REPORT TO GIPPING VALLEY: JUNE 2018

Suffolk County Council’s school transport plans

Of the 3,600 responses to Suffolk County Council’s home-to-school transport consultation, 85% “strongly oppose” the proposals.  Clearly parents, teachers and communities have very serious concerns.

My Group has opposed the changes since they were first announced. We are concerned that, as demonstrated in Essex, savings produced will be way short of expectations and not warrant the damage caused to families and schools.

New Council Leader elected

At the Annual Council Meeting Cllr. Matthew Hicks was elected Leader of Suffolk County Council.  His Deputy will be Cllr. Mary Evans, the former Chair of Scrutiny who will be replaced in that role by Cllr. Mark Bee.   Cllr. Hicks emphasised that he has strong Conservative beliefs but has promised a “new era” of politics at the Council with a focus on mutual respect, collaboration, and co-operation.

‘Outstanding’ schools in Suffolk have not had Ofsted inspections for years

In Suffolk, 23 schools – almost half of those rated ‘outstanding’ – have not been inspected for at least 6 years.  For 6 of these schools, their last inspection was over a decade ago.

There is no certainty that standards will have been maintained over such a period.   Cllr. Penny Otton, raised her concerns with the Cabinet Member for Children’s Services and Education, Gordon Jones, who assured her that he shared her views and would raise it with the head of Ofsted.

Road Issues-30mph Roundels in Barham

The current delay to the roundel project is I am afraid down to me.   I failed to notice a request for authorisation in November last year at the time when I was pushing the Bells Cross Junction signage improvements.

The task is now underway again but there will be a delay while the work is ordered.

Diversion Routes

I assume many of you will have suffered when the A14 has been closed.  I spent two hours getting home from a council meeting recently so I experienced the issues at first hand.

There are of course no real alternatives to routing traffic through Claydon and Great Blakenham under such circumstances.  However, clearer information on just what is closed and where there is congestion, would allow us to decide if an alternative route would be beneficial.

Pothole repairs

It was recently reported that Suffolk County Council had repaired 6,500 potholes since the start of the year. However, there are still issues with the way Highways carry out their repairs, and this headline figure does not paint an accurate picture.

The Highways team are currently struggling to keep up and are resorting to temporary repairs which are quicker to complete. They have recently introduced a more expensive temporary repair material that lasts longer. However, it damages the surrounding road material and will need to be replaced within about 18 months.

Planning

The Planning Referrals Committee decided it was “minded to refuse” the application for 300 houses on Barham Church Lane.

The developers have proposed changes they think will address the concerns, including a reduction in the number of houses, reduced impact on the church and on wildlife.   Certainty about the spine road has been given and the possibility that the layout will be substantially as the outline.   We must judge these changes when the application returns.

Gipping Valley News from John Field