Newsletters

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.