Suffolk County Council are currently consulting widely and with a completely open mind about the future of specialist education provision in Suffolk.
Opposition councillors were naturally sceptical that this was cover for money-saving, but very clear and open answers to our questions from officers have reassured us that this is not a cost-cutting exercise (the money is ring-fenced) but about spending it to best advantage and with better outcomes.
At the moment, Suffolk has 256 young people sent out of county at the cost of £11m a year for educational provision that Suffolk has not been able or willing to provide in county; some of our PRUs ‘require improvement’ (one is in special measures) and are more expensive and produce worse outcomes than Norfolk’s (which are rated outstanding), and all the SSCs (specialist support centres) are located in one quadrant of the county because historically they were only sited in schools that declared themselves willing to house them. This means there is no provision in the north and west of the county and some children are making two 75-minute journeys a day to reach them.
Suffolk is is now wanting your input to find the best way to address these issues and others.
From 11 January – 7 February 2016 people have the opportunity to give your views on a range of options Suffolk are looking at, and you can also suggest other ideas for Suffolk to consider. (We have been assured that nothing has been predetermined or decided. This is genuinely a consultation )
After this, 14 March – 24 April 2016 there will be a formal consultation on the proposed changes: a 6 week formal consultation period where you can make representations to the Council – both expressions of support or objections to the proposals.
So, whether you are concerned or worried, or simply want to add your voice to the debate – please respond and add your views! They will be valued You can find the documents here
Just to alert regulars that my Saturday surgeries will now start at 9am on the third Saturday of every month, instead of 10am as previously. At the Woodbridge Library, as ever.
I have written with the significant concerns I have regarding the outline planning application proposed for the land east of Bridge Farm, Top Street, Martlesham – the impact of which would fall within the Woodbridge division.
While we all recognise the desperate need for affordable housing in oue area, I would be very concerned if permission for this particular development were to go ahead (particularly as the proposed development of 2000 houses at Martlesham Adastral Park still remains under consideration).
Apart from the fact that this is the last piece of greenfield separating Woodbridge from Martlesham – a fact which holds great significance for both communities – my principal concerns deal with transport:
- The application proposes vehicular access. Proposed access for residents’ cars is onto
i) a narrow uphill section of Top Street just after a railway bridge and
ii) a wider, but heavily used and equally uphill section of B1438 (here called Ipswich Road ) which is heavily used, being the main access road through Woodbridge.
Neither seem to be adequate or appropriate exits onto the roads in question. There appear to be no other viable options.
- The ‘proposed public open space footpath route’ as labelled on the Gladman plan (see left – click to enlarge: an open corridor that leads from Sandy Lane, at a place that has no pavement towards Woodbridge or ongoing footpath without a risky walk around a blind bend under the railway bridge, to a part of Top Street which has no pavement or ongoing footpath) is misleading. It is in fact the corridor through which the EA One underground high tension cabling is due to be routed. And on which restrictive covenants will remain in place afterwards preventing building and planting (further details here ) This is therefore not a ‘proposed public open space footpath route’ but a guaranteed space along which it is not possible to build or plant, which leads to nowhere substantive – and for which any developer needs to find an explanation.
- I do not know what the planning guidance is on EMFs (Electro magnetic fields) and health when planning a new development – particularly one housing young families, and most particularly when there is a proposed children’s play area right next to buried high voltage lines? The location causes me considerable disquiet.
- Planning development with affordable housing will help house young families who cannot afford local prices. Sadly this development would not encourage children to walk to school or socialise in Woodbridge, or indeed encourage any residents to walk to Woodbridge, or young parents with buggies to walk anywhere as the ‘footpath’ debouches onto two pieces of road without footways. If the primary catchment is Kyson (as Kyson’s catchment map suggests) there will be no safe means to walk to the school, unless a crossing is built across the Ipswich Road. Apart from expense, this which would cause congestion and possible accidents in rush hour as the B1438 is the principal exit route for Woodbridge commuters.
However, without a crossing, the County Council will potentially face a large and ongoing bill for education transport on ‘safety of the route’ grounds.
The other great need for affordable housing is amongst the older downsizers. These may often have the same requirements for pedestrian access as young families. And again these are not met.
In short, if a housing development – and specifically one with a significant affordable element – is proposed, it needs to be placed where it is safe and convenient for people to live and where they find safe and convenient ways to get to work, to education and to socialise. The location of this proposed development does not provide for this