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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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What’s been happening May-June 2014

FIrebreakers1 (1024x692)Proposed Woodbridge Fire and Police station merger  Woodbridge residents were invited to a drop in session on Thursday to view proposals to extend and merge the existing fire station with the police station. Plans and information were unveiled at the event and representatives from both services –  together with myself – were on hand to discuss the proposals.

Suffolk already has four shared stations at Ixworth, Elmswell, Debenham and Framlingham. The aim of the Woodbridge plans is for the services  to become even more cost effective, allowing the services to work much more closely together .The funding for the Woodbridge project will be shared between the two services and it is hoped that the government will provide grant funding for the building works

Although there were concerns – mainly about parking and increased transport – response to the consultation was broadly favourable.

The design includes:

  • An extension to the front of the fire station, which would provide new office accommodation for Suffolk Constabulary.
  • Provision for five new car parking spaces for police use and cycle parking to the rear of the site.
  • A new garage to the rear of the station to accommodate an emergency vehicle, and
  • Much improved facilities for staff and the community and better access for the public

If approved, the work would commence in summer 2014 and will be completed for March 2015. There would be no disruption to fire and police services during the building works

People can continue to provide feedback via email: Fire.BusinessSupport@suffolk.gov.uk, quoting ‘Woodbridge Consultation’.

End of CSD – Customer Service Direct  On 1 June SCC moved CSD - Customer Service Direct – back in-house.  CSD,  in which BT had a majority stake alongside the county and Mid Suffolk councils, handled SCC’s  financial administration, IT, and personnel functions. The councils’ call centres were also operated by CSD

The cost of the contract was initially £301 million, but this increased to £427 million over 10 years as more functions were added to the service.

A hard lesson has been learned here. Proof, if proof was needed, that outsourcing services doesn’t always make savings and is not always best.

The PCC – and Thoroughfare Parking  At the Suffolk County Council AGM in May, the Police and Crime Commissioner  Tim Passmore presented details of his year, saying “ My role is to ensure the policing needs of our communities are met as effectively as possible, bringing communities closer to the police and building confidence in the system. My job is to listen and respond to the needs of the people of Suffolk; bringing more of a public voice to policing.  If you have an issue that you would like to raise, please contact me via the website, www.suffolk-pcc.gov.uk or call 01473 782777 .”

I took him at his word, and, meeting him shortly afterwards I raised the issue of police enforcement of parking in the Woodbridge Thoroughfare. He promised to look into this urgently.

Suffolk Reading Scheme This year’s reading scheme will be on the theme of the Mysterious Maze. As ever, the Woodbridge Library is on the lookout for volunteers to help local children read their books over the summer holidays.

Suffolk Records Office consultation  Suffolk County Council received over 500 responses to a recent consultation to improve Suffolk Records Office opening hours.

The consultation was on proposals to reducing weekday opening hours, improving the service on a Saturday and developing a key online presence.66% of respondents felt the proposals would bring a positive improvement to the service.

There was a majority of support for closing the office one day a week to allow improvements to the online accessibility of information and digitised materials. Respondents also showed great support for an improved Saturday service and later opening times, although some felt not opening until 10am was too late. In consequence SCC will bev blooking to open each  record office branch for 35 hours a week: 9.30am – 4.30pm, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Let’s Look Out for Each Other Cycle-Drive campaign   SCC has launched Let’s Look Out for Each Other  - an educational campaign that encourages both cyclists and drivers to share Suffolk’s roads. Each week approximately four cyclists are injured in Suffolk with almost three cyclists killed or seriously injured every month.

4% of adults in Suffolk cycle at least five times a week – as opposed to the national average of 3%; and 20% of adults in Suffolk cycle at least once a month -5% above the national average of 15%

Driver error has been attributed to 68% of all collisions in Suffolk.  In 77% of cyclist casualties at or at or near a junction, the cyclist have not been culpable; however, in 2 of the 3 recently recorded fatalities the cyclist was at fault.

Roadsafe top tips for drivers and cyclists when using the road are:

Cycling:

  1. Ride positively, decisively and well clear of the kerb – look and signal to show drivers what you plan to do and make eye contact where possible so you know drivers have seen you
  2. Avoid riding up the inside of large vehicles, like lorries or buses, where you might not be seen
  3. Always use lights after dark or when visibility is poor
  4. Wearing light coloured or reflective clothing during the day and reflective clothing and/or accessories in the dark increases your visibility

Driving:

  1. Look out for cyclists, especially when turning – make eye contact if possible so they know you’ve seen them
  2. Use your indicators – signal your intentions so that cyclists can react
  3. Give cyclists space – If there isn’t sufficient space to pass, hold back. Remember that cyclists may need to manoeuvre suddenly if the road is poor, it’s windy or if a car door is opened
  4. Always check for cyclists when you open your car door
  5. Avoid driving over advanced stop lines – these allow cyclists to get to the front and increase their visibility

Further information can be found  at http://www.suffolkroadsafe.net/cyclists/ or http://www.suffolkroadsafe.net/drivers/

County Councillor’s Surgery  My surgery dates for the next few months are:  Saturday 21 June, and Saturday 19 July. There will be no surgery in August. Surgeries are at Woodbridge Library 10-12 as ever. All welcome

 

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Remember to vote today – and to vote LibDem

My blog eu

Published and promoted by I Horner on behalf of the Liberal Democrats at Orwell House, Cowley Road, Cambridge CB4 0PP

 

Remember to vote today – and for someone who will uphold British interests (not take the money and run). LibDem MEPs are the hardest working , and best value-for-money in the UK,  according to the Independent newspaper.  

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Woodbridge student ‘hits the Wall’ for Epilepsy Awareness

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Part of the marathon route

Today is the first day of National Epilepsy Awareness week. A good time to mention that yesterday an ex Farlingaye High School student – 19 year old Ben Greenhouse from Woodbridge -  ran the Great Wall Marathon in China to raise awareness of epilepsy and funds for the charity Epilepsy Action.

He was the youngest runner to take part.

The Great Wall is one of the world’s most challenging marathons - not only 26 miles, but taking in 5,164 steep stone steps as well.  The times are therefore much slower than those of road marathons that are run in towns.

I had never run a marathon before, but I came 163rd out of 850 runners doing the full marathon, with a time of 5h37 mins” says Ben.  “Thanks to the generosity of many friends in Suffolk I’ve already raised more than my initial target on £1000 for Epilepsy Action

But today is the start of National Epilepsy Week and every £ is vital. Can you help me raise even more?

Ben afterGreat Wall

Woodbridge’s Ben Greenhouse (right) the youngest person to run the 2014 Great Wall marathon

Epilepsy Action raises awareness of epilepsy and supports people who have it – people like my sister who needs to have someone with her all the time because she can’t be safe on her own.

For the last six months Farlingaye High School student Ben has been enrolled at the Qufu Shaolin Kung fu school, learning traditional Chinese martial arts. “The training was quite intense. They worked us hard for hours every day, and we often had to run 1000 stone steps up the nearby mountain.  And then another 1,000 down again afterwards. It was very different from Woodbridge – but good training for the marathon,” says Ben.

1% of the population – 1 person in every hundred  - has epilepsy. There must be 70 or so people with epilepsy  in Woodbridge alone.  It’s a life-changing condition – but with your help it doesn’t have to be life-diminishing!

You can sponsor Ben via his Justgiving page http://www.justgiving.com/Ben-Greenhouse

(Caroline Page: I have to declare two personal interests here: firstly, I am myself one of the 1% who have epilepsy.  Secondly, Ben is my son. I am justly proud of him)

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What’s been happening in Suffolk 2013-14

Here is the annual report I gave yesterday to Woodbridge Town Council’s AGM,  highlighting some aspects of the running of Suffolk County Council over the last year that people may find of interest:

Caroline Page,  Woodbridge County Councillor

Caroline Page, Woodbridge County Councillor

Electoral makeup of Suffolk County Council 2013-4  The electoral year 2013-4 started with a newly elected county council, which brought  significant changes in the dynamics of SCC. The Conservative group retained their overall majority, but it was reduced from 35 to 3. The political make-up of the council has been: Conservative 39; Labour 15; UKIP 9.  Liberal Democrat 7; Green 2; Independent 3.

I was re-elected for a third term, retaining my place as ViceChair of the Education Transport Appeals committee. I have continued as LibDem spokesman for Transport and Highways.

There has been a welcome improvement in the democratic process in this year, with the establishment of cross-party Policy Development Panels to look at areas of concern in all directorates. I have been sitting on various panels to do with transport: so far 20mph Speed Limits, Other Speed Limits; Rural Transport

Budget 2014  There was a further reduction in Government grants to the County Council this year requiring £38.6m of spending cuts across most services.  SCC once again took advantage of central government’s council tax freeze deal – which provides central funding for all those councils NOT raising council tax.

My party was concerned – most particularly with Adult and Continuing Services – that apparent efficiencies are masking significant service cutbacks, and that any budget cuts  made in  Childrens and Young Peoples’ services might impact on the chances of improving performance.  The  future of Suffolk depends on the aspirations of its young people.

Gains will finally be made by moving Customer Service Direct back in-house but a hard lesson has been learned here. Proof, if proof was needed that outsourcing services doesn’t always make savings and is not always best.

Outsourcing of Highways Services to Keir MG  In October 2013, SCC finally managed the long-anticipated outsourcing of Highways services to an external company – Kier MG – after the debacle earlier in the year  where the arrangements for the procurement of a prior preferred bidder fell apart literally at the last moment.

The new highways contract to with Kier MG started on the 1st of October. I think it is fair to say there have been significant teething troubles in the first months: extraordinary delays and a hefty increase in costing for Councillor-funded projects. I am on the Councillor Working Group which meets with Keir MG representatives and SCC officers to improve information, and have not been backward in bringing local concerns  for improving information.

Raising the Bar in Suffolk Schools  At the end of 2013 SCC adopted  findings of a 10 month independent inquiry into school performance  in Suffolk as part of the ‘Raising the bar’ initiative.  These include working harder to attract and retain talented teachers, having an awards programme to recognise excellence in teaching, working with governors to improve the management of schools – and building a partnership with the London borough of Hackney which has seen its educational standards improve dramatically over recent years.

Although in Woodbridge, the schools are doing well (Farlingaye was recently rated outstanding in all areas by Ofsted), Suffolk was rated 148th out of 151 councils at primary level, 141st out of 151 at secondary level. Eight years ago, Suffolk schools were rated as being in the top thirties.

Public Health  Public Health Suffolk  moved to Suffolk County Council on 1st April 2013 and commissions a range of services for all  Suffolk residents, notably adult and child obesity, smoking cessation and sexual health. Before this date these services were commissioned by the NHS.  Over year Public Health Suffolk has been assessing services across Suffolk to ensure equity of provision in all areas.

I still  have concerns that no efficient, central accessible sexual health clinic has yet been found to replace that which closed at Ipswich Hospital . The recent move to buildings in the old Holywells site has done nothing to provide services that are accessible to the young people of Woodbridge, reliant on public transport. Holywells is less accessible than Ipswich Hospital!

Suffolk Circle  In March 2014 Suffolk Circle folded and SCC quietly wrote off nearly a million pounds of our money.  In 2010 SCC’s Cabinet unilaterally decided to give just under £800,000 sight unseen to a company called Participle to produce a good neighbour by subscription scheme  based on Southwark Circle, in London.

The notion was ‘spun’ as long-term assistance to the council’s social care budget by supporting the vulnerable elderly. But as the Circle defined ‘the elderly’ as anyone aged over 50, this included over a third of Suffolk’s population!  An extra £100,000 spent by SCC on a ‘scoping exercise’  failed to identify the large number of pre-existing interest groups and services for both the over-50s and the ‘frail elderly’ that were already operating in Suffolk

Suffolk Circle’s target membership was supposed to be 1630 members by March 2013 and 3500 by March 2014, when the funding finished and the scheme was supposed soar onwards without it.

As it was, Suffolk Circle ground to a halt in March the moment the money ran out, admitting it had achieved no more than 2000 members in its entire existence. Southwark Circle folded in the same month.

I will be raising the issue of  the necessity for  accountability and responsibility for this money – especially at a time of such pressing need.

Challenge to SCC Leadership  At the end of the year, a challenge to Conservative Leader Mark Bee for the leadership of the SCC by Colin Noble Cabinet Member for Finance, failed. A challenge by ex Cabinet Member for Transport and then Chairman Guy McGregor to Deputy Leader Lisa Chambers also failed. The Cabinet reorganisation that followed this has removed three very longstanding supporters of Andrea Hill’s New Strategic Direction to the backbenches.

Emprotesting2 (2)Further loss of local buses This year has seen the loss of the 164 and 165 services to Woodbridge (indeed to Suffolk Coastal), the diminution of several other services (most particularly the 63 to Framlingham now restricted to 4 daily buses on working Mondays to Fridays with one additional bus on schooldays). This means there is no bus link whatsoever between Ipswich/Martlesham/Woodbridge and Framlingham on a Saturday.

I wrote to our local MP, and to the County council, asking  if they could use their influence to try and change some of these decisions at a local level. (This appears to have had some effect, as there has been a slightly better service on the 64 and 65 since then).

I have also asked SCC  to use its voice to press to alter – at national level – the ridiculous ethos of so-called competition which has caused deregulated buses to provide such a terrible service in the countryside. In the past County Councils ran bus services on the basis that popular routes could subsidise essential routes with smaller passenger numbers. I have sympathy with Councils that see no reason to subsidise only loss-making services. The loss of the 165 shows us on what a tightrope the services run. Yet rural services are not a frivolous luxury – they can make the difference between productive employment and training and expensive enforced idleness.

I have pressed it also to ask  the government to look at the frankly unfair differentials in per capita spending on public transport across the country. Each Londoner gets about three times as much spent on them as each person in Suffolk despite the huge economies of scale London offers – and London buses aren’t deregulated. Why should our constituents be worth any less?

DSCF8771 (577x1024)Your County Councillor In May, to celebrate my re-election, I walked with the Woodbridge and district youth group  Just 42 Fund-raiser Julia Hancock from Felixstowe to Lowestoft. Between us we raised £2500 for the charity.

Road budget I have used some of my highways budget this year in calming Sandy Lane:  pedestrian and cyclist warning signs  at each end and at the railway bridge, and white edge markings throughout. These also give warning of the road edge at night which is very useful, particularly to cyclists on this route, part of  Sustrans cycle route 1.

I have also had some road signs put up, most notably to prevent lorries trying to use St Johns Hill as an unsuccessful rat run!

Locality budget This has been used to support projects as diverse as the Summer Reading Challenge; Benches, Trophy for Best Allotment Competition Seckford Explorers Unit flag,  Grit Bins, High Vis Jackets, Wheelbarrows and Snow Shovels, Mobile ice rink, Chairs for Bowls clubhouse, and a Wireless Projector for HomeStart.

Surgeries   I have held 10 County Council Surgeries over the last year, on the 3rd Saturday of every month (excluding March and August). They continue to be well-attended.

 

 

 

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