Woodbridge Wheeled Warriors

 

Woodbridge Wheeled Warriors poster

The Woodbridge Wheeled Warriors are the region’s first wheelchair rugby team. They were formed in 2013, when Woodbridge Rugby Club worked with Great Britain Wheelchair Rugby to bring the sport to the East of England as part of the Paralympic legacy. They have played competitively since 2014.

They train on Sunday mornings at Rock Barracks and have capacity for more players – even those who just wish to train.

A taster session is being held on Sunday, February 28, at Brackenbury Sports Centre, Felixstowe from 10am-12.30pm .

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Police Cuts for Woodbridge

Police cuts in Suffolk: we’ve heard the headlines. A ‘re-design’ of the force to save £20m will lose police officer, PCSO and civilian posts.  Having talked to local officers it seems that the Woodbridge and District policing scenario will change – and not for the better. As follows:

From 1 April, the Woodbridge and District  SNT will be reduced to  a Sergeant, one or maybe two Police Officers and three PCSOs.  Currently there is a Sergeant,  three Police Officers and seven PCSOs.   So thats about half the current staffing levels. (There is a possibility for Woodbridge to keep a match-funded  PCSO, but  it seems as if – match funding or otherwise – they will only be able to concentrate on what have been agreed as Suffolk-wide police priorities. Parking is not one of them!)

The SNT  will remain in the new building so recently opened  at the fire station in Theatre Street, Woodbridge.

However, I am appalled to discover that – although the relocation was ‘sold’ to the community and to their county councillor and  the premises built specifically as a ‘convenient public access location’ which was only opened on 20 May 2015-  it will no longer be a public access location!

(‘Better access for the public’ was one of the key benefits of the move – see my blog entry on the subject – June 14. This is the reason that the move from the old police station site got my support.   I have not been officially told about this change of use – and my calls on the subject have not yet been returned. Presumably those at the top are embarrassed?)

Our only public access  to Suffolk police will be  at the three main police stations (Ipswich, Bury and Lowestoft), although there will be ‘intercoms’ to police headquarters to use at the front doors of other buildings . One hates to point it out, but this is  ab-so-lut-ely no different to phoning the police from your home or from your mobile . (Indeed it would seem rather less useful than a loud scream for help).

And what you do if you lose something valuable or find something valuable I cannot imagine.  These are not in the PCC’s priorities either!

Our reduced SNT will not be covering the same area – oh no. It will be covering an increased number of parishes – about 40 in total ,  including  Martlesham and the villages to the north of Ipswich (Tuddenham, Westerfield, Playford etc).

Responding police officers (Neighbourhood Response Teams (NRT), for this area will be based at Police Headquarters. However, as well as covering the Woodbridge, Felixstowe, Martlesham and Kesgrave areas they will also have to police East Ipswich.

“Chances of seeing a policeman in a car will become vanishingly small,” I was told.

PCSOs within SNTs will no longer work past 6pm.  Only the police officers will work evening shifts as per their shift pattern.  NRTs will of course work 24 hours.

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Specialist Education Provision in Suffolk – help shape the future

Suffolk County Council are currently consulting widely and with a completely open mind about the future of specialist education provision in Suffolk.

Opposition councillors were naturally sceptical that this was cover for money-saving, but  very clear and open answers to our questions from  officers have reassured us that this is not a cost-cutting exercise (the money is ring-fenced) but about spending it to best advantage and with better outcomes.

At the moment, Suffolk has 256 young people sent out of county at the cost of £11m a year for educational provision that Suffolk has not been able or willing to provide in county; some of our PRUs ‘require improvement’ (one is in special measures) and are more expensive and produce worse outcomes than Norfolk’s (which are rated outstanding), and all the SSCs (specialist support centres)  are located in one quadrant of the county because historically they were only sited in schools that declared themselves willing to house them. This means there is no provision in the north and west of the county and some children are making two 75-minute journeys a day to reach them.

Suffolk is is now wanting your input to find the best way to address these issues and others.

From  11 January – 7 February 2016  people have the opportunity to give your views on a range of options Suffolk are looking at, and you can also suggest other ideas for Suffolk to consider. (We have been assured that nothing has been predetermined or decided. This is genuinely a consultation )

After this, 14 March – 24 April 2016 there will be a formal consultation on the proposed changes:  a 6 week formal consultation period where you can make representations to the Council – both expressions of support or objections to the proposals.

So, whether you are concerned or worried, or simply want to add your voice to the debate –  please respond and add your views! They will be valued  You can find the documents here

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Proposed Gladman development on Woodbridge fringe

I have written with the significant concerns I have regarding the outline planning application proposed for the land east of Bridge Farm, Top Street, Martlesham –  the impact of which would fall within the Woodbridge division.

While we all  recognise the desperate  need for affordable housing in oue area, I would be very concerned if permission for this particular development were to go ahead  (particularly as the proposed development of 2000 houses at Martlesham  Adastral Park still remains under consideration).

Apart from the fact that this is the last piece of greenfield separating Woodbridge from Martlesham  – a fact which holds great significance for both communities – my principal concerns deal with  transport:

  • The application proposes vehicular access.  Proposed access  for residents’ cars is onto
    i) a narrow uphill section of Top Street  just after a railway bridge and
    ii) a wider, but heavily used and equally uphill section of B1438 (here called Ipswich Road ) which is heavily used, being  the main access road through Woodbridge.
    Neither seem to be adequate or appropriate exits onto the roads in question. There appear to be no other viable options.
  • Sandy Lane Gladman plan detailThe  ‘proposed  public open space footpath route’  as labelled on the Gladman  plan (see left – click to enlarge: an open corridor that leads from Sandy Lane, at a place that has no pavement towards Woodbridge  or  ongoing footpath without a risky walk around a blind bend under the railway bridge, to a part of Top Street which has no pavement or ongoing footpath) is misleading. It is in fact the corridor through which the EA One underground high tension cabling is due to be routed. And on which restrictive covenants will remain in place afterwards preventing building and planting (further details here  )  This is therefore not a ‘proposed  public open space footpath route’ but a guaranteed  space along which it is not possible to build or plant, which leads to nowhere substantive – and for which any developer needs to find an explanation.
  • I do not know what the planning guidance is on EMFs (Electro magnetic fields) and health when planning a new development – particularly one housing young families, and most particularly when there is a proposed children’s play area right next to buried high voltage lines?  The location causes me considerable disquiet.
  • Planning development with affordable housing will help house  young families who cannot afford local prices. Sadly this development would not encourage children to walk to school or socialise  in Woodbridge,  or indeed encourage any residents to walk to Woodbridge, or young parents with buggies to walk anywhere  as the ‘footpath’ debouches onto two pieces of road without footways.  If the primary catchment is Kyson (as Kyson’s catchment map suggests) there will be no safe means to walk to the school, unless a crossing is built across the Ipswich Road. Apart from expense, this which would cause congestion and possible  accidents in rush hour as the B1438 is the principal exit route for Woodbridge commuters.
    However, without a crossing, the County Council will potentially face a large and ongoing bill for education transport on ‘safety of the route’ grounds.
    The other great need for affordable housing is amongst the  older downsizers. These may often have the same requirements for pedestrian access as young families. And again these are not met.

In short, if a housing development – and specifically one with a significant affordable element – is proposed, it needs to be placed where  it is safe and convenient for people to live and where they find safe and convenient ways to get to work, to education and to socialise. The location of this proposed development does not  provide for this

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Caroline Page, County Councillor for Woodbridge