Category Archives: young people

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.

 

 

 

Trinity Buoy Wharf Cabins: big boost for Woodbridge’s Jetty Lane

Due to the generosity of Eric Reynolds, ( owner of Woodbridge Boatyard and founding director of Urban Space Management) Jetty Lane have been gifted cabin classrooms from Trinity Buoy Wharf so the charity can start addressing the huge pool of unmet need in greater Woodbridge, while  continuing to fundraise for the building.

The Jetty Lane Centre project in Woodbridge was given an amazing boost last month by the sudden, unexpected and very generous donation of 2 cabin classrooms by Eric Reynolds, of Woodbridge Boatyard. These can act as temporary activity spaces while the charity continues to raise the £3.5million required for the final building work.

“The Jetty Lane Youth, Community and Arts Centre has been urgently required to fulfill unmet needs in Woodbridge since the previous longstanding Youth and Community Centre was  of course demolished.And though the youth centre went, the need didn’t go away. In fact, as Woodbridge has become more expensive there has been much less affordable and available accommodation for community groups. Now, the proposed closure of the Caterpillar Childrens Centre, the sudden closure of Age UK and therthe effects of the pandemic have increased this problem.  We could not have received a better gift at a more appropriate time!

The Spaces themselves were originally part of Trinity Buoy Wharf Jubilee Pier and are constructed from four 20 ft shipping containers. “They will be ideal for small groups of people to meet in, they’re quirky, fun and centrally located and will be an asset to our project and the wider community,” says ViceChair Caroline Rutherford. “Jetty Lane’s priority has always been to provide space for people to meet and use in Woodbridge at a cost that they can afford. These cabins will enable us to start doing that  – and people will be able to see we are doing it.”

 

“When we were fortunate enough to get a phone call offering us these cabins, we jumped at it” says Cllr Page. “Eric Reynolds is definitely Renaissance man: both Man of Thought and Man of Action. He thought we would find them useful, and when we said yes please, they were on our site -practically before we could blink – with Eric, in his overalls, very much at the forefront of getting them installed. We cannot thank him enough.”

Eric has set up and ran/runs some of the most important people places in London since the early 1970’s including Camden Lock Market, Spitalfields Old Fruit and Vegetable Market, Gabriels’ Wharf, and Trinity Buoy Wharf and winner of the Regeneration & Renewal “Lifetime Achievement Award” for Regeneration in 2012.

Project Manager Cordelia Richman confirms: “Jetty Lane has achieved so much since 2017 but it hasn’t been visible. Now that we have the Activity Spaces everyone can see where Jetty Lane will be and our vision for the site is clear. As soon as we’ve completed a basic refurbishment of the Activity Spaces we will start putting them to use providing facilities for our community.”

MAKE A DONATION
Will you help build Jetty Lane to make a positive and lasting difference for local people?
Go to www.jettylane.org and click on DONATE or Telephone 01394 383128 or Email info@jettylane.org

 

 

BLACK LIVES MATTER

The Shire Hall in the heart of Woodbridge has been decorated with BLM posters for the last 2 weeks. Young people want us to understand the problem really exists,  here     (Photo: Booie Bowers)

Yes, BLACK LIVES MATTER.

In Woodbridge. In Suffolk. In Britain. In  the world.  And I want to state unequivocally that I stand firmly behind this – and most particularly everything the young people of Woodbridge are  doing to raise awareness and alter perceptions.

I shouldn’t really have to put this out here, because it should be a no-brainer. Of course black lives matter.  Stands to reason.  We’re all human. Black lives, white lives, all lives  are begun by the same process, have the same potential, face the same difficulties, end in the same way.  We’re all in this together. Right?

Wrong.

Years after the Equality Act, it turns out that we’re still living in a country where your life, your life chances, your safety, your self esteem will be  threatened just  by being born with black skin. You’ll have a lesser chance of anything good (like a fair share of the pie). You’ll have a greater chance of anything bad (like a kick in the face).

Seems there’s discrimination even with Covid19: “The unequal impact of Covid-19 on BAME communities may be explained by a number of factors ranging from social and economic inequalities, racism, discrimination and stigma, occupational risk as well as inequalities in the prevalence of conditions that increase the severity of disease.”(PHE)

This inequality is not just ‘in the inner city’. It’s here, in Woodbridge. As Woodbridge-born #BLM campaigner Nadia Khan puts it: “People think racism is skinheads and swastikas. No, hun, it’s your auntie Karen.”

BLM peaceful demonstration poster for Woodbridge SuffolkAt the deeply moving, thought-provoking and utterly peaceful Black  Lives Matter demonstration, held in Elmhurst Park and  organised by Naomi Keeble, Harry Raithatha and others last Saturday,  a significant – and socially-distanced  crowd  of hundreds  gathered to hear simply-voiced stories of utter outrage: the 11 year old boy whose daily walk home from school took him past  two middle-aged men who shouted racist abuse at him. The teen who went to buy a birthday present, and was accused of shoplifting because she was the only black shopper. The 15 year old who was followed and punched – in broad daylight – by an adult. The child who was always left at the bottom of the drive, because she didn’t get to go into her friends’ houses.  The baby who ‘was really very light.’ The other pale-skinned baby, who “must have been adopted” because its mother was black. The remembered outrage of the white boy walking home with his black friend and who suddenly witnessed an episode of racist abuse without understanding why or how it could happen.  All in our nice polite white little town. Powerful, powerful – shaming – stuff.

Socially distances, the pople of Woodbridge, Suffolk, take the knee at a peaceful BLM demonstrationWe then ‘took the knee’ for the 8minutes and 46seconds it took for George Floyd to die. Some people were young, some over 80. For all of us, it seemed an immeasurable and horrifying  length of time to be kneeling. Again, very powerful.

I congratulate the young people of BLM Woodbridge for the peaceful, polite and determined manner in which  they have made this town sit up and take notice.  I am proud of the calm and reasoned means  they have used to raise awareness of innate white privilege and to try and change people’s mindsets. I am thrilled to  have heard people say how their views have been changed.

And I am also proud to live in a town where the Town Councillors can respond in such a positive and collegiate spirit to the concerns of these young people.

I am proud to represent this  town.

BLACK LIVES MATTER