Tag Archives: parking

Southwold – O we do like to BMW beside the seaside!

So Southwold is going to address the problems of summer traffic congestion – by banning the few remaining buses that go near the high street???

I kid you not!

Not content with Beeching’s vandalism of the train service, this car-friendly,  car-crammed, car addicted resort is now pandering to the  needs of the visiting 4x4s that it clearly prefers to any concept of greenness, sustainable transport,  car-free shopping etc etc.  And  – surprise, surprise – Suffolk County Council – the supposedly Greenest county – is backing them.

The EADT tells us that

“In an experimental attempt to ease congestion in Southwold High Street during the summer months, Suffolk County Council and Southwold Town Council will temporarily move a bus stop outside Chapman newsagents to the King’s Head pub in a bid to stop large vehicles clogging up the narrow shopping strip.” adding that
While businesses opposed to the plan believe it will harm trade and discourage shoppers, supporters claim it is a sensible way to improve the notoriously bad traffic which plagues the town every summer”

Large vehicles? notoriously bad traffic?  As a regular summer visitor supporting the traders of Southwold (by foot and bicycle) I should coco!   But it isn’t the rare and lesser spotted bus that is to blame. Southwold needs to look first and foremost at the army of 4x4s that block the narrow shopping streets; that  ‘wait’ or  park illegally without thought or consideration for others wherever its most convenient for the driver to do their shopping with the minimum of legwork; that  surround and invade the green spaces, and that by their very numbers befoul the healthy seaside air  so  much more than the occasional bus could ever do.

Southwold and District’s  Safer Neighbourhood Team’s  current top priorities  include  dealing with Unlawful parking in Southwold. It doesn’t take an Einstein to recognise that unlawful parking in the high street can  cause congestion – but its hardly a problem with buses, is it?

And if  – IF – the bus slows you down, who is it  actually slowing? Does it slow you as a pedestrian? as a cyclist? No, it only slows you as  the  occupant of one of the very 4x4s that  cause the problem to begin with!

Less cars and more buses is the obvious answer – but Suffolk – and most particularly Suffolk County Council’s current administration – are reluctant to accept this obvious truth. Why? Well amongst other defences for innate laziness and selfishness, Suffolk postulates that its thinly populated rural status makes an efficient public transport service impossible.

Really? I have just come back from a family reunion. Rural Norway is very (very very) expensive in comparison with the UK, and very thinly populated: 31 people per square mile  as opposed to Suffolk’s 490.  And guess what –  public transport in Norway is cheap, efficient, effective, integrated and runs late into the night.

The difference is that, unlike the people who run Suffolk –  Norwegians want a public transport service, to make sure that everyone can travel in safety and comfort.  The fact that anyone caught driving with any alcohol in their system goes directly to hard labour in  jail must focus the mind wonderfully! Its easy to cut down on drunk driving if you’re not allowed to drink and drive – and suitable alternatives are to hand.

When is this county going to wake up at long last and recognise once and for all that its divisive, narrow-minded, unprogressive and frankly silly desire to accommodate the needs of the selfish motorist at the expense of the unselfish others must now stop?

Woodbridge Town Council report Oct 2010

Suffolk County  Council’s New Strategic Direction – Update

At the September County Council meeting, the New Strategic Direction was adopted as Council policy – the conservative majority meaning that opposing Lib Dem votes had no effect.   The administration  aims to reduce the level of spending by the County Council within its administrative centre and on frontline services.  The Liberal Democrat group voted against this.

The Chief Executive’s plan which she calls the New Strategic Direction (NSD) is to expect the market and communities take over a number of services that are currently provided by the Council.  These services have been specified and the first tranche are due to be ‘divested’ in April.

The administration believes this will significantly reduce a predicted but not yet specified 30% funding gap expected to hit the County Council over the coming years. We Lib Dems believe it may more closely approximate to selling off the family silver!

  • As opposition, my party is concerned at the speed at which the council intend to carry out this policy – which is not supported by a business plan – and the way neither staff at the Council, nor other local councils nor the residents of Suffolk  have been consulted on the proposals, although we have all been told we have been!  We feel that before this policy goes ahead, the Council must gauge the view of the public, and communicate with the third sector, without which this policy would not survive.  We must ensure that by engaging with the public, Suffolk County Council will commit to a wider scale consultation with all organisations and groups across Suffolk.  I have been personally campaigning to raise awareness of this issue.

It is essential that the Council realises the level of risk associated with such a plan, as even if they are to outsource elements of the Council there is no guarantee that it will save council taxpayers money.  Each service has a required budget, whether it is inside the Council, or outside. In essence we feel that the council is moving far too quickly and without a realistic analysis of the risks involved to services.

Also the council currently has considerable overspends on those services already outsourced e.g. the Adult Care service which  has a £1m overspend this year, and almost a £1m overspend in Children’s services. In addition the contract with Customer Service Direct was meant to have saved the council £80m over 10 years. There is no evidence of any savings, and last year the annual cost of the CSD increased by 12%. So there is little evidence that the County Council is managing existing contracts within budget.

They have also failed to factor in the total cost of redundancies. If they are truly looking to downsize staff numbers by 4,000 that equates to around £110m in redundancy payments.

The council saysavings must be made at the centre of the organisation. In spite of various initiatives to reduce the size of the centre of the organisation, there was an actual increase of 100 in non frontline staff this year.

The decision on the 23rd of September means that the County Council will now go further forward in looking for pilot schemes and drawing up plans to implement this policy, which will officially begin in April 2011.  Within the paper itself, (a link can be found here http://apps2.suffolk.gov.uk/cgi-bin/committee_xml.cgi?p=detail&id=1_14720), there is a list of suggestions for the first services that could be outsourced, each of the services would be analysed to fit into a specific group; for example libraries as community initiatives, or transport planning/bus services being countywide outcome based contracts.

I

Cabinet on the 12th of October

As usual members of the public are able to put questions to the administration at Cabinet, with the next opportunity having been being today, 12th of October.

The deadline for questions is four working days prior to the meeting.  More information on this can be found here; http://www.suffolk.gov.uk/CouncilAndDemocracy/CommitteesAgendasReportsandMinutes/PublicQuestionTimeatMeetingsoftheCountyCouncilandCabinet.htm

The items that will be on the agenda for this meeting, that may be of interest include;

  • SCC taking over administration of the concessionary travel  passes
  • Options for the Council’s residential homes for older people in light of the current financial situatioh.
  • The impact of blanket rising four admissions to primary school  on nursery provision
  • |the proposed closure of the Ipswich Bury Rd Park and Ride
  • Street Lighting –proposals on Part night lighting and dimming of Suffolk street lights

I will give details of any of these at the WTC meeting if required

SCC Transport and Highway Budget cuts

This years’ Suffolk County Council Quality of Life budgets have been slashed by 12.5%. (QoL budgets are the individual budgets that Suffolk County Councillors have in order to provide for local transport issues that might get overlooked with priority funding, specifically:

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

The good news is, because of efficient accounting and planning by our local engineering team and the very useful nature of the projects we’d decided on, Woodbridge will not be greatly affected by this. Two of the three projects that were contemplated are going ahead:

  • an island for helping crossing at the top of Ipswich road to assist school students, mums with prams, bus users and cyclists to cross is still going ahead in October and
  • a solar powered ’30’ sign on the steep slope down on Ipswich Road, that will hopefully help slow drivers just before the blind bend at the Sandy lane junction is being put up this autumn
  • Additionally I funded bollards to prevent inconsiderate and dangerous parking (generally, sadly, by Farlingaye parents ) at near the  Hasketon Road/Ransome Road intersection. These have just been put up

However, the bad news is on the wider highways budget.  We have just heard from Portfolio Holder Guy McGregor that all the Parking Reviews in Suffolk have been cut. This includes the one in Woodbridge on which so much time and energy has been spent. I’m sure that you will find this as irritating and upsetting as I do. However, here too all is not lost – I have been offered a choice. The third QoL scheme planned for Woodbridge  was traffic calming in Sandy Lane. I have received the following from the engineer:

“I have been looking at the details of the spending on the QoL budget. At present, you are fully committed. However, I am aware that we have not spent much on the Sandy Lane scheme (current allocation of £4500). The cycling officer has come up with a plan involving signs and lines that could slow traffic and  increase awareness of cyclists and pedestrians.

However, if you wanted to continue with the review, there may be a way forward. We estimate that the cost of completing the review will be approximately £8000. Approximately a third of the sign and line changes in the review on site works are due to maintenance. I could ask our maintenance people to pay or contribute towards this, which would see income to the scheme of up to £2000. If we removed the planned work within the review of removing all the unnecessary no waiting at any time plates and posts, we would save approximately £1500. This would then bring the total cost of completing the review down to about £4500 – the amount allocated to Sandy Lane.

In addition, we have a separate allocation to look at changing the parking along Thoroughfare, paid for the Air Quality budget. If we were able to add the advertising of the review to the advertising of this, we could  save a further £1000.”

Given

a) the stress and strife that the Parking review has generated to date

b) the need for calming in Sandy Lane

c) the relative impact of each of these options on the population of Woodbridge

I felt this was a matter for full consultation, I put the matter to the Woodbridge Highways committee, who were in favour of prioritising finishing the parking scheme which I believe will be finally agreed this evening?

NB: Woodbridge Town Council voted unanimously to finish the TRO

Woodbridge Thoroughfare closed to cars

ROAD TRAFFIC REGULATION ACT 1984: SECTION 14

 TEMPORARY CLOSURE OF PART OF THE U3628 THE THOROUGHFARE, WOODBRIDGE AND SUSPENSION

Suffolk County Council intends to make an order closing the U3628 The Thoroughfare, Woodbridge outside no. 88 next to the Red Lion Public House to enable repairs to a collapsed sewer. Other coordinated works may also take place during this period.

Access will be open for pedestrians and cyclists.

 The diversion route will be via Lime Kiln Quay Road, Quay Side and Quay Street.

 It is intended that the closure will operate on 4 July 2010 and 11 July 2010, but if necessary the order may remain in force for longer

 During the closure, The Suffolk County Council (Parish of Woodbridge) (Various Roads) (Traffic Regulation) Order 1975 will be suspended for access purposes insofar as it relates to one-way traffic in The Thoroughfare.