Tag Archives: Sandy Lane

New Telecoms Cabinets in Sandy Lane – and Twitter!

The 5 new Telecoms cabinets blocking the sightline at Sandy Lane junction. As you can see , some are as tall as I am. Under the Telecoms Act, such cabinets count as ‘permitted development’ but telecoms companies are supposed to consult with local highways authorities. SCC did not approve these installations – and would not have done so if they had been consulted!

 

New telecoms cabinets installed on the corner of Sandy Lane and Ipswich Road have been causing  anxiety to Woodbridge residents and Suffolk Highways officers alike since they were  unexpectedly installed over the summer.

Drivers report that visibility to the right coming out of Sandy Lane has been severely affected.  The eastern cabinet is also far too close to the road edge and to passing traffic, could cause cyclists to be squeezed between cabinet and vehicle – and indeed may get hit by something if left as it is.

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A screen grab from Google Maps shows what the junction looked like until the new cabinets were installed in August.

For the last month it has  been impossible to get any response from EE and TMobile (who Highways inform me are the principal companies concerned) so yesterday I took to Twitter to  give the matter the oxygen of publicity and today I spoke about the cabinets on Radio Suffolk’s Breakfast Programme.

Interestingly, this seems to be was what was needed to get things going. EE are now in communication – and tell me they are ‘investigating the matter with the company who installed the cabinets.’

I am  hoping the matter can now be satisfactorily resolved.  Woodbridge residents shouldn’t be expected to have to choose between road safety and a 4G signal

Sandy Lane hole: update

Luckily the Sandy Lane sinkhole did not open up when the Tour of Britain travelled down Sandy Lane in 2012. That could have put paid to leader Wiggo's chances
Very luckily the Sandy Lane sinkhole didn’t open up when the Tour of Britain travelled down Sandy Lane in 2012. That could have put paid to leader Wiggo’s chances

A large deep hole of unknown provenance opened up at the junction of Sandy Lane and Ipswich Road a few weeks back . Although safety barriers were put up by someone, it is not clear who put them up, and so no remedial work was undertaken – this is because the presence of the barriers caused everyone to  believe that someone else was responsible and was already in the process of taking action to fix it.

It wasn’t until last week, when I asked the county Highways department to chase up the people responsible, that we discovered the mystery. At which point  SCC agreed to‘take the hit’ and do the repair themselves although I have asked them to continue tracking down the company responsible and reclaim the  money back if appropriate.  (It is, of course, perfectly possible that the barriers were put up by some public-spirited person who is as yet nameless, and that the hole is actually a sink hole.)

However, after the last few days of heavy rains the hole is clearly very much worse (1m across and 1m deep) constituting  an significant danger to pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles alike.  It will need a lot of packing as well as resurfacing.  I am very worried indeed and asked yesterday morning for a repair on a 24h turnaround. Unfortunately under the new  ‘contracted out’ system such a thing is no longer possible.

The East Area Highway Manager told me today (Friday) “My highway inspector for Woodbridge has checked this site this morning. The hole is currently barriered and advance signing is in place. We had tried to arrange a repair today. However as it is on the junction, 3 way lights will be required in order to manage the traffic  safely past the working area. Our contractors advise that they will not be able to obtain these until Tuesday next week, and so the work will be carried out then.

In the meantime I am arranging for the site to be inspected during  the weekend to ensure that barriers and signing are in place and that there has been no further undermining of the road”.

I have also been told that someone will come on Tuesday to check that the repair is being undertaken.

I am also trying to arrange some sort of sign equivalent to a ‘Police Aware’ sign so that passers-by realise that something is actually about to be done.

What’s happening in Suffolk July 2013

Things are still fairly quiet  as the new electoral cycle gathers momentum. Locally, more bus services are cut. Countywide, SCC announces a £3.5m  underspend. Its a shame nobody puts these two together and realises you have to speculate in order to accumulate..

Update on local bus issues The loss of the Anglia 164 and 165 buses  and reduction of the 63 service that I mentioned in last month’s report has taken place. The  63 is now restricted to 4 daily buses on working Mondays to Fridays with one additional bus on schooldays. This means there is no bus link whatsoever between Ipswich/Martlesham/Woodbridge and Framlingham on a Saturday!

However after  representations made as to the damage done by the loss of the 164/165  which ran from Aldeburgh and Leiston to Ipswich the situation has been improved additional services from the First 64 and 65. However, I have had a number of elderly correspondents in places like Knodishall who have had their transport lifeline cut.

One of the issues appears to be that very few elected members at any governmental level use buses – and those that do use city ones and have therefore little understanding of the problems facing those without transport  in rural areas.

I wrote to our local MP, and to the County council, asking  if they could use their influence  to try and change some of these decisions at a local level. (This appears to have had some effect.)

I also asked them to use their voice

  • to press to alter – at national level – the ridiculous ethos of so-called competition which has caused deregulated buses to provide such a terrible service in  the countryside. In the past County Councils ran bus services on the basis that popular routes could subsidise essential routes with smaller passenger numbers. I have sympathy with Councils that see no reason to subsidise only loss-making services. The loss of the 165 shows us on what a tightrope the services run. Yet rural services are not a frivolous luxury – they can make the difference between productive employment and training and expensive enforced idleness;
  • to press the government to address the situation of local transport in the forthcoming spending review in a holistic sense. (That is, considering the expense in social care and welfare payments that will occur if public transport is not  supported. )Ask them to support it at all costs because it is an essential part of supporting the future welfare of the country – particularly in rural areas;
  • to press the government to look at the frankly unfair differentials in per capita spending on public transport across the country. Each Londoner gets about three times as much spent on them as each person in Suffolk despite the huge economies of scale London offers – and London buses aren’t deregulated. Why should our constituents be worth any less?

Although I have not heard anything from Dr Coffey, I was at a Transport meeting at the County Council where it seemed as if the council were indeed contemplating lobbying central government over the situation with rural buses!

Underspend: latest news is that Suffolk CC  has managed a £3.5 m underspend on the proposed budget of the year to date. That kind of money would subsidise a lot of buses.

Suffolk’s ‘Most Active Community’  Suffolk County Council is launching a competition to find Suffolk’s most active town – as part of it’s latest declared ambition to become ‘the most active county in England’.

Organisers are looking for communities that can demonstrate that they are getting people active through such means as new walking or cycling routes, programmes of activities in village halls, improved community facilities or new community events.

Winners and runners up will receive grants to fund further programmes of physical activity, or to invest in initiatives to promote active lifestyles.

The grants would be:

Winner – Suffolk’s Most Active Town £2,500

Winner – Suffolk’s Most Active Large Village £1,500

Winner – Suffolk’s Most Active Small Village £1,000

Runner Up – Suffolk’s Most Active Large Village £500 

Runner Up – Suffolk’s Most Active Small Village £500

The winners will also have the opportunity to install a sign to recognise their achievement as the most active village/town in Suffolk.

The deadline for applications is Friday 9 August 2013 To enter the competition or for more information please visit: www.mostactivecounty.com/community_activity.

Wheelchair access from Wilford Bridge to Kyson Point Full access has been interrupted by the steps on the pathway leasing north from the Art Club. I talked to the Rights of Way team and have been informed that full access at this point is imminent – by means of a ramp.

 Locality budget grants     I have been delighted to fund from my Locality budget a cup – the Kingston Allotment Cup – to be awarded to the winning Allotment every year. I have also had notification that the broken bench on SCC land at the junction of Grundisburgh and Hasketon Roads is now being replaced. This was also funded from my Locality budget.

Sandy Lane calming  The longstanding Sandy Lane calming scheme  (simply lines and signs) – which finally looked like becoming a reality  at the end of the last electoral period – stalled during the election moratorium and unfortunately seems to have had a bit of time restarting. However I am now  told that “The contractor is going to take a look on site to confirm the working arrangements and we may be in a position to complete these work in the next 2 weeks.”

Hopefully this will allow the Cemetery Lane lining finally to be done at the same time. These were funded out of last cycle’s quality of life budget (now Highways budget).

 My July Surgery 2013  As you know,  I hold a regular monthly surgery on the THIRD SATURDAY of every month. This is held at Woodbridge Library, 10am – 12 noon. The next surgery will be:      20 July 2013

  • Please note: there will be no surgery in August 2013

Under the wire: my Woodbridge road schemes are happening!

 

Good news: our superlative SCC East Area Highways team have done wonders and my – and Woodbridge’s – pet highways schemes have materialised literally in the nick of time –  hours before all locality work (ie. highways work funded by the County Councillor’s Quality of Life budget) has to stop for the election period.

Phew.

These are schemes that I have been pressing for for two years and had authorised the funding – but  which sadly fell victim to the SCC Highways ‘reorganisations‘ and ‘rationalisations‘ . For this, read: shedding large numbers of staff and expecting all existing work to be managed by the ones remaining – deeply overworked and wearing three or four hats.  

These staff could have been forgiven if they had not managed to cope – but no, far from it,  they have worked their socks off – and as of today I hear that Woodbridge has:

      • new signs to prevent HGVs trying to get to the town centre via Angel Lane. The road is a medieval width and 21st century lorries are getting bigger and bigger. Increasingly these have been ignoring the existing signs and believing their SatNavs and doing horribly regular damage to the Angel pub and the hairdressers opposite it as they tried to turn out of Angel Lane. A few weeks ago we put up  new temporary signs and now the permanent ones are up: an HGV with a great big red line through.
      • signage slowing traffic on Cemetery Lane – a simple scheme with 2 warning signs and 2 SLOW roadmarkings so that pedestrians can walk safely. The lines couldn’t be done in time but will be painted in May;
      • calming Sandy Lane. This was a simple signs-and-lines job with pedestrian and cyclist warning signs  at each end and at the railway bridge, and white edge markings throughout for pedestrians to walk behind. These would also give warning of the road edge at night which will be very useful, particularly to cyclists. Again, I believe the signs are now in place but the lines will have to wait till May
        Hurrah! New #bike stand units I ordered for #Woodbridge Thoro... on Twitpic
      •  cycle racks in the Market Square and more cycle racks in the Thoroughfare– We needed more than three at Cafe Nero as they get very congested on market days and sunny days etc. But they were unbelievably expensive to match. I suggested removing these up to the Shire Hall, where they are decorative enough to add to the ambience, , and buying five new ones to instal by Cafe Nero. I passed these yesterday and had to look twice: they looked like they’d been there forever!
    • We  still need to to sort out the signage at Cross Corner – but this needs a change to the law and so it cannot be done until after the election. It will happen then, though!
    • All these have been funded by me as your County Councillor, responding to local demand, and courtesy of the recently instigated County Councillors’ Quality of Life budget – which was created for this very purpose . In the past I have also used thid budget  to fund the flashing signs at Ipswich and Pyches Roads and the refuge island on Ipswich Road amongst other things..

What’s happening in Suffolk March 2013

The last few weeks before the upcoming electoral moratorium – and a lot of things have been happening:  at home, underground cables are coming close to Woodbridge and destroying all the trees in its 55m wide path, Woodbridge Youth Centre has been saved and my Locality and Quality of Life budgets  have been spent.At county level  – the SCC 2013-14 budget is finalised and various cabinet decisions have been made. Scc has a new  candidate to take over Highways maintenance. 

 And finally – and most satisfactorily – the meat served in Suffolk schools has been found to be free of equine DNA .
In detail:

Next year’s SCC Budget   Suffolk County’s Full Council budget meeting took place on the 14th of February. As I mentioned last month, the administration’s budget aimed to cut £24.9m this financial year.  This included £7m from Adult and Community Services, and £2.5m from remodelling Children’s services.  The council’s reserves currently stand at £152m –  just under one third of the total budget.

The Liberal Democrat Group submitted an amendment to the budget aiming to improve services in a number of different areas. This would have been funded from the contingency reserve.

  • £650,000 to School Improvement Services – to employ additional advisors that go into schools to provide guidance to help schools improve their level of attainment, which drastically needs improving in Suffolk.
  • £475,000 for providing an additional 1900 days of supply work providing it is matched by school funds. This would allow time for teachers from well performing schools to partner with those who are not doing as well. This approach has been very successful in Hackney.
  • £300,000 to help Suffolk County Council commit to a pilot scheme that would increase the number of foster carers for the most vulnerable children in Suffolk.
  • £300,000 to respond to local community requests for 20mph zones in Suffolk towns and villages.

We believe would have helped to improve attainment in Suffolk, care for those vulnerable children and to improve the response to new speed limits, following the Cabinet Member’s disbanding of the speed management team at the County Council.

The school improvement budget has been cut substantially over the last few years and this has coincided with a dramatic fall in the performance of Suffolk schools, so we were very disappointed that our amendment was defeated.

School Meals in Suffolk   The catering provider to schools in Suffolk, EATS, has provided assurance that the meat provided in its schools does not contain any horsemeat.

The vast majority of meals provided for children in Suffolk schools, are created inhouse, and beef used by EATS is Red Tractor accredited.   The red tractor logo is a guarantee of both quality and origin.

Woodbridge Youth Centre  As you know I have been very anxious about  an unconfirmed threat of development of Woodbridge Youth Centre premises for a couple of years. 

Refer to my blog for full details but in short it turned out that this threat was genuine – and had extended as far as officers secretly deciding not to process our local youth club Just 42’s licence to occupy the premises – possibly in case it was necessary to give them speedy notice to quit!   This decision was not declared by officers.  This culture of secrecy also meant that plans and proposals were being discussed and taken forward as far as actual  physical paper plans for the development in question ( I have copies ) without any reference to the occupants, the users, the elected councillors at all levels and the people of Woodbridge as a whole.

I took my concerns to the most senior officer in SCC – Chief Executive Deborah Cadman, who investigated the matter. She assures me that officers will never in the future make decisions without involving local elected representatives to the full. We have been told that Woodbridge Youth Centre is now safe and that any discussion about its long-term future will involve all stakeholders, which jolly well includes our elected councillors.

My Woodbridge locality officer – in collaboration with Emma Smith of SCC – arranged the first  WYC stakeholders meeting last week – and I was delighted to see both Town and District council represented.

Speed restrictions  in Woodbridge   I  asked the following question at March 14th Full Council:

A 20-year longitudinal study of 20mph limits found that an extra 10mph off the current road limit reduced casualties by 42 percent, as well as reducing pollution, and promoting cycling, walking and local shopping. This is because only one in 40 pedestrians hit by a vehicle at 20mph die, compared to the figure of one in five when hit at 30mph

New guidance, issued by the Department of Transport, sets out the criteria for a reduction in speed limits which safety campaigns believe could reduce child pedestrian ksi  by as much as 70 per cent. The Government is urging councils to cut speed limits to 20mph in residential and  urban areas and built-up village streets. The guidance is expected to result in a significant national increase in the number of 20mph zones – as well as more rural 40mph zones. More than half of local councils are keeping up with the times in this respect:  reversing decades of policy which prioritised motor vehicles over the safety of pedestrians and cyclists.  Islington Council which has limited all of its managed roads to 20mph,  claims a 65 per cent fall in accidents in its 20mph areas.

Earlier this year, Suffolk County Council cabinet member for roads and transport disbanded the team that dealt with routine requests for speed limit extensions in the county and put a freeze on implementing new speed restriction zones on the grounds that  Suffolk already had enough speed restrictions in place, and following a review of A and B class roads, he was confident speed limits complied with the “most up to date guidance” from the Department for Transport.

As this is clearly no longer the case can he inform us what he is doing urgently to reverse this decision and give many Suffolk communities the opportunity they have asked for in vain – in Woodbridge’s case, since 2010

Locality Budget/Quality of Life budgets for Woodbridge  All my Locality budget money has been spent on a nice broad spread of local projects. To prevent any claw-back to SCC – which is what happens to any money uncommitted or returned  at the end of the electoral cycle – I have asked  the Locality Budget Officer to add any such into the Elmhurst Park funding.

And at least four of the QoL road schemes I have been working on over the last couple of years are all finally coming to fruition within this electoral cycle.These are,

  • new signage to prevent HGVs trying to get to the town centre via Angel Lane;
  • sighns and lines slowing traffic on Cemetery Lane;
  • calming Sandy Lane  with pedestrian and cyclist warning signs  at each end and at the railway bridge, and white edge markings throughout for pedestrians to walk behind. These would also give warning of the road edge at night which will be very useful, particularly to cyclists
  • more cycle racks – removing the three at Cafe Nero (which are expensive to match) up to Shire Hall, and putting five new matching ones down at Cafe Nero.

The only one that will not be at least started before the upcoming electoral moratorium is the new sign at the entrance to Cumberland Street from cross corner, forbidding all vehicles except bicycles.

February Cabinet decisions   The February Cabinet on the 26th, contained a number of significant issues for residents across the County.   Some of the issues that were discussed and agreed were;

  • East Anglia ONE Offshore windfarm – SCC’s  response to the consultation of this application which will see a significant section of the power cables from the windfarm come ashore and be buried underground travelling from Felixstowe to Bramford.  I have blogged on this http://carolinepage.blog.suffolk.libdems.org/2013/02/28/ea-one-offshore-windfarm-implications-for-deben-estuary-countryside/ and submitted a response suggesting amelioration, and querying why this plan has abandoned the original notion of putting the cabling UP the estuary.
  • Procurement of Highways Services –  after the debacle of their previous procurement of a preferred bidder, the Cabinet agreed to negotiate extensions to the current highways contract up to the 30th September, and proceed with awarding a new highways contract to the joint venture between May Gurney & WSP UK Ltd which will commence on the 1st of October.
    I asked them what would happen should this preferred bidder fall through, and they said this was ‘very unlikely’ – which is what they said when I asked them last time bout the first ‘preferred bidder’, Balfour Beattie.
  • bringing the Councils customer service function back into the Council (from CSD) as of May 2014.  This includes public access and Customer First functions.

Stowmarket and Stowupland SOR  SCC Cabinet made the decision on 26th of February to abolish the middle schools in Stowmarket and Stowupland. The Liberal Democrats attempted to get the decision called into the Scrutiny Committee as we felt the justification for making this decision was flawed.  We were particularly concerned about the lack of funding to provide top class schools in this area, as the plans will see a split site school created in Stowmarket.   We also highlighted the contrasting statistics provided by the Council and the campaign group to support opposing cases, as well as issues over safety.

The call in was rejected on the grounds that the Cabinet had all the required information to hand, which means the decision has now been approved.   The Lib Dem group are disappointed that an opportunity to look again at such a large issue to which so many parents and pupils feel passionately about has been refused.

This is particularly so when national governmental policy appears now to be turning in favour of a three-tier system again

What happens to your recycled items?   The Suffolk Waste Partnership has produced a very interesting document, which highlights what happens to the waste that we recycle here in Suffolk.   This PDF includes information about how many tonnes of waste are recycled in each category, where the waste ends up, and the fact that as a County we recycle 53.2% of our waste.  http://www.greensuffolk.org/assets/Recycling/Where-It-Goes/2011-12-End-Destination-Register-v5.pdf