All posts by johnfield

Snoasis

Last week at Mid Suffolk Planning

The “Reserved Matters ” for the Snoasis planning application were agreed Wednesday last week. That’s all the details that were not covered when the Secretary of State agreed the application after the public inquiry in 2007. In fact a number of items in the legal agreement, the “section 106” document were changed to planning conditions, a process the government likes as it usually reduces the delay between application and the start of work. However in this case the district council and the developer have taken 10+ years to ge to this point so I wonder just how speedily things will develop from now on. The problem with conditions is that they are agreed at officers discretion so local people have little input.

We were promised that the “Local Reference Group” rather like the Liaison Group that I chair at the Suez EFW plant. I hope that will help to keep residents and the parish group in touch and get the local voice heard.

My input to the meeting as Ward Member

Is this a wonderful opportunity to gain a world class winter sport facility or just a chance to spend further years being assured with little supporting evidence that “finance is in place” while wilfully blind optimism drives a project that is just not viable.  If it were a good business project would we now be 13 years down the road with little to show?

Continue reading Snoasis

Road Closure in Baylham

 

Just to warn those of you who visit relatives or friends in Baylham, the main way in to the village will be closed for seven weeks from Monday. The Care Centre is connecting its dysfunctional sewage system to the village drains by putting a pipe in a trench up the road.

They won’t use any of the shorter routes across the fields or round the field boundary. The contractor is using “traditional” methods, not fast trenching machines, so seven weeks not two. Thanks guys!

Highways of course just agreed-like in Barham, Claydon and at Hackneys Corner. Trying to get them to look after the residents is up hill all the way. The diversion routes are through Little Blakenham or along Circular Road (Back Street) from B1113. Both 4.3km with few passing places.

We are asking people to come in via Back Street and out via Little Blakenham but not all will do that, its not official, please be careful. Highways have promised to try to grit the road if it’s necessary.
The Care Home is still accessible from the B1113

 

County Council Election

County Council Election tomorrow, don’t forget to vote it’s vital for democracy. I am the Liberal Democrat Candidate. I enjoy representing you and I hope you will vote for me.
I have kept you informed through “In Touch” over the last four years letting you know what I have delivered, what the challenges are and what the County is trying to do.
Do you feel I have worked hard enough for you to select me again? I hope so and look forward to a tough four years as the UK changes its position and influence in the world and the County makes its contribution.

For the next four years, My targets will be:

  • To continue to deliver on local issues and needs, tackling problems that impact directly on your life.
  • To organise a Gipping Valley effort to develop a plan for our highways that will allow the housing expansion necessary to meet local needs without creating road chaos.
  • To continue to insist Highways respond to your needs effectively and maintain out roads well.
  • To make sure public transport and park and ride schemes are not further damaged,
  • To ensure the County makes the maximum commitment it can afford to social care, reducing the impact on the NHS of unfulfilled need and using, not hoarding in reserves, the funds it has.
  • To help local groups support and construct new facilities in the area.
  • To remain deeply involved with improvements to the efficiency and effectiveness of County services.
  • Advocating investment where it will cut long-term costs, improving quality of life and reduce demand for services.

John Field

Question I Just Received on Highway Signs.

For several years it has concerned me, and many others I speak to, that trees, hedges and general dirt are being allowed to obscure road signs.  A while ago I searched for any rules that may apply as directed by the Department For Transport and found the attached from the Traffic Signs Manual (1982 Amended 2004).  I would bring your attention in particular to 1. Introductory, paragraph 1.2 and 5. The Design & Use of Signs, paragraph 1.31 (b) and 9. Maintenance of Signs.  All common sense, you would think?

Quite obviously these conditions are not being met.  For example: the road sign coming up to the Hadleigh Road mini roundabout at Sproughton from the Washbrook direction.  It is so obscured by the hedge that you cannot read the sign until you’re virtually next to it and nearly at the roundabout!!  Similarly, now the leaves are coming out on trees, other signs are disappearing behind them.  I cannot believe that this problem is not the subject of more of an outcry as with the pot hole debacle.  Being unable to read road signs from a safe distance is as dangerous as having to be more vigilant in avoiding potholes.

My Answer

Suffolk Highways needs to meet its obligations under these rules which are made for good reason.  I think you will have seen from my leaflets and “In Touch” contributions that I have been active in pressing for improved performance across the board although the key focus has been potholes .

I believe that the outsourcing of the highways contract has not worked and, despite the Conservatives rolling it on for another five years, it must either perform in short order or the work must be taken back in-house.  Suffolk people just can’t continue to put up with the issues you raise or the potholes.

We must have the management talent to guide the workforce to high performance.   As the government has been giving some relatively small but significant grants for such work and we could use a sensible amount, £2 million, from the £150 million reserves to make one-off improvements.  We should be able to do better!

You will get this if you ensure there is a strong opposition after Thursday to make sure that the mantra that everything must be privatised does not result in self-deception about the level of performance achieved.

 

John Field

Expansion at Claydon Primary

The plans to expand Claydon Primary to 2.5 form intake to cope with children from Blakenham Fields are almost ready to discuss with local residents.

The main resident concern will I am sure be parking and safety at the school entrance.  Busy parents or carers need to drop children off on their way to work, so they dont have time to walk to school despite the benefits the exercise brings.

If we could find money to resurface the car park at the recreation ground it would be more attractive.  The footway to the school would make it a safe option but the cost would be high.  We must get an estimate to see how big the task would be.

Unfortunately there is no space for a drop off point, a drive through school, where children could be handed to staff!

Bramford Today

Lots of people to talk to in Acton Road today, detailed views to soak up and tasks to do.  Potholes were the main complaint.  How is that they are repaired but fail in days or at best a few weeks?  Highways claim they are doing far more repairs as planed work with much less reactive temporary fixes but people are not seeing an improvement.

Thoughts while out Canvasing

It is amazing how County Highways can take so long to fix the potholes in places like Bacon Road, the approach to Claydon Primary School and Chapel Lane.  The road surfaces need replacement but remain in a sorry state.  Other roads are re-surfaced when they appear quite OK.

If there was an explanation (not an excuse) that we could see we might understand

Locality Budgets

District Councillors for this year only have a £5,000 budget to deploy in their wards to fund projects by community groups.  They must of course align with Mid-Suffolk’s objectives.  Forms to request grants of £250+ are available and your councillors will make final decisions by early January.

As a County Councillor, I also have my locality budget available and about £12,000 remains, after providing support for a Vehicle Activated Sign (VAS) in Henley and Hemingstone, pond refurbishment at Henley Primary and LED floodlights for Bramford Football Club.

I would like to support local community organisations to meet the needs of local residents, ideally but not exclusively, where county money leverages in funds from other bodies.  Further VAS might be an idea.

Devolution-is it Progressing?

The devolution discussions are wending their way forward.  The government has stated that both Norfolk and Suffolk must be involved as in the LEP. A number of powers will be handed down only if an elected mayor controls a combined authority.

There is now a Norfolk and Suffolk Framework Document for Devolution, which gives a clearer list of ambitions.  It opens “Devolution offers an exciting opportunity for greater local decision-making and influence to power economic growth and productivity and unlock the potential of Norfolk and Suffolk.  The two counties have the scale, ambition and leadership to maximise the opportunities offered by additional freedoms and responsibilities. We also have the potential to grow our economy faster, with strengths in key sectors such as agri-tech, food & health, energy and the digital economy.”

The framework claims strengths as:

  • National hubs for key business sectors, eg financial industries, that need to be nurtured to become magnets for global inward investment
  • An all-energy coast at the centre of the world’s largest market for offshore wind
  • Globally-leading research in life sciences and agri-tech, and pioneering technical innovations in ICT research and development.
  • The UK’s busiest container port, in Felixstowe
  • A fast-growing creative digital sector, with Norwich recently recognised by Tech City UK
  • Market-leading food and drink producers
  • Our first-class cultural heritage attractions mean tourism is worth £4.6bn annually across Norfolk and Suffolk

However, while our employment figures are among the best in the country, our skills and productivity levels are below the national average.

I believe the need to work with Norfolk and a wider variety of political parties has helped clarify the way forward.  Negotiations continue.