September 2018 breakfast
Back to The Mix for the winter, MSBE 2 is launched and everything you ever wanted to know about potholes!
Clearly, the prospect of having a moan about potholes and other road-mending issues encouraged 24 people to arrive at the crack of dawn for our first breakfast at our winter venue, The Mix.
Or could it have been that people were eager to hear about our second business exhibition?
We must not, of course, forget the attractions of the always-excellent Full English breakfast.
Everything about potholes!
Refreshingly honest enlightenment on those irritating road issues from Mary Evans. As the County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways, Transport and Rural Affairs, she said that maintaining the county’s roads “accounts for one-tenth of the budget and 90% of the noise”.
This is not surprising as the state of the roads can have a big impact on both the costs and the efficiency of small businesses, she added.
Potholes were a big problem last winter, but, like every local authority, Suffolk CC has to have evidence in order to decide on when to take action. The urgency is classified by the seriousness and by the category of road to schedule work “from emergency to 14 weeks”.
However, from October, Suffolk is to follow neighbouring counties and adopt a classification into just three categories of intervention. This should reduce instances, such as one in Brandeston last spring. Crews went out on three separate occasions to fix eight potholes on one short stretch of road.
The new system should improve efficiency and reduce the current 38% of their time that crews spent travelling to locations to be repaired.
The next big gripe, she said, was road closures and less than informative signage or temporary traffic lights set on red at both ends. “I sometimes think we ought to have signs saying, ‘Road really closed’,” she said, adding that she shared the frustrations of businesses that all this can cause. A new scheme is about to be tested that should address all these issues.
Grass cutting on verges is another common complaint, although getting the balance right between ensuring safety and visibility and the need to be environmentally aware, such as when birds may be nesting, can be difficult. A new Government Health and Safety directive mandating that there had to be an accompanying vehicle behind the grass cutting tractor has not helped. This has added £150,000 to the county council’s £300,000 budget for the work.
Then there is the never-ending problem of road resurfacing. The council had to borrow £7 million for 250 miles of resurfacing works but a new method of mapping to identify the most heavily-used roads will improve the efficiency of this too.
With a total overspend of £200,000 on the highways budget for the last two years, said Ms Evans, not to mention additional directives from Government on ensuring gullies are kept clear, clearly the county has to improve its efficiency on highways issues.
Above all, she said, they also need to get better at telling the public what they are doing.
MSBE2 – Mid Suffolk Business Exhibition
Wednesday, March 27, 2019…is the date for your diary when our second – even bigger and better – business exhibition will be taking place at The Mix. Members can book early from October 1 to October 31, at a reduced rate, before bookings are open to the general public at an early bird rate from November 1 to November 30.
Members will be sent a link to book online from Monday, October 1, while interested non-members are encouraged to sign up for Exhibition news at www.msbe.biz
Tell us what you want
Allan is happy to receive any suggestions for what members want to see the Chamber doing in the future. Please send your ideas (and your want lists) to [email protected].
Dates for your diary:
|November Coffee Morning||November Breakfast|
|Needham Market Community Centre||The Mix, Stowmarket|
|Friday, November 2||Friday, November 16|
|10.00am||Starting at 6.45am|
For more information contact Keely Taylor
phone: 01449 770965
e-mail: [email protected]
Anyone who has a story to publicise should contact marketing officer Alison Withers: