Category Archives: SizewellC

What’s been happening 2018-19 Woodbridge & Suffolk

2019-20 Budget and Cuts Suffolk County Council’s 2019-20 budget was agreed on Thursday 14 February. This will see an increase in council tax of 3.99%, and savings across the council’s directorates totalling £10.1m.

A particularly concerning cut was the decision to remove all grant funding from Citizens Advice. This will be phased over two years, with a 50% reduction in the 2019-20 budget (£0.184m). Fortunately, the CCGs stepped in and agreed to provide Citizens Advice with £184,000 in funding this year, to make up for the 50% funding cut from Suffolk County Council. Although this means Citizens Advice will not lose funding in 2019-20, it does not address the longer-term problem of funding in the future. The CCGs have been clear that this funding is only available for the 2019-20 financial year.

The budget also proposes staffing reductions across all directorates, totalling almost £3m. We do not currently have details of how these cuts will be distributed and which staff will be affected, but I am very concerned that this will result in less efficient services and an increase in stress amongst the remaining staff.

In terms of rural public transport, a triple whammy has occurred: the budget is saving £100,000 by not replacing any roadside timetables (catastrophic in a rural county with poor phone signal and a large elderly population); £30,000 by cutting subsidised scheduled services and providing Community Link services, while simultaneously and meretriciously “ensuring consistency of pricing through Suffolk” for Community Link provision by disallowing bus passes in all districts to save  £340,000 ( a seemingly large sum till you remember the £8million they wasted on the Orwell Crossing). Previously these passes were valid on Community Link transport everywhere but MidSuffolk.

These small savings will impact on the elderly, the disabled and the transport poor, as well as more generally on tourism. I suspect they will create considerably greater costs than they save. Continue reading What’s been happening 2018-19 Woodbridge & Suffolk

Sizewell C consultation – my response

NO “mitigation” or “compensation” could mitigate or compensate for the permanent impact of this road-led strategy on Suffolk landscape and way of life

Suffolk County Council submitted a response to this Stage 3 consultation, as did Woodbridge’s Town Council. This is mine, written specifically as Woodbridge County Councillor – and as LibDem Green and Independent group county councillor representing a Suffolk Coastal division

My concerns are both general and specific.Putting to one side the question of whether the development of Sizewell is still desirable or economic, I wish to raise concerns about the following overarching issues about this Stage 3 pre-Application:

  1. The inexplicable decision to favour a road-led strategy for development over both sea and rail. This change to the narrative of previous schemes is in no way explained or explicable. Indeed, the complete fatuity of plans which eschew a marine-led strategy because of “damage to the marine environment” yet which trample over an AONB takes some beating. Such a strategy is not green. It damages a vital resource for Suffolk Coastal – the age-old countryside it relies on for income. It is not convenient – for us, the residents of Suffolk Coastal. Using Suffolk roads is clearly the cheapest and most convenient option for the developers.  What is in this for the people living in Suffolk Coastal?
  2. The adverse impact of a road-led strategy is not only on the area around Sizewell, but on all the feeder roads in Suffolk Coastal, and the communities they serve. The impact of traffic displaced by significant HGV traffic on the A12 onto rural routes will affect all rural communities in the path. What is in this for the people living in Suffolk Coastal?
  3. Despite the damage to the surrounding area  – an area which brings Suffolk Coastal its most significant longterm income  (from tourism) because of this choice of a road-led strategy – we gather it will still be necessary for you to build a jetty to bring heavy machinery in by sea. So what price “protecting the marine environment”?
  4.  All this being so, what we appear to see is the wanton destruction of countryside, habitat, environment and way of life for the people of Suffolk Coastal for the benefit of urban areas that want electricity without risk to themselves.  Suffolk has 1.4% of the UK population. It will sustain 100% of the damage of this scheme. Words like ‘mitigation and compensation’ fall very short of addressing the destruction of an historic way of life for everything for the foreseeable future
  5. Development plans for significant housing near Leiston suggests that many or most of the workers, even at the building stage, will not be sourced locally, but will be incomers to Suffolk. What is in this for the people living in Suffolk Coastal?
  6. If rail is used it will involve apparently the destruction of many existing crossings and rights of way, at great detriment to residents and tourists, who come specifically to walk and enjoy the countryside. Trains, both for delivery of construction materials and for operational uses afterwards will be in excess of the current East Suffolk line usage and will have an impact in both noise and impact on other traffic for residents along the line. Again, what is in this for the people living in Suffolk Coastal?
  7. Where is the acknowledgement of the impact of climate change on the coast of Suffolk? Suffolk County Council declared a climate emergency last week. Rising seas are predicted to put Sizewell under water within a relatively short space of time. What plans have been mafe to guard against this?
  8. Why is there no marine strategy for the delivery of energy? The current scheme will have a massive impact on the people of Suffolk Coastal in order to benefit a large tranche of the UK population. If we in Britain can get our energy from France via undersea cables, surely London can get its energy from Suffolk by the same route?

Continue reading Sizewell C consultation – my response

What’s been happening in Suffolk – April 15

Apart  from a general hotting up of  General Electioneering, all sorts of things have been happening in Suffolk. My report this month could be briefly summarised as:  rail, bus, new leader, new languages & 月亮代表我的心 (the moon reflects my heart)…:

All change at the Top   The head of the Suffolk Conservative party Mark Bee has stood down and was replaced in an internal party election by former Suffolk New Strategic Direction cheerleader Cllr Colin Noble. This is, of course, far from an internal party matter, as it means that Cllr Noble will almost certainly be elected SCC Leader in May.

Cllr Bee brought a measure of unity to SCC after a troubled period and he will be sorely missed. For example, he has encouraged a measure of cross-party consensus through policy development panels.  In transport terms this has led to such measures  as agreeing a cross-county  format for new 20mph areas ( all of which had been abandoned under the previous administration because ‘we had enough already.’). Woodbridge is currently in the process of applying for one to calm local traffic.

I do not know what the future for such measures may be under the new leadership.

Passenger Rail Franchise I responded on behalf of Woodbridge, and as Lib Dem spokesman on Transport to the recent governmental East Anglia Rail Passenger Franchise Consultation. Full details can be found here: http://carolinepage.blog.suffolk.libdems.org/2015/03/17/my-response-to-east-anglia-rail-passenger-franchise-consultation/

Sustainable transport and Sizewell: at the last full council I argued that any development of Sizewell C must needs involve significant compensation for the whole Suffolk Coastal region in terms of sustainable transport – better train services and scheduled bus services – as well as road development. Details can be found here:  http://carolinepage.blog.suffolk.libdems.org/2015/03/21/sizewell-c-a-route-to-sustainable-transport-in-east-suffolk/

Foreign language teaching: Over the last weeks I have been on local radio and in the EADT, pressing for our Suffolk young people to be taught more languages for longer to a higher standard – so that we’re competing on a level playing field with the rest of the world. This followed on from my – and Woodbridge Town Councillor Patrick Gillard’s  – runaway success as ‘opener’ for the Ipswich Chinese New Year Celebrations  singing the famous Chinese love song 月亮代表我的心 ‘Yueliang Daibiao Wode Xin’ (the moon reflects my heart) http://www.eadt.co.uk/news/fears_over_lack_of_uptake_for_language_study_1_4003643 . Woodbridge’s own proximity to Huawei at Martlesham, and the Chinese-owned port at Felixstowe  underlines the need for Mandarin teaching, for example, if we want to make sure local youngsters get the best jobs – and not just hand them over to linguistically better qualified people. We owe them more than that!

In Woodbridge, Warwick Avenue and Haugh Lane roads have been resurfaced, as has Drybridge Hill. All at long last!

Local Bus News: When the 65b turned up at Hamblin Road last Friday we were looking at the first  Woodbridge Good Friday Service in FOUR years – and a lot of people wanting to use it too!  A Sunday and Bank Holiday Bus Service is an invaluable thing.  It took a lot of lobbying but it’s going strong. I would hope that we can continue to think that if we use it we won’t lose it, despite the change at the top of SCC. We will wait and see.

Two other pieces of good news for Woodbridge bus users:  I’ve talked to Suffolk Onboard and they have now agreed to replace those  balancing poles at the Hamblin Road bus shelters with proper seating so that people will be able to sit and wait for their buses at long last.

And (after I took them to look at the site),  SuffolkOnboard have also approved two new bus stops on the Ipswich Road –  above the Notcutts roundabout -so that people wanting to get to Framfield surgery and Clarkson Court can find it easier to use the bus. First bus and Ipswich buses have also agreed them, so they will go ahead.

My next surgery is on Saturday 18th April, 10 – 12 as ever.