Woodbridge: what’s happening. My November 2019 report


Decriminalisation of Parking (CPE) is finally to go ahead across Suffolk The long delayed decriminalisation of parking (CPE) held up for the last year by the huge amount of additional parliamentary time spent on Brexit will go ahead as soon after 31st Jan 2020 as training of staff can happen!

This is good news for many beleaguered communities across Suffolk.

Simultaneously the Thoroughfare TRO, also held up by the same issue (though for a different reason: the requirement to make a whole-Suffolk TRO map) is now ongoing,  the funding has been put aside for a year now  from my locality budget.

Please pass this good news on!

County makes huge cut to Health visitors without democratic mandate You may remember that earlier this year, there were reports that Suffolk County Council planned to cut 25% of Health Visitors. We have now learned that the council has in fact reduced Health Visitors by 35%, without informing either the public or councillors. The staffing cuts were made as part of an internal restructure of the 0-19 Healthy Child Service in order to save £1m.
In England, it is mandatory for families to receive five visits to check on the health of children/parents during pregnancy early childhood, and the guidance states that these checks should be undertaken by health visitors. However, as a result of these staffing reductions, in Suffolk only three of these visits will be undertaken by specially trained health visitors, with staff nurses expected to take on the other two checks.
My group proposed a motion at Council on the 17 October, asking the administration to reconsider these cuts, which unfortunately was voted down.

Woodbridge and Martlesham representatives with senior First bus officers

Confronting the Bus Cuts After the meeting of 13 parishes with First Buses at the end of October,
In which we pointed out we reoresented 46,000 people and asked for specific assistance in restoring the status quo,  we have heard unexpectedly of the proposed saving of a portion of the erstwhile 71 route (Sudbourne to Woodbridge), because it has been taken over by First, with proposed through-ticketing to Ipswich. This a first feather in the cap of joint working between the parishes.

Concerns about Adult Safeguarding funding The annual report of Suffolk’s Adult Safeguarding board confirmed that it had had to spend £40,000 of its £87,000 reserves on ‘transformation’ in 19-20. If if does the same next year it would be left with reserves of £7,000. I have asked whether there future plans involve cuts to services or persuading further funding contributions from colleague organisations. The answer was that were looking at both options.

Sizewell Detailed Emergency Planning Zone. These days, a statutory duty of county is contingency planning in case of nuclear accident.

Suffolk’s updated plan for Sizewell was dIscussed at Cabinet in early November. Provision has to be made to deliver iodine tablets and evacuate residents within a 30km radius of Sizewell within 24 hours of a radiation leak. Just to remind residents – Woodbridge is within a 30km radius of Sizewell. I made it my business to point this out loud and clear at the meeting. We appear to be in a footnote:  we are the second biggest down in the fallout area. We need to be at the front of everybody’s minds.

Additionally I asked what provision has been made for climate change – specifically the wholly predictable rising of sea levels –  in the emergency plan.  None, apparently.

Review of new School Transport policy  After months of public condemnation, Cllr Mary Evans, new Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, Education and Skills, has apologised to families affected by the new school transport policy and has confirmed that there will be a review of the policy. However, it is likely that this review will only focus on the implementation of the new policy, rather than the inherent problems with the policy itself.

Since the introduction of the new policy, there has been a large increase in the number of transport appeals: 141 appeals were submitted from 1 July – 18 October, compared to an average of just 21 for the same time period in previous years.

Furthermore, over 70% of these appeals have been decided in favour of parents who had initially been refused transport by the council. The situation has been compounded by the decision to count Rights of Way as appropriate means of walking to schools. Some are more appropriate than others, and it has led to significant councillor walking of routes to establish safety and viability.

As vice chair of the Appeals panel, I can confirm that the panel now sits for two full days a month and panel members can walk as many as ten early morning safety routes a month.

Boundary Consultation extended, Childrens Centres consultation delayed. Because of the General Election, the consultation on new division boundaries for Suffolk County Council has been extended to early  January 2020. As part of this review, the Boundary Commission are proposing to reduce councillor numbers in Suffolk from 75 to 70. I have already offered you my view on this.

You can find out more information and respond to the consultation here: https://consultation.lgbce.org.uk/node/1849

For similar reasons the county has now announced that their contentious Childrens Centres consultation is delayed until after the election

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