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.
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.
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.