Lib Dem County Councillor for Woodbridge, Suffolk; Elected 2008, 2009,2013; LD spokesman, Transport; Vice-Chair Education Transport Appeals; Speed Limit Panel member ; Campaigns for Rural Transport, Buses, Rail, Cycling, Young People, Libraries, Disability, Epilepsy & Carers
This link gets you through to the First Eastern Counties bus timetables. You need to be aware that at the moment the bus timetables are changing with very little reference to their passengers.
One Monday morning in November, I was standing at a Woodbridge bus stop, waiting for a bus that would get me to a 9am meeting in Ipswich. Well it would have, if it hadn’t been cut by First Eastern Counties without any warning the day before. How to ruin a Monday morning quickly and efficiently, eh?
now, when I say without any warning, they certainly hadn’t warned me as a passenger – oh no. Why they hadn’t even changed the timetables. They also hadn’t informed me, as the County Councillor. And they certainly hadn’t alerted me as spokesperson for Highways and Transport.
Things are not looking good for the bus services in Woodbridge. From a ‘high’ of 4 Ipswich buses an hour back in the heady mid-nineties, we are now making do with 2 which come fairly reliably as long as you don’t wish to travel in the evenings or on Sundays and public holidays. As if, eh?
And, to be fair, travel to Ipswich hospital remains possible within working hours Monday to Saturday just as long as you don’t mind a half mile walk to South wards. Although the new Garrett Anderson block incorporates a bus turning circle , no Woodbridge buses pass near that way. It adds too long to the timetable, explained the operator’s Suffolk County Council apologist. I wonder if they realise that the bus timetable is meant to serve the public’s needs rather than the other way round.
This is, of course, in work times. If you wish to visit the hospital in the severely restricted evening visiting hour be resigned to the fact that there is NO BUS AT ALL that goes anywhere near. Woodbridge’s evening, Sunday and bank holiday bus the 62a/b – the one subsidised by Suffolk County Council – doesn’t follow the daytime routes of the 63,64 and 65. Instead it makes its way from the Buttermarket in Ipswich, along the Nacton Road and manages to avoid the hospital completely. You could almost think it was happening on purpose..
A cynic might suggest that the 62a/b is travelling THE least populated route because it will make it easier to cut the service in future… (after all, if it doesn’t pass the hospital it can’t be counted an essential service, can it?)
Remember folks, when it comes to buses its use it or lose it. Its fine to disregard them when you have a car – but there are times when people can’t – or can’t afford to – drive. And where is your bus then? We are reaching a Beeching situation with local buses – if we lose them now we may never get them back.
On a brighter note, we’re having better news with the rail servicelocally, in that – twenty years after it was first announced – it looks as if we may finally have an hourly service to and from Ipswich at the end of 2010.
As you will have all seen the weather over the past few weeks has been extremely icy, and the Council has been sending its gritters out on a regular basis to keep the roads running and the county moving. Roads are salted and snow cleared according to a system of 4 priorities, with priority 1 being all A and B class roads, and the busiest bus and commuter routes on other roads (treated on any occasion ice or snow is forecast to be a hazard) and priority 2, Other significant bus routes and other commuter routes (treated if snow or ice is forecast to persist for much of the day, or shorter term conditions will be severe, e.g. rain turning to ice);
Town and Parish Councils are able to ask for grit from Suffolk County Council to clear the pavements in their local areas. The supply of grit can then be distributed around by a team of listed volunteers to help clear the pavements of ice.
I contacted Woodbridge Town Council and Martlesham parish council last week to remind them that Suffolk County Council provide roadside grit heaps / bins on request from town parish councils so local people can treat local trouble spots, which otherwise would not be treated. This is under the following conditions:
grit heaps / bins are generally placed in locations such as, the bottom of hills, junctions on minor roads which are on lower priority routes for gritting;
the grit from these heaps / bins must only be used on the public highway (which is, both the road surface – the carriageway, and the pavement – the footway)
requests for heaps / bins are only accepted from a town or parish council;
the location of the grit heaps / bins must be agreed by SCC
SCC does not purchase the bins; these must be provided by the Town or Parish Council
bins cost approximately between £150 and £450, depending on the type
grit heaps / bins will be replenished at the start of the gritting season and afterwards on request by contacting CSD call centre 0845 606 6171. (Under normal circumstances it can take 2 weeks to top up heaps as it is normally uneconomic to top up one heap in isolation);
SCC will not charge for the grit.
Town and Parish Councils are responsible for keeping the list of volunteers to spread the grit;
named volunteers for spreading grit or clearing snow can be insured through the county council’s insurance.
I also volunteered to help spread grit if necessary and to cover the cost of grit bins from my Locality Budget.
As Woodbridge has a larger than average older population this would seem a useful arrangement. This scheme is working well in many parts of the county, but as far as I know, Woodbridge Town Council has not so far made use of these arrangements.
In February the issue of gritting will be covered by the Roads and Transport scrutiny committee. I am happy to take any comments to the meeting.
Additionally, the severe frost has damaged many recent repairs to the road surface across Suffolk. I talked to Derek Oldham at the Eastern Area Highways team today. They are acutely aware of these and will be planning to repair as soon as the weather gets better . For particularly dangerous spots they will do a temporary repair to last till then. The Easter Area Highways team are asking people to report any recently appearing holes in the road surface.
Temporary Closure of Angel Lane Woodbridge
Angel Lane, Woodbridge will be closed 25 January to 5 February to enable works to construct a kerb build out. Access will be open for pedestrians and cyclists.
The diversion route will be via Bredfield Road – North Hill – Pytches Road – B1438 Melton Hill – Lime Kiln Quay Road – Quayside – Quay Street – Church Street – Market Hill.
This is not as reported in the Evening Star, which gave different dates and suggested that the lane might be closed for as long as 18 months
County Council Forward Items
The New Year is a busy time for the County Council as the annual budget is set at the February meeting. This is one of the most important meetings of the year, particularly as economies will have to be made. I will keep you updated on news regarding the budget.
In addition to this the County Council may well get the news that structural change will be put in place, and it will then need to prepare for that.
Suffolk County Council School Admissions Policy
Suffolk County Council wants to hear your views on its admissions policy for 2011-12. Between Monday the 4th of January and Friday the 26th of February, Suffolk CC is asking to hear people’s opinions about its proposed admissions policy for the 2011/12 school year. The policies are designed to ensure that school places are offered in a fair way.
The 2010 Stars of Suffolk awards launched in December aiming to find your local hero. Now in its second year, the awards, run by S.C.C and the Evening Star are looking for nominations for 13 categories, as well as two special categories, Overall Winner and Special Recognition. The winners will then receive their award at a gala evening in Endeavour House later in the year.
Nominations for a Star of Suffolk award will close on the 1st of February at 1pm.
Suffolk County Council campaign for faster internet
Suffolk County Council is attempting to gain funding for faster broadband across the the county, especially in rural areas. The webpage http://www.suffolk.gov.uk/News/BreakingNews/SpeedUpSuffolkCampaign.htm explains some of the reasons for increasing the speed of the internet in rural areas, but also information on how to vote to try and secure funding to improve telecommunications across the county.