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
News and Information from Woodbridge Lib Dems, December 2013
Click on the picture to the left to get a reading-size e-version of our December’s Woodbridge Focus
Nelson Mandela July 18, 1918 – December 5 2013
“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion.
People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love,
for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”
South Africa 1994: 20million people queue to vote
Whenever people say they ‘don’t vote‘ as if it were a rational choice, and something they can be proud of, I think back to the steady snaking voting queue that elected Nelson Mandela as president in 1994. Twenty million people stood all day in the hot sun to exercise their newly won right to democracy. The voter turn-out was nearly 90%.
At the last Suffolk county council election we in Woodbridge achieved the second highest voter turn-out in the county, a modest 42%. In some Suffolk divisions the turnout was less than 24% – that is 76 out of every 100 registered voters just simply didn’t bother to use their vote. Suffolk is not unusual. Even at the last general election when feelings were running high, national voting turnout was only 65%.
The reasons ? We’ve heard everything from ”I never vote in local elections,” to “I don’t vote,” “I might vote for the wrong person“, “Politicians are all the same,” “What’s the point?“, “I was too busy,” “I didn’t remember.” (Not forgetting the flaccid Jeremy Paxman/Russell Brand attitude : designer disengagement. After all, you can only claim the moral highground and snipe unchallenged if you don’t pick a side. What a disgraceful, self-indulgently solipsistic way to look at your own society!)
Surely Mandela’s life shows clearly that if you want to effect any change, apathy and disengagement is no more of an option than bitterness.
Looks like the Suffolk Coast may be in for a hammering tonight, with the Environment Agency predicting the strongest tidal surge in 60 years.
Already there are Severe Flood Warnings for various areas including properties on the tidal Deben estuary; none currently for Woodbridge. (This was at 9.57am. The situation may change)
However a Major Incident has been announced – so stay aware.
- The Environment Agency Flood Warning link identifes trouble spots. It is updated every time there is a change to predicted circumstances.
- When flooding is likely, the Environment Agency issues flood alerts and warnings through the media – broadcast on TV and local radio. You can register with the Environment Agency to receive free floods warnings by phone, text or e-mail. You can also get advice and information via Floodline on 0845 9881188
- Suffolk Police Emergency Helpline: 0845 603 2814
- If there is any risk of danger to people, property or the environment as a result of flooding you should not hesitate to ring 999.
- Further general information can be found on the Suffolk County Council Flood risk webpage
Keep an eye on warnings and keep safe!
So, today is Carers’ Rights Day, the day when we celebrate family carers and tell them what they are worth..
(Fifty-nine pounds odd a week, if they earn less than £100, that’s what. Whoopee)
I am offended by the whole concept of a Carers Rights Day – a day when well-paid professionals and media pundits gather together to pat each other on the backs and moo “Ooooo – we care: we reeeelly care for your plight, pooooor yooo. ” The brutal truth is that they don’t. Society doesn’t. Successive governments don’t. And when I once asked Unison strikers why they were not striking for family carers they memorably replied “Because you don’t work!” (That is, because we Family Carers don’t have paid hours, overtime, sick pay, holiday pay etc etc we don’t work. It’s iniquitous)
Carers wouldn’t need a Carers Rights Day if the state had ever given Family Carers any meaningful rights. And the right to be accepted as a worker rather than patronised as a rather dim and unworldly saint comes top of the list.
If carers were seen as the workers they are, the real cost of that care: the working hours, the loss of careers, the impact of poverty and poor health, the absence of employment-related pensions – all these might be factored into the support offered to them. As it is, people suggest they may like a session of aromatherapy!
In this country the welfare state has traditionally relied on the love carers feel for those they care for to save the state the real cost of that care. Yet carers suffer from blighted careers, poverty, poor health (fulltime carers are twice as likely to be in bad health than their peers) and can look forward to little more than an impoverished old age. Thousands of people like myself have worked unsupported 168 hour weeks for years – in my case for the whole of this millennium. You know, its possible we might just get worn out!
This is not only sad and bad, it is expensive. How much does it cost to replace 24/7 specialised, knowledgeable care? Five years ago when the cost of home care was estimated it varied between £18 and £27 per hour depending on whether it was daytime, evening or weekend. Goodness knows what it is in 2013.
So what’s the answer? Once again – to the sound of one hand clapping - I’m suggesting the following serious revision of how carers are supported and viewed. Its not unduly expensive or ambitious. Just common sense :
- Carers Allowance should be viewed as a wage rather than a benefit, awarded to all full-time carers (exactly as DLA as awarded to those who are eligible) Currently family carers can claim £59 odd a week -if they don’t earn more than £100: meaning carers are expected to live and further their careers on £8368 a year. If, of course you earn a little more than £100 a week, you get no carers allowance at all. These folks have hearts like greasy bullets, don’t they?
- The state must further relax rules on ‘other employment’ to allow carers the ‘luxury’ of being able to work, and have some non-caring life outside their responsibilities.
- The state should pay into the equivalent of an occupational pension for carers to accurately reflect (ok at minimum wage) the real hours spent caring. This could be established by reference to the cared for’s DLA returns and would give carers the prospect of a securer old age with recognition of what can be decades of real – if unpaid work.
- When a family carer is bereaved they are simultaneously made redundant. The state should set up obust and appropriate training to provide carers for genuine, satisfying jobs when their caring roles (often sadly) end. This isn’t a luxury – it is a reward for all the unpaid work they have done without prospect of career advancement.
Every day should be Carers Rights Day. Everyone should recognise how close they are to being either carer or cared for!
Six cyclists have died on London’s roads in less than two weeks. Several others have been seriously injured.
A horrifying thought for cyclists and non-cyclists alike. And particularly thought-provoking for a rural cyclist like me who has had to make frequent cycle trips across London, visiting my child in hospital. I’m a sensible, careful, confident cyclist, but clearly just being sensible, careful and confident is not enough. If I were killed, who will look after her?
Every death on the road is the death of someone who was needed by someone, was responsible for someone, is missed by someone .
Three of these six tragic fatal collisions involved lorries, the rest coaches or buses. For years these large vehicles have posed a threat to cyclists and pedestrians completely disproportionate to their numbers – and both in and out of London. There are a number of factors likely responsible, but design of roads and lorries come right at the top. This video shows the shocking extent of a lorry’s blind spot.
The kneejerk reaction is to blame the cyclist. “You wouldn’t be in danger if you don’t ‘come up’ on the inside of a lorry.” Right. Easy peasy lemon squeezy. Unless the lorry ‘comes up’ on the outside of you, that is.
“You wouldn’t be in danger …if you wear hi-viz …have bright lights …stick to the rules of the road ..maintain your bike properly …cycle defensively… etc etc.”
No, my friends, this is not the case. You will be in danger if you don’t do these things – but you are far from safe even though you do.
Boris Johnson’s latest bright idea is that safety can be achieved by a ban on cyclists with headphones. Another example of missing the point completely: when I had a near-fatal encounter with an HGV, I wasn’t wearing headphones. But the HGV driver was. Having failed to spot me – all neon yellow and glittering lights – in front of him, he was unable to hear either my air-horn or my screams. Banning headphones will only add to safety if the ban is all-embracing.
CTC’s view is far more balanced. All it is asking is that Boris Johnson should “apply the most fundamental principles of safety management to this dreadful situation as a matter of urgency. In other words, the danger must be designed out and reduced at source to stop more unnecessary deaths“. CTC suggests this should be by:
- Re-designing and re-building major roads and junctions to optimise safety for cyclists and other road users, rather than optimising the motor traffic flow;
- Insisting hauliers operate vehicles of the most cycle-friendly design . Models already on the market feature lower and more transparent cabs to give drivers a better, direct view of the road;
- Keeping lorries off the busiest roads at the busiest times.
Training and awareness activities – for lorry drivers, for cyclists, in fact for everyone – would come next says CTC and “their purpose should be to minimise whatever risks cannot be eliminated at source by the measures listed above“.
Here, I would counter Mr Johnson’s simplistic notion, with a reductio ad absurdam of my own. Cycle safety on roads (whether city, town AND country) is not a matter of headphones, its a question of whether you’re plugged in to reality. And I would suggest that these days very few drivers are. The modern vehicle is built to give one a feeling of virtual travel – insulated against sound, smell, atmosphere, action, weather. So to ensure people drive safely maybe we should be reintroducing these elements into their travel? perhaps we should require vehicles that drive in rush hour to drive with their windows down? their roofs off? They could enjoy the vicarious experience of being a virtual cyclist.
From which it may be a simple step to getting out from behind the wheel altogether
I have been a member of the Co-operative group for a quarter of a century and a Co-operative bank account holder for over 20 years. I have a Britannia savings account and a Co-op pension plan. If I’d died, I would probably have had a Co-operative funeral. I’m a Co-op member not because of a party political allegiance but because I’ve identified with its stated ethical principles, because it was responsive to local people at a local level, and because it offered a dividend for shopping locally.
There are a lot of people like me out there – a fact that the Co-operative group seems recently to have forgotten. Sadly, despite its ethical policies the Co-operative Group seems to have been supporting ‘the man’ rather than ‘the little man’
Yesterday, I wrote to the group as follows:
I would like to ask you to confirm
- whether the Co-op group really did donate £50k to Ed Balls’ office last year?
- that the Coop group will NOT be paying a dividend to its many members this Christmas because the Group cannot afford it?
- and that if these two are both the case, how the Co-operative Group can possibly square this with its ‘ethical policies’ which supposedly support the ‘little man’ (eg Co-operative members) as opposed to ‘the man’ (eg Ed Balls – who surely is quite wealthy enough to donate £50k to his own damn office if he feels it needs it).
This is not a frivolous question and I hope for a serious answer. I will post it
Just the usual reminder that my monthly surgery is today, Saturday 16th November: 10.00am to midday, at Woodbridge library.
Do drop in with any issues, problems, suggestions etc. Everyone is welcome! No booking necessary (but if it is very busy you may have to wait)
The Woodbridge Remembrance day – with its emphasis on remembering the dead and wounded of all times and countries, and its acknowledgement of the damage sustained by civilian populations – was as lovely and moving as ever.
It is particularly plangent to be remembering the war dead in a small community like ours, where we crowd into our small market square, where all the names on the memorial are surnames of people you know, and the soldiers who attend may have just finished a tour of duty in Helmand.
I notice that this year opinion is turning against poppy wearing, with people seeing it as a regrettable exhibition of militarism. I have heard people say “I will not be wearing a poppy next year.”
People who find the poppy symbol objectionable should maybe remember that it is only recently that we have fought wars with career soldiers. The bulk of deaths in WW1, WW2 and beyond were conscripts or volunteers – the ‘lads who will never grow old.’ Ones like ourselves, our children, our grandchildren. Ones who were poor, or rich, or middling, who had ‘a head for figures,’ were ‘good at art‘, ‘clever with their hands,’ ‘a scream‘, ‘going places,’ ‘an old head on young shoulders,’ ‘a bit wild,’ ‘dull as ditchwater.‘ Ones who were clever, funny, ambitious, capable, or nothing very special but loved by their family.
Most of all they were ones with all sorts of skills and potentialities and plans for a life that was snatched from them willy nilly.
And they came from all around the world. I have even seen marker stones in Chinese in the military graveyards of northern France.
I will be wearing my poppy next year – the centenary of the start of WW1.
I will wear it to remember my great uncle Bertie who was orphaned aged 6, grew up in a workhouse, and, too old to be conscripted, volunteered to fight because his sister, my grandmother nagged him into it - and who was blown to bits on the fourth day of Third Ypres. There was nothing of him left to bury.
I will wear it to remember my grandfather Howard – a working man who (again) volunteered, ended up in the RAMC, received a direct hit when carrying a wounded man to safety and who had a hole in his skull for the rest of his shortened and hard-working life.
I will wear it to remember all the millions of lives cut short or damaged in the name of war: people from the armed forces and outside. People from all across the world. People of all religions and none.
If people are ‘too cool’ to wear a poppy or choose to see it as an exhibition of militarism, they should maybe stop and think that it is very much a symbol of all those who volunteered or were conscripted. Those who died or were damaged in the name of causes they knew little of, and whose lives finished abruptly for reasons that they knew nothing about.
These days it seems a bit too easy to forget this.
Visiting the Woodbridge branch of ISCU (the Ipswich and Suffolk Credit Union) on Thursday, I was particularly excited to see they were offering a Child Benefit Loan and Savings Plan.
Money is very tight these days and it can be desperately hard to know where to turn when your child needs a new pair of shoes, or the electricity bill lands on the doorstep. People may be tempted to go to a Payday loans company, or a loan shark and find themselves in a spiralling vortex of debt.
Loan sharks are unlicensed moneylenders who charge very high interest rates, sometimes using intimidation, harassment, threats and violence to frighten people who can’t pay back their loan. They often pressurise people into borrowing more from them to repay one debt with another. They are illegal. Payday lenders operate legally and offer short-term high cost loans which can also get the borrower into an expensive nightmare – repaying many times more than they borrowed. Their operation is under considerable criticism from MPs and Martin Lewis, the Money Saving Expert warns against them.
Many people would be better turning to a credit union, which is a savings and lending co-operative, owned by its members. You can join ISCU if you live, work, volunteer or study in Suffolk. Members can pay wages, benefits or pensions into their account – small sums are welcome – and can borrow money at varying rates depending on membership and savings.
The amazing thing about the ISCU Child Benefit Savings and Loan plan is that it provides a guaranteed loan AND savings plan for anyone who is getting Child Benefit. If you join the credit union and arrange to pay your Child Benefit into ISCU you can apply for a £400 loan immediately. The repayments are £12.00 weekly over 37 weeks. Total interest will be £44.11, so you will repay a total of £444.11 (26.8% APR).
If you have 1 child and your child benefit is £ 20.30 per week you will also be building up £ 8.30 per week in savings, and so when you have repaid the loan you will also have a lump sum of £ 307.10.
If you have 2 children and your child benefit is £ 33.70 per week: you will also be building up £ 21.70 per week in savings, and so when you have repaid the loan you will also have a lump sum of £ 802.90
If you have 3 children and your child benefit is £ 47.10 per week, you will build up £35.10 per week in savings, and so when you have repaid the loan you will also have a lump sum of £ 1,298.70
This loan could even be used to help someone out of the claws of a payday loan company or loan shark, and leave them with money in hand at the end of the loan to guard against future emergencies.
Of course, if you just want to save money, ISCU will be equally glad to see you.
Opening venues days and times vary. The WOodbridge branch operates
Thursdays: 10am – 11am at the Salvation Army Centre (at the very bottom of New Street) Woodbridge