Welcome to the May 2022 Cambridgeshire Matters newsletter.
Welcome to the latest edition of Cambridgeshire Matters, our monthly newsletter which aims to share good news, highlights and updates from across Cambridgeshire to help our network of district, city and community members stay informed.
Please do share this e-newsletter with your parish council colleagues and feel free to use any of the features in your own newsletter or social media.
Victoria lodge seeks community help with garden makeover
Are you a green fingered soul? Do you have a yearning to be part of a garden DIY SOS? Do you know anyone who feels they are the next Alan Titchmarsh, or do you just enjoy pottering about in the garden?
If so, Wisbech-based Victoria Lodge Day Services are looking for volunteers and donations to help them improve their garden.
The centre is run by Cambridgeshire County Council and provides day opportunities to adults with learning difficulties and older people, some with dementia. They run classes and workshops such as woodwork, cooking and supporting with independence skills.
Staff are revamping the lodge’s garden space including a sensory area in time for summer for their adults to use.
The lodge still needs donations of garden materials – new plants, flowers, herbs, veg and fruit plants, soil, gravel and hanging baskets - and more people to carry out the gardening/building work that is involved in the project.
For more information or to find out how to donate, contact Emma at Victoria Lodge on 01354 750335.
Apprentices thriving thanks to support
Young people looking to start their careers in the construction industry are being given a helping hand.
The Council is keen to ensure that employment opportunities are available to young adults in Cambridgeshire and has recently helped to provide 20 construction apprenticeships.
The authority has allocated £273,000 of its apprenticeship budget in partnership with Hills Construction and K10 to allocate roles on their construction sites across Cambridgeshire in areas including bricklaying, carpentry, decorating and plumbing.
Typically, the apprenticeships can last between 12 months and four years.
K10 employs the apprentices and Hills pays their wages and works with sub-contractors to ensure that they get the required on the job training across the Hills sites. This gives the apprentices experience of working on different sites and with different contractors to help them learn the various techniques used within their craft.
Among those to be benefitting from an apprenticeship is Owen Hedger from Ramsey who embarked on a three-year course at Cambridge Regional College.
The 23-year-old had experience in decorating but decided he wanted a formal qualification which he hopes in the long run will allow him to start his own business.
Owen said: “It’s really good being on site and in college. I’m being supported both ways.
“I saw an advert for the apprenticeship and thought I would give it a go and get a proper qualification. I do college one day a week and I’m learning all aspects of painting and decorating.
“When I’m on site, if I receive criticism it is all constructive. The other day I was doing some skirting and the guy I was working with pulled me over and said ‘this is where you can do better, try this’.
“Every two-three months the college does an assessment with the people I’m working with to see how I can improve.”
Robotic age comes to Cambourne
What once seemed only possible in the realms of Hollywood fantasy and science fiction has now hit the streets of Cambridgeshire in the form of state-of-the-art delivery robots.
The food delivery robots have taken to the streets of Cambourne as part of a pilot organised between Cambridgeshire County Council and Starship Technologies in partnership with the Co-op.
The exciting tie-up will see 12,000 residents in 5,000 homes benefit from quick deliveries of products from their local Co-op, with customers receiving groceries from a fleet of Starship’s autonomous robots which will bring the items to their doorsteps.
The project is part of the council’s wide-ranging environmental agenda as it will help to reduce short car journeys and improve air quality, with an average delivery for a Starship robot consuming as little energy as boiling a kettle to make just one cup of tea.
Cambourne residents will be able to choose from a range of grocery items, schedule their delivery, then drop a pin where they want their delivery to be sent. They can watch in real-time via an interactive map as the robot makes its journey to them. Once the robot arrives they receive an alert and can meet and unlock it through the app.
The robots are lightweight and travel at the speed of a pedestrian (no faster than 4mph). They use a combination of sensors, artificial intelligence and machine learning to travel on pavements and navigate around any obstacles, while computer vision-based navigation helps them map their environment to the nearest inch.
Book lovers can now enjoy more time in some of the county’s libraries.
This month, we announced that customers at five libraries will be able to access the facilities outside of usual staffed hours as part of a new scheme.
Libraries in Histon, Soham, March, St Ives and Rock Road in Cambridge will be adopting the Open+ system which is aimed at increasing public access to library buildings and meeting customer demand for access at more flexible times.
Residents will have far greater access to their library and its resources, while our staff can make more use of libraries to meet customers, partners or simply drop in and work, helping to embrace agile working.
Customers at the five libraries can now register for Open+. Following a simple registration procedure, library cards will be upgraded for Open+ access. The system works by scanning a library card at the building's access point and entering a PIN code which will open the library doors.
For more information about Open+ and how to register visit here.
Mobile library love
In more library news we are delighted to announce that mobile library routes across the county have been increased to include new stops and changes to visiting days and durations.
An additional 18 stops have been added due to public demand. Our mobile library is a much-valued service which has been available to all residents across the county for decades.
The service now runs three mobile libraries stopping at 388 locations in 98 villages and communities throughout Cambridgeshire.
Using the service is easy, anyone can join and it is free to use. Each mobile library vehicle carries up to 3,000 items of stock including fiction, non-fiction, large print, books on CD & cassette, jigsaws and books for children of all ages.
Each mobile library has access to all the books in Cambridgeshire Libraries. You can also request books online to collect from the mobile library on the next visit. You are also able to return mobile library books to any Cambridgeshire library and vice versa.
All vehicles have a lift for wheelchair users or those who find stairs difficult.
The big walk
Villagers put their best foot forward and enjoyed a scenic stroll through the countryside to mark a special occasion.
On Sunday 1 May the community of Elton celebrated the re-opening of paths beside the River Nene by walking the routes.
The Elton Society and the parish council jointly organised the event and invited the many people from councils in Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire who had assisted them over the years.
The groups have helped to open two footpaths and a footbridge over the river, which were first closed in 2006.
Despite the forecast of rain, more than 50 people from the village of Elton took part in the official opening walk where they took the opportunity to thank council staff and others who had helped the parish council through the many complicated procedures involved in the project.
Following the end of the seven-and-a-half-mile walk, lunch was enjoyed at The Black Horse in Elton.
St Ives residents invited to learn about flood resilience at free community event
Residents in St Ives can learn more about flood protection at a special event on Saturday 11 June.
A Flood Resilience Day is being hosted by Cambridgeshire County Council, offering expert advice to households and businesses in the area which have previously experienced flooding. A special 'Floodmobile' vehicle, which contains samples of over 50 practical flood protection measures, will be on site for visitors to explore.
The event is an opportunity for people to come and learn what can be done to help make their properties resilient against flooding. The event is taking place on Saturday 11 June at the Sheep Market on Market Hill from 10am to 4pm.
Beware of scams
Holiday makers heading to sunnier climes this summer are being urged not to fall victim to travel scams.
Here are some tips on what to watch out for:
New global health insurance card - if you aren't aware of the new global health insurance card then this scam could easily catch you out. This card is free from the NHS, but scammers are paying for adverts on Google to direct you to their site where they will subsequently charge you for this card. Top tip: don’t follow links to the NHS website. Instead, visit the NSH website directly. If you are still unsure and the site is asking for a payment, then you are probably in the wrong place.
International driving permits - these are only required for individuals with an old paper licence and are not applicable if you have a photo card licence. Adverts have been found online where scammers are selling ones for Spain for €49, when they are £5.50 from a post office. Top tip: be wary of following links on Google which have been paid for by an advertisement. Always go directly to the site wherever possible.
Fake refunds for Covid holidays - lock down and ongoing restrictions due to Covid affected many of us and often resulted in the cancellation of holidays. There are currently scammers who are calling people on the premise that they are authorised to issue a refund. This is a phishing call and the main purpose is to gain access to your bank details in order for them to take money out of your account. Top tip: if you receive a call from a travel company, make sure it is the one you used to book the holiday originally. Hang up on the call, find your documentation with the name of the travel company on, and call them direct. Do not use any contact numbers given to you on the call.
Rogue travel companies - Action Fraud figures from 2020 show that half of all travel scams were related to airfares. These often occur through cloned booking or comparison websites, but the main difference is you will then get a call from a scammer asking you to pay directly to them and not continue through the booking site. Top tip: if you receive a call asking you to pay directly think twice, and always pay through the platform wherever possible.
Fake vaccine passport - vaccination status is an important part of travel these days and fraudsters have been quick to take advantage. A fake NHS website has been created with links to apply for a digital vaccine passport. Hurry tactics were then used to rush people into following the link to the payment page, and subsequently making the payment. Phishing emails were sent out hoping to catch people in the scam. Top tip: don’t click on unsolicited emails or the links within them. If they are of interest, come out of the email and do a Google search yourself.
Donate unwanted bikes to help Ukrainian families in need
Do you have any unused bicycles sitting in your garage or shed?
Your unwanted bicycles could now allow Ukranian families to access their community and reach other families in the area. Over 70 Ukranian families in Cambridgeshire have requested bicycles to assist them.
TAG Bikes, based at Huntingdon Community Centre, are involved in helping to repair donated bicycles and get them road ready for families in need. They are an employment skills-based project in Huntingdon under CCC's ‘Supporting into Work’ scheme, which teaches adults with learning difficulties how to repair unwanted bicycles and place them back into the community.
All types of bicycles that are in a reasonable condition are accepted, as basic care and repair can be carried out by the team. Unwanted helmets and other safety accessories, as well as spare tyres and bicycle parts are also welcome.
If you have any bicycles you would like to donate, then these can be delivered to TAG Bikes at Huntingdon Community Centre, 12a Ambury Road, Huntingdon PE29 1JE. Opening hours are Monday to Friday 9am until 4pm, and outside of those hours TAG Bikes have requested for bicycles to be left at the bottom of the community centre's car park. TAG Bikes would also be willing to collect bicycles that cannot be dropped off at their centre in Huntingdon.
You can contact the TAG Bikes team on 01480 377697 for further details.