Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Campaigning for Unemployed Rights.

Thousands of Ipswich poorest struggle while £25 million wasted

with 17 comments

As over 13,270 benefit claimants (and goodness knows how many thousands of families) in Ipswich struggle in the economic climate and Suffolk County Council plans of turning off street lights and disposing of much needed services; a £25 million scheme has been given the green light to improve transportation in Ipswich.

Amongst the plans are:

  • Remodelling the town’s two bus stations (no consideration so far of where the buses will stop while works occur… one thing we can be sure of is closed roads, traffic jams and congestion) including extending the bays at Tower Ramparts. When I measured the plans myself, it isn’t possible to add an additional bus stop at the end of each lane at current which will cause numerous problems. Having a reliable public transport network is important, the actual stations themselves, although are a bit rubbish, isn’t important as what is the point of a nice couple of bus stations where you are waiting an hour for a bus?!I would rather stand in a boring old bus shelter full of graffiti (not aware of this being the case at either current bus stations) in the winter for a more frequent bus service. I also have concerns that like the Giles Circus waste of money, where many people have tripped over kerbs etc, a similar story will happen with these new bus stations?
  • Replacing a roundabout which allows for natural negotiation of the road (Give way etc.) for a cross road junction with traffic lights which will likely be a headache.If we can assume that for each 8 cars going around the roundabout that 3 cars from each road gets the opportunity to weave into such lanes of traffic, means with the exception to tailbacks (which cannot be eliminated as simply there are too many cars for the size of road – other than everyone giving up their cars!) stopping natural flow of traffic which cannot be helped during peak rush hour times, most cars won’t be waiting for more than 45 seconds.With traffic lights, there are two main scenarios… the lights change too frequent only allowing 4 cars (for example) through each cycle, or (more likely) waiting for five minutes for the rest of traffic to flow before turning green. In this time the traffic tails back and doesn’t help matters at all. Plans to seal off and fill in the subway are just a waste of money and lack basic concept of architecture.

    Add an almost constant flow of pedestrians walking in the town-railway station corridor continuously pressing buttons to cross the road…

  • Setting up a super “Big Brother” system to control traffic lights in the town centre to help public transport. In theory a clever idea… but these systems just adds to frustration. You either get the lights all in your favour or you end up with hitting all the red lights. This means increased frustration and people who get so road-raged they won’t bother stopping for red lights just to try to change the fate of the system (i.e. skip one red and the other lights might all be green?) Cyclists, pedestrians and motorists…. beware!If setup well, they can work. The problem is the number of vehicles which will never solve the problem. No congestion solving solution i.e. traffic management will really solve the problem. One of the major overlooked congestion issues is the bus lanes!

    Positive discrimination for public transport will not reduce congestion – it only ever makes it worse, and that includes even if people choose to use the bus instead of car. Why? Not everyone will use the bus. If 1/5 of people ditched their cars for the bus… the 4/5 balance is no longer in 2 lanes but in 1 lane causing a bottleneck. Even though 1 in 5 people changed the habit and less cars are on the road, the cars which are on the road are less spread out bumper to bumper (Motorway Vs Dual carriageway). In reality, there would be nowhere near a 1/5 reduction.

  • Real time bus information display boards at selected bus stops. Aimed at helping passengers choose their desired route more easily.This is a joke in itself. Most bus stops (outside town centre) are only served by one bus route. If you are lucky to use a bus stop which has a display, all it can tell you is about a delay. Options? Choose another route or bus operator…. none available. It is not London for **** sake! Go home and stick the kettle on while the delayed bus turn up… you are likely to miss it but since when do people get the choice of when to get the bus? If you have an appointment or job to get to you need it when it is scheduled.I love technology myself but it is trying for a purpose which isn’t necessary. So LED boards showing you the time and a timetable of the next service or two which is easy to read is great! However, there are also pitfalls sticking a spanner in the works. It is like a “good” invention that doesn’t solve a problem…

    I will explain… If I am standing at a bus stop and my bus is late, I will know what buses stop at the bus stop and where they go. This means if another bus comes along (with a BIG destination screen on the bus saying the route) going where I want to get to I will get on that one. See, this is common sense.

    Reliability with the technology is also a problem. People will rely on it. It will go wrong. Blown fuse, vandalism, service outages with provider, and not to mention either a few LEDs will fail or the components will malfunction (typically due to weather i.e. too cold) so all you see is lines scroll along – typical faults with LED boards.

    Lets not mention the cost of electricity for these – which I assume is why SCC wants to cut street lights to balance the cost. My problem is, considering no bus operators are public bodies (some are arms-reach owned by councils), it isn’t the Council’s responsibility to be paying for value-added services.

    Council owned bus stations are one thing because it is their responsibility for transport – including making sure they are accessible for all. Destination boards at bus stops (not at bus stations) should be matched as capital expenditure from bus companies – yes it would mean increased fares which isn’t good news – but not from Government as they can function perfectly fine without the technology. What next? Council paying private bus companies to have more comfortable seats for passengers?

  • Eight new cycle and walk routes to be created in the town. I like the promotion of these methods of transport. I walk places now and never use the bus. What annoys me is pedestrian pavements that have been converted into cycle paths. Where do we pedestrians go? Do we walk on the road where bikes should be?I don’t mind the 50/50 split so much although it is annoying where some cyclists think they own the pavement.

    So for me, this is bad news. I haven’t seen the plans of the locations though. They are going to have a new cycle park at the bus stations. Are we to cycle to town and get the bus back? Means we have left our bike. Alternatively, what about getting on a bus with a bike blocking up the disabled and buggy bays, and getting off into town to ride about?

  • Real time traffic information for motorists with details of traffic information and parking.Hello? You write a proposal to “improve” public transport, help improve cycling too… and then after closing a Park and Ride station, you want to make motorists’ lives easier by saying where they can park?

Thousands of Citizens starve…
Couldn’t £25 million be better spent?

Today I was walking past Lidl… a budget supermarket… and thought about the ruin of middle class people and their forced life decisions. So, Sainsbury’s I went past earlier, was a typical place with a car park… many average cars, some rather nice, some complete wrecks… I then compared with what I saw in Lidl. I didn’t see a single wreck, untidy car, bumpers hanging off, smashing lamps, very old cars or one involved in an incident… no, nothing like that. They were all rather modern, rather immaculate… which made me realise.

In order for them to keep their independence, reliability etc. they chose to keep their car but make cut backs in other areas.  OK, lets not assume, perhaps some were the wealthy middle class type that hates spending money… but not the majority surely. Also, some may choose Lidl over other supermarkets due to personal preference.

This then shows that people are struggling with their finances*. There are far more people with difficulties especially those on benefits, who don’t have their own transport.

Bid in reverse?

I get the distinct impression that the Council worked backwards by aiming to get a pot of money, and then finding what to spend it on. Many millions alone will be spent on replacing a roundabout (which has a sewer/drain or something which is pricey to move) and subway which can be directly contributed with IBC’s hatred of the subway’s upkeep. Specified as for the purpose of improving traffic, replacing the pedestrian traffic lanes via the subway which doesn’t affect traffic, to above ground where traffic will be halted each time people want to cross the road, is only going to hamper the concept.

Although far from perfect, the bus stations do not really need replacing. The Old Cattle Market bus station is jinxed because for the size of land which exists, the station cannot really be remodelled to better effect. The main entrance connects to an oversubscribed road of the Bus Loop and the other entrance typically heads to the wrong direction on to a one way road system which makes returning back into the heart of the town centre difficult and would require travelling anti-clockwise through the outskirts of the town centre back to outside the bus station and continue without turning into it.

Due to this for the majority of the routes buses need to turn round towards the bottom of the bus station. The only alternative would be directing buses past the double roundabout into the alternative entrance so they are available to exit at the main entrance.

As for Tower Ramparts and the ever decreasing frequency of the bus services there is absolutely no need for extending the bus lanes. It fits its purpose rather well. Ipswich is a big town but overall it will never be a large transport hub such as cities typically are, so major investment isn’t necessary.

As for information screens… these aren’t entirely new idea. The Old Cattle Market, many bus stops such as on Route 13, and the Hospital has them. These ones are supposedly better.

There is also a proposal for a new shuttle bus service linking the rail station, town and college up. This is unlikely to be a free shuttle and the proposals have included the cost of two vehicles. There is absolutely no reason why the buses couldn’t be leased – with some money reserved for the initial year or two costs.

Plans to make Upper Brook Street for pedestrians only will seriously upset the shops (in particular the coffee shops). I do question why they stalled this old idea. One can only assume it was forward knowledge about this bid. Some bus services were diverted away from such route and they could have made the road for pedestrians only.

I don’t doubt that some of these changes will become a sweet touch, however, are they really necessary and will they make a substantial and big enough difference for the amount of money spent? I don’t think so.

Ringfenced Cash

The problem is there is too much of this non-sense. The pot had a lot of money in it… The task of the Council was to make it Ipswich’s. This couldn’t be stuck to a greater use, it had to be for transport – these are the best ideas the council could come up with (as opposed to direct investment in the bus company itself to increase services!).

Ironically, this bid has probably stole the money from a rival bid which would have really had a better impact.

If they were actually more serious about transport in Ipswich and realised they had £25 million to spend wisely, they could have invested some into keeping Park and Ride (Bury Road) open, bought some new buses, improved frequency of services, subsidised the bus fares and improved the bus shelters for every bus stop that required it.

Even after all that, would probably still have £20 million left for various other possible ideas.

Of course, maybe its just me being grumpy. Thoughts everyone?

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17 Responses

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  1. A friend next to where I am writing in the Library in Northgate Street has already written to the Evening Star saying many of these things!

    Obviously great minds think alike.

    Andrew Coates

    October 29, 2010 at 3:39 pm

  2. The above is just the short version lol

    Talking of the evening star… who thinks an incident where someone poured petrol through someones letterbox was an suspected arson attack… (ffs, surely just a contribution back from someone who the occupants offered a lift to. Obviously, had no cash on hand and thought the delivery of a liquid fuel through the letter box was the correct way (OF COURSE ITS ARSON!!))

    The ES recently reported how such plans will “create new jobs”… now the swearing ban is applicable on this site, its difficult having to think of replacements! lol

    “BS!”

    Then there was the naked man at rush hour, news 5 days later! its not NEWS!! haha… lets hope ES dies off by end of the year, its standards are rock bottom these days, the newspaper as well as the online site…

    Its almost Nov 5th: time for an article on aliens/UFOs… then a week later revealing they are chinese lanterns… Like these did last year about 3 times!

    Its lame, we need an alternative!

    Flexible New Deal

    October 29, 2010 at 5:11 pm

  3. For clarification…

    13,270 is the figure given for Jobseekers Allowance and Disability benefit etc. claimants in Ipswich district (there are others in the “Ipswich” area… but the figure is just for the IBC area) last year (2009).

    I couldn’t obtain more recent figures but suspect this number has increased and with the council cuts and those working at JCP etc. this could dramatically increase further.

    Flexible New Deal

    October 29, 2010 at 5:23 pm

  4. DEAR FLEXIBLE NEW DEAL,
    I AM SURE THE EVENING STAR HAS IT’S OWN AGENDA. WHAY WOULD AND EVENING NEWSPAPER COME OUT IN THE MORNING. I HAVE SEEN IT AROUND TOWN FROM 10;00AM. ON THE SUBJECT OF THE NEW BUS STATIONS AND THE TRAFFIC MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS. I WAS IN THE CUSTOMER SERVICES CENTRE ON THE CORNHILL THE OTHERDAY. THERE IS A NOTICE UP THAT THE PAYMENT OFFICE IS CLOSING NEXT YEAR. SO WHERE ARE WE NOW SUPPOSED TO PAY ANY BILLS SUCH AS COUNCIL TAX ETC. THERE IS SOME REFERENCE TO PAYPOINTS/PAYZONES. THATS ALL WELL AND GOOD IN THE COUNCILS EYES, BUT WHAT HAPPENS IF THERE ARE QUESTIONS YOU NEED ANSWERS TO.

    PHILIP

    October 30, 2010 at 7:42 am

  5. My friends have seen that notice as well Phillip.

    It’s a scandal: it means you will have to pay (Rent, council tax, allotments etc) through Paypoints in Newsagents etc. Or, by cheque and letter.

    I assume, though I’ve never done it, you could pay by the Internet.

    I would hardly want to put cash in the hands of newsagents at the same time as people are forking out cash for the Lottery, fags and 9% cider.

    This closure is just another example of how the Liberal-Tory Junta that rules Ipswich treats people.

    Andrew Coates

    October 30, 2010 at 8:54 am

    • Andy if its ok, I have several other posts of content regarding this £25m scheme.

      It is a big issue for Ipswich and thus should bring a lot of local folk on to our site who may not have seen it before.

      Flexible New Deal

      October 30, 2010 at 11:53 am

      • Yes, but perhaps we should stagger them with ones on Housing Benefit etc?

        People checked out the closure of the direct payment in the One centre – which will affect claimants and many others.

        It is going ahead next year.

        On our the Suffolk Coalition For Public Services stall in Tavern Street this morning the new road scheme, fancy gadgets, etc, issue also came up.

        Apart from what you’ve already said, the picture in the Star yesterday of the traffic lights to replace the roundabout at the bottom of Civc Dive looks a ridiculous waste of money.

        Andrew Coates

        October 30, 2010 at 2:36 pm

      • So much content: so little time! haha

        I agree…

        Flexible New Deal

        October 30, 2010 at 5:15 pm

  6. Dear Mr Coates.
    A near neighbour of mine was paying his rent through a payzone outlet. He got a rent default notice. Although he had the payzone slips, turns out the machine was cloned. Got the slips but the money was NOT going to payzone and then landlords. Got sorted out. Shop was on NORWICH ROAD. it is no longer there. The whole scheme it seems is for EVERYBODY to pay their council dues via DIRECT DEBITS. As these can only be paid on certain days of the year and only certain ammounts maybe paid. It smacks of everybody being forced to have a bank account and also maintain a healthy bank balance. What will become of the people that are not so well off and sadly the homeless and thode that rely on the outreach workers etc.

    Philip

    October 30, 2010 at 9:17 am

  7. Hi everyone I am sorry if i have posted this in the wrong area but take a look at this and the headline, This was featured on thisismoney.co.uk

    Vodafone’s £6bn tax bill let-off and £7bn benefits cuts
    This is Money has ended up starring in a campaign comparing Vodafone’s £6bn tax bill let-off with the benefits cuts.

    And today this has taken a new turn with protesters staging sit in protests at Vodafone stores – forcing them to close.

    Kyron

    October 30, 2010 at 12:05 pm

    • Well done to the protesters!!

      This is step 1.

      If that doesn’t work, I suggest step 2 with Franco-Greek influence (something on the lines of causing a £5bn bill for Vodafone… hey, I am not personally making any suggestions)

      Too bad staff can’t walk out… things are so bad that job security for them is more important that this issue.

      Flexible New Deal

      October 30, 2010 at 12:34 pm

  8. duncan smiths portrayal and rhetoric to the poor and jobless has been disgusting,the constantant statements combined with sensationalism of the press, a norman tebbit mk11 with fifth gear have all created a dreadful image of the less fortunate,the usual scrounger/work shy and now fraudster have hit the headlines more and more.

    with all this how are people supposed to ever pick themselves up when shown in this light,its a disgrace in this day and age that a government/country should portray a section of population like this,its no more better then a mugabe regime and a total abuse of citizenship/rights.this has caused a loss of confidence in the country as a whole for many and these are expected to overcome illnesses and confidence at a drop of a hat.

    the stress of dealing with job centre plus for many with mental health issus is overwhelming,it can also be said from whats been experienced and witnessed this department can act as a trigger for problems in those susceptible,this cannot be allowed to continue as its counter productive and doomed to fail.

    duncan smith with his ideas are totally unworkable,get on the bus with fares costing as they are many on benefits are priced off public transport altogether,also to pick on areas that have seen severe unemployment/destruction of local industries is also a total disgrace,he is unrealistic/out of touch/arrogant/condescending and self interested.

    the world outside his office is a different matter.

    ken

    November 4, 2010 at 2:40 pm

    • Author’s suicide ‘due to slash in benefits’

      FRIENDS of an acclaimed Scottish writer have accused the new government’s crackdown on welfare benefits of being a factor in his suicide.
      Paul Reekie, who, along with Irvine Welsh, was part of a wave of young Scottish authors who rose to international prominence in the 1990s, killed himself in his Edinburgh home last month.

      The Leith-based writer and poet, who was 48, left no suicide note but friends say letters informing him that his welfare benefits were to be halted were found close to his body.

      Reekie’s former publisher Kevin Williamson believes the actions of Chancellor George Osborne, who has introduced unprecedented measures to slash Britain’s welfare bill, helped to push his close friend and literary collaborator towards taking his own life.

      The founder of the Rebel Inc publishing label has sent a strongly worded letter to Osborne, linking his policies to Reekie’s death.

      The letter states: “It has come to my attention that while many of my friends and I were at the funeral of our good friend Paul Reekie, aged 48, it would appear that you were giving a speech in Parliament announcing your intentions to slash the benefits paid to the poorest and most vulnerable in our society.

      “I thought I would let you know that Paul took his own life. He didn’t leave a note but he laid out two letters on his table. One was notifying him that his housing benefit had been stopped. The other was notifying him that his incapacity benefit had been stopped.

      “The reason I’m writing this letter is just so you know the human cost of attacking those on benefits.”

      Williamson, who published Reekie’s novella, Submission, in the best-selling 1996 anthology Children of Albion Rovers, said: “The letter will be binned and forgotten, but there will be loads more folk in Paul’s shoes over the coming years trying to cope with unemployment, depression, house repossessions and stress.”

      John Wight, a friend of the late writer, said he believed Reekie had been suffering from “the after-effects of a serious assault”.

      Another close friend believes the letters from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) may have been the final straw for Reekie, who is thought to have been suffering from depression. In an online tribute to the devoted follower of Hibernian FC, he spoke of the last time they met, just days before he took his own life: “I knew (Paul) was lonely and wasn’t too happy overall.

      “He told me that he’d had a ‘brutally bad’ time recently, especially because social security officials had disallowed and stopped his disability benefit, even though he had a bad heart condition.

      “I didn’t know Paul for any of his artistic things really, just as an absolutely brilliant pal and out-and-out funny bloke.”

      A political group to oppose cuts to disability payments, the Black Triangle Campaign, has been launched in Reekie’s memory.

      A spokesman said: “The Chancellor’s emergency Budget announcing changes to the benefits regime, allegedly to get millions of sick and disabled people off benefits ‘and into work’ implicitly suggests that a great many of them are malingerers, and that their doctors and consultants are either ‘too soft’ on them or are somehow acting as co-conspirators in the execution of alleged benefit fraud.

      “Unfortunately, Paul was a victim of this policy and found he simply couldn’t take it any more.”

      Fife-born Reekie was a well known figure at literary and musical events, as well as football matches, in his adopted home city. He reached his widest audience in 1994 when his poem, When Caesar’s Mushroom is in Season, was published in Welsh’s short story collection, The Acid House, a global best-seller. Reekie shared a stage with the Trainspotting author at a Hogmanay event at the Traverse Theatre in 1996 and supported Nick Cave at Princes Street Gardens in 2002. He was also a talented musician and featured alongside Joy Division in a 1979 compilation album.

      Strathclyde University’s Fraser of Allander Institute believes the pressure on Scotland’s jobless will increase and has forecast up to 126,000 job losses over the next five years.

      Paul Farmer, chief executive of health charity Mind, fears a radical tightening of work capability assessments could lead to tens of thousands of people being forced to look for work when they are unable to do so.

      He said: “Most people with mental health problems want to work, but need time and support to be able to do so.

      “We have seen some truly shocking examples of people who cannot be reasonably expected to enter any workplace being assessed as fit for work.”

      The UK government insists the country cannot afford to avoid tackling spiralling welfare costs, which reached £192bn last year.

      Ministers had already begun tough measures to tackle benefit fraud by testing more than 10,000 claimants a week.

      As part of the crackdown Osborne has also set out plans to cut housing benefit and disability living allowance.

      Speaking after his Budget he said of welfare reform: “We have got to make sure we do it in a way that protects those with genuine needs, those with disabilities, but also encourages those who can work into work.”

      A spokeswoman for the DWP confirmed Reekie had recently been sent correspondence relating to benefits but was unable to discuss their contents.

      She said: “We are very sorry to hear this tragic news, but cannot comment further as a report has been sent to the procurator fiscal.”

      http://news.scotsman.com/news/Author39s-suicide-39due-to-slash.6438473.jp

      The Scotsman

      November 4, 2010 at 3:01 pm

  9. “this department can act as a trigger for problems in those susceptible” – good point, ken. stress is an underlying trigger for mental illness; there can’t be anything more stressful than not having the bare essentials of life such as food and a shelter; expect an upsurge in cases of mental illness and suicide.

    Dr H Shipman

    November 4, 2010 at 2:55 pm

  10. Hi everyone

    We are receiving reports of strange lights being spotted in the skies above Ipswich. If you or anyone you know have seen these then please get in touch with the news desk asap

    Thanks

    The Reporters at The Evening Star

    The Evening Star
    Archant Suffolk
    Press House
    Lower Brook Street
    Ipswich
    IP4 1AN
    Telephone: 01473 230023

    The Evening Star

    November 4, 2010 at 3:56 pm

  11. […] Thousands of Ipswich poorest struggle while £25 million wasted […]

  12. […] Thousands of Ipswich poorest struggle while £25 million wasted […]


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