Category Archives: Parishes

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

Report to Gipping Valley:  September 2018

Road Works

The road at Hackneys Corner is usable but not to a good standard.  The footways have still to be finished.  The county is fully aware of the issues and doing what it can to move the work by the developers forward.

Last month saw a great deal of poor communication and confusion and for some reason Anglian Water were allowed to re-start work in Claydon before the Bramford Road work was complete.  Utilities and developers MUST do better and so must the county.

Mary Evans, cabinet member for Highways, will be visiting Great Blakenham Parish Council to be informed of their and your views directly.

On a more positive note, the persistent flooding just the Claydon side of the A14 bridge will be fixed this month by a new pipe and soakaways.  The work is planned to start on the 10 September 2018 and continue for 3 weeks.  The County believe the flooding was due to damage done when the A14 was constructed.  I have been trying to get it solved for some years, so it is good to have Highways finally realise they need to finance a solution.

I have written to Highways asking for information on the issues on Chapel Lane and should get an update on the bus gate proposals which I can pass to you next month.

I have a letter from the County to MSDC pointing out County reservation about the cumulative effect of development in the area and proposing a meeting involving the county council, the applicants and Mid Suffolk to discuss options.

I have been asking for months for a professional attempt to propose actions that would address the problems we all believe the developments will cause.  I hope we are getting somewhere at last.

Suffolk County Council’s budget challenge

Last week, the council released its view of the scale of the financial challenge it is facing this year. They are projecting an overspend of £8.6 million this year.  Based on the first quarter results 1.7%.  of its £501 million budget.

Children and Young People’s Services, account for £5 million of the total.  This includes services for looked-after children, specialist social care for children and home-to-school transport.

Work is in progress to reduce spending and find new sources of income, including:

  • Adult and Community Services is strengthening its contract management
  • The Children and Young People department is cutting budgets that have historically underspent
  • The Passenger Transport team is optimising routes and renegotiating transport contracts which transport hundreds of children to school
  • Corporate Services are reviewing budgets line-by-line
  • Suffolk’s ten Transformation Programmes are continuing to develop savings through reducing demand and changing the way we work
  • Suffolk Fire and Rescue has begun a project to improve levels of staff absence
  • The council’s major projects programme is being reviewed
  • The council continues to lobby Central Government for more funding as part of its Fairer Funding Review.

These are actions long necessary and reflect issues we have examined in Scrutiny and recommended for action.   The crucial issue will be as always to produce real increases in efficiency not just service cuts to the most vulnerable, particularly where cuts produce increases in the budgets of other public bodies, such as the health service.

“Staying Close” scheme launched

The Department of Education is funding a three-year pilot “Staying Close” scheme to support young people leaving care in Suffolk.

The aim is to help young people at 15 to start planning for independent living with the assistance and support of residential care workers. This planning too often occurs close to the time a young person is due to move to independent living, causing unnecessary anxiety and distress.

Young people will also continue to receive emotional and practical support from their children’s home and residential workers after they have moved out.

District Council Issues

This month we looked at the programme to reduce the delay between a council house becoming vacant or “void” and the time it has been refurbished and is again occupied.

The delay, that has been up to 71 days, costs the council rent and people a home.  It is now down to about 20 days and should improve further.

Blakenham Fields

The planning meeting this month considered the application to increase the number of houses to be built at Blakenham Fields by using the land once set aside for employment and a school.  This increase allowed the District and County Councils to negotiate developer funding for the shop, education and early years and sports facilities overcoming the “viability” issues the developer claims to have with the original agreement.  As this occurred the minister, Brendan Lewis, appears to have backtracked on his decisions to allow developers to escape from commitments using the viability argument under pressure from London authorities.

I opened my presentation to the committee by saying “I am convinced we are dumping developments in Gt Blakenham to the detriment of the population.  We appear to have made a lot of concessions to get the site completed but there are a lot of unfinished issues.

The local residents are incensed that they have gained little to mitigate their problems.  They face crowded doctor’s surgeries, oversubscribed pre-school provision, lack of primary school capacity, no village centre shop, daytime only public transport, congested roads and lack of local community facilities.”

And finished “The development has got too large for this location.  I believe we should not grant planning permission until Early Years, Primary School, Highways and Primary Care issues are resolved to the state where they can be clearly communicated and agreed by the community and until the heads of agreement leave a minimum opportunity for future confusion and failed delivery.” (The full text is on my www site)

Although many councillors appeared to accept my arguments and those of Michael Blakenham, the majority eventually voted to approve the plans.

That leaves me with the need to get these problems addressed or evidence produced that they are less than people fear.  I have started by getting the County officers to make face to face contact with the school heads to ensure both parties understand the issues and use the available finance to good purpose.  They have also promised to carry the lack of early years provision forward with vigour.

Cock Alley to Gippingstone Road

County Highways are at long last constructing a footway to link Cock Alley to Gippingstone Road to allow parents to use the path to get to the school without getting muddy. The work will start on the 23rd July and take approximately a week. 

I was asked for this by the team that look at safe travel to school some years ago but it has been an uphill struggle to get the land transferred from Mid Suffolk District Council.

The county say that noise and dust will be kept to a minimum and the work should not affect vehicles and pedestrian access. 

The footway will be constructed along the right side of the left hedge above and will be two metres wide leading to the existing footway  

 If you have any specific requirements, such as disability access, or deliveries planned for this date, please contact the contractor, Suffolk Highways Contracting 01473 588640.

If you have any queries about these works, contact (0845 606 6171) and ask to speak to Aaron Gordon

National Grid latest route proposals for Bramford to Twinsted

Today Natrional Grid announced their latest position on the Bramford to Twinsted Tee connection that will be needed to take power from the North Sea windfarm East Anglia One and Sizewell C (if it is ever built) to London.

Local groups, the Libdems, the MP, County Council and District Councils have all  been fighting to get National Grid to use modern technology to underground this connection that will otherwise blight our lives, damage our tourist industry and be out of date before it comes into use.

Have they adapted their plans?  Well, two short sections through the Dedham Vale AONB and the Stour Valley will be underground but the residents closer to Bramford, particularly in Hintlesham, are still cursed with a double 400kv pylon line.

National Grid, this is just not good enough.  Minimising cost at the expense of so many is not acceptable.  Why not go for undergroiund DC connections like the windfarm companies are proposing?  There is time to re-think,  Sizewell  C will only be constructed if the French Government decide it is good business and the final three parts of East Anglia One are some time away.  The re-vamped existing line which will carry some 6,200 Mega watts will do till then.

Latest National Grid Data is at http://www.nationalgrid.com/uk/Electricity/MajorProjects/BramfordTwinstead/Documents/index.htm

Bad news about Bramford Recycling Centre

Reuben Bolton of Bolton Brothers Ltd who run the Recycling Centre in Bramford will close the site on 11 March 2012.

They are looking at expanding other operations they manage so that they can accept items from the public. This allows staff to cover all activities on the site and reduces costs.  It has been successful in Beccles. 

The site has been used a lot less after the county closed it for several weeks before the Boltons operation started.  There have been fewer than 25 visitors a day for most of January when you might have noticed that it was snowy and freezing. 

The income from charges and material sales has not been covering  costs, over the months of the trial period.   In December 2011 Boltons  introduced a charge for green waste and wood waste in an attempt to eliminate the loss but without sucess.

The type of waste has also changed.  There is less recyclable waste of value, such as metals, textiles and cardboard.  This is again not helping.

Your local councillors will work together to try to find a solution but it will at best be very difficult

Bramford Household Waste Site Latest

The Bramford site has closed but three companies have approached the County Council with plans to re-open it.  Two, Glazewing from Norfolk and Bloton Brothers from Gt Blakenham have extensive experience in the waste recycling business and the third is experienced in re-cycling of clothing and eager to get involved in the wider scene. 

All gave presentations tonight to local parish, district and county councillors at a meeting hosted and led by John Hooker of Bramford Parish Council.  The proposals differed in some respects and Bramford will chose next monday night which to pursue on behalf of the community that was served by the County’s HWRC.

A new service with free disposal of recyclable materials and green waste and disposal of non-recyclable materials for a pay as you throw charge of £5+vat per car appears a real possibility and could be in operation by mid September.

This will meet the needs of those who want to recycle things that can’t go in the green bin, those with garden waste who don’t want to pay for Mid Suffolk’s brown bin and those who are not prepared to sort their waste.

This looks like real progress!

Incinerator Granted Planning Permission

 Yesterday Suffolk County Council Development Control Committee granted planning permission to SITA for an Incinerator (they call it an energy from waste plant).  I still believe that there are better technologies such as Anaerobic Digestion for food waste that would yield better results, be less environmentally damaging and not require commitment to a 25 year PFI contract.  However the conservative administration committed themselves to this technology in 2005 and no arguments have persuaded them to waver.

Unfortunately they would not even consider road improvements to the Lodge Lane/ Bramford Road junction to reduce traffic congestion.  Neither would they consider payments to the local community via the parish councils to allow improvements to local facilities as a small benifit to offset the harm they will suffer.

My statement to the committee was Dev Control Proposed Energy from Waste plant at Gt Blakenham

At least we will have access to the SITA Trust who like BIFF Award and the Viridor Trust feed some landfill tax back to the community for local projects.

Latest Incinerator Visit

I Visited the Violia incinerator at Portsmouth  on June 3rd with councillors from the county planning committee (Development Control), council officers and parish councillors from Bramford & Little Blakenham.  It is a very large building some 40 metres high although smaller than the county plans for Gt Blakenham.   Just what would it look like in the Gipping Valley?  A house is 7 metres to the ridge,  In Portsmouth the incinerator is in a large industrial area.

It was an operational plant built several years ago but modern, not a converted old incinerator like the one SITA took us to in Kirklees.  The building was tidy and quite clean. There was no noise or smell outside the building and not a lot inside but they have had problems with some noisy equipment that were solved after commissioning.  There was no sign of traffic problems and no queue to tip waste.

We did not get to the fan cooled condensers that could be a noise problem at Gt Blakenham or at the turbine so the county council’s  noise expert could not take readings

One problem revealed was that on one occasion the plant suffered an inversion layer at low height that grounded the plume from the chimneys within 400 meters.  In Gt Blakenham that would be on housing and the valley area is known for inversion layers.  They were, we are told the issue that forced the high chimney on the cement works.  Long term residents of the area have raised questions on this issue repeatedly and have been told that they should not be worried.  What is the true position?

Pollution measurements were being taken continuously as regulations require and were well below regulatory limits.  Unfortunately the critical pollutants like heavy metals dioxins and furenesare difficult to measure at low concentrations and are only measured every 3 months.  Levels are considered to be OK as long as the combustion temperature is kept above 850 deg Celsius for a set time.  That temperature is monitored continuously.

Overall this plant burnt 205 k tonnes of waste, produced 65 k tonnes of Co2, 44 k tonnes of bottom ash for road building, 5 k tonnes of hazardous pollution control residue (fly ash) and 2 k tonnes of recovered metals. The Co2 is less damaging to the environment than methane from landfill but anaerobic digestion would not emit either.

Overall nothing alarming, better than landfill but still not a good process.

Housing at Gt Blakenham

The Government via the Homes & Communities Agency has given the go ahead for loans of £5.4 million for 81 affordable and 40 private housing at the Mason’s Works (SnOasis) site in Gt Blakenham.  The affordable homes will be 56 social rented and 25 shared ownership and will be built by March 2012.

The £5.4 million is made up of £3.9m for the 81 affordable homes and a £1.5m loan to help fund the private market housing.  This development will provide a valuable boost to local employment in the building industry and help meet local housing needs.