Category Archives: 65b Sunday service

Changes to 64 and 65 bus services from Woodbridge

After more than two years of stability, major changes have been made to our local bus service with effect from Tuesday 1st September. First Norfolk & Suffolk has made major changes to service 64 and 65, as follows:-

  • Service 64 will operate Aldeburgh – Leiston – Saxmundham – Wickham Market – Melton (via Melton Road) – Woodbridge – Kesgrave (via Main Road) – Ipswich, much as now, but only every two hours rather than the current hourly frequency;
  • Service 65 will operate Aldeburgh – Leiston – Snape – Rendlesham – Melton (via Melton Road rather than Bredfield Road) – Woodbridge – Kesgrave (via Main Road) – Ipswich, but omitting Martlesham Heath Tesco, and only every two hours rather than the current hourly frequency;
  • A new Service 63 will operate Melton Chapel – Bredfield Road – Woodbridge – Martlesham Heath Tesco – Kesgrave (alternately via Fentons Way or Edmonton Close) – Ipswich, running every hour. Off-peak services will run a one-way loop between Woodbridge and Melton, running via Melton Road, Wilford Bridge Road, Station Road, The Street, Woods Lane, Bredfield Road and Pytches Road. First have yet to confirm that passengers will be able to travel from Ipswich/Woodbridge to Bredfield Road without paying any additional fare.
  • Currently the evening and Sunday service 65B, sponsored by Suffolk County Council, remain unchanged.
  • Morning peak journeys into Ipswich will change – with one less bus.

First is also taking over the Suffolk County Council contract for service 30 from Beestons and renumbering it as service 70

What’s been happening in Suffolk 2014-2015

My anuual report: highlighting some of the more important issues in Suffolk over the last year

SCC Leadership  At the end of 2014-5 the Conservative administration  of SCC hold the balance of power by a single vote. The current party composition is Conservative 38; Green 2; Independent 4; Labour 15; Liberal Democrat 7; UKIP 9.

At the beginning of April the leader of the Suffolk County Conservative party Mark Bee stood down and was replaced in an internal party election by Colin Noble,  who had attempted to unseat him last year. This was, of course, far from an internal party matter, as it brought wide-ranging changes to the Cabinet (including the loss of highly intelligent -and numerate- Jenny Antill; sane and knowledgeable Alan Murray, and the bike- and bus- friendly Graham Newman). Cllr Noble was elected SCC Leader at the SCC Annual  Meeting on May 21. A full slate of Tories voted for him,  a rainbow coalition of the opposition LibDem, Labour, Independent, Green and UKIP – voted against. This  meant Cllr Noble was elected in, 37:31. No abstentions.

(For those  new to Suffolk politics, Cllr Noble is former cheerleader of the ill-fated New Strategic Direction (which was going for a ‘virtual’ council with all its services divested), and the equally ill-fated Suffolk Circle.)

2015-16 budget Conservative budget proposals included savings of £38.2 m, leading to a budget requirement of £454,981,413.  Reserves were forecast as reaching £165million by the end of March. Although this was opposed by opposition parties, who recommended dipping into the reserves to fund such things as transport to statutory education for the poorest over-16s, the administration’s budget was voted in, 37-31.

Home to school transport  Central government has made changes  to the age of statutory education, making it now  compulsory to stay in education or training until one is 17 – and shortly 18. This is causing concern in Suffolk and having a particular impact on poorer students who have to travel to college, as Suffolk’s free home to school transport policy  (as indeed the  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. The SCC Administration say 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.  This is not proving to be an adequate response. While the government has made it mandatory for young people to remain in education or training until 17 it is  a continuing concern that we have no funding mechanism in place to support the poorest young people of the county for this last year of what is now statutory education.

20mph and Other Speed limits The Transport  Policy Development Panel -of which I have been a founder member – has established clear guidelines for 20mph and Other Speed Limit Criteria policies  for Suffolk. Both of these were approved by Cabinet during past year.  The new policies aim to ensure that  appropriate speed  limits are applied fairly, and transparently across the county while reflecting  local concerns– and enabling local County Councillors to make representations on behalf of the communities they represent. Woodbridge is currently in the process of applying for a 20mph limit to calm local traffic.

Highways Maintenance Whilst there have been some successes –  the resurfacing of Ipswich Road, Drybridge Hill, Warwick Avenue and Haugh Lane are notable examples – the divested  highways maintenance  under KMG has remained slow and inadequate  – and -most particularly the minor works – increasingly expensive. There has been a backlog of County-Councillor-commissioned works that has only recently been tackled. This has been a universal problem and we have made strong representations.  Another mild winter means that the gritting services have yet to be tested.

Sunday Bus Services  From July last year, Woodbridge resumed a Sunday/Bank Holiday bus service, sponsored by SCC, allowing car-free travel between Woodbridge and Ipswich, including, importantly, the hospital.  This was on a use-it-or-lose-it basis – three services a day till Christmas. It has now increased to 5 services a day and the route extended to Melton.

Other Bus Improvements I have been able to arrange the  replacement of the ‘balancing poles’ at the Hamblin Road bus shelters with proper seating so that people are now able to sit and wait for their buses at long last. I have also arranged with Suffolk Onboard an the bus companies for two new bus stops on the Ipswich Road –  above the Notcutts roundabout -so that people wanting to get to Framfield surgery and Clarkson Court will find it easier to use  the bus services.

Care UK    Serious concern was raised last autumn at the way Care Uk was running  Suffolk care homes. The firm took over SCC’s 16 care homes in 2012 and is building 10 replacements. A CQC inspection found Mildenhall Lodge below standard in four of five categories while a safeguarding inspection raised concerns about another home, Asterbury Place. SCC Health Scrutiny looked at current arrangements for ensuring the quality of care in residential homes in Suffolk in October concluded that it was not fully satisfied that lessons had been learned from the findings of the recent CQC inspection of Mildenhall Lodge. Further, that the Committee was not yet satisfied that all the appropriate steps had been taken to improve the quality of care at the Suffolk homes run by Care UK. As I write new admissions to Mildenhall lodge remain suspended, nearly a year after the original concerns were raised.

Education Suffolk’s ten year slump in the education league tables seems finally to have been halted an to be turning around, but a recent Ofsted report suggests SCC has been “too slow” in reacting to areas of concern raised in last year’s hightly critical inspection – although it did say that “decisive improvements” had been made in areas of weakness identified in last year’s report.

Much of the  strategy has been implemented too recently to impact substantially on pupils’ outcomes sd yet. Pupils’ attainment in Suffolk remains below average, particularly for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children. As a result, 25,000 Suffolk children do not attend a ‘good’ primary or secondary school.

Customer Service Direct – CSD brought back in-house  On 1 June SCC moved 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.

Woodbridge Fire and Police station merger  After consultation Woodbridge police station was mergedwith the existing fire station , with the aim of allowing the services to work much more closely together and for the services  to become even more cost effective. On 19th I welcomed councillors, police and fire officers to the station for an opening by the PCC and  member for Public Protection.

County Councillor’s Surgeries  I held 11 surgeries in the past year – on the 3rd Saturday of every month except August; 10-12 at Woodbridge Library. They have been popular and well-attended.

What’s been happening in Suffolk – April 15

Apart  from a general hotting up of  General Electioneering, all sorts of things have been happening in Suffolk. My report this month could be briefly summarised as:  rail, bus, new leader, new languages & 月亮代表我的心 (the moon reflects my heart)…:

All change at the Top   The head of the Suffolk Conservative party Mark Bee has stood down and was replaced in an internal party election by former Suffolk New Strategic Direction cheerleader Cllr Colin Noble. This is, of course, far from an internal party matter, as it means that Cllr Noble will almost certainly be elected SCC Leader in May.

Cllr Bee brought a measure of unity to SCC after a troubled period and he will be sorely missed. For example, he has encouraged a measure of cross-party consensus through policy development panels.  In transport terms this has led to such measures  as agreeing a cross-county  format for new 20mph areas ( all of which had been abandoned under the previous administration because ‘we had enough already.’). Woodbridge is currently in the process of applying for one to calm local traffic.

I do not know what the future for such measures may be under the new leadership.

Passenger Rail Franchise I responded on behalf of Woodbridge, and as Lib Dem spokesman on Transport to the recent governmental East Anglia Rail Passenger Franchise Consultation. Full details can be found here: http://carolinepage.blog.suffolk.libdems.org/2015/03/17/my-response-to-east-anglia-rail-passenger-franchise-consultation/

Sustainable transport and Sizewell: at the last full council I argued that any development of Sizewell C must needs involve significant compensation for the whole Suffolk Coastal region in terms of sustainable transport – better train services and scheduled bus services – as well as road development. Details can be found here:  http://carolinepage.blog.suffolk.libdems.org/2015/03/21/sizewell-c-a-route-to-sustainable-transport-in-east-suffolk/

Foreign language teaching: Over the last weeks I have been on local radio and in the EADT, pressing for our Suffolk young people to be taught more languages for longer to a higher standard – so that we’re competing on a level playing field with the rest of the world. This followed on from my – and Woodbridge Town Councillor Patrick Gillard’s  – runaway success as ‘opener’ for the Ipswich Chinese New Year Celebrations  singing the famous Chinese love song 月亮代表我的心 ‘Yueliang Daibiao Wode Xin’ (the moon reflects my heart) http://www.eadt.co.uk/news/fears_over_lack_of_uptake_for_language_study_1_4003643 . Woodbridge’s own proximity to Huawei at Martlesham, and the Chinese-owned port at Felixstowe  underlines the need for Mandarin teaching, for example, if we want to make sure local youngsters get the best jobs – and not just hand them over to linguistically better qualified people. We owe them more than that!

In Woodbridge, Warwick Avenue and Haugh Lane roads have been resurfaced, as has Drybridge Hill. All at long last!

Local Bus News: When the 65b turned up at Hamblin Road last Friday we were looking at the first  Woodbridge Good Friday Service in FOUR years – and a lot of people wanting to use it too!  A Sunday and Bank Holiday Bus Service is an invaluable thing.  It took a lot of lobbying but it’s going strong. I would hope that we can continue to think that if we use it we won’t lose it, despite the change at the top of SCC. We will wait and see.

Two other pieces of good news for Woodbridge bus users:  I’ve talked to Suffolk Onboard and they have now agreed to replace those  balancing poles at the Hamblin Road bus shelters with proper seating so that people will be able to sit and wait for their buses at long last.

And (after I took them to look at the site),  SuffolkOnboard have also approved two new bus stops on the Ipswich Road –  above the Notcutts roundabout -so that people wanting to get to Framfield surgery and Clarkson Court can find it easier to use the bus. First bus and Ipswich buses have also agreed them, so they will go ahead.

My next surgery is on Saturday 18th April, 10 – 12 as ever.

Woodbridge Bus news – and it’s all good news!

The 65b Woodridge service  seemed to be  getting prenty of custom on Good Friday
The 65b Woodbridge service seemed to be getting plenty of custom on Good Friday

“So why are you taking a photo of a bus” asked the women at Hamblin Road.

BECAUSE IT’S A BANK HOLIDAY AND LOOK, THERE’S A BUS RUNNING!’ I screamed excitedly. Yes – we were looking at the first Good Friday Service in FOUR years – and a lot of people wanting to use it too!

A Sunday and Bank Holiday Bus Service is an invaluable thing! It took a lot of lobbying folks – but it’s going strong. Remember, use it, and you’ll not lose it!

Two other pieces of good news for Woodbridge bus users:

I’ve talked to Suffolk Onboard and they have now agreed to replace those  balancing poles at the Hamblin Road bus shelters with proper seating so that people will be able to sit and wait for their buses at long last.

And after I took them to look at the site, they have also approved two new bus stops on the Ipswich Road –  above the Notcutts roundabout -so that people wanting to get to Framfield surgery and Clarkson Court can find it easier to use  the bus services. The bus companies have also agreed them, so they will go ahead.

New Timetable at the Turban – in more ways than one!

Before and After - the timetable is highlighted in yellow. As you can i, until the adjustment was made (right) you had to be 7ft tall to read the timetable!
Before and After – the actual timetable is highlighted in yellow. As you can see, until the adjustment was made (right) you had to be 7ft tall to read the timetable!

 

After I tweeted them the photograph on the left on Wednesday last,  Suffolk Onboard finally understood the enormity of our problem with being able to read the bus timetables at the Turban Centre bus stop.

Basically, unless you had binoculars or stood head and shoulders above the rest of us, you didn’t stand a chance..

By Friday, they had sent workmen around, the frame  had been lowered and the timetable redesigned in a larger typeface, with the ads placed at the top. As you can see, it is now very much easier to read.

The moral is, if you point out clearly what is wrong, it does  assist people in putting it right!

This seems  a  good time to put online a  copy of the new 65b Sunday Timetable I’ve made up for you (as there isn’t an individual one on hand). It’s valid until the end of March. FIVE services EVERY SUNDAY  from Ipswich to Melton and back again – great for visiting, shopping, hospital visiting. – and again it will be a case of use it or lose it.  Double click, and  you can just print the image  and take it with you.

So,  think of using the bus, and do tell  friends in Ipswich  as well as those in Melton, Woodbridge and Kesgrave. This bus is a lifeline for those with no transport!

Melton - WOODBRIDGE- Ipswich 65b Sunday bus timetable Jan - March 2015
Melton – WOODBRIDGE- Ipswich 65b Sunday bus timetable Jan – March 2015