Category Archives: Suffolk County Council

I’m standing for re-election in Woodbridge

The stakeboards up around Woodbridge may possibly have given this away, but just to announce formally, I’m standing for re-election as County Councillor for Woodbridge, Suffolk – the best place to live in the East of England (and that’s official, though we knew it already).

This is the 5th time I’m standing: I’ve been elected County Councillor for Woodbridge in 2008, 2009, 2013 & 2017.

Published & promoted by Patrick Gillard on behalf of Caroline Page, LibDems, both at 117 Ipswich Rd Woodbridge IP12 4BY


Response as Woodbridge representative to SCC’s £60m A12 ‘improvements’

Response, as County Councillor for Woodbridge to SCC’s Consultation on A12 Improvements: ‘Seven Hills’ to A1152 ‘Woods Lane’                          

Overview   You describe the objectives of the scheme as to “improve” these 11 km of the A12 because this is the area where improvements are most needed. I am afraid I disagree fundamentally with this viewpoint.

However, I am very supportive of the cycling and pedestrian schemes proposed within my division.

Below I give my response to each of the points in your rationale. You say these works will

  • improve the capacity of the major road network. What you mean is you will increase the number of vehicles but without thought as to the likely outcome of this increase (which is, ‘induced demand’. As they say “Trying to cure traffic congestion by adding more capacity is like trying to cure obesity by loosening your belt.”).
  • reduce congestion and improve journey time reliability on the A12 by putting traffic lights on roundaboutsThis was so unsuccessful on the Kesgrave Road, that as I recall, they were removed shortly afterwards. Is this a wise idea on the main artery along the Suffolk Coast?
  • improve connectivity to the region’s ports. There are no ports between Seven Hills and Woods Lane: surely improvement to connectivity could be better focussed?
  • support local economic growth and the creation of jobs. How? By the physical act of building these roads? Surely it will just be just moving people from one place to another?
  • support the delivery of planned housing growth. Would it not be better to plan for wholly sustainable transport for these planned houses? I note with sorrow that in this consultation public transport measures are – as ever – without substance,  and called “potential measures” rather than “proposals”.
  • support the visitor economy. How? (See below)
  • support the Energy Coast. Here is a strange anomaly. The Energy Coast is what SCC has recently rechristened the erstwhile Heritage Coast. These two Coasts cannot exist side by side. This dichotomy of intention (more Energy = less Heritage) will hardly support the visitor economy, – particularly considering the building of Sizewell C and the Friston sub-station – plus the energy delivery pathways over the next 10 years.
  • mitigate the traffic impacts of the proposed Sizewell C developmentThis is an interesting intention as it apparently exists despite both Suffolk residents and administration having reiterated their concerns about having Sizewell C construction delivered by road. Eg on Sept 11 2020, SCC Cabinet member Richard Rout , in rejecting EDF’s plans, said: “We remain very disappointed that the transport strategy presented by EDF Energy relies heavily on road-based haulage for materials. In its current form, we don’t believe it is a sustainable solution with its massive impact on the environment and our communities”. It seems almost as if you are running with the hare and chasing with the hounds?
  • support and encourage walking and cycling. This is a great intention and in many ways it will – at least it will in my division. However, it seems the proposal is also likely to encourage rat-runners  from the A12, angered by the new lights, through local towns and country roads.
  • improve services for bus users . I cannot see how these proposals do anything concrete to improve services for bus users? You need to have a substantive and usable bus policy to improve services for bus users , and this is currently far from the case. How many scheduled buses now travel regularly between the rural areas beyond Woodbridge and Ipswich, as opposed to the number that came five, ten years ago? You cannot improve something by consistently undermining and overlooking it. Longterm proposals based upon a thorough review of everybody’s transport requirements along the A1214 corridor between Ipswich and rural areas beyond Woodbridge need to be included in this consultation.

Continue reading Response as Woodbridge representative to SCC’s £60m A12 ‘improvements’

Identifying Suffolk’s unpaid Carers

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Cllr Caroline Page speaking via zoom: head and shoulders shot in front of bookshelves
Cllr Caroline Page proposes the motion at Full Council via zoom

Thursday I proposed to Suffolk County Council that we create an “all unpaid carers opt-in” database administered by the respected charity @suffolkfamilycarers to help the unpaid carers of Suffolk. This would allow county to target support at those that most need it.
We literally have no exact idea how many such carers there are in the country/county or what their needs might be: the last true numbers were taken at the last census in 2011: the #ONS will tell us in due course what the current figures are from this year’s census. The estimate for Suffolk is around 164,000 – and the estimated 1400 carers in Woodbridge alone (!!!) have saved the state (eg us) £20MILLION over the last year. Let’s be frank, such carers will generally be happy to pass on getting the plaudits and claps that haven’t come their way – if they could get all the help and visibility they need.
Wonderfully, Suffolk Conservatives seconded this motion, and it was passed “by general acclamation” by all of Suffolk County Council.
So pleased – because so badly needed!

My speech in full:

Colleagues, I am not going to read through our motion. It is self-explanatory.

Instead I am going to highlight some of the reasons why we are asking you to vote to help a crucial and often invisible  group of  Suffolk residents – our unpaid carers.

We’re extremely pleased that the Cabinet Member for Social Care is prepared to second this motion. Unpaid care is a issue that crosses all party boundaries.

We all know carers, many of us are carers, and sadly, any one of us, of any age, could either  become  a carer or someone needing care, in a heartbeat.

In this last year the pandemic increased the number of Britains unpaid carers by half – from around 9 million, to about 13.6 million  giving us 164 thousand in Suffolk – 1400  in my small Woodbridge division. The figures are approximate because  carers aren’t counted except in the census!

We know of sone. Some GP surgeries list them. The small percentage eligible for Carers Allowance are known, social services are aware of specific cases, Suffolk Family Carers has about 10%  of the total currently on their books,  but the large majority are known only to themselves and maybe a couple of family members or friends – carers who are children caring for adults, elderly couples with one caring for the other,  people in anxious or vulnerable situations, people who are simply scared of ‘the council’   – most of these fly under the radar.

Additionally many do not see themselves as carers until they recognise they need to plan for every moment’s  absence.

We need to know them ALL.

We need to know them because we need to be able to help them:

The life of many unpaid carers is anxious, impoverished, and vulnerable to both physical and mental health issues. Caring is hard to fit around earning, the Allowance is a pittance, and the stresses of caring impact on both the body and the mind.

Caring is so far from simply patting a hand or making a cup of tea. Yet we rely on carers to carry our NHS and social care on their shoulders. Those  1400 carers  in Woodbridge alone saved us around 50 thousand pounds a day – that’s  20million pounds last year.

The cost of replacing an unpaid carer is extreme.

We REALLY need to offer them targeted support to prevent burnout, or breakdown or tragedy.

And how can we offer targeted support unless we know who to target.

Many carers live lives of quiet desperation behind closed doors, invisible even to their own neighbours. Their support us often fragile and unofficial. This makes it easy for things to fall apart  when any crisis happens. I think all of us can think of local cases which came to light during the pandemic which  showed how much Suffolk was relying on unrecognised care. In  Woodbridge, our emergency response group have ended up as quasi carers for several people whose fragile unofficial  network was not covid proof.

We also worry very much about child carers, some primary school age,  many bearing an overwhelming load they can barely understand and seldom disclose. How have they been identified during this last year?  We must find a way of helping them – for their own futures as well as their present needs.

Our motion suggests how we start to answer these issues – via the respected Suffolk Family Carers charity working with other interested partner organisations.

I’m asking you to vote to support them in expanding their database to cover all carers within Suffolk -with initial information to be drawn from community organisations, schools, and all GPs, who must offer carers registered with them the option to register on the countywide database. We would be trying to reach every possible carer so as to, for example, target specific support in a pandemic, improve communications in general, and enable us to consult with carers about carer-specific policies and issues.

This would make Suffolk a national beacon of good practice. More importantly, start to solve a huge problem which we all share and which we know we have to solve together.

Colleagues I commend this motion to you.