For once, the weather was kind – and ferocious winds and driving rain cleared up in time for full enjoyment to be gained from the weekend’s free skating rink in the Brook Street carpark, Woodbridge.
Let’s hope that the weather will continue as good tomorrow for the second day.
This last year has been hard for a lot of people – and most of all for families – and the expense of taking your children on a day out can be prohibitive. This event – brainchild of Town Councillor Caroline Blois, and funded by me from my Locality Budget – was intended to give some affordable fun to the young people of Woodbridge and their parents, while also bringing increased footfall into Woodbridge town centre in the dark days of winter.
Today certainly seemed to do this.
To top it all, the refreshments on offer were provided by Woodbridge’s very own Cake Shop Bakery, who only yesterday were crowned Britain’s Best Bakery.
Eat your heart out, Winter Olympics!
As you may know, I have funded the skating rink that is coming to Woodbridge in the weekend of 15/16 February. This is both half-term and a time of year that traditionally is slow for trading. I am hoping that this attraction will bring families into Woodbridge town centre over half term to stimulate trade and provide some welcome fun at a time of continuing recession.
It has seemed to please most people.
Unfortunately not everyone. I received the following (unsigned) letter by first class mail yesterday. It was word-processed, although the envelope was handwritten:
Dear Caroline Page,
A local paper reports that an ice-skating opportunity has been planned in the Hamblin Road car park “behind the Barrett’s shop”, to take place over two days in mid-February. Your name is mentioned in this connection.
Whose idea was this? Has this matter been fully thought out?
The first objection is that the carpark in question is very much a residential area! Is this the ideal place to have crowds and, presumably, some amount of noise and commotion? In some cases right outside the windows of some people’s homes, to replace the normal quiet and peace justifiably expected. And this to continue over two days!
But of even greater concern is this: Presumably you must know Woodbridge well. And you will be aware therefore that Woodbridge has only IN THE LAST FEW YEARS emerged from the Dark Ages. Any resident or shopkeeper of the town centre will know that this is no exaggeration. We refer of course to the plague of vandalism and unpleasantness at the hands of what you might euphemistically call “the younger elements” of the town. The plague was continuous, day and night.
The town centre has been blessedly free, (apart from a few isolated incidents) of the presence of these elements for a few years now, but what immediately begins to ring alarm bells is the possibility of some of their members turning up among your invited participants to the ice-skating: the event will, after all, undoubtedly attract many younger persons to the area. This is the perceived danger: that your event might re-kindle their interest in the town centre and bring them back again. The thought is enough to put dread into the heart of any inhabitant or shopkeeper who experienced the miseries of the Dark Ages and was on the receiving end of all that nastiness.
If you know Woodbridge as I assume you do, then you will know that this is no exaggeration. Any newcomer to the town, within the last five years say, will not appreciate what the town centre has been through.
To cite only a few incidents. Every shop and store in the Turban Centre has suffered vandalism and break ins. At one time the carpet store there had its windows smasked every Saturday night for three weeks running. And on numerous other occasions.
The circular kiosk there (now a fishmongers) began as a stationary kiosk. It was damaged so often its proprietors were eventually vandalised out of business.
The fruit and vegetable shop there (previously known as Finches) was destroyed by arson. They were out of business for a year.
More recently, the circular kiosk was badly damaged by arson. It was on the way to complete destruction and only the prompt call-out of the fire bridgede saved the better part of it.
You may recall that this sort of thing was the actual continuous daily and nightly unpleasantness which the town centre had to suffer, inhabitants and shopkeepers alike.
We would beg you to do nothing to disturb the comparative fragile calm of the present.
Please do be very careful and think twice before planning anything that might carry even the SLIGHTEST risK of encouraging unwanted elements back to the town centre, and a recurrence of the miseries of recent memory.
We implore you: Be careful. Be careful. Be careful.
I am completely bewildered by the tone of this letter, and that it should be sent to me by someone (or indeed some people) who didn’t want to sign it, or to be identified in any way. Are they ashamed of their views? They write as if they are speaking on behalf of the whole town and everyone in it!
I will be happy to reply directly if they choose to come forward.
And – as ever- will be happy to hear comments from anyone else on the subject
*Ephebiphobia The fear of youth is called ephebiphobia. First coined as the “fear or loathing of teenagers,”today the phenomenon is recognized as the “inaccurate, exaggerated and sensational characterization of young people” in a range of settings around the world (Wikipedia)
You should by now have received a leaflet through the post (click here) about how the government intends to share YOUR personal health data with a variety of ‘approved’ (but unspecified) organisations and ‘researchers’. The leaflet came without an envelope and will probably have arrived with a lot of other leaflets for pizza deliveries and cheap sofas and you will probably have thrown it away unread.
THIS IS A SERIOUS MISTAKE.
Because, as the leaflet tells you, “If you are happy for your information to be shared “(or if you have thrown away the leaflet unread) “you do not need to do anything. There is no form to ﬁll in and nothing to sign.” In other words – you have opted into having your full medical information shared with whoever the government decides appropriate. Or indeed, anyone who breaks into the HSCIC secure system.
Now the first thing that worries me, is why is there no form to fill in and nothing to sign? The government are leafleting every household in the country,and the form could easily have contained a simple opt-in slip that you could fill in and take to your GP. After all, almost everything in this country that’s not compulsory requires an opt in – from electoral registration, to becoming an organ donor. If the government wants to start a trend for opting-out rather than opting-in why don’t we start with one or both of these?
The answer is, of course, that they really want your information and so they are relying on your apathy as much as a mobile phone provider or an energy company would be.
The second problem I have is are we identifiable through this data? While the leaflet is a little vague, when you check at the parent NHS website they are linking “your date of birth, full postcode, NHS number, and gender.. to link your records in a secure system”.
Date of birth, full postcode, NHS number and gender? Bingo! You could identify me that way, no problem. ( And ‘secure system’? Perlease. Does the name Snowden still mean nothing?)
Don’t get me wrong, theoretically I think NHS data sharing is a good idea. My family suffers from a vile hereditary condition that has been passed down through four or five generations and is set to continue for the forseeable future Nothing would please me – and people like me – more than if a responsible state used our medical data for responsible research to ameliorate our current situation and make life better for future generations. However myy third concern is what will be done with our data?
We are told it will be made available to others – such as those planning NHS services and ‘approved researchers’.
- Is this a full list? What are the criteria for approving researchers? (Are they, for example, British researchers working within the NHS? Are they health researchers? Will they be using the research for profit – and will the NHS benefit, or be disadvantaged by this?)
- What if our data were sold to – or indeed, fell into the hands of – researchers from an aggressive multinational pharmaceutical company, who patented the findings?
- What if elements of the media saw this as the next thing after telephone hacking and hacked into such a database to establish – and publish – things that we would prefer to be kept private?
- Or insurance companies found ways to plug into detailed medical histories?
- Indeed, what if organisations started targeting us with health-specific ads?
There are a lot of questions about the use and sale of our personal medical data that are not currently being answered. I am a little worried that the government might not even have thought of some of them.
NHS data sharing? I share mine with my excellent GP practice, with various hospitals and with various expert medical personnel. But until I get assurance as to its future use on points such as those above, I will not be sharing it with the state!
May I start by wishing you a happy and prosperous New Year.
Flooding update Although Woodbridge town survived the flooding on 6 December with relatively few problems, there were breaches to the river wall to the north and south of Martlesham Creek. Cattle had to be rescued from the flood along the north bank, where a 30m wide breach left 30 acres of grazing land underwater. Work has been undertaken on the north wall and footpath which leads from Kyson Point to the footpath from Sandy lane.
Ipswich Sexual Health Clinic This fiasco continues. From Monday 28 October the sexual health service has been operating a reduced level of service from the clinic based at Ipswich Hospital , with the service having to vacate the site completely from April 2014.
We were told that the reason for this move was that there were plans to create a sexual health hub in a more accessible location. However it turned out that the ‘accessible location’ might as well have been picked out of a hat! Gipping Court, Constantine Road proved not to be possible due to flooding issues. So, instead, the service has been relocated to Lindbergh Road in Ipswich – in other words, as far out of town as Ipswich hospital but with far poorer transport links for people from Woodbridge and beyond. In fact, Woodbridge people relying on public transport face a two-bus ride of about an hour plus a 20min walk to get to the new clinic. This is as opposed to the journey to Ipswich hospital which was a half an hour single bus plus a 7 minute walk.
So much for greater accessibility and the vaunted ‘good transport links’ ! I am continuing to point this out
Highways Issues of efficiency still continue after KierMG took over the contract to maintain the public highway network in Suffolk at the end of last year. (The public highway consists of any verge, footway, carriageway, bridleway or footpath whether or not maintained at public expense and over which the public has a right of way) . SCC is therefore starting a political group of councillors to work informally together in the new year with Suffolk Highways colleagues from SCC and Kier to help best meet needs for information and communication within the new contract. I am the nominated Lib Dem member of this group.
County Councillor’s Locality Budget I am glad to have been able to support Woodbridge town and Choose Woodbridge in providing funding for the skating rink, which will hopefully bring people into the town in mid -February.
County Councillor’s Surgery Surgery dates for the next few months will be on Saturday 18 January, Saturday 15 February, and Saturday 19 April. There will be no surgery in March as I will be in China
Woodbridge, from across the river Deben. The view will have been much the same for hundreds of years
After counting in the New Year on Market Hill and walking happily home in the dark under blazing white constellations, it’s perhaps the way of the world that there’s now a blustery beginning to another year. Lets hope 2014 will be a good one! You can count on me to do everything I can to help make it so.
If you have problems, do tell me about them – by phone, email, face-to-face. The first surgery of the year is on
Saturday 18 January 10-12 at Woodbridge Library, as ever.
All welcome, and no booking necessary (though you may have to wait a bit if it’s very busy).
Advance warning that this year there will be no surgery in March as I will be travelling to China to visit two of my children who are working and studying in Yanzhou and Qufu respectively. I am excited already!
The Met Office have issued an Amber Warning of Wind, valid from 00:05 on Tue, 24th Dec 2013 until 06:00 on Tue, 24th Dec 2013.
“Southwesterly gales and locally severe gales will continue across southern and eastern parts of England during Monday night, but are expected to strengthen further across parts of southeast England, including SUFFOLK, in the Amber warning area, during the early hours of Tuesday, with gusts of 65-75 mph inland and 75-85 mph along exposed eastern coasts. The winds will ease from the west by morning.”
Note – Friday 27th sees return of gales and rain.
Heavy rain is anticipated although it is considered that this will only have the potential for localised surface water flooding with up to 20-25mm of rain across the county. There may be other incidents of flooding in areas susceptible to flooding from fast reacting rivers – Rattlesden, Stowmarket and possibly to Needham Market.
Widespread messages are being circulated to the public through the media – that “ the Public should be prepared for disruption, particularly to travel and for interruptions to power supplies.”
Road: The Highways Agency has closed the QEII Bridge at Dartford until further notice with traffic being diverted through the tunnels. It is anticipated that the Orwell Bridge will be closed later this evening- based upon the wind limits, but hopefully after this evening’s homeward commute to ease congestion problems in Ipswich.
Suffolk Highways are activating their Highways Hub overnight to deal with expected road disruption. However, crews will not carry out chainsaw clearances during darkness hours, but will make situations safe and put diversions in place. Additional crews will commence shifts earlier tomorrow morning.
Rail: Anglia Rail tell us 50 mph speed restriction will be imposed across the Route network from 6pm this evening until first thing tomorrow morning. As a consequence there will be some cancellations and alterations to services.
Services in Anglia are not expected to resume until after 10am tomorrow morning, to be in position to clear the debris, etc. and also allow for “route proving trains” to check the lines before re-opened to services. If possible they will restore services before 10am but the advice to the public is not to look to travel tomorrow until after 1000 hrs.
It is anticipated that there will be power outages, especially along the coast. UK Power Networks have initiated their emergency procedures.
Warnings are being sent regarding open areas, public spaces and parks and Right of Way regarding the hazards.
There may be loss of power affecting care homes and vulnerable people
Probable closure of Port of Felixstowe, and increased congestion if Orwell Bridge closed.
A reminder that my last surgery of 2013 is tomorrow, at the Woodbridge library 10-12noon as ever for complaints, difficulties, problems and suggestions. All welcome. Home-made mince pies on offer
Just when you thought it was safe to stay in the car…
We’ve heard a lot this autumn about the dangers of cycling: enough to return a lot of people firmly to their cars – and discourage others from leaving them.
Will this save lives?
It doesn’t look like it, does it?
The health risks of inactivity are gigantic and all-embracing. Stop the scare stories and concentrate on every measure to support cycle safety and confidence. We in Suffolk need to get cycling before we kill ourselves by not doing so
Dec 6 Flood and Aftermath Multi-Agency flood responders worked through the night to ensure the tidal surge of 5/6 December was mitigated where possible. The forecast high water was due in Woodbridge at 1:00 am on Friday 6 December rising 2.17 m AODN, with an additional forecast surge height of 1.73. As it was, the surge arrived early.
Fortunately the flood barriers held off most of the high water (though they leaked at the station, and at the Eversheds ramp which I phoned in to the Environment Agency). The most damage seemed to be suffered suffered by the Waterfront café and the Tide Mill which had prepared for less high water.
In addition to the leaking there was a strong sewage smell from the public lavatory by Eversheds, plus gushing water from the new emergency storm drain behind the Woodbridge community hall , I reported these to Anglian Water but fortunately their engineers found no issue some hours later. It was probably a case of the emergency drains backing up due to the surge .
Members of the public are being advised to heed notices warning that footpaths are closed due to flooding. The warning is there because they are impassable and/or unsafe.
A14 tolling Government plans to introduce the UK’s first toll road in 10 years on the A14 have been dropped – to the relief of all. The planned upgrade will now be funded from general taxation – as is happening with all other of Britain’s road upgrades..The toll was condemned almost unanimously by Councillors at Suffolk County Council’s October meeting as a ‘toll on Suffolk.’ http://blog.suffolk.libdems.org/2013/10/29/a14-will-years-of-underinvestment-take-its-toll/
Ipswich Sexual Health Clinic The sorry saga of the unplanned, unthought-through relocation of these vital services continues. We were told that the Sexual Health clinic was moving because the clinic needed to be in a more central location and I was assured that this would be a modular building at Gipping Court, Constantine Road – but this turned out to be no more than aspiration. According to the latest communication from the Director of Public Health they are now relocating the service in the grounds of the former Holywells High School – eg exactly as far from the centre as Ipswich Hospital, but with considerably fewer transport links. This is a truly extraordinary decision. I will be following it up.
Locality Budget – do you know of a project that needs funding? My most recent grant from the Locality budget is for a mobile skating rink to draw new custom into town in the dark days of February.
I still have money in this year’s budget, and would be interested in hearing from people for suitable projects. There is no urgency, as I am able to roll money over until next year, if nothing of sufficient local importance or need comes to hand.
New Street As it seems that it has been impossible to reach a solution to the continuing New Street flooding issues and as some residents are unhappy that the only solution offered is the barrier/sandbag one, I am escalating the situation. I think it is reasonable to say that the SCC Highways team have done all that is possible for them to do. There are elements within the situation that encompass the Environment Agency, Anglian Water, Suffolk Coastal District council – and maybe other bodies. I am now asking Cabinet Member for Roads and Transport, and the Director of Economy Skills and Environment whether they can do anything to improve the situation.
My Last Surgery of the Year will be on 21 December (10-12 at the Woodbridge Library) if anyone has any last minute problems and issues – and I’ll be serving a mince pie to everyone who turns up
May I wish everyone
A MERRY CHRISTMAS and a HAPPY NEW YEAR