This page provides more details on some of the hot topics the Council is currently working. If you have any comments or suggestions then please contact our Clerk
Current Issues are:
Those that live on, or near, the High Street and Church Road will be aware of the increasing problems of congestion, particularly when there is a problem with the main roads, or the Orwell Bridge, and our parish becomes a cut-through. Some of you will be aware that recently an ambulance on the way to an incident was stuck in the High Street and couldn't reach its destination.
Over the years the Council has been very active however it is not a simple issue to solve. The High Street is notorious for congestion problems which have a knock on effect on Church Road and School Lane. We know that cars parked are being hit and there have been a number of significant accidents. The Council is in regular discussion with Suffolk Council Leader Matthew Hicks, Mid Suffolk District Councillors Tim Passmore and John Whitehead. Tim is also Police & Crime Commissioner for Suffolk.
In December '20 some of our Parish Councillors met with Matthew Hicks and a range of improvements were discussed. As a result Matthew Hicks has sent on our requirements, with his endorsement, to Suffolk County Council Highways. It will take a few months before we hear a response back but this will continue to be reviewed by our "B1078 and Highways Working Group" chaired by Cllr John Peecock as well as the full Parish Council.
This is timely because of a review of the effectiveness and the routes for the Suffolk Lorry Route Network (LRN). The LRN is designed so that HGV lorries should not come down the High Street and are only allowed to go up-hill. We are part of the Lorry Watch Scheme however we have reported that it is not effective and despite raising examples the LRN is Suffolk, run by Trading Standards, have not taken action against a single offender. Useful link: https://www.suffolk.gov.uk/roads-and-transport/lorry-management/
Congestion is clearly not an easy issue to resolve in Coddenham, it has not been solved despite it being a priority for many years. It is going to take a significant change to make a difference, such as a bypass around Ipswich so that we are not a rat-run for access from the A14 to the coastal side of our county (particularly an issue with Sizewell C coming). When transformational options have been previously put in front of residents there has been strong objections, and therefore the congestion, and associated risks to property, injury to people and impact on property prices continues to be a major issue with no apparent solution.
Of significant recent concern are the plans for Sizewell C. Having reviewed this development the Council has written to the Planning Authority to express our serious concern about the lack of infrastructure to support this development and the direct impact we expect on our Parish. For more details please read our response letter by clicking on Parish Council Response Letter: Sizewell C
As part of its response to EDF Energy’s latest community consultation on its application for Sizewell C, Suffolk County Council (SCC) has welcomed the energy provider’s movement towards reducing the number of additional heavy good vehicle movements on Suffolk’s roads and increasing the use of rail and marine freight deliveries during site construction. SCC has urged EDF Energy for many years to maximise freight deliveries by sea and rail and significantly, being of the view that the transport proposals were not sustainable, so it welcomes the proposals for an additional Beach Landing Facility on Sizewell Beach to bring construction materials in by sea, as well as an additional night-time rail delivery of materials to site. In its response, SCC also reflects that many of the proposals offered still lack vital elements in detail and assessment at this stage – such as impacts of the proposals on the coastline or night-time disturbance of residents living close to railway lines. SCC would welcome the opportunity for further dialogue with SZC C to better understand details of the current proposals, and the evidence base which has led to them.It is encouraging to see that EDF Energy has begun listening to the concerns raised by SCC and Suffolk’s communities include the input from our Parish Council. Recognising the need for further detail, SCC does welcome the principle of the changes proposed by EDF Energy, as they begin to address some of the concerns repeatedly raised. However, there still remains work to be done if the scheme is to be acceptable to SCC and local communities - not least in the area of further eliminating, minimising, mitigating, or compensating for the impact of the scheme on Suffolk’s unique natural environment.
A 20mph speed restriction was introduced a few years ago to help reduce speeds in Coddenham. Unfortunately, Suffolk Police has stated that exceeding speeds in a 20mph area will not be enforced.
The Day Foundation has provided the Council with a speed indicator device which you can see on School Road. Many thanks to Colin Hardy for managing the speed indicator device and providing the results.
The pie chart on the right is the most recent data (August to November 2020). This measured more than 34,000 vehicles with 59% within the 20mph limit, and 90% not exceeding 25mph. The worst offender was travelling at 54mph.
The Parish Council welcomes any suggestions or comments from parishioners as to how to reduce traffic, reduce accidents and reduce traffic speeds through our parish. Please contact us via the Parish Clerk
During October to January each year, all Parish Councils set their budgets for the next financial year (which runs from April to March). This is important because it directly affects the amount of Council Tax we all have to pay, this is because part of the Council Tax bill is for the Parish Council (called the "Parish Precept").
The amount you pay to the Parish Council through your Council Tax bill is based on the total Precept divided by the number of houses, and the council tax band of your property.
For Coddenham, the Precept is broken down into four main areas, plus a general reserve fund (for emergencies).
One of the biggest parts of the Precept is the payment of a loan dating back to when the Community Centre was first built. This costs the Parish ~£13,000 each year. For the past three years the Day Foundation has very kindly paid this loan payment, but unfortunately they recently decided they couldn’t continue their support. We are very pleased to announce that in response to our Autumn/Winter newsletter, benefactors from within the parish, who wish to remain anonymous, have offered to pay the loan payments for the next two years. On behalf of all parishioners, the Parish Council have expressed our thanks for this act of extreme generosity.
The Precept for the current financial year (2020/21) was £37,810 in total, which works out at £136 per year for a Band D home. We were going to have to increase the precept by £17,000 to cover repaying the loan as well as a business rate demand for the Community Centre, taking it to over £50,000 (around £200 for a Band D home). However, this very generous gift, combined with careful financial management of our budgets, has meant that the precept in total will be dropping to £32,227 (£117 for a Band D home). Overall, this means that the Parish Council precept within your tax bill will drop by 14% for the year 2021.
The graph below shows how careful financial management has reduced the expected precept from over £50,000 to £45,227, and the generous gift has reduced the precept further to just £32,227.
The main groups of costs are summarised below. Please note that Mid-Suffolk District Council use Band D homes as the average, so the costs per home quoted are based on Band D and therefore costs will be greater if you live in Band E or higher, and lower if you live in Band C or lower.
These are the costs for a range of services in the parish, this ranges from our Clerk's salary, street lighting, maintenance of the churchyard, tree surgery, ground maintenance to dog litter bins. For 2021/22 this will be £14,048 plus a provision of £1,000 to increase our emergency reserve funds. This means that the average Band D household will pay ~£52 a year for these costs.
This is the cost of repaying loans, taken out when the Community Centre was first built, for the purchase of the centre and surrounding land. Unfortunately, the Council at the time (none of whom are now involved with the current Council) took a decision to decline an offer of financial support from The Day Foundation and instead took out a Government loan. These loans will be fully repaid by 2030. This decision has left the parish with a significant financial burden which is why the precept payments in our Council Tax payments are one of the highest in Suffolk.
For the last three years The Day Foundation has kindly been able to fund this loan, thereby preventing the need for it to be paid for through the precept payment. However the Day Foundation have notified the Council that they will be withdrawing their support. This would have meant having to increase the Precept by £13,152 to pay for the loan repayment, however, as mentioned above we are delighted that benefactors have come forward with the extremely generous gift of paying £13,000 each year for the next two years. This has saved a Band D home ~£49 a year.
in 2019 the Parish Council transferred ownership of the Community Centre building, tennis courts, bowls green and the recreational area to a newly formed charitable incorporated organisation (CIO). The Parish Council has funded the Community Centre more than £30,000 for this year and last, in addition to providing £25,000 reserve funds. For 2021/22 agreement has been reached between the Parish Council and the Coddenham Centre CIO to fully support the CIO budget proposal of £13,136. This means that the average Band D household will pay ~£49 next year for these costs.
The Parish Council has funded the Community Centre CIO £15,286 for this year (20/21) and the same for the previous year (19/20), this is in addition to providing £25,000 reserve funds (a total of £55,000 in two years).
Mid-Suffolk District Council is seeking business rate payments for the Community Centre, including the tennis courts and bowling green. Unfortunately, the previous Parish Council was advised that business rates would not be due and made no provision. This totals almost £10,000 for the past three years. In order to minimise the impact on the precept we have reached an agreement to spread the payment over three years and we are separately challenging the rateable value applied to parts of the premises. The outcome of our challenge will not be known until later in 2021.
Our Parish Councillor John Peecock is leading the review and the challenge of these charges. The payment in 21/22 will be £3,892 and this means that the average Band D household will pay £16 a year for these costs.
In addition to the operating costs we also hold a ‘General Reserve’. This is used for when we need exceptional items of expenditure. A recent example was when the Church wall needed urgent repairs. The reserves have reduced over recent years to around £8,000 and we need to ensure we have sufficient reserve funds. The Parish Council identified this risk last year and included a £7,000 provision in the budget. As a result, we only need to increase the General Reserve by £1,000 in the 21/22 budget and this has been included in the Ongoing Costs £15,048.
For such a small community we have numerous websites. This is not ideal because it fragments local community information. Historically, the Parish Council website (a previous version to this one) included pages for all of the community groups. However, the community group web pages were not kept up to date, partly because editing the site was difficult and time consuming. The result was that in addition to the Parish Council website a separate village website was created managed by volunteers. Unfortunately, despite a lot of work, this too was difficult to keep up to date and was withdrawn a few years ago.
At the end of 2019 discussions were taking place to centralise all the community groups, including the Parish Council, onto a single website. In March 2020, in response to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, a separate website was established for the CCRG (Coddenham COVID-19 Response Group). Later in 2020 the website changed to become the Coddenham Community Response Group providing a website presence for many of the community groups.
The Parish Council had decided to change from its previous website provider, due to difficulties in editing, and it considered a number of website providers, including moving to the new website created for the CCRG. However, becoming part of a single website by using the same website as that created for the CCRG turned out to be not possible. This is primarily for three reasons:
1. Cost: the Parish Council has a responsibility, and accountability, to parishioners to manage what it spends, since the money comes from all of our council tax bills. The website platform created for the CCRG would have cost taxpayers >£600 per year, at least six-times what our current platform costs (just £100 per year).
2. Legal Compliance: Parish Council websites are required by law to publish certain information (such as minutes, agendas, finance reports) and to be accessibility compliant. The website platform created for the CCRG did not have the capability (without expensive development) to do this. Our current provider (Suffolk Cloud) are specialists in Parish Council websites which keeps costs down and ensures we are meeting legal requirements.
3. Editorial Management: because of the legal requirements on a Parish Council, unlike other community groups, strict control is required over editorial content. This control would not have been possible on the CCRG platform.
So, whilst it is not ideal to have multiple websites for such a small parish, the situation was unavoidable. This should not be an issue as both sites should be seen as complimentary; the Parish Council website is the site to visit for all council and COVID news and the CCRG website for local community and COVID news.
At the end of October plans to turn the Dukes Head into a house were approved by Mid Suffolk District Council planning officers.
The Parish Council has for many years been escalating the situation with the Dukes Head pub on the High Street, lobbying for action to be taken to reinstate it as a pub.
The owners applied for permission to convert the building into a home and although the Parish Council objected, Mid Suffolk District Council received only 4 comments from residents, 2 in favour of conversion, and 2 against.
There was also a five year “Asset of Community Value” period. This allows for other interests to come forward to try and activate community interest in the site. However, despite the very best efforts of some parishioners, unfortunately nothing was able to be resolved. It was only with great reluctance that the Parish Council determined to raise no objections to the application.
Over the years it has been clear that, as with so many village pubs, it is no longer viable for continuing as a pub. Whilst this is extremely disappointing we do have the excellent Country Club in Coddenham as well as a number of very good pubs nearby.
As part of the recent improvements at the entrance to the recreational ground we now have a new noticeboard for Parish Council information.
The noticeboard and fencing is made of “man-made timber”, this is “timber” made out of recycled plastic.
The noticeboard was funded from a District Council Locality Budget grant and our thanks go to District Councillors John Whitehead and Tim Passmore. We’d also like to thank the Community Centre CIO, our Parish Councillor Roy Groom, Alan West and other volunteers for all the work that made this possible.