Gavin Maclure's Musings

My take on politics locally, nationally and internationally


Gladstone Road/Foxhall Road footpath update

A “level survey” was conducted by the Council yesterday

I was advised yesterday that Ipswich Borough Council engineers were conducting a survey at the footpath site. The survey is called a “level survey” and is something to do with the drainage that would need to be built when the path is eventually paved.

My source was good as, in typical public sector style, I saw two orange-fluorescent attired men and what looked like a student placement young man get back into their Borough Council pool car yesterday lunchtime. How many engineers does it take to measure the levels of a dirt track came to mind?

Let’s hope they can now get the design for the path completed – how difficult can it be to design the laying of concrete slabs?


Sir Humphrey’s contempt for elected representatives: Part VII

On Sunday I blogged that the third consultation period for the path expired on 29th June and, as Holywells Councillor Liz Harsant told me, there were no objections by residents.

Newly elected Holywells Councillor Pam Stewart contacted the officer in charge of the footpath creation scheme for an update.

His reply is re-produced below:

Now that the date of 29/06 has come and gone, I have requested that the final design for the footpath be undertaken as a matter of urgency to enable programming by Highway Services team for construction.

have copied the officer dealing with this scheme into this email so you can contact him directly.  I will also request that he keeps you informed of scheme progress

So we still have no clear date when the works, approved by elected representatives from all political parties at my Committee in August 2009, will take place.

This is becoming a bit of a joke. This dirt track was approved for paving by elected representatives of the appropriate Ipswich Borough Council committee, was approved by all 48 elected representatives of the Full Council, was legally cleared for progression on 18th May this year and has completed three consultation periods and still we have no idea when the first paving slab will be laid.

The contempt for democracy by officers at Ipswich Borough Council is quite disgraceful. I wonder if the 
path was in Gipping Ward or Gainsborugh Ward we would have had such foot-dragging behaviour from the mandarins at Grafton House.


Sir Humphrey’s contempt for elected representatives: Part VI

As you know from the last time I wrote about this, the issue of the still unpaved pathway between Gladstone Road and Foxhall Road is my pet project on this blog. Unsurprisingly, the dirt track is still not paved.

The weeds and the dirt still remain three years on

The latest and third consultation period, after the footpath creation order was published in May, ended last Friday 29th June. I spoke with my ward councillor, Liz Harsant, yesterday who advised “there were no objections” to the footpath being created. Shock, horror – you mean local residents want a well-used passageway paved rather than have to tackle the dirt and the weeds every time we go and get a pint (sorry litre!) of milk from the Co-op.

According to the email sent to Holywells Conservative Councillor Liz Harsant by the Borough Council’s community improvements officer John Clements back in May, as there have been no objections, the Council should now be getting on with planning the paving work.

I have today written to Cllr Liz Harsant and newly elected Holywells Conservative Councillor Pam Stewart asking for an update on when the paving works will begin. Cllr Stewart is aware of the Council’s intransigence on this issue and she asked Labour’s transport chief a question about it at the Full Council meeting in March. As soon as I hear any more news from my councillors, I shall let you know.

Next month, it will be three years since my Committee approved funding for the footpath. During this time, my wife has completed a degree, we got married and also had our first wedding anniversary. I do hope the path is paved before our second wedding anniversary next year!


Sir Humphrey’s contempt for elected representatives: Part V

The deadline for Ipswich Borough Council to receive objections to the paving over of the dirt track which runs between Gladstone Road and Foxhall Road in Holywells Ward expired yesterday.

Gladstone Road end of current dirt track
I now wait with bated breath for Cllr Phil Smart to confirm if any objections were received to turn an overgrown gravel track into a clean paved footpath for the benefit of residents and visitors to the area alike. 
According to Mark Wedgwood, the officer at the Council in charge of the footpath creation scheme, we are now at the below stage in the process, which was approved by my Committee almost three years ago!

19 April 2012 – (allowed a couple of extra days to allow for late objections)
·         Advertise notice of confirmation
·         Circulate confirmation notice to all interested parties
·         Serve separate notice on adjoining owners referring to compensation
·         Send copy to Ordnance Survey 

On the assumption that we do not receive any objections, the footpath creation order will come into full operation on 19 April. 

Works can then be programmed. 

I hope we can see the first paving slab being laid soon or do we need to trouble Justine Greening??

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Sir Humphrey’s contempt for elected representatives: Part IV

As I reported last week, at the full meeting of Ipswich Borough Council, Labour’s transport portfolio holder, Cllr Phil Smart, announced, in response to a question from Conservative Holywells candidate Pam Stewart, the Gladstone Road/Foxhall Road footpath creation scheme order had now been “sealed” and the clock has started ticking for objections to be received at Grafton House by no later than 19th April.

The order has been advertised at either end of the track.

Footpath order advertised at Foxhall Road end of path (the part already paved from when the Co-op was built in 2005)
The Gladstone Road end – a bit like walking back in time!

Let’s hope the “very elongated” process Cllr Smart referred to if an objection is received does not occur. Why anyone would want to object to a dirt track being paved and maintained by the council I do not know.

Watch this space.

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Sir Humphrey’s contempt for elected representatives: Part III

As Paul Norton of the Ipswich Spy parish advised, I attended the South East Area Committee last night.  The acronym for this Ipswich Borough Council committee is SEAC, which could have been devised by Armando Iannucci for the BBC’s The Thick of It. There was also a distinctive Orwellian feel to the meeting with one of the agenda items called ‘Community Intelligence’.

The reason for me attending SEAC was to raise the ongoing saga of the incomplete footpath between Gladstone Road and Foxhall Road, despite being approved by councillors (on my committee) in August 2009!

I won’t rehearse the story of council incompetence again, it can be read here. At SEAC, Cllr Liz Harsant raised the absent footpath under Agenda item ‘6. Responses to Public Questions Received and Open Discussion on Local Issues’ and explained that the footpath creation had been approved three times by councillors but still civil servants at the Borough Council are saying they need also to get Secretary of State approval.

After Cllr Harsant introduced the issue, I was given the opportunity to speak by Cllr Keith Rawlingson, who it has to be said did a very good job at chairing the meeting last night. I added meat to the bone by outlining the precise dates when councillors made a decision on the path and then asked two questions to officers present:

1. Is the Scheme with the IBC Legal department or not?

2. When will the Footpath Creation order be advertised at either end of the current dirt track?

Mr Mark Wedgwood from the Borough Council’s Highways department said the scheme is with the Legal department and that they are drawing up a Footpath Creation order. Mr Wedgwood then said the order will be advertised “shortly”. When pressed by me for a precise time scale he said he would provide it to Cllr Harsant and myself.

Lo and behold, this morning my wife in her capacity as a councillor received an email from Charlotte Meadows of the Council’s legal department stating the footpath creation order will advertised on 20th March, including at each end of the path. I am sure Cllr Harsant’s and my intervention at last night’s SEAC meeting was purely coincidental…

The following new time scale has also been released by Mr Wedgwood:

20 March 2012
·         Seal order
·         Post notice on site
·         Place notice and plan on deposit
·         Circulate notice to all consultees
·         Provide all adjoining owners with copy notice, plan and extract from Highways Act.

17 April – deadline expires.  (extended this by a couple of days to take account of Easter).

On the assumption that we do not receive any objections:

19 April 2012 – (allowed a couple of extra days to allow for late objections)
·         Advertise notice of confirmation
·         Circulate confirmation notice to all interested parties
·         Serve separate notice on adjoining owners referring to compensation
·         Send copy to Ordnance Survey

On the assumption that we do not receive any objections, the footpath creation order will come into full operation on 19 April.

Works can then be programmed. 

It is of some concern that during Mr Wedgwood’s answers to me at the meeting last night he said two things which could still scupper the whole process. Firstly, if there are objections by residents bordering the path, then the scheme will need to passed to the Secretary of State for Transport for a decision and, secondly, Suffolk County Council would still need to adopt the footpath before any works could take place. Why did officers not start the adoption process with the county council when the path was approved on 6th August 2009?

So we are not out of the woods yet. Could we reach the third year anniversary of the first approval by councillors before the first paving slab is laid?