Mettle Hill

 Campaign Website of Meldreth Parish Council Mettle Hill Working Party

Mettle Hill Update – “The Future of Mettle Hill (and Meldreth)”

The purchase of the Mettle Hill site on Kneesworth Road has been progressing well and is nearly complete.

The Annual Village Meeting will be held at Meldreth Primary School on May 23rd May 2013 from 6:30pm.  The theme of the meeting will be “The Future of Mettle Hill (and Meldreth)” there will be an opportunity to view and discuss ideas with the councillors before the main meeting  at 7.30pm.

Following the visit from the councillors the site is currently dangerous including derelict buildings and  missing/damaged manhole covers – PLEASE DO NOT TRESPASS ON THE SITE IT IS NOT SAFE

Mettle Hill Update – Tuesday 18th December

Meldreth Parish Council have this afternoon been told by Cambridgeshire County Council that our offer for the former traveller’s site on Mettle Hill has been accepted, subject to contract, and that they have today instructed their solicitors to deal with the transfer. We understand that the County Council have not received an offer for the land from South Cambridgeshire District Council by the deadline of 17th December, which is in line with the decision of the leader of SCDC that they would not bid against the Parish Council, which was published on 7th December. We hope to complete the deal as soon as possible.

Mettle Hill Update – 15 December 2012

 This update is published by the Meldreth Parish Council Mettle Hill Working Party

Purchase of Mettle Hill by Meldreth Parish Council

South Cambs District Council has officially withdrawn its interest in purchasing Mettle Hill, citing the inappropriateness of entering a bidding war with Meldreth Parish Council.

Meldreth Parish Council is now in the process of purchasing the Mettle Hill site from Cambridgeshire County Council. To do so, it has secured access to a loan from the Public Works Loan Board. This will be over 25 years, repaying the capital on a competitive fixed rate of interest. This will be equivalent to about £10 per year increase in Council Tax for an average property [e.g. Band D]. We anticipate that finalizing contracts will be completed sometime in spring 2013.

 Consultation

Early in the New Year, Meldreth Parish Council will consider how to consult effectively on the future use of Mettle Hill, and turn it into an asset for the benefit of the whole community. Assistance has been offered by Cambridgeshire County Council, and accepted with thanks.

 Fighting Fund

Thank you to all who have contributed to the Mettle Hill Fighting Fund, which has raised £6700. This will be used to meet current bills and any further costs. At this stage we are not seeking further donations.

Communication

The Mettlehill.com website will continue to be used to post snippets of news. As and when needed, this newsletter format may be used for updates through letterboxes. For general queries, please continue to write to mettlehill@rivermel.com.

 Information

The Working Party will be tidying up all the information assembled into a sensible archive.

 Thank you

Grateful thanks from the Meldreth Parish Council Mettle Hill Working Party are extended to everyone, including our surrounding village neighbours and their councillor representatives who have been so supportive during the weeks since October 31st. Thanks also to the Melbourn Business Association for their invitation to Meldreth’s travelling community to join the association, and to the many people and local groups who have expressed a keen interest in learning more about the lives and history of our travelling community.

 

Sincerely yours,

 

Susan van de Ven, Working Party Coordinator

Paul Ray, Working Party Chairman

Steve Hawkins, Meldreth Parish Council Chairman

Rob Searles, Meldreth Parish Council Vice Chairman

 

Plans to re-open Mettle Hill travellers’ site are dropped by SCDC

A press release from South Cambridgeshire District Council has been issued late this afternoon stating that they are nolonger interested in Mettle Hill.  Thank you to everyone for their contributions and help on a fantastic and successful campaign.  Further updates to follow and here is the press release:

 

Council leaders have confirmed today (Friday 7 December) they are no longer bidding to purchase a former Travellers’ site in Meldreth after a rival offer was confirmed for the land.

Cabinet members recommended last month that a meeting of Full Council should consider purchasing the site to meet legal obligations to provide sufficient future accommodation for growing Traveller families currently living in the district. But news of an offer from Meldreth Parish Council has ended their interest.

Cllr Mark Howell, South Cambridgeshire District Council’s cabinet member for housing, said:

“We still believe the site was a viable option to meet our future legal obligations for Travellers, but the Parish Council has put in a rival bid at the market value and it would be completely wrong and a terrible use of public money if we were to pay over the odds and enter into a bidding war. If the Parish Council decides to pull out we will re-enter into negotiations.”

Independent research published in June established that 20 extra pitches would be needed in South Cambridgeshire until 2031 to provide sufficient housing for Travellers – but a recent letter from Andrew Lansley MP to the Leader of the Council suggests Government policy does not require councils to provide further pitches.

Confirmation of the rival bid also means the District Council’s meeting to debate the purchase – that had been postponed until 10 January to give extra time to listen to residents’ concerns before making a decision – has now been cancelled.

Plans to fund the purchase of two existing Travellers’ sites in the district at Whaddon, and off the A14 near Milton, will now be discussed at the Council meeting on Thursday 31 January. Both sites are currently owned by Cambridgeshire County Council but managed on their behalf by South Cambridgeshire District Council.

If the purchases are agreed, South Cambridgeshire District Council will bid for further government funding from the Homes and Communities Agency to improve the site at Whaddon. This funding would also be used to add two further pitches through better use of the land.

Cllr Mark Howell said:

“I would like to particularly thank Cllr Rob Searles at Meldreth Parish Council as he has worked very constructively with us about plans for the site. During our discussions with Andrew Lansley about this issue he offered to facilitate a meeting with central government to discuss Gypsy and Traveller matters for the area and we look forward to him making the arrangements.”

http://www.scambs.gov.uk/pressreleases/pressrelease.htm?mode=10&pk_press_release=1772

METTLE HILL UPDATE – 8th December 2012

This is a weekly update published by the Meldreth Parish Council Mettle Hill Working Party

Mettle Hill Working Party’s recommendation to Meldreth Parish Council, 6th December:

 “Meldreth Parish Council should buy the Mettle Hill site from Cambridgeshire County Council and set up a consultation process with villagers as to the use to which the site should be put.”

Meldreth Parish Council approves loan to buy Mettle Hill

 Meldreth Parish Council and County Councillor Susan van de Ven have continued to work together on the Parish Council’s right to buy Mettle Hill.  On 3rd December Cambridgeshire County Council (CCC) wrote to Meldreth Parish Council and South Cambridgeshire District Council (SCDC) outlining its terms and conditions for the sale of the land.

 Although there has been amazing support received from the community in terms of financial pledges, Meldreth Parish Council have been able to secure a loan from the Public Works Loan Board and is now in a position to make a formal bid to CCC for the purchase of Mettle Hill.  This was confirmed by a unanimous vote at the Parish Council’s 6th December meeting.

 Cllr van de Ven is arguing that the Parish Council should be the preferred bidder, on the basis that this deeply local issue should be the remit of Meldreth’s most local representative body. 

 Never before has a piece of County-owned land received bids from both District and Parish Councils simultaneously.  The County Council has asked both parties to respond by 17th December and it remains to be seen whether or not SCDC will withdraw its own bid.

 Legal and Planning

 These Working Party work streams have produced some very pertinent results in the past week and work will continue until uncertainty over the future of Mettle Hill is resolved.

 Mettle Hill Fighting Fund

Thank you very much to residents who have kindly contributed to the Mettle Hill Fighting Fund, which is needed to help pay for professional advice. The target is £8,000. Donations large or small will be a great help.

 Contributions can be either by way of cheque or cash taken to our collection point at The British Queen.  Alternatively cheques can be sent to the Treasurer at 25 North End, Meldreth, SG8 6NR.  Cheques should be payable to Mettle Hill Fighting Fund.

 Lobbying

 Thank you very much for all the communication residents have forwarded on to the Working Party, including the responses received from emails, letters and phone calls to various groups and individuals.  Please continue to do this via lobby@mettle.org.uk and chase those who have not replied.

The petition continues to collect signatures at www.mettlehill.com/petition

For general queries, write to mettlehill@rivermel.com.   Updates at www.mettlehill.com

METTLE HILL UPDATE – 1 December 2012

This is a weekly update published by the Meldreth Parish Council Mettle Hill Working Party

Parish Council right to buy Mettle Hill

As has been clear from the start, Cambridgeshire County Council (CCC), which owns Mettle Hill, has never agreed to sell Mettle Hill to South Cambridgeshire District Council (SCDC), in spite of SCDC’s public announcement of their intention to buy it. Rather, if it wishes to sell the land, then CCC has an obligation to offer first refusal to the District and Parish Councils.

Meldreth Parish Council has made a formal indication of its interest in buying the land for community benefit and is working closely with Meldreth’s County Councillor toward land purchase. At the request of the Mettle Hill Working Party, Meldreth Parish Council is actively exploring funding options to purchase Mettle Hill.

At the same time SCDC continues to assert that it intends to purchase the land and to hold a full council decision-making meeting on the matter, on January 10. SCDC has three times changed the deadline for public questions, has yet to give an indication of what the agenda will contain, and has not yet decided on a venue.

Mettle Hill Fighting Fund

Thank you very much to residents who have kindly contributed to the Mettle Hill Fighting Fund, which is needed to help pay for professional advice. The target is £8,000. The total received thus far is £3,250. Donations large or small will be a great help.

Contributions can be either by way of cheque or cash taken to our collection point at The British Queen. Alternatively cheques can be sent to the Treasurer at 25 North End, Meldreth, SG8 6NR. Cheques should be payable to Mettle Hill Fighting Fund.

 Planning and Legal

Formal written legal opinion has been received which strengthens the view that SCDC confidence in an easy reopening of Mettle Hill is misplaced, on planning grounds.

 It has been established that even if the current planning consent for Mettle Hill were valid, it would need to be amended.

 Freedom of Information (FOI)

First responses have been received on Freedom of Information requests and are being analysed. We can provide guidance if you want to lodge one of your own: foi@mettle.org.uk.

Lobbying

Thank you very much for all the communication residents have forwarded on to the Working Party, including the responses received from emails, letters and phone calls to various groups. Please continue to do this via lobby@mettle.org.uk.

 

The petition continues to collect signatures at www.mettlehill.com/petition

For general queries, write to mettlehill@rivermel.com. Updates at www.mettlehill.com

Police support and extra protection for the disused Mettle Hill site

Police Support for Mettle Hill

Cambridgeshire Police have been providing extra patrols around Mettle Hill and the Meldreth area for some time, and this is being reinforced to make a visible presence. 

Concerns yesterday about an alert from Countryside Watch, regarding indications of the possibility of theft of earth-moving equipment in order to move earth bunds, have been followed up at the highest level with Police, County and District Councils. 

Direct lines of contact with Police are firmly established with regular support visits to the Showmen’s sites.

Extra earth to support protective bund, disused Traveller site

An offer has been made by a private contractor to dump extra earth on the protective bund at the disused Traveller site in Mettle Hill, for the purpose of reinforcing it. This has been approved by the County Council and will take place later today.

METTLE HILL UPDATE – 23 November 2012

This is a weekly update published by the
Meldreth Parish Council Mettle Hill Working Party

Legal and Planning
The Working Party is taking legal and planning advice on matters that may well undermine SCDC’s confidence in their assertion that Mettle Hill is an easy win.

Land Acquisition
Meldreth Parish Council has issued a formal indication to the County Council that it wishes to purchase the land. Any initiative by the Parish Council to seek a change in planning permission in conjunction with land purchase would necessarily involve a village-wide consultation. Various ideas have been submitted by members of the public and these are being considered.

Mettle Hill Fighting Fund
We are engaging professional advice and have established a fighting fund to pay for this and other expenses. Without funds our work will grind to a halt.

Contributions can be either by way of cheque or cash taken to our collection point at The British Queen. Alternatively cheques can be sent to the Treasurer at 25 North End, Meldreth, SG8 6NR. Cheques should be payable to Mettle Hill Fighting Fund.

A target of £8K has been set for initial costs.

Freedom of Information (FOI)
A number of Freedom of Information requests have been lodged at both South Cambridgeshire District Council and Cambridgeshire County Council to support our case.
We can provide guidance if you want to lodge one of your own. Contact us at foi@mettle.org.uk

Lobbying
If you have received useful replies to letters you have written about Mettle Hill and would be happy to let us have a copy, please forward the correspondence to lobby@mettle.org.uk. Equally, you can get help in writing letters through the same email address.

Petition as it stands so far
3041 verified signatures were delivered to SCDC’s Leader on 22 November. Two full coach loads of residents travelled to Cambourne and supported the event. See our video at mettlehill.com.
The petition continues to collect signatures in shops, local businesses and at mettlehill.com/petition. People who would like to help take the petition door-to-door can collect a copy from the British Queen or download a copy from mettlehill.com.
Coordination of the door-to-door petitioning – please contact mettlehill@rivermel.com.

Contact and information
If you do not use a computer and would like learn more, Meldreth Parish Council office has a folder of the documents appearing on the website and can point you in the right direction to learn more.

For queries, write to mettlehill@rivermel.com
Live updates & contact details www.mettlehill.com