Sochi on the Deben

DSCF1878 (800x643)For once, the weather was kind – and ferocious winds and driving rain cleared up in time for full enjoyment to be gained from the weekend’s free skating rink in the Brook Street carpark, Woodbridge.

Let’s hope that the weather will continue as good tomorrow for the second day.

This last year has been hard for a lot of people – and most of all for families – and the expense of taking your children on a day out can be prohibitive. This event – brainchild of Town Councillor Caroline Blois, and funded by me from my Locality Budget – was intended to give some affordable fun to the young people of Woodbridge and their parents, while also bringing increased footfall into Woodbridge town centre in the dark days of winter.

Today certainly seemed to do this.

To top it all, the refreshments on offer were provided by Woodbridge’s very own Cake Shop Bakery, who only yesterday were crowned Britain’s Best Bakery.

Eat your heart out, Winter Olympics!

What’s been happening in Suffolk – Feb 2014

This month we’ve heard that that Sizewell will be swapping waste with Dungeness – and that it will travel along the East Suffolk line; that Suffolk is at the bottom of the league for vulnerable adult abuse; that we have been automatically opted in to the sharing of our medical records – and that the council tax will once again be frozen (courtesy of the government’s Council Tax Freeze deal) but that – despite the deal –  we will be making cuts of more than £38million .


Sizewell Waste Disposal  Magnox  has published its preferred option for managing Intermediate Level Radioactive Waste (ILW) and Fuel Element Debris (FED) at its sites in England (including Sizewell A). Sizewells FED will be transferred to Dungeness, and the ILW from Dungeness will arrive for storage at Sizewell.

SCC Cabinet agrees that this is a ” sensible and pragmatic solution for disposing of Sizewell’s FED given the relatively small amount of FED arising at Sizewell and the fact that such materials are capable of being transported by rail.” The rail in question includes the East Suffolk line.

Cabinet also recommends that if Magnox and EDF can’t achieve a joint approach to storage of ILW, Magnox should consider options for managing ILW from Sizewell A that do not involve building a store at the site, most particularly as any proposal for the construction of an ILW store at Sizewell which provides for the importation of ILW from elsewhere would be contrary to P the Council’s adopted Waste Core Strategy

Ultimate disposal of this waste remains open-ended. Cabinet will insist on a package of Community Benefits “to reflect the fact that interim storage of waste at Sizewell is dependent on the provision of the national Geological Disposal Facility. “

Creation of a national disposal facility  continues to be as nebulous in form placing and timescale as it has always been – potentially further off than the 2040 planning assumption date used.Cabinet  sees the interim store as “ fulfilling a nationally important role in radioactive waste management over a long period.”

I do not know if I am the only person to be concerned by this? It seems to smack of Sir Humphrey’s IBD YBD.

GP data – opt out Everyone in Woodbridge will have received  about how the government is wishing to share   personal health data with a variety of ‘approved’ (but unspecified) organisations and researchers.

The leaflet says “If you are happy for your information to be shared “(or if you have thrown away the leaflet unread) “you do not need to do anything. There is no form to fill in and nothing to sign.”

In other words – you will have automatically opted into having your full medical history shared with whoever the government decides appropriate.

This being the case, it is very important that everybody should be made aware  that unless they opt out, they are sharing their entire health history linked – not to name –  but to their date of birth, full postcode, NHS number, and gender.

Suffolk at bottom of national rankings for adult abuse  Suffolk  has the second highest number of substantiated reports of vulnerable adult abuse in the country with 645 fully-substantiated and 315 partially-substantiated cases out of over 3,000 reports. Statistics from the Health and Social Care Information Centre, which were published last week, show a total of 3,015 referrals were made to Suffolk adult social care safeguarding teams in the 2012/13 financial year.

Suffolk ranked behind only Kent out of 152 local authorities.

The referrals cover such areas as the neglect of people’s health and well-being and physical or mental abuse. In Suffolk, 2,005 of the referrals were for women and 1,010 for men while nearly half related to adults with a physical disability.

Suffolk Healthwatch has described  the data  as “alarming’.

SCC Budget 2014-5  The 2014-5 budget was formally approved by Cabinet at the end of January and will now go to full council. It  will see £38.6m of spending cuts across most services. I will provide full details once these have been finally agreed.

Suffolk County council is once again taking advantage of central government’s council tax freeze deal – which provides central funding for all those councils NOT raising council tax this year. The same deal is/has been on offer for each of the five years of this government, and Suffolk has always taken advantage of it. When the SCC administration mention their  pledge to freeze council tax at its present level  – which they repeat with a great deal of empressement  every year –  no-one ever remembers to mention the tax freeze initiative . Which effectively pays them to freeze our council tax.  Just saying.

County Councillor’s Locality Budget I have funded a free skating rink to encourage local shopping in Woodbridge in mid -February.

County Councillor’s Surgery My surgery dates for the next few months are:  Saturday 15 February, and Saturday 19 April. There will be no surgery in March as I will be in China. Surgeries are at Woodbridge Library 10-12 as ever. All welcome


*Ephebiphobia? the strange affair of the skating rink and the anonymous letter..

As you may know, I have funded the skating rink that is coming to Woodbridge in the weekend of 15/16 February. This is both half-term and a time of year that traditionally is slow for trading.  I am hoping that this attraction will bring families into Woodbridge town centre over half term to stimulate trade and provide some welcome fun at a time of continuing recession.

It has seemed to please most people.

Unfortunately not everyone. I received the following (unsigned) letter  by first class mail yesterday. It was word-processed, although the envelope was handwritten:

Dear Caroline Page,

A local paper reports  that an ice-skating opportunity has been planned in the Hamblin Road car park “behind the Barrett’s shop”, to take place over two days in mid-February. Your name is mentioned in this connection.

Whose idea was this? Has this matter been fully thought out?

The first objection is that the carpark in question is very much a residential area! Is this the ideal place to have crowds and, presumably, some amount of noise and commotion? In some cases right outside the windows  of some people’s homes, to replace the normal quiet and peace justifiably expected. And this to continue over two days!

But of even greater concern is this: Presumably you must know Woodbridge well. And you will be aware therefore that Woodbridge has only IN THE LAST FEW YEARS emerged from the Dark Ages.  Any resident or shopkeeper of the town centre will know that this is no exaggeration. We refer of course to the plague of vandalism and unpleasantness at the hands of what you might euphemistically call “the younger elements” of the town. The plague was continuous, day and night.

The town centre has been blessedly free, (apart from a few isolated incidents) of the presence of these elements for a few years now, but what immediately begins to ring alarm bells is the possibility of some of their members turning up among your invited participants to the ice-skating: the event will, after all, undoubtedly attract many younger persons to the area. This is the perceived danger: that your event might re-kindle their interest in the town centre and bring them back again.  The thought is enough to put dread into the heart of any inhabitant or shopkeeper who experienced the miseries of the Dark Ages and was on the receiving end of all that nastiness.

If you know Woodbridge as I assume you do, then you will know that this is no exaggeration. Any newcomer to the town, within the last five years say, will not appreciate what the town centre has been through.

To cite only a few incidents. Every shop and store in the Turban Centre has suffered vandalism and break ins. At one time the carpet store there had its windows smasked every Saturday night for three weeks running. And on numerous other occasions.

The circular kiosk there (now a fishmongers) began as a stationary kiosk. It was damaged so often its proprietors were eventually vandalised out of business.

The fruit and vegetable shop there (previously known as Finches) was destroyed by arson. They were out of business for a year.

More recently, the circular kiosk was badly damaged by arson. It was on the way to complete destruction and only the prompt call-out of the fire bridgede saved the better part of it.

You may recall that this sort of thing was the actual continuous daily and nightly unpleasantness which the town centre had to suffer, inhabitants and shopkeepers alike.

We would beg you to do nothing to disturb the comparative fragile calm of the present.

Please do be very careful and think twice before planning anything that might carry even the SLIGHTEST risK of encouraging unwanted elements back to the town centre, and a recurrence of the miseries of recent memory.

We implore you: Be careful. Be careful. Be careful.

I am completely bewildered by the tone of this letter,  and that it should be sent to me by someone (or indeed some people) who didn’t want to sign it, or to be identified in any way. Are they ashamed of their views? They write as if they are speaking on behalf of the whole town and everyone in it!

I will be happy to reply directly  if they choose to come forward.

And – as ever- will be happy to hear comments from anyone else on the subject


*Ephebiphobia The fear of youth is called ephebiphobia. First coined as the “fear or loathing of teenagers,”today the phenomenon is recognized as the “inaccurate, exaggerated and sensational characterization of young people” in a range of settings around the world (Wikipedia)