Tag Archives: school transport

Latest county and town news, Woodbridge, April 2020


COVID-19 Update

– Stay Home – Protect the NHS – Save Lives

Latest Government advice: www.gov.uk/coronavirus
Latest Suffolk County Council information: https://www.suffolk.gov.uk/coronavirus-covid-19/

Woodbridge Emergency Response Group Woodbridge has set up and is running an efficient and effective volunteer and help group with an amazing community response. We have roughly 700 clients and volunteers at the moment. Remember, people can ring to register either to volunteer or to help on 01394 383599 (answered 9-6 daily, with an overnight answerphone), or email emergency@woodbridge-suffolk.gov.uk

Additionally, a Suffolkwide app and phoneline has been launched . For residents outside the Woodbridge area Suffolk has launched Home But Not Alone, a scheme intended to connect volunteers and vulnerable people via free app, called Tribe Volunteer, which can be downloaded from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. (Please note for ID purposes, the icon is a square with tribe across it, and two yellow-brown curves below it) If you are in Suffolk but outside the greater Woodbridge area you should phone. The telephone number for those in need of help is the same as for volunteering: freephone 0800 876 6926. The intention is that it will be staffed from 09:00 to 17:00, seven days a week. The service will mean willing volunteers, charities, town and parish councils, community and religious groups can all log their details and offers of support on an app, while people who need help can phone to request support. 

School closures and free school meals More information about school closures in Suffolk is available here: https://www.suffolk.gov.uk/coronavirus-covid-19/schools-guidance/

A Voucher scheme has been launched for schools providing free school meals – Families are being offered weekly shopping vouchers worth £15 to spend at supermarkets while schools are closed due to coronavirus. The government has also confirmed that the total value of vouchers offered to each eligible child per week will exceed the rate it pays to schools for free school meals, recognising that families will not be buying food in bulk and may therefore incur higher costs.

Effective immediately, schools will be able to order vouchers directly from supermarkets or shops in their communities to be emailed or printed and posted to families; they will have their costs covered by the Department for Education.

Bus passes can now be used before 9:30 Suffolk County Council is allowing concessionary travel for those with elderly and disabled bus passes before 9.30am. This is to allow these residents to access the exclusive early morning shopping times that supermarkets have arranged for these people. Of course, only helpful when those early morning timings match up with actual bus availability.

Public transport services reduced New timetables are now in place for most public transport services, including buses, trains and community transport until further notice. Suffolk County Council is advising those who ned to use public transport to check with their local provider to find out the latest timetable.

Further details can be found at www.suffolkonboard.com or by calling 0345 606 6171.

Funding available for food banks Suffolk County Council has made £60,000 available to support food banks in Suffolk

– Stay Home – Protect the NHS – Save Lives –

Other news
Suffolk County Council submits bid for Government funding for buses Suffolk County Council has submitted a statement of intent to the Department of Transport (DfT) for £580k to improve some of the county’s bus services.

The council has not yet released details of how they plan to spend this funding. However, we understand that they are not intending to use it to reinstate the subsidised bus services which were cut last summer.

The DfT planned to announce which statements of intent have been successful by the end of April, but it is likely that this will be delayed given the current situation.

EDF Energy delay application for Sizewell C Development Consent Order EDF Energy have decided to delay their application for a Development Consent Order for Sizewell C by a few weeks, due to the current situation.

In March, my LibDem Green and Independent group were planning to submit a motion asking Suffolk County Council to withdraw support for nuclear power and publicly oppose Sizewell C. However, the Council meeting in March was cancelled. This means that our motion has also been delayed, but we plan to submit it again at the earliest opportunity once meetings at the council start up again. We are concerned however that an application may yet be put in before this time.

Opt-in for 2020/21 free school transport Parents are now able to opt-in if eligible for free transport for the 2020/21 school year. This will be the second year of the new school transport policy. The deadline for opting-in is 31 May 2020.

If parents have a child who is already receiving SCC funded school travel, they must opt-in again to continue to receive it.

Parents whose child is not eligible for SCC funded school travel but who wish to purchase a spare seat, may do so. The application for spare seats opens on 1 July 2020.

To opt-in or for more information on the SCC school travel policy please visit; https://www.suffolkonboard.com/schooltravel/

SCC wins DfT funding for next stage of A12 works Suffolk County Council won £830,000 of funding from the Department for Transport, to develop an Outline Business Case to take forward its plans to improve the A12 East of Ipswich. Obviously this is of interest to us in Woodbridge.

This project is specifically looking to increase capacity and improve overall traffic flow at junctions and will explore the potential for a new pedestrian and cycle bridge over the A12.

School Transport: Cabinet decides on the option nobody wanted

Twitter and blogs get the news out that  journalists don’t cover  😉

On Tuesday, Suffolk County Council’s Conservative Cabinet passed an undemocratic proposal limiting access to free school transport.

I put it like this because the media narrative is that “Councillors voted unanimously.” Er… No. While any councillor could question, only the wholly Conservative Cabinet could vote. And while the Cabinet members opened their mouths, it was not to question. They spoke in turn uncritically, to offer support.

Undemocratic because – having gone to public consultation and the public having made their feelings abundantly clear – Cabinet voted on an option that was universally unpopular. It did not even consider the option supported by 90% of respondents.

If the public relied on the media to inform them, they would not have been aware of what happened at the meeting. The media  conscientiously reported the flavour of the many excellent tabled questions from the public. However, they totally ignored the literally hours of  forensic questioning from the opposition –  LibDem, Green and Labour councillors  – which teased out many problems and concerns with the favoured  proposal.

In other words the situation was framed as ‘councillors v public’ instead of ‘Conservative Cabinet fobbing off the questions of their opposition colleagues’. You might want to query this narrative and what purpose it serves.

In my particular case, I travelled as fast as I could on public transport to and from an emergency surgical appointment at Addenbrookes to be there in time to hold the Cabinet to account along with my Lib Dem, Green and Labour colleagues. We all asked many questions. (I must do new Leader Matthew Hicks justice and say he chaired the meeting with justice and impartiality, allowing the opposition all the questions they wished to ask and cutting short members of his own party who merely wished to make eyewateringly inappropriate declarations of loyalty, instead of questioning Cabinet. Another issue the media could have picked up on, ‘an if it would’.).

In my own questions I queried the administration’s terms of reference. Was Suffolk’s offer really “more generous” than the government minimum, when the government minimum covered urban and rural students  indiscriminately? City students do not have 3 mile walks to their catchment school: city schools are closer and public transport is plentiful and cheap.

We were told how expensive our spend was- over £100 a student head as opposed to Salford’s £2.

However, as I pointed out,  Salford has a total area of 8 sq miles. It would actually be well-nigh impossible for a child to live more than 3 miles from their local school in Salford! Suffolk, in comparison, has an area of 1466sq miles, used to grow the food and provide the electricity that places like Salford rely on. We are not comparing like with like.

I also asked, bearing in mind we were removing entitlement to bus travel, why there was no Traffic Impact Assessment for the county – and while the very limited (Thurston area only) TIA failed to consider issues such as pollution and air quality? (Answer: too expensive/work in progress. Hardly a scientific answer)

And, bearing in mind over 70% of respondents were women , and local government cuts disproportionally affect women,  l asked whether Cabinet  could be genuinely satisfied that the IA’s conclusion that “impact on women would be minimised by phasing in the changes”, fully addressed the  actual impact these changes would have on  women. Ominously  – but unsurprisingly -this question was not answered at all.

Suffolk’s school transport, carers, women: the link

 

 

 

Essential reading on the train to “spell” my mother’s carer (as I do every week): the Cabinet papers for Suffolk’s controversial and undemocratically decided school transport proposals. Women are predominantly the principal carers for all age groups and are disproportionately affected by local government cuts.

No surprise then that over 70% of respondents to the school transport consultation were female!  Yet only 25% of the single-party Cabinet making this decision are women .

Ironically this is #CarersWeek. The hashtag #realCarersWeek on Twitter will give the reality of caring in the UK, 2018.