November report to Mid Samford parishes (Babergh District)

From District Councillors Sue Carpendale: and Kathy Pollard:

In this report:

  • Babergh/Mid Suffolk in Parliament
  • Transformation Challenge Grant success
  • The future of Council accommodation
  • October storm
  • Fly-tipping doesn’t pay – two recent successful prosecutions
  • Hadleigh – East House plans

Babergh/Mid Suffolk in Parliament
MPs in the House of Commons recently debated the issue of local government finance. David Ruffley MP, whose constituency includes the western part of Mid Suffolk district, made a number of positive references to the integration achievements of Babergh and Mid Suffolk, whilst the local government minister Brandon Lewis praised the Suffolk-wide family of councils for their achievements in making savings through sharing services and collaborative working.

Transformation Challenge Grant success
DCLG has allocated Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils £167k from its Transformation Challenge Award fund.  To put this into context the £6.9m fund was heavily oversubscribed – 145 bids totalling £66m.  DCLG advised that our work “caught their eye for a number of reasons“ and demonstrated “… commitment to delivering transformational changes to the way that we work “ and that “as an exemplar … offers a strong model for other authorities and public service organisations”.  The money will be used to support our development in several ways, some to support the on-going work of the transformational enquiry groups (TEGs) and also to produce material and learning for other organisations (part of the criteria for the bid was “transferable learning”), whilst the bulk of the cash will support the costs of changing the way the two councils operate, implementing the ideas generated by the TEGs; this could include support for business plans, legal issues with new operating models and the direct involvement of communities.

The future of Council accommodation
Last year, both councils agreed that they would retain their main offices for a period of three to five years.  It has now been agreed that in the face of predicted government support dropping to zero in five years that a full evaluation of options should be considered.  A year ago the councils were concerned about a loss of sovereignty; each having a main office gave a real sense of identity. However, there is wide recognition that sovereignty and accommodation need not be linked.  Many officers are working across both sites which has an adverse impact on efficient and effective working, and on public access.  Our two main buildings cost us £1.1m per annum.
The East Anglian Daily Times ran a story on the review and decided we are off to Ipswich! but at the moment there are no options on the table. The first stage is essentially research, consultation, timeframes and identification of options that the councils could practically achieve. Public access is a key priority, but we are prepared to ask some very radical questions about how we proceed.  Nothing is decided, but somehow we have to find a further £8.4m of savings between the two councils in the next few years.

October storm
Monday 28th saw the worst storm to hit our region since the gales of 1987.  The impact was felt by many for the rest of the week, with thousands of homes without power, many phones not working (the majority of modern phones need to plug into the mains) significant disruption to travel and damage to homes, vehicles and other property.
On the Wednesday and Thursday, drop-in centres were set up by a number of agencies, supported by Babergh’s Housing Services, Emergency Planning, UK Power Networks (UKPN) and voluntary organisations who were providing hot drinks and hot food for people who turned up and were still without power.  This enabled them to discuss their individual concerns with a UKPN rep and to charge their mobile phones.  BBC Radio Suffolk let people know about the facilities at Ofton Community Centre, Long Melford and Great Waldingfield village halls. This event showed how well communities fed in information to the councils and the effective ways in which the different agencies and teams on the ground all worked together.

Fly-tipping doesn’t pay – two recent successful prosecutions
In January this year, a member of the public reported that a a Transit van load of waste including televisions, computer monitors, wooden furniture, plastic tubs, a number plate, fuel receipts and general waste had been dumped on a verge by a field gateway. The waste was cleared by the Council’s Rapid Response service and the culprit traced. A Sudbury man has been ordered to carry out 80 hours of unpaid work and to pay costs of £852.80.  In another action last week, an Ipswich man was ordered to pay a total of £520, after he pleaded guilty to failing to ensure that waste in his possession, but given to others for disposal, would be properly dealt with.

Hadleigh – East House
A public exhibition on the revised proposals for the redevelopment of East House, George Street, Hadleigh was held on 8th November at Hadleigh Pool & Leisure Centre.  The revised proposals will also be on Babergh’s website from week commencing 11th November.  The council still intends to use funds from the sale of East House towards the costs of the leisure centre in Hadleigh which was opened in 2012.

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