OK, it hasn’t started to snow yet, but some of the pavements are already slippery. Over the last three years I’ve been funding grit bins for those Woodbridge neighbourhoods who asked for them and now is the time to start using a handful or two of the contents to keep crossings and bus stops safe. in fact I nipped out before 8 this morning and gritted the Duke of York bus stop and crossing this morning. Just in case.
And can I please reiterate what I’ve said in the past, – slippery footways are an issue not for some imaginary ‘them’ but for all of us. Lets face it, we can easily grit a local pavement or two when we see the need. At this time of year the people who run the gritting lorries are out day and night trying to keep as much of the thousands of miles of Suffolk roads passable as possible.
Friends driving into Suffolk from adjoining counties have often commented on the winter difference when they cross our county boundary. Suffolk is clearly doing things right! Yet it seems to be fashionable amongst many Suffolk car-drivers to criticise our heroic road gritters pretty well without thought or reflection. Me – I have nothing but the utmost admiration for them. Suffolk’s highways gritting service is run via a handful of people working throughout the nights and they do a fantastic job – without expectation of any kind of thanks at all.
Now that Balfour Beatty is set to take over Suffolk’s highway road maintenance services, we must hope that they will continue to support our winter roads – and the gritters themselves – at the current level of excellence!
Preparing for Winter : Gritbins With the first of the winter cold on the way, I have been using my locality budget to fund 4 further grit bins in areas of Woodbridge that still require them: Millview Close/Naunton Road, Peterhouse Crescent, Nelson Way and Barton Road. If you know of any other areas that still might need covering –and if there is at least one volunteer prepared to grit – I still have locality money for the purpose.
New Greater Anglia hourly service Lowestoft-Ipswich This started on 9 December. I travelled on the opening train of this service along with other County, SCDC and Town and Parish Councillors and took the opportunity to ask Greater Anglia Customer Service Director Andrew Goodrum about proposed ticket machines at Woodbridge station.
You will be pleased to know there is absolutely no need to lobby for these as they have been purchased a while back. (They are not yet installed as they need weatherproofing because they are designed for indoor use.)
However, as a frequent traveller on the Network I alerted Mr Goodrum about the difficulty of purchasing that most invaluable of Greater Eastern discount tickets – a Day Ranger – at the Ipswich ticket machines, and he undertook to make sure that this would be remedied both here and at Ipswich.
Cabinet: Today, the SCC Cabinet will be discussing a range of matters including –
- whether to enhance Suffolk’s Concessionary Fares further – as a result of the consultation after the last Lib Dem call in. This long running saganhas now notched up yet another level of intensity after the Equality and Human Rights Commission wrote to CEO Deborah Cadman to complain about SCC’s initial poor level of consultation, and the fact there had been no initial Equal Impact Assessment. It has asked to have written notification of the outcome of today’s meeting
- Procurement of Highways services – and decide formally whether to award the contract to Balfour Beatty.
- Suffolk Rail Strategy – creation of a rail prospectus for Suffolk which is aiming for hourly services between Ipswich and Peterborough, and new inter-city rolling stock.
Council Budget – Round 1: At the end of November, the County Council announced the first version of the 2013 budget. This was discussed and questioned at the recent Scrutiny Committee.
This year will see a further reduction of £24.9m, as part of a two year programme to reduce the budget by just over £50m. As seen last year, many of the services are looking to efficiencies rather than specific service cuts, however the Lib Dems are extremely concerned that these reductions will hide damage to the County’s frontline services. Aongst the most concerning are that there will be a significant reduction in Adult and Community Services of £7m, and another reduction of £2.5m in Children and Young People’s services. There are both areas which have significant pressures, and help to protect the vulnerable in our community. The Lib Dems are very concerned that the continual savings being sought in these areas will impact on those people we need to help.
There is also a significant concern about the number of services that are currently divested, and questions about how these contracts will be monitored, and whether us as Councillors will be able to scrutinise the services that the public are paying for.
I will continue to keep you updated as to the latest news regarding the budget for 2013 as the process continues.
Surgery: My last surgery of the year will be on December 15th, 10-12 at the Library as ever. If you are lucky, there might even be mince-pies