Latest on A14 Claydon Drainage Works

Highways England report:

  • Works have been progressing well, Eurovia have established their site compound off Gipping Road and have set up their works area on J52 roundabout.
  • The 24hr lane closures around the roundabout and WB exit slip were successfully installed on Tuesday, no queueing traffic has been reported and this will be removed in time for the weekend.
  • The times for the off-peak lane closures around the roundabout have been adjusted to avoid the school runs, no problems have been reported.
  • Our drainage remedial works at J53 Whitehouse were completed to programme on Monday and Tuesday night.
  • The vegetation removal activities, under the supervision of an environmental specialist, are ahead of schedule.
    • Vegetation removal works are complete on both sides of J52 roundabout and on the west side of the culvert beneath the A14, north of Gipping Road, adjacent with Coopers Way.
    • Vegetation removal works on the east side of the culvert beneath the A14, north of Station Road, adjacent with Coopers Way will be undertaken on Monday 15 and Tuesday 16 March, with working hours of 7:30am to 5pm, subject to weather. Note the footpath that links Coopers Way with Station Road will remain open however pedestrians may be asked to wait a few moments whilst the site team arranges safe passage past the works.
    • Our night-time vegetation removal works on the eastbound slip roads remain as programmed on our original letter attached.

2021-22 budget-Council Meeting 11th Feb

After a long debate in which the LDGI Group put alternative ideas in a budget amendment, the Conservative budget which involves a 1.99% rise in Council Tax plus 2% Social Care Precept was approved.  Seehttps://committeeminutes.suffolk.gov.uk/DocSetPage.aspx?MeetingTitle=(26-01-2021),%20The%20Cabinet

The Liberal Democrat, Green and Independent Group’s amendment would have used the full 3% social care precept the Government assumes, painful but generating an extra £3.452m for social care at a cost of only £13.41 per year to a Band D household.  This would be responsible as there is a budget gap which is heading for £158.6 million cumulative by 2024-5 which must be addressed.

The administration’s budget deals with just this year, outlines the future problems, and hopes service “transformation” will dramatically lower costs.  They also hope the Government will deliver funds from central taxes but there is no evidence they will.  How will the gap be filled?  Through substantial cuts, I fear that will target the elderly and the vulnerable and ultimately cost us all dear.

The County Election in May

You will have noticed that there is an election in May which will go ahead, hoping that the vaccination programme will have reduced the risk to the most vulnerable and that the current restrictions will be at least partially lifted by then.

It is I hope an appropriate time and reasonable to let you know that after some 20 years as your County Councillor I will not be standing again.  I have enjoyed trying to point policy the way you would wish and to deliver what you want. My work as a District Councillor will continue and keep me busy.

We have found an excellent hard-working Lib Dem candidate to take over.  Adrienne Marriott lives in Bramford and has considerable skills in the health and education areas.  Restrictions on leafleting allowing, we will be presenting her to you as soon as possible for your endorsement in May’s election.

County Scrutiny

This month we looked at the response to the Covid-19 pandemic by town and parish councils and voluntary bodies such as the Red Cross.  We were looking for organisational and communication issues and initial lessons that could be learnt. 

The Collaborative Communities COVID-19 Board network was used to coordinate volunteer efforts across Suffolk, largely centred on Community Emergency Planning Groups.  The Suffolk Resilience Forum network was also used.  Utilising existing networks and relationships was a highly effective tactic. 

However, several groups felt communication was flawed with great volume that overwhelmed them.  On some critical issues like DBS checks and liability insurance they received contradictory advice or instructions.

We had a presentation by Great Barton’s emergency response team. It was certainly well organised by an individual with clear ideas and a grasp of the need to ensure volunteers had the right skills and could be relied on to respond.  SALC gave an overview of their efforts with town and parish councils. Lowestoft Town Council, a new body, pointed out that the need to respond to flood events gave them good practice.  Woolpit were very aware of pandemic risk as they had a doctor involved and their plans recognised the problems involved.

There were differing views on the Tribe App:  great for attracting and organising volunteers or useless?  

Training, currently to emergency planning groups will be rolled out on a wider basis.

Housing Development

Developments in Barham on Church Lane, in Claydon at Ely Road and on The Old Norwich Road in Whitton, recently came before the district planning committees.  

Councillors approved the Barham proposals for 270 houses despite your councillors questioning the impact of extra traffic on the high street and the Claydon A14 Junction. There are sites reserved for a new primary school and pre-school but they are unlikely to go ahead unless a further 340 houses are approved on the adjacent field. This is in the emerging Local Plan.

The committee deferred the other two proposals for further work to address various need from residents.   Councillors were concerned that certain aspects of the proposal would not work or be safe.  We have of late been insisting on improvements and getting them, a welcome shift in attitudes.

However, the latest news is that the Whitton proposal was approved after parking and the buffer zone to existing properties had been revised and were had been assured that the mini roundabout connecting the development to the Old Norwich Road was ok.

We also asked the county to take action to make the “Tank Trap” meant to restrict use to busses effective

Home but Not Alone

Demand on the Home but Not Alone phone number has grown in lockdown 3 but is not dramatic.  However there has been a change in the nature of the cries for help and the most significant calls involve help with complex mental health issues. 

The telephone number is still freephone 0800 876 6926 and the phoneline complements The Suffolk Advice and Support Service phoneline 0800 068 3131 which helps those with debt, benefits, employment, or housing worries.

COVID-19 Testing Centres

Rapid testing centres using lateral flow testing are to open for people who do not have symptoms of coronavirus and cannot work from home.  The County Council is also finalising with the Government 16 smaller sites to serve rural communities.  The sites near us are:

  • Whitton Sports Centre, Whitton Church Lane, Whitton, Ipswich
  • Museum of East Anglian Life, off Iliffe Way, Stowmarket
  • The closest existing facility is at the University of Suffolk in Ipswich,

The person tested will receive a text message giving the result within an hour.

Appointments can be made through a booking website https://commisceo-pcs.shiftpartner.com/ or calling 0333 772 6144.  The centres are only for people not showing symptoms of COVID-19.  Anyone who is showing symptoms, or who has been in close contact with someone who has symptoms should ring 119 or go to the NHS website to book a test at one of Suffolk’s 12 symptomatic testing sites.

Bramford to Twinstead network reinforcement

National Grid are again proposing to reinforce the grid between Bramford and Twinstead in Essex.  They want to be able to export 15Gwatt from Suffolk up from 4.5Gwatt at the moment. The scheme appears much the same as it was in 2012 with an additional 400kvolt pylon line running beside the existing line after the  smaller 132 kvolt line is removed.

Clearly the power from North Sea wind farms must get to areas where demand is highest and that is London.  There will be a similar need if Sizewell C gets approved.  We need low carbon energy if the world is to avoid catastrophic rise in sea level, but it cant be at any cost. We also need food.

It is possible to build a power distribution under the North Sea going down the Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex coast then up the Themes.  The main problem I believe is the legislation that controls who would have to build such a grid.

We are in for another round of consultations at the end of March and another fight!

Gipping Valley News from John Field