Tag Archives: Woodbridge

Woodbridge’s 62a and 62b scrapped without warning!

OK, I saw it coming – I knew the bus-unfriendly Guy McGregor, SCC portfolio-holder for Transport and Highways, was out to do it  – but it still makes me angry!

Woodbridge has now lost ALL its evening, Sunday and Bank Holiday bus services – victims to  the prejudices of a portfolio-holder who treats buses as  if they were Babes in the Wood – to be  led out into the woods and lost, their pathetic corpses buried under leaves.  He then has the brass neck to boast on his website that: ” I have driven the improvement in the provision of bus services in Suffolk.” To carry on the Panto metaphor “OH NO you haven’t!!!” You are presiding over its demise!

[Here I had to stop writing to take an urgent call from my constituent, the septuagenarian dancer John Raven who relies on the buses – particularly the 62a and b  – as he travels to and from Ipswich’s Regent theatre  daily, often in the evening. Mr Raven and I met years ago, as we travelled to Ipswich by bus. Neither he or his wife can drive, they both find it hard to walk far,   and they live a good  half an hour’s walk from the train station (which will bring him into the wrong side of Ipswich). This cut will devastate his life.  But is he devastated? NO! instead the feisty Mr Raven is LIVID  and he’s out to tell people so.  Mr Raven is not taken in by weasel words: he recognises that Cllr McGregor is figurehead for a regime that  simply diesn’t care]

It seems Mr McGregor’s desire is  to be shot of the subsidised public bus services to rural areas – a lifeline to many people in the countryside who cannot afford, or are unable (by reasons of health, age and poverty) to drive.  Not that Mr McGregor puts it so directly. Indeed he drips honeytonged appeasement. Its not that he’s cutting the services – oh no – far from it.  Mr Mcgregor merely  plans to ‘remodel’ much of   Suffolk’s  rural transport, by replacing services with a ‘demand-responsive’ alternative, one that (he fails to mention) has to be booked a day in advance and is not available outside working hours.

And he certainly doesn’t mention that the money to underpin this  Demand Responsive Solution to the death of the subsidised scheduled bus services was taken out of  his capital expenditure budget a full year before  the NSD was mentioned.

Bus users of Woodbridge,  your valued local service didn’t fall – it was pushed!

Let’s be clear here  – talking about demand responsive transport solutions  is  a load of  meretricious tosh if you referring to buses like the 62a and the 62b.  Why? Well,  if you press them, SCC  officers admit that:

“demand responsive transport operates between 0700 and 1900 Monday to Saturday and we are unable to offer any extension to these hours”.

So our 62a and 62b services will therefore not be replaced with demand responsive transport: they will be replaced with nothing at all, and residents in Woodbridge will have NO sustainable transport in the evenings, on Sundays and on Bank Holidays.

Those residents who do not have, cannot afford to, or are unable to drive a car, will be left sitting at home!

Last week I suggested to  Mr McGregor that he was targeting his transport cuts disproportionately at Suffolk’s sustainable transport as  I questioned his part in the SCC proposed budget for next year.  He agreed that this was the case, but added

“When they were consulted, residents in Suffolk said they were saddened that these cuts were happening, but they know the reasons why they have to occur.”

Oh yes, we DO know the reasons why our buses are being cut, Mr McGregor!  Its because you prefer to add a couple of millions to the already bloated roads budget than give a moment’s concern to those residents of Suffolk who do not drive cars. That’s what saddens us!  Decisions are being made on our behalf  by someone who doesn’t care a hoot for buses, nor for the people who use buses, and most of all, for the plight of the people who have no option but to use buses!

While I remember, it was at this very same Cabinet meeting that Jane Storey, deputy leader of the SCC administration, and arch apologist for the New Strategic Direction  really excelled herself. In bringing next year’s budget to Cabinet she had the unmitigated CRUST to say (with an ineffable blend of complacency and certainty), that this budget – yes the one that is cutting school traffic patrols, divesting libraries, abolishing the explore card and stopping the very buses that rural people most need  “will deliver first class services to the people of Suffolk. ”

Oh, and she also added that the administration have “tried to prioritise the vulnerable in our society.”

I kid you not!   I wrote her words down as she spoke them so I could make sure to pass them on in all their appalling glory!

Cllr Storey, like Cllr McGregor , you seem to have the same relationship to services for the vulnerable as the Wicked Uncle had to the Babes in the Wood. Oh yes you DO!

Oh NO you dont???

Well why not  put your money where your mouths are, and forgo your cuts to essential and irreplaceable services in favour of supporting the most vulnerable of Suffolk’s road users – those who are  dependent on your subsidised buses!

Residents of Woodbridge, and beyond – if you wish to persuade Cllrs McGregor, Storey et al of the error of their ways and hope for a regular panto Transformation Scene, please sign the online petition

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

Or you can sign a paper copy in Woodbridge’s Shire Hall. We MUST keep reminding them that this is a bad thing to do – or they might carry on thinking that it’s prefectly ok.

Gritting Woodbridge pavements: many hands..

This last week has been a corker, weatherwise, hasn’t it?

The people who run the gritting lorries have been out day and night trying to keep as much of the thousands of miles of Suffolk roads passable as possible.

It seems to be fashionable amongst many Suffolk car-drivers to criticise  these heroes pretty well without thought or reflection.  Me: I have nothing but the utmost admiration for them. Suffolk’s  service is run via a handful of people working throughout the nights and they do a fantastic job – and all without expectation of any kind of thanks at all.  I rang a highways  officer on Friday at 11am. He sounded a bit dazed (tho very competent). It turned out he’d just got back into the office having been gritting solidly since midnight the night before.

Remember that when you’re getting through the snow in the morning, eh?

As well as remembering to be grateful that our service is so good, we MUST also make sure that any hamfisted attempts at divestment protect the efficiency and effectiveness that we are currently managing in-house. Other counties with privatised gritting services are not managing half so well.

Last yearin mind,  I approached Woodbridge Town Council and offered to fund grit bins and equipment for local volunteers to keep the pavements clear.  And due to this forward planning Woodbridge has been able to tackle the ice and snow relatively efficiently.  Ten grit bins are on site and another four on order: Turban Centre;  St Johns Hill/Castle St;  California/Ipswich Road (where I’m the volunteer); Fitzgerald Green; Mill Lane; Haughgate Close; Colletts Walk; Warren Hill Road; Market Hill; Victoria Road; Peterhouse; Portland Crescent and Farlingaye.

In the last six days I have spent 15 hours gritting around California, around the Seral and down the footpath that runs along the top of Ipswich Road.  I reckon that totalled about 15 miles of roadway walked and gritted.

Do contact the Woodbridge Town Clerk if you want to  volunteer. It helps everyone – and lets face it, it  is so much more productive than moaning that somebody else hasn’t done it.

Volunteers get to use a barrow, a snowshovel and a a hi-viz jacket; they’re covered by SCC insurance and the benefits include a slimmer figure, the warm glow of having helped –  and lots of gratitude.
Not a bad deal, really!