The Boundary Commission has published its final recommendations for new electoral arrangements for Suffolk County Council.
In short – we made it! We saved Woodbridge from the cashew-nut attack!
When the Boundary Commission proposals for Suffolk’s new county council division boundaries came out last year, something looked very wrong.
This is what they proposed for Woodbridge:
The proposal – which I believe originated with the county or district Conservative group – would leave Woodbridge Primary school in the adjoining division, while designing a ‘cashew nut’ division by adding the villages from Little Bealings round to Ufford(!) while excluding all the houses on the far side of Pytches road. The divisional boundary thus would remain where it is now, along the dashed line down the middle of Pytches road. This was frankly ludicrous.
This unusual scheme would mean people could and would be living 500 yards from Woodbridge Town centre, but be in a county division that was linked with Sudbourne and Bawdsey rather than with Woodbridge!
This was not the new division proposed by myself or many others in Woodbridge. It did not make local sense. Other divisional boundaries in East Suffolk were equally lacking in local sense. We were told by a local politician that these weird configurations were “just a matter of simple maths.”
As this seemed to be very inappropriate in terms of simple democracy, I spent a full 24 hours , while ill with Covid, assisted by Woodbridge Town LibDem Leader Patrick Gillard (also Covid-stricken) working against the deadline, indulging in a spot of simple maths: simply adding up the sums of residents in each parish, dividing them both equally and practically, and creating and lining new boundaries on a map for the entire East Suffolk district, to create a more effective and democratically appropriate set of proposals.
The boundary we proposed for Woodbridge looked like this:
A further consultation, responded to by many groups and persons, not least Woodbridge Town Council, confirmed the revised boundaries, which the Boundary Commission have now agreed.
So the new county council division of Woodbridge should look like this:
Coronavirus update The covid infection rate continues to go downwards. According to national statistics, there were somewhere between 0 and 2 people infected in Woodbridge in the week ending 9th March. This is as opposed to 11 people on month ago. However East Suffolk as a whole has had a nearly 20% increase in new infections over the last 7 days. Do bear in mind however these are currently small figures: 6 new infections a day.
The vaccination programme is going very well in Suffolk. This is a testament to the hard work and efficiency of our wonderful local healthcare teams and volunteers. However, supply remains patchy. This is the one area outside local hands.
With the return of school pupils to the classroom on Monday, households, childcare and support bubbles of primary/secondary-age pupils and primary/secondary staff are being asked to take a rapid test for COVID-19, twice a week. Secondary school pupils and primary/secondary school staff will be given their tests by their schools. Farlingaye HS made the EADT for the sheer number of tests administered! (Primary school pupils will not be asked to test at this time.)
There are four ways to get a test. For more details go to the Suffolk County Council . The Woodbridge Lateral Flow testing site will be stood down from 31 March because it has been decided that home testing is more beneficial.
Finally: New Bus Shelter by the Cherry Tree Happiness is.. a new bus shelter! People have waited in the cold and wet at the bus stop by Cherry Tree Inn, Woodbridge ever since there was a bus stop there. A total wind tunnel. It has taken me four years to negotiate and and actually get this shelter in place. A small victory? Not for the residents of Morley Avenue! I’m thrilled!
Home to school transport contracts to move from Suffolk Norse to Vertas Following the end of the joint venture partnership with Suffolk Norse (triggered on the part of Norse), SCC will be moving the home-to-school transport service to the wholly owned company Vertas.
Suffolk Norse delivered a termination of agreement notice in August 2020, giving 12 months notice to the Council. The 40 home-to-school transport routes and a school swimming service will be delivered by Vertas from September onwards. The contract was not put out to tender due to the limited timescales, the legal requirement to deliver these services continuously, and the risk of redundancies if a provider able to deliver both swimming and home-to-school transport cannot be found.
Suffolk & Norfolk County Council submit joint bid for £6m flood funding Suffolk and Norfolk County Councils have submitted a joint bid to the £200 fund for Flood and Coastal Resilience, requesting £6m to invest in flood protection schemes across both counties. The proposed projects would also capture water for reuse. If the bid is successful town and parish councils will be encouraged to get involved through measures like permeable paving, water butts and ‘rain gardens’ that can cope with occasional flooding. These projects would be in place by 2027 if the bid is approved.
Consultation on proposed A12 improvements from A14 Seven Hills to A1152 Woods Lane Suffolk County Council was consulting on proposed improvements to the A12 between A14 junction at ‘Seven Hills’ and A1152 at Woods Lane, with the stated aim of increasing highway capacity in the area and preventing future congestion.
The “improvements” will include traffic lights on every roundabout but Seckford, and have an estimated cost of £60m. The lights would monitor congestion and use ‘intelligent flow’ to adapt to changing levels of traffic. The consultation finished on 19th March. I will post my response separately.
Carers Database I proposed a motion to the last full council of the electoral cycle to create a cross-county Carers database in order to help direct the Council’s limited social care resources most effectively so as to ensure that there will be maximum support for carers, particularly in times of crisis. Wonderfully this was seconded by Suffolk’s Conservatives(although they had had no appetite for the schemewhen I proposed it to them directly last summer and the motion passed ‘by general acclamation.’ Full details here: https://suffolklibdems.org/carolinepage/2021/03/21/identifying-suffolks-unpaid-carers/
LDGI Group opposes Government’s last-minute approach to local authority grants Suffolk County Council will receive £27m for highways repairs, maintenance and drainage in 2021-22, a reduction in from £31m the previous year. This has necessitated the use of £2m of reserves to top up the grant. We feel that these cuts in Government funding make it impossible to plan long-term for road maintenance and repair. Due to the uncertainty as to whether this grant would materialise at all, some vital work has already been postponed.
Post-16 Travel Policy consultation My group has submitted a joint response to Suffolk County Council’s consultation on the Post-16 Transport Policy, which manages transport to schools and education for young people after the age of 16. This included:
Support for the expansion of the post-16 travel eligibility criteria for sixth form students and adult learners aged 25 and under with EHC plans, reflecting the change in age range for compulsory school attendance.
Support for keeping prices lower for SEND students.
Use of buses and trains for school transport must be supported. The needs of students and the numbers currently forced to use taxis or private cars to reach their schools must be taken into account when considering public transport. Students should be steered towards buses first, and the school transport service should support our local bus network in maintaining services to rural areas.
The Travel Training Scheme must be better funded, so that it can expand and promote its services
Four Years of Locality Budgets In the last four years, my locality budget has funded an amazingly diverse array of things to support local groups and the community in general. These included:
Entertainment for the individual Library Reading Schemes and prizes for the associated competitions (Animal Agents, Mischief Makers and Space Chase)
Funding towards a defibrillator for Warwick Avenue
A townwide Social Prescribing leaflet
A tenor soloist for the end of WWI Snape annniversary War Requiem
Additional bins and barrows for the Woodbridge Gritting Scheme (set up by me in 2010)
Advertising material: Woodbridge Farmers’ Market
Little City play shopping street experience for pre-schoolers
Plans for the interior of Jetty Lane Community Youth and Arts Centre
WTFC kit for the Junior team
Uniform jackets for Just 42 in-school mentors at FarlingayeHS
Benches and notice boards for areas outside the town centre
Funding for Woodbridge Festival
Promotional videos highlighting community need
The ‘Finish’ Arch for the Woodbridge 10k
Funding for Woodbridge Opera in the Park
Christmas presents for local children in need
Road trailer for the Woodbridge Coastal Rowing Club skiffs
Funding for Pirate Ship climbing frame, St Mary’s Primary School
9 laptops to support learning for individual FarlingayeHS students in lockdown
Benches to improve the shopping experience in Woodbridge Thoroughfare
Woodbridge held one of very few police-sanctioned vigils in Suffolk on 13 March, the wake of the Sarah Everard murder.
About twenty people – masked and socially distanced – gathered together as dusk fell outside the Shire Hall in the centre of Woodbridge to light candles, remember Sarah Everard and recognise the risks women face every day, just for being women. A 118 second silence was held by Jane Basham – that is, one second for every woman known to be killed by a man in Britain last year.
Speaking as Woodbridge County Councillor, and LDGI Group Spokesperson for Women, I said:
We’re gathered here to remember Sarah Everard.
We’re gathered to recognise all the women of Britain for whom public spaces are not a place of safety. Women who not only hesitate to cross a park at dusk, leave a pub, go to a club – but who recognise that risks can occur if walk down the road in broad daylight. It’s not a question of age, or dress or location. I was nearly punched in the face by four big strangers on the East Suffolk line a year or two back, threatened with violence because they didn’t like my hat. I was small, and alone, and a woman.
It’s my birthday today – I’m 63. And in my adult life – and it’s been the lucky life of a middle-class white woman living comfortably in Britain – I can think of at least ten incidents, ten serious incidents, which involved actual physical harm or the threat of serious harm from strange men. In one, maybe two cases, I think I was actually in mortal danger.
I didn’t go out of my way to court a single one of them.
The most shocking thing is? I don’t know a single other woman who hasn’t experienced something similar. At least once, most more than once. It’s Everywoman.
Every woman, but not every man.
I don’t mean to demonise men. Almost all men are good people – but how can we women tell which ones are not?
This problem is not universal. I have travelled in countries where I could genuinely expect to cross a park alone at night without fear of harassment or attack. And have done so.
In Britain, 1300 years ago, in Northumbria, they boasted that a woman could walk with her new-born babe from coast to coast without suffering any harm.
Enough is enough. It is time to make a stand. If it was possible so long ago it is possible now. Time for every good man to join with every woman to ensure our public spaces are free from harassment, from threat, from fear.
Caroline Page, LibDem County Councillor for Woodbridge
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