The Swaffham Crier Online

From our Local County Councillor

It does not take a political genius to see a connection between a more generous Government grant and the probability of a General Election in 2005. Nevertheless, "don't look a gift box in the mouth", the increase given from the Government side is over 11%, raising Cambridgeshire's portion from £305m in 04/05 to £339m for the year 2005/6. Since inflation is lower than these amounts we may be able to keep threatened services going and even recover some recently lost ground. These are early days, so a lot more will be revealed in the next month.

All very well, but you will want to know what effect this will have on Council Tax. My councillor colleagues will want to be cautious, but I'll gamble that it is not more than 5% on the County portion. Let's see if I am anywhere near my forecast.

In association with the revenue increases mentioned above, we have been told that the Government will give us almost £26m for transport improvement. This means more money for maintenance (e.g. resurfacing and pothole mending), some more money for, as yet unspecified, projects and just less than £5m to complete the Fordham bvpass. The section from Fordham Road north to the roundabout in south Soham should be open in the Spring. The section south towards Newmarket will come in a couple of months later when delays connected with public service pipework allow.

Early in 2005 I hope to tell you how the village bids for jointly funded schemes fares. I spent two days recently as the only elected member helping officers to judge their merit. As we had over 30 bids there will be, inevitably, some disappointment.

This month I have supported Bottisham and Lode parish council pleas for higher traffic control, diverted footpaths and in the case of Burwell Museum a sponsorship of their bid for Lottery help.

As a pensioner myself I was interested in a press article which explained that Gordon Brown was adding £50 to the over 70Õs winter fuel payment. He omitted to mention in Parliament that he was abolishing a £100 council tax allowance. Thus older pensioners will be £50 worse off next year compared with this one. The cut will not be experienced until later next year - after any election in the meantime!

Seasonal greetings to everyone. Get in touch if you think I can help on any County problems - 01223 811425.

James Fitch