Tag Archives: park & ride

Things you need to know happened in February

Very positive news about speeding in Woodbridge and sorting the Thoroughfare issues offset news of yet more budget cuts and library cuts. There is also hope for Woodbridge for the new Park & Ride. I’m also planning to  ‘claim’ a piece of land for a bus stop.

Suffolk’s County  Budget 2017-8   Suffolk County Council’s County Budget 2017-18 was set at the beginning of February. The  Conservative emphasis was on keeping spend down and how they have amassed large reserves over the past seven years of zero council tax rises.  Labour wanted to spend to preserve services and give the residents of Suffolk what they need. Lib Dems felt the Conservatives were cutting too hard but Labour were spending at the top limit of what would be possible.

In the end the administration carried the day and a further £30 million will be cut from services.

Suffolk Library Services suffer further cut   Amongst the many cuts to this year’s budget,  Suffolk County Council is inflicting a further £230,000 cut to the library service.  (£280,000 if we include the archives) .

Over the last years, staff and volunteers have worked  to keep all the  Suffolk libraries open as IPSs and to increase and improve provision across the county. They consider they have already streamlined  services as far as practicable. Investing in the immense range of things our libraries do so well and  so cheaply is building social capital that benefits Suffolk in a huge range of ways. In my view it is simple madness to damage it or throw it away.

In the last ten days  on the streets of Woodbridge,  I managed to get 1200 signatures for a petition which says “We oppose any further reductions to the funding of Suffolk’s invaluable and irreplaceable library services, and urge Suffolk County Council not to make this cut. “ The people who signed were of all ages, backgrounds  and political affiliations – the eldest was 101.  The one thing they agreed on was that these cuts were unacceptable. Over and over again the signatories’  comments repeated the fact that our libraries are ‘essential’, ‘vital’, and that users want “No more cuts!”. At the budget meeting I asked  the administration, on behalf of the people I represent, to withdraw this cut.

Sadly, they did not listen.

20 mph zone and calming  proposals for Woodbridge   We are on target to get the report to the Suffolk County Council Speed Panel for the meeting of 22 February where I will present it.
(STOP PRESS: I GOT IT THROUGH. More to follow)

Woodbridge Thoroughfare Working Group update   This is meeting very productively with reps from all Woodbridge’s elected parties, and councils, the police, the Highways officers, the traders and the residents  with the aim of trying to find consensus for a short, mid- and long-term plan to improve footfall and preserve the future of the Woodbridge Thoroughfare in all its aspects because it is the heart of Woodbridge and the lifeblood of the town.

A sticking point is enforcement, and only some of the enforcement issues can be solved by the prospective decriminalisation of parking offences and its transfer from the police to Suffolk Coastal District Council.

(Speeding issues could be assisted by a change in speed limit. STOP PRESS: The Thoroughfare is part of the newly agreed 20mph zone See above!)

As the mystifying signs at the beginning of the Thoroughfare are the legal consequence of the current TRO (traffic regulation order) it would seem sensible to simplify the TRO (hopefully in advance of the transfer) so as to be able to discourage unnecessary through traffic by correct, legal and simple signs.(Read all about the complexities of the situation here)

Currently questionnaires about usage, access, and deliveries  are being filled in by traders and residents, and various options of simple signage are being investigated to best reflect the consensus. A TRO could be built around this

Proposals for Ipswich Northern Bypass – and how each may pact on Woodbridge With Ipswich coming to a standstill every rush hour and every closure of the Orwell bridge, a progress report into the need for additional road capacity to the north of Ipswich, has been published (aka  the long-proposed Ipswich Northern bypass).

Initial broad route corridors have been considered for a potential link between the A12 and A14; and are:

  • an inner corridor from Martlesham to Claydon
  • an middle corridor from Woodbridge to Claydon
  • and an outer corridor from Melton to Needham Market.

All of these will impact on residents of Woodbridge.

Preliminary traffic modelling has indicated that roads in each of these corridors would have different effects on traffic eg. an outer corridor would have more benefit to longer distance trips than trips more local to the Ipswich area.

Each potential corridor would also have different impacts on the environment, and on the potential to support future growth.

The next stage of study will examine route options in more detail, including traffic, economic and environmental impacts. It will also consider the extent to which the options might support potential future scenarios for housing and employment growth beyond 2031.

You can download the report in full here https://www.suffolk.gov.uk/roads-and-transport/public-transport-bus-pass-and-transport-planning/consultations-and-studies/

Proposed Bus Shelter opposite Notcutts  Having been unable to find out ownership of the untended strip of land next to the Cherry Tree on which there is a broken bench, SCC Highways intends to put up notices ‘claiming’ it so as to allow us to put up a bus stop there without (potentially) being sued!

County Councillor’s Surgery  My monthly  County Councillor’s  surgery in the library, now in its 6th year, continues to bring in more and more people. December’s surgery had people waiting for the 9am start, was packed from start to finish, and lasted for three and a half hours (so finished an hour and a half late) due to pressure of numbers.

The overwhelming issues are parking, speeding, road surfaces, and pedestrian problems. However I deal with issues as different as  deportations, youth issues,  special educational needs problems, social care crises, homelessness, and charitable organisation support. Unfortunately I had to cancel February’s surgery through illhealth – the first time I’ve ever done this in over 6 years.

There will only be to more surgeries in the remainder of this electoral cycle:18th March – and my final surgery of this electoral cycle on 15 April.

Park & Ride Update

Anxious passengers at Ipswich P&R discuss its future
Anxious passengers at Ipswich P&R discuss its future

After deciding – once again – to cut a public transport subsidy, SCC’s Conservative administration have decided to honour their commitment to Park and Ride services by trying to make the Ipswich Park & Ride self-supporting!

The dream is to get the bus companies that operate alongside it to take over P&R services: Ipswich buses at the London Road end and First at the Martlesham end. (Many of us have used this system for years. It is called “catching a bus”).

The buildings in the carparks will no longer be ticket offices but will be offered to retail companies.

At the London Road End this plan seems comparatively simple: the 13 bus runs along the same route and Park & Ride tickets can already be used on it out of hours. There are, however, problems for users to the east. I was told, as LibDem Transport Spokesperson, that the 64 & 65 are the services which will become Park and Ride buses at Martlesham. However the Labour spokesperson has been told it would definitely be the 66. Asking the Cabinet Member for disambiguation, he had no idea whatsoever. We now hear it hasn’t been decided. The choice is important: neither service is ideal: the 66 service is slow and goes round a lot of houses. The 64/65 start out as far as Aldeburgh and Leiston and can often get deleayed.

In all, I am not sure how successfully this scheme will work, or whether it is a fudge to extend the operation beyond the forthcoming elections cobbled together by an administration which does not personally use buses.

Suffolk residents need the park& ride to help deal with the increasing congestion in Ipswich. The administration  requires it to be income generating. Of course, there is no reason why it should not be both if properly run. This administration has never shown much sign of wishing to run it properly.

The best way to make the P&R more income-generating would be to make it more responsive to demand and that would be to provide a speedy service for commuters to reduce the morning rush hour. This our local buses do not do.

At the moment I cannot see any very compelling reason why people should now drive to the P&R from Woodbridge rather than getting on the same bus in Woodbridge – especially as they will be able to use their bus passes in Woodbridge but will pay to sit on the same bus if they board it at the Park & Ride!
We will wait and see as more details emerge.

Sizewell C Consultation

This is the last day to put in a response to EDF’s Sizewell C Stage 1 Consultation.  The consultation doesn’t allow for any debate on  whether we should have a new Nuclear power station at Sizewell.  It deals solely with the practicalities of  Sizewell C’s  construction and its impact on those of us who live in its path.

And there will be an impact, no two ways about itCurrently it looks like being an impact with very little benefit to us residents of Suffolk Coastal. 

Particularly  worrying  for Woodbridge residents would be the impact of a works Park & Ride and Lorry Park at Woods Lane. I’ve therefore sent EDF this response on behalf of all those who have raised concerns with me:

      Re: SIZEWELL C Stage 1 CONSULTATION

In responding to this consultation, I am writing as elected County Councillor for Woodbridge to raise concerns specific to my division. I am also responding more generally as Suffolk Lib Dem spokesman for Transport. I am restricting my comments to the period of construction as it is the impact of this that is specifically being consulted upon.

        Overall   These plans offer only the most cursory and non-holistic reference to the heritage nature of the Suffolk coastal landscape – and to the impact that the lengthy period of construction will have on both the landscape and the lifestyle that residents currently enjoy.

The benefits of Sizewell C will be to the country as a whole. It would seem inappropriate that the impact should be felt so disproportionately by the 0.2% of the population (124,000 people) who make up the population of Suffolk Coastal. The question that comes to mind (in the vernacular) is, “What’s in it for us?”

        Transport   At its peak the construction workforce is expected to be 5600 people, 34% of whom will commute. This will put nearly 2,000 more daily commuters on the overcrowded A12. Although much freight will be by rail/sea , EDF currently forecasts 100-300 more HGV deliveries (I read this as 200-600 HGV journeys) daily on the A12 in the years of peak construction. EDF would prefer to manage this via a lorry park at the Southern P&R.

Commuter traffic    EDF claims that the construction of North and South Park & Rides could ‘significantly reduce the amount of commuter traffic on local roads’ during the peak years of construction. This is not strictly accurate:  the best they are designed for is to ameliorate some of the excess that the construction of SizewellC will put upon our roads! There is no reference in the consultation to these P&Rs serving our local commuters.

And even within this limited definition of a ‘significant reduction’, the Park & Rides – wherever they are placed – will not ameliorate the increased levels of traffic arriving and departing from them.

In the case of Woodbridge, the proposed Southern P&R option C  is at the already busy roundabout at the A1152/A12 junction, north of the town.  It would therefore not ameliorate the increased levels of traffic that would need to pass Woodbridge.  At the same time a P&R there would add considerably to the congestion, pollution and rat-running that are already a problem here as traffic seeks to avoid the bottle-neck at the A1152/A12 junction.

Although the Southern P&R option C  would be on the A12, it would have a significant impact on  Woodbridge residents in terms of increased noise, light and environmental pollution – particularly for  those living in the Farlingaye ward .

It would also have an adverse impact on the 2000-odd students who attend Woodbridge’s Farlingaye High School. With a catchment area of 400sqm of Suffolk Coastal, and school bus access  directly from the A12 and close to the A1152 junction, congestion at peak times is likely to conflict with school drop-off and delivery.

Lorry Park  It is clear that EDF expects that most lorry traffic will be travelling northward to the site, past Woodbridge. A lorry park at Option C would exacerbate all the problems mentioned above, regarding commuter traffic.  Woodbridge would suffer the double whammy of both the increase in HGV traffic and the lorry park while gaining no identified benefit from either.

 Rail   The A1152 crosses the East Suffolk line at an open crossing at Melton. A recent upgrade in the service to hourly passenger trains is already increasing congestion at this point (and rat-running through Woodbridge). Sizewell C development proposes to transport significant amounts of construction materials by train which is to be welcomed. However it will further exacerbate crossing delays and congestion and add to the potential problems of rat-running through Woodbridge.

        Conclusion     The proposals for building Sizewell C will have a great impact on the Suffolk Coastal region. This is because they are reliant on one single north/south axis in both road and rail provision.   As yet it is far from clear that that EDF’s proposals fully recognize and allow for this impact: it seems instead as if the A12 is being seen as one giant corridor to Sizewell – with little concern for the communities that line it.

The strategic geographical position of Woodbridge, sandwiched between A12 and East Suffolk line, means that the impact might be felt most keenly by its 7500 inhabitants, particularly if the Southern P&R option C is decided upon. This would bring many disadvantages to our town without one single clear advantage.  There is no incentive or reason for us to support it.

I would recommend that, before the next consultation, EDF look again – and more closely – at significant investment in Rail improvements. That is, not only at increasing enhancements to the East Suffolk line, but also at building bridges at rail crossings to allow more freight to be moved by rail while reducing the impact on road crossing users.

As regards siting the Lorry Parks and Park and Rides, EDF should be looking at areas where there would be minimal disruption to and impact on communities AND landscape. This clearly rules out the current proposals for Southern P&R option C at Woodbridge

Finally, I am deeply disappointed that it is proposed  the residents of east Suffolk should bear such a high degree of inconvenience over so many years for the good of the nation at large without any substantive mention of a reasonable payback. We need bridges over the A12 where footpaths have been cut in two. We need bridges over the East Suffolk line, where commuters currently wait in traffic jams. We need decent public transport for huge swathes of the rural population.  All these needs could be addressed with little extra cost if EDF considered them as part of a holistic plan for the development of Sizewell C.

I hope you will take these comments back and consider them seriously in your ongoing deliberations

Yours sincerely    

Caroline Page

 

Ipswich Park & Ride consultation: a blink and you missed it!

In December the County Council launched a very brief consultation regarding the future commissioning of the Ipswich Park and Ride service.  Officers stressed that  “this consultation is not about cutting the service; the three questions were about how we deliver it in future.”

However, the questions were limited, leading and offered no opportunity to comment. The time given for people to respond to the survey was extremely short and included the Christmas holiday. There was very little publicity for the survey, apart from a notice in the buses themselves.

Given such circumstances, the actual point of this survey could be called into question!

The questions were :–

  1. Would it be acceptable to use buses that are not dedicated to the Park and Ride scheme to deliver the service so long as a high frequency service is still maintained?
  2. If the services were changed so as not to offer the cross town link would this seriously disadvantage you as a passenger? (Currently the Park and Ride services are linked to each other so that a bus leaving one site goes all the way through Ipswich to the other site. A proposal is that the Park and Ride scheme reverts to its original operation with buses from each site going to the town centre only and returning to the same site. This may have the effect of improving reliability but may require some passengers to change buses in the town centre).
  3. If staff were not present on site would this have an impact on your journey? (Currently the Park and Ride sites are manned whilst the service is operating. They assist passengers and ensure that the facilities are kept to a high standard. A proposal is that the buildings could be used in a different way that still provide basic facilities (rest rooms etc) to passengers but without staff being present at all times.)

As a Martlesham Parish Councillor pointed out, “it was an exceptionally primitive survey indeed.. I would argue very strongly that it is quite useless for the purpose implied in the email below. In particular the answer to the simple question which asked whether you would use the service if it relied on existing bus routes depends largely on the journey time and seat availability of the alternatives.  For example if it meant using the 66 through then the answer for many would be no as it takes too long.”

Recent events have highlighted SCC’s poor record on consultation over public transport matters – for example their unilateral decision-making on concessionary fares.

While it can only be good to see a recognition of this, however belated, I suspect it might also be a good idea to give training on how to actually create surveys. It seems to me that SurveyMonkey has a lot to answer for!

 

 

 

SCC: where does their “Interest” lie?

 At their last Cabinet meeting SCC’s Tories revealed that they had underspent a total of £13.1m in the last financial year. Much of this money is going into the already large reserves (now standing at £158m).

Yes, you heard me right.

At a time of huge financial stress when we need to make best use of every penny, they quite unnecessarily took more than £13m from our hard-pressed services and entrusted it to the banks

They must be the last people left in the country who have any faith left in bankers.

And they put their trust in the banking system at a time when public money is desperately needed to support the local economy. When the community is reeling under the impact of lost public services .

The Conservative administration has told us they’ve cut these services because they were unaffordable. This is how they have justified the huge damage that they have inflicted on Suffolk’s public transport – by tellling us that  “you can’t spend a pound more than once,”(as the Cabinet member responsible has told us rather more than once).

Now it seems clear that the Cabinet just doesn’t want to spend some of these (our) pounds at all.

We live in a time where belt-tightening may be unavoidable, but it is clear that the Conservatives’ cutting has been overly-enthusiastic.  The money they have put into low-interest reserves could better be spent on restoring such valued and socially valuable services as the eXplore youth travel Card, our closed Household Waste Recycling Centres, the Bury Road Park and Ride, many axed bus routes, and those essential and valued walk-in Youth clubs (so useful for those who cannot afford subscription activities) as well as improving the bus pass conditions for Suffolk elderly and disabled.

These were all services that my colleagues and I argued to reinstate at Budget time, but it fell on deaf ears.  More than deaf ears – as I recall, the Leader suggested our budget had been ‘scribbled on the back of a fag packet.’

Better than on the front of a paying-in slip, Cllr Bee!

Suffolk County’s Conservatives would much rather invest our money in banks than in the people of Suffolk – preferring to build up capital than to build social capital.