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Last surgery of 2014 today

Just to remind you that my last surgery of 2014 is today, in Woodbridge library, 10-12 noon as ever. There will be mince pies too.

Have a jolly Christmas, and a nice New  Year!

Have a jolly Christmas, and a nice New Year!

If you don’t need to see me – and goodness knows  this is a busy Saturday – can I wish everyone a jolly Christmas and a nice New Year

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Warwick Avenue and Haugh Lane repairs: dates finalised

Warwick AveGood news for Woodbridge residents. Dates for repairing these roads have been finalised. And they are still - just- in this financial year as promised – although disgracefully right at the last moment, finishing within a week of the end of the financial year.  Any more ‘slippage’ KMG and you’d  be over the edge and fail to meet your promised target!

Warwick Avenue is due to be resurfaced on 24th March 2015, over 4 days.  Haugh Lane will be resurfaced on 23rd March, over 4 days.

Both roads are old concrete slab roads which have severely deteriorated.   SCC Highways had previously considered in-situ recycling but it turned out that the slabs contained steel reinforcement, making this impossible.  (This explains the delay to work which had been scheduled for November. )  SCC’s contractor  KMG are bringing in a specialist surfacing contractor who will remove any asphalt overlay, repair the joints between the slabs, repair any damaged concrete and then overlay with a high strength asphalt overlay.

Let us hope this is a satisfactory end to several years of lobbying-  by myself and the residents of Warwick Avenue and Haugh Lane!

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Whats been happening – November to December

Restored Sunday bus goes from strength to strength! Having finally got the 65b service back in July, after years when Woodbridge residents were cut off from any Sunday or holiday bus transport whatsoever (including getting to Ipswich hospital for visiting, A&E and minor injuries!) We were told – quite fairly–  ‘use it, or lose it’  Woodbridge residents have risen magnificently to the challenge  – and as a direct result  the 65b will not only be retained at least until March but will also now run 5 times a day in each direction from January, and the service has been extended out to Melton.  Again, we must continue to remember that it’s a case of use it or lose it – so when shopping for Christmas, or in the sales – remember to take the Sunday bus!

Woodbridge Rail StationTicket Machines!  Sadly, the machine continues to be less than wholly fit for purpose. It spends much of its time out of order or malfunctioning, leaving many Woodbridge residents frustrated – either out of pocket, having had to pay twice for a ticket, or facing a penalty fine for a fare they have paid!  I have recently been contacted by a stream of people complaining about this problem , including overseas visitors who found  local travel very difficult and some residents who have told me  that their only option to this is making a 15 mile round trip to use the machines in Ipswich (as the Saxmundham ticket machine is often  also out of action).

Suffok Speed Limit Criteria  For some months now I have been part of the crossparty  policy development panel  working on developing a new  Speed Limit Criteria policy for Suffolk. SCC Cabinet will be seeking to approve this today. If approved, the  new policy aims  to ensure that speed  limits are applied fairly, and transparently across the county while reflecting  local concerns where appropriate  – and enabling local County Councillors to make representations on behalf of the communities they represent.

This would complement the new 20mph policy that  the same panel  (on which I also sat) developed  and which Cabinet approved earlier this year.

Suffok’s Education and Learning Infrastructure Plan  SCC is also developing Suffolks Education and Learning InfrastructurePlan. This is of particular interest to me as I have been arguing that there is insufficent bringing together of strategic issues  locally.  The  coverage of the  future eduction situation in  Woodbridge is not wholly encouraging:


Woodbridge/Melton
Issue: Potential housing of up to 500 houses in the  longer term
Solution: Investigate local primary provision in the area to ensure capacity is available or local schools are able to expland to accommodate growth. Also ensure that local secondary provision, already at capacity, is able to expand as appropriate.”

I have asked for this  information to be expanded on, bearing in mind that Farlingaye, designed for 750  pupils, now accommodates around 2000 and that the the physical impossibility of moving this number around the corridors has caused lessons to be reduced to 3 a day for the last 8 years. I understood that these  developments aren’t seen as enough to fund a further school, but query what further expansion  might be humanly possible in the circumstances!

I also want to understand why the strategic  issues of Farlingaye are siloed within Woodbridge/Melton when it has a catchment area of 400 square miles including, for example Rendlesham (where I see further development is also indicated).

Additionally, strategic development of schools seems to stop at the buildings themselves and does not consider the impact on local roads.

Warwick Avenue:  That  long-awaited resurfacing of Warwick Avenue is delayed again -  until March 2015 – but this time there is an excuse! I have been lobbying for this seriously overdue and much-needed repair work for years, and  am very glad that it  is finally going ahead. The repairs had been planned for the end of 2014, but when cores were taken from the concrete slabs that make up the road, it was discovered that they had metal reinforcement, making hopes of using an in-situ recycling technique impossible.  I am now told that the SCC contractors, KMG, will be bringing in a specialist surfacing  contractor to remove any asphalt on the slabs, repair the slab joints and lay high density asphalt overlay.

Let us hope this will finally and at long last provide the reliable and stable road surface that Warwick Avenue residents deserve – and for which they have been waiting for such an unreasonably long time!”

County Councillor Surgeries  My  monthly walk-in surgeries continue to be very successful and well-attended. In October I discovered 14 people waiting for me when I opened.  The final Surgery of the year will take place on 20December 2014 10-12 in the library as ever.

Dates for the early part of 2015 will be: 17 January, 21 February. 21 March and 18 April.

Finally,

Happy Christmas and all good wishes for a peaceful New Year!

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Woodbridge Ticket Machine. Not working. Again

This machine is currently out of service. Abiello Greater Angliaa apologise for any inconvenience this may cause

This machine is currently out of service. Abiello Greater Anglia apologise for any inconvenience this may cause

 

This machine is currently out of service.  Abiello Greater Anglia apologise for any inconvenience this may cause

I’m sure we all remember SCDC’s controversial closure of Woodbridge’s Tourist Information Centre last year. At the time, we Woodbridge residents were all assured that the new ticket machine at the station would be just as effective as the friendly and helpful staff who had been such an integral part of the Tourist Information Centre by Woodbridge  station.

Right.

I have just had to make a 15mile round trip in the  pouring rain to collect tickets from Ipswich because the machine is ‘currently out of service’. This is the second time in 4 days.  Like many of my constituents I have limited transport choices, and am currently suffering from extreme mobility problems.

Some bright spark has just pointed out we could buy tickets on the trains. Why gosh, so we could. Buying my tickets on the train might meaan that travelling to the funeral I am attending next week would cost  a little over £130, instead of the £25 return my prebooked tickets sitting in Woodbridge’s non-working ticket machine might cost, but hey – what is that? a mere bagatelle!

 

Taking the TIC away, and further limiting our choices  by having a non-working  machine has really not benefited all those who most needed it.  Can I give a special thank you to the   SCDC councillors of Woodbridge who made this decision on our behalf. We do remember who they are.

 

Incidentally,  readers, are you as irritated as I am by  the formulaic mantra  whereby a company will ” apologise for any inconvenience this may cause“? What on earth do they mean by  “any inconvenience”?  Are they suggesting that some people will come along to buy a ticket from this non-operational machine and find themselves in any sense convenienced by its lack of action?

Abiello Greater Anglia – if the ticket machine doesn’t work , aren’t you – in your heart of hearts – expecting it  to cause inconvenience to each and every passenger (I unapologetically use the old-fashioned term) who wants to buy a ticket? So, go on -why not apologise unreservedly  to all of us?

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Our restored 65b Sunday Service to continue – and expand!

Our Sunday bus is back! let's keep it that way,eh? Use it or lose it

Our Sunday bus is back! let’s keep it that way,eh? Use it or lose it

I am delighted to pass on more excellent news about the restored  Woodbridge to Ipswich 65b Sunday bus – a service which which we managed to get back a  few months ago after much lobbying.

You may remember that Woodbridge residents were cut off for some years from any Sunday or holiday bus transport whatsoever (including to Ipswich hospital for visiting, A&E and and minor injuries), but that, after much lobbying, this was restored in July (see details here). We were told at the time  - quite fairly in my opinion – it was a case of ‘use it, or lose it.’

Today I have heard that due to the level of patronage, the 65b service will continue at least until March, and with an enhanced service! The 65b will now run 5 times a day in each direction, and from Ipswich to Melton!  The  revised timetable with operate from Sunday 11th January 2015.

This is  power and the point  of local politics. Lobbying and local activism really can work on occasion.

It can also reverse some terrible decisions!

PS. On a smaller scale – if you are a smaller person you may notice that you can now  read the timetables at the Turban Centre. I asked for them to be lowered and they have done so!

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Remembrance

 

DSCF4686 (600x800)

 

Here dead we lie 
Because we did not choose 
To live and shame the land 
From which we sprung.

Life, to be sure,  
Is nothing much to lose, 
But young men think it is, 
And we were young.
A E Houseman

Today – on the eleventh day of the eleventh month at the eleventh hour – is the Woodbridge Armistice Day Ceremony

This is the day when our primary school children come to the War Memorial on Market Hill hear of the past, and relate it to our present.

It is very moving – and  a  very fitting complement to Sunday’s Remembrance Day parade  .

Today, the war memorial will also be rededicated by Lord Tollemache.

Woodbridge children make memorial crosses for every ne of our soldiers killed in WW1

Woodbridge children make memorial crosses for every one of our soldiers killed in WW1

I chose Housman’s poem to go on a brass plaque on the new bench in the newly refurbished Memorial Gardens (you may have seen Town Councillor Kay Yule herself, working very hard planting and making good over the last month to make sure everything was perfect for this important time). It sums up, on the one hand, the mindset of the young who went into the first world war - particularly in those first months a hundred years ago – and on the other, the sad, overwhelming loss of life , and all the future they lost.

DSCF4687 (800x599)DSCF4690 (800x600)

 

 

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Whats happening in Suffolk Nov 2014

Care UK   There is serious concern at the way Care Uk is running some of the care homes in Suffolk. Councillor Alan Murray has been challenged as to what the council is doing to rectify these problems. The firm took over SCC’s 16 care homes in 2012 and is in the process of building 10 purpose-built replacements

A CQC inspection last month found Mildenhall Lodge below standard in four of five categories while a safeguarding inspection raised concerns about another home, Asterbury Place.

We’ve been told that “Care UK have committed additional support to both Mildenhall Lodge and Asterbury Place in Ipswich until all of the improvements are completed.  SCC officers continue to monitor improvements…  and will continue to have regular contact with any relatives who wish to discuss any concern whilst final improvements are made in both homes”.

SCC Health Scrutiny looked at current arrangements for ensuring the quality of care in residential homes in Suffolk in October concluded that:

a)        It was not fully satisfied that lessons had been learned from the findings of the recent CQC inspection of Mildenhall Lodge. Further, that the Committee was not yet satisfied that all the appropriate steps had been taken to improve the quality of care at Mildenhall Lodge and in the other Suffolk homes run by Care UK.

b)         that at its meeting on 20 January 2015 it wished to receive a further report, providing an update and including detailed evidence about:

i)          what had been done to ensure that all Suffolk homes run by Care UK were meeting the essential standards monitored by the CQC;

ii)         the current ratings of all Suffolk homes run by Care UK;

iii)        the views of residents and their families, gathered in a systematic way;

iv)        what steps had been taken within the County Council to strengthen contract management arrangements within Adult and Community Services;

v)         the findings of a recent ADASS (Association of Directors of Adult Social Services)  national benchmarking exercise in relation to contract management arrangements in neighbouring authorities and how Suffolk compared

Civil Parking Enforcement  SCC Cabinet are looking to extend an agreement with Ipswich Borough Council to enable IBC to continue undertaking Civil Parking Enforcement in Ipswich for another 5 years. ALthoough this is Ipswich-specific, it is interesting because the arrangement has been in place for 9 years and  the key benefits, perceived at the start are still held to be true today.

These are:

  • Most cost effective  management of on- and off-street parking enforcement
  • Safer traffic conditions and improved traffic floe
  • More locally accountable

The suggestion is that CPE may be extended beyond Ipswich. Officers make the point that it will always be an easier option in an urban than a rural setting.

Revised Guidance for Parking  Suffolk County Council Cabinet is looking today at adopting a revised “Suffolk Guidance for Parking’. It has been updated to support the next generation of green transport, eg supporting electric vehicle charging points, minimum bicycle parking requirements and priority Car Club parking spaces in planning decisions. A rather more contentious section states:

“In line with national policy, the guidance includes a minimum of car parking spaces for new residences to replace the maximum limit contained in the previous standards. The absence of such a minimum standard has led to many cases of inadequate residential parking on new developments leading to unsightly and unsafe on-street parking congestion. The implementation of a minimum standard provides an opportunity to provide an appropriate level of parking that meets the day-to-day needs of occupiers.” It also gives specific minimum dimensions for car parking spaces.

Although the 2011 Census revealed that 14% of households in Suffolk Coastal were carless, it also revealed there were 3% of households with 4 cars or more!

If this policy is adopted centrally, it would be up to Suffolk Coastal District Council to adopt this policy although SCC recommends that they adopt it as a supplementary planning policy.

Recommendations on parking design are also made in an appendix, to ameliorate the ugliness of parking areas. Again, whether individual district councils sign up to this is individual!

0345 numbers for Suffolk County Council

From last month the county council has changed all of its 0845 telephone numbers to 0345. The remaining seven digits of the telephone numbers are remaining exactly the same. This includes the telephone numbers for people wanting to apply for a school place for their child, reporting a pothole or road defect and the Families Information Service.

Calls to 0345 numbers from landlines and mobiles are included in free call packages. For customers with these packages, it will mean calling the council on these numbers, does not incur any additional costs. For people not on free call packages, a call to a 0345 number costs no more than a geographical number (eg: 01284, 01787 and 01473).

Existing 0845 numbers are not being switched off overnight. There will be a period of time where the 0845 number, and its replacement 0345 number, will both be live. This is to ensure people can still access the services they need whilst getting used to the new numbers. It will also mean the county council only replaces printed materials and liveries when current stocks run out.

All Freephone numbers starting 0800 will also remain unchanged.

Childrens Centres There was an attempt to halt the current consultation and possible closures, but unfortunately this failed. The results of the consultation will be presented to SCC cabinet on 9th December.

Surgery  My surgery is on the third Saturday of the month, as ever. 10-12, in Woodbridge Library

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What has been happening in Suffolk : September/October

Woodbridge Youth Centre: future

You may remember that  I reported in March 2013   http://carolinepage.blog.suffolk.libdems.org/2013/03/12/woodbridge-youth-centre-saved-from-the-dragons-den/ that I had come across moves by various unelected officers at SCC and SCDC to organise the disposal of Woodbridge Youth Centre and sell off the land to the north of the Avenue for development,  without reference to either Woodbridge Town council, or the people of Woodbridge.

At the time, I took this to the highest level and was promised by the SCC CEO Deborah Cadman that any discussion about its long-term future will involve all stakeholders including the people of Woodbridge and our elected councillors.  I was also given to understand that Woodbridge Youth Centre was ‘safe’ and a ten year lease was being proposed.

However last week,  only 18 months later  I was asked to attend a preliminary meeting with SCC officers from resource management and a single elected member who manages to be both SCC deputy cabinet member for Resource Management and SCDC Cabinet member for Resource Management.  The subject they wished to address was the ‘mid-term’ future of the Woodbridge Youth Centre, and the fact that repairs of (max £200,000) being too much, they were looking  to ‘develop solutions.’

Interestingly,  I found  little interest in any other solution than sale of the land and removal of the occupants of the centre elsewhere.

I insisted in including other options – such as raising the money for repair and putting in a bid for the premises (and having them minuted too).

At the first meeting there were no representatives for Woodbridge Town Council, for SCC’s CYP, for the Integrated Youth Service,  or indeed, apart from myself,  any of the local people with an interest in the Youth Centre, in the demographics of Woodbridge or the young people of Woodbridge.

I therefore  asked that subsequent meetings should have representatives of these organisations attending.  I have also said that this issue needs to be brought into the consideration of the Neighbourhood plan, in terms of development, of youth provision, of green spaces and of demographics.

Development proposal: Woodbridge Football Club site

The 25 year lease on Woodbridge Town football club runs out shortly and Hopkins Homes has announced proposals to develop the currently occupied by the club for approximately 95 houses, including affordable housing, a community building and open space. Proposals are that the club itself would move to a Yarmouth Road site at Ufford, meaning that Woodbridge will lose its football club from the town itself, very much as it has already lost its rugby club.

As usual, this will have an adverse impact on young people who do not have access  to cars.

Woodbridge Town FC will be voting on this move at an Extraordinary General Meeting shortly.

As I understand it, if the football club votes to stay at the site it would be able to do so for another ten years. However it loses the chance to have another venue found for it, another clubhouse purpose-built for it  -  and would have to start paying a ‘market rent’ for the site.

There is currently a full public consultation about the planning proposals for the site in advance of an expected planning application by Hopkins Homes in the autumn. I am already having contact from residents with concerns about road access to the proposed development.

Suffolk 1: Students enrolled on the Foundation Learning course

Last year it seemed as if the future of 5 day teaching for Foundation level students at Suffolk 1 was threatened. After some negotiation, all students enrolled in Foundation Learning courses will return to a 5 day week from early October and this will continue for the entire academic year 2014-15. This will be a transitional arrangement. There will be a meeting on 18 November 2014  for  parents and carers  to discuss  what the arrangements will be from 2015.

0345 numbers for Suffolk County Council

From the end of September, the county council is changing all of its 0845 telephone numbers to 0345. The remaining seven digits of the telephone numbers will remain exactly the same. This includes the telephone numbers for people wanting to apply for a school place for their child, reporting a pothole or road defect and the Families Information Service.

Calls to 0345 numbers from landlines and mobiles are included in free call packages. For customers with these packages,  it will mean calling the council on these numbers, does not incur any additional costs. For people not on free call packages, a  call to a 0345 number costs no more than a geographical number (eg. 01284, 01787 and 01473).

However, existing 0845 numbers will not be switched off overnight. There will be a period of time where the 0845 number, and its replacement 0345 number, will both be live. This is to ensure people can still access the services they need whilst getting used to the new numbers. It will also mean the county council only replaces printed materials and liveries when current stocks run out.

All Freephone numbers starting 0800 will also remain unchanged.

October surgery

My surgery will be held this Saturday, 10 – 12 midday at Woodbridge library  as usual.

 

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Woodbridge Neighbourhood plan – be there, or be voiceless

Woodbridge Neighbourhood planAre you coming to give your two pennorth to the Woodbridge Neighbourhood Plan this Thursday?  I am.   Its important that everyone does - maybe most particularly for young people and young families, who are so under-represented in the demographics, thinking and planning for Woodbridge.

If people do not attend they leave decision-making in the hands of those who do attend – and whatever their concerns may be!

Remember, if YOU don’t raise your particular concerns, you may find that the plan doesn’t reflect them!  You can find full details on the Wooodbridge Town Council website

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Woodbridge Library: Reading Scheme Awards 2014

 

The Magic Giant and Firebreathing Dragon at the Woodbridge Library Reading Scheme Awards 2014

The Magic Giant and Firebreathing Dragon at the Woodbridge Library Reading Scheme Awards 2014

A record 277  children completed this year’s  Summer reading scheme at Woodbridge Library, on the theme of the Mythical Maze. It is wonderful to see this excellent national  scheme continuing to be so well supported in our town.

I presented the awards this Sunday, and to add a bit of sparkle, funded a Magic Giant with a Firebreathing Dragon, plus a Magic Show and some balloon modelling to finish off the event.

It was a lovely afternoon!

Congratulations to all the children who took part – and to the library volunteers who gave so much of their time over the summer to support it. Huge thanks also has to go to all the parents who supported this scheme, enabling their children to take part

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