Tag Archives: Southwold

Suffolk Staycation

Apologies for my absence – I’ve been holidaying to the far north east east.  No no, not Siberia, camping by the sea in the far north east of Suffolk. And financial squeeze or not, I wonder why anyone ever goes anywhere else. Our county is an absolute delight:

Lets face it, who needs to go to the Med when the North Sea is so lovely and swimmable – and has such great waves to boot?

And who needs  the Sistine chapel ceiling when you have such things as the glories of the Wenhaston Doom close to hand? If you’ve not seen it, its a large wooden representation of the Saved and Damned – saved in its turn  from Henry VIII’s reformers by a coat of whitewash  (and then by a shower of rain from a bonfire 400 years later. Yes really. It was lying in the church grounds, slated for destruction, when a rainstorm finally washed that whitewash off and they saw the Doom for the first time in centuries)

And not even the Taj Mahal, or the Great Pyramid at Giza can give you such a flavour of the person it commemorates as does this wonderfully funny epitaph at Bramfield.  I want one too!

For those who like more active sports, in Suffolk there’s always that great (non-blood) sport of crabbing. Do you know it?  I swear there are crabs all over the county who have to book into fat farms when the holiday season is over, they get so bloated by meals of bacon, chicken and the like.

In the evening there are such delights as the Moving Pictures. This Picture Palace at Southwold seats 70 people now that they’ve built a Royal Box – and it has a uniformed commissionaire and an organ that rises from the floor too.

Though there are plenty of other amusements  for those who prefer to remain outdoors.

And at the end of a well-spent day, can the Manhattan skyline possibly beat this?

I’ve come home brown, relaxed and happy. I’ve walked or cycled most of the time. I’ve wasted no time in traffic jams. I’ve spent no time at airports.  But I have spent every penny of my holiday fund in Suffolk.

Win, win!

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?

Distribute that middle! Losing Suffolk libraries through a logical fallacy

If you thought an ‘undistributed middle’ had something to do with eating too much Christmas pud, think again. In Suffolk its the administration’s pitiful excuse for  reducing  our our loved, valued, and needed library services.

SCC’s consultation paper : Have your say on the future of Suffolk’s libraries was launched last week.  The first page of this document sets the framework for you ‘having your say’. It is titled: Services to be delivered differently in the future‘  and the first paragraph is  a whole lot of guff about iPods, e-books and Twitter – just to reinforce the fact that we no longer really need books on bookshelves. And just as well…

Why?  The document tells us that:

“With major changes affecting the country’s economy, and government’s aim to cut the national budget deficit over the coming years, Suffolk County Council must reduce its funding to libraries by at least 30% over three years.”

Eh? Did I miss something? This is a perfect example of a logical fallacy : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fallacy_of_the_undistributed_middle

Another  example of this  flaw in argument can be seen in the following:

“Dollar bills are green, trees are green, so money must grow on trees.”

Yes,  Mr Pembroke, there are major changes in the country’s economy.

Yes, the government wants to  cut the national budget deficit over three years.

THIS DOES NOT MEAN THAT THERE IS ANY NEED OR REQUIREMENT FOR ‘SCC TO REDUCE ITS FUNDING TO LIBRARIES BY AT LEAST 30% OVER THREE YEARS’!

(And  did you know that The Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964 makes the provision of ‘a comprehensive and efficient’ public library service a statutory requirement?)

As usual, when justifying their divestments and cuts, SCC  points to cuts in central government grants.  Again, this document fails to mention  that the government grant which is  being cut (by 26% over 4 years, not 30% over 3)  forms only part of SCC’s income. The rest of which is staying the same, or rising. In other words, SCC  does not have to impose of cuts to the Suffolk library service  of over 30% over 3 years at all!

Rather,  it means is that SCC  sees libraries as a ‘soft’ target. In fact, SCC has taken three-quarters of a million pounds away from library funding this year to pay for a hole in care finances already. Yet there has been no proposed reduction whatsoever to Suffolk’s multi-million pound  road maintenance budget. Lorries before learning!

We all know that some cuts, some pain IS going to be unavoidable – but there are different ways of targeting them. For example, you can discover what your residents want.

Norfolk is –  like Suffolk – run by a Tory administration. It is – like Suffolk – rural, and thinly populated in many places.  So how is it managing the problems of less funding? Has  Norfolk  told people that its too expensive to run frontline services? No! Instead of insisting on a mad, undemocratic, ideologically motivated  New Strategic Direction , and deciding on outcomes before consultation with its population,  Norfolk has held a ‘Big Conversation’ – and established what  its residents’ priorities are! After all it is their council tax and their services!

Big Conversations? You might object to the terminology – you can’t fault the way their minds were working.  You can read more about Norfolk’s so much more ‘grown up’ and democratic process  here

Suffolk’s embarrassingly autocratic  library ‘consultation’ will continue  until 30 April. As ever, I urge you to have your say.  I warn you – just as in the case of Suffolk’s Care Homes – ‘having your say’ on the future of Suffolk’s libraries doesn’t mean the administration is allowing you any opportunity to say their idea is bad, and you want no part of it.

Oh no – all this consultation gives you is a chance  to explain your idea for running your divested library.   For example, Question 4 is:  “How will your idea  or interest generate changes or significant efficiencies in the way the library operates to reduce what the county council pays by a minimum of 30%”

Am I the only person who  thinks this is frankly ludicrous when we remember the ‘New Strategic Direction’ is the brainchild of an exceptionally highly paid Chief Executive, who only recently flatly refused to countenance the idea of a voluntary 10% pay cut for herself?  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-suffolk-12232070

SCC consultation document writers may be bad with words but they really are expert at the “when did you stop beating your wife”-type question.

Woodbridge library is ‘safe’:  that is, it will remain one of the 15  ‘County Libraries‘  free from divestment – unless someone really really wants to take it over.   However the other 29  (now designated Community) libraries, including Wickham Market,  Framlingham, Debenham, Kesgrave, Leiston, Oulton Broad and Southwold  are up for divestment – that is, being taken over by community groups.  At the bottom of this page is a little  notice in quiet print:

“If the response to this consultation is disappointing, and the county council does not receive viable proposals and ideas from people, groups, businesses and other interested parties for ways to run community libraries, we propose that funding will stop from 2012.

Not that your arms are being twisted!

You may – whether or not your  own library is on the list – feel like filling in the consultation document. You may, on the other hand feel like filling in one of the e-petitions that are proliferating on the Council’s  brand spanking new petition site:

http://petitions.web-labs.co.uk/suffolkcc/public/

You might also write to your local paper, councillor or MP. Or all of these. Good luck!

this does not mean that there is any need or requirement for ‘scc to reduce its funding to libraries by at least 30% over three years