What’s been happening in Suffolk November/December 2013

Dec 6 Flood and Aftermath    Multi-Agency flood responders worked  through the night to ensure the tidal surge of 5/6 December was mitigated where possible. The forecast high water was due in Woodbridge at 1:00 am on Friday 6 December  rising 2.17 m AODN, with an additional forecast surge height of 1.73. As it was, the surge arrived early.

Fortunately the flood barriers held off most of the high water (though they leaked at the station, and at the Eversheds ramp which I phoned in to the Environment Agency). The most damage seemed to be suffered suffered by the Waterfront café and the Tide Mill which had prepared for less high water.

In addition to the leaking there was a strong sewage smell  from the public lavatory by Eversheds, plus gushing water from the new emergency storm drain behind the Woodbridge community hall , I reported these to Anglian Water but fortunately their engineers found no issue some hours later. It was probably a case of the emergency drains backing up due to the surge .

Members of the public are being advised to heed notices warning that footpaths are closed due to flooding. The warning is there because they are impassable and/or unsafe.

 A14 tolling  Government plans to introduce the UK’s first toll road in 10 years  on the A14 have been dropped – to the relief of all. The planned upgrade will now be funded from general taxation – as is happening with all other of Britain’s road upgrades..The toll was condemned almost unanimously by Councillors at Suffolk County Council’s October meeting as a ‘toll on Suffolk.’ http://blog.suffolk.libdems.org/2013/10/29/a14-will-years-of-underinvestment-take-its-toll/

Ipswich Sexual Health Clinic  The sorry saga of the unplanned, unthought-through relocation of these vital services continues. We were told that the Sexual Health clinic was moving because the clinic needed to be in a more central location and I was assured that this would be a modular building at Gipping Court, Constantine Road  – but this turned out to be no more than aspiration. According to the latest communication from the Director of Public Health they  are now relocating the service in the grounds of the former Holywells High School – eg exactly as far from the centre as Ipswich Hospital, but with considerably fewer transport links. This is a truly extraordinary decision. I will be following it up.

Locality Budget –  do you know of a project that needs funding?  My most recent grant from the Locality budget is for a mobile skating rink to draw new custom into town in the dark days of February.

I still have money in this year’s budget, and would be interested in hearing from people for suitable projects. There is no urgency, as I am able to roll money over until next year, if nothing of sufficient local importance or need comes to hand.

New Street   As it seems that it has been impossible to reach a solution to the continuing New Street flooding issues and as some residents are unhappy that the only solution offered is the barrier/sandbag one,  I am escalating the situation. I think it is reasonable to say that the SCC Highways team have done all that is possible for them to do. There are elements within the situation that encompass the Environment Agency, Anglian Water, Suffolk Coastal District council – and maybe other bodies. I am now asking Cabinet Member for Roads and Transport, and the Director of Economy Skills and Environment whether they can do anything to improve the situation.

My Last Surgery of the Year will be on 21 December (10-12 at the Woodbridge Library) if anyone has any last minute problems and issues – and I’ll be serving a mince pie to everyone who turns up

And finally… 

May I wish everyone

xmas2013picsmall (500x800)A MERRY CHRISTMAS and a HAPPY NEW YEAR

Nelson Mandela 1918 – 2013

Nelson Mandela 2
“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion.
People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love,
for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”


Nelson Mandela July 18, 1918 – December 5 2013

South Africa: the 1994 voting queue
South Africa 1994: 20million people queue to vote

Whenever  people say they ‘don’t vote‘  as if it were  a rational choice, and something they can be proud of, I think back to the steady snaking voting queue that elected Nelson Mandela as president in 1994. Twenty million people stood all day in the hot sun to exercise their newly won right to democracy. The voter turn-out was nearly 90%.

At the last Suffolk county council election we in Woodbridge achieved the second highest voter turn-out in the county, a modest 42%.  In some Suffolk divisions the turnout was  less than 24% – that is 76 out of every 100 registered voters just simply didn’t bother to use their vote. Suffolk is not unusual. Even at the last general election when feelings were running high, national voting turnout was only 65%.

The reasons ?  We’ve  heard everything from  “I never vote in local elections,” to “I don’t vote,” “I might vote for the wrong person“, “Politicians are all the same,” “What’s the point?“, “I was too busy,” “I didn’t remember.” (Not forgetting the flaccid Jeremy Paxman/Russell Brand attitude :  designer disengagement. After all, you can only claim the moral highground and snipe unchallenged  if you don’t pick a side. What a disgraceful, self-indulgently solipsistic way to look at your own society!)

Surely Mandela’s life shows clearly that if you want to effect any change, apathy and disengagement is no more of an option than bitterness.