Where the Woodbridge QoL Transport funds will go..

After a lot of thought and discussions with residents,  the police, Woodbridge town council , Martlesham Parish council and county council officials, I’ve decided on the following:

The Seal Crossing

Although I allocated money for this last year, progress has been slow. I’ve therefore added an additional £5,000 from this years funding to the money I allocated last year for the island crossing at the top of Ipswich Road.  The aim is to get something that will allow people to cross in two stages, that will also encourage drivers to slow down by alerting them to the fact people (school students, mothers with buggies, elderly bus users and cyclists)I believe that surveyors have now been out to identify the best place and that plans are being drawn up.

Calming Ipswich Road

I’m allocating £3000 hopefully for a speed activated sign for further along Ipswich Road. I’m thinking of some alert – a solar-powered LED maybe? For the steep slope that leads down to the John Grose garage. Because the banks are steep and there are no pavements no-one can safely do speed checks and there is subsequently a new entrance to the new housingcoming out onto the road after a blind bend. I and the police and the town council are all really – and legitimately -worried about the danger of this.

Sandy lane

This remaining £4000 is to go to traffic calming/cyclist and pedestrian protection in Sandy Lane. The difficulty with Sandy Lane is that not only are issues about pedestrians etc going along from adjacent houses, but it is a National Cycle route AND  at every high tide and a couple of hours on each side, the other footpath from Woodbridge to Martlesham is impassable (three feet depth of water across two or three hundred yards at the creek) meaning all sorts of walkers ramblers dogwalkers twitchers etc have to divert onto the road which is very windy and with steep banks and high hedges on the Woodbridge side of the railway bridge. I have walked this with three Martlesham parish councillors to get their ideas

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April’s report to Woodbridge Town Council

Railways – oh,  and Management Consultants

The second meeting of the County Council Cabinet in March had a large agenda.  Two issues are likely to be of particular interest to you:

Firstly, the Council’s response to the Greater Anglia rail franchise consultation – which rested on the findings of the Rail Policy Group (of which  I am a member) saw much support from across the political spectrum to improve the quality and quantity of train services across the region. Important areas that were stressed included:

  • The need for an hourly service to Peterborough;
  • the hourly service to Lowestoft (this should be up and running as far as Saxmundham by December); this further depends on the building of the Beccles loop;
  • adjusting the timings of interconnecting trains to correspond better;
  • greater parity of  equivalent fares across the franchise area – currently the cheapest day return fare to London from Ipswich is twice what it is from Cambridge to London
  • more advance notice of replacement bus services and ensuring they carry luggage and bikes  that were carried on the train
  • more provision for bikes on trains
  • Suggestion for better links with bus services

The Conservative-run Suffolk County Council Cabinet wanted to request “the exemption to Suffolk County Council’s standing orders for the procurement of organisational development resources to reshape the organisation” – in other words pay  up to £122,000 to three companies (DNA, Scintillate and Fields of Learning) in order for them to provide unspecified ‘organisational development services’ without public tender (!). However, although this  extraordinary decision – particularly extraordinary considering we are supposed to be scrutinising every expenditure and accounting for every penny –  was passed by the Cabinet, it was then  ‘called in’ by Lib Dem leaders Kathy Pollard and David Wood. This means that the decision has now to be considered by full council in May before it can be passed. Let us hope Ms Hill will provide fuller details of what she is planning.

If you would like to see a copy of the papers from cabinet, they are located here: http://apps2.suffolk.gov.uk/cgi-bin/committee_xml.cgi

Energy Monitors on Loan from Suffolk Libraries

Suffolk County Council has started to loan energy monitors from Libraries across the County.  The monitors allow you to check the electricity usage in your own home, helping to save on electricity bills in the future.For more information, on how to borrow one, or reserve one, the Suffolk County Council website will provide the details.

http://www.suffolk.gov.uk/LeisureAndCulture/Libraries/LibraryNews/EnergyMonitors.htm

Quality of Life transport for Woodbridge schemes

As you know, I have around £10,000 to spend on projects in my district that will develop the transport infrastructure (in addition to about £8,000 earmarked from last year for a crossing by the Seal which is still in development). These need to fit into the following categories:

  • Speed limits and speed reduction schemes/anxiety relief schemes
  • Cycling schemes
  • Pedestrian schemes
  • Public transport schemes
  • Rights of way schemes
  • Traffic management schemes

I updated councillors with schemes that could be considered a couple of weeks back. After further feedback from councillors, officers and the police the suggestions have been streamlined down to the following:

Ipswich Road – speeding: The SNT have conducted speed checks in the area. Speeding tickets have been issued but the area of most concern is between the Seal and John |Grose (particularly with the exit of the new development being quite tucked away). A LED warning sign may be of benefit as a warning to drivers.  If it proved to be a suitable site, the cost of a sign would be about £5000.

Thoroughfare restrictions. the signs detailing the restrictions in the Thoroughfare are both confusing and sited in inappropriate positions at the present time. The police suggest a sign be erected on the built pavement area in front of the red lion giving this information (perhaps constructed so as to incorporate a bicycle rack or a planter etc.) this would assist greatly with reducing traffic entering the thoroughfare during the restricted times and also improve the quality of the shopping experience in woodbridge

Sandy Lane traffic calming

I am investigating this with a couple of Martlesham parish councillors as the boundaries put the lane between Woodbridge and Martlesham at different points depending on which council is involved.

Hasketon Rd junction with Ransom Rd (safety of pedestrians particularly thoses going to / from FHS). I have been pursuing this for a long time now despite some obstruction from officers, via my Locality budget. The SNT confirm they have had a number of local residents complaining of parents / carers parking on the verges etc and causing chaos in this area. Yellow lines are planned for the junction but it will probably move the problem further along. We need  some way of discouraging people from parking on the nearby grass verges whether by simple bollards as outside St Marys school (a short distance away) or by some form of planting. This would greatly improve both the visual looks of the area and the safety of those on foot/cycle.

Woodbridge – signing According to officers, the signs on the A12 were amended a little while ago to say ‘Woodbridge town centre only’ and the road marking were changed to dedicate one lane purely for access to Woodbridge and a lane for all other traffic. They really don’t think we can improve on this. However at the new roundabout on the B1438, I notice the big sign signposts read Woodbridge, Melton and Ufford.

Other projects included improving the cycle lane between Wyvedale and Farlingaye  school at the currently dangerous section past the garage. SCC officer David Kemp is  looking at possible ideas  – and if we’re lucky we might get them without using the QOL money.  The renewal of road markings on the A12 as suggested by Cllr Geen is apparently a maintenance function and therefore outside the remit of QoL funding. However Angela Rapley has passed the concern on to item onto the Area office that deals with maintenance.

Potholes

Although the government have given Suffolk County council an extra £1.9million for urgent surface repairs, this will not go very far with all the potholes that have opened up after last winter.  I have been asked by the Roads and Transport scrutiny committee to research the impact on road surfaces of bikes as opposed to cars to see whether savings could be made in road maintenance  by encouraging modal shifts to sustainable travel. Any assistance from anyone with specific expertise in this field would be gratefully received.

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Quality of Life transport schemes for Woodbridge?

I have just over £12,000 to spend on small local schemes –  projects in Woodbridge that will develop the transport infrastructure. To be eligible these need to fit into the following categories:

  • Speed limits and speed reduction schemes/anxiety relief schemes
  • Cycling schemes
  • Pedestrian schemes
  • Public transport schemes
  • Rights of way schemes
  • Traffic management schemes

This is a great chance for us as a non-‘priority town’ like Woodbridge to access funding for projects  that wouldn’t otherwise get it –and there’s still time to have your say about where this money should go.

So far I have the following ideas:

– renewing the road markings on the A12 near the Pelican crossing to reduce speed;
– improvements to Cross Corner (This is a very worthy cause but as it got half the money last year, I would suggest it would be fair to see this suggestion as a fallback position)
–  residents are often me concerned about the issue of traffic calming and safe pedestrian crossing between the Seal and Notcutts  on the Ipswich Road  (plus cycling UP Ipswich road is very scary for all but v committed cyclists as it is steep and there is nowhere to dismount and walk). A solar powered speed warning light might help – particularly as there will be a new (and in my opinion unsafe) blind exit onto the eastbound side from the new development shortly ;
– a project ensuring safer access to school  for FHS students- both cycling and walking – to take the heat off Woodbridge in general and Ransom Road in particular trafficwise (-for example, is there any chance of moving parental car access to the bus park off the A12? ) There is also definitely scope for improving the cycle track along the A12 from Wyevale to FHS.
–  considering signing Woodbridge at the A12 roundabout as ‘Woodbridge Only’ to encourage lorries headed for Alderton, Ramsholt, Shottisham etc to carry on to Woods Lane instead of using the B1438 to go through Woodbridge/Melton unnecessarily
-the road that accesses the London-bound trainline across the first level crossing and the harbour by Woodbridge station is often acessed by cars dropping elderly/disabled people and those with heavy luggage etc who find it hard to cross the Woodbridge station bridge. It remains difficult to exit by car back to Quayside (B1438)because of the bend in the road which restricts vision from the right. Something – a mirror perhaps – might help?
– residents in Sandy Lane are concerned by speeding and rat running and would welcome traffic calming. It is Woodbridge division as far as the bridge – and it is one of the places I hoped to put up a safety sign last year.
– finally, I’ve been asked by a Cumberland St resident to look at the buildout at the Ipswich Road end of Cumberland St. because although intended as a safety measure its not necessarily slowing down the traffic down Cumberland Street as intended.

Please contact me in person or via phone, email or the blog if you have any other ideas

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Woodbridge Town Council Report March 2010

March Cabinet

Due to the timing of Easter, there are two Suffolk County Council  cabinet meetings in March, one on the 2nd of March, and the other, later in the month on the 30th.

The most interesting item in the first meeting  was the County Council’s endorsement of the Suffolk Shoreline Management Plan, drafted between Suffolk Coastal District Council, and Waveney and  stating the short, medium and long term plans in place for the coast.  Particular concerns are the areas of Covehithe and Dunwich which would be left undefended, as well as the roads which could be damaged by rising sea levels. At an interview for the BBC I raised the issue of suitable longterm defences for the various Sizewell reactors – both current and decomissioned

The most important item for us locally at the second meeting on the 30th of March will be the next Greater Anglia Rail franchise consultation. I’m a member of the Rail Policy Group and will be attending the  meeting. If there are any items on this agenda which you are particularly interested in, please let me know.  I will also inform you of any decision that the cabinet makes with those items you wish to know more about.

Quality of Life funding for Transport Improvements

The County Council is going to continue its quality of life transport funding for 2010/11, although with a 20% cut. I have £10,000, I believe to spend on projects in Woodbridge that will develop the transport infrastructure. These need to fit into the following categories:

  • Speed limits and speed reduction schemes/anxiety relief schemes
  • Cycling schemes
  • Pedestrian schemes
  • Public transport schemes
  • Rights of way schemes
  • Traffic management schemes

This is a great chance for us as a non-priority town to access funding for these projects – so please contact me with any ideas you may have for ones that are suitable.

Woodbridge Library opening

I had a look round the new Woodbridge library in the former New Street school yesterday in advance of its formal opening . I was in company with Y1 and Y6 pupils from the new Woodbridge Primary.  Both the children and I were very impressed – the building is  very beautiful and has been designed for purpose in a way that the old building was not  -for a start, it is wholly accessible for the disabled and there are now twice the amount of books available.

East Suffolk Lines Community Rail Partnership stakeholder meeting

There will be the first East Suffolk Lines Community Rail Partnership stakeholder meeting to discuss discuss proposals in the draft Stations Investment Plan on how local stations can be improved.  They are looking for  views, involvement and commitment to making the East Suffolk line and Felixstowe branch a success with well kept stations, increased patronage and community involvement.

The meeting will be held on 16th March 2010 in the Elisabeth Room, Endeavour House, Russell Road, Ipswich starting at 18:45 until 20:30.  . The station improvement plan can be viewed on website; http://www.suffolkonboard.com/rail/east_suffolk_line_stations_investment_plan

I will be attending, and hope to have the company of at least one member of Woodbridge Town Council to ensure that Woodbridge’s interests are properly represented!.

Full Council 25th of March

The County Council will have its next meeting on the 25th of March.  As yet there is no indication of what will be on the agenda for this meeting.

However, it does present you with an opportunity to ask questions of the administration, as there is now a twenty minute period at the beginning of each Full Council meeting for the public to quiz the administration.  You do not have to attend for your question to be answered, but if you don’t attend there is not an opportunity to ask a supplementary question.

The deadline to submit questions for full council is 12 noon on Friday the 19th of March.

For more information about public questions please head to http://www.suffolk.gov.uk/CouncilAndDemocracy/CommitteesAgendasReportsandMinutes/PublicQuestionTimeatCountyCouncilMeetings.htm

Woodbridge bus services

Very many thanks to the  Woodbridge Town Councillors who joined with me and members of the Seckford Almshouses to complain about poor bus services. You may not be surprised to hear that these complaints have been met with the usual resounding silence from the authorities approached –  that is, the bus company and the  county council officers – and indeed out sitting MP John Gummer. I will keep you informed of future progress

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Caroline Page, County Councillor for Woodbridge