From District Councillors Sue Carpendale and Kathy Pollard
Babergh District councillors recently debated the issue of tolling on the A14 near Huntingdon. The Highways Agency have been consulting on the issue, but there was a tight deadline for responses by October 13th. More details of the proposed scheme are available on the Highways Agency website
Improvements to the route will cost £1.5bn, and the consultation suggests that motorists should contribute towards these costs by introducing tolls. Recently announced road improvements elsewhere in England do NOT include tolls. Suffolk’s Chamber of Commerce point out that an A14 toll would be a major departure from current practice. Until now there have only been tolls on river crossings or the M6, where there is a clear alternative for all traffic. Details of their “No Toll Tax on Suffolk” campaign are on their website
There will be much needed improvements to the Girton interchange on the Cambridge Northern Bypass. The toll would be imposed on the new section of the A14 near Huntingdon and the proposal is to use automatic number plate recognition. We are unclear about how this will work with foreign vehicles.
The majority of Babergh councillors supported the view that vehicles should not be tolled. The campaign against tolling is being led by Suffolk Chamber of Commerce and has the support of all councils in the County as well as many commercial organisations. A fuller account is available on Kathy’s blog (see address above), but here are some extracts:
- Tolls on the A14 would be discriminatory, adding costs to businesses in the East of England.
- Many heavy goods haulage firms have a policy of not paying tolls. Tolls on the A14 will lead to traffic diverting onto less suitable alternative routes leading to an increase in congestion and accidents on those routes.
Don’t forget that you can recycle textiles including shoes and handbags in the special bags provided. These should be tied up and placed inside the blue bin on top of your other recycling. However the bags are not being replaced automatically and to order replacements you have to ring 0845 603 9412, or email: email@example.com or call in at the library.
Please continue to give good quality items to charity shops and other good causes. The textile recycling service is really for items that would otherwise go in your black bin and be sent to landfill.
More information at www.greensuffolk.org/recycling/textiles-recycling/
Better Broadband initiative
Suffolk currently has some of the poorest broadband coverage in England, with no coverage at all in some parts of the County. Suffolk councils have agreed to allocate investment to a maximum of £11.68m, which is matched by a further £11.68m from national Government. BT were awarded the contract to carry out the improvements.
- The average broadband speed currently experienced by Suffolk’s consumers and small businesses is under 5Mbps (Megabits per second).
- This average masks wide variations in speeds across the County; around a quarter get between 2Mbps and 4Mbps, and nearly one fifth (60,000 premises) get less than 2Mbps, with some parts of Suffolk unable to receive any broadband service at all.
The vision for Suffolk’s Better Broadband Programme is to deliver Superfast Broadband, offering typical speeds of 100Mbps, to everyone (100% of homes and small business) in Suffolk by 2020. The interim objective is to get faster, more reliable broadband services to everyone in Suffolk by 2015.
However there will still be “black holes” in the coverage in sparsely populated rural areas and an alternative technology “fix” will be needed there.
Once deployment is completed in October 2015, 90% of Suffolk will have fibre broadband (85% of which with access speeds of at least 24Mbps), with the remaining 10% accessing speeds between 2Mbps and 24Mbps via a range of technologies.
To check the rollout of the programme in your area please look at the website: www.betterbroadbandsuffolk.com
Suffolk County Council’s Scrutiny committee looked at this issue at their meeting on Sep 26th and the above information is taken from the report which is available here
Babergh District Council meeting 19th Sep
The following items were discussed at the meeting:
- A14 tolling (details included in this report)
- Annual Treasury Management Report 2012/13
- Scrap Metal Dealers Act
- Statement of Accounts for the year 2012/13
- Terms of reference for joint committees of Babergh and Mid Suffolk
- Allocation of lead member roles to councillors: Kathy is the lead member for Public Access
Further details available on the Babergh website