Report to Gipping Valley October 2012

Roads

The consultation on the clearway on Bramford road has just been completed with just one objector whose concerns were addressed by moving the start of the clearway further south from Hackneys Corner.  We should see this in place soon.

“Halo” rings have been fitted to the beacons of the zebra crossing at the Co op in Claydon to make the crossing more visible to drivers.  There is quite a lot of clutter at this point that makes the crossing difficult to see.

Consultation on the plans to improve the Pound Lane junction with the B1113 is progressing.  The changes will be installed in phases starting with improved road centre markings, junction identification and movement of the speed limit signs at the Bramford end.  One current problem is the speed limits: county highways have proposed a reduction to the 40mph we all think is reasonable.  The police want to stick at 50mph stating that compliance with the existing 50 mph is good: 50 to 59 mph 25%, 60 to 69 mph 3.3% and 70 to 79 mph 0.4% top speed 94mph.  I don’t agree.

Concessionary Travel

At scrutiny we considered the Liberal Democrat call in of the decision not to return the hours of operation of the Concessionary Bus Pass Scheme for those eligible due to age to 9am from 9:30 or to remove all time limitations for those eligible due to disability.

My colleagues Cllr Caroline Page and Cllr David Wood presented the case that the original decision had failed to take account of a number of important principles.  There was a lack of consultation and the Conservative administration had failed to take into account the negative impact their decision had on many disabled peoples’ lives.

A number of public speakers highlighted the lack of consultation before a decision was made.  The Committee voted by seven votes, including mine, to three to send this issue back to the Cabinet.

New Heritage Organisation

The proposal for the creation of a new Heritage Organisation to incorporate the Suffolk archaeological records, the documents within the current Suffolk Records Offices and the Museum of East Anglian Life is progressing.  However, the criteria for selecting a location now include a need to be near a university or college, which counts out Stowmarket.

NEETS

At scrutiny I reported on my work evaluating a project to help young people who are NEET.  I emphasised that descriptions of the issues that drive young people to fail to take up education, employment or training and the range of interventions that will help them must be accompanied by clear evidence of effectiveness of such actions.

Planning Transformation at MSDC & Babergh

The transformation project is progressing although not at the rate the members would like.  However, we have agreed the broad structure of a transformed development control, on the need for an effective pre-application advice service and a strengthened set of planning policies and for a design guide.

We have to win approval for these ideas from other members and fill in a lot of detail but at least we have moved forward.

A temporary increase in staff at both Babergh and Mid Suffolk to address performance issues in planning policy and development control has been agreed.  This is a clear sign that the additional load of integration on the depleted senior management team combined with staff reductions due to early retirement is having an adverse effect.  Clear action was necessary and I hope this is it.

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