Report to Gipping Valley–September 2014

Education

Latest figures for educational attainment in Suffolk again put us at the bottom of the national league, or very close to it.  The “Raising the Bar” programme is focusing on many aspects of the issue including improved governance; more inter school co-operation and active intervention by school improvement officers.  Performance is improving but the rest of England is improving at least as fast.  This issue is the target of the newly appointed assistant director for Children and Young People, who has a teaching background and extensive Ofsted experience.

Incinerator or Energy from Waste plant

The three failed water feed pumps have been returned to their manufacturer for repair and now they are back the plant is back on stream.  Not only is Suffolk waste being processed again: the contract with Norfolk is active.  Eight lorries per day will bring 40,000 tonnes of waste from the North Norfolk and Great Yarmouth area to Gt Blakenham saving each authority about £500,000 per year.  This is in addition to the £8 million that Suffolk saves by avoiding landfill tax.

The liaison committee will ensure it examines the failure report thoroughly.  I will let you know the cause and any actions to prevent repetition that the contractors or the Environmental Agency find necessary.

One other issue is odour.  I have been getting complaints from Barham, Bramford, Baylham, Gt & Lt Blakenham, Claydon, and Ipswich.  Of course, this is the time when farmers spread muck on their fields but I am pressing SITA to investigate thoroughly.  We can’t have this continue and the high process temperatures should prevent it.

Scrutiny

The next County meeting will cover the “Our Place” scheme focusing on the benefits to local areas that some councillors have obtained from their locality officers.

We will also look at the operation of the local highways officers who interface with Kier May Gurney on our behalf.  We believe that workloads are high and delays quite common.

Claydon Bus Shelter

It is now some time since the community asked for a bus shelter in Claydon for services from Ipswich.  Changes to bus services have not helped progress, Claydon Autos are worried that their business will be affected and two parish councillors are opposed.

We are proposing some action to address access issues for the business.  We will move the waste bin, which is just at a driver’s eye level, and take action to reduce the low-level anti-social behaviour at the bus stop.  With these actions, I hope we will be able to get agreement on an exact location for a smaller than normal shelter before the winter and install it.

Housing

The District Council has a long waiting list for affordable homes.  It wants to take advantage of new government rules that allow it to build “council houses” again after many years when it could not.  We want to start with properties for rent to people from the local parish and then from surrounding villages.

Land is a problem: there are small sites the council owns in several villages, including Bramford but the only substantial one is in Gt. Blakenham at Kingfisher Drive.

You should know about developments in time for your views to be heard, therefore, a meeting was held on 3rd September. We received some robust views from a good number of residents and more intense opposition than I expected.

The high portion of people’s wealth that is tied up in houses of course makes them very sensitive to anything that they think might damage the value of their property.  They also want to preserve their environment and resist the unknowns that change brings.

A number of issues need attention.  Design must cover drainage, overlooking, and the mix of house types.  Services, including waste collection and school places, must be sufficient.  However, I cannot see that a total stop on use of the land is a practical alternative to current plans.

One thing was clear; we need a drop in meeting where people can discuss plans with officers and then a further mass meeting for collective views to be expressed.

Cycling: Bramford to Sproughton

I have funded the clearance of growth on the path surface along the B1113 and this has increased the width substantially.  Cycling is now easier but we are still working towards officially designating the path as a shared foot and cycle way.

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