Category Archives: Suffolk County Council

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?

Specifically to Woodbridge, I want to raise concerns about :

  1. the increase to the volume of traffic that a road-led strategy would displace along the A1438 – the first convenient turnoff from the A12, and travelling immediately through Woodbridge town. This would take non-HGV drivers to places along the coast up as far as Leiston. The impact is likely to be considerable, as many drivers decide to eschew the congested and dangerous A12 for a more scenic, more pleasant journey.
  2. The double whammy caused by a) the increase in HGVs on the A12, passing next to Farlingaye High School, where 2,000 young people from a 400sq mile catchment area will disbenefit from the increase in N02 and particulate matter; while the increase in ‘fugitive’ traffic along the B1438 in Woodbridge, which has a hugely significant number of sheltered, retiremenit and old people’s housing built along it, will affect these residents who will also disbenefit from the increase in N02 and particulate matter. N02 and particulate matter are known to have a particularly poor impact on the young and the old. The impact of air pollution will be added to the obvious issues caused by an increase in traffic on a small town with a particularly large number of elderly residents, and six schools.
  3. Should a rail-led option be included, I must point out that when a Sizewell train passes through Woodbridge it can be heard throughout the town. An increase in rail traffic through the town will result in added noise pollution for the people of the town, in addition to potential loss of crossings and rights of way.

As I said before, I dislike the words “mitigation” & “compensation” when addressing the destruction of the countryside and people’s way of life. If Sizewell C is to go ahead, I hope that EDF energy investigate a marine-led solution for both construction of the site and delivering energy, because no “mitigation” or “compensation” could mitigate or compensate for the impact of this road-led strategy on either Suffolk Coastal as a whole or Woodbridge in particular.

Caroline Page

County Councillor for Woodbridge

Deputy Leader Suffolk County Council LibDem Green and Independent Group; Leader Suffolk County Council LibDems; LDGI Spokesperson for Women, Highways and Adult Care

SUFFOLK COUNTY COUNCIL VOTES TO FAIL WOMEN!

EADT coverage of SCCs failure to address gender data gap

Following International Women’s Day I put a motion at a full meeting of Suffolk County Council calling for a pdp*  to be formed to improve outcomes for girls. The motion also called for more detailed data by gender. Suffolk has an embarrassing gender gap and  much useful information is either not stored  or not collated by sex.

The motion recognised IWD ‘s  #BalanceforBetter campaign

Unfortunately Suffolk’s Tories – while claiming they backed the principal of the motion – voted against it on the specious grounds that “positive discrimination” would not help.

Er?  Since when was “establishing facts” confused with “positive discrimination”? Only in the woolly minds of those predetermined to pretend such discrimination exists.

Suffolk County Council currentky has 29% women councillors, less than the 33% national average. The percentage of Conservative women councillors is smaller than the total average.

This  off-beam decisionmaking  above demonstrates in all its inglory Suffolk’s Tory party insistance on deciding  – and whipping – their vote before listening to the argument.  Since when was equality and balance the same as positive discrimination?

Failing to support this motion is a major step backwards for gender equality. During the meeting  I said it was “disheartening and shameful” that the motion was voted down, and expressed my disappointment that my Tory colleagues opposite were so reluctant to look reality in the face.

The motion was talking about #BalanceforBetter which is a gender neutral term. Modern Suffolk has a high gender pay gap, high violence against women.

It seems that Suffolk’s Tories are  yet to fully engage with women and what they have to offer

*Policy development panels (PDPs) are formed of a crossparty selectionof councillors who meet to examine data, and look at ideas and solutions to tackle a specific problem, and present recommendations to cabinet.

Suffolk is “Connecting Communities” even less

Rural concessionary bus pass holders are losing travel entitlement due to cheeseparing decisionmaking by our penny-foolish pound-foolish county council.

Harsh words? I will tell more. In recent years, where scheduled bus transport is not supported (and SCC has made a point of not supporting rural scheduled buses over the last decade), demand responsive transport (DRT) is provided instead. Initially bus pass holders had the same rights on DRT bus transport as they would have on the scheduled service. In 2016 this changed (You can read details here): http://carolinepage.blog.suffolk.libdems.org/2016/06/16/will-your-pass-be-accepted-on-sccs-new-community-transport

I was delighted at the time to discover that Suffolk Coastal bus pass holders together with most other districts would not lose entitlement, though very concerned that Mid-Suffolk bus pass holders would. I was also concerned that this loss of entitlement might spread. I was right!

Hidden in this year’s budget  (Appendix E p5 Table 1.3: Tactical Savings – Cost Reductions) is the following: COST-GHI-4 Passenger Transport: Removal of Concessionary Fares from Connecting Communitiesto ensure consistency of pricing through Suffolk.”

These are weasel words. “Consistency of pricing” could more fairly be achieved by restoring concessionary fares to Mid Suffolk than taking them away from everywhere else. This decision is expected to save £30,000. Less than half of what our fiscally prudent administration wasted on the recent 14pp ResPublica report on Housing. Talk about inappropriate priorities.

Put this together with the budget cut advertised on p7 of the same Appendix E (Table 1.6: Tactical Savings – Service Reductions): SER-GHI-12 Passenger Transport: Net savings achieved through a reduction in funding for sponsored bus services combined with an investment in the Connecting Communities demand-responsive community transport service) you can see the administration are creating a perfect storm for those least able to manage: the elderly and disabled with few other choices All to save another £34,000 – literally both sums added together are not equivalent to the money thrown down the gurgler for that 14pp Respublica report).

So why does this matter? The issue is one of equality. If you are unable to use your bus pass and are entitled to one, you can swap your entitlement for (I think) £100.00 of travel vouchers annually. This is useful if you are eg so disabled you cannot access buses, and therefore cannot make use of them.

However in the situation where a bus pass holder is not offered any local buses, they may be very enthusiastic users. This decision means such people have to choose between the vouchers for very local transport- and a bus pass that can be used on every scheduled bus service going throughout the UK, but not locally.

These two linked budget decisions therefore represent a huge loss specifically to elderly and disabled rural people with few transport choices  – either financially, or in terms of transport freedom.

Only an administration which has no understanding or reliance on a bus pass would have considered or enacted it…