June report to Mid Samford parishes

REPORT TO PARISHES, Mid-Samford Ward: June 2013

Sue Carpendale and Kathy Pollard, Babergh District Councillors

Average speed cameras

Average speed cameras are to be installed along the stretch of A12 from Stratford St. Mary to the Four Sisters junction at East Bergholt. However the accident problem extends from the Essex border to Copdock Mill roundabout. We are lobbying the Highways Agency to extend the provision of average speed cameras all along the A12 in Suffolk.

Babergh Transformation Groups

The political leaders at Babergh (and also in Mid Suffolk) have agreed to set up six “Transformation Enquiry Groups”, comprising councillors, officers, stakeholders, outside experts, etc, in order to find better, different and efficient ways of achieving objectives and delivering key services.  The groups are: growth and economy – (Sue is a member of this group;) environment; housing; health, wellbeing and communities; public access – (i.e. “front office”, Kathy is the council’s lead member on this group;) and corporate organisation and resources (“back office” agenda.)  We hope to get these groups working by the end of June, when the appointments to the final officer tier are confirmed.  These officers will form the front line delivery teams of all services across the two councils.  The brief for these groups is to take a very radical look at the six overarching themes, to compare ourselves with best practice, wherever that might be, and to undertake significant research.  It will be a considerable challenge, but in the current economic climate we have to find new ways of matching needs with resources.  All of the consultations made in the last many months will be taken into account, but residents and businesses may well find us asking yet more questions later in the year.

 

The Sustainable Communities Act – what it means for local communities

The Sustainable Communities Act came into force in 2007. It allows local councils to request additional powers from national government to help protect and improve their local communities. These must be powers that they don’t already have. Some examples are given below:

  • That government gives councils the power to charge an additional rate on car parking spaces of out-of-town supermarkets and the right to retain the revenue collected in order to re-invest in projects to develop local businesses, local jobs and the economy
  • That government give councils the power to create a separate fund for the revenue raised from council tax on second homes to be used for reinvestment in local affordable housing needs.
  • That government give councils the power and resources to refurbish existing housing in the council’s area to reduce fuel poverty and increase energy efficiency e.g. by fitting insulation.

First councils must consult with representatives of the community. They would then submit the proposals to the Local Government Association (LGA) – a national body which represents principal councils (e.g. Districts, Borough and County Councils). The LGA would assess the proposal and, if approved, would seek to promote the scheme and agree it with national government.

It’s an interesting Act and would require considerable further work to determine, first of all, what proposals the council would like to take forward. We would welcome any suggestions. Further information is available on the following website: www.localworks.org where there is a Best Practice Guide.

Homelessness Strategy

Homelessness is not just about rough sleepers. In common with other authorities, Babergh and Mid Suffolk District councils have a statutory duty to help people who are losing their homes. If they are homeless and in a priority group the council has a duty to provide temporary accommodation. If they are homeless, in a priority group and not intentionally homeless, the council has a duty to offer a social or private tenancy.

Priority groups include people with children or expecting a baby, care leavers, former armed forces personnel and people who are vulnerable due to old age, physical disability, mental illness or due to experiencing violence.

In 2012, across both Babergh and Mid Suffolk, 150 households were accepted for re-housing. Homelessness was caused mainly by domestic violence or relationship breakdown, loss of private rented accommodation or exclusion by family or friends.

Across both Districts there were 172 preventions in 2012/13 but with an increased incidence of homelessness there has also been an increase in the use of bed and breakfast accommodation.

In order to prevent homelessness help is being given with housing benefits issues and negotiations are being carried out with landlords and families.

Housing Advice for local people

Babergh District Council has teamed up with SNAP – the Support & Advice Project – to offer a free, drop-in service for those in need of housing-related support.

From next Wednesday 12 June 9.30am-12.30pm and the second Wednesday morning of every month thereafter, a room will be set aside at the Council offices where members of the general public can gain advice on anything to do with housing.

Other issues SNAP can help with include developing life skills, access to health and well-being, working and training and accessing community and social networks.

The SNAP service is also available at Hadleigh children’s centre and the intention is to offer a similar service at Mid Suffolk District Council in the near future.

Anyone interested in using the service from 12 June onwards should call in to Babergh’s main reception for directions to the relevant meeting room.

A12 and speed cameras

The A12 dual carriageway from just South of the Essex/Suffolk border to the Copdock Mill interchange has a very high level of accidents. All but two junctions are substandard. The stretch of the A12 from the Essex border is sinuous with sections of poor visibility, lengthy gradients and poor camber. We are asking the Highways agency to consider extending the section of road covered by average speed cameras from the Essex border to the Copdock interchange.

Essex border (Birchwood Lane) to Copdock Mill interchange

There were a total of 298 casualties from 215 accidents from 1st January 2006 to 31st December 2010. The costs are broken down as follows:

  DfT cost Number of accidents Number of casualties Total cost
Fatal 1,683,810 4 5 8,419,050
Serious 189,200 22 28 5,297,600
Slight 14,590 189 265 3,866,350
        17,583,000

Comparing the number of accidents during this five year period, there is a stark difference between the following four sections of road:

  • Ardleigh Interchange to Birchwood 11 casualties
  • Birchwood to Essex/Suffolk border 49 casualties
  • Essex/Suffolk border to East Bergholt/Four Sisters 121 casualties
  • East Bergholt/Four Sisters to Copdock Mill interchange 177 casualties
Stretch of road No. of accidents distance accidents per mile
Four Sisters junction to Copdock/A14 interchange 128 5 miles 25.6
Essex/Suffolk border to Four  Sisters 87 2.75 miles 31.6
Birchwood Lane to E/S border 27 1.5 miles 18
Ardleigh Interchange to Birchwood Lane 10 1.5 miles 6.66
TOTALS 252 10.75 miles  

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