Category Archives: Woodbridge

What happened in Suffolk in September – my report

Library Reading Scheme presentations  On 17 September I presented awards to all those children who successfully completed the Woodbridge Library Reading Challenge 2017. This year 212 children completed, to gain certificates and medals. I also funded  a poster competition and a magic show from my locality budget.

Suffolk’s Cabinet decision on controversial school transport policy changes called-in by LDGI Group A decision made by Cabinet on 12 September, to go to public consultation on proposed changes to SCC’s school transport policy, was ‘called-in’ to scrutiny by opposition councillors from the Liberal Democrat, Green and Independent Group (of whom I was one).

The call-in cited several problems with the report that informed Cabinet’s decision, and argued that to go to public consultation without a comprehensive impact assessment would be premature. The councillors questioned the expected savings and stressed the need to fully research how changes might impact on educational attainment, increased car use, and school viability.

The call-in was examined by the Scrutiny Committee on 28 September, who determined determined that the subject should be referred  back to Cabinet again. Watch this space!

Consultation on Woodbridge Thoroughfare  September 25- 1October saw the Thoroughfare Working Group’s public consultation in Woodbridge Library on changing the Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) in the Thoroughfare. A stall was staffed in Woodbridge Library for a full 7 days (I personally worked 44 hours staffing it).

The consultation is to ensure it more accurately reflects current usage and to make the provisions more enforceable. Three options were provided. Approximately 600 questionnaires have been received, and the information will now analysed and used to establish the basis of a new TRO.

Impact of Woods Lane development on A1438  The astonishing and unacceptable closure of Woods Lane for a prolonged period ( 3 weeks shortly and then three months in early 2017) to install utilities for the 180 house Bloor Homes development will divert heavy traffic between the A12 and Wilford to the B1438 (Ipswich Road) in the south and the Old Yarmouth Road through Melton to the north. I am one of many lobbying to ameliorate this situation, not least because of the number of schools and sheltered housing along the route. When I recently was able to secure permission for 20mph zoning in Woodbridge, a significant rationale was the impact of heavy traffic on our medieval town , the number of pedestrians and cyclists inconvenienced or endangered, ­­­­and to discourage rat-running on the B1438 instead of A12/Woods Lane usage.

This diversion now underlines why the scheme is necessary. I am very concerned on the impact this will have on Woodbridge’s traders, students, and residents

Search for a new SCC Chief Executive continues  A full day of interviews and assessments took place on Monday 11 September in the search for a new Chief Executive for Suffolk County Council to succeed Deborah Cadman. The interview panel included five councillors from across the three main Groups. (3 Conservative, 1 Labour, 1 LDGI)

Although the field of candidates was strong it was decided that there was no clear candidate that met the expectations for the role. Therefore no appointment was made, and the recruitment process will begin again in the coming months. In the mean time Sue Cook will contine as interim Chief Executive, supported by other members of the corporate management team.

PCC ‘not pursuing’ plans to take control of Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service   Suffolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Tim Passmore, has announced that he will not be pursuing plans to take control of Suffolk Fire and Rescue Services.

Earlier this year the PCC commissioned PA Consulting to undertake an options appraisal to consider the future governance of the Fire and Rescue Service and a potential shift of governance from the County Council to the PCC. This review concluded that there is insufficient evidence to suggest that a governance change would be clearly in the interests of economy, efficiency, and effectiveness; or public safety.

Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service launches ‘escape plan’ campaign The Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service has launched a new safety campaign and website highlighting the importance of fire escape plans. The campaign addresses the fact that every year there are 40,000 accidental house fires in the UK. Having an escape plan will allow Suffolk residents to escape the fire quickly and safely. Please

Visitors to the campaign website will be able to:

  • Take a quiz to test how prepared they are to escape a fire
  • Create their own escape plan for everyone in their household

The ‘escape plan’ fire campaign will run until 31 October 2017. More information can be found at fire.suffolk.gov.uk.

October Surgery Cancellation  I will be cancelling my monthly surgery this month (21 October) because of family commitments on the other side of the world. The remaining surgeries for 2017 are:

  • 18 November 2017
  • 16 December 2017

 

 

Open Letter: Bloor Development diversion at Woods Lane -a solution

Bloor Homes – the start of the Woods Lane works

Sent to: Therese Coffey MP, Suffolk Coastal District Council Planning Chair and Officer, Suffolk County Council Member for Highways, Woodbridge Town Council, Choose Woodbridge, EADT

I’m writing to express my surprise and alarm at the series of unfortunate events relating to the Bloor Homes development at the western (A12) end of Woods Lane, Melton. This has led to Bloor’s requirement to close a section of Woods Lane for a prolongued period of time. I would also like to offer a solution.

The (unacceptable) proposal is to reroute the heavy traffic that travels along Woods Lane between the A12 and Wilford  – north via Melton and south via Woodbridge for the duration of the works. These are estimated to be a matter of months.

Woodbridge-Melton, as well as being a bustling retail centre, houses eight infant/primary/secondary schools with a large catchment area, plus a significant number of nursing and sheltered homes whose care staff cannot afford to live locally and have to commute. The local firestation is staffed by retained firefighters  who need immediate access. My list goes on….

Although this diversion will impact heavily on Woodbridge residents, this development is not within my division. I was therefore not made aware of the proposed lengthy road closures with their inevitable impact on the local economy and local residents until a couple of weeks ago – the same time as it was made public.

It is almost as if this unacceptable decision to divert was to be a fait accompli.

I challenge this.

We seem to be living in a world without joined-up thinking and where the right hand doesn’t know what the left is doing. Suffolk Coastal District Council is responsible for planning. The district council has been fully aware of the Bloor development for a long time. It cannot be news to a single person in the planning department that drainage etc will need to be put in place for a development of that size – or that, located as it is – in a greenfield site on the other side of a busy road from a busy town, that the chances are that there will be problems in linking up utilities.

The location makes it clear that there would inevitably be major issues – yet the district council now seems unduly surprised when these issues arise and obscurely feels that somehow the County Council Highways department (who have a statutory responsibility to facilitate this development) should be held responsible.

We need to ask the SCDC planning Committee, did the planning department have a different strategy for getting the Bloor drains put in? And what was it?

Bloor is a private company. Its primary aim is to make money for its shareholders. Why has Suffolk Coastal’s District Council planning department not looked at the propriety of Bloor disadvantaging our entire community in its endeavour to make the greatest possible private profit? It is not our problem, that of the residents of Woodbridge and Melton. It is Bloor’s. The company should shoulder the lion’s share of the solution

Surely it should have been possible  – should still be possible – for SCDC to require Bloor to make a temporary roadway through their development land to take the Woods Lane traffic,  while utilities are placed under Woods Lane?

An additional point. Woodbridge has recently agreed a 20mph zone and additional calming for the entire town. One of the principle rationales was the impact of heavy traffic on our medieval town and to discourage rat-running on the B1438 which separates the town from the riverside. This diversion only underlines why the scheme is needed. The scheme however needs funding.  I would therefore urge SCDC and SCC Highways to work together, using development money earnarked for community benefit, to benefit that community most harmed by these works – ie Woodbridge itself

Sincerely

Caroline Page
County Councillor for Woodbridge

 

Update: I have heard it argued  over the last weeks that because the Secretary of State overturned SCDC’s decision regarding the Bloor development, SCDC can somehow wash their hands of this development. We can only succeed in  persuading  everyone of the value of my argument if all local bodies join forces 

Join the CONSULTATION & improve the THOROUGHFARE

thumbnail of Thoroughfare Consultation 2017 Sign Options
Woodbridge Thoroughfare Consultation’s three options for signs. Click to download full details

Come to Woodbridge Library, 25th September to 1 October 2017, and help decide the best way forward for  Woodbridge’s Thoroughfare.

The Thoroughfare – Woodbridge’s vibrant retail heart – has had increasing problems with traffic and parking in recent years. Residents, visitors, shoppers and traders have all expressed concern

Our Problem: is that both access to and parking in Woodbridge Thoroughfare is governed by a Traffic Regulation Order (TRO). It’s complicated, years out of date, and no longer fit for purpose. The traffic signs we can put up are legally prescribed by the TRO. This means they are very complicated too.

The TRO no longer reflects the needs and usage of people in the Thoroughfare. 

The Solution:  We need to simplify the Thoroughfare TRO and make sure it reflects the current needs of people in Woodbridge.
We can then have simpler signs.

The Thoroughfare Working Group has worked hard for ten months looking at the needs and requirements of traders, residents, visitors and shoppers. We have come up with three options:

thumbnail of Thoroughfare Consultation 2017 Questionnaire
Consultation Questionnaire. Click to download. When finished, either a) drop it in at library before Sunday 1 Oct b) scan or photograph and email  to Caroline.page@suffolk.gov.uk  or c) post to Caroline Page, 117 Ipswich Rd, Woodbridge IP12 4BY

Now we want you to fill in a questionnaire to tell us which option  you think will work best for everyone who uses the Woodbridge Thoroughfare. (Remember, at the moment, we are interested in which option you prefer.  We will get to enforcement later.)

So, this is a lot of work. Why not just leave things as they are?   This is not an option:

  • Many people say, “All we need’s a Traffic Warden”. Traffic wardens were abolished THIRTEEN YEARS ago under the Traffic Management Act 2004, which passed the responsibility for enforcing on-street violations to the police.
  • Off-street parking in Woodbridge carparks is enforced by parking attendants employed by SCDC. Many people confuse these with traffic wardens, but SCDC parking attendants could only tackle on-street violations if and when  our District Council decriminalises parking and takes responsibility for it
  • Suffolk Coastal will finally be taking over responsibility for on-street parking in 2019
  • However, if Woodbridge does not make changes to the current Thoroughfare TRO, the current level of non-enforcement will not continue. Unless we decide changes, the current TRO lines etc will just be repainted and all the current regulations will be enforced as they currently stand by SCDC when it takes over from the police.
  • SCDC will not be able to cherry-pick the dead or unnecessary regulations. As the TRO is significantly out of date this could cause major problems.

There are other considerations that need to be looked at in any decision-making:

ACCESS: Research by the TWG has discovered that a significant number of residential homes and retail properties only have accessfrom the Thoroughfare.

CHANGING DELIVERY/RETAIL PATTERNS: when the current TRO was designed, there were no Tesco/Ocado/Amazon deliveries. Retailers would receive weekly deliveries from large lorries. When it cameinto force, Woodbridge had a  Wednesday half-day. Now many traders open 7 days  a week,

DISABLED ACCESS: a summer 2017 survey by the Suffolk Coastal Disability Forum disclosed that the access lost to disabled people by on-street parking in the Thoroughfare outweighed the access gained by disabled on-street parking

WIDTH of PARKING BAYS: one marked bay in the Thoroughfare (the ex-Sant-Studio bay ) is too narrow for modern vehicles

INCREASE IN SIZE of VEHICLES: modern cars are very much wider than cars were two or three decades ago. This means that parking has greater impact on pedestrians and other traffic

 

Woodbridge Thoroughfare: have your say!

Members of Thoroughfare Working Group by the current impossibly complicated sign:
L to R: Jill Barratt (Choose Woodbridge, retailer); Rick Chapman (Choose Woodbridge, retailer, resident); Graeme Hawkes (SNT); Maggie Chapman (Choose Woodbridge, retailer, resident); Emma Greenhouse (disabled resident); Caroline Page (County Councillor); Julian Royle (resident); Geoff Holdcroft (Town & District Councillor). Absent: Eamonn O’Nolan (Town Councillor), Tony Buckingham (SCC Highways).

Join the Community Consultation to make Woodbridge Thoroughfare better!

Interested in helping decide how best to improve the Thoroughfare? Come to Woodbridge Library, 25th September to 1 October, and help define the best way forward.

We all know that the Thoroughfare – Woodbridge’s vibrant retail heart – has had increasing problems with traffic and parking in recent years. Residents, visitors, shoppers and traders have all expressed concern.

We also know why.

The underlying problem is that both access and parking is governed by a Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) that’s decades out of date and no longer fit for purpose.  It no longer reflects the needs and usage of people in the Thoroughfare.

So that’s the problem. But how to solve it? Everyone has different needs, concerns and priorities. As a result, the issue has been going round in circles for years. To break this deadlock I brought together a group that represented all major players – clearly the only way to find a workable solution to these problems was by working together. We don’t want to disadvantage anybody.

And after ten months discussion, research  and evidence-taking, we have managed to come up with three workable options.

All the ideas are based around a simple, easy-to-understand sign which is what the current TRO doesn’t allow for – but there are three different versions. We’ll be showing these options, explaining the benefits and drawbacks of each – and asking for you to help us decide.”

The Woodbridge Thoroughfare Working group is  cross-party, and involves Woodbridge councillors at county, district and town level, as well as local police, traders, residents and representatives from Suffolk County Council’s Highway team.

If you are not able to attend at the library you will be able to see and comment on the consultation documents online , in this blog from 25 September.

Woodbridge Thoroughfare Community Consultation:  Woodbridge Library, 25th September to 1 October 2017 (and online at this blog)

Thank You, Woodbridge!

Caroline Page, County Councillor, Woodbridge

Thank you, Woodbridge, for the confidence you have shown in me by electing me to represent you for another four years.

It is a privilege be chosen to serve you and i will continue to work with you to make our town the best place it can be for all of us to live in.

For those interested:
Woodbridge polled 47% of the electorate – well above the 37-38% average across Suffolk, and the highest in Suffolk Coastal.  (In the last county council election, in 2013, Woodbridge had a 42% turnout). Not a single spoiled paper was recorded. I am immensely proud of both of these facts: it shows the town has a very committed and enthusiastic electorate.

  •  As regards numbers, I polled 51% of the vote (1,547)- a significant increase on the 42%  of the vote I polled in 2013.  Conservative  vote was 1,041; Labour, 254; Greens, 113; UKIP, 55.