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.