Category Archives: Suffolk Coastal District Council

Whats been happening – November to December

Restored Sunday bus goes from strength to strength! Having finally got the 65b service back in July, after years when Woodbridge residents were cut off from any Sunday or holiday bus transport whatsoever (including getting to Ipswich hospital for visiting, A&E and minor injuries!) We were told – quite fairly–  ‘use it, or lose it’  Woodbridge residents have risen magnificently to the challenge  – and as a direct result  the 65b will not only be retained at least until March but will also now run 5 times a day in each direction from January, and the service has been extended out to Melton.  Again, we must continue to remember that it’s a case of use it or lose it – so when shopping for Christmas, or in the sales – remember to take the Sunday bus!

Woodbridge Rail StationTicket Machines!  Sadly, the machine continues to be less than wholly fit for purpose. It spends much of its time out of order or malfunctioning, leaving many Woodbridge residents frustrated – either out of pocket, having had to pay twice for a ticket, or facing a penalty fine for a fare they have paid!  I have recently been contacted by a stream of people complaining about this problem , including overseas visitors who found  local travel very difficult and some residents who have told me  that their only option to this is making a 15 mile round trip to use the machines in Ipswich (as the Saxmundham ticket machine is often  also out of action).

Suffok Speed Limit Criteria  For some months now I have been part of the crossparty  policy development panel  working on developing a new  Speed Limit Criteria policy for Suffolk. SCC Cabinet will be seeking to approve this today. If approved, the  new policy aims  to ensure that speed  limits are applied fairly, and transparently across the county while reflecting  local concerns where appropriate  – and enabling local County Councillors to make representations on behalf of the communities they represent.

This would complement the new 20mph policy that  the same panel  (on which I also sat) developed  and which Cabinet approved earlier this year.

Suffok’s Education and Learning Infrastructure Plan  SCC is also developing Suffolks Education and Learning InfrastructurePlan. This is of particular interest to me as I have been arguing that there is insufficent bringing together of strategic issues  locally.  The  coverage of the  future eduction situation in  Woodbridge is not wholly encouraging:


Woodbridge/Melton
Issue: Potential housing of up to 500 houses in the  longer term
Solution: Investigate local primary provision in the area to ensure capacity is available or local schools are able to expland to accommodate growth. Also ensure that local secondary provision, already at capacity, is able to expand as appropriate.”

I have asked for this  information to be expanded on, bearing in mind that Farlingaye, designed for 750  pupils, now accommodates around 2000 and that the the physical impossibility of moving this number around the corridors has caused lessons to be reduced to 3 a day for the last 8 years. I understood that these  developments aren’t seen as enough to fund a further school, but query what further expansion  might be humanly possible in the circumstances!

I also want to understand why the strategic  issues of Farlingaye are siloed within Woodbridge/Melton when it has a catchment area of 400 square miles including, for example Rendlesham (where I see further development is also indicated).

Additionally, strategic development of schools seems to stop at the buildings themselves and does not consider the impact on local roads.

Warwick Avenue:  That  long-awaited resurfacing of Warwick Avenue is delayed again –  until March 2015 – but this time there is an excuse! I have been lobbying for this seriously overdue and much-needed repair work for years, and  am very glad that it  is finally going ahead. The repairs had been planned for the end of 2014, but when cores were taken from the concrete slabs that make up the road, it was discovered that they had metal reinforcement, making hopes of using an in-situ recycling technique impossible.  I am now told that the SCC contractors, KMG, will be bringing in a specialist surfacing  contractor to remove any asphalt on the slabs, repair the slab joints and lay high density asphalt overlay.

Let us hope this will finally and at long last provide the reliable and stable road surface that Warwick Avenue residents deserve – and for which they have been waiting for such an unreasonably long time!”

County Councillor Surgeries  My  monthly walk-in surgeries continue to be very successful and well-attended. In October I discovered 14 people waiting for me when I opened.  The final Surgery of the year will take place on 20December 2014 10-12 in the library as ever.

Dates for the early part of 2015 will be: 17 January, 21 February. 21 March and 18 April.

Finally,

Happy Christmas and all good wishes for a peaceful New Year!

Woodbridge Ticket Machine. Not working. Again

This machine is currently out of service. Abiello Greater Angliaa apologise for any inconvenience this may cause
This machine is currently out of service. Abiello Greater Anglia apologise for any inconvenience this may cause

 

This machine is currently out of service.  Abellio Greater Anglia apologise for any inconvenience this may cause

I’m sure we all remember SCDC’s controversial closure of Woodbridge’s Tourist Information Centre last year. At the time, we Woodbridge residents were all assured that the new ticket machine at the station would be just as effective as the friendly and helpful staff who had been such an integral part of the Tourist Information Centre by Woodbridge  station.

Right.

I have just had to make a 15mile round trip in the  pouring rain to collect tickets from Ipswich because the machine is ‘currently out of service’. This is the second time in 4 days.  Like many of my constituents I have limited transport choices, and am currently suffering from extreme mobility problems.

Some bright spark has just pointed out we could buy tickets on the trains. Why gosh, so we could. Buying my tickets on the train might meaan that travelling to the funeral I am attending next week would cost  a little over £130, instead of the £25 return my prebooked tickets sitting in Woodbridge’s non-working ticket machine might cost, but hey – what is that? a mere bagatelle!

 

Taking the TIC away, and further limiting our choices  by having a non-working  machine has really not benefited all those who most needed it.  Can I give a special thank you to the   SCDC councillors of Woodbridge who made this decision on our behalf. We do remember who they are.

 

Incidentally,  readers, are you as irritated as I am by  the formulaic mantra  whereby a company will ” apologise for any inconvenience this may cause“? What on earth do they mean by  “any inconvenience”?  Are they suggesting that some people will come along to buy a ticket from this non-operational machine and find themselves in any sense convenienced by its lack of action?

Abellio Greater Anglia – if the ticket machine doesn’t work , aren’t you – in your heart of hearts – expecting it  to cause inconvenience to each and every passenger (I unapologetically use the old-fashioned term) who wants to buy a ticket? So, go on -why not apologise unreservedly  to all of us?

Whats happening in Suffolk Nov 2014

Care UK   There is serious concern at the way Care Uk is running some of the care homes in Suffolk. Councillor Alan Murray has been challenged as to what the council is doing to rectify these problems. The firm took over SCC’s 16 care homes in 2012 and is in the process of building 10 purpose-built replacements

A CQC inspection last month found Mildenhall Lodge below standard in four of five categories while a safeguarding inspection raised concerns about another home, Asterbury Place.

We’ve been told that “Care UK have committed additional support to both Mildenhall Lodge and Asterbury Place in Ipswich until all of the improvements are completed.  SCC officers continue to monitor improvements…  and will continue to have regular contact with any relatives who wish to discuss any concern whilst final improvements are made in both homes”.

SCC Health Scrutiny looked at current arrangements for ensuring the quality of care in residential homes in Suffolk in October concluded that:

a)        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 Mildenhall Lodge and in the other Suffolk homes run by Care UK.

b)         that at its meeting on 20 January 2015 it wished to receive a further report, providing an update and including detailed evidence about:

i)          what had been done to ensure that all Suffolk homes run by Care UK were meeting the essential standards monitored by the CQC;

ii)         the current ratings of all Suffolk homes run by Care UK;

iii)        the views of residents and their families, gathered in a systematic way;

iv)        what steps had been taken within the County Council to strengthen contract management arrangements within Adult and Community Services;

v)         the findings of a recent ADASS (Association of Directors of Adult Social Services)  national benchmarking exercise in relation to contract management arrangements in neighbouring authorities and how Suffolk compared

Civil Parking Enforcement  SCC Cabinet are looking to extend an agreement with Ipswich Borough Council to enable IBC to continue undertaking Civil Parking Enforcement in Ipswich for another 5 years. ALthoough this is Ipswich-specific, it is interesting because the arrangement has been in place for 9 years and  the key benefits, perceived at the start are still held to be true today.

These are:

  • Most cost effective  management of on- and off-street parking enforcement
  • Safer traffic conditions and improved traffic floe
  • More locally accountable

The suggestion is that CPE may be extended beyond Ipswich. Officers make the point that it will always be an easier option in an urban than a rural setting.

Revised Guidance for Parking  Suffolk County Council Cabinet is looking today at adopting a revised “Suffolk Guidance for Parking’. It has been updated to support the next generation of green transport, eg supporting electric vehicle charging points, minimum bicycle parking requirements and priority Car Club parking spaces in planning decisions. A rather more contentious section states:

“In line with national policy, the guidance includes a minimum of car parking spaces for new residences to replace the maximum limit contained in the previous standards. The absence of such a minimum standard has led to many cases of inadequate residential parking on new developments leading to unsightly and unsafe on-street parking congestion. The implementation of a minimum standard provides an opportunity to provide an appropriate level of parking that meets the day-to-day needs of occupiers.” It also gives specific minimum dimensions for car parking spaces.

Although the 2011 Census revealed that 14% of households in Suffolk Coastal were carless, it also revealed there were 3% of households with 4 cars or more!

If this policy is adopted centrally, it would be up to Suffolk Coastal District Council to adopt this policy although SCC recommends that they adopt it as a supplementary planning policy.

Recommendations on parking design are also made in an appendix, to ameliorate the ugliness of parking areas. Again, whether individual district councils sign up to this is individual!

0345 numbers for Suffolk County Council

From last month the county council has changed all of its 0845 telephone numbers to 0345. The remaining seven digits of the telephone numbers are remaining exactly the same. This includes the telephone numbers for people wanting to apply for a school place for their child, reporting a pothole or road defect and the Families Information Service.

Calls to 0345 numbers from landlines and mobiles are included in free call packages. For customers with these packages, it will mean calling the council on these numbers, does not incur any additional costs. For people not on free call packages, a call to a 0345 number costs no more than a geographical number (eg: 01284, 01787 and 01473).

Existing 0845 numbers are not being switched off overnight. There will be a period of time where the 0845 number, and its replacement 0345 number, will both be live. This is to ensure people can still access the services they need whilst getting used to the new numbers. It will also mean the county council only replaces printed materials and liveries when current stocks run out.

All Freephone numbers starting 0800 will also remain unchanged.

Childrens Centres There was an attempt to halt the current consultation and possible closures, but unfortunately this failed. The results of the consultation will be presented to SCC cabinet on 9th December.

Surgery  My surgery is on the third Saturday of the month, as ever. 10-12, in Woodbridge Library

Dukes Park and East Anglia ONE

My inbox has been buzzing with anxious emails this week  from people worried about a possible planning application for land adjoining Dukes Park. Although planning is a District Council issue it is in Woodbridge County division,and  is  also the site through which the EA One underground high tension cabling is due to be routed. As this appeared to have slipped under the radar of both residents and district council until I raised it last Monday,  I contacted the EA ONE  link officer at Suffolk County Council. I wanted to know if he had definitive information on the separation necessary between  housing development and underground high tension cables. closeup EA1

Here is his brief resume of the status quo and implications as he sees it:

East Anglia ONE have acquired both permanent and temporary rights for land within the Order Limits (red line boundary). The exact location of these rights however would not be determined until the project is being built, because the final positioning of the cables is not known. What we know now is that the corridor depicted on the plans is generally 75m wide though only 55m is needed for construction and this could lie anywhere within the 75m swathe. The final footprint for the operational development will be 42m The rights that have been acquired are set out within Schedule 6 of the Development Consent Order  . The permanent rights within the cable corridor generally provide for the retention of cables/ducts together with a surface right of access for occasional maintenance. Lands subject to temporary rights (i.e the ‘surplus’ 33m) would be returned to the current owner post construction (that is, around 2020). However as the SCC link officer understands it:

“…restrictive covenants are also in place. Activities within the Order Limits are prohibited as below. The footprint of the land these rights cover would diminish from the construction (75m) to operational phase (42m), but as I understand it apply to the full 75m currently: (a) prevent anything to be done in or upon the Order land or any part thereof for the purpose of the erection of any buildings or construction erection or works of any kind (including the foundations or footings thereto); (b) prevent anything to be done by way of hard surfacing of the Order land with concrete of any kind or with any other material or surface whatsoever without the consent in writing of the undertaker (such consent not to be unreasonably withheld or delayed if the proposed surfacing would not cause damage to relevant part of the authorised project nor make it materially more difficult or expensive to maintain the authorised project); (c) prevent anything to be done by way of excavation of any kind in the Order land nor any activities which increase or decrease ground cover or soil levels in any manner whatsoever without the consent in writing of the undertaker save as are reasonably required for agricultural activities or are required to be carried out by National Grid in order to exercise their rights in relation to their apparatus within the Order land; (d) prevent the planting or growing within the Order land of any trees, shrubs or underwood without the consent in writing of the undertaker (such consent not to be unreasonably withheld or delayed provided that the proposed trees, shrubs or underwood would not cause damage to the relevant part of the authorised project nor make it materially more difficult or expensive to access the relevant part of the authorised project). Consequently very little can happen within the area covered by the Order Limits at the moment. The extent of that redline boundary will shrink in due course, but even in that remaining area, no buildings could erected.”

The officer points out that land outside the Order Limits, and any land used during construction once returned to its original owner is not subject to any East Anglia ONE restrictive covenants. However it would be  on each side of the cabling  area. Requests for any further specific elucidation  are probably best directed to:

Joanna Young,  Stakeholder Manager ScottishPower Renewables East Anglia Offshore Wind, Room 101, OrbisEnergy, Wilde Street, Lowestoft, Suffolk, NR32 1XH. jyoung@scottishpower.com

District Council Boundary Changes – how do you want Woodbridge to look?

DO you know about the Woodbridge proposed district council boundary changes? Will they matter to you?

Our local MP, Therese Coffey has suggested, and the Local Government Boundary Commission propose extending the Woodbridge district ward out to Great and Little Bealings and Hasketon.

If you think this isn’t sensible – or if you do – get onto the Local Government Boundary Commission website and join the consultation: they want to hear from you. You can even use their interactive map to draw an improved version! You have until 28 April.

I personally do not think it is geographically sensible, nor do I think it fits any convenience or criterion other than that of mere number crunching. (And that to a degree that is by no means essential to any argument.) My colleagues agree with me.

This therefore is the submission that your Woodbridge Lib Dem Councillors at County, District and Town have submitted to the LGBC:

We, the elected Liberal Democrat Councillors representing Woodbridge, wish to comment on the draft proposal, with particular  reference to paragraphs 91 to 96.

We accept the arguments by all who put the case that Woodbridge and Martlesham North be regarded as a single electoral area, the latter being effectively an overspill allied to the town of Woodbridge.   There is no suggestion by any of those putting cases as to how to redraw ward boundaries to make these 3 single member wards, and we cannot see any clear arguments for such a re-drawing.   The territory would thus logically fit a simple 3 Councillor ward, being entirely urban, and geographically compact.   The elector figures for 2014 amount to 6428 and for 2019 to 6544; both figures lie quite comfortably within the outside variation of 10% from the norm sought.

However, the proposal by the local M.P., supported by the Inspector, that the rural parishes of Hasketon with Great and Little Bealings be lumped in with Woodbridge does not appear to meet the terms of reference requiring a reflection of identities, local ties and identifiable boundaries.   None of the criteria set out are satisfied, except the convenience of playing with numbers.

The Bealings villages are tucked geographically beside Playford, Culpho and Grundisburgh;  the Inspector’s recommendation for a Grundisburgh ward with fewer that average electors could absorb the two Bealings parishes, thus combining genuinely rural parishes in a single ward.   Hasketon, which the M.P. and the Inspector suggest should fall into a Woodbridge ward, is also sited beside Grundisburgh, with common borders aligned also to Boulge, Burgh and Debach.   Any logical view of a Grundisburgh-centred ward should therefore include Hasketon, even if this results in an electorate marginally above the average.

We suggest furthermore that a large ward centred on the urban population of Woodbridge has no conceivable common interest with Hasketon (population 314), Great Bealings (230) or Little Bealings (360), with the added problem that these 3  parishes are the ‘wrong’ side of the A12.

Woodbridge is a sizeable, compact town with a population over 6000.   Its character and identity over the last half century owes much to the early by-passing of the A12, making Woodbridge a sought-after destination for visitors, beneficial tourism, yachtsmen, shoppers and property buyers.

We can see no logic in pretending it has interests or character in common with Hasketon or either of the Bealings parishes.   Furthermore, the two Bealings parishes recognise themselves as having a commonality with Playford, with whom they have produced a joint Neighbourhood Plan, recently accepted by the District Council as appropriate.

We therefore conclude that our suggestion for a Woodbridge ward boundary falls within the terms of reference of the exercise, as does our definite proposal for excluding Hasketon and the two Bealings.   Thus we recommend a 3 councillor ward comprising Woodbridge and Martlesham North.

Signed on behalf of Woodbridge Liberal Democrats by

Caroline Page, County Councillor 

Diana Ball, Town and District Councillor

Kay Yule, Town Councillor

Vic Harrup, Town Councillor

Patrick Gillard, Town Councillor