Sunday, 24 June 2012

My week ahead 25 - 30 June 2012

Monday 25 June 6pm – Labour campaigning in South West Ipswich

Tuesday 26 June 5pm – Sidegate Primary School – Full Governing Body meeting

Wednesday 27 June 7pm – ip-art – ‘The Importance of being Earnest ‘ Christchurch Park

Thursday 28 June 6pm – Area Committee chair meeting

Saturday 30 June 10.30am – Campaigning in North West Ipswich,
3pm – Labour fundraiser, Roundwood Bowls Club

Last week it was good to be holding a Full Council meeting back in the Ipswich Town Hall, a number of questions from opposition councillors. In hindsight they may need to discuss their questions with their MP first as still not sure if they are supporting our plan to build council houses or against it ( or sitting on the fence).

The Lib Dems also seem to have forgotten what they have voted for in the past, as their question was about development of the Northern Fringe. I expect next May in the County Council elections both the Tories and the Lib Dems will have totally forgotten that they voted for the Local development Framework, which included building much needed houses to the north of the town. Sounds like the start of a NIMBY coalition.

On Monday I attended a play by young pupils from Copleston School, that may not sound that remarkable but what was different about this play was that it was held in an empty shop in the Tower Ramparts shopping centre. The play was based on the myths about the number of tunnels that exist under our town. This was a great use of an empty shop and something that we hope we can repeat in the future.

Thursday, saw a brief return visit to the army as I spent a day on the shooting range in Colchester. Good to be involved in some inter army unit banter but though the jokes had not changed much I also sensed a fear amongst the troops that their units may not exist for much longer. ‘Army 2020’ is the plan that is being put forward to set the army up to operate with the future manning that will be available to Generals after the savage cuts by the Tory Government. The General who has the unenviable task of putting that plan together is General Nick Carter. I first served with him when I was 18 and he was young Captain. Later in 2000 he promoted me to Sergeant Major – so we go back a long way. The changes will not be welcome and he will be very unpopular in the army but I do believe he will come up with the best plan with the numbers that Fox and Hammond have forced upon him. My worry is that once the plan is published, Tory MP’s will end up changing it and saving the wrong regiments. This happened under the last Tory Government where small County Regiments were saved rather than the third battalions of my own regiment or our local unit, The Royal Anglians.

Good luck General Carter- not an enviable task.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Operation 'No safe Tory seat in Ipswich' week 2

Today we returned for the second week running to the Australia Estate in Bixley Ward, Ipswich.

Residents seemed very happy to see us, it was also obvious that they had not seen many Tory activists over the last few years. The Tories look like they have been taking the Bixley Ward for granted, wonder if UKIP will stand again nexy May in Bixley?

Sunday, 17 June 2012

My week ahead 18 - 24 June 2012

Monday 18 June 2pm - Visit Civic Engagement project by Copleston High School pupils at Tower Ramparts shopping centre.
4pm - Culture Portfolio meeting, Grafton House
6pm - Labour Group meeting

Tuesday 19 June 9pm - Meet the cast of Dr Who - 'The Crash of the Elysium'

Wednesday 20 June 6pm - Full Council Meeting, Town Hall

Saturday 23 June 10.30am - Labour campaigning in Bixley Ward, Ipswich

This week was full of various meetings, some political, some with residents and a number at Sidegate Primary School,

Last Wednesday we had the North East Area Committee, it started with a presentation on the launch of an 'Ageing Well' project. The scheme will be piloted in the North East of the town.

Once the meeting started , I was honoured to be elected chair of the committee for the next year and one of my key aims over the next 12 months is to increase resident participation and numbers at the meetings.

Last Wednesday we also received a presentation from a resident who wishes the committee to back his plan to improve the play facilities at Cherry Lane Recreation Ground. Both councillors and residents were impressed with the proposals by Mr Jenner and have asked Officers to produce a report on the way forward.

Other items covered at the meeting included pram ramps for Broke Hall, a set of goals for Dumbarton Park and then we had a productive debate on how we wish to promote the Area Committee. At times the debate got quite heated, with plenty of passion being shown by both residents and politicians. I also realised that I have plenty to learn on how to chair a committee.

But I left the meeting confident that the Area Committee will bring benefits to the residents of North East Ipswich.

Bixley campaigning this Saturday, we will be back again next Saturday asking for residents views on a number of issues.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Golden Key - Greene King appeal - our response

Over the last few months, the Labour councillors for Rushmere and St John’s Ward and also our Labour team in Bixley Ward have received numerous letters and emails informing us that local residents are against the planning application for development and change of use of the Golden Key pub in Woodbridge Road, Ipswich

Two planning applications submitted by Greene King have been refused by the local council, but now Greene King have appealed to the Planning Inspectorate.

Below is the letter that has been submitted by your local councillors on behalf of residents.

The Planning Inspectorate
3/09 Wing
Temple Quay House
2 The Square
Temple Quay

Planning Appeal Reference Number: APP/R3515/A/12/2174644/NWF

Dear Sir/Madam

As Ipswich Borough Councillors for Rushmere and St John’s wards, and the Suffolk County Councillor for St John’s Division, we have received considerable communication from local residents in respect of the two recent planning applications for development and change of use at the Golden Key, the refusal of the second of which the applicants are now appealing. The representation from local residents has been overwhelmingly against the planning application. As local residents ourselves, and in support of the arguments put forward by objectors to the original applications, we would like to reply to each of the areas on which Greene King has appealed the refusal notification from Ipswich Borough Council.

Grounds of Appeal 1: Appeal proposal will not have any unacceptable impact in respect to highway safety and will not lead to substantial vehicular traffic, and is therefore not contrary to policy DM17 of the Core Strategy 2011.

• The proposed store is located with its sole access onto Woodbridge Road which has two lanes of eastbound traffic at that point and one lane of westbound traffic in the process of becoming two lanes. Drivers of vehicles passing the access point are already forced to be aware of vehicles which are changing lanes in front of them and behind them, and of vehicles which are entering and exiting the adjacent petrol station. Drivers of vehicles entering or exiting the site will need to negotiate three streams of traffic which are in the process of changing lanes.

• The access point is dangerously close to the mini-roundabout junction between Woodbridge Road (A1214), Rushmere Road which gives access to the estates in the North-East of Ipswich, and Cauldwell Hall Road, which is the main north-south route within the inner-suburban area of East Ipswich. The traffic entering the junction from Cauldwell Hall Road is not visible from the access to the site and consequently there is a very real danger of collision.

• Woodbridge Road is the main artery between Ipswich town centre and East Suffolk. It also provides important access to Ipswich town centre for the highly populated areas of Kesgrave and Martlesham. In addition to very heavy peak time flows of private cars and commercial vehicles, it also carries the greatest number of bus services in the area.

• It provides an important link between the hospital and the town centre, and is one of the most frequently used routes for ambulances.

• Zebra crossings have been installed around the tightly configured roundabout in recent years to allow easier crossing for pedestrians as a direct result of the heavy flows of traffic and concerns over safety.

• The plans for development of the site for a supermarket include improvements to the car park and an allocated area for deliveries. It is thus clear from the application that the applicant is expecting, and has planned for, greater vehicular use than the present use of the site.

• A typical visit to a supermarket will be shorter than that to a public house, which will clearly increase the number of vehicular movements. This will be particularly true for the proposed ATM.

• As a local public house, one of the chief attractions of the Golden Key is that local patrons can visit it and drink without having to drive there and thus do not need to restrict their alcohol intake. Most of the regular patrons do not drive to the Golden Key.

• Most of the vehicles which leave the Golden Key car park do so on Saturday or Sunday afternoons, or after 9pm. Vehicles exiting a convenience store are far more likely to coincide with rush hour traffic, adding to already high levels of congestion and concerns over safety.

Grounds of Appeal 2: The appeal proposal will provide a retail facility in an established and identified district centre to serve the needs of the local community.

• The needs of the local community are already well served. Local residents have a range of small supermarkets within short walking distance, including two Cooperative stores, a Spar and a number of smaller retailers. Several specialist independent retailers also exist in the parade of shops nearby, including a well used
butcher, a baker and a greengrocer.

• Local residents also benefit from frequent bus services to the major retailers in the town centre and to out-of-town superstores in Martlesham and Warren Heath.

• The overwhelming response from the local community is that they do not need this additional retail space, nor do they want it.

• Several of the smaller retail businesses have expressed their expectation that they will be forced to close if they lose further trade to a chain outlet.

Grounds of Appeal 3: This is an appropriate location for the proposal which will provide new investment, job creation and additional choice for residents in Woodbridge Road District Centre.

• This is not an appropriate location for the proposal, given the considerable concern about the increase in vehicular movements and the impact on traffic and road safety.

• A new outlet for a chain retailer in this location is likely to cause more job losses from the closure of local small businesses than it creates of itself. Small independent businesses employ almost exclusively local residents, whereas a significant proportion of the profits of a chain outlet flow out of the local community. Local residents have raised concerns with me about the negative impact of the proposed development on local businesses and loss of associated jobs within the local community.

• Local residents already have a wide range of choice from both small independent retailers and small supermarkets. Residents have highlighted their concern that by forcing the closure of other local businesses the proposal will reduce consumer choice.

Grounds of Appeal 4: The LPA’s reason for refusal is not based on any evidence or support from the Highway Authority and will effectively sterilise any future development of the site.

Residents have recently expressed concerns over traffic monitoring equipment that has been attached to road furniture on Woodbridge Road near the junction by the Golden Key public house. No notification of the survey was provided to local residents and they have expressed their concern that the data collected might be used to support an appeal by Greene King.

• During the period that the traffic monitoring was being undertaken, traffic along Woodbridge Road was very significantly reduced as a result of road works.

• The data was collected during a period of lighter seasonal traffic (in part related to school exam leave periods).

• It is uncertain whether traffic monitoring data was collected during rush hour traffic periods.

• The Borough Council’s engineers, acting as agents for the Highway Authority, have long-term experience of the dangers and difficulties inherent in the various junctions and radial routes in Ipswich. They were fundamentally opposed to this application for the reasons stated in my response to Ground 1.

• Objections on highways grounds will not “sterilise” the site but will simply limit any development to purposes which do not significantly increase the level of vehicular traffic.

As Borough and County Councillors for the area, we would like to:

• Represent the views of residents within our wards by lodging our strong objections to the plans by Greene King PLC.

• Request that any inspection of the site be made during rush hour traffic during school term time to ensure that the inspector can judge the safety impact any increase in vehicle movements into and out of this access is likely to have during this critical period.

• Be informed in advance of the inspection date and time so that we can observe the process and thus reassure residents that their concerns are being addressed.

Yours faithfully,

Alasdair Ross
Ipswich Borough Councillor, Rushmere Ward

Tracy Grant
Ipswich Borough Councillor, Rushmere Ward

Neil Macdonald
Ipswich Borough Councillor, St John’s Ward

Sandy Martin
Ipswich Borough Councillor, St John’s Ward
Suffolk County Councillor, St John’s Division

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

North East Area Committee- Wednesday June 13th,

If you want or need a break from the Euro 2012 Football, maybe you would like to attend the North East Area Committee. The June meeting is being held tomorrow (Wednesday June 13th) at:

St Augustines Church Hall, Bucklesham Road, IP10 0AA AT 7.30pm

If you can come earlier there will be a presentation at 7pm on 'Ageing Well' this project aims to pilot an interactive event for people aged 60+

Other matters on the agenda include, a proposal for Pram ramps in Penshurst Rd and vandal proof goals posts for Dumbarton Road Recreation Ground.

It is hoped that all further North East meetings will be held in a location more central to the three wards.

Other good news for residents is that the work has started to re-open Cemetery Lane. When finished it should be one way for vehicles but remain two way for cycles.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

My week ahead 11 - 17 June 2012

Monday 11 June 4pm - Culture Portfolio meeting, Grafton House
7.30pm - Labour Group meeting

Tuesday 12 June 4pm - Sidegate Primary School - visit to ICT staff

Wednesday 13 June 10am - Representing residents views on a planning application for Belvedere Road/Parade Road
5.30pm - North East Neighbourhood Partnership Group Meeting
7.30pm - North East Area Committee - St Augustines Church Hall
Bucklesham Road, - A Health & Well-being Presentation ‘Ageing Well’ will be held prior to the meeting at 7.00pm.

Thursday 14 June 5pm - Sidegate School, Finance Committee.

Bust week ahead with visits to Sidegate School, representing residents views at the Planning Committee and attending the third North East Area Committee. There has been much written about the area committee concept and people have attempted to compare them with the 'late' Area Forums.

I have always been very positive about the Area Committees and it may have taken longer to sort out than we had hoped, i am positive that they will be a success in the North East of the town, so if you are free on Wednesday, please come along. We are hoping to move future meetings to a more central location within the North East of the town.

Friday, 1 June 2012

Brunswick Road- Garage site now cleared

In April I blogged about the long drawn out case of trying to get an untidy site in Rushmere Ward cleared up by the owners. In the end Ipswich Borough Council had to use the threat of legal action against the owner to get a promise that the site would be cleared. The garages are located between Brunswick Road and Belvedere Road (near Whitby Road) and the site is owned by local firm Elizabeth Holdings.If you follow this link you can see what the site did look like.

You can now see that the site has been cleared, but I am still comcerned that the tyres have just been pushed into the garages so still a hazard to residents if the site was to catch fire.

The local Tories have attempted to take credit for the clearance, I do believe that the only reason the site was cleaned up by the owner was because the council were prepared to go to court. I am sure residents are not concerned who got the area cleaned but are just happy that it has been dealt with.