March report to Mid Samford parishes

Sue Carpendale and Kathy Pollard, Babergh District Councillors

In this report

  • Developing information from the 2014 Suffolk Housing Survey
  • A new Planning Enforcement Plan
  • Change to parking space guidance on new developments
  • Work inspiration for schools

Developing information from the 2014 Suffolk Housing Survey
Good quality housing has an important role in improving the health and wellbeing of individuals and communities. Housing is a big national agenda, and Suffolk shares in this. To understand current and future needs the Suffolk Housing Survey was carried out with other local authorities and Public Health. The responses from our residents have provided evidence about people’s expectations and aspirations. The data collected will now be used to develop Babergh’s priorities. These include:

  • The building of new council housing
  • A review of existing sheltered housing,
  • The delivery of strategic development sites in the district (Sudbury, Hadleigh and Ipswich fringe)
  • How we deal with empty homes,
  • The Health and Wellbeing Strategy, and
  • An overall strategy for investment and development.

The information gathered will help to identify the areas of highest need across the district, but this may also require additional Local Needs Surveys. This work is currently carried out by Community Action Suffolk (and usually commissioned by parish councils.) Some of our sheltered schemes are out of date and in low demand. Older people want a choice about the type of housing and where they want to live. Newly formed households – for example young couples and people who are divorced and separated – are increasing. Many are looking to the private rented sector to meet their needs.

A new Planning Enforcement Plan
A new planning enforcement plan is being developed which will cover both Babergh and Mid Suffolk. The aim of the planning enforcement function is to discourage unauthorised development, and where planning breaches occur, to take proportionate action to remedy any harm to amenity or to the built or natural environment. This plan sets out what people should expect from the council and how it will prioritise and undertake investigations. This can be a vexatious issue for people, frustrated on the one hand by what can seem like petty rules, but on the other by an apparent lack of urgency or clout in the face of evident breaches of permissions and conditions.

Compliance with planning law is regarded as a top priority. However – many breaches, though unlawful, do not constitute a criminal offence unless there is non-compliance with an enforcement notice. Officers must use their discretion about whether enforcement action is reasonable and expedient. The key issue is whether there is an adverse impact on public amenity, or on the existing use of land or buildings, or it is contrary to the National Planning Policy Framework or the Development Plan.

Some types of development are “permitted development” and don’t need planning permission. “Express permission” is granted following an application to the council. Planning legislation specifically allows for retrospective applications, which then get treated in the same manner as a prospective one; more often than not, unauthorised developments are regularised that way, especially where it is likely that permission would be granted. A breach of control becomes immune from enforcement if no action has been taken within certain time limits – four years or ten years, depending on the nature of the breach.

 

Change to parking space guidance on new developments
In the recent past planning policy has restricted the level of parking provision, particularly in new residential developments. The aim was to promote less reliance on cars and a move to more sustainable and healthy methods of travel, particularly for shorter journeys.

This approach has had some success in city centres across England where public transport provision is good, the distance to important community services is short and plenty of local shopping is available. However, in rural communities where mobility is more reliant on access to a car, many residential developments have suffered from limited parking space.

Since 2010 government has placed a new emphasis on local decisions and a move in policy attitude towards adequate parking provision – which means that local councils can now take decisions better suited to local circumstances.

Work inspiration for schools
Currently there is a focus in the media on young people’s skills, together with commentary about how our schools don’t always provide them with an awareness of work. Like everywhere in the public sector, schools are under pressure, tight on resource but driven to deliver their statutory programme. It is understandable then that when it comes to work related learning, with little support behind it, schools can’t always do as much of this as they may want to. In the same way that professionals and managers are not teachers, teachers are not trained accountants, chefs, planners, engineers, community officers, and the rest. So, it’s not always easy for them to talk about other roles and working environments. With that in mind, the Work Inspiration Brokerage has been set up as a great mechanism for linking with young people at school.

Several colleagues from Babergh and Mid Suffolk have joined this initiative, going into both high schools and primary schools to take part in a range of events. This has included CV workshops, Dragon’s Den style panels and project planning and maths in the work place. These are all designed to underpin the employability skills that are so essential to adult life but not necessarily highlighted by the school curriculum.

Babergh has also co-operated with other councils across Suffolk to set up the MyGo centre in Ipswich. The aim is to give advice and support to 16 to 24 year olds. It is the first of its kind in the UK and has been extremely successful so far, even though it has only been open a few months. The service is also available online: http://www.its-mygo.co.uk/

sue.carpendale@babergh.gov.uk kathy.pollard@babergh.gov.uk

Update on A12 resurfacing J31-33

I have received this update today from Anna Graham of the Highways Agency about progress of the resurfacing works on the A12 and installation of permanent speed cameras between the Essex border and East Bergholt B1070 junction.

I am writing to provide an update on our progress and make you aware of what is happening in the near future.
As you may be aware, poor weather and low temperatures have slowed progress on both the A12 J11 to 12near Brentwood and J33 Copdock to 31 East Bergholt schemes. In addition to this, in spite of our survey work prior to commencing construction work, the milled surface layer was in a lesser state of repair than expected. This was particularly so on the section near Brentwood where we have now replaced this lower layer to ensure the new material is laid on a sound surface. At J33-31 we only needed to repair smaller sections of this lower layer as it was in a better condition than J11-12.
We are now progressing well at J33-31 we have been concentrating on the planned areas of deeper treatment which may currently look like short sections of resurfacing, however, these have been deep repairs, once these have been completed we will be continuing milling out this section and laying  long lengths of surfacing.
As well as the resurfacing work we have been renewing drainage channels, safety fence terminals and installing sign bases. You may also notice that the Permanent Average Speed Cameras are also beginning to be installed, this is a safety scheme which will share part of our traffic management to minimise disruption to road users. There will be separate overnight lane closures (traffic remaining on the A12) for those permanent average speed cameras located further south of the maintenance works. If you have any questions about the Permanent Average Speed Camera works, please contact Martin Oliver, Project Sponsor on Martin.Oliver@highways.gsi.gov.uk.
At J33-31 we are aiming to complete the current phase of work by Monday 9th March where we will switch the overnight contraflow onto the northbound carriageway near the Copdock roundabout and build the buffer zone (the cylindrical cones) on the southbound carriageway. In addition to the traffic management being moved, cabling for one set of cameras will be laid underneath the carriageway. It will be necessary to close the A12 overnight for four nights; two nights in each direction.
The overnight closures are expected to take place from 9th March. We would like to close the carriageway from 9pm until 5am. I appreciate that we proposed to close the carriageway between 10pm and 6am, however, traffic flows begin to increase and therefore, we would consider it better to remove the traffic management earlier. Traffic flows are quieter at 9pm and therefore, less likely to be disruptive for road users and residents.
There will be a clearly signed diversion route in place for the total Closure of A12 northbound carriageway from four Sisters interchange (J31) traffic will be diverted onto the B1070 to the A137 which brings traffic out onto J56 of the A14. HGVs will go via A133, A137 and A14. Vice versa for the southbound carriageway

“On all side roads Gatemen will be present to assist with members of the public who wish to access residences and business’ which may be affected by the road closures.
Following the four nights of closures overnight contraflow will be in operation to enable the resurfacing work of the northbound carriageway to begin. Overnight northbound traffic between J32b and J33 will be guided onto the southbound carriageway which will operate like a single carriageway road. Northbound traffic will be unable to exit local roads; they will be diverted to J33 to bring them southbound on the A12 where they can exit at the appropriate slip. The current speed restrictions will remain in place.
We are conscious that we need to make up time on the programme and therefore, we are looking to start the contraflow from 9pm to 6am Mondays to Thursdays, subject to traffic flows to provide a longer working window. Additionally, we will be working Fridays and Saturdays between 9pm and 8am, subject to traffic flows. I apologise for any inconvenience that this may cause, however, by increasing the working window we hope to reduce the overall time we are working on the road. We are currently programmed to finish all work between J33-31 in May.
At J11-12 near Brentwood, there will be a northbound carriageway closure starting Monday 2nd March for up to two weeks a clearly signed diversion route will be in place. The diversion route will be from J11, Brook St, via the A1023 and back on to the A12 at J12, Mountnessing.  This will enable core samples and central reserve barrier work to be undertaken while allowing for the resurfacing to continue on the northern section of the scheme.
We expect to finish the current phase of work by 14th March when the overnight contraflow will be switched to the northern section of the southbound carriageway. This will require 2 nights of carriageway closure on 14th and 15th March, one night in each direction and will utilise the same diversion route as described above. The closure will be from 9pm and 6am subject to traffic flows.
From the 16th March we will be working to resurface the northern section of the southbound carriageway with contraflow in operation Monday to Saturday between 9pm and 6am, subject to traffic flows.
We are currently programmed to finish all the works between J11-12 at the end of April.
I hope the above is helpful and if I can be of further assistance please contact me

Yours Sincerely

Anna

Anna Graham, Project Sponsor
Highways Agency | Woodlands | Manton Lane | Bedford | MK41 7LW”

February report to Mid Samford parishes: Capel, Stratford, Holton and the Wenhams

From Councillors Sue Carpendale and Kathy Pollard

In this edition

  • Village Hall roof fund gets a boost
  • Capel Post Office move to Co-op store
  • Babergh plans for no council tax increase
  • New consultation on future plans for housing and business sites in Babergh
  • Scrutinising health issues including winter stresses on local hospitals
  • Message from the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) re speeding in towns and villages

Village Hall roof fund gets a boost
We are very pleased that Babergh District Council has been able to give a grant of £19,000 towards the replacement roof for Capel Village Hall.

Capel Post Office move to Co-op store
The Post Office has now confirmed the transfer of Capel Post Office branch to the Co-op supermarket in the village. They seem to have addressed people’s concerns about security and queuing. The move is likely to take place in the June.

Babergh plans for no council tax increase
Decreasing Government grants are challenging local councils who either have to innovate and reduce costs or cut services. Over the past year the council has started installing solar panels on council houses. This will give a guaranteed income as well as providing free electricity to tenants. There may also be an opportunity to extend this scheme to private homes in the future. We’d be interested to hear your views on this.
Council house rents are going up slightly. The budget for council house repairs and new council properties is “ring fenced”. This means that, for example, rental income can’t be used to subsidise other council services. The planned rent increases will be used to build new council homes as well as to maintain existing properties.

New consultation on future plans for housing and business sites in Babergh
Babergh and Mid Suffolk councils are consulting on a joint Local Plan for the two Districts. This is a chance for residents and businesses in both council areas to have their say on future planning. The recently adopted planning blueprint for Babergh has identified that 300 new homes should be built each year to fulfil demand across the District council’s area. Most of that development is scheduled to take place in the more urban areas – on the fringes of Ipswich and in Hadleigh and Sudbury, with larger villages also taking some development.
In Babergh there is an opportunity for people to comment on a range of issues including:
•    The redundant Brett Works site in Hadleigh, which has been the subject of a number of unsuccessful planning applications for a supermarket. Ideas for the future of the site are now being sought.
•    Unallocated land to the East of Sudbury, which is not currently part of the Chilton development plans
•    New policies on renewable energy sources like solar farms and on-shore wind turbines
•    Whether hamlets and small villages which are currently not permitted to have new dwellings should be allowed some small scale development where there is identified housing need.
The consultation is open until March 31st and is available at www.babergh.gov.uk/jointlocalplan

Scrutinising health issues
One of the tasks of local councils is to scrutinise health provision across Suffolk via the “Health Scrutiny Committee”.  Here are a few of the issues discussed at a recent meeting.

•    Hospitals under stress
Last summer plans were developed by health and social care providers in the County in order to cope with the pressure that arises in the winter due to increased levels of illness.
This year large numbers of older people are being admitted to hospital with chest infections, including pneumonia. Because of the age of the patients they frequently have other conditions as well. There can then be delays in discharging patients from hospital for a number of reasons. Over the years the number of beds in community hospitals has decreased with rooms instead being allocated in care homes for convalescence before patients return home. However these beds are not always available. In addition it is not always easy to reinstate home visits from carers after people come out of hospital. All this leads to extra time spent in acute hospitals like Ipswich and West Suffolk.
One of the problems this year is that the level of demand has led to a shortage of available convalescent beds in West Suffolk, in particular. With increasing numbers of older people should we be building more dedicated convalescent homes?

•    Community Health contract out to tender
Services such as District nursing and Occupational Therapy are currently being run by Serco. They are not intending to bid for the new contract. There are bids from East and West Suffolk hospital Trusts and a rival bid from Norfolk and Suffolk Mental Health Trust.

•    Care Quality Commission inspection of homes run by Care UK in Suffolk
In December 2012 Care UK took over the running of Suffolk County Council’s 16 care homes and 8 community wellbeing centres. They were required to replace these with 10 new care homes and 10 new community wellbeing centres.
Mildenhall Lodge opened in June last year. Just a few weeks later the council suspended new admission. The Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspected the home and declared that it was not complying with the required standards. This has meant that no new residents can be admitted. In July 2014 Asterbury Place opened on the Chantry estate in Ipswich. This replaced Angel Court in Hadleigh and the Hawthorn Drive care home. The council suspended new admissions to this home in October last year. The Scrutiny committee was told by Care UK that they were addressing the issues raised by the CQC and we await the outcome of subsequent inspections.
The committee was also told that only a third of the recommended number of staff had been employed by Suffolk County council to oversee the performance of the Care UK contract.

•    Role of Healthwatch Suffolk
Healthwatch Suffolk is a watchdog organisation which seeks to find out the views of Suffolk people about local health providers. This includes GP services. Their recent survey found that people wanted quicker access to GP appointments.  Their website is here:
If you would like to comment on local health services please contact them.

Message from the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) re speeding in towns and villages
Speeding remains a significant concern for local residents, evidence by a return of over 2000 responses to a recent survey. As a result there have been changes in speed enforcement procedures by the Police. Suffolk’s PCC Tim Passmore has asked us to publicise his wish that members of the public wanting to report speeding concerns should do so in the first instance to their local Safer Neighbourhood Team (SNT), but they can also contact the PCC via his office and their concerns will be forwarded to the Constabulary. The SNT are already the point of contact for the Community Speed Watch which is an important initiative in relation to casualty reduction in areas that would not initially warrant police enforcement due to lack of Killed or Serious Incident (KSI) data.

Email: sue.carpendale@babergh.gov.uk    kathy.pollard@babergh.gov.uk

Published and promoted by E Da Costa on behalf of the Liberal Democrats all at 16 Two Acres, Capel St. Mary, Ipswich IP9 2XP

Babergh and Mid Suffolk launch consultation on plans for future housing and business

Babergh and Mid Suffolk councils are consulting on a joint Local Plan for the two Districts. This is a chance for residents and businesses in both council areas to have their say on future planning. The recently adopted planning blueprint for Babergh has identified that 300 new homes should be built each year to fulfil demand across the District council’s area. Most of that development is scheduled to take place in the more urban areas – on the fringes of Ipswich and in Hadleigh and Sudbury, with larger villages also taking some development.

In Babergh there is an opportunity for people to comment on a range of issues including:

  • The redundant Brett Works site in Hadleigh, which has been the subject of a number of unsuccessful planning applications for a supermarket. Ideas for the future of the site are now being sought.
  • Unallocated land to the East of Sudbury, which is not currently part of the Chilton development plans
  • New policies on renewable energy sources like solar farms and on-shore wind turbines
  • Whether hamlets and small villages which are currently not permitted to have new dwellings be allowed some small scale development where there is identified housing need.

A number of consultation events are taking place in as follows:

  • Monday 23rd February Sudbury Leisure Centre Foyer 4pm- 8pm
  • Tuesday 24th February Needham Market council offices, Dove Room 4pm-8pm
  • Wednesday 25th February Hadleigh Leisure Centre Foyer 4pm-8pm
  • Thursday 26th February The Mix Centre, Stowmarket 4pm-8pm

The documents can be viewed in full  at www.babergh.gov.uk/jointlocalplan

The consultation is open until March 31st 2015.

 

A12 roadworks update

  • Works are due to start today (Feb 2nd) on the installation of speed cameras on the A12 between the Suffolk/Essex border and East Bergholt junctions. These are not to be confused with the TEMPORARY – although permanent looking – speed cameras already in place to enforce the 40mph limit during the resurfacing works between East Bergholt and Copdock Mill roundabout. There are no current plans to permanently reduce the speed limit between Stratford St. Mary and East Bergholt.
  • Work on building the crossovers between the carriageways continues on the A12 between East Bergholt and Copdock Mill roundabout. Nightime closures are in operation between 9.30pm and 5.30am on the A12 Southbound carriageway from the Copdock Mill roundabout entrance. The sign says this started on 26th Jan and is for 19 nights.
  • Any queries should be directed to 0300 123 5000 or email: ha_info@highways.gsi.gov.uk

 

Baroness Scott urges government to let parish councils set their precept without interference

My thanks to Mark Valladares for bringing this recent House of Lords speech by Baroness Scott to my attention:

@BaronessRos responds to the consultation on the Local Government Finance Settlement 2015/16…

Mark writes: It gives me great pleasure to publish here Ros’s thoughts on local government finance and, more generally, on the Conservative Party’s view on localism and accountability…

I am writing in response to consultation on the Local Government Finance Settlement 2015/16 and the statement from the Local Government Minister Kris Hopkins MP on council tax and parishes.

The Minister has invited views on “whether the highest spending parishes should be subject to the same referendum principle as the rest of local government” and “whether town and parish councils whose failings have been highlighted in a Public Interest Report should be included”.

As a Liberal Democrat it is my strong belief that far too much power remains concentrated in Westminster; ours is one of the most centralised countries in the Western world and that has to change. Only by returning power to the communities, villages, towns, cities and regions of England can we drive growth, improve public services and give people the freedom to run their own lives.

To this end parish and town councils are an important part of our local democracy and I was heartened to see the Minister reiterate this in his statement. Much has been done by the Coalition Government over the course of this Parliament to empower communities and parishes and I want to see this continue.

However I simply do not believe any parish or town council, irrespective of size, location, budget or activity should be required to hold a referendum on increases to their precept.

This is unnecessary interference by Government and only serves to convey a lack of faith and trust in those people elected to serve on parish councils to improve their area and make locally accountable decisions. From my own experience parishes are closer to local issues than anyone, and work hard to engage with local people about how they can improve their area using the precept, communicating and justifying any (usually small and modest) increases accordingly. Indeed I remain supportive of removing the requirement to hold local referenda for council tax changes completely.

I also cannot support the notion of applying referenda principles to parishes with a Public Interest Report. I would much rather see a system whereby the parish sector takes the lead in helping parishes who have experienced difficulties, with action by Government as an absolute last resort. I would urge you to explore how this might be achieved with bodies such as the National Association of Local Councils, who I know are committed to high standards of governance and financial accountability and sector-led improvement.

I also wanted to comment on the situation regarding council tax support funding, which I know is causing real problems for parish councils up and down the country.

It simply cannot be acceptable that funding being provided by Government to parishes, via billing authorities, is not passed on to them. I would strongly urge the Minister to step up his efforts to resolve this issue as I know the number of councils not passing on funding to parishes is increasing.

This is likely to have an inevitable knock-on effect on local services and the parish precept, which I am sure the Minister does not want to see happen. I am also concerned about the overall impact such funding shortfalls will have on localism and community empowerment, especially at a time when Government and principal councils are encouraging more partnership working within local government, as well as devolution of services to the local level and parishes.

In conclusion I do not support the extension of referenda principles to parishes and urge more action to ensure council tax support funding is passed on to parishes.

Ros Scott Baroness Scott of Needham Market

Report to Mid Samford parishes January 2015

Sue Carpendale and Kathy Pollard, Babergh District Councillors

Happy New Year! Here is the report to Mid Samford parishes, comprising Capel St. Mary, Holton St. Mary, Stratford St. Mary and Little and Great Wenham.

In this issue:

  • Wind turbine proposal turned down at Wherstead
  • Tackling debt
  • Tackling waste
  • News on social housing
  • Network Rail public consultation

Wind turbine proposal turned down at Wherstead

Babergh’s planning committee unanimously refused permission for a 130m high wind turbine on land at Wherstead. This is a landmark decision for the council. Many people felt that the scale and environmental impact of this single wind turbine was not justified.

English Heritage objected saying “English Heritage considers that there would be harm to the significance of the churches at Wherstead, Belstead and Copdock and to Bentley Old Hall and Freston Tower.” In addition there were objections from the Dedham Vale Society, Suffolk Preservation Society, Suffolk Coast and Heaths, parish councils and many individuals. There were 644 letters or emails with representation, with 639 of those objecting to the proposals.

The Ministry of Defence said that the turbine would “cause unacceptable interference to the ATC (Air Traffic Control) radar at RAF Honington”.

The maximum power output from this turbine would be 2.5MW. Compare this with the Greater Gabbard offshore wind-farm near Lowestoft which has a maximum output of 504MW with a further extension planned, generating another 504MW. Offshore wind-farms do not seem to generate the same level of opposition as onshore turbines in high visibility locations, as in this case.

The applicant, Partnership for Renewables, is likely to appeal.

Tackling debt

At this time of year there are so many bills to pay. People on low incomes may be tempted to take out expensive loans for essential items like cookers and washing machines. It is shocking to see TV advertisements offering “payday loans” with interest rates of up to 1,000%.

Many people don’t realise that they can borrow money from the Credit Union in Suffolk at very reasonable rates. Recently renamed “Eastern Savings and Loans” they have opened premises in Ipswich at 58 Westgate Street. Their website gives details of their opening hours: http://www.eslcu.co.uk/. Last July we reported that a survey of council tenants in Babergh revealed that hundreds felt they need advice and information about dealing with household expenses, as well as ensuring that they are receiving the right amount of benefit.

Babergh and Mid Suffolk are sharing the costs of employing two people on fixed term contracts to help tackle some of these issues with people on low incomes. There will be pilot schemes in the Shotley Peninsula and Sudbury and Cornard. The scheme will then be available across the two Districts.

Tackling waste

As the song says Christmas may be “the most wonderful time of the year” but it is also the most wasteful. The cost of the food we throw away over the Christmas period is estimated at £64m – including 74 million mince pies (source Unilever).

Baroness Ros Scott, who lives in Suffolk, chairs an influential House of Lords EU Scrutiny Committee. The Committee recently published a report showing that the average household in the UK is throwing away the equivalent of 6 meals worth of food every week, at an approximate cost of £20. That’s more than a thousand pounds a year. Supermarkets are also throwing out food that does not meet the size or colour standards they have set. The organisation WRAP has more information on how we can all reduce food waste.

News on social housing

Following a bid submitted to the Government’s Additional Housing Revenue Account (HRA) Borrowing Programme, Babergh and Mid Suffolk councils have been granted approval to borrow a further £5.5m, above our Housing Revenue Account borrowing limits. They are among just 21 councils nationwide to have been successful in gaining this extra borrowing power. For us this means that by the end of 2017 Mid Suffolk and Babergh councils will be able to build 60, much needed, homes for rent. The councils have been working closely with Suffolk County Council to use sites they own and need to develop. There will be more detailed plans in the New Year including the locations, proposed plans and timescales.

Network Rail public consultation

Rail users may want to add their views to the current consultation taking place about the Anglia rail routes. This can be found here.  We understand there are proposals that might particularly affect users of the Peterborough/Ely services.

Contact: Sue Carpendale sue.carpendale@babergh.gov.uk

Kathy Pollard kathy.pollard@babergh.gov.uk

A12 Roadworks update

Here is an update from Anna Graham of the Highways Agency (more details also in the December parish report:

A12 J31 – J33 improvement works

I am writing to inform you that we will be carrying out works to improve the road network on the A12 between junction 31 (Four Sisters Interchange) and junction 33 (Copdock Interchange). The works are part of essential maintenance to ensure that the A12 remains in a safe and serviceable condition.

There are a number of phases to the works:

•    Phase 1 – Work to build cross over locations to enable the use of contraflow is expected to begin, subject to weather conditions, overnight on 8 December for two weeks, finishing on 19 December. The work will be carried out by closing one lane in each direction with a reduced speed limit from 10pm to 6 am. The works may create delays in getting to and from your business for your staff and customers, for which we apologise.

•    Phase 2 – The main work to resurface the carriageway is anticipated to start in the New Year for approximately 8 weeks, subject to weather conditions. This work is to be carried out using overnight contraflow between the hours of 10pm and 6 am. A reduced speed limit will be in operation 24 hours a day for the safety of both road users and the workforce. During the day the A12 will operate at its current capacity.

•    Phase 3 – The installation of cross over gates and finishing works are due to take place following the completion of the contraflow phase. It may be necessary to close the carriageway overnight between 10pm and 6 am for up to two weeks in order to undertake the work. A clearly signed diversion route will be in place, including a dedicated HGV diversion route. More details will follow.

Drivers will be diverted to exit at junction 31 (Four Sisters Interchange) and then onto the B1070, A137 and A14 to re-join A12 at junction 33 (Copdock) and vice versa. Lorries will be advised to follow A133, A137 and A14.

I will write to you again in the New Year with a further update regarding the next stage of the works.

We will do our utmost to complete the works as quickly as possible, avoiding disturbance and keeping noise to a minimum. Once complete, the work will reduce the need for future maintenance at this location. If you have any enquiries please contact the Highways Agency Information Line (HAIL) on 0300 123 5000, or by email to: ha_info@highways.gsi.gov.uk.

Yours faithfully,

Anna Graham
Highways Agency

December report to Mid Samford parishes

Monthly report for December 2014 from District Councillors Sue Carpendale and Kathy Pollard

In this report:

  • Local housing development
  • Food Standards Agency Audit
  • Food businesses and allergen information
  • Resurfacing works on the A12

Local housing development

We have been aware for some time that larger villages like Capel St. Mary may be approached by developers to build housing on Greenfield sites around the perimeter of the village. We have previously reported that under Babergh’s new local development plan we may expect an additional 100 houses over the next 20 years. However that number is not a maximum. We provide an attractive location, being reasonably close to railway stations and larger shopping centres, with “good” road links. We also have a wide range of facilities already available in the village – shops, school, library, GP and dental surgeries, etc.

We cannot stop planning applications being lodged, but we can try to ensure that you are fully involved and informed about the detail of any development. We will always work with the parish council to ensure this happens. Babergh District council is currently encouraging developers to come forward with suggestions for development. We and the parish council have already been approached by an “intermediary” seeking out our views on suitable sites in Capel. We ensured that a planning officer was present from Babergh council to advise us and made the “intermediary” aware that we were unable to recommend any site to them.

Food Standards Agency Audit

The Food Standards Agency has recently carried out an audit of the work of the food standards team at Babergh and Mid Suffolk councils. The team carry out important work ensuring that all catering and retail food premises meet the required food hygiene standards.

There are more than 2,000 catering and retail food businesses in Babergh and Mid Suffolk. This includes a high number of home businesses. In addition there are a number of national and international food manufacturers including a sushi manufacturer as well as regular farmers markets.

The audit report states:

“It was clear from inspection records that officers were knowledgeable and experienced in identifying food safety hazards in businesses. Inspections were consistently focused on potential risks and the Authority was able to demonstrate a well-established emphasis on achieving business compliance, supporting and assisting local food businesses to meet legal standards.”

The issues highlighted for improvement by the audit team were fairly minor. They included improvements to the recording of decisions on the follow up actions the councils require from businesses after an inspection and the documentation of procedures.

The full report is available here

Food businesses and allergen information

Currently when supermarket bakeries, delis, cafes and restaurants sell loose foods they don’t have to provide information to customers about food allergens, but from 13 December 2014 all food businesses will need to verbally explain or signpost allergenic information for the food they sell or provide. Food allergies can cause life-threatening reactions and the numbers of people with this condition are growing. A reaction can occur within minutes following the consumption of food and symptoms can include itching, pain, diarrhoea and even, in severe cases, anaphylaxis.

The primary cause of food allergy deaths in the UK is due to allergic reactions when food is consumed outside the home where allergenic ingredients have not been declared. The new rules will mean that all food businesses will need to inform customers if any of 14 allergenic ingredients are present in the food they make or service. This can be communicated to customers in writing on menus, verbally through explanations by staff or signposted to where or how more information can be found. Although the new EU rules are coming into force in December 2014, they were published in October 2011, to give food businesses three years to get ready for the new provisions.

Resurfacing works on the A12

We attended a briefing meeting by the Highways Agency on December 1st, which aimed to inform parishes and local councillors about the resurfacing works due to be carried out in the New Year.

Here are the main points:

  • The resurfacing works will be between the B1070 (junction 31) and Copdock Mill (junction 33). It is a £5m scheme and will be carried out in January and February – weather permitting. All work will be carried out between 10pm and 6am. The slip roads will also be resurfaced. During the roadworks a contact number will be displayed should there be any accidents or other problems along the route.
  • There will be 2 weeks preparatory work to install cross over points. This work will start on December 8th. No work will be carried out between 23rd December and January 2nd.
  • There will be contraflow overnight with a 40mph limit, enforced by average speed cameras. The speed limit will be in force 24 hours a day while the resurfacing is carried out. CCTV will also be used to spot any problems and there will be free breakdown recovery.
  • During the day traffic will flow as normal on both carriageways but with speed restrictions and an overtaking ban.
  • Whilst the resurfacing is being carried out the contractors will also take the opportunity to renew road signs, drainage and safety barriers and to carry out maintenance on lighting, tree management and gully clearing.
  • The existing top layer of tarmac will be partially removed with a fine milling machine and traffic will run on this temporary surface. We were assured that the grip is good and that it will be safe for motorbikes. The new surface will then be laid on top. This method has been used successfully on the A421 in Bedfordshire and we were told it will save hundreds of thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money.
  • Following completion of the road resurfacing there will be a further two weeks night-time work to install permanent “crossing gates”. This is so the contraflow can be set up more easily in the future e.g. for resurfacing or if there is an accident or any other maintenance requiring carriage closure.
  • Diversion routes may be required overnight when the crossing gates are being installed. HGVs will be diverted either from Colchester or East Bergholt along the A137 to the A14 Wherstead interchange. Light traffic will be diverted along the old A12 at Copdock. Sat navs should be able to pick up the diversions.
  • They are hoping that the promised average speed cameras between East Bergholt and the Essex border will be installed at the same time.

sue.carpendale@babergh.gov.uk 

kathy.pollard@babergh.gov.uk

Capel Post Office move – consultation deadline 4th December

A quick reminder that the deadline is fast approaching for your comments on the transfer of Capel St. Mary Post Office to the Coop supermarket. All comments must be received by 4th December.

  • More details in the attached pdf document PO flyer
  • There is also a letter available at Capel Post Office with proposed opening times, etc.
  • You can comment online at postofficeviews.co.uk entering the code 06313099 for the Capel PO branch
  • email: comments@postoffice.co.uk
  • FREEPOST Your comments (yes that is the whole address!)