Pinewood parking restrictions – Rights of Way committee decision

Suffolk County Council’s Rights of Way committee met today to discuss the proposed parking restrictions within Pinewood Parish – or at least those being dealt with by the County Council. They were very unhappy with the restrictions on residential streets and suggested their deferral until Suffolk One has been up and running for some months. They did, however, suggest approval for the twenty four hour restrictions on Scrivener and Shepherd Drives, the A1071, Poplar Lane, Ward Road and Laburnum Close. They also approved the 8am to 6pm restriction on Cottingham Road.

These recommendations will now go to the Cabinet meeting on July 20th. Caroline Page, the Lib Dem councillor for Woodbridge and a member of the committee, pointed out that there was too little parking on site – this is what I and the parish council, and the vast majority of residents have been saying from the start. As an enthusiastic cyclist Caroline recognises that, although the aspiration may be that everyone comes by bus, bike or on foot, the reality will be far different.

There will be more than 2200 students and 350 staff when the college is fully operational. Yet there are only 155 car parking spaces for staff. 25% of staff are expected to arrive by means other than the car and the rest are to car share. There will be no car parking spaces for students, but there will be spaces for bikes and mopeds, as well as a drop off area for parents.

Ipswich residents are equally exercised about the parking restrictions on their streets. The consultation for that finishes tomorrow, but neither I nor the parish council have been consulted about the area they cover within Pinewood parish, which includes half of Sprites Lane and roads off Hawthorn Drive. As we are statutory consultees this surely makes their consultation invalid?

Whilst I am sure that Suffolk One will be an excellent educational facility, residents in the area are getting a very raw deal and the process of consultation on the parking restrictions has left a lot to be desired. We must now wait to see what happens at the Cabinet meeting in July.

Suffolk Head of Comms update

I could hardly believe my eyes when I read an email sent to all Suffolk County Councillors about the total amount being paid to the new Head of Comms – £650 a day plus £150 a day agency fees. Heaven only knows what planet the Tories are living on at the council. If they had identified £500,000 in savings why on earth didn’t they get on and implement them instead of employing someone on an astronomical salary to do it for them. Here is the statement from the email:

“Jill Rawlins has been appointed as our new Head of Communications and will start on 14 June 2010. She will be with us for six months and will be paid a daily rate of £650, which equates to £84,500 for the time she will be at Suffolk (plus £150 a day in agency fees). Jill is a highly experienced communications expert who has been employed to implement the recommendations within a report written by Giles Roca whilst on secondment from Essex County Council.

The report makes an honest and frank assessment of where improvements should be made to the council’s communications, core to which is rationalising all communications and marketing activity (and staff) into a central function. Currently, there are 15 staff posts within the central Communications Team and a further 18 staff engaged in a variety of communications-related activities in the service areas. The communications budget is £0.838m.

However, the report looks wider than just the core team for efficiencies and we will also be reviewing the advertising budgets for: recruitment (£1.414m); public notices (£0.876m) and other public information activities (£0.781m). Also included will be spend on design, print and publications (£2.3m). This work will lead to significant savings both through rationalising structures and by making significant efficiencies around the wider activities. We believe savings of around £500,000 to be viable.

We are facing unprecedented reductions in our budget and we will need to drive out savings quickly if we are to offset the strain on front-line services. To do this, we need someone to deliver, quickly, the recommendations within the report.”

Result of parking surveys in Pinewood

We have now analysed the results of the parking restriction surveys in Bramblewood, Broad Meadow, Cherry Blossom Close and the area of Sprites Lane which is in Pinewood parish. These are the roads which are proposed to have the most severe parking restrictions as they are closest to the new Suffolk One college. The vast majority of those who responded want Suffolk County Council to provide space for students to park cars on the site.

It’s also clear that the majority of residents in Broad Meadow and Cherry Blossom Close do not have enough space for their vehicles either on their own drive or in garages. Many of the developments built since the 1980s have limited parking and it is a real problem now. Vehicles parked all over the streets makes it less safe for pedestrians, especially small children. It also makes it more difficult for emergency vehicles.

Some people felt that the County Council should have waited until the college was open to see how bad the parking problem was before putting in parking restrictions on local roads. The fact that these restrictions will be in place all through school holidays will also inconvenience residents.

People who have day time visitors face the prospect of paving over their front gardens at their own expense to provide additional parking space.

Sprites Lane (8 respondents)

The parking restrictions on this road are being dealt with by Ipswich Borough Council. The original proposal was for a mixture of double and single yellow lines. This has now been changed to a restriction from 9 to 10am and 2 to 3pm. This found favour with the majority of residents.

Bramblewood (33 respondents)

Some sections of double yellow lines are being proposed on the corners of this road. The majority are against (81%), but neither is there a clear consensus on an alternative 9am to 10am and 2pm to 3pm restriction, but more were in favour (57%) than against.

Broad Meadow (38 respondents)

Here there was a majority in favour (58%) of the proposed 9am to 5pm restriction. However that is by no means a resounding endorsement. Only 31% said they would prefer no waiting from 9am to 10am and 2pm to 3pm. Most significant was that 94% said they did not have space to park their vehicles on their drive or in a garage.

Cherry Blossom Close (24 respondents)

Again there was a mixed picture here. Whilst 12 of the residents were in favour of the 9am to 5pm restrictions, 10 were not. Eight would prefer 9am to 10am and 2pm to 3pm but the majority (15) were not. Again 16 of those who responded to the question about space for parking said they did not have enough room to park their cars on their drives or in garages.

What happens next?

The County Council’s Rights of Way committee meets on June 8th and their decision will go before the Cabinet on July 20th for a final decision.

Reviews of the parking restrictions have been promised at Easter 2011 and again in December 2011. Working with the parish council we will keep up the pressure for on site car parking for students.

Parking restrictions at the new Suffolk One college

Currently analysing the responses to the survey I carried out with my colleague Nigel Bennett in Pinewood this week. We asked residents in the streets closest to the new college for their views on the restrictions proposed in their streets. We will then be feeding back the results to them and submitting the findings to the County Council before the deadline of the 27th April.

The demonstration outside the college went well last Sunday and was covered in the Evening Star.

Suffolk One public meeting well attended

The public meeting at Pinewood Community Hall went well last night. Around 100 people attended. From those in the streets nearest to the new sixth form college there is understandable concern about student parking. However those just outside the restricted zone are equally worried as they feel the parking will be displaced into their streets.

What everyone really wants is parking on site. The parish council and I encouraged people to write in to the County Council with their views. Most people seemed to find the information given during the meeting very helpful. There was no County Council officer present, but parish councillors had done their homework and PC Gary Austen was also on hand to give advice.

I have already received copies of emails sent into the County Council, which means that people are taking it very seriously. We are planning a protest on Sunday outside the college at noon. The latter stage of the consultation process conducted by the County Council has been appalling.

Parking issues at Suffolk One – Public meeting 13th April

This Tuesday Pinewood Parish Council are to hold a public meeting on the proposed parking restrictions near the new Suffolk One college. The meeting is at 8.30pm at Pinewood Community Hall, with doors open at 8.15pm. Last week I spoke about this issue at a number of other parish council meetings in my area. No-one can understand why there has been no provision for student parking. As the land is up for sale alongside the Suffolk One site many local people want Suffolk County Council to buy it for parking.

Parking has been an emotive issue from the very start and I hope that local residents will not shoot the messenger ie the parish council and myself as County Councillor as we have done our very best to keep them informed and to support them. They have the opportunity to respond to the orders which were published this week, saying whether they object or not. Unfortunately the consultation is still not signposted on the County Council website, which is very disappointing as I have reported this to various people including the Director of Environment and Transport.

Address for comments/objections is Heather Miller, Suffolk County Council, Endeavour House, Russell Road, Ipswich IP1 2BX

Suffolk One Sixth Form college causes more parking headaches

A few weeks ago I received a plan showing the proposed parking restrictions around the Suffolk One Sixth Form College on the outskirts of Ipswich in Pinewood Parish. These restrictions have to be in place before the college opens in September, in order to comply with the planning conditions. Unfortunately, after the consultancy company carried out the initial consultation, no-one has gone back to residents to check whether what is being proposed is acceptable. The parish council and I discussed the issue and decided to put on an exhibition of the proposals on Monday evening and Wednesday morning this week at Pinewood Community Hall. Leaflets were distributed to advertise the event and an officer from the County Council attended.

People were queuing out of the door and some of them were very annoyed. There really should have been another round of consultations to check that what is being proposed is acceptable to residents and we were being blamed for this. The other complication is that part of Pinewood parish is within the Ipswich Borough Highways Agency area and we hadn’t seen those proposals at all. All proposals are on the County and Ipswich Borough websites. The proposals within the Ipswich section are here:

http://www.ipswich.gov.uk/site/scripts/documents_info.php?documentID=888

I was unable to find the proposals on the County Council website – which doesn’t say much for the way the website is organised!! When I find it I will post it here.

 The Suffolk One website is at: www.suffolkone.org and it explains their parking policy – which is that the only student parking on site will be for bicycles and motorcycles. There is also limited parking for staff. It is little wonder then that residents are worried about parking outside their properties.

Today I have discussed the issue with some of the officers. If there is no further intervention the orders will be published on April 6th and then residents only course of action is to object if they don’t like what is on offer. The other alternative is to go out to another round of consultation, but then the parking restrictions will not be in place in time for the opening in September. The parish council may need to hold a public meeting to get the community’s views on this.

No change to council structure in Suffolk – yet

I was surprised to find out by email that there is to be no change to council structures in Suffolk. Today’s announcement was sent to me by my own party sources. I am still waiting to hear officially from my own council! Whilst all purpose councils are to be created for Norwich and Exeter, we await the setting up of a “constitutional convention” so that local councils can discuss the future of our County with our MPs. Oh joy!

What a waste of time and money. Three years of hard work has come to nothing. The likelihood of councils reaching a consensus agreement in Suffolk is about as likely as another US moonlanding.