Join the Lib Dems – stand for the 48%!

48Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron has pledged to fight the next General Election on a platform taking Britain back into Europe.

Since Britain voted for Brexit on Thursday thousands of people have joined the Liberal Democrats and all Suffolk Lib Dem groups are seeing a share of this surge. Remain-leaning Woodbridge is no exception.

In the run up to the Referendum the Lib Dems’ quiet voice of reason was often  overlooked by a media wanting the thrill of a car-crash interview. Why listen to reason when you could have grandstanding,  exaggeration and outright lies instead?

The economic uncertainty following the Brexit vote  will affect jobs, people’s homes and livelihoods. It may derail all sorts of plans, essential to the economic wellbeing of our area. While accepting the result of the referendum, the Liberal Democrats intend  to make the case for us to rejoin the heart of Europe.

For many millions of people, this was not just a vote about Europe. It was a howl of anger at politicians and institutions who they felt they were out of touch and had let them down,”  Tim Farron  says.

The British people deserve the chance not to be stuck with the appalling consequences of a Leave campaign that stoked that anger with the lies of Farage, Johnson and Gove.

“The Liberal Democrats will fight the next election on a clear promise to restore British prosperity and role in the world, with the UK in the European Union, not out.

If you agree with us, JOIN US and help to make this happen.”

And I agree with Tim!

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Will your pass be accepted on SCC’s New Community Transport?

So, people of Suffolk,will you be able to afford your new Community transport as re-engineered by your caring sharing Suffolk County Council? Will it accept your bus pass even?  I really wouldn’t count on it.

In Suffolk Coastal we haven’t yet been told the situation, but elsewhere in the county people already have had very bad news. Predictably, LibDem anxieties about the format of Suffolk’s new Community Transport franchises are already showing themselves to be justified.

UPDATE: I am very happy and relieved to report Suffolk Coastal Community Transport -operated by  previous  operators CATS  and FACTS(ibn Felixstowe)-  will be operating the same services as before:  a mix of Demand Responsive Transport (on which bus passes will be accepted), and door-to-door and community car services on which passes won’t be accepted (exactly as before.) They are available for booking by anyone – old, young, disabled, ablebodied, carowner or  carless  to and from areas without a bus service or with very sparse services. They will operate Monday to Saturday 7-7, and can be block-booked  (better than before) up to two weeks in advance.
The phone number is 01728 635938
Please use it folks. Or lose it.

However in mid-Suffolk, the  franchisees BSEVC have already announced that they will be operating no Demand Responsive Transport in their Community Transport offer – eg   Bus Passes will NO LONGER  be accepted, all fares will rise, under-16 fares will only apply if are accompanied by an adult, and the under 18 reduction is derisory. And, surprise, surprise, there seems to be no provision for young people to use SCC’s much vaunted youth card the Endeavour (that pallid simulacrum of the much more successful Explore  card  the young people of Woodbridge fought so hard with me to keep)

What price Suffolk's new Community Transport Franchise deal? A lot in BSE- with the new company accepting NO BUs Passes, nor fares for under 16s unless accompanied by an adult (!) plus an overall increase in adult fares. And will the SCC Endeavour card be honoured? Er.. no
(click to enlarge) What price Suffolk’s new Community Transport Franchise deal? A lot in BSE- with BSEVC accepting NO Bus Passes, nor fares for under 16s unless accompanied by an adult (!), scraping discounted returns  plus offering an overall increase in adult fares.  Nice.   And will the SCC’s Endeavour card – that supposed banner of support for the  travel-poor young people of Suffolk-  be honoured? Er.. no

As Creeting resident Mark Valladares said bitterly on Twitter,

“My Conservative County Councillor claimed we would have a “better service at lower cost”. Now we know what he meant”

Mr Valladares also pointed out that  BSEVC has scrapped the discounted return fare – his return fare is now up by 54%.

We wait for information

Babergh The Dining Room, Hadleigh Town Hall, Market Place, Hadleigh, IP7 5DN Friday 27th May Drop in

10.30 & 11.30

Forest Heath Forest Heath District Council, Council Chamber, College Heath Road, Milden hall, IP28 7EY Friday 3rd June Drop in between 10.30 & 11.30
Ipswich Ipswich Town Hall (Change) Friday 10th June Drop in between 10.30 & 11.30
Mid Suffolk Mid Suffolk District Council, The Dove Room, 131 High Street, Needham Market, IP6 8DL Wednesday 8th June Drop in between 10.30 & 11.30
St Edmunds bury St Edmunds bury District Council, West Suffolk House, Western Way, Bury St Edmunds, IP33 3SP Wednesday 1st June Drop in between 10.30 & 11.30
Suffolk Coastal Suffolk Coastal District Council, Council Chamber, Melton Hill, Melton, IP12 1AU Monday 6th June Drop in between 10.30 & 11.30
Waveney Waveney District Council, Riverside, 4 Canning Road, Lowestoft, NR33 OEG Wednesday 25th May Drop in between 14.00 & 15.00
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Woodbridge’s Youth Club homeless? Help Just42!

Just42close (2)On Tuesday I was called to a meeting at Endeavour House to be told baldly that Suffolk County Council has decided that Woodbridge’s  Youth Centre (which hosts the popular  youth and children’s work charity, Just42 amongst many other groups and SCC units) will close imminently.

Everyone  who knows Woodbridge knows there has been some form of youth club held at the Woodbridge site ever since it was first built! (And the site has been threatened for some years  – see here for details)

This is a call from me to everyone in Woodbridge to help! After years of cuts to core services, Just 42 remains the only such group left  in our part of Suffolk,  its irreplaceable work  funded entirely by grants and donations. We cannot allow this valuable asset to be lost to Woodbridge !

As a longtime supporter of Just 42 I’m very concerned that we manage to re-house Just42  immediately in temporary accommodation so that there is no break in their valuable services. It’s also important that we start fund-raising at once so that we can rebuild the youth centre on its present site as soon as possible for all users!”

According to Just 42 Manager Caroline Rutherford, landlords SCC “told us that the building is well beyond its design life and  they say they’re concerned over potential health & safety risks in the future.” Although Caroline was not “entirely surprised” that the building will eventually have to close, bearing in mind its very poor state of repair, she was “terribly shocked to be told that we have to vacate the building by the end of August or indeed -in the worst case- in the next 5 days!!”

Basically SCC seem to be saying “we’re afraid something significant over the next year might force closure at short notice’..so  we thought we’d force closure at short notice now…

Extensive research by the parties most interested in the future of the Youth Centre suggests that it is  ideally sited in terms of (public transport/vehicular/pedestrian) access, privacy and recreation for the wide range of groups who use it . We are very short of space in Woodbridge these days, when even gardens are being infilled. There is nowhere else that offers this perfect combination.

Worryingly,  SCC sent out a  Press Release (during their meeting with me!) that was inaccurately headed ‘closure of former community building  – implying to the Suffolk media that the Woodbridge Youth Centre is no longer in use. However this  building is  a very current community building, hosting 11 community groups, hot-desking SCC’s integrated services, the Inclusion team, specialist service, the adoption team and workforce development and the offices of Just 42 as well as one-off bookings which run to the middle of next year.

Amazingly the release made no mention  even of Woodbridge Youth Centre’s most high profile  occupant – Just 42 even though it  supports over 2000 children and young people in the Woodbridge area through itsrange of clubs, projects and a mentoring scheme.

As you know, I celebrated my last election by walking from Felixstowe to Lowestoft to raise funds for Just 42 because it is exceptional! From the hub in the Youth Centre,   Just 42 gives support, advice and help  over a wide area to encourage local young people 10-18 to succeed and fulfil their potential. And Just 42 is not only doing this well and effectively – it is doing it on a shoestring! (Details here http://carolinepage.blog.suffolk.libdems.org/2013/05/23/just-42-weve-raised-nearly-2500/ )

The precipitate sending out of SCC’s press release without informing the many groups and individuals using the building  has caused and is causing extreme  anxiety. Some of the stakeholders  first heard the news via the radio yesterday and the learning disabled members of the Gateway Club were only alerted as they arrived today!  They have used the centre for 35 years. This was an incredibly cruel and uncaring way to break the news to stakeholders!

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The Queen’s 90th Birthday – and a badge for all Woodbridge children

In the past,  Britain’s schoolchildren have always been given something to commemorate special occasions and this year it seemed  – particularly in this time of austerity –  a good idea to revive this custom. So I offered to fund a commemorative badge for every child in every Woodbridge school to celebrate and commemorate the Queen’s 90th birthday.

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Queen’s 90th Birthday badge for the children of Woodbridge

Woodbridge Town Council agreed  that this would be an excellent idea; we agreed a design, and it was full steam ahead.

Monday saw Woodbridge Deputy Mayor Clare Perkins and me sorting, counting and bagging 2975 badges – one for every school-child in Woodbridge (allowing a few over at each school for emergencies)!

On Wednesday, Clare and I gave out 2,000 badges to the pupils of Farlingaye , Woodbridge, the Abbey and Queen’s House schools.

QueensBirthday giving out badges
County Councillor Caroline Page and Woodbridge Deputy Mayor Clare Perkins give out the badges at Woodbridge Primary’s Birthday Lunch
Queens Birthday Woodbridge Primary blogsize
Each school was also given a certificate – at Woodbridge Primary it was collected by Royalty!

On Friday 10th June the Deputy Mayor and I had a wonderfully full fun day in Woodbridge’s primary schools. We attended assembly at St Mary’s School, the Queen’s Birthday Celebration lunch at Woodbridge County Primary and the Queen’s Birthday Party at Kyson Primary School – and handed out 1,000 special  souvenir badges to 1,000 excited children throughout the day!

I was SO impressed with the lovely way the children behaved towards each other and the calm and pleasant manner in which all the schools are run. They are a credit to the town!

It would be nice to think that when these children are my age, some of them may pick up that badge from the back of the drawer and remember a sunny day, back near the beginning of the century  when they were young…

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The tiny cost of RemaINing -and what we get for it!

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We pay 9p a day for peace in our time? A total bargain! I pay Suffolk police 67p per day from my Council Tax -and we don’t even see them sort the parking in the Woodbridge Thoroughfare!

Look at the figures above and it seems a no-brainer. But there has been far too much silly, negative mudslinging by prominent politicians on both sides of the EU Referendum debate recently and people have been so bombarded with disinformation they can no longer think straight..

(An honourable exception has to be made for some local hustings. At UCS, for example,  local politicians Kathy Pollard and Sandy Martin made a calm,reasoned, locally relevant  and deeply sensible case for IN against some remarkable grandstanding from UKIP MP Douglas  Carswell,  bussed in from Thurrock to argue for Brexit. It seems they couldn’t find anyone local to speak in that corner. Go figure)

If you want to discuss local and national issues reasonably, there will be a Lib Dem RemaIN stall in the Thoroughfare from 2pm today,  Saturday 10 June.

Maybe we’ll see you?

 

Continue reading The tiny cost of RemaINing -and what we get for it!

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Caroline Page, County Councillor for Woodbridge