John Field’s Report to Gipping Valley: May 2016

Parking-Sorry to Preach But:

This month I have had many complaints about parking.  At the three primary schools in Gipping Valley, there are problems as parents and carers take children to or collect them from school.  On the Old Ipswich Road, drivers leave cars and vans while they catch a bus or share the journey to work.  In Coopers Road, it is just people parking work vehicles.

The local schools were built before so many of us could afford cars and at a time when parents had local jobs and the time to walk their children to school.  Of course, the walk to school keeps parents and children fit and prolongs life but requires a bit of time.

It would be easy to paint even more yellow lines but that tends to move the problem around rather that providing a solution.  Doing nothing is even easier but it does not help people who find they cannot see oncoming vehicles as they leave their road or drive.

Perhaps if drivers could try harder not to make residents life difficult and residents could be a little more tolerant we can avoid the legal expense and the conflict attached to yellow lines PLEASE!

Scrutiny

We held a workshop session to determine the scrutiny programme.  The next session will cover the apparently endless consultations that are undertaken, trying to determine why some are effective and some are not.

We will use the Fire and Rescue Service and Children’s Centres consultations examples to determine what leads to a good consultation and what is best avoided.

Consultations should ask for opinions that will form the basis for decisions.  Often it appears that decisions are already in place and there is little or no chance of change.

If the intention is just to inform then we believe that is acceptable if it is made clear.  I will let you know what we recommend.

The Education and Learning Infrastructure Plan

Cabinet agreed an update on last year’s plan.  It responds to the rapid expansion of house building in the County.  The need for expansion to Claydon and Bramford primary schools to accommodate the Blakenham Fields and Fisons developments is included.

However, it does not yet recognise the latest crop of development proposals at Acton Road in Bramford, on land between Chequers Rise and the allotments in Great Blakenham or the very recent proposals for Barham Church Lane.

I was assured that these proposed developments, some of which are very tentative, would be considered in the next revision, which is already underway.

Trading Standards

Cabinet also agreed to develop plans for a joint Suffolk and Norfolk Trading Standards service.  Suffolk Trading Standards is a high performing efficient service.  They focus on traders that are a problem but not those who operate fairly, honestly and within the law.

The proposed amalgamation will reduce overheads by combining the management structures of the two counties.  Suffolk does of course have the country’s largest container port but I was told that does not affect the logic behind the move.

Emergency Services Mobile Communications

The emergency services plan a replacement for the Airwave system.  It uses a technology with poor support for data.  The replacement will use the 4G LTE technology, as in your current 4th generation of smart phones.  It provides secure voice and high speed date.

The company involved has we were told purchased the Airwave system and will use the mast sites as part of the new programme.  Costs should reduce and capability increase without a forest of new masts.

Full Council.

The meeting opened with a petition presented by a firefighter and signed by some 3675 people asking that full council and not just the cabinet should vote on the Fire Service reductions.  That view was rejected.

We then debated at length a Liberal Democrat motion, seconded by Labour and supported by all opposition members, to reverse the proposed reductions in the Fire and Rescue service that in the Ipswich area amount to 50%.

In Ipswich, there are high-rise buildings that require four appliances in attendance before rescue work can begin.  In a fire they are particularly hazardous structures.  The fourth appliance would take time to get from Needham Market, Felixstowe or another station.

We were also concerned that across the county resources will reduce to such an extent that risk to property and life will increase significantly.  The argument for reduction in staff and appliances is based on a reduction in call outs produced by the preventative work undertaken by the service.  Improvements in building construction standards, materials and safety rules have also helped.

In the motoring arena improvements in vehicle safety features, seat belts, airbags, reduction in risk from materials and improvements to the basic strength of the passenger compartment have had similar effects.  However, if you are in an accident you still need urgent help.

We must wait the response to the consultation.