Rod Cantrill commented on the UCU industrial action taking place today in Cambridge:
“Higher education and research-based businesses which serve this sector, are all vital for the success of Cambridge. It is crucial that people who work across the Cambridge knowledge economy are paid on a fair basis including salary, pension and other benefits.
Many academics have chosen their career path on the basis that although their salary may not be the highest, they could otherwise achieve, their pension would at least be sufficient and secure.
Fairness is the reason why I am a passionate proponent of the real living wage – having introduced it in the city council in 2013 – and I welcome Cambridge University’s recent decision to seek real living wage accreditation.
The proposed changes to the pensions of academics here in Cambridge and across the university sector appears not to be fair. I am sure Cambridge academics are reluctant to take strike action that may adversely affect students’ education. I understand why they have taken this step, given that the security of their pension provision has already been eroded by changes made in 2014.
The challenge for Cambridge University and the other pre 1992 universities is whether introducing these further changes will result in academics leaving the sector and therefore damage its long term success, versus exploring increases in contributions that will be sufficient to retain the existing scheme intact, given the impact that this may have on the already very tight budgets that universities face.
I hope that Cambridge University will make their overriding priority fairness to their employees on this important issue.”
Cambridge Liberal Democrats are bringing a motion to Cambridge City Council's meeting on Thursday seeking for the Leader of the Council to write to Lucy Frazer MP, the responsible minister at the Ministry of Justice, objecting to the proposed closure.
Rod Cantrill, The Lib Dem Shadow MP for Cambridge commented
"If the closure happens, this will result in Cambridge a rapidly growing city having no Magistrates' Court to serve residents from the city and the surrounding area. As a result people from Cambridge will be forced to travel to Huntingdon or Peterborough to attend a hearing. For the majority of people this will result in an increase in travel costs, particularly when public transport connections are limited.
The step will also dilute the sense of place and the mutual community responsibility valuable in underpinning the most local level of the justice system.
I also believe that the process is flawed as the impact assessment used in the evaluation fails to monetise the costs to be imposed on the court users."
The Liberal Democrats are keen to hear your views on the safety of the ‘Ridgeway’ cycle path.
Parking Update – Public meetings
I wanted to make sure you are up to date on where we are with the proposals to bring in parking controls in the streets bordered by Springfield Road to Hawthorn Way. Hopefully you’ll recall we surveyed you about the plans that were to be imposed
on you. Read on for the results and the dates of public meetings...
Local Lib Dem councillors and campaigners joined with other local community groups to ask that development plans for the Tivoli cinema building are rejected.
On Thursday 8th February, the County Council's Economy and Environment Committee will consider a study into the future of the A10 corridor: item 7 on this agenda . Along with fellow Lib Dem Councillors I've submitted a response to it.
In addition to the joint response I've stated that the corridor should include segregated cycleways.
Council Leader, Labour’s Lewis Herbert, has slapped down the democratic decision of the Council’s Housing Committee by deciding to ignore the committee’s support for the opposition amendment to the Housing Budget.
Members of the committee, including the council tenant representatives voted to support the amended Housing Budget. Council officers confirmed the amendment would have still resulted in a balanced Housing Budget being delivered.
Rod Cantrill, Shadow Liberal Democrat Housing Spokes, commented:
“The amendment would have meant that larger families renting one of the new 500 council houses in the city would save up to £2,000 a year. This would be a big difference to people struggling to make ends meet in Cambridge.
In addition, it would have better protected larger families from the benefit cap under Universal Credit and enabled work to start on the much-needed improvements to the sorry state of communal areas on the council housing sites. Not only that, It would have ensured that council tenants living in sheltered accommodation would still be able to rely on the council to undertake repairs to their properties without having to pay for them.
Rather than force through their own Budget, Labour and their Leader Lewis Herbert and the Executive Councillor for Housing Kevin Price should have reflected on the clear message that the Housing Committee sent.
Council tenants agree with the non Labour members of the Housing Committee, including the Council Tenant representatives, that the proposals in the amendment are really needed.
Instead, whichever way elected representatives actually voted, we have ended up with a Labour Housing Budget, that has had to be forced on to the Council and tenants. Labour has failed to listen to the views that council tenants have voiced and to make the most of what can be achieved for them in a very tough environment. It is a very arrogant step that the Labour ruling group has taken and makes a mockery of their concerns about inequality.
The Liberal Democrats will continue to listen to council tenants across the city and act as a champion for their views against the increasingly remote ruling Labour Group.”
In a surprise move earlier today, Cambridgeshire’s Conservative councillors announced that they plan to increase the county council’s portion of the council tax this year by 2.99 per cent, on top of their planned 2 per cent increase for adult social care.
The move comes as they struggle to plug a budget gap of £4.3 million in their spending plans, and prepare for worse to come.
For several years now, Liberal Democrat councillors have pointed out that increasing council tax is the only way to protect the services local residents value. Inflation takes its toll. The Government has massively reduced its funding to councils. The population is ageing. The number of children in care continues to increase. Patients are stuck in hospital because there is nowhere appropriate for them to move to. Roads crumble.
All of this is familiar and expected – no surprises – but Conservative councillors have chosen not to act, until now. Having resisted pleas to raise the cash needed over the last few years, the funding crisis is more acute than it need have been.
Now that Conservative councillors have belatedly joined the consensus that ‘we can’t go on like this’, the real differences between the parties at Shire Hall are about what to do with the 2.99 per cent (£7.969 million) extra to be raised when the budget is set next month.
All parties must use most of the money to plug that £4.3 million gap. As for the rest:
- Conservative proposals are that all of the remainder should be put away into a ‘smoothing reserve’, to help sort out more financial problems ahead in three years’ time.
- Liberal Democrat proposals are that the remainder should be spent – reversing the children’s centre cuts, a bus pass for 16-18 year olds to help them get around to college or work or leisure, highways and footpath maintenance and improvement, street lighting, air quality monitoring. They also want to reverse the massive increase Conservative councillors awarded themselves this summer, and reduce the number of council committees.
- Labour proposals are that most of the remainder should be spent on street lighting, libraries, children in care, local highways projects, and cycling. The rest should be put into a ‘strategic reserve’ for children’s centres and for beds to enable people to be discharged from hospital.
The final decision (a foregone conclusion, given the Conservative majority on the council) will be made on Tuesday 6 February.
The Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate for Cambridge, Rod Cantrill has welcomed the House of Commons Treasury Select Committee’s Autumn Budget 2017 Report that was published today. The report calls for the government to remove the Local Authority Housing Revenue Account borrowing cap to enable councils such as Cambridge to build more council houses.