlog of mess to be cleared for which we, as council tax payers, will be liable. If you do see anyone dumping rubbish please give us the details of time, place and vehicle registration number.

Climate Change

Back in 2008 the Climate Change Act established a legally binding target to reduce the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% in 2050 from 1990 levels. Over the past year or so the dramatic effect of these emissions on our climate has become widely recognised as a very urgent problem and tackling it has moved higher up the agenda. In addition to greenhouse gas reduction, the sustainability of our environment also involves issues such as biodiversity, pollution and plastic waste.

Fundamental change requires international and national commitments, but local authorities also have an important part to play. WPC will continue to engage fully with CCC and SCDC, both of which have declared climate emergencies and are working on policies and strategies towards net zero carbon.

Virtual Meetings

For the time being we have had to suspend our normal meetings but they are all continuing on Zoom. Members of the public are most welcome to join in and are able to speak subject to the usual rules on timing. The parish council website carries details of meeting dates and times together with a lot of information on council activities. Information is also available on a non-interactive Facebook page.

Village Heroes

Whilst the NHS have rightly been applauded for their excellent work, there are a lot of other folk who have quietly got on with keeping services running. The Parish Council is enormously grateful to the store workers who have kept us fed, the post office that has kept communication links open and all the other heroes in our village who have risked their own safety for the benefit of us all.

Newsletter June 2020

Challenging Times

I hope everyone is staying well, and staying indoors. On behalf of the Parish Council I’d like to thank all the key workers in Willingham who are keeping us safe and provided for: the NHS staff and carers; everyone at the Primary School; those at the doctor’s surgery and pharmacy; all at the Co-op, One Stop, Highfield Stores and other supermarket staff; the Post Office workers and other delivery people; and all the behind-the-scenes workers keeping our services running and supplies flowing. A special thanks goes to the organisers of the Willingham Hub and all their volunteers looking after the vulnerable and isolating.

Willingham Hub

The Willingham Hub (see https://www.facebook.com/groups/WillinghamLoveHub/) is the initiative which is providing help and support for anybody in the village. This is being run by local volunteers, with the Parish Council providing assistance, clerical support and financial aid where required. Everybody in the village should now have received a leaflet giving contact details for their “zone reps” who are co-ordinating the responses from volunteers.

Parish Council Meetings

Physical meetings of the Parish Council have been suspended, according to Government guidelines. There was no meeting in April, as we awaited new legislation. The “Local Authorities and Police and Crime Panels (Coronavirus) (Flexibility of Local Authority Police and Crime Panel Meetings) (England and Wales) Regulations 2020 No.392” have now been published. The Regulations allows Full Parish Council and sub-committee meetings to be held with remote access by video or audio links – provided all councillors, and members of the public who wish to, can speak and participate. Virtual meetings will commence with the May meeting. Further details will be published on the website and usual noticeboards.

The Annual Meeting of the Parish Council, where chairs and lead councillors are selected, has been cancelled for this year. Again, this is following the legal advice from the Government. All Councillors will continue in their present posts until the next Annual Meeting in 2021.

Zero Carbon Communities Initiative

In last month’s News our District Councillors gave some background to the District Council’s response to the climate emergency and their ambitious aims for fast reductions in carbon dioxide emissions. They have embarked on several initiatives, one of which is supporting and encouraging local communities to help achieve this. Councillor Linda King joined around 70 representatives of parish councils and local green groups at the first Zero Carbon Communities (ZCC) Workshops to hear about SCDC’s programme.

The workshop started with presentations setting the scene regarding the need for action, the current situation in the District, and ways of tackling the problem. One of SCDC’s main ways of supporting communities is the ZCC Grants and several successful applicants then described their projects. Unfortunately, WPC’s grant application in 2019 for green heating of the Ploughman Hall was unsuccessful. We will apply again for the next round in 2020. A ‘table top’ exercise to discuss ideas was very brief due to the first part overrunning.  However, an important aim of the workshop was to initiate contact among the participants so that ideas, examples, lessons learned, and practical information regarding reducing carbon emissions at a local level could be shared, together with high-quality data. This has been established and it is intended that further workshops will take place, as well as informal contact. This issue and Willingham’s response will be discussed at a forthcoming Parish Council meeting, but if you would like to know more before then, you can contact Linda King at the email address below.