Category Archives: young people

Woodbridge: what’s been happening in March

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 most up-to-date picture across Suffolk is :

For up-to-date local coronavirus data go to https://coronavirus.data.gov.uk/ where you can search by postcode.

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.

Caroline Page standing looking very pleased in a clearly new bus shelter with the ancient, yellow Cherry Tree inn behind her
The new bus shelter finally in place

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!

Woodbridge Safe Streets Vigil On March 13th, Woodbridge was one of few places in the county (country) to hold a small  peaceful, safe,  sociallly-distanced police-sanctioned vigil to  remember Sarah Everard and call for greater safety for women in public places. Full details here  https://suffolklibdems.org/carolinepage/2021/03/15/safer-streets-for-women-woodbridge-holds-vigil/

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.

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

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
  • Dark figure of a woman holdong a red snow scraper with which she has scraped the pathe through the snow in the forground. Behind her is all white: a fairyland tunnel of snow covered branches with a little blue wheelbarrow in the distance
    Gritting: Caroline Page clearing the footway above the Ipswich Road with equipment supplied by the gritting scheme

    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 – County news Jan 2021

Local Coronavirus Update   The rate of COVID infection increased in Suffolk over the Christmas break, leading to a new national lockdown on the 6th of January. As of the 24th January there have been a total of 24,503 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Suffolk, which is a third more than there were on 6th January.

However, on 6th January, COVID infections were 517 per 100,000 while now they are 334, which is below the national average..

Since the pandemic started, there have been 879 Suffolk deaths where there was COVID-19 on the death certificate, and 1054 deaths within 28 days of a COVID test in Suffolk.

In Woodbridge 41 People tested positive for COVID-19 in the week up to 19 January equivalent to 498.3 per hundred thousand resident population: this was down on the week before, but still is a high number (well above the UK average of 406 per hundred thousand). However the population numbers of a place like Woodbridge are so small that looking at infection in terms of numbers per 100,000 can be misleading.Over the same seven day period, East Suffolk reported 727 new infections, down by 332 from week before. This means that the rate of infection in East Suffolk as a district is 348 per 100,000 residents. As the figures are updated daily, it is worth checking them out on https://coronavirus.data.gov.uk/ where you can get figures by postcode.

t is clear we need to continue sending out the same hands, face, space message and ensure people realise it really applies to them personally.

Vaccination Strategy At a briefing on Suffolk’s Vaccination Strategy last week we were told that Suffolk had speeded up vaccinating after a relatively slow start: and had quadrupled COVID-19 vaccinations over the last week. The Pfizer vaccine had been used since early December, and the Oxford AstraZeneca from January.

This is the largest vaccination effort in history and is being rolled out as a partnership between councils, NHS organisations, voluntary and community organisations overseen by the CCG. Patients who have a mobile phone will receive a text and those who do not are being posted first-class letters.

However there is ongoing debate about the government’s decision to delay the second dose until 12 weeks after the first dose There is ongoing debate about the UK government’s decision to delay the second dose of vaccine until 12 weeks after the first dose, instead of following the recommended dosing interval of 21 days.

In our area delivery is by the Suffolk GP Federation, which is running the COVID-19 vaccination programme for 28 of the county’s 62 GP practices (This must not be confused with your actual GP surgery). Priority is as the national priority list:

1. Residents in care homes for older adults and their carers
2. 80-year-olds and over and frontline health and social care workers
3. 75-year-olds and over
4. 70-year-olds and over and clinically extremely vulnerable individuals
5. 65-year-olds and over
6. 16- to 64-year-olds with serious underlying health conditions
7. 60-year-olds and over
8. 55-year-olds and over
9. 50-year-olds and over

Critical deadlines: all Suffolk care home residents should have received their first vaccination by Sunday 24th January. We were assured that the first 4 cohorts should have received their first vaccination by 15th February.

The key message is: Don’t not contact your GP: you will be contacted, by text or by letter. The Federation is aware of anomalies – they were made aware of many in the briefing I attended – and is doing its best to fix them as soon as possible.

As a separate issue, I am contacting the CCG to see where exactly the Cinderellas of social care: the unpaid family carers sit within this.

As many clinically extremely vulnerable people live at home, supported solely by a family member, it would seem appropriate that they are always vaccinated in the same cohort and at the same time as the person they care for,
More information from https://sneevaccine.org.uk/

New Head of Adult and Community Services: Georgia Chimbani
Georgia was a social worker for 25 years, working in London boroughs, unitary authorities, and county councils. She has also worked in hospitals and with voluntary organisations. Her most recent role was director for local delivery in the south of Essex. Equality and diversity are very important values to her, and she believes in promoting individuality and self-determination. She wants to help service users become independent and live a good life, whatever that might mean to them.

Georgia will be devoting the first few weeks of her time to listening and learning, understanding the way things are done in Suffolk.

I have raised concerns that certain specifically older people are having to choose between being either unsupported or directed toward support they do not want, through a corporate mantra of ‘choice,” pointing out that often they are in situations not in any way of their own choosing. She has promised to look at individual cases I have three on hand, but if anyone has any egregious examples please contact and I can put them all in together.

A wild landscape: trees, reeds, reflected in a running streamLDGI Biodiversity strategy adopted
You will be very pleased to know that at Suffolk County Council unanimously passed a motion that will see Suffolk County Council developing a biodiversity strategy and embracing biodiverse land management practices. The motion was proposed by the LDGI Group and supported by all other groups. I was asked to second it but unfortunately was still convalescent. The motion will ensure:

• Delivery of a biodiversity strategy that will set out how we could increase Suffolk’s biodiversity, halt the loss of habitats and species, and reintroduce declining species in suitable locations.
• Assessment of how the council can lead organisations across the county in efforts to improve biodiversity.
• Adoption of biodiverse land management options on council land.
• A letter to the Secretary of State asking what further support can be made available to local authorities to enhance bio diversity within their areas.

The SCC Budget 2021-22 & Medium Term Financial Plan
SCC is currently preparing its budget for 2021-22, and my group will be contesting some proposals. The long-term Budget Gap ( the difference between forecast resources and expenditure) is looking gloomy, with a predicted constant overspend leading to a predicted cumulative budget gap of just under £160m by 2024-25.

Consultation on the Suffolk Climate Change Action Place  SCC is currently running a consultation on its proposed Streets Guide, which will assist with the design of new residential developments showing how best to create sustainable transport layouts that promote walking and cycling.

A new Street Guide has been commissioned to update guidance for residential streets. Comments on the draft guide are welcomed and there is a survey to complete. The consultation closes at 5pm on 10th February 2021.
Link: https://www.suffolk.gov.uk/planning-waste-and-environment/planning-and-development-advice/suffolk-design-streets-guide/

Locality Budget  I think I have now spent my full locality budget, having provided 9 laptops for lower-income students. I say ‘think’ because there is a small amount that might be returned. If so I plan to spend it on benches or noticeboards for the community.

What’s happening – Woodbridge, Sept 2020

Caterpillar Centre closure & other changes to go ahead, despite opposition challenge  On 25 August, County Cabinet agreed to reduce the number of Children’s Centres in Suffolk from 38 to 17 full-time & 11 part-time Family Hubs. 8 centres will be repurposed for nurseries or SEND provision, whilst 2 will close permanently (Chatterbox in Ipswich and Caterpillar in Woodbridge).

The council has said that this is not a cost-saving exercise and that any savings will be used to fund additional staff for outreach work.
My group worked with the Labour group to collectively challenge the Cabinet’s decision at Scrutiny. We were given leave to question only the finance and the outreach proposals. I substituted for one of our group’s two regular scrutiny members. You can find our questions here https://suffolklibdems.org/carolinepage/2020/09/20/caterpillar-childrens-centre-lost-despite-our-best-endeavours/

Trading Standards I want everyone to make local residents aware of the ‘you must renew your washing machine (or some such appliance ) insurance’ scam that is doing the rounds by telephone. Recently an elderly Woodbridge resident was very nearly coerced into believing she should pay a significant sum of money by direct debit, because these heartless scoundrels insisted she had made a verbal agreement over the phone. The line is “they are renewing your insurance.” This is not the case.

Current Suffolk school transport arrangements, and other issues Suffolk County Council has confirmed that it will initially not be offering spare seats on school transport. This is due to social distancing requirements, which have reduced the capacity on school buses. However, parents may be able to apply for a spare seat from October half term.
The council has also confirmed the arrangements for masks and social distancing on school transport. The rules vary depending on the type of transport used:
• Dedicated closed routes (vehicle only carries school children) – social distancing will not apply, face coverings are recommended for children aged 11+
• Shared routes (most passengers are pupils, but may be some members of the public) – pupils should observe social distancing guidelines with members of the public but they can sit next to members of their family or school, face coverings are mandatory unless a child is exempt from wearing one
• Public transport – social distancing will apply, face coverings are mandatory unless a child is exempt from wearing one
There continue to be concerns and anxieties about schooling. At the end of Sept I asked  the Director for Children and Young People’s services the following questions:
• How many Suffolk schools have reported Covid infection or potential Covid contact incidents since the beginning of Autumn term 2020?
• What % children returned to school? Have they stayed there? Is full-class teaching the norm?
• What planned educational support is offered to children in care if their school locks down?
• Was there a Suffolk increase in reported child abuse stats after lockdown lifted?
• Given the numbers of schools outside local authority control, how can we best (or can we?) get a picture of children’s health and educational engagement across the county?
• Can you confirm the government’s statement that in the event of a second lockdown, schools will stay open?
• It became clear the care home infections were largely caused by peripatetic staff. As I asked before, is Suffolk tracking the movements of peripatetic school staff (music, language teachers, supply teachers etc?) If not why not?

(Do contact if you want the answers)

SizewellC – SCC withdraws support – but you must register to continue protesting In an amazing and welcome volte face Cabinet managed to approve a paper on Tuesday, recommending that ‘while the Council was always minded to support a new power station in principle – it cannot support the proposals as they stand today. “(Strangely, this is what my group asked of them in July but they voted en masse against https://suffolklibdems.org/carolinepage/2020/07/10/libdem-green-sizewell-vote-lost-suffolk-tories-and-labour-join-forces-to-vote-it-down/)

A reminder: If you want to continue commenting – or indeed objecting – to Sizewell C you must register with the planning inspectorate by 30 September, with a brief outline of your concerns . I have registered my objections as elected county councillor for a division affected by this proposed development. https://suffolklibdems.org/carolinepage/2020/09/17/register-fast-to-protest-sizewellc/

2025_Extraordinary Proposed New County Council divisions
Key to proposed new division names

New Boundaries proposed for Suffolk County Council seats
Despite having said it had abandoned the project, the boundary commission has now come up with its new slimline county council boundaries – and they bear no resemblance to those proposed by me or by Woodbridge Town Council. These will not be implemented till 2025 but will be decided on relatively soon.

They are bizarre in the extreme.

Proposed new Woodbridge division (32) loops neatly around Melton to take in Ufford on the other side. Why do the Conservatives, who proposed this, fear linking Melton to Woodbridge? Rhyme or reason is there none

The new Woodbridge boundary (32) would continue to have the boundary division down the middle of Pyches Road, dividing the community in half. It then skatesneatly around the whole of Melton but loops back to include Ufford!

The multiple Woodbridge community connexions with Melton (including having the Woodbridge CP IN Melton Parish , has been ignored.The Boundary Commission tells us that this extraordinary and  unreasonable proposal is the local Conservative group proposal. It has neither rhyme nor reason. Of course Melton has an identity of its own – but surely it is closer to Woodbridge  than Hollesley, Bawdsey, Rendlesham and the other Wilford parishes to which they are proposing it should be joined instead.

It  excludes  many people who consider themselves residents of Woodbridge excluded by the completely bonkers line down the middle of Pyches road, which makes them now Wilford  residents – linked  with the division across the Deben – to Hollesley, Bawdsey and all the land up to just below Aldeburgh.

It includes people who would not define themselves as residents of Woodbridge –  the residents of Ufford for example, who are geographically on the same Old Yarmouth Rd as excluded Melton – but further away. It’s crazy.

It is almost as if the Conservatives designed this,  hoping that this topsy turvy division might finally deliver Woodbridge back into their hands.  (But of course no party would be so inappropriate.)

Sadly they appeared to have misread the conditions. “You cannot split a parish,” declared a longstanding ex-District Councillor. He had clearly forgotten  that the Woodbridge county division already contains a section of Martlesham parish (one side of California, Dukes Park and the whole of the Fynn estate…)

Among the many additional issues of this whole unnecessary exercise I must point to the utter fatuity of division 19 created out of much of Carlford and Wickham (to be called Grundisburgh and Wickham Market.) In reality this stretches from Tuddenham St Martin and Westerfield next to Ipswich to Stratford St Andrew and Farnham at the other end. Again, an exercise in creating a division that cannot be reasonably represented and is not representative.

This at a time when county councils are already being asked by government to do more for less, and people are losing touch with who represents them.

The final consultation for the next stage of the boundary review is here: Look at the map, read the justifications, and respond before NOVEMBER – please – in the name of local democracy. https://consultation.lgbce.org.uk/have-your-say/18495

Infrastructure Board established to oversee costs of large projects It has emerged that Suffolk County Council established an Infrastructure Board in November 2019 to oversee large infrastructure projects and ensure they remain within budget. This is in response to a number of recent projects where costs have increased dramatically, including the Upper Orwell Crossings which was eventually abandoned after costs increased by £43m.
The board is currently only made up of officers.
Co-incidentally, though Cabinet has recently given final approval for the Lowestoft Lake Lothing Third Crossing, the cost of the bridge is now much higher than originally estimated. The report prepared for Cabinet estimated that the total cost of delivering the bridge is £126.75m, with an additional £19m allocated as a contingency for any unforeseen risks. The original estimate was £91.73m.