Swimming in Sewage? Suffolk waterways

As a regular coldwater swimmer in the Deben, I wrote the following to our MP on 24 October.
As of today, 26th, I am hoping this evening’s resounding Lords defeat might encourage government enablers to think again as the wisdom of their vote

 

Late middle age woman in swimsuit in cold river water with October clouds behindDear Dr Coffey,
I am writing to you officially (as County Councillor of Woodbridge), and personally (as a resident and swimmer in Suffolk rivers and seas), to ask you to explain why you recently voted against the Amendment to the Environment  Bill. This would have legally compelled water companies to reduce the discharge of raw sewage into Britain’s rivers and seas.
The majority of England’s rivers are currently polluted with sewage, to the detriment of both wildlife and human health.
It is particularly unfortunate that this lost Amendment coincides with an increase in interest in wild swimming- in the very waters you have voted to remain polluted.
This is a very topical issue.
Cold water is considered to be particularly beneficial to sufferers from “long covid” – which affects 1 in 20 of the population, according to the longitudinal and ongoing Zoe study.
Britain is currently experiencing around 50,000 new Covid-19 cases every day, due to your government’s handling of the pandemic – which translates into something like 2,500 new long covid cases daily.
I have suffered from long Covid for nearly a year now, and cold water swimming is the one activity that appears to have a beneficial effect. I last swam off Kyson Point yesterday.
I therefore invite you to join me -and such others as come and swim with me – as soon as possible, so you can experience for yourself what it is that your vote has thrown to the winds.

Maybe it will encourage you and your colleagues to roll back on this dreadful decision

Sincerely,

Caroline Page,
County Councillor, Woodbridge

Suffolk: What was happening in October

SCC wants Sizewell C to go forward with ‘mitigations’: Suffolk County Council announced last week that they are taking up “important concerns” to the Government’s Secretary of State, before moving forward with the construction of Sizewell C .They no longer object to the Sizewell project – originally due to the overarching environmental and socio-economic impacts – but instead have identified ‘areas of concern’, and express the intent to mitigate these concerns with newly established community funds.

My GLI Group has expressed extreme concern over this announcement, believing that there has been a significant political underestimation of this project, and that the people of Suffolk are being sold short by the Administration’s inability to face the reality of the situation

Suffolk County Council apologises after SEND report finds big failings The county council’s administration has apologised to families after an independent report into the county’s care of special needs children (SEND) has come up with a lengthy list of serious failings: SEND Independent Review: final report | Community Directory (suffolk.gov.uk)

The report found that the education service had been poor at communicating with parents, was slow to respond to calls and emails, had placed some pupils in inappropriate schools, had failed to identify caseworkers for children, failed to record requests from parents, failed to routinely track the Care Plans for children and had faced high numbers of appeals when they had refused to provide assessments.

The authors – a team from Lincolnshire County Council – made a series of recommendations which the council has agreed. These include hiring specialist consultants (Impower) to help review all their case work and ensure that better health and care plans for children are drawn up. Also to ensure that they share information with health service colleagues.

The report and the council’s response were unveiled to the press by the council leader before councillors and parents were allowed to see them. Although the portfolio holder for Education Send and Skills promised this report would be in front of the education scrutiny committee in September, this has not occurred and the administration has refused 500+ parents’ request to discuss the matter at an emergency scrutiny meeting. The issue will now be discussed discussed at the December 9th Education Scrutiny Committee.

Bus Back Better This month, Cabinet looked further at the Bus Back Better scheme, launched by the government in March 2021, with aims to rejuvenate the bus services, in particular for more isolated areas of rural Suffolk.

The £50m funding opportunity promises a greener approach to public transport, and while the GLI Group support the ambition, we have said we need to see ongoing commitment from the Administration via an ambitious Bus Service Improvement Plan to ensure that we have a chance to receive the funding so desperately needed to provide bus services to all Suffolk residents.

Services have been reduced to such an extent over recent years that in many rural areas, they are non-existent. The Administration’s proposals will not help people in rural areas; they propose to improve services between our key towns, focussing on on existing routes.

We contend that Suffolk residents need better services from our rural areas into and around the towns: a public transport strategy which will provide the travel opportunities our residents need without having to resort to using a private car.

Full Council motions for Thursday 21 October The Conservative motion, while reiterating that the council is committed to achieving its 2030 net zero target and working with partners across the county to deliver on the Suffolk Climate Emergency Plan, condemns “recent actions of Insulate Britain on our nation’s roads and the current and historic vandalism of local authority property in Ipswich and elsewhere by other campaign groups”.

The GLI opposition motion (i) Acknowledges the efforts that this Council has made to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote renewable energy; (ii) Further recognises: • that very large financial setup and running costs involved in selling locally generated renewable electricity to local 4 customers result in it being impossible for local renewable electricity generators to do so; • that making these financial costs proportionate to the scale of a renewable electricity supplier’s operation would create significant opportunities for local companies, community groups and councils to be providers of locally generated renewable electricity directly to local people, businesses and organisations, and • that revenues received by such local companies, community groups or councils that chose to become local renewable electricity providers could be used to help improve resilience in the local economy, local services and facilities and also reduce local greenhouse gas emissions; (iii) Notes that the Parliamentary Environmental Audit Committee, as a result of its 2021 Technological Innovations and Climate Change inquiry, recommended that a Right to Local Supply for local energy suppliers be established to address this; (iv) Accordingly resolves to support the Local Electricity Bill, currently supported by a cross-party group of 264 MPs and which, if made law, would establish a Right to Local Supply which would promote local renewable electricity supply by making the setup and running costs of selling renewable electricity to local customers proportionate to the size of the supply company; and (v) Further resolves to write to Suffolk’s MPs, asking them to support the Local Electricity Bill.’
Again Labour is not putting forward a motion.

Councillor Surgery Despite the tragic events of last Friday I held my drop-in surgery as usual on Saturday morning in Woodbridge Library 9-11. I am firmly convinced, as an elected member, of the necessity of face-to-face contact with any resident who may want it.

You may have heard me speaking on the subject on BBC Radio Suffolk at 8am on Monday morning

New Woodbridge County Boundary defined

The Boundary Commission has published its final recommendations for new electoral arrangements for Suffolk County Council.

In short – we  made it! We saved Woodbridge from the cashew-nut attack!

When the  Boundary Commission proposals for Suffolk’s new county council division boundaries came out last year, something looked very wrong.

This is what they proposed for Woodbridge:

The first proposed “new Woodbridge” division, which included Little  Bealings, Hasketon, Bredfield and Ufford  while circling round  Melton – and so excluding houses 500m from Woodbridge Town Centre from being part of Woodbridge

The proposal – which I believe originated with  the county or district Conservative group – would leave Woodbridge Primary school in the adjoining division, while designing a ‘cashew nut’ division by adding the villages from Little Bealings round to Ufford(!) while excluding  all the houses on the far side of Pytches road. The divisional boundary thus would remain where it is now, along the dashed line down the middle of Pytches road. This was frankly ludicrous.

This unusual scheme would mean people could and would be living 500 yards from Woodbridge Town centre,  but be in a county division that was linked with Sudbourne and Bawdsey rather than with Woodbridge!

This was not the new division  proposed by myself or many others in Woodbridge. It did not make local sense. Other divisional boundaries in East Suffolk were equally lacking in local sense. We were told by a local politician that these weird configurations were “just a matter of simple maths.”

Right.

As this seemed to be very inappropriate in terms of simple democracy, I spent a full 24 hours , while ill with Covid,  assisted by Woodbridge Town LibDem Leader Patrick Gillard (also Covid-stricken) working against the deadline, indulging in a spot of simple maths: simply adding up the sums of residents in each parish, dividing them both equally and practically,  and creating and lining new boundaries on a map for the entire East Suffolk district, to create a more effective and democratically appropriate set of proposals.

The boundary we proposed for Woodbridge looked like this:

Redrawn new boundary for Woodbridge as proposed by me and consulted on by the Boundary Commission

A further consultation, responded to by many groups and persons, not least Woodbridge Town Council, confirmed the revised boundaries, which the Boundary Commission have now agreed.

So the new county council division of Woodbridge should look like this:

In other words,  pretty much exactly what we proposed. You can follow the process and see the big map here https://www.lgbce.org.uk/all-reviews/eastern/suffolk/suffolk-county-council

This is a win for both democracy and common-sense.

And the moral is, if you think a mistake has been made, it’s worth working  hard to put it right!

 

Caroline Page, LibDem County Councillor for Woodbridge