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.