Tag Archives: pedestrians

Woodbridge Thoroughfare: have your say!

Members of Thoroughfare Working Group by the current impossibly complicated sign:
L to R: Jill Barratt (Choose Woodbridge, retailer); Rick Chapman (Choose Woodbridge, retailer, resident); Graeme Hawkes (SNT); Maggie Chapman (Choose Woodbridge, retailer, resident); Emma Greenhouse (disabled resident); Caroline Page (County Councillor); Julian Royle (resident); Geoff Holdcroft (Town & District Councillor). Absent: Eamonn O’Nolan (Town Councillor), Tony Buckingham (SCC Highways).

Join the Community Consultation to make Woodbridge Thoroughfare better!

Interested in helping decide how best to improve the Thoroughfare? Come to Woodbridge Library, 25th September to 1 October, and help define the best way forward.

We all know that the Thoroughfare – Woodbridge’s vibrant retail heart – has had increasing problems with traffic and parking in recent years. Residents, visitors, shoppers and traders have all expressed concern.

We also know why.

The underlying problem is that both access and parking is governed by a Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) that’s decades out of date and no longer fit for purpose.  It no longer reflects the needs and usage of people in the Thoroughfare.

So that’s the problem. But how to solve it? Everyone has different needs, concerns and priorities. As a result, the issue has been going round in circles for years. To break this deadlock I brought together a group that represented all major players – clearly the only way to find a workable solution to these problems was by working together. We don’t want to disadvantage anybody.

And after ten months discussion, research  and evidence-taking, we have managed to come up with three workable options.

All the ideas are based around a simple, easy-to-understand sign which is what the current TRO doesn’t allow for – but there are three different versions. We’ll be showing these options, explaining the benefits and drawbacks of each – and asking for you to help us decide.”

The Woodbridge Thoroughfare Working group is  cross-party, and involves Woodbridge councillors at county, district and town level, as well as local police, traders, residents and representatives from Suffolk County Council’s Highway team.

If you are not able to attend at the library you will be able to see and comment on the consultation documents online , in this blog from 25 September.

Woodbridge Thoroughfare Community Consultation:  Woodbridge Library, 25th September to 1 October 2017 (and online at this blog)

Clearing pavements: True Grit!

OK, folks. Snowtime has finally arrived.

When the weather  is like it is now, with thick snow covering the pavements and turning to icy lumps, please don’t wait for ‘someone to do something.’  Get out your shovels and clear any bits of pavement you know will be dangerous – particularly for your elderly neighbours – before the snow becomes ice. I’ve made sure there’s a grit bin anywhere anyone has asked for one (funded from my Locality budget), so grit as well as shovel and there won’t be any extra broken hips and wrists this year.

Down California today, the snow was five or six inches deep. Clearing a path down one side will hopefully help people -particularly the elderly - get out and about safe

This morning I spent four hours shovelling and gritting a path up California, across the Ipswich Road and down the Ipswich Road footway to the John Grose garage (my pedometer made this 3.5km of paths shovelled).  Huge thanks is due to the three volunteers who helped me. By tomorrow morning these routes would have been ice.

Oh, and by the way – don’t listen to anyone telling you they can’t clear and grit  because they are  are ‘afraid of being sued’. This is a common story but I have yet to discover anyone who has ever been sued!

A  lawyer tells me that anyone ungrateful enough to sue someone who cleared the footway would have to prove they intended to harm people by clearing the snow!

If you are very anxious read Directgov’s formal advice here, but don’t make an excuse to stop yourself helping others. If you are fit enough to help people who are not, please do so.

(Update: in fact today, Monday, a man waiting at the bus stop by the Duke of York kindly used my spare spade to help clear the bus stop area.  The only thing that stops people helping out is a lack of will!)

Remember, one day we will be the ones relying on other people to help us out a bit.

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?

Save our Woodbridge Lollipop patrol!

Seven years ago Suffolk’s lollipop men and women were being hailed by Suffolk  county council as  ‘greatly appreciated frontline staff’ as the golden anniversary of this wonderful, useful and CHEAP service was being celebrated.

School crossing patrols were formally recognised in Britain by the Schools Crossing Patrols Act of 1953.  Lollipop people are one of only four agents entitled to stop traffic by law (The others being the police, traffic wardens and some members of the Armed Forces).  Lollipop men and women have long done a fantastic job for a pittance and little thanks. But worse is to come..

Today all 98 patrols  in Suffolk are being cut by order of the Suffolk County Council’s Conservative administration to save a paltry £174,000  ( that is, a mere 79% of the Suffolk CEO’s annual salary).  At the very same time, SCC  is  adding another £2m to its roads budget which will weigh in at a truly gobsmacking £18.2 million this  next financial year. You couldn’t make it up.

Do you ever get the feeling that the people running SCC have simply got their priorities well and truly WRONG? that they haven’t the faintest idea about what really matters in the real world?

Dear Cllr Pembroke, dear  Cabinet:  Lets get this straight. School crossing patrols  – like the one run here in Woodbridge  by our invaluable St Mary’s School lollipop man Terry – are  not set up on a whim.    No, they are established at sites where children are in danger from road traffic when walking to and from school as assessed  – not by naughty bad people who just want to irritate you – but by national guidelines (establishedby the Local Authority Road Safety Officer’s Association and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents , no less)

So they’re not what you might call a frivolity …

Ten years ago in Woodbridge the Times reports on how the (then)  Woodbridge Lollipop man, Frank Howe, was knocked to the ground by an impatient driver while on patrol on Birkett Road, directly outside St Mary’s School.

“This driver was revving his engine,” Howe recalled. “I could see by the way his mouth was going that he was cursing me for keeping him. He mounted the kerb and went to pass me. His wing mirror caught me and I went down. He didn’t stop. Luckily, an off-duty policeman saw what happened and forced him to come back.

“The parents and children were very shocked, but they had taken down his registration number. He was prosecuted, given a £350 fine and eight points on his licence, but I never got an apology.”

Cllr Pembroke, Cabinet, can I ask you: has traffic become less busy in the last ten years?

The same article quotes the (then) SCC officer in charge  of the School Crossing service as saying:

“We want our lollipop men and women to know just how much we appreciate them. We see them as frontline members of staff, very visible!”

What a difference seven years can make, folks.

So, Cllr Pembroke, Cabinet – let’s get this straight

  • School crossing patrols were instituted and enshrined  by Act of Parliament because they were needed;
  • They have been running for over sixty years because they clearly continue to be needed;
  • Over these years the roads have got busier and busier;
  • Patrols only operate where children are in danger from road traffic when walking to and from school (this danger assessed by national guidelines);
  • We want to get children out of the car and back onto their feet – to combat child obesity and encourage independence , as well as discourage the fumes and jams and road danger caused by heavy schoolrun traffic;
  • patrols are very very cheap to run – £2,500 – £3,500 a year
  • SCC also has (although in my opinion, totally self-serving, unrealistic and self-deluded) aspirations to be ‘the Greenest County.’

And you want to close  every school crossing patrol in Suffolk to save less money than you pay your Chief Executive as basic salary???

A final question, Cllr Pembroke: What is a cynic? According to Oscar Wilde,  its  A man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.

Cllr Pembroke, you and your Cabinet need to recognise that the  tiny cost of the Suffolk School Crossing patrols bears  little  relationship to  their extraordinary value to the people of Suffolk! Let’s hope you  recognise this before we all learn the hard way the truth of Wilde’s other famous quote from the same play: Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes.

If you wish to encourage Cllr Pembroke and his Cabinet to change their minds , you could always write directly to the Leader of Suffolk County Council at Endeavour House, Ipswich.  Closer to home, St. Mary’s School has  a paper-based petition available to sign in school.

You can also add your signature to the SCC e-petition on the subject  by clicking this link http://petitions.web-labs.co.uk/suffolkcc/public/Save-our-School-Crossing-Patrols

Suffolk’s transport cuts hit the young, the poor, and the rural!

For those (few) of us who recognise quite how much Suffolk needs to rely on other forms of transport than the car, the view from behind the Chief Executive’s steering wheel is a particularly narrow one.

If her view of Suffolk transport has been formed by her daily commute down the A14 from Cambridgeshire, she is probably unaware that here, on Planet Real Life – sustainable transport isn’t just a phrase – its a lifeline!

Here are some of the REAL impacts of CUTs created by her ideologically driven New Strategic Direction, which she may not see from her expensive car:

*   £1,700,000 CUT by abolishing the eXplore Card – means that many, many more young people will be driven to school,  and putting more, less confident cyclists on busier roads,  because they  are forced into cycling before they are ready; less  take-up of  FE education because of difficulties of access (especially to colleges and Suffolk ONE ) and less chance of going for job interviews and training. All this will be a particular tragedy for the rural young poor!

*   £150,000 CUT by closing the Bury Road Park & Ride – adds to rush-hour congestion, and preventing parental drop-off of rural schoolchildren at P&R. (This decision, incidentally was made without a business case).  An excess of people trying to use the London Road P&R may have tragic implications for young cyclists to SuffolkOnein particular

*   £2,260,000 CUT from – a 53% cut in – subsidised bus services – more cars (for those that can – and can afford to – drive! Transportational disenfranchisement for everyone else)
>  *   £100,000 CUT from road safety education – a cut of 24% – just at the time when so many more cars are on the roads and there are likely to be  so many new  and unpractised road users;

*   £523,000 CUT from Extended Schools (which will make it much more difficult to hold eg cycle-training classes );

*   £706,000 CUT from Home-to-school transport provision (so there will be more cars rushing to get to school gates and then on to work; while many more – specifically rural – parents without cars, living within 3 miles of the nearest school and with children of statutory education age will be between the devil and the deep blue sea. Would you like to walk 11 miles a day on rural roads come rain, come snow, come flu -maybe pushing a buggy – to ensure you are not breaking the law and your 8 year old child gets safely to their nearest school? Would Andrea Hill like to? I wouldn’t!)

*   £174,000 CUT by scrapping all 98 School Crossing Patrols across the County, including our very own Woodbbridge Lollipop man, Terry King! (Yes, this is a truly tiny sum because they are paid so little – but what a big impact on the safety and independence of young schoolchildren!);

*   £350,000 – a 27% CUT – reduction in maintenance of footways. Again, its those not in a car who will suffer;

*   and finally a £1,179,000 CUT made by abolishing the Safety Camera Partnership. So there will not only more cars, but they will be going faster too!

NB: I stole specific  figures from a summary by Cllr Sandy Martin. Thanks!