Coverage from the EADT today, 13/10/10
Although most people I have talked to about Suffolk County Council’s undemocratic, incoherent, and – worst of all – unbudgeted plans have been very keen to express an opinion, a few timid souls feel it safer to stick their heads firmly in the sand and hope everything will just go away.
“Its not happening,” they say. “They’ve not told us what they’re going to do. How can I do anything, when they haven’t told us what they are doing?“
This reminds me of that Foreign Office strategy of masterly inactivity described by the great Sir Humphrey:
Stage 1: There is nothing happening.
Stage 2: There may be something happening, but we should do nothing about it.
Stage 3: Maybe we should do something about it, but there’s nothing that we can do.
Stage 4: Maybe there is something that we could have done, but it’s too late now.
You can see the massive flaw in this, can’t you?
Unless we press our point firmly enough – it WILL be happening. And the tragedy is, they HAVEN’T told us what they plan to do, In fact it is clear they haven’t the foggiest.
DESPITE THIS, the first tranche of ‘divestments’ are planned to happen in April: in SIX months time! That is, the planned ‘divestment’ of:
- Independent Living Centres (these provide advice and information on equipment which can be used by disabled people)
- Highway Services
- Youth clubs, and Integrated Youth Support and Outdoor Education
- Early Years & Childcare, including Children’s Centres
- Home First (this is a social care service)
- Country Parks
- Transactional property
- Suffolk traded services
- Employment enterprises, learning and careers advice
- A record office
- Economic Development
- Home Shield Plus
- Hate Crime Service
And what happens if this unplanned, uncosted, unbudgeted, unhinged piece of ideological claptrap fails, and we lose (for example) our highway service? Thats right, the one people love to moan about – the one that (unheralded and unsung) trains all its staff to man gritting lorries so we can have a 24 hour service over the winter?
We suffer, that’s what happens. And we lose people , teams and services that took a long time to train and which will be impossible to replace.. We are, in short, a lot worse off!
Though, come to think of it, thats everybody except for the Chief Executive herself. She doesn’t live in Suffolk!
Saturday morning in Woodbridge – and people of all ages are using their much-loved library.
Please, Suffolk County Council, will you make clear what your plans for ‘divestment’ by April 2011 will actually mean to the library-user in the street? We know what we are fighting for – but we need to know what we are fighting against!
WHAT IS THE FUTURE FOR WOODBRIDGE LIBRARY?
The SCC Chief Executive, Andrea Hill and Council Leader Jeremy Pembroke are pushing through a scheme supposedly to save money by – in effect – privatising Suffolk County Council. Without consulting the people of Suffolk they are planning on ‘outsourcing’ as many staff and departments as possible.
Top of the list are our libraries!!!
You think this is a bad idea? Sign the petition here or online:
Putting the principle to one side, this hasn’t even been planned or costed – and the timescale is ludicrous. For example, although libraries are due to be “divested” next April, SCC have absolutely no idea of what they plan to do with them.
SCC claim they’re “consulting with communities” – well not in Woodbridge they’re not. Our library has not heard a word about its future. Will libraries remain part of a County network even? The council is strangely silent.
Consultation? They have not consulted us – not you, not me, not anyone. And the plan was certainly not in ANY manifesto. But though they haven’t asked you, you can still give them your opinion. Please, sign this petition and tell your friends!
PS Perhaps the worst thing about this is that the council has just spent a lot of money moving the library from its old, horrid sixties concrete site to the renovated victorian school building that was once New Street school. WHY should Suffolk residents pay good money for a building that is immediately hived off to some external income-generating organisation?
I must apologise for my delay in posting this – I got married the following week and clearly forgot to put it up online!
Closure of Embankment footpath
The Environment Agency has closed the footpath along the embankment from Woodbridge to Kyson point until October (– I have asked them to ensure it is reopened briefly for the Regatta weekend) . There will be an alternative footpath route opened for the summer.When I asked the Environment Agency their spokesman explained:
” the Kyson embankment has been suffering from erosion by the tides (as all sea walls do). Recently the original revetment, which consisted of loose concrete and rubble blocks has given way, exposing the clay of the embankment and allowing the erosion process to speed up. To repair the embankment, we will be replacing the clay which has been eroded from the front of the bank and covering this clay with a new revetment, made of open stone asphalt. This material is extremely resilient, reducing our future maintenance costs, and helps to break the wave action, rather than reflect the wave energy, which helps to maintain the level of the salt marshes. The material will soon vegetate and in time become completely hidden from view. We will, in the time available, be addressing the worst areas of erosion this year and will then, subject to funding, return next year to continue the work.”
Locality Budget funding
At the Suffolk Coastal County Councillor Locality meeting county councillors were given the notion that our budgets might be under threat – perhaps even for the current year. I currently have about five to six thousand left to spend and would like it to go on things that will have some lasting concrete benefit to the town, just in case there is little forthcoming next year. I would also like to allocate this money fairly swiftly to prevent any possible chance of claw-back so welcome all ideas. Recent proposals have included a bench for Kingston Field, and a litter bin to prevent litter problems at Mill View Close and assistance for the Art Club. Among my thoughts is whether a glassed in notice board advertising the courses and classes available at the Fred Reynolds centre would be useful for the community. I would be grateful for any ideas.
As you see patching work is being undertaken up and down the county at the moment – I was impressed with the speed and efficiency with the road surface was replaced on the Ipswich Road near Notcutts last night. Speaking as a cyclist, it was quite dangerous to go downhill there because the surface was so rough.
As you know there have long been concerns about speeding along Ipswich Road, particularly in relation to those walking and cycling to Kyson and Farlingaye schools. It is particularly crucial at the top of California where many students cross. I had reserved £12,000 from Quality of Life money to build an island in the road which is being planned at the moment. Now the Highways department at Suffolk County Councilare working with FHS students to design of this island, so as to see the project through! This ought to mean it is designed to be fit for purpose. I enclose a copy of the design that has been agreed on. Proposals to calm Sandy Lane are currently with the director in overall charge of roads in Suffolk.
After consultation twith the Mayor and the Town Clerk I have also written to her wondering if she would be prepared to trial the recent proposal by ministers of a 20mph speed limit on urban roads in Woodbridge..
The reduction from 30mph would apply to all town centre and residential. It would be reinforced by signs rather than extra speed cameras and humps.
The new 20mph limit can be introduced under existing laws and has been tested in Portsmouth, Edinburgh, Newcastle upon Tyne and Hull. York, Norwich and eight London boroughs, including Islington, have announced plans to follow suit.
I reminded her that Town and District Councillors (and me as County Councillor ) are all concerned about the need for calming on all fronts of the town. Within the last month I have been fielding complaints about the speed of traffic in the 30mph areas of Ipswich Road, Sandy Lane, Hasketon Road, Bredfield/Pyches Road and the Birkitt Road – that is, five of the six roads entering Woodbridge. Although the sixth (Melton Road) is on my colleague Cllr Michael Bond’s territory, I have had complaints about the need for calming recently from Melton residents whose children travel to Farlingaye. My QoL money this year is destined for project to calm three of these problem places. I think it would be appropriate to offer the £7000 set to one side for Sandy Lane and the led sign in Ipswich Road towards 20mph signs if she were to agree. All views welcome
I will let you know whether this will bear any fruit.
Olympians to train in Suffolk
Lowestoft has been selected by both Great Britain and Canada as the training base for their Gymnastic teams who will be using the Waveney Gymnastics Centre. Suffolk has been actively seeking out teams to use the facilities in the county. A total of ten sites were selected by the London 2012 committee to hold training facilities for the athletes, the bulk of which are in or near Ipswich http://www.visit-suffolk.org.uk/suffolktrainingcamps/facilities.cfm . I don’t know if this will result in any improvement in transport provision locally but I hope it might.