From our Reporter at the Parish Council Meeting
Many people may find it tedious to go to a meeting and listen to an assorted body of people beefing on about one thing or another. This may happen but at Parish Council Meetings the one and a half hours can be a very rewarding occasion. The March meeting was no exception. In fact it was a gem of a meeting though I did miss 30 minutes of the best part.The meeting was preceded by an address on 'Fly-Tipping' by Mark Mehaffey, the ECDC Clean Neighbourhood Enforcement Officer. As I had been to so many PC Meetings I already knew the best places to fly-tip so I chose to miss it - in spite of wondering whether Mehaffey resembled Macavity the Mystery Cat. When I walked in Mark Mehaffey asked "Am I alright for time?" Chairman John Covill, after hesitation, said he could carry on for a bit and Mehaffey was delighted, explaining that "I am just passionate about the subject of fly-tipping." And he spoke for another 20 minutes. It was riveting, and I was sorry to have missed the first 30 minutes. Unlike Macavity, where there was rubbish Mehaffey would be present.
Geoffrey complimented him and said it was the best public address he had heard for many a year and hoped that his position would be safe from any impending cuts. Mehaffey explained that he was on a short term contract with one year to go. The following are just a few items from the bit I heard. (1) Veolia does not provide a good back up service. Many times Mark had sorted and bagged up rubbish, informed Veolia who said they would collect, Mehaffey had told Allen Alderson who had told the PC, only for Peter Hart (who keeps an eye on things) at the next meeting to say that the rubbish had not been collected. Red faces and apologies all round. A tightening of the Veolia contract suggested. (2) Mehaffey works very closely with the police, and an ANPR (automated number plate recognition) system is in operation. Even though fly-tippers often use false number plates it is still worth reporting the number plates of all suspicious vehicles to 01353 616221. (3) A quiet word and gentleness is preferable to inflicting a £75 fine on a person dropping a fag end (a rare event now) or a toffee paper on the ground. Mehaffey just gets everywhere.
Following the changes to the bus timetable David Brown said he had been trying to arrange a meeting with Andy (is it Andy?) Campbell, the Stage Coach Manager. The meeting was postponed. Meantime the complaints against Stage Coach are legion and one can put the blame down to the local management if it is reasonable to make a comparison with Stage Coach Oxford. There the engines are not left running while stationary in the terminus, the drivers do not wait until the time to go before entering the cab and begin issuing tickets and hence leaving 5 minutes late, and all buses do appear to run, and to run on time.
What happens with Stage Coach Cambridge. The following is based on the stories from only two people. One person in the village had not used the bus for a few years but the opportunity arose to use one. It broke down in Lode. Another person, awaiting a return bus from Cambridge, saw eight buses drive in, put up the "Sorry Not In Service" notice, and drive off. The six formers waiting soon cottoned on and every time a bus appeared set up a great chant "WE'RE SORRY!" . The No10 bus never turned up - no information, no apology, no one to ask. Another timethe No 10 was on time, the very nice driver took tickets early, but when it was timeto go reverse gear could not be engaged. Fear not, said the driver, I'll wait a bit andtry again. Success. The bus proceeded very gently, until it eventually ground to ahalt. A phone call to the depot. The advice was that the driver should wait fiveminutes and then try again. After the wait the bus started and ground its wayforward with many shudders until at arrived at SP 35 minutes late. Who knowswhen and whether it ever arrived at Newmarket.
No longer can the number 10 service be relied upon and if there is anyalternative people are going to take it while those with no alternative must suffer.Andy Campbell has been making excuses for too long. Maybe he should considerhis position or run a better show. Usually we can have no influence becausegovernment edicts are issued from on high. But this is a local service, a commercialone, and we ought to have a say.
Phew - that's expressing the anger and frustration of many people.Some planning applications were considered. What many people in the villagedo not realise is that it is always worth sending any concerns to the PC as well as toECDC. Without any background information it is often difficult for any council tomake a well informed decision on a 3 to 5 minute scan of plans. At one time Ibelieve plans were circulated before a meeting which allowed a little more time fordiscussion and even a site meeting. On the other hand the PC has always feltaggrieved that its views have carried little weight with ECDC Planning. This doesnot mean they would not like more information.
It was reported that an unknown "someone" had tripped over in the car park andhad complained. The PC was concerned. This was during open question time and arude voice from the gallery said that anyone who tripped over in that car park musthave been very clumsy and should not be allowed out on the public highway. In thisincreasingly irritating "blame culture" maybe the intervenor was right.