Thursday, 6 October 2016

Ipswich Buses planned strike: emergency timetable

Ipswich Buses planned strike: emergency timetable, updates for parents and car park and travel advice

Ipswich Buses has published an emergency timetable for Monday 10th October for use if a one-day strike called by Unite the Union goes ahead.

The company is still committed to continuing talks in a bid to resolve the dispute but plans to get as many services as it can on the road, using double-decker buses where practical in order to help as many passengers as possible.

There will be a standard fare of £1 for all journeys – passes will be valid as usual. There will be no departures from Tower Ramparts after 7pm and most routes will not start until 7am. Full timetables are available from the Tower Ramparts Travel Shop and on the Ipswich Buses
Ipswich Buses plans to operate a reduced Park & Ride service at both Copdock and Martlesham. This service is managed by Suffolk County Council.

The emergency timetable is attached below but additional changes affecting schools and colleges are listed here:

·      Suffolk County Council has announced that all dedicated school bus services (i.e. contracted services specifically for schools) are being covered by other bus operators and will clearly display the relevant service number. 

·      Parents of children who use public bus services (irrespective of whether the County Council pays for their travel or not) are advised to check the Suffolk On Board website for details of whether the service will be running at a reduced frequency or not at all. 

·      Two County Council subsidised public services are also affected: Service 111 from Bildeston and 173 between Woodbridge and Felixstowe are to be replaced by another operator and Service 202 from Shotley will have two journeys operating to get students to and from college only.

·      Ipswich Buses will be operating the One sixth-form college routes from Felixstowe and Stowmarket.

·      Carter’s Coaches routes will not be affected by the strike action.

Car parks offer

Overall, it is expected there will be more congestion if the industrial action goes ahead. More people will be using cars to get into work, on school runs or entering or passing through the town.

As the town’s principal car park operator, Ipswich Borough Council plans to help reduce that congestion by cutting the cost of a day’s parking in its long-stay car parks to a maximum of £3 (from £5).
The Council will have staff at each of its main car parks to assist motorists find the best car parking.

Its own staff are being encouraged to adopt a more flexible working pattern to avoid the usual rush hour, and is encouraging car sharing and other ways of getting to work.

To find out the latest information on bus services on Monday, along with available car parking spaces updates, use @ipswichbuses on Twitter and the company’s Facebook page.


South-west Ipswich
Route 13 will run every 30 minutes and 15/15A will both be running every 60 minutes. Routes 12, 14 and 16 will not run. Ipswich Buses hopes some customers on these less busy routes will be able to walk to the routes that are running. Carters’ route 93 also serves London Road and Carters will run services as normal. There will be double-deckers on Park & Ride providing extra seats for One sixth-form college but this route will also only run every 30 minutes.

North-west Ipswich
Route 8 will run every 30 minutes and routes 9/10 will both be running every 60 minutes. First route 88 also serves Norwich Road and 89 serves Bramford Road and will run normally. Unfortunately, routes 17 and 19 will not be running. Some of the customers on these less busy routes might be able to walk to Norwich Road or Henley Road. Galloways' 115 and 116 services will be running normally on Henley Road.

North-east Ipswich
Route X5 to Ipswich Hospital will run every 30 minutes and 6/6A will both be running every 60 minutes. Passengers might also wish to use the Park & Ride between the town centre and the hospital stop on the Colchester Road/Woodbridge Road roundabout. First routes 64, 65 and 66 run frequently along Woodbridge Road and these will operate as normal. First Buses’ route 75 will be running normally along Spring Road and serves the Hospital. First’s service 59 to the Northgate area (off-peak only) will also be running as normal.

South-east Ipswich
Route X3 will run every 30 minutes with journeys to Ransomes Euro Park at peak times. Routes X1 and 4 will not run. First Buses provides alternative services to Nacton Road and Gainsborough on Routes 60/61 and to Felixstowe Road on services 76 and 77.

Wherstead Road and Shotley
A reduced timetable will apply on route 98/98A. Carters’ routes will run as normal. First X7 also serves Wherstead Road.

Country buses
Suffolk County Council is making arrangements for another company to run routes 111 and 173. Carters’ routes (92-96 etc) will run normally.

School and college buses
Ipswich Buses will run routes 11A, 18A, 501, 502, 914 and 988 as normal. Route 11B will not run. Other school contract buses will be provided by other operators for Suffolk County Council.

Town centre shuttle
The free town centre shuttle, route 38, will not be running.

Friday, 23 September 2016

What worth a councillor?

Ipswich Borough Councillors from all parties work hard for their communities. There are a very few exceptions but in the main we put in hours on casework, reading, attending meetings and training sessions, community events, committee meetings evening and daytime and we are on the end of a phone 24/7.

People have literally laughed when we've told them how much backbenchers receive when they find out it is less than £3800. Most are astonished.

We have refused the recommendations from the independent panel for over a decade and have not had an increase for 10 years.

Had we have taken their recommendations, the remuneration would now be a thousand pounds more a year than we currently receive. This would not have felt right in a time of austerity but I don't know of one single person who has not had a rise in over a decade, if they are still in the same place. Time to stop being embarrassed about this and do what's right, reward where it is due and value what we do.

Furthermore most of us do not claim for travel expenses to and from our meetings, as is our right. My only claims have been for unique travel to the Bournemouth LGA conference a couple of times in 10 years.

Some of us are out of pocket because of the time commitment we have to give (average of 15 hours per week but many do more) and all of us sacrifice family time and leisure on a regular basis. I'd like to think a reasonable person would recognise this and not begrudge us a penny.

I was determined to do something about this and so I contacted the leader of the council who agreed with me that we should have a consensus amongst the leaders of each party, on behalf of our groups.

Even though we can disagree vehemently on how to go about achieving our aims it is not as often as people might suspect. Our influence on national problems is limited but the one thing we must do together is ensure we attract good people to become councillors and that we encourage them from a wide, diverse background. My personal wish is for more young parents. Councillor Jones said at the council meeting that they don't have any special talents. I disagree. All ages have their own special unique talents and wisdom. I think an old wise head with experience of life is equally valuable - just in a different way but I don't want to mix with just wise old heads in my political world.

The point is our low remuneration (one of the lowest for backbenchers but one of the highest for special responsibility) needed addressing and I felt we should value ourselves a bit more than to just take the easy route and ignore the whole thing once again.

Ignoring would've meant in 4 years time at the next review, we would've fallen even more behind and this would be a huge decentivisation, requiring an even bigger increase.

An alternative proposal to the one put forward by the panel, was agreed together which corrected my concerns - increase backbenchers basic allowance and re-calculate the special responsibility allowance to address the inbalance and shrink the gap between the 2.

I was upset with the Ipswich Star yesterday and I said so at the meeting. Cllr Ellesmere and the Mayor both concurred. Their headline did not reflect what was actually going on and all the facts.

I'm looking forward to seeing the follow up and apology in todays paper

Friday, 9 September 2016

How We won Better Rail by Ben Gummer MP

How We Won Better Rail

Well, what a way to return from ten days’ holiday!  The announcement of the new franchise a few weeks ago felt like a very, very early Christmas present.  It is hard to overstate the importance of this decision: quite simply, it will change Ipswich and our region for the better.  Here’s how it happened.

Back in what now feels like the dim and distant past, when I was a candidate contesting this seat, I recognized albeit in an unfocused way that the trains were no good, that the franchise was part of the problem, and that bringing prosperity to Ipswich was connected to how good the train service was.  So I promised, very vaguely, to do something about it; what that ‘something’ was, I have to admit I was not yet clear about.

Within the first few days of arriving at Westminster in 2010, I found out that Chloë Smith, the energetic new MP for Norwich North, was having precisely the same thoughts.  She too knew something had to be done but was not yet clear about what that needed to be.  So came about our first discussion with a very important man whom few of you will have ever heard about: Jonathan Denby.  For many years, Jonathan has been the man who has kept we politicians in the loop – but he is not just a PR guy: he knows a lot about trains and has been around the political circus long enough to judge how to get things done.  It was Jonathan who helped Chloë and me, together with Priti Patel representing Essex, to craft the demands that you will soon see delivered as beautiful new rolling stock.

Knowing what to do was the easy bit; making it happen has been the real work of the last five years.  Once we had established that we needed new trains and lots of them, it was the grunt-work of making the Department for Transport understand why East Anglia was a priority, then doing the same with the Treasury, then with the Prime Minister, and then making sure that once we had commitments and promises, that they were translated into the right tender process and the right incentives to train operators.  At every stage, Chloë and I have had to make friends with key civil servants in Whitehall, with special advisers, and with a series of ministers.  It is not all a battle: 80% of the time it is selling the vision again and again – and once you have done that the advantages of what we proposed were so self-evident that people were willing to help.

But now and again we did have to go into battle.  It is remarkable how much damage and delay one wrong person in the right place can do.  There are a few people who actively tried to de-rail our rail dream and we had – quite simply – to take them out.

And so, after all this work – celebrating each victory as it came – the policy announcements, the invitation to tender, the launch of the tender bidding process, and the eventual award a few weeks ago – we now have the confirmed prospect of new trains.  It has been painstaking and laborious but my Lord it will be worth it when it all comes.

As you would expect me to say – we are not finished yet.  We must now secure the track upgrades we need from Network Rail and get going on East West Rail – a scheme that will ultimately bring even greater benefits than the thousands of jobs and billions in investment that the improvements to the Great Eastern Main Line will achieve.  But all that is for next week, when I shall outline what is actually going to happen and what more we want to win.
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