Category Archives: SizewellC

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.

What’s been happening in Suffolk – Feb 2014

This month we’ve heard that that Sizewell will be swapping waste with Dungeness – and that it will travel along the East Suffolk line; that Suffolk is at the bottom of the league for vulnerable adult abuse; that we have been automatically opted in to the sharing of our medical records – and that the council tax will once again be frozen (courtesy of the government’s Council Tax Freeze deal) but that – despite the deal –  we will be making cuts of more than £38million .

 

Sizewell Waste Disposal  Magnox  has published its preferred option for managing Intermediate Level Radioactive Waste (ILW) and Fuel Element Debris (FED) at its sites in England (including Sizewell A). Sizewells FED will be transferred to Dungeness, and the ILW from Dungeness will arrive for storage at Sizewell.

SCC Cabinet agrees that this is a ” sensible and pragmatic solution for disposing of Sizewell’s FED given the relatively small amount of FED arising at Sizewell and the fact that such materials are capable of being transported by rail.” The rail in question includes the East Suffolk line.

Cabinet also recommends that if Magnox and EDF can’t achieve a joint approach to storage of ILW, Magnox should consider options for managing ILW from Sizewell A that do not involve building a store at the site, most particularly as any proposal for the construction of an ILW store at Sizewell which provides for the importation of ILW from elsewhere would be contrary to P the Council’s adopted Waste Core Strategy

Ultimate disposal of this waste remains open-ended. Cabinet will insist on a package of Community Benefits “to reflect the fact that interim storage of waste at Sizewell is dependent on the provision of the national Geological Disposal Facility. “

Creation of a national disposal facility  continues to be as nebulous in form placing and timescale as it has always been – potentially further off than the 2040 planning assumption date used.Cabinet  sees the interim store as “ fulfilling a nationally important role in radioactive waste management over a long period.”

I do not know if I am the only person to be concerned by this? It seems to smack of Sir Humphrey’s IBD YBD.

GP data – opt out Everyone in Woodbridge will have received  about how the government is wishing to share   personal health data with a variety of ‘approved’ (but unspecified) organisations and researchers.

The leaflet says “If you are happy for your information to be shared “(or if you have thrown away the leaflet unread) “you do not need to do anything. There is no form to fill in and nothing to sign.”

In other words – you will have automatically opted into having your full medical history shared with whoever the government decides appropriate.

This being the case, it is very important that everybody should be made aware  that unless they opt out, they are sharing their entire health history linked – not to name –  but to their date of birth, full postcode, NHS number, and gender.

Suffolk at bottom of national rankings for adult abuse  Suffolk  has the second highest number of substantiated reports of vulnerable adult abuse in the country with 645 fully-substantiated and 315 partially-substantiated cases out of over 3,000 reports. Statistics from the Health and Social Care Information Centre, which were published last week, show a total of 3,015 referrals were made to Suffolk adult social care safeguarding teams in the 2012/13 financial year.

Suffolk ranked behind only Kent out of 152 local authorities.

The referrals cover such areas as the neglect of people’s health and well-being and physical or mental abuse. In Suffolk, 2,005 of the referrals were for women and 1,010 for men while nearly half related to adults with a physical disability.

Suffolk Healthwatch has described  the data  as “alarming’.

SCC Budget 2014-5  The 2014-5 budget was formally approved by Cabinet at the end of January and will now go to full council. It  will see £38.6m of spending cuts across most services. I will provide full details once these have been finally agreed.

Suffolk County council is once again taking advantage of central government’s council tax freeze deal – which provides central funding for all those councils NOT raising council tax this year. The same deal is/has been on offer for each of the five years of this government, and Suffolk has always taken advantage of it. When the SCC administration mention their  pledge to freeze council tax at its present level  – which they repeat with a great deal of empressement  every year –  no-one ever remembers to mention the tax freeze initiative . Which effectively pays them to freeze our council tax.  Just saying.

County Councillor’s Locality Budget I have funded a free skating rink to encourage local shopping in Woodbridge in mid -February.

County Councillor’s Surgery My surgery dates for the next few months are:  Saturday 15 February, and Saturday 19 April. There will be no surgery in March as I will be in China. Surgeries are at Woodbridge Library 10-12 as ever. All welcome

 

Sizewell C Consultation

This is the last day to put in a response to EDF’s Sizewell C Stage 1 Consultation.  The consultation doesn’t allow for any debate on  whether we should have a new Nuclear power station at Sizewell.  It deals solely with the practicalities of  Sizewell C’s  construction and its impact on those of us who live in its path.

And there will be an impact, no two ways about itCurrently it looks like being an impact with very little benefit to us residents of Suffolk Coastal. 

Particularly  worrying  for Woodbridge residents would be the impact of a works Park & Ride and Lorry Park at Woods Lane. I’ve therefore sent EDF this response on behalf of all those who have raised concerns with me:

      Re: SIZEWELL C Stage 1 CONSULTATION

In responding to this consultation, I am writing as elected County Councillor for Woodbridge to raise concerns specific to my division. I am also responding more generally as Suffolk Lib Dem spokesman for Transport. I am restricting my comments to the period of construction as it is the impact of this that is specifically being consulted upon.

        Overall   These plans offer only the most cursory and non-holistic reference to the heritage nature of the Suffolk coastal landscape – and to the impact that the lengthy period of construction will have on both the landscape and the lifestyle that residents currently enjoy.

The benefits of Sizewell C will be to the country as a whole. It would seem inappropriate that the impact should be felt so disproportionately by the 0.2% of the population (124,000 people) who make up the population of Suffolk Coastal. The question that comes to mind (in the vernacular) is, “What’s in it for us?”

        Transport   At its peak the construction workforce is expected to be 5600 people, 34% of whom will commute. This will put nearly 2,000 more daily commuters on the overcrowded A12. Although much freight will be by rail/sea , EDF currently forecasts 100-300 more HGV deliveries (I read this as 200-600 HGV journeys) daily on the A12 in the years of peak construction. EDF would prefer to manage this via a lorry park at the Southern P&R.

Commuter traffic    EDF claims that the construction of North and South Park & Rides could ‘significantly reduce the amount of commuter traffic on local roads’ during the peak years of construction. This is not strictly accurate:  the best they are designed for is to ameliorate some of the excess that the construction of SizewellC will put upon our roads! There is no reference in the consultation to these P&Rs serving our local commuters.

And even within this limited definition of a ‘significant reduction’, the Park & Rides – wherever they are placed – will not ameliorate the increased levels of traffic arriving and departing from them.

In the case of Woodbridge, the proposed Southern P&R option C  is at the already busy roundabout at the A1152/A12 junction, north of the town.  It would therefore not ameliorate the increased levels of traffic that would need to pass Woodbridge.  At the same time a P&R there would add considerably to the congestion, pollution and rat-running that are already a problem here as traffic seeks to avoid the bottle-neck at the A1152/A12 junction.

Although the Southern P&R option C  would be on the A12, it would have a significant impact on  Woodbridge residents in terms of increased noise, light and environmental pollution – particularly for  those living in the Farlingaye ward .

It would also have an adverse impact on the 2000-odd students who attend Woodbridge’s Farlingaye High School. With a catchment area of 400sqm of Suffolk Coastal, and school bus access  directly from the A12 and close to the A1152 junction, congestion at peak times is likely to conflict with school drop-off and delivery.

Lorry Park  It is clear that EDF expects that most lorry traffic will be travelling northward to the site, past Woodbridge. A lorry park at Option C would exacerbate all the problems mentioned above, regarding commuter traffic.  Woodbridge would suffer the double whammy of both the increase in HGV traffic and the lorry park while gaining no identified benefit from either.

 Rail   The A1152 crosses the East Suffolk line at an open crossing at Melton. A recent upgrade in the service to hourly passenger trains is already increasing congestion at this point (and rat-running through Woodbridge). Sizewell C development proposes to transport significant amounts of construction materials by train which is to be welcomed. However it will further exacerbate crossing delays and congestion and add to the potential problems of rat-running through Woodbridge.

        Conclusion     The proposals for building Sizewell C will have a great impact on the Suffolk Coastal region. This is because they are reliant on one single north/south axis in both road and rail provision.   As yet it is far from clear that that EDF’s proposals fully recognize and allow for this impact: it seems instead as if the A12 is being seen as one giant corridor to Sizewell – with little concern for the communities that line it.

The strategic geographical position of Woodbridge, sandwiched between A12 and East Suffolk line, means that the impact might be felt most keenly by its 7500 inhabitants, particularly if the Southern P&R option C is decided upon. This would bring many disadvantages to our town without one single clear advantage.  There is no incentive or reason for us to support it.

I would recommend that, before the next consultation, EDF look again – and more closely – at significant investment in Rail improvements. That is, not only at increasing enhancements to the East Suffolk line, but also at building bridges at rail crossings to allow more freight to be moved by rail while reducing the impact on road crossing users.

As regards siting the Lorry Parks and Park and Rides, EDF should be looking at areas where there would be minimal disruption to and impact on communities AND landscape. This clearly rules out the current proposals for Southern P&R option C at Woodbridge

Finally, I am deeply disappointed that it is proposed  the residents of east Suffolk should bear such a high degree of inconvenience over so many years for the good of the nation at large without any substantive mention of a reasonable payback. We need bridges over the A12 where footpaths have been cut in two. We need bridges over the East Suffolk line, where commuters currently wait in traffic jams. We need decent public transport for huge swathes of the rural population.  All these needs could be addressed with little extra cost if EDF considered them as part of a holistic plan for the development of Sizewell C.

I hope you will take these comments back and consider them seriously in your ongoing deliberations

Yours sincerely    

Caroline Page