Woodbridge, Suffolk: what’s been happening in November

For information on local support during the Cost-of-Living Crisis, visit: www.suffolk.gov.uk/CostOfLiving

Latest SCC COVID information is available here: https://www.suffolk.gov.uk/coronavirus-covid-19/

For information on supporting Ukrainian refugees in Suffolk, email: refugeesupport@suffolk.gov.uk    or ukrainesupport@communityactionsuffolk.org.uk

Elected Mayor For Suffolk  Jeremy Hunt’s autumn statement announced a devolution deal  which will bring an elected Mayor to lead Suffolk.

However there are potential issues with the new mayoral role. As a Mayor can be elected from outside the majority party and has the power to select a Cabinet which is also outside of the majority – this could create a gridlocked political system, although it also has the potential for creating a more open and representative system than we currently have in Suffolk.

Deben Designated Bathing Status Applied for   At the beginning of November, Ruth Leach and I sent off the applications for designated bathing water status for the River Deben  at Woodbridge and Waldringfield.

This followed months of planning and 60 days of concentrated effort by the Save The Deben campaign group to lobby support, consult with the public, local businesses and to count the bathers down in the river.

The numbers of recreational river users were robust, and a total of 1158 people participated in the consultation.

The national excuse given for not testing river water quality is that waterways are not designated bathing areas. Yet currently there are only 2 inland “designated bathing water areas” in the whole of Britain – and one of these in the Thames) is in danger is in danger of having its status withdrawn .

The applications, one for Waldringfield and one for Woodbridge, will be considered by Defra and Save the Deben expects to hear from them early next year.

If successful the Environment Agency will be directed to test the water quality at the swim points and the results will be shared publicly,  ensuring that the river water would in future have to be tested regularly and stringently.

Avian influenza ban   DEFRA has announced that with effect from Monday, 7th November there will be a housing order in England; this means anyone keeping domestic poultry in England will need to ensure they are fully protected from wild birds from this date. Remember your birds can still have access outside to the fresh air, but will need either netting or clear plastic sheeting to protect them from wild bird droppings. Full details from DEFRA below

Food parcels and warm rooms: my Locality Budget With all the problems that the cost of living emergency and horrifying rise in heating costs will cause the most vulnerable over the next few months, I have decided to divide the remainder of my 2022-23 Locality Budget between two grants, one for food parcels and food banks, and the other for warm rooms.

Cost of Living Budget Survey – SCC needs your Input   Suffolk is running a survey amongst local residents, asking for their thoughts on the upcoming 2023/24 budget. A summary of responses will be considered when deciding how to spend our money. With inflationary pressures, our Group expects government to seek spending cuts – meaning public services could be cut and council. Reserves may have to be used.

A link to the online survey is here: https://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/7BQY0J/

Please  share your thoughts on how the Council should spend their money, as well as highlight vulnerabilities you see in your communities that need further addressing.

SCC’s Launch of ‘Winter Matters’ Campaign  SCC have launched their Winter Matters campaign, which aims to help ease the pressures of winter for Suffolk residents. This is a signposting campaign that centres around five key themes: Finances, Safety, Environment, Health and Wellbeing, and Highways.

For more information and advice on how SCC can support you during winter, visit: www.suffolk.gov.uk/wintermatters

SCC’s Cost of Living leaflet has been updated to shows all the help Suffolk offers with finances and household expenses, as well as how to stay warm this winter: https://suffolk.pagetiger.com/cost-of-living-support/scc1

No AntiGrowth Coalition At the last County Council, the Opposition  GLI group submitted a motion calling for Suffolk County Council to reject the idea of an “Anti-Growth Coalition”. The term, coined by former PM Liz Truss, suggests anyone who criticised the government’s economic policy was part of a coordinated group dedicated against growing our economy.

The Suffolk Opposition wanted Suffolk County Council to distance itself from this term and acknowledge the importance of different opinions – including the view that the term “growth” should consider social responsibilities, community voices, sound financial policy, and environmental limits – which the opposition did not believe the government considered within the term .

The administration voted against our motion.  However the opposition still feels it is important that our local authorities reject untruthful and divisive claims (although now made by a past Prime Minister.)

October Cabinet: SEND,  Sizewell and Green Travel  The Cabinet met for the first time since the summer political recess. The Cabinet agreed to spend £2m on new care provision for Children and Young People in Felixstowe. In addition, SEND services received £10m to provide more specialist units in Suffolk. My Group is hugely supportive, as we want to remove the pattern of families travelling cross-county for support.

The Suffolk Local Access Forum submitted their annual report, which included their concerns about Sizewell C and its effect on green networks and Rights of Way. As you know, I and my group have strongly campaigned in support of the Forum’s position, and we will continue to voice concerns over the damning effects of nuclear power on our coastal landscape and biodiversity.

In addition, the Cabinet endorsed Transport East’s new 2050 strategy, which focusses more on green travel and linking rural communities to local economies. My Group recognises the importance of connecting isolated residents for both profession and pleasure, and we will ensure SCC adopts all priorities into its own policy.

 

 

 

Deben: designated bathing status

And send…..!

The applications for designated bathing water status have been sent off after 60 days of concentrated effort by the Save The Deben campaign group to lobby support, consult with the public and local businesses and to count our bathers down in the river. The numbers of recreational river users were robust and a total of 1158 people participated in the consultation. The applications, one for Waldringfield and one for Woodbridge, will be considered by Defra and we expect to hear from them early next year. If successful the Environment Agency will be directed to test the water quality at the swim points and the results will be shared publicly.

What’s Been Happening Woodbridge, Suffolk – October 2022


For information on local support during the Cost-of-Living Crisis, visit: https://www.suffolk.gov.uk/community-and-safety/communities/healthier/cost-of-living-support/

Latest SCC COVID information is available here: https://www.suffolk.gov.uk/coronavirus-covid-19/

For information on supporting Ukrainian refugees in Suffolk, email: refugeesupport@suffolk.gov.uk or ukrainesupport@communityactionsuffolk.org.uk

Woodbridge’s Mini-Holland bid  I am delighted that Suffolk County Council has received £85,000 funding to carry out a feasibility study to look at how a Mini-Holland scheme could be implemented in Woodbridge and Melton.

If we are successful we may be in line for something like £20m from DoT to make it a reality.

The results of the Mini-Holland initiatives in London have been recognised nationally for the very positive change they have delivered to the lives of local people and the areas they live in.

This isn’t just about walking and cycling. If the feasibility study is successful, it will create an inviting environment for all: providing the necessary infrastructure to enable people to walk, cycle and scoot on safe routes, whilst balancing access for public transport and private motor vehicles.

Getting more people out and about improves people’s health and wellbeing, creates better neighbourhoods and boosts the local economy.The Mini-Holland initiatives are also about enhancing public spaces and addressing the climate emergency, which should be a priority for all of us.

This project has had my wholehearted support from the start, and I look forward to working with Suffolk County Council, the Town Council and the people of Woodbridge to deliver it.

Lung cancer mistaken for Long COVID  ESNEFT, our local foundation trust’s, commissioning of virtual rather than face to face Long Covid services meant it took 2 years before a face to face appointment led to my diagnosis with Lung Cancer.  I am currently raising the issue of ESNEFTs commissioning of virtual Long Covid and other services because of the probability of other misdiagnoses

https://www.itv.com/news/anglia/2022-10-06/mums-terminal-lung-cancer-mistaken-for-long-covid-during-pandemic

Rights of the Deben – what next?  As I mentioned last month (see link),   the cross-party organisation ‘Save the Deben‘  (founded by myself and Ruth Leach) reasserted the Rights of the River Deben via an actual document brought up the river by a relay of dedicated rowers from the river mouth at Felixstowe and declared by inspirational lawyer Paul Powlesland, who talked briefly about how to carry on carrying on. The intention is to declare the Deben a designated bathing area from the Tide Mill to Waldringfield. This bold move would ensure that the river water would have to be tested regularly and stringently.

Ms Leach tells me that a working party has been put together to address safety concerns for the growing numbers of open water swimmers enjoying the Deben. Two life buoys will be placed at Kyson Point and Woodbridge Town Steps and swimmers wanting to swim long distance will be encouraged to buddy up with kayakers for greater visibility. QR codes with info about tides, currents, mud and coastguard contact details will be placed where needed.

Finally, a feasibility study is being considered for a possible tidal pool/ community lido. It is hoped that it will be something for young people to enjoy and  keep our swimmers out of the navigation channel. In collaboration with local gp surgeries it will become a community resource for promoting better health through cold water swimming.

Suffolk in talks to become Investment Zone  Suffolk County Council has agreed to start discussions with Government to become an investment zone as part of the PM’s new growth and investment strategy.

Our political group has gone on record in the media to say that we are opposed to the idea since the Government says it wants to remove environmental controls and planning controls within these zones.

Since the council began talks, the RSPB, National Trust and the Wildlife Trusts, including Suffolk Wildlife Trust have all described the plans, announced in Kwarteng’s mini budget, as “an attack on nature”.

Update: I do not know the exact situation  now that so much of this budget has been overturned by Hunt

Open Letter sent by Opposition Leader to all Conservative Councillors  Cllr Andrew Stringer, Opposition Leader, has sent an open letter to all Conservative Councillors at SCC. The letter asks that this Council to disassociate itself from the policies outlined by PM Liz Truss and (now ex) Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng.

Cllr Stringer declares that the government’s approach – scrapping planning rules, ripping up environmental protections, and reopening fracking sites – will cause irreversible damage to nature and Net Zero and asks the Leader of the Conservatives to make a public statement to instead support investment for nature recovery, renewable energy, and insulating homes.

Update: I do not know the exact situation  going forward now that so much of this budget has been overturned by Hunt

Warm Homes Suffolk Fund – Access Free funding and Advice  Suffolk’s councils have joined together to establish Warm Homes Suffolk. The service will offer expert advice on reducing energy bills and usage, as well benefits people may be entitled to during this crisis.

The fund is open to homeowners, renters, and landlords and will target homes that need insulating and more efficient heating.

For more information, visit: www.warmhomessuffolk, or call 03456 037 686.

Cancelled School Taxi Contracts  One of the big stories in the local news has been the increase in taxi companies cancelling SCC contracts to provide home to school transport due to rise in fuel prices and the cost of living. Young people and children, including those with SEND, have once again had their education and development disrupted. Further EADT reports suggest district council policy,  insisting taxi vehicles can be no older than eight years, has forced taxi companies to cancel contracts.

While the Opposition is supportive of promoting cleaner transport, my group says taxi companies need to be properly supported to transition to Net Zero.

SCC Unveils First of  EV Fleet  The first delivery of 16 electric vehicles (EVs) to SCC will be in November, as the council begins its program to upgrade all existing pool cars. This is part of the council’s work to deliver on its climate emergency declaration, and its ambition to protect and enhance the environment.

The Renault Zoe has been chosen as the first of the new vehicles, with 10 MG ZS to arrive in April 2023. The aim is to completely electrify the fleet by 2024.

 

Caroline Page, LibDem County Councillor for Woodbridge