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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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Whats been happening in Suffolk over the summer

Home to school transport  Central government have made changes  to the age of statutory education.  It is now  compulsory to stay in education or training until you are 17 - and shortly it will be 18. These are impacting on poorer students who have to travel to college, as Suffolk’s free home to school transport policy  (as indeedthe  national home to school transport  policy) only covers students up to 16 years old.  Over 16s can avail themselves of a discretionary – paid – option but it costs £540 a year. Currently the SCC Administration are taking the line that the Endeavour card (offering 1/3 off available journeys  by some operators) will cover the problem, and that there are Bursaries to help the needy.  I do not think this is an adequate response and  I will be taking this up as a matter of urgency.

The Milestone in Woodbridge's Thoroughfare

The Milestone in Woodbridge’s Thoroughfare

Historic milestone lost – and found  The Thoroughfare Milestone outside John Ives was reported to me as  missing by an anxious local historian and nobody seemed to know where it had gone. We were for a short time worried that it might be a case of vandalism or theft. Luckily some nifty detective work by Woodbridge Town Council’s very own Kay Yule and myself has traced it to the depot in Melton and we expect it to be returned shortly.

Planning Application next to Dukes Park  I have had a lot of emails of concern from residents about the planning application to build housing on the field next to Dukes Park.As this is also the site through which the EA One underground high tension cabling is due to be routedI contacted the EA ONE  link officer at Suffolk County Council for definitive information on the separation necessary between  housing development and underground high tension cables.  You can find his brief resume of the status quo and implications on my blog : http://carolinepage.blog.suffolk.libdems.org/2014/07/26/dukes-park-and-east-anglia-one/

Travellers Sites Suffolk County Council has abandoned a public consultation on where to create three official Gypsy and Traveller stopping sites. The consultation identified seven potential sites – with the aim of selecting three in the areas where unauthorised encampments usually occur. However, following a number of landowners coming forward with other potential sites and early feedback from councillors and residents, Suffolk’s council and policing leaders decided to halt and reconsider. The sites were:

      • Layby off A143 opposite Shepherds Lane, Wortham
      • Land between Candlet Road and Treetops, Felixstowe
      • Layby on Felixstowe Road, Levington, south of junction with Bridge Road
      • Former Little Chef site, Kentford, between Bury Road and A14
      • Former Chippings Dump, Upthorpe Road, Stanton
      • Former Little Chef site, off A14 by the Orwell Bridge
      • A140 junction with Castleton Way, Yaxley.

Restoration of Woodbridge – Ipswich Sunday Service  Just to reiterate that from the 20th July a Sunday/Bank Holiday bus service has resumed allowing car-free travel between Woodbridge and Ipswich.  Suffolk County Council is sponsoring 3 return services a day between Woodbridge and Ipswich. As you know I have ben fighting for this since the  last was so disgracefully  discontinued at two weeks notice to us, the passengers, back in 2011.

The Sunday 65b will allow car free journeys to visit hospital and help young people get out on their own. It will be a boon for all people who can’t- or can’t afford to – drive. And its obviously a big boost for tourism. It is only guaranteed until the end of 2014 – after that, it depends on numbers – so it’s a case of use it or lose it!

65 b Sunday Bus Service                                         Key Stops

Woodbridge Turban Centre                             10.35               14.20               17.20
Woodbridge Pembroke Avenue                      10.40               14.25               17.25
Martlesham Black Tiles                                    10.47               14.32               17.32
Ipswich Hospital (adj)                                      10.57               14.42               17.42
Ipswich Tower Ramparts                                 11.09               14.54               17.54

Ipswich Old Cattle Market (Stand B)            10.00              13.45               16.45
Ipswich Hospital (nr)                                       10.11                13.56               16.56
Martlesham Black Tiles                                   10.21               14.06               17.06
Woodbridge Pembroke Avenue                     10.27               14.12                17.12
Woodbridge Turban Centre                            10.32               14.17               17.17

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Dukes Park and East Anglia ONE

My inbox has been buzzing with anxious emails this week  from people worried about a possible planning application for land adjoining Dukes Park. Although planning is a District Council issue it is in Woodbridge County division,and  is  also the site through which the EA One underground high tension cabling is due to be routed. As this appeared to have slipped under the radar of both residents and district council until I raised it last Monday,  I contacted the EA ONE  link officer at Suffolk County Council. I wanted to know if he had definitive information on the separation necessary between  housing development and underground high tension cables. closeup EA1

Here is his brief resume of the status quo and implications as he sees it:

East Anglia ONE have acquired both permanent and temporary rights for land within the Order Limits (red line boundary). The exact location of these rights however would not be determined until the project is being built, because the final positioning of the cables is not known. What we know now is that the corridor depicted on the plans is generally 75m wide though only 55m is needed for construction and this could lie anywhere within the 75m swathe. The final footprint for the operational development will be 42m The rights that have been acquired are set out within Schedule 6 of the Development Consent Order  . The permanent rights within the cable corridor generally provide for the retention of cables/ducts together with a surface right of access for occasional maintenance. Lands subject to temporary rights (i.e the ‘surplus’ 33m) would be returned to the current owner post construction (that is, around 2020). However as the SCC link officer understands it:

“…restrictive covenants are also in place. Activities within the Order Limits are prohibited as below. The footprint of the land these rights cover would diminish from the construction (75m) to operational phase (42m), but as I understand it apply to the full 75m currently: (a) prevent anything to be done in or upon the Order land or any part thereof for the purpose of the erection of any buildings or construction erection or works of any kind (including the foundations or footings thereto); (b) prevent anything to be done by way of hard surfacing of the Order land with concrete of any kind or with any other material or surface whatsoever without the consent in writing of the undertaker (such consent not to be unreasonably withheld or delayed if the proposed surfacing would not cause damage to relevant part of the authorised project nor make it materially more difficult or expensive to maintain the authorised project); (c) prevent anything to be done by way of excavation of any kind in the Order land nor any activities which increase or decrease ground cover or soil levels in any manner whatsoever without the consent in writing of the undertaker save as are reasonably required for agricultural activities or are required to be carried out by National Grid in order to exercise their rights in relation to their apparatus within the Order land; (d) prevent the planting or growing within the Order land of any trees, shrubs or underwood without the consent in writing of the undertaker (such consent not to be unreasonably withheld or delayed provided that the proposed trees, shrubs or underwood would not cause damage to the relevant part of the authorised project nor make it materially more difficult or expensive to access the relevant part of the authorised project). Consequently very little can happen within the area covered by the Order Limits at the moment. The extent of that redline boundary will shrink in due course, but even in that remaining area, no buildings could erected.”

The officer points out that land outside the Order Limits, and any land used during construction once returned to its original owner is not subject to any East Anglia ONE restrictive covenants. However it would be  on each side of the cabling  area. Requests for any further specific elucidation  are probably best directed to:

Joanna Young,  Stakeholder Manager ScottishPower Renewables East Anglia Offshore Wind, Room 101, OrbisEnergy, Wilde Street, Lowestoft, Suffolk, NR32 1XH. jyoung@scottishpower.com

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Surgery today

The usual reminder:  my surgery is this morning at Woodbridge Library, 10-12noon, as ever.

Any problems, complaints, criticisms? COme and tell me, and I’ll see how I can help.

 

PLEASE NOTE: THERE IS NO SURGERY IN AUGUST

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Woodbridge Sunday Bus Service returns

65bb

65bb

From the 20th July Woodbridge will resume a Sunday/Bank Holiday bus service, allowing car-free travel between Woodbridge and Ipswich.  Suffolk County Council is sponsoring  3 return services a day between Woodbridge and Ipswich.

To kickstart the service, everyone can travel FREE on 20 and 27th July.

I’ve lobbied to get a Sunday bus back ever since the last service was cut (at a perfectly disgraceful 2 weeks notice) in February 2011. The Sunday 65b will allow car free journeys to visit hospital and help young people get out on their own. It will be a boon for all people who can’t- or can’t afford to – drive. And its obviously a big boost for tourism. Good news all round!

The 65b Sunday service is only guaranteed until the end of 2014 – after that, it depends on numbers – so it’s a case of use it or lose it!

65 b Sunday Bus Service     Key Stops

Woodbridge Turban Centre 10.35 14.20 17.20
Woodbridge Pembroke Avenue 10.40 14.25 17.25
Martlesham Black Tiles 10.47 14.32 17.32
Ipswich Hospital (adj) 10.57 14.42 17.42
Ipswich Tower Ramparts 11.09 14.54 17.54

Ipswich Old Cattle Market (Stand B) 10.00 13.45 16.45
Ipswich Hospital (nr) 10.11 13.56 16.56
Martlesham Black Tiles 10.21 14.06 17.06
Woodbridge Pembroke Avenue 10.27 14.12 17.12
Woodbridge Turban Centre 10.32 14.17 17.17

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Sandy Lane hole: update

Luckily the Sandy Lane sinkhole did not open up when the Tour of Britain travelled down Sandy Lane in 2012. That could have put paid to leader Wiggo's chances

Very luckily the Sandy Lane sinkhole didn’t open up when the Tour of Britain travelled down Sandy Lane in 2012. That could have put paid to leader Wiggo’s chances

A large deep hole of unknown provenance opened up at the junction of Sandy Lane and Ipswich Road a few weeks back . Although safety barriers were put up by someone, it is not clear who put them up, and so no remedial work was undertaken – this is because the presence of the barriers caused everyone to  believe that someone else was responsible and was already in the process of taking action to fix it.

It wasn’t until last week, when I asked the county Highways department to chase up the people responsible, that we discovered the mystery. At which point  SCC agreed to‘take the hit’ and do the repair themselves although I have asked them to continue tracking down the company responsible and reclaim the  money back if appropriate.  (It is, of course, perfectly possible that the barriers were put up by some public-spirited person who is as yet nameless, and that the hole is actually a sink hole.)

However, after the last few days of heavy rains the hole is clearly very much worse (1m across and 1m deep) constituting  an significant danger to pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles alike.  It will need a lot of packing as well as resurfacing.  I am very worried indeed and asked yesterday morning for a repair on a 24h turnaround. Unfortunately under the new  ‘contracted out’ system such a thing is no longer possible.

The East Area Highway Manager told me today (Friday) “My highway inspector for Woodbridge has checked this site this morning. The hole is currently barriered and advance signing is in place. We had tried to arrange a repair today. However as it is on the junction, 3 way lights will be required in order to manage the traffic  safely past the working area. Our contractors advise that they will not be able to obtain these until Tuesday next week, and so the work will be carried out then.

In the meantime I am arranging for the site to be inspected during  the weekend to ensure that barriers and signing are in place and that there has been no further undermining of the road”.

I have also been told that someone will come on Tuesday to check that the repair is being undertaken.

I am also trying to arrange some sort of sign equivalent to a ‘Police Aware’ sign so that passers-by realise that something is actually about to be done.

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Whats been happening in Woodbridge, June to July 2014

Very much a transport and roads report, this month:  Cabinet passed some amazingly positive recommendations about public transport services; I joined with Cllr Bond to help fund the resurfacing of Farlingaye HS’s permissive footpath, and a mysterious sinkhole has appeared at the Ipswich Road end of Sandy Lane.

Public transport in Suffolk   Last week Cabinet approved almost all the recommendations of the Suffolk  cross-party Policy development panel on public transport on which I was a core member. As you know I have been lobbying to defend, protect and  improve rural bus services for years and I’m very pleased  that many of the recommendations now passed by Cabinet are ones I have been agitating for for some time – including:

  • Suffolk County Council should develop a clear vision for the future of public transport and support this with a more transparent and stand-alone strategy for meeting the travel needs of the county
  • Ensure that no further savings are sought from SCC’s discretionary budget for public transport without first fully understanding the impact on users and the possible cost implications for other public services.
  • Suffolk County Council should lead a countywide campaign to lobby the government and the county’s MPs for a more equitable distribution of national funding to support public transport in rural areas, urging the government to recognise the importance of public transport in supporting people’s health and wellbeing and in raising educational achievement, to acknowledge the particular problems faced by councils such as Suffolk County Council in providing public transport in rural areas, and to allocate funding accordingly.
  • Suffolk County Council should work with community transport operators to assess redesigning services to ensure young people trying to get to education, training or employment can book regular trips.
  • Suffolk County Council should ensure that the importance of public transport is reflected in its priorities and that its wider role in supporting people’s health and wellbeing is acknowledged across all policy areas.
  • Designing a protocol by which planning authorities ensure proposed new developments take full account of public transport needs at an early stage and encourage public transport as people’s first choice.

Grant towards Farlingaye’s permissive path   I have collaborated with my colleague Michael Bond to part-fund the resurfacing of the footpath which runs alongside Farlingaye High School between Catherine Road and Houchell’s Meadow and Haugh Lane and which provides such a significant community benefit to constituents in both our divisions.  We are contributing a total of £3000 from our locality budgets, which together with a contribution from Cllr Ball will be enough to fund the entire operation..

Chasm at the junction of Sandy lane/Ipswich Road  A large deep hole of unknown provenance has opened up at this junction some weeks back . Although barriers have been put up, it is not clear who has done so, and no remedial work has been undertaken – this is because the presence of the barriers caused everyone to  believe that someone else was responsible and was already in the process of taking action to fix it. SCC highways team were assuming these barriers were put up by the utilities company  responsible, though they have been unable to discover which one it is.

The Highways department  now tell me they will ‘take the hit’ and do the repair themselves, though I have asked them to continue tracking down the responsible company to reclaim the  money back if appropriuate.  It is, of course, perfectly possible that the barriers were put up by some public-spirited person who is as yet nameless, and that the hole is actually a sink hole.

See separate update.

Surgery dates for the second  half of 2014  As you know, I continue to hold my regular monthly surgery on the THIRD SATURDAY of every month. This is held at Woodbridge Library, 10am – 12 noon. Dates for the rest of 2014 are:

  • 19 July 2014
  • Please note: there will be no surgery in August
  • 20 September 2014
  • 18 October 2014
  • 15 November 2014
  • 20 December 2014

 

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Support GP services- the Put Patients First campaign

We’re lucky to have truly excellent GP services in Woodbridge, but did you know that- despite carrying out 90% of all NHS patient contacts  general practice only receives 8.39% of the NHS budget?

This fall is recent.  In the  years between  2005 and 2012, the percentage share of the NHS budget spent on general practice across England, Scotland and Wales fell from 10.75 to 8.4% – a historic low. By 2017, this is projected to plunge to just 7.29%. The services we rely on are in crisis

This is bad news for patients, who face the possibility of longer waits for appointments, fewer services and more difficulty in getting to see the GP of their choice. It is also bad news for the NHS as a whole – if general practice is not adequately resourced, more patients will end up receiving more expensive hospital care, leading to rapidly escalating healthcare costs.

It is clear that good access to high quality general practice is key to the future of the NHS. General practice leads to better and more cost-effective patient care, keeping people healthy for longer, enabling more people to successfully manage their conditions in the community, and avoiding unnecessary hospital admissions. I woud suggest that it is particularly important for those of us who live  in a semi-rural area like Woodbridge and its outlying regions,  with limited transport options and a significant older population. We rely heavily on our GP practices to know us and respond to our needs.

Put patients first: Back general practice‘ has been launched by the RCGP (Royal College of General Practitioners) and NAPP (National Association for Patient Participation) to put an end to this crisis and safeguard patient care. You can find more information and sign the petition to support an adequate level of GP funding  by following this link http://www.rcgp.org.uk/campaign-home.aspx

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