Leader’s Blog – Cllr Bridget Smith

Leader’s Blog – Cllr Bridget Smith

Thank you for visiting my blog. Through my blog I’m aiming to give you a better insight into what I am doing behind the scenes to represent you and make sure the Council is delivering on the priorities you have helped us set.

If there is anything you want to know more about, or topics you want me to cover in more detail, please get in touch – cllr.bridgetsmith@scambs.gov.uk

Best wishes
Bridget

Cllr Bridget Smith's signature

 

Monday 9 September 2019: "The most important document you’ve never heard of"

It was excellent to see so many representatives from locally-based businesses at our latest Local Plan workshop. The Local Plan has been described by one of the senior managers in our Planning Service as “the most important document you’ve never heard of” because it covers how where we live will change in the years ahead, be that new homes, schools, jobs or transport.

Local Plan business event with people sitting around tables

We’re right at the start of the process of creating a joint Local Plan with Cambridge City Council and the event at the end of last week was the latest workshop held by our Shared Planning Service. During the past few months we’ve spoken to parish councils, residents’ associations, landowners, developers and many other groups and last week’s get-together was aimed specifically at businesses. There was a range of organisations there – including Marshall, the University of Cambridge and Hain Daniels who work out of the old jam factory in Histon.

Because we’re at the beginning of making a Local Plan for Greater Cambridge, the workshop posed questions about the opportunities and challenges on the horizon. Unsurprisingly, transport and housing are right up there as key issues but it was great to hear how receptive the attendees were towards our green ambitions. The businesses were pleased to be talking to us at this early stage of the process and we’re aiming to involve as many people as possible in the weeks and months ahead.

Up until now we have been engaging with various groups in advance of the first round of consultation on the new joint Local plan. The sessions have been really helpful, and all the comments have been fed into the first milestone in the Local Plan process, which is the Issues and Options consultation towards the end of the year. As the title suggests, this will give all our communities the chance to tell us about what they think the key things will be where we live in the years ahead. There will be much more on this to come before the end of the year so please do look out for it and comment when the time comes.

 

Wednesday 14 August 2019:  Our new Chief Executive

It was great to spend much of yesterday with our newly appointed Chief Executive, Liz Watts. Liz joins us on 23 September but got her work underway early when she met with me, my Cabinet and officers to understand more about our priorities and how we can make sure we are delivering these for residents and businesses.

Liz was recently the Chief Executive of East Herts Council and has an amazing career which includes working with asylum seekers in London and as part of the post-war peace process in Bosnia-Herzegovina, where she was based in Sarajevo for eight years.

Once Liz joins us I know she will be really keen to get out and about in the district to understand more about the challenges and opportunities in our fantastic and unique communities.

 

Tuesday 30 July 2019: Two campaigns close to my heart

Fly-tipping is simply a despicable crime and an issue we are trying hard to reduce in the district. Amazingly, most fly-tipping stems from households who give their waste to a ‘white van man’ who promises to take it away for a small fee.

The SCRAP fly-tipping campaign we are pushing hard here is trying to involve everyone to tackle the problem. We clear fly-tipping from most public land, costing up to £2,000 a pop. The damage isn’t just financial, and we’ve recently changed our processes so we can investigate, try and prosecute and clear it away more quickly.

A huge plea from me. If someone is saying they can take your bulky waste in their van for a price that sounds too good to be true, it is. Being mindful of this is one role you can all play. And you can also help us know about fly-tipping by reporting it to us through our website.

I know the vast majority of people detest fly-tipping so please support the campaign.
There’s some great videos on our Facebook page you can share too.

On a more positive note, I had the honour of opening the new British Heart Foundation shop in Cambourne today. It is great to have this as part of the centre of Cambourne and I’m sure it will be a big success. I was born with a congenital heart disease and my family have also benefited from the great work the British Heart Foundation does so this is a campaign I am very close to. The staff today were simply fantastic and I’m sure they would love to see you in the shop soon.

 

Friday 26 July: OxCam Arc and the environment

I was delighted to be able to meet with Peter Horrocks CBE yesterday to discuss his role as the Chair of South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership and our shared vision for creating a truly ambitious environmental strategy for the OxCam Arc.

We both aspire to influencing the Arc through the new environment work stream and through our local authority planning policies to encompass really high environmental standards both for the millions of people currently living in the arc and for those people who may live there in the future. This will translate into improved green and blue bio diversity, increased public access to the the countryside, improved air quality, building to the highest energy efficiency standards, providing real alternatives to the car to move around and  boosting renewable energy generation to name but a handful of positives. We both agree that OxCam has to principally benefit the people already in the Arc and must significantly improve their quality of life. The best way to do this is through setting the highest standards for the arc now and into the future.

Friday 5 July 2019: Return of the Saxons!

With all the excitement of the appointment of Chief Exec Liz Watts and my looming holiday, I still was not going to miss an event in Gamlingay last night for the world!!

A very moving celebration was held at Millbridge Brook Meadows, Gamlingay to mark the reinterment of skeletal remains of seven Saxon children and one Saxon woman. The remains had been found in the excavation site in Station Road, Gamlingay in 1997.

Saxon remains

County Council Archaeological Officer Quinton Carroll gave everyone an insight into how things would have been in the Saxon community in Gamlingay.

A very special evening, enjoyed by all.

Thursday 4 July 2019: A hectic week and a new Chief Exec

It’s been an exciting and action-packed week and my feet have hardly touched the ground.

It started off in London where we held interviews for the new Chief Executive of the Council. We had a large group of talented people from across the country to choose from, which reflects what an exciting place our district is to work.Cllr Bridget Smith in Brighton

Following the interviews, then a meeting of our Employment and Staffing Committee and Extraordinary Full Council Meeting today, I’m very excited to share with you that Liz Watts is going to be our new Chief Exec. Liz spent almost four years as Chief Exec at East Herts Council, and has held senior roles at St. Edmundsbury Borough and Forest Heath Councils. She has also worked with asylum seekers and as part of the post-war peace process in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

In between all of this, I found some time to fit in a trip to Bournemouth to attend the Local Government Association conference. This has been a chance to not only visit the seaside, but also have some very useful and interesting discussions with the Leaders of our fellow Councils, share what we’re doing, particularly focussing on our green to the core agenda, and pick up some new ideas. We’ve also discussed the Oxford - Cambridge Arc project, safer communities and funding for Councils.

I don’t know about you, but I’m now ready for a holiday! With that in mind, I’m heading away with my family to France for a break. It’s an open invitation for my three (adult) children – but you can never be sure how many will turn up!

Cllr Bridget Smith in Bournemouth

Thursday 27 June 2019: A chance to enhance nature

I was recently appointed as a member for the environment on the OxCam Arc Joint Advisory Group. I know residents really care about leaving a positive mark on the environment and this is one way to help this to happen.

We want to move away from a view that building houses or roads should ‘avoid harm’, to see it as a chance to make things better and enhance nature.

Boats on the River Cam

Through development we can improve air quality and access to the countryside, increase cycling and use of public transport, improve standards of homes, increase canopy cover and bio-diversity and invest in renewable energy. 

So by working together with partners from South Oxfordshire to East Cambridgeshire we have a real opportunity to encourage and enable people to make positive behavioural change – which we all urgently need if we are to respond to the climate emergency.

Wednesday 19 June 2019: Plastics a focus on politics show

On Sunday I represented the Council on Sunday Politics East. There was some really interesting debate and an item on plastic recycling featured. I was pleased to be able to let people know that all the plastic put in blue wheelie bins in South Cambridgeshire is sorted in our Waterbeach centre and responsibly recycled. 

Cllr Bridget Smith being interviewed by BBC Look East

Once processed, almost all of the materials go to be recycled and turned into new products in the UK with around 5% going to highly controlled centres in Spain and the Netherlands. One of my main messages was how important it is to recycle as much as possible so please keep it up.

For anyone wanting to watch the debate you can catch up online by visiting the Sunday Politics East section of the BBC website. The episode was aired on 16 June. The other council leaders on the show also wore red so we were very colour coordinated. 

 

Wednesday 12 June 2019: In listening mode on Bourn Airfield

At our Cabinet meeting last week, we agreed to consult on the Bourn Airfield Supplementary Planning Document. I know what you are thinking as this sounds dry and technical. However, this is in fact a really important consultation for people to get involved in.

The document sets out a proposed vision and masterplan for the new village to make sure it is a great place to live and work for new residents and people living nearby.

We want the new village to have great schools, shops and a 21st century centre where people enjoy meeting for recreation as well as shopping. We also want to make sure that the new village is designed so it supports our aim of reducing car use.

But what we really want is for you to get involved in the consultation that will launch next week. We are in listening mode so please make sure you have your say.

You can take a look at the draft documents we considered at Cabinet by visiting the agenda page on our website.

From Monday 17 June you can have your say by visiting www.scambs.gov.uk/bournairfieldspd. It closes on Monday 29 July.

 

Tuesday 4 June 2019: Scout celebration at AGM

Gamlingay village sign

Welcome to my new Leader's blog. Through the blog I hope to be able to share with you a mixture of the work I am doing as the Leader of the Council along with some great things taking place in my patch as the local member for Gamlingay.

Last night I attended the AGM of the Gamlingay and Gransden Cubs and Scouts. It was brilliant to witness Chloe, one of the Scouts, being awarded the Queen's Scout Award by the County Commissioner. We were told this is the highest award for a Scout which is an incredible achievement. Well done Chloe.

In my future blogs I hope to also be able to share more photos with you. I'll try remember to take some snaps and make sure we tick all the boxes with permissions too.

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