After a lot of thought and discussions with residents, the police, Woodbridge town council , Martlesham Parish council and county council officials, I’ve decided on the following:
The Seal Crossing
Although I allocated money for this last year, progress has been slow. I’ve therefore added an additional £5,000 from this years funding to the money I allocated last year for the island crossing at the top of Ipswich Road. The aim is to get something that will allow people to cross in two stages, that will also encourage drivers to slow down by alerting them to the fact people (school students, mothers with buggies, elderly bus users and cyclists)I believe that surveyors have now been out to identify the best place and that plans are being drawn up.
Calming Ipswich Road
I’m allocating £3000 hopefully for a speed activated sign for further along Ipswich Road. I’m thinking of some alert – a solar-powered LED maybe? For the steep slope that leads down to the John Grose garage. Because the banks are steep and there are no pavements no-one can safely do speed checks and there is subsequently a new entrance to the new housingcoming out onto the road after a blind bend. I and the police and the town council are all really – and legitimately -worried about the danger of this.
This remaining £4000 is to go to traffic calming/cyclist and pedestrian protection in Sandy Lane. The difficulty with Sandy Lane is that not only are issues about pedestrians etc going along from adjacent houses, but it is a National Cycle route AND at every high tide and a couple of hours on each side, the other footpath from Woodbridge to Martlesham is impassable (three feet depth of water across two or three hundred yards at the creek) meaning all sorts of walkers ramblers dogwalkers twitchers etc have to divert onto the road which is very windy and with steep banks and high hedges on the Woodbridge side of the railway bridge. I have walked this with three Martlesham parish councillors to get their ideas
The second meeting of the County Council Cabinet in March had a large agenda. Two issues are likely to be of particular interest to you:
Firstly, the Council’s response to the Greater Anglia rail franchise consultation – which rested on the findings of the Rail Policy Group (of which I am a member) saw much support from across the political spectrum to improve the quality and quantity of train services across the region. Important areas that were stressed included:
The need for an hourly service to Peterborough;
the hourly service to Lowestoft (this should be up and running as far as Saxmundham by December); this further depends on the building of the Beccles loop;
adjusting the timings of interconnecting trains to correspond better;
greater parity of equivalent fares across the franchise area – currently the cheapest day return fare to London from Ipswich is twice what it is from Cambridge to London
more advance notice of replacement bus services and ensuring they carry luggage and bikes that were carried on the train
more provision for bikes on trains
Suggestion for better links with bus services
The Conservative-run Suffolk County Council Cabinet wanted to request “the exemption to Suffolk County Council’s standing orders for the procurement of organisational development resources to reshape the organisation” – in other words pay up to £122,000 to three companies (DNA, Scintillate and Fields of Learning) in order for them to provide unspecified ‘organisational development services’ without public tender (!). However, although this extraordinary decision – particularly extraordinary considering we are supposed to be scrutinising every expenditure and accounting for every penny – was passed by the Cabinet, it was then ‘called in’ by Lib Dem leaders Kathy Pollard and David Wood. This means that the decision has now to be considered by full council in May before it can be passed. Let us hope Ms Hill will provide fuller details of what she is planning.
Suffolk County Council has started to loan energy monitors from Libraries across the County. The monitors allow you to check the electricity usage in your own home, helping to save on electricity bills in the future.For more information, on how to borrow one, or reserve one, the Suffolk County Council website will provide the details.
As you know, I have around £10,000 to spend on projects in my district that will develop the transport infrastructure (in addition to about £8,000 earmarked from last year for a crossing by the Seal which is still in development). These need to fit into the following categories:
Speed limits and speed reduction schemes/anxiety relief schemes
Public transport schemes
Rights of way schemes
Traffic management schemes
I updated councillors with schemes that could be considered a couple of weeks back. After further feedback from councillors, officers and the police the suggestions have been streamlined down to the following:
Ipswich Road – speeding: The SNT have conducted speed checks in the area. Speeding tickets have been issued but the area of most concern is between the Seal and John |Grose (particularly with the exit of the new development being quite tucked away). A LED warning sign may be of benefit as a warning to drivers. If it proved to be a suitable site, the cost of a sign would be about £5000.
Thoroughfare restrictions. the signs detailing the restrictions in the Thoroughfare are both confusing and sited in inappropriate positions at the present time. The police suggest a sign be erected on the built pavement area in front of the red lion giving this information (perhaps constructed so as to incorporate a bicycle rack or a planter etc.) this would assist greatly with reducing traffic entering the thoroughfare during the restricted times and also improve the quality of the shopping experience in woodbridge
Sandy Lane traffic calming
I am investigating this with a couple of Martlesham parish councillors as the boundaries put the lane between Woodbridge and Martlesham at different points depending on which council is involved.
Hasketon Rd junction with Ransom Rd (safety of pedestrians particularly thoses going to / from FHS). I have been pursuing this for a long time now despite some obstruction from officers, via my Locality budget. The SNT confirm they have had a number of local residents complaining of parents / carers parking on the verges etc and causing chaos in this area. Yellow lines are planned for the junction but it will probably move the problem further along. We need some way of discouraging people from parking on the nearby grass verges whether by simple bollards as outside St Marys school (a short distance away) or by some form of planting. This would greatly improve both the visual looks of the area and the safety of those on foot/cycle.
Woodbridge – signing According to officers, the signs on the A12 were amended a little while ago to say ‘Woodbridge town centre only’ and the road marking were changed to dedicate one lane purely for access to Woodbridge and a lane for all other traffic. They really don’t think we can improve on this. However at the new roundabout on the B1438, I notice the big sign signposts read Woodbridge, Melton and Ufford.
Other projects included improving the cycle lane between Wyvedale and Farlingaye school at the currently dangerous section past the garage. SCC officer David Kemp is looking at possible ideas – and if we’re lucky we might get them without using the QOL money. The renewal of road markings on the A12 as suggested by Cllr Geen is apparently a maintenance function and therefore outside the remit of QoL funding. However Angela Rapley has passed the concern on to item onto the Area office that deals with maintenance.
Although the government have given Suffolk County council an extra £1.9million for urgent surface repairs, this will not go very far with all the potholes that have opened up after last winter. I have been asked by the Roads and Transport scrutiny committee to research the impact on road surfaces of bikes as opposed to cars to see whether savings could be made in road maintenance by encouraging modal shifts to sustainable travel. Any assistance from anyone with specific expertise in this field would be gratefully received.
I have just over £12,000 to spend on small local schemes – projects in Woodbridge that will develop the transport infrastructure. To be eligible these need to fit into the following categories:
Speed limits and speed reduction schemes/anxiety relief schemes
Public transport schemes
Rights of way schemes
Traffic management schemes
This is a great chance for us as a non-‘priority town’ like Woodbridge to access funding for projects that wouldn’t otherwise get it –and there’s still time to have your say about where this money should go.
So far I have the following ideas:
– renewing the road markings on the A12 near the Pelican crossing to reduce speed;
– improvements to Cross Corner (This is a very worthy cause but as it got half the money last year, I would suggest it would be fair to see this suggestion as a fallback position)
– residents are often me concerned about the issue of traffic calming and safe pedestrian crossing between the Seal and Notcutts on the Ipswich Road (plus cycling UP Ipswich road is very scary for all but v committed cyclists as it is steep and there is nowhere to dismount and walk). A solar powered speed warning light might help – particularly as there will be a new (and in my opinion unsafe) blind exit onto the eastbound side from the new development shortly ;
– a project ensuring safer access to school for FHS students- both cycling and walking – to take the heat off Woodbridge in general and Ransom Road in particular trafficwise (-for example, is there any chance of moving parental car access to the bus park off the A12? ) There is also definitely scope for improving the cycle track along the A12 from Wyevale to FHS.
– considering signing Woodbridge at the A12 roundabout as ‘Woodbridge Only’ to encourage lorries headed for Alderton, Ramsholt, Shottisham etc to carry on to Woods Lane instead of using the B1438 to go through Woodbridge/Melton unnecessarily
-the road that accesses the London-bound trainline across the first level crossing and the harbour by Woodbridge station is often acessed by cars dropping elderly/disabled people and those with heavy luggage etc who find it hard to cross the Woodbridge station bridge. It remains difficult to exit by car back to Quayside (B1438)because of the bend in the road which restricts vision from the right. Something – a mirror perhaps – might help?
– residents in Sandy Lane are concerned by speeding and rat running and would welcome traffic calming. It is Woodbridge division as far as the bridge – and it is one of the places I hoped to put up a safety sign last year.
– finally, I’ve been asked by a Cumberland St resident to look at the buildout at the Ipswich Road end of Cumberland St. because although intended as a safety measure its not necessarily slowing down the traffic down Cumberland Street as intended.
Please contact me in person or via phone, email or the blog if you have any other ideas
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.