September report to Mid Samford parishes

Posting this rather late, due to holidays: this month’s post from Councillor Sue Carpendale and myself.

The “open” Electoral Register

We have previously mentioned the change to the way in which we all now register to vote: for many years the “head of the household” was responsible for listing everyone in the house over the age of 18. That has changed and now it is up to each of us as individuals to ensure that we are registered.

As part of this change a letter was sent out from Babergh to all registered voters which perhaps contained some rather confusing information. Many people had previously indicated that they did not wish their names to be visible on the public version of the electoral register – this is one that can be sold for commercial purposes. The letter sent by Babergh should have reassured people that their previous preference would be carried out under the new arrangements, but it didn’t. So if you have previously asked for your name to be removed, that request still stands and you need take no further action. If you do want to have your name removed from the “open” version, tell Babergh by phone – 01473-825713 or by email – [email protected]

Don’t forget that the General, District and Parish council elections will take place on Thursday May 7th 2015. If you are likely to be away on business, holiday or have difficulty getting to the polling station – or would simply prefer to vote by post, you can apply to Babergh for a permanent postal vote. You can apply online at: http://www.babergh.gov.uk/council-business/elections-and-voting/how-do-i-vote/ or contact Babergh by phone 01473 825713. If you are likely to be away on holiday when the postal votes are sent out you can alternatively apply for a proxy vote. This means that you nominate someone else to vote on your behalf – for example a friend or family member.

New planning applications

The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) is designed to make planning simpler and faster. It’s about sustainable development and positive growth – with economic, environmental and social roles. There are some key changes, including for example, that village “envelopes” or built-up area boundaries are no longer sacrosanct and there is a presumption in favour of development.

An outline application for up to 24 homes off London Road in Capel St Mary was before the Planning Committee on 3rd September, on land which is outside the boundary. We do need smaller homes in the village so that younger people can get onto the housing ladder and older people have options for downsizing. There could also be up to eight “affordable” homes (i.e. for social rent) in such a development. However, there are concerns about the location and access to this site, largely on account of the tricky junction with the A12 slip road. It is already difficult, as vehicles accessing the A12 expect to be able to accelerate to merge with fast moving traffic, but may find they are following someone slowing down to make a left turn – or indeed exiting London Road with limited visibility and limited time to manoeuvre. More homes would more than double the potential for accidents.

We therefore requested that safety measures and road improvements at this junction be in place before approval of the application. It will need to return to committee at a future date if the conditions cannot be met, and again at a later date if and when a full and detailed application is submitted.

Babergh’s Local Plan identifies Capel St Mary as a core village where there will be housing growth. There are no sites earmarked for this which means there could be any number of speculative applications. The community as a whole needs to be involved in influencing how this develops.

Greater Ipswich City Deal

Babergh is within the area covered by this major initiative. The project will drive forward economic growth in this region where we have major development potential in key industrial sectors including energy, ICT, financial services, advanced manufacturing, logistics, biotechnology and agri-tech. Other important sectors include tourism and agriculture. A key component of the Deal is the development of a local skills system that is responsive to the needs of employers and supports economic growth. To complement this, a business growth service will be established to provide enhanced support for innovation, improved access to finance and more targeted business support.

Over its lifetime, it is predicted the Deal will deliver: over 3,500 young people supported into work, including 2,200 into sustained work; £10 million new local investment in skills; 5,000 new Apprenticeships; 3,000 new high value jobs; 400 new businesses and £100m private sector investment. The EADT has recently featured the apprenticeship scheme. The key element of this Deal is the Youth Guarantee. The Ipswich area has had worse than national average youth unemployment for many years – it is a deep-rooted problem. Therefore there will be significant investment in helping all young people into work, training, further education or career-shift with more support for careers advice, information and guidance.

Open and transparent council meetings?

Babergh is about to adopt a new protocol, prompted by the Dept of Communities and Local Government, for members of the public who wish to record, film or take photographs at council meetings. You don’t have to tell the council in advance but it would be helpful, and any activity must not interfere with business or misrepresent proceedings.

Campaigning for A12 improvements in South Suffolk

From Sue Carpendale and Kathy Pollard, District Councillors

There are constant reports in the press of delays due to accidents on the A12. Apart from the human misery this causes, there is a knock on effect to the economy. The A12 is, of course, part of the strategic route to the East Coast ports. We have been involved with campaigns to improve safety on the A12 for more than 30 years. Three years ago we compiled a report with the help of Bill Davies, Chair of Stratford St. Mary parish council, and Lorraine Clark, a local resident. This highlighted the high numbers of accidents between the Essex border and Copdock Mill interchange and made suggestions for improvements, including average speed cameras.

With the upturn in the national economy, traffic has begun to increase again. Tailbacks at Copdock Mill roundabout are becoming more frequent and the likelihood of accidents along the A12 is rising. We felt it was time to set up another meeting with the Highways Agency to seek further action. This meeting took place at the Stratford Institutute on July 30th. We had invited every parish council along the route to send a representative and most attended. District and County Councillors were also invited.

Funding of road improvements has been reduced in the last few years, due to austerity measures, but there is better news for the next 5 year period with big increases in the roads budget. The regional A12 route management strategy has ackowledged the same safety issues we raised in our earlier report in 2011, for example the dangerously short slip roads at Stratford St. Mary and East Bergholt and the winding nature of the A12 between those two villages. In addition there are clusters of accidents all along the A12 and “shunts” on the approach to the Copdock Mill roundabout. Virtually the whole road is substandard from the Essex border up to the Copdock Mill junction.

Issues discussed at the meeting with the Highways Agency on July 30th included:

  1. Capel underpass flooding
    The Highways Agency representatives admitted that there had been a reporting problem when the Capel underpass flooded. It is their responsibility and repair works have now been carried out to the pumps. There was also no information about the underpass closure on the overhead gantry signs and no diversion signs had been set up. We also asked about maintenance as the paintwork is looking very shabby and rust is showing through.
  2. Average speed cameras between the Essex border and East Bergholt
    The installation of these has been delayed until January 2015. The Highways Agency are anticipating the saving of three personal injury accidents each year following installation. The speed limit will remain at 70mph. Speed measurements along this stretch showed that 15% of motorists were travelling above 74mph.
  3. Resurfacing work
    A major programme of resurfacing will be carried out next year between Copdock Mill interchange and the B1070 (East Bergholt) junction. There will be an opportunity to improve drainage, barriers and signage at the same time. Work will be carried out at night.
  4. Noise from the A12
    The Highways Agency was asked what was being done to reduce noise from the A12 as it has become an increasing problem over the years. The response was that nothing specific is being planned at present, but that the new surface should be a little quieter.
  5. Copdock Interchange improvements
    As well as the increase in queuing traffic, there were also complaints about poor and confusing lane marking on the roundabout. Lane swapping is also an issue. Suffolk County Council are currently putting together some options for improvements.
  6. Other safety issues
    The short slip road at the entrance and exit from the garage on the Southbound carriageway at Capel St. Mary was mentioned as an accident risk.
  7. Closure of Hughes Corner right turn to Higham/Stoke by Nayland
    Although accidents have reduced on the A12 near this junction, closure of the Hughes Corner right turn has had a major impact on traffic through Higham and Stratford St. Mary.
  8. Setting up of an A12 Forum
    The Highways Agency representatives suggest that we set up a forum to lobby for improvements and that a further meeting should take place in September/October. With this in mind we will explore further dates with them and invite parish, district and county representatives.

[email protected]  [email protected]

Get online with free training sessions on August 11th at Suffolk One

A group of summer Interns from Mid Suffolk and Babergh District Councils are holding free workshops to help people who have trouble using computer technology.
The Beginners’ Internet and Technology Skills workshops, each lasting two hours, will be held at Suffolk One Sixth Form College on August 11th from 10am and 1pm. Student volunteers from the sixth form college will also be joining the interns to help on the day.
The idea for these workshops came from Babergh and Mid Suffolk’s four summer interns, who are spending 13 weeks with the councils to gain experience of what it is like working in a district council. Their internship comes under Suffolk County Council’s Raising The Bar initiative, which aims to raise educational attainment levels within Suffolk.
Robert Carmichael, Management Support Intern at Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils, said: “We came up with the community project of a computer and internet workshop for beginners from our work within both councils. We had become aware that there is a skills gap between those that can use the internet and those that can’t. After seeing this we wanted to do something to help so we created this workshop.
“With the world becoming ever more digitalised this session will help those people who are keen to learn but are currently struggling to get online for one reason or another. We can take up to 30 people at each workshop and it would be fantastic if we can fill these places and help even more people enjoy the benefits the internet can bring.”
The free workshops are open to anyone and will include:
•    Setting up email an address
•    Skype- video and instant messaging
•    Internet Searches- understanding what to look for and how to look for it.
•    And any other general queries that attendees wish to discuss about technology that they have encountered or own.
Babergh and Mid Suffolk are committed to helping to provide stronger communities and part of their strategic priorities are based around enabling people to develop skills and assets which help themselves and their communities.
If you, or someone you know, would like to attend either of the sessions, which are being held at 10am and 1pm on August 11th, or have any questions, then please contact Annabel Larter, Environmental Health Intern, on: 01449 724709, email [email protected] or Emma Seymour, Communities Intern, on 01449 724926.

Severe weather warning from UK Power networks Friday 18th July

Here is a message that councillors have just received today (18th July 2014) regarding possible disruption to electricity supplies from thunderstorms:

Today is a normal day across the networks with no widespread power cuts due to the weather. However, UK Power Networks has been notified of a severe weather warning from the Met Office with heavy rain, thunderstorms and lightning forecast to hit the East of England, South East of England and the London area this Friday night and over Saturday 19th July.

Our paramount focus will be on restoring electricity to customers as quickly and safely as possible and we are currently putting in place a range of measures to be better prepared to respond to any potential impact on our networks and customers.

Measures

We are preparing to deal with the storm’s potential impact on our network and customers.

Below are some of the measures we are taking:

•    We are arranging additional staff to cover call centre roles. Additional people have been allocated to take and make phone calls and provisions are in place for even more engineers and resources to be available on short notice in case of need.
•    We invest in a partnership arrangement with the British Red Cross and can activate their volunteers to support vulnerable customers if power is affected.
•    The emergency teams in the local authorities have access to the web link that enables them to see fault levels.

Our electricity network is built to be resilient but extreme weather can affect overhead power lines when tree branches and windborne debris damage them. In the event of a power cuts as result of the localised gusts, lightning and heavy rain, UK Power Network’s priority will be to restore supplies as quickly as is safely possible and keep people informed as best we can during a constantly changing situation. We will work from job to job targeting big jobs first where many customers are affected.

In communication with customers, we urge the public to stay well clear from power lines and anyone spotting a damaged power line needs to report it to UK Power Networks.

To report any power cuts and damaged lines on free helplines, please refer customers to the following numbers: In the South East call 0800 783 8866, in the East of England call 0800 783 8838 and in London call 0800 028 0247. You can also see www.ukpowernetworks.co.uk and follow the company on twitter for updates @ukpowernetworks .

Preparing for a power cut

Below is some advice on how our customers can prepare for a power cut:
•    Keep our freephone number handy
•    See the website for some useful videos offering you advice during a power cut.
•    Keep spare batteries for radios and torches – local radio stations often broadcast helpful information
•    Keep an old-fashioned corded phone which you can plug in, as cordless phones won’t work in the event of a power cut
•    Take care if using candles, tea-lights and other naked flames
•    Keep fridges and freezers closed, with a blanket over as they will stay cold for many hours
•    Switch off all your electrical equipment, except one light which will let you know when the power comes back on
•    Remember the street lights may also be off so take care if you go out
•    Exercise caution in localised flooded areas -specific advice is available on the Environment Agency website.
•    Look out for elderly neighbours and other vulnerable people

Flooded underpass at A12 Capel St. Mary

The A12 road underpass at Capel St. Mary was flooded for much of the weekend. The Highways Agency have been informed. Given that this is happening on a very regular basis we are calling for urgent action as the pump seems to be failing all too frequently.

Sunday 13th July at 8pm water is at least two feet deep on the right of the picture.

Sunday 13th July at 8pm water is at least two feet deep on the right of the picture.

 

July report to parishes for Mid Samford ward

 

Sue Carpendale and Kathy Pollard, Babergh District Councillors

In this edition:

  • Helping people who are less well off
  •  Application to build 24-houses on land behind London Road, Capel St. Mary (B/14/00100/OUT)
  •  A12 Safety
  •  Capel Community Trust meeting
  •  Changes to the way you register to vote
  • Campaign to reduce food waste

Helping people who are less well off

A recent survey of council tenants in Babergh revealed that hundreds felt they need advice and information about:

  • dealing with household expenses,
  • help with ensuring they receive the right amount of benefit, and
  • help in moving, swapping or downsizing their homes.

Many people on low incomes – including pensioners – are enticed into taking out expensive loans for essential items like cookers and washing machines. Less than one if five of those surveyed had heard of the Suffolk Credit Union, which offers low interest loans. They may also be paying well over the odds for their energy via prepayment meters. Welfare reforms have also had an impact and for some managing their everyday living expenses is not an easy task.

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.

Application to build 24-houses on land behind London Road, Capel St. Mary (B/14/00100/OUT)

We have received a number of enquiries about the progress of this planning application, but as we write it has still not been scheduled into the planning committee cycle. We have asked for a site inspection so that planning committee members can see the site for themselves before a decision is made.

Capel St. Mary Parish Council discussed this back in March and recommended refusal.

We are aware of a number of concerns about the plans including density, access, ecology and other environmental issues.

The plans are outline (ie in principle) only at this stage. The site is on land to the West of Pine Dell and Ashcroft, London Road. It is an area of open ground behind the houses on London Road and is bounded by hedges and a few mature trees on two sides. A public footpath runs along the perimeter on the third side between London Road and Butchers Lane. The application can be viewed on the Babergh website here

A12 Safety

High numbers of accidents on the A12 between Copdock Mill roundabout and the Essex border continue to cause disruption, delay and human misery for any who use this road on a regular basis. We have organised a meeting with the Highways Agency on July 30th at which we can discuss some of the causes of these accidents and possible remedies. Parish council and District and County representatives have been invited.

 Capel Community Trust meeting

We attended the open meeting held by the Community Trust on June 30th in the Vine Lounge. There was a good attendance from village clubs and organizations as well as individuals. Trust members clearly have a mammoth task in managing the Village Hall complex and Playing Field.

The most pressing challenge is the replacement of the village hall roof at an estimated cost of £100k. We were impressed by the openness of Trust members to new ideas. They want to tap into the many and varied talents – and goodwill – of village residents. I’m sure we all want to see fit for purpose facilities in our village and if you can offer help in any way they would be pleased to hear from you. They are setting up a number of sub-groups: fundraising, property, finance and special purposes, events, community and village liaison and business strategy development. Details of meetings appear in Capel Capers and there is an open forum for members of the public.

HGVs in Holton St. Mary

We have been dealing with complaints from Holton residents about HGVs travelling through the village to Notley Enterprise Park at some speed early in the morning. This is being investigated by Babergh’s enforcement officers and some improvements have been noticed but we will continue to keep up the pressure.

Changes to the way you register to vote

At present there is one registration form which has to be filled in for each eligible adult in a household. New applications will include the need to provide a National Insurance number. You may not need to take any action if you are already registered to vote at your current address, although Babergh may write to you to ask you for additional information. More details are available here

Campaign to reduce food waste

The Suffolk Waste partnership has recently launched this campaign. On average every household throws away 20% of the food we buy at a cost of £700 per year. More details: http://www.suffolkrecycling.org.uk

June report to Mid Samford parishes

Posting this a little later than usual – after my return from holiday. In this edition:

  • Suffolk Growth Hub
  • The Tip-off
  • Careers help for young people
  • Council’s strategic plan
  • New build programme

Suffolk Growth Hub
Babergh has been working with the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (NALEP) to develop the support available to businesses.  One key area of this work is the new Growth Hub, launched recently at the Suffolk Show, which will provide Norfolk and Suffolk businesses with a “no wrong door” route for accessing business support.  The Growth Hub team will provide a first point of contact for any business and give easier access to local and national programmes and initiatives, including a small grants fund, an innovation readiness programme, innovation vouchers and business start-up help.  There will be face-to-face support, advice and workshops, access to funding, business mentoring and help for social enterprise development.  Web resources are already available: http://www.businessgrowthhub.com/ and there’s a telephone support line: 0300 456 3565.

The Tip-off
The Suffolk Waste Partnership recently and successfully bid for national DEFRA pilot project funding to prevent fly-tipping.  The Suffolk Fly Tipping Action Group (STAG) were awarded £28K.  The project was aimed at anyone acting as a waste carrier, including the “man in a van”, with messages also aimed at householders who must take responsibility for disposal of waste from their premises.  It is an offence to “give waste away”.  All carriers must be licensed, though licenses are free to smaller businesses and tradespeople such as plumbers.  Many unlicensed workers operate on social media and word-of-mouth. The Council can and does take enforcement action.  Working with the police, 46 vehicles were stopped and searched.  Advice can be given at the roadside, but there were some notable prosecutions brought against offenders resulting in fines, costs and many hours of unpaid community work. More information at: http://www.greensuffolk.org/recycling/fly-tipping/

“Showcasing the local economy” – careers help for young people
The effectiveness of careers information, advice and guidance (IAG) for young people is a key component in raising aspirations and attainment across the whole age range of children.  There is a worrying disconnect between the needs of business, the aspirations of young people and educational provision.  Babergh will be committing to support the development and maintenance of an online careers platform, alongside the other local authorities in Suffolk. Considerable research and consultations have been carried out, including work by University Campus Suffolk, with young people, educators and over 130 employers, regarding the concept and technical specification of the platform.  This is an example of the partnership approach being adopted throughout the county, and is at the core of Raising the Bar and the Greater Ipswich City Deal.  The platform is being designed for ease of access in a variety of formats, free of charge from home or school, via internet and mobile devices.

Council’s Strategic Plan
The Council’s blueprint for the next few years sets out how we – and the communities Babergh serves – can shape the future, albeit in very uncertain times.  The aim is to set a shared sense of direction, reflecting both reducing resources in local government and our aspirations to be a flexible, quick-moving and responsive organisation to both residents and businesses.  The three main priorities identified some time ago remain as housing, the economy balanced with the environment, and communities that are strong, healthy and more self-reliant.  The document is available on Babergh’s website under the Strategy agenda for 12th June, P20.

New build programme
Babergh has the opportunity to bid for funds from the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) to enable new affordable homes to be built.  To do this the council must meet some conditions which include introducing new and higher rents to some new tenancies when stock becomes empty.  Known as “rent conversion”, this would mean a small percentage of new rents rising to 80% of the private rental market level.  Existing tenancies would not be affected.  The additional rent contributions, together with the HCA grant bid would enable new homes to be built, initially five in this first bidding round.  New homes will not only raise the council tax base but will also generate new homes bonus and help with economic growth.

Contact: [email protected], [email protected]

May report to Mid Samford parishes

May 2014 report to Mid Samford parishes from District Councillors Sue Carpendale and Kathy Pollard

In this report

  • Food Safety and Health and Safety plans for the Babergh area
  • Changes to the eligibility criteria for community projects paid for by developer (s106) contributions
  • New developments and the Community Infrastructure Levy
  • Transformation agenda and headquarters review

Food Safety and Health and Safety plans for the Babergh area

The council has just adopted the service plans for 2014/15 for food safety and health and safety in Babergh District. The food safety service includes inspections of food premises, sampling of food and private water supplies; investigating and controlling outbreaks of food poisoning/infectious diseases and the issue of export certificates. Food safety training is also carried out for food handlers on a cost-neutral basis. In 2013/14 there were more than 257 food advice requests, many of which related to small business start ups.

Health and Safety advice is mainly given on a reactive basis. Babergh has regulatory responsibility for more than 1500 business premises in the District. The council responds to events such as accidents, complaints or business enquiries as well as locally identified priorities like catering gas safety, legionella and laser treatments.

Changes to the eligibility criteria for community projects paid for by developer (s106) contributions

A number of parishes have complained about the tight restrictions resulting from Babergh’s policy on what are called section 106 developer contributions for recreational facilities. The criteria have now been relaxed to include replacement of existing play equipment, routine repairs and maintenance of public open space facilities and indoor play facilities e.g. badminton courts. It will also now allow repairs, maintenance or adaptation of village halls or community centres, where this relates to recreational activities. Upgrading access to these recreational facilities, for example by improving or installing footpaths, will not be restricted just to access required under the Disability Discrimination Act. It can therefore be widened to access for the general public.

There is currently more than £500,000 of section 106 contributions waiting to be spent in the Babergh area. This money is held by the District council and we hope that the relaxation in the criteria will enable at least a proportion of this to be spent on recreation projects in the various towns and villages.

New developments and the Community Infrastructure Levy

The new Community Infrastructure Levy comes into force in April 2015. It will sit alongside the Section 106 system, rather than replacing it. An initial consultation document has been produced by Babergh and Mid Suffolk councils which sets out the proposed charging regime for developers.  The council must strike a balance between the desire to fund infrastructure from the levy and endangering the economic viability of any development. A number of developments will be exempt, including those by charitable bodies. The levy will provide additional funding for the local authority to carry out a wide range of projects that support growth and benefit the local community. Local Town and Parish councils will receive 15% of the amount received by the District Council, unless they have a Neighbourhood Plan, in which case they will receive 25%.

A list of spending priorities must be published by the council. It is a complex area and more details will be discussed at the scheduled Parish and Town council liaison meetings. The current consultation period is 6 weeks and this will be followed by a further 12 week consultation in late Summer. The schedule will then be put before an Inspector at an Examination in Public.

Transformation agenda and headquarters review

The two councils are looking to consolidate their use of office accommodation, partly to facilitate more effective working of the single management team and also to make further necessary savings. A consultant has been appointed to carry out research and an options review to determine the most suitable accommodation, and then to produce a business plan once the two councils have considered their report. The cost of the consultancy is in the region of £24K. Cost efficiencies are important but it is also about enabling work processes and service delivery. Our position as your councillors is that public access for Babergh residents is also a priority and we believe many options should be considered including alternative uses for existing premises, income generation from the site, collaboration both with other public sector organisations and also local businesses and start-ups. We hope to have further information during the summer months.

More details on the Babergh website

Liberal Democrat achievements in Government

The British economy is improving and it’s also worth remembering all the achievements the Lib Dems have succeeded in making, in spite of being in coalition with the Tories. Click here for a full list but here are a few highlights:

  • Raising the tax threshold means that 25.4 million people will receive a tax cut of £800
  • 1.5m apprenticeships have been created since 2010 – that’s 78% more than in the same period under Labour
  • The pupil premium is giving an extra £1300 a year for each eligible primary school pupil and £935 for each eligible secondary school pupil
  • The state pension has once again been linked to earnings. Pensioners will receive on average £15,000 more over the course of their retirement
  • Richest pay a fairer share – someone earning £1m a year will pay £381,000 more during the 5 years of this Parliament than during the last 5 years of the Labour government.
Babergh bin collections over Easter

If you’re wondering when your bin will be collected over the Easter Bank Holiday the answer is a day later than usual. Here’s a link to the calendar

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