Report to Gipping Valley–April 2014

Bramford bus services, or the lack of any between 07.46 and 09.51 has been causing difficulty.  The 09:51 has on several occasions been full and failed to stop, or has travelled to Ipswich with many standing passengers.  First have said “Having looked at the particular points you raised, there is a way, with a bit of rescheduling of existing resources, that we could provide a journey from Bramford at around 08.46/08.51 to break up the gap in service between  07.46 and 09.51.  We would propose that this would be introduced on a trial basis of six months to assess usage – hopefully this would have the effect of relieving some pressure from the 09.51 journey.”  By the time you read this, the change will be in place I hope.  County are currently consulting on the needs for 113 and 114 services before possible change.

Mid Suffolk has decided to fit PV panels on some 900 Council houses that face broadly south at a cost of £3million.  This will yield a cash flow that will repay the investment and provide significant “profit” to support council services.  In addition, it will supply “free” electricity and give a reduction in daytime energy use and energy bills for those in the houses fitted.  The actual reduction will depend on lifestyle, as the electricity is available during the day and maximum at midday.  The plan should take about a year to complete.

The New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership has produced the New Anglia Strategic Economic Plan.  The LEP is business led and works with Norfolk and Suffolk County Councils, District Councils, Education and key industries.

The Plan gives some interesting data on the size of the various sectors of our economy and the numbers of people employed.  It looks sound, aiming to enhance our skills base, increase the number of apprenticeships, and increase the number of young people in employment.  The Plan, recently adopted by County and District councils, focuses on expansion in areas of strength

The LEP has been successful so far agreeing with government two Local Enterprise Zones, two City Deals and support for schemes like the Ipswich Flood Defences.  This new plan should be able to take advantage of the improving economy.  The IMF is predicting high growth for the UK and confidence is growing.  The painful judgments Lib Dems in Government had to share and action to increase the tax threshold to £10,000 are now, we believe, delivering growth that he Plan will focus in Suffolk.

Local schools are preparing for the new Government scheme to deliver free school meals to all pupils in reception, year 1 and year 2.  David Laws has reported that most schools are on track to do this by September.  That is certainly the case locally and Suffolk County Council has the problem under control across the county.

The Suffolk Waste Partnership that manages the collection and disposal of waste in Suffolk has awarded Viridor an extendable four and a half year contract to sort and market mixed recyclable materials.  They manage recyclable household waste, which has risen from 8% to over 50% of total waste, some 50,000 tonnes.  The target is to reach 60% by 2015.  This will mean that the MRF will stay at Gt. Blakenham and an essential service will continue to provide secure employment in the area.

Road verge overrunning by private vehicles, goods vehicles, and agricultural machinery is a continuing problem.  Residents are asking for reduced speed limits, weight restrictions, quiet lane designations, increased signing, and of course police action.  Most of these have little effect on people in a hurry and at best divert problems to alternative vulnerable routes.  However, I am investigating if real improvements are possible.

To deal with significant issues of all types County and District legal teams need clear evidence, photos, and clear witness statements.  These need to be obtained but not by risking your safety.  That is perhaps a tall order but public bodies must of course act within the law and be fair to all, including people whose behaviour causes community tension.

Strategic Planning Policy Development at MSDC and Babergh.  I have been involved with a small group of Babergh and MSDC councillors working to determine how members should be involved in the rapid development of new policies.  These are essential as the economy improves and an increasing number of planning applications need a rapid and expert response from the council.  The initial task is now complete and will move on to developing plans for some areas and the criteria against which applications will be judged.  This falls within our existing Core Development Framework.

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