Tag Archives: bus

Woodbridge: the county news. My October report


County Council Boundary changes consultation This affects us all. The Boundary Commission have now announced that they will be looking to reduce the number of Suffolk County Councillors  from 75 to 70. This means that boundaries will change. The next stage of the process is to determine where new division boundaries should be.
This is the chance for everyone – to have their say – both as councils and as individuals. Whilst I have personal reservations about the efficacy of reducing the number of county councillors when our workload is so heavy (at least, mine is) I suggest that this is an excellent time to look at the borders of the Woodbridge division, to ensure they work best for Woodbridge. For example, it has never been at all appropriate that the road-markings up the middle of Pyches Road separate the Woodbridge and Wickham divisions, particularly when Suffolk County Council is the Highways authority.
The public consultation will run until 2 December 2019. I urge you to take part: https://consultation.lgbce.org.uk/node/18495

Local bus cut developments The petition for the 800 and 64 services has now surpassed 1500 signatures on and offline. (We had a stall in the Thoroughfare during the Carfree Day and gained another 400).
I have met with the Transport Manager and Business and Information Manager for Suffolk’s Growth, Highways and Infrastructure directorate to discuss how to go forward with this. They emphasise they have limited capacity to sway First decisions, although I point out that they are paying a significant sum of public money to First for bus-passes.
In parallel, as you know, we are arranging a meeting for many of the parishes along the route, and then with First.

Sizewell C – response to Stage 4 Consultation On 24 September, the Cabinet agreed a response to EDF’s Stage 4 consultation for Sizewell C. The Cabinet maintains that they support the principle of nuclear technology, but do not currently have sufficient information to support the proposals for Sizewell C.
You will have been copied in to my response as Woodbridge County Councillor.
My county group (of Liberal Democrat, Green and Independent councillors) has called on the Suffolk Cabinet to reject EDF’s proposals for Sizewell C . It responded to the consultation with concerns including:
• Expense: EDF will be overcharging UK consumers for electricity from Sizewell for the next 35 years. Latest prices of offshore wind generated power, per KWhr, without any subsidy, are less than half what EDF is being guaranteed;
• Impact on the surrounding natural environment, including the Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB;
• Impact on the tourism industry;
• Additional carbon emissions and congestion from a road-led strategy;
• Lack of planning for nuclear waste disposal;
• Unsympathetic design to the surrounding natural area;
• Additional pylons in an already crowded landscape;
• Not convinced by EDF’s economic development argument.

County Budget monitoring – first quarter At the end of Q1, the council is forecasting a net overspend by the end of the year of £1.2m on the Base Budget and £6.7m on the Dedicated Schools Grant Budget.
The base budget overspend is largely due to rising costs for adult care, an overspend on the Home-to-School transport budget, and an increase in the number of children in care with complex needs who require specialist placements. Most other departments at the council are forecasting to spend on budget.
The £6.7m overspend on the schools budget is largely due to an increase in children with complex Special Educational Needs, and the increased costs for support and transport to schools outside of Suffolk that go alongside this. Although the council has agreed to spend on building new special education placements within Suffolk, which ought to address some of this expenditure in the future, it is too late for this financial year.

Continuing delay to children’s centre consultation Suffolk County Council has confirmed that there is “no firm start date” for the consultation regarding potential closures of children’s centres. Originally, the Council had stated that this consultation would start in September and run for 6 weeks.
The Council is proposing to close 2 children’s centres completely – including the Caterpillar Centre in Woodbridge – convert a further 11 to SEND facilities or nurseries, reduce 9 to part-time hours and convert the remaining 16 into family hubs providing services for families with children aged 0-19.

County Councillor’s Surgery: My surgery this month is on the 19th October. It will be a little  shorter than usual, as I will be going on to attend the Peoples Vote March in London.

My Woodbridge bus petition is a first step

Bus petition poster

You can sign the petition I have launched to draw attention to bus cuts in Woodbridge and the surrounding areas here https://www.change.org/p/ensure-first-eastern-counties-rolls-back-the-cuts-to-woodbridge-district-s-vital-bus-services-64-and-800

At the beginning of September, First buses cut completely their hourly 800 park and ride extension which provided a fast service to central Ipswich from Woodbridge and Rendlesham. This not only causes problems for Ipswich bound travel – it is a catastrophe for eg those with spouses in the Rendlesham care home. It is heartbreaking.

At the same time the company made significant changes to the the timetabling and route of their complementary 64 route: the buses no longer stop at the Woodbridge Peterhouse estate, and the last bus leaves Ipswich an hour earlier (at 17.50) meaning anyone leaving work in Ipswich later has to walk to Woodbridge from Tesco or the Park &Ride (45m fast walking at the end of a day).. Early-morning buses are also affected, as is hospital travel. There IS no bus at all between Woodbridge and Martlesham Black Tiles.

First declare this is because these services were under-used. We, the passengers who use them, deny this. The services were both well-used and vital to many people with few or no transport choices. They were, however, under-advertised (the 800 did not even carry the Woodbridge -Rendlesham destinations on the six maps that were posted inside each bus).

The impact of these cuts is immense. Timetable and route changes mean that workers are finding difficulties travelling to and from work. Disabled and elderly people, and young parents with buggies are having to walk up to 25 min to a stop. It is no longer possible for non-drivers to visit patients in Ipswich hospital in the evening.

We ask that these cuts and changes be immediately reversed!

More bus cuts devastate the Woodbridge community

Sudden shocking level of cuts to bus services in Woodbridge and beyond demonstrate how completely a privatised model of bus service has failed us country dwellers. Private companies think of shareholder, not of passenger need, and by law the county council can only subsidise services that do not make a profit.

County’s recent decisions to stop funding all roadside bus timetables and refusal to accept bus passes on “on-demand” replacements has added to the confusion and shock of the vulnerable, elderly and disabled people who are most affected.

Young people travelling to college on the Sudbourne – Ipswich 71 (cut from November 2019) have no alternative.

The fast and efficient 800 park and ride extension to Rendlesham vanished last week with three weeks notice. First had never advertised this service on-bus although Woodbridge is crying out for means to take visitor parking offstreet (and I had told First so).

At the same time, cuts and amendations to the 64 bus route have left teachers unable to reach school, disabled people in Peterhouse without access to services, workers in Ipswich with no bus home after 6pm, and no chance of evening hospital visiting by bus at all. It is truly terrible.

We are told by First that passenger numbers do not add up. I am personally reliant on buses, and this has not been my experience. I have also been told that First didn’t count bus pass holders. They are paid for them.

There is little point in councils announcing climate emergency if it is not translated into sustainable travel.

I am calling on  the people of iWoodbridge, Martlesham, Melton and other affected parishes to join me in protesting these damaging decisions by signing this petition .

I am calling on  the parish representatives Woodbridge, Martlesham, Melton to join me in protesting these damaging decisions to First, the council and our MP.

And I also call on everyone to reject our national broken model of bus transport