I am glad to see that following my press release last November calling for a safe crossing over Royston’s A505 By-pass, funding proposals for the bridge were recently discussed at a meeting held by the A10 Corridor Cycling Group. I understand those at the meeting looked at the SUSTRANS report which examines cycle links in and out of Royston. Clearly a crossing over the A505 would greatly help both with improving these and the connection of cycling routes within the A10 corridor as well. Local councillors briefed those at the meeting about the funding bids that are being submitted to help pay for the construction of the crossing and there was discussion about the cycling group’s annual bike ride (intended to raise awareness about cycling in the area) which is scheduled for 18 May. There will be two rides departing simultaneously from Royston Heath and Trumpington Park and Ride in Cambridge. I am a firm supporter of cycling within the constituency and I hope that the funding bids for the A505 crossing are successful. More details about the A10 Corridor’s Cycling Group’s campaign and its ride can be found on the group’s website.
Recently I convened a Multi Agency Review meeting at the Little Hadham Village Hall to discuss the flooding which hit the village and surrounding areas back in February. There were a number of agencies represented at the meeting which was well attended by local residents, including the Little Hadham Parish Council, the Environment Agency, Thames Water, East Herts District Council, Herts County Council and Herts Fire and Rescue. We discussed the options which could be put in place to prevent the terrible flooding which I witnessed back in February happening again and various solutions presented themselves.
Obviously the A120 Bypass work will help prevent many of the flooding issues which have arisen and we will hear this summer whether funding for this has been granted. In the meantime there were references to looking at the situation of reservoir ponds above the Lloyd Taylor Close drain which seemed a sensible idea and dredging of the nearby Ash river. We also discussed what could be done about the flooding of houses in Green Street and at Pathway Cottages.
The good news is that there is funding available within East Herts District Council to get on with some of this work and more money can be applied for through the flood defence grants which the Government has made available. During the meeting I pressed Thames Water on their two pumps which are faulty and we received assurances that these would be either properly mended or replaced. The Environment Agency is to hold another meeting before Easter to address further resident concerns and I encourage local constituents to attend this so that they can make their views heard. I understand the date of the meeting will be published in the parish magazine.
I was delighted to read in a local paper about the success of our Royston Picture Palace the community cinema based in the newly renovated Town Hall. The Picture Palace shows newly released films and is extremely popular. Christine and I enjoyed seeing “Saving Mr Banks” there recently. It is jointly funded by the local group Royston First and Royston Town Council but its operation is due to a dedicated team of volunteers. To cater for the cinema’s growing popularity more volunteers will be needed and those that are interested can register their interest at http://www.roystonpicturepalace.org.uk. I think this local institution is a great asset to the community and I encourage those who wish to assist with the scheme to register as a volunteer as soon as possible.
I was pleased to hear that progress is being made regarding the plans for the A120 bypass at Little Hadham. According to the latest information that I have received if funding is secured for the scheme, then construction of the bypass could be completed by 2019. Interestingly I note that the A120 bypass scheme will include flood alleviation measures for the River Ash, the Albury Tributary and the Lloyd Taylor Drain which will seek to provide protection for Little Hadham and the surrounding areas from flooding. With this in mind Herts County Council and the Environment Agency will be carrying out a number of environmental and technical surveys in the Little Hadham area and these will begin about now. I know that many of my constituents have been affected by the Hadham lights and will be pleased to hear about this good news. More details about the plans for the bypass can be found here.
This week I received information from the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport Maria Miller about the launch of the Cultural Programme “14-18 Now” in aid of the First World War Centenary. I understand that a Cultural Board has been appointed to coordinate the various activities celebrating the Centenary and I look forward to hearing about these national plans as they unfold; details about them can be found here. Within the constituency, preparations are underway for centenary celebrations too and I was pleased to hear about the commemoration planned in Little Hadham called “Little Hadham Goes to War” planned for 22-24 August 2014. I am sure there will be other such similar events elsewhere in the constituency too.
Further to my press release about Wednesday’s Budget, I was also pleased to hear about the additional £168 million which is to be made available for pothole repairs in 2014/15. At a local level, many of my constituents suffer as a consequence of these and more money to deal with roads which are damaged will certainly be welcome.
Likewise, the announcement in the Budget that there is to be an investment of £100M for the development of Greater Cambridge until 1919-20 (which could be worth up to £500 million over 15 to 20 years) given the proximity to the City to North East Herts, will be very beneficial to many of my constituents as well, not to mention the large boost it will give to the local economy. I look forward to the City’s development. More details about the Budget can be found here.
I was pleased to hear about Helen Grant’s praise for the local project Herts at War which is being run within the constituency. As Minister for the First World War Centenary, Helen was quoted as exclaiming “how quite a modest grant, coupled with the passion and determination of volunteers can create something that will be valuable for generations to come.” This initiative which I’ve spoken about before is an excellent idea and I am pleased to note that has also just received Heritage Lottery Funding until 2015 which will support its good work. It is looking for volunteers to take the project’s work forward in the areas of archival research, exhibition design, online web-editing and social networking, more details about which can be found on the Herts at War website. I understand that there will also be two Herts at War Volunteer Days where prospective volunteers can go along and speak to current project staff. The first of these is on Saturday 22 February in Letchworth Garden City and the second on Saturday 1 March at a venue to be confirmed.