South Cambridgeshire Constituency News, August/September 2018

There’s been no shortage of sun this Summer so I hope you have been able to spend some time enjoying the glorious weather!

Parliamentary recess allows me to focus on important local issues while I am away from the “hurly burly” of Westminster. As always, my newsletter can only ever be a snapshot of my work but I hope it gives you an overview of what I have been up to!

The major infrastructure improvements needed in South Cambridgeshire remain a priority for me. In July, Highways England announced their plans to start construction work on the expressway between the Black Cat roundabout and Caxton Gibbet in 2021/2. This is later than originally planned and I share residents’ concerns about the delays. Highways England told me there are two reasons. The engineering at the A1 end is more complex than originally envisaged and they also want the A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon works to complete before they begin construction work on the A428.

I am meeting with the Chancellor (along with neighbouring MP, Jonathan Djanogly) soon to ensure he fully understands how vital this road improvement scheme is and that nothing can allow it to be delayed further.

Another much-needed improvement to our local infrastructure is the Girton M11/J14 Interchange. If improvements are not made, the benefits of the A428 expressway and the improvements to the A14 simply won’t be delivered as we won’t have a joined-up network. With the housing growth anticipated across Cambridgeshire and with new jobs being created at the Biomedical Campus, we need to make sure the growth potential of the area has the infrastructure to match the ambition for the area. I have made a bid for funding for the Girton interchange ahead of the Autumn statement and reiterated how vital it is to the Chancellor and Roads Minister.

East West Rail (Oxford to Cambridge) is another project that many constituents have contacted me about and I want to reassure you that NO route has yet been chosen. Personally, I support a route that is closely aligned with the A428 corridor as public transport is almost non-existent in this part of the constituency. It would also support the housing growth planned at Cambourne and Northstowe, so seems obvious to me. I am pushing this route with Rob Brighouse (Chairman of the East West Rail Company) and am pleased to report he has shown interest and we will be meeting again soon. I’ll keep you posted, but please be assured I will let you know as soon as any route possibilities emerge.

In my newsletters at the beginning of the year, I urged local residents to contribute to the consultation on the Ministry of Justice’s proposed closure of Cambridge Magistrates’ Court. Well, you did and they listened! At the end of July, the Ministry confirmed the court will remain open. Thank you to the many local people who contacted me about this – there were a number of concerns about the consultation and I am pleased that the right decision has been made. We made this happen!

Over the summer I’ve been out on the farm, helping with the harvest in Thriplow and Boxworth. I suspect I may have been more hindrance than help but I was very enthusiastic! A combine harvester may not be everyone’s vehicle of choice, but I thoroughly enjoyed it! Our farmers of course work hard all year round, but there is an undeniable pressure at a harvest time as they work around the clock to bring our food in off the fields. Hats (caps?) off!

In August, I spent a shift with the Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service. I donned my boots, braces and trousers as I got to grips with just some of the work our fire service do for us. As you’d appreciate, they do an amazing job in often very difficult situations, but having participated in a training exercise in a smoke filled building, I cannot commend them highly enough. It never occurred to me that when a building is on fire, they work with no visibility – zero. I couldn’t see a thing. Speaking honestly, I was terrified.  So I’d just like to put on record my personal thanks.

You will be aware from my previous newsletters of the action I have been taking to hold GTR to account for the debacle following the introduction of their new train timetable in May. Over recent months, I have been arguing that compensation must not apply only to season ticket holders – there are plenty of commuters in South Cambridgeshire who have been affected but who are not season ticket holders.

In the last few days, GTR has announced that the compensation scheme will now also include non-season ticket holders. This is welcome news but GTR still have some way to go to ensure that services are better and I have contacted Chris Grayling again to urge him to delay the proposed rail fare increase until the services have been fully restored AND maintained. My work on behalf of commuters continues and I will be meeting with the new Chief Executive of GTR shortly. I will leave him in no doubt about the strength of feeling of local commuters and will provide an update on this in my next newsletter.

Until then, if there is anything you would like to talk to me about, my next no appointment “drop in” surgery will be on Saturday 6th October (10.30am -12.30pm) in Northstowe. If you’d prefer an appointment, I’ll be in Bassingbourn on the 2nd November between 3 and 5pm.

More details can be found on the ‘surgeries’ page on the website.

In the meantime, if you would like to contact me, please email or call my office on 01223 830037.

See you next month!