Melton Hill development – attack of the giant cheese wedges?

What on  earth is happening down at Melton Hill, with the old Suffolk Coastal District Council office site?

Crucially, what on earth has happened to the consensus masterplan created after the Community Planning weekend? To remind  people, it looked like this, retaining the old buildings, the trees and the Drummer Boy at the front…

 

Now people are asking how – and by what stretch of whose fevered imagination – has this consensus magically transformed into the below (current) plans for Melton Hill?

Melton Hill current plan:  Docklands-by-the-estuary. Giant  5 &6 storey cheese wedges  – suitable for an urban setting but  out of place in tiny Woodbridge, dwarf the town and overlook all neighbouring housing as well as  impacting badly on the historic Sutton Hoo views.

All old buildings, trees and even the Drummer Boy have been demolished, cut down and removed in favour of giant  5 &6 storey cheese wedges  – suitable for an urban setting – that will dwarf the rest of the town, impact adversely on National Trust’s historic views of the  riverside and town from Sutton Hoo , alter completely and irrevocably the skyline of the town, and create a completely mendacious ‘piazza ‘ area pictured as a bustling metropolis with people dashing to and  fro. Strange. After all, who, apart from residents, is going to be walking in this large open space, and why?  We may suspect we are not in Kansas, Toto – but this is not  Docklands .

(Though one does wonder whether, in a couple of year’s that space may be earmarked to become another tower….)

Talk about  having “des idees audessous de sa gare!”

To top it all there is not enough parking allocated for the – greatly increased – (now there’s a surprise – how often does that happen in Suffolk?) number of residential units planned.  How will this impact on a town already chronically short of parking , and where the District Council Offices  have traditionally opened their car parks at the weekend for public events?

And who will be able to afford to live here?

So what should you do if you are concerned?

I would urge the residents of Woodbridge to take this matter up with their  District Councillor – but the democratic deficit that exists in this area since the last boundary changes  is so egregious as to hardly need mentioning. Instead of the four councillors you had- one for each ward (Farlingaye, Seckford, Kyson and Riverside) -you now have three for a larger Woodbridge and district:  Cllrs Hedgeley, Holdcroft and Mulcahy – all of one party, by your express wish. By an arrangement  they have between themselves, Cllr Hedgley deals with the rural villages, leaving Woodbridge town represented by Cllrs Holdcroft and Mulcahy.  And  Cllr Holdcroft (amidst a proliferation of other hats including Town Councillor) is SCDC Cabinet member and on the SCDC Planning Committee and is therefore unable to comment on planning matters. As I  say, this leaves you with a sgnificant democratic deficit.

All I can therefore do is to suggest you approach your one remaining available District Councillor  -Cllr Mulcahy-  to tell her what you think and ask her to take action on your behalf over this!

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The situation of carers in Suffolk

EADT’s coverage of the problems faced by Carers

Brilliant to see the EADT taking the issues faced by unpaid carers – particularly working-age women – so seriously.

Their coverage  today:

http://www.eadt.co.uk/news/carers-don-t-want-cake-they-want-realistic-support-says-campaigning-councillor-1-5074532

highlights many of  the problems and inequities faced by women carers  in Suffolk: longterm stress,  poverty, loss of career, pension, loneliness, the often infantile and wholly inadequate nature of the ‘support’ on offer.

And as the LibDem Green and Independent Group’s spokesperson for Women I suggest the problems experienced by carers would be less hidden if Suffolk County Council made themselves more aware of the challenges facing women in the county!

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A Plea: We All Can Care for Carers!

This week is Carers Week – and it’s come in balmy weather. My daughter and I have picked elderflowers and made 2 gallons of cordial. In between the elections and my full-time work and the emergency appointments with London specialists.

She and I are very much together, poor soul, whether she likes it or not. She is nice to me about this – but it must be a dreadful burden to be in your 20s and have your mother so very much in your life.

It’s nearly 17 years since the day she dropped like a stone as I baked her birthday cake and in a blink of an eye we went from real  people in our own right with lives to lead and places to go, to  carer and cared for: symbols, stereotypes, political footballs -people who were somehow less important, less valued than others. We lost friends, we lost caste, we lost identity.

Like most family carers, I started out bewildered, unrecognising, waiting for things to return to ‘normal – a day that would never come. Indeed it was years before I realised I was a carer – and that as well as providing help I needed help myself.

For, make no mistake,  being a family carer is hard. Being ‘on duty’ – responsible for keeping someone alive – 168 hours a week, every week, is quite as dreadful as it sounds. After a while, you have difficulty with everything: working, sleeping, socialising, existing.

Worst of all, you become invisible. Your work as a carer takes place in isolation, and though invaluable, is not valued. In fact the government refuses to call it work (though the cost of replacing you if you fall ill suggests the reverse). A family carer has no workmates. If you manage to keep a job on top of caring – and it’s no joke as a full-time carer – your colleagues may disregard you, disrespect you – even (obscurely) think less of you. People forget about you, you lose your place in social plans, in activity groups, in parties. You may even get called a killjoy because you can’t leave the house!

So of course, you are lonely. (And no, you don’t get used to it.)

To make this worse, family carers are often not seen as people in our own right but are defined by the condition of the person we care for: carers for dementia, for ASD, for Parkinsons, epilepsy, stroke, etc. Strange, as our own problems are easily identifiable and universal: exhaustion, stress, worry, loneliness, despair. Family carers have twice the suicide rate of non carers. Go figure.

How to help? Carer charities set up initiatives to encourage carers to be ‘better carers’. Er.. why?  What is really needed is for society to be better TO Continue reading A Plea: We All Can Care for Carers!

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Suffolk Coastal & the General Election June 2017

After a very long day’s telling (left) the agents,  polling agents and candidates for the Suffolk Coastal constituency went straight to the count – held in Martlesham  police headquarters – as usual.

Suffolk Coastal is considered a ‘safe’ Tory seat, but events on  the national stage clearly took away some of the sparkle from the occasion for the Conservatives who were present.  Indeed it is hard to imagine a more gloom-ridden victory. After half the night was through, the television room was left to  Labour LibDems and Greens, as if the prevailing feeling was that no news might be good news. One Conservative – whose name I will not mention -was reduced to getting his kicks by sniping at the Greens about lost deposits. Seems to me there were worse things that were lost that night – and not by the Greens.

The count assistants did their usual deft imperturbable job, watched hawklike  by  agents of each political party  who wanted to check that not a single vote went to the wrong destination. Though the way the voting figures went, one vote more or less wasn’t going to make a difference.

The results were as follows: Therese Coffey (Con) 33,713; Cameron Matthews (Lab) 17,701, James Sandbach (LD) 4,048, Eamonn O’Nolan (Gn) 1,802, Philip Young (Ind) 810. There  were 210 spoiled papers.

The turnout, at 73% was 5%  higher than  the overall Suffolk turnout.

I think it is fair to say therefore, that this result fairly repesented the  current views of Suffolk Coastal.

However if you look at the national picture things are not so clearcut.

If we examine each party’s electoral share of the nationall vote: Theresa May is relying on the support of 10 uber-right DUP MPs who – laughably only needed 29,000 votes per seat won to get elected. In contrast the one Green MP in parliament is the sole representative of over 500,000 votes; and each of the 12 LibDem MPs elected represent nearly 200,000 votes. Call this democracy?  The two big beneficiaries – the Conservative and Labour parties – who both voted to retain fptp for ‘the people’ make damn sure that their own internal leaderships are decided by a different system. (Surprise surprise).

If they don’t trust FPTP  for themselves, why do they inflict it on us? End our inequitable First Past The Post system now!

Number of votes required to win a seat by party in GE 2017
1. SNP      28,000
2. DUP      29,000
3. Sinn Fein      34,200
4. Plaid Cymru      40,000
5. Conservative      42,920
6. Labour      58,945
7. LibDem      196,666
8. Green      520,000

 

 

 

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Suffolk County Council Lib Dem Green and Independent group

 As one of the Liberal Democrat councillors elected to Suffolk County council this month, I’m  happy to announce that we will be joining forces with the Suffolk County Council Green and Ind ependent councillors for the 2017-2021 electoral term to form the  SCC  LibDem, Green and Independent Group.

This will allow all LibDem, Green and Independent councillors better representation on county council committees than could otherwise have been possible – which wilĺ make us much more able to hold the administration to account and to bring our constituents’ concerns to the fore.

The group  will also be eligible to have the support of a group researcher.

We will however continue to retain our individual party identities within the group.

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Caroline Page, County Councillor for Woodbridge