This is the point in the year where we have a meeting of full Council split over two weeks: Thursday’s session focussed on budget setting for 2023/24 financial year (up to Agenda item 5), while next Thursday’s meeting will consider a variety of other business. I’ll provide a full write-up of both next week but you might want to take a look at this short (4 minute) official video summarising the main budget provisions in the meantime.
It’s worth noting that the consultation mentioned in that video about budget priorities only received 248 responses. In a city of 145,000 residents that’s a pretty small sample size! It’s natural to be cynical about whether contributing to this type of exercise actually makes a difference to outcomes, but obviously officers can only report the views that are contributed. So I would ask you to suspend your scepticism and spend a few minutes completing a new short survey being run by the City Council to inform its ‘Our Cambridge‘ transformation programme.
It’s only fair to warn you that you have to complete a registration process which will probably take you as long as completing the survey itself. But it is an opportunity to get your voice heard – and I know many of you have a lot to say! It’s open for comments till 26th March.
Survey: Putting residents and communities at the heart of the conversation
In other news, you may have been hearing worrying reports about the prevalence of catalytic converter thefts, including from several households in Queen Edith’s. For those of you who do not subscribe to the eCops messaging service run by Cambridgeshire police, I thought it might be helpful to post their latest advice, received yesterday:
“Earlier this month we shared with you the recent catalytic converter theft figures which have risen by 141 per cent over the past four years.
The thieves are not letting up and there continues to be daily reports of thefts. However, we’re not letting up either. There is lots of work going on behind the scenes to stop these gangs and make Cambridgeshire an uncomfortable place for them to target.
We’re carrying out daily patrols, we’ve got the police helicopter and our Road Policing Unit on standby to assist us and we’re working with scrap dealers to ensure the thieves are not able to sell on any stolen metal. Those of you driving in and out of Cambridge this past week may have spotted these signs around the city.
We’re trying to make more people aware of catalytic converter theft whilst also letting the thieves themselves know that while we can’t be everywhere, we could be anywhere.
It takes just minutes to remove a catalytic converter and on many occasions victims are unaware their vehicle has been targeted even though it was sat on their driveway. We’re generally seeing groups of three or four men, wearing balaclavas and gloves, jacking up vehicles and using an angle grinder to cut out the catalytic converter.
Please do not approach these people as they are known to carry weapons.
Instead call us on 999 and provide as much information as you can about the vehicle they are using, in particular the make, model and colour.”
Residents who tried ringing the police about thefts in the past were told it was not a 999 matter. I hope circulating this message will give you the confidence to report immediately via 999 should you be unlucky enough to be targeted.
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There is a need to conduct a Freedom of Information request regarding the latest upgrading of the Council houses on Glebe Road, of four months duration, which would appear expensive and has been highly disruptive.
Was a cost-benefit analysis conducted on the actual energy saving? Apart from this unnecessary cosmetic change (some minor brickwork and painting may have been necessary), we have NOT noticed any difference in the insulation of our home, which has always been dry and warm, The guide being the thermostat not being lowered despite the fitting of 11 cm thick external insulation. The highly disruptive fitting of 5 solar panels is another nonsensical move. The savings are minuscule, and one must agree to a smart meter to derive any benefit.
There was very little notice to tenants of this incredibly disruptive work in the depth of winter.
In my experience of 22 years, I have reason to praise Cambridge City Council for its prompt, effective attention to repairs, but I regard this operation as a wasteful cosmetic exercise.
Your thermostat setting is the temperature you want your rooms heated to, it won’t tell you about the success of the insulation. You need the gas usage (in KWh, or ft3, or m3) in a time period before the insulation was installed and compare it to the gas usage in a similar time period afterwards. We noticed our heating usage went down to about ¼ of its previous levels comparing year on year.
Solar panels. I don’t know the KW peak output of your panels, but they look like a similar output to mine and I live very close, so a fair comparison. You gain from solar panels not just from the amount you export (last time I looked Octopus were offering 15p/Kwh to export) but also by using your electrical items when the sun is out. I saved on average 548 Kwh a year from my panels (i.e. the electricity I didn’t have to import from the national grid). I can tell this because I have a generation meter and an export meter. At today’s prices that’s worth about £183 per year of savings, from April 2023 these savings will be higher as the price cap will be higher. If I exported my energy to Octopus at 15p/Kwh that would be another £345 per year of income with the amount of energy I export.
Your savings could well be higher than mine, as I have a very efficient fridge and freezer etc. The higher your energy usage in the daytime the more your panels will save you (to a limit).
Many people would love a house with external wall insulation and solar panels, so I’m sure you could find someone to swap you for your highly desirable house.