Category Archives: SizewellC

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

Woodbridge: the county news. My October report


County Council Boundary changes consultation This affects us all. The Boundary Commission have now announced that they will be looking to reduce the number of Suffolk County Councillors  from 75 to 70. This means that boundaries will change. The next stage of the process is to determine where new division boundaries should be.
This is the chance for everyone – to have their say – both as councils and as individuals. Whilst I have personal reservations about the efficacy of reducing the number of county councillors when our workload is so heavy (at least, mine is) I suggest that this is an excellent time to look at the borders of the Woodbridge division, to ensure they work best for Woodbridge. For example, it has never been at all appropriate that the road-markings up the middle of Pyches Road separate the Woodbridge and Wickham divisions, particularly when Suffolk County Council is the Highways authority.
The public consultation will run until 2 December 2019. I urge you to take part: https://consultation.lgbce.org.uk/node/18495

Local bus cut developments The petition for the 800 and 64 services has now surpassed 1500 signatures on and offline. (We had a stall in the Thoroughfare during the Carfree Day and gained another 400).
I have met with the Transport Manager and Business and Information Manager for Suffolk’s Growth, Highways and Infrastructure directorate to discuss how to go forward with this. They emphasise they have limited capacity to sway First decisions, although I point out that they are paying a significant sum of public money to First for bus-passes.
In parallel, as you know, we are arranging a meeting for many of the parishes along the route, and then with First.

Sizewell C – response to Stage 4 Consultation On 24 September, the Cabinet agreed a response to EDF’s Stage 4 consultation for Sizewell C. The Cabinet maintains that they support the principle of nuclear technology, but do not currently have sufficient information to support the proposals for Sizewell C.
You will have been copied in to my response as Woodbridge County Councillor.
My county group (of Liberal Democrat, Green and Independent councillors) has called on the Suffolk Cabinet to reject EDF’s proposals for Sizewell C . It responded to the consultation with concerns including:
• Expense: EDF will be overcharging UK consumers for electricity from Sizewell for the next 35 years. Latest prices of offshore wind generated power, per KWhr, without any subsidy, are less than half what EDF is being guaranteed;
• Impact on the surrounding natural environment, including the Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB;
• Impact on the tourism industry;
• Additional carbon emissions and congestion from a road-led strategy;
• Lack of planning for nuclear waste disposal;
• Unsympathetic design to the surrounding natural area;
• Additional pylons in an already crowded landscape;
• Not convinced by EDF’s economic development argument.

County Budget monitoring – first quarter At the end of Q1, the council is forecasting a net overspend by the end of the year of £1.2m on the Base Budget and £6.7m on the Dedicated Schools Grant Budget.
The base budget overspend is largely due to rising costs for adult care, an overspend on the Home-to-School transport budget, and an increase in the number of children in care with complex needs who require specialist placements. Most other departments at the council are forecasting to spend on budget.
The £6.7m overspend on the schools budget is largely due to an increase in children with complex Special Educational Needs, and the increased costs for support and transport to schools outside of Suffolk that go alongside this. Although the council has agreed to spend on building new special education placements within Suffolk, which ought to address some of this expenditure in the future, it is too late for this financial year.

Continuing delay to children’s centre consultation Suffolk County Council has confirmed that there is “no firm start date” for the consultation regarding potential closures of children’s centres. Originally, the Council had stated that this consultation would start in September and run for 6 weeks.
The Council is proposing to close 2 children’s centres completely – including the Caterpillar Centre in Woodbridge – convert a further 11 to SEND facilities or nurseries, reduce 9 to part-time hours and convert the remaining 16 into family hubs providing services for families with children aged 0-19.

County Councillor’s Surgery: My surgery this month is on the 19th October. It will be a little  shorter than usual, as I will be going on to attend the Peoples Vote March in London.

Why I cannot support Sizewell C

Suffolk County Council submitted a response to the deeply disappointing Sizewell Stage 4 consultation, as did Woodbridge’s Town Council. These are my concerns,  written specifically as Woodbridge County Councillor – and as LibDem Green and Independent group county councillor representing a division affected by the development

First and foremost I deplore that the consultation does little to answer – or even ameliorate – concerns that were raised by the many respondents to the stage 3 consultation. It is as if the concerns and suggestions of the people of Suffolk did not exist.

Secondly,  I would query why we are still even considering building Sizewell C?  It is intended that Suffolk  will  be supplying about 30% of the UK’s electricity – but only about 7% of UK electricity will come from Sizewell C, the rest will be offshore. Suffolk contains 1.4% of the UK’s population. The impact of the building – let alone the running – of Sizewell C will have a 100% impact on the people of Suffolk coastal. This impact is largely negative.

We are told that the benefits of Sizewell C will bring £100m annually to Suffolk.  But the tourist benefit of the Suffolk Coastal AONB  and coastal heaths, and of the natural environment of countryside around  is £240m annually– on all of which Sizewell C will have an adverse impact via a range of issues such as loss of coastal paths, unsympathetic design, the 10-12 year impact of building works, and all the additional traffic. This does not make economic sense.

Thirdly,  the financial case for  nuclear power no longer adds up. EDF will be overcharging UK consumers for electricity from Sizewell for the next 35 years:  prices of offshore wind-generated power, per KWhr, without any subsidy, are less than half what EDF is being guaranteed. Continue reading Why I cannot support Sizewell C