First published in The Felixstowe Flyer, March 2020.
Luckily storm Ciara doesn’t appear to have caused too much damage in our community, although localised flooding on roads by surface water was reported.
We know that sewage and surface water drainage systems are under severe pressure in Walton and other parts of Felixstowe. However, we have been advised by Highways who are responsible for surface water drainage that no budget to upgrade the system is available until 2022. Understandably local residents are alarmed, particularly as the developer of the Candlett Road site has indicated the surface water and sewage systems will be connected to existing services.
During a meeting with the Highways Authority and Anglian Water in November 2019, we raised concerns about flooding, particularly in High Road West and Church Lane. The Highways Authority explained that they had to prioritise internal flooding to homes and roads where flooding has not subsided for two days or more. Although Walton High Road West had been flooded, traffic had not been obstructed and therefore the road had not been closed. we explained that vehicles travelling along High Road West had exacerbated the risk of flooding to homes by displacing water, and therefore it may be preferable to close the road in future. What is really needed is local authority investment in the highways infrastructure and drainage system. It is therefore essential that any flooding events, especially where homes are flooded, are reported to help evidence the regularity, severity and impact of such events. This is the link fo reporting such incidents: https://www.suffolk.gov.uk/roads-and-transport/flooding-and-drainage/report-a-flood-in-suffolk/.
From the beginning of April, the East Suffolk Council will take over the administration and monitoring of illegally parked vehicles. Twenty new traffic wardens will be employed across the District, with authority to issue traffic notices to motorists who do not observe parking restrictions. We understand that fines will be substantial.
Car parking charges have also been reviewed by the Council and from the beginning of April charges will increase. However, the periods of permitted parking will also increase which on balance will be of benefit to motorists. We understand that free 30-minute parking will be available at some car parks in the town, but not the town centre, and we will see the introduction of cashless ticket machines to enable motorists to pay via a mobile phone app, although they will still have the option to pay for a ticket by cash if they wish.
With the impending Budget, and close to £80 million having been spent to clean up “Big Ben” (yes you read that correctly), we believe that it is now time for the Government to address the impact that austerity has wrought on our community. It is unacceptable that as we enter the new decade, we are still tackling homelessness and deprivation in Suffolk, which inevitably has adverse effects on educational achievement and continues a vicious cycle of poverty. This can impact on wellbeing and lead to mental health issues. An urgent review of Universal Credit is required, together with investment in our underfunded NHS and other public services.