October report to Mid Samford parishes

From District Councillors Sue Carpendale and Kathy Pollard

sue.carpendale@babergh.gov.uk  kathy.pollard@babergh.gov.uk

A14 Tolling

Babergh District councillors recently debated the issue of tolling on the A14 near Huntingdon. The Highways Agency have been consulting on the issue, but there was a tight deadline for responses by October 13th. More details of the proposed scheme are available on the Highways Agency website

Improvements to the route will cost £1.5bn, and the consultation suggests that motorists should contribute towards these costs by introducing tolls.  Recently announced road improvements elsewhere in England do NOT include tolls. Suffolk’s Chamber of Commerce point out that an A14 toll would be a major departure from current practice. Until now there have only been tolls on river crossings or the M6, where there is a clear alternative for all traffic. Details of their “No Toll Tax on Suffolk” campaign are on their website

There will be much needed improvements to the Girton interchange on the Cambridge Northern Bypass. The toll would be imposed on the new section of the A14 near Huntingdon and the proposal is to use automatic number plate recognition. We are unclear about how this will work with foreign vehicles.

The majority of Babergh councillors supported the view that vehicles should not be tolled. The campaign against tolling is being led by Suffolk Chamber of Commerce and has the support of all councils in the County as well as many commercial organisations. A fuller account is available on Kathy’s blog (see address above), but here are some extracts:

  • Tolls on the A14 would be discriminatory, adding costs to businesses in the East of England.
  • Many heavy goods haulage firms have a policy of not paying tolls. Tolls on the A14 will lead to traffic diverting onto less suitable alternative routes leading to an increase in congestion and accidents on those routes.

Textile recycling

Don’t forget that you can recycle textiles including shoes and handbags in the special bags provided. These should be tied up and placed inside the blue bin on top of your other recycling. However the bags are not being replaced automatically and to order replacements you have to ring 0845 603 9412, or email:  textiles@suffolk.gov.uk or call in at the library.

Please continue to give good quality items to charity shops and other good causes. The textile recycling service is really for items that would otherwise go in your black bin and be sent to landfill.

More information at www.greensuffolk.org/recycling/textiles-recycling/

Better Broadband initiative

Suffolk currently has some of the poorest broadband coverage in England, with no coverage at all in some parts of the County.  Suffolk councils have agreed to allocate investment to a maximum of £11.68m, which is matched by a further £11.68m from national Government. BT were awarded the contract to carry out the improvements.

  • The average broadband speed currently experienced by Suffolk’s consumers and small businesses is under 5Mbps (Megabits per second).
  • This average masks wide variations in speeds across the County; around a quarter get between 2Mbps and 4Mbps, and nearly one fifth (60,000 premises) get less than 2Mbps, with some parts of Suffolk unable to receive any broadband service at all.

The vision for Suffolk’s Better Broadband Programme is to deliver Superfast Broadband, offering typical speeds of 100Mbps, to everyone (100% of homes and small business) in Suffolk by 2020.  The interim objective is to get faster, more reliable broadband services to everyone in Suffolk by 2015.

However there will still be “black holes” in the coverage in sparsely populated rural areas and an alternative technology “fix” will be needed there.

Once deployment is completed in October 2015, 90% of Suffolk will have fibre broadband (85% of which with access speeds of at least 24Mbps), with the remaining 10% accessing speeds between 2Mbps and 24Mbps via a range of technologies.

To check the rollout of the programme in your area please look at the website: www.betterbroadbandsuffolk.com

Suffolk County Council’s Scrutiny committee looked at this issue at their meeting on Sep 26th and the above information is taken from the report which is available here

Babergh District Council meeting 19th Sep

The following items were discussed at the meeting:

  • A14 tolling (details included in this report)
  • Annual Treasury Management Report 2012/13
  • Scrap Metal Dealers Act
  • Statement of Accounts for the year 2012/13
  • Terms of reference for joint committees of Babergh and Mid Suffolk
  • Allocation of lead member roles to councillors: Kathy is the lead member for Public Access

Further details available on the Babergh website

Babergh Planning committee turns down Hadleigh Tesco application

BABERGH DISTRICT COUNCIL MEDIA RELEASE

PLANNING COMMITTEE REFUSES HADLEIGH TESCO APPLICATION

For immediate release: 18 September 2013

This morning Babergh’s Planning Committee voted to refuse Tesco’s application to build a supermarket at the former Brett Works Site in Hadleigh.

After considering the Tesco application on the edge of town site in Hadleigh, Babergh’s Planning Committee decided to refuse the proposed development. This application represented the culmination of earlier proposals and involved a scheme which had been the subject of much negotiation including a design review by Shape East. Following consideration of a comprehensive Committee report which set out all the impacts, the Committee considered all the issues and decided, by 7 votes to 6, to refuse it on the basis that the proposed development would negatively affect the sustainability and vitality of Hadleigh Town Centre.

Planning documents are here

Report to Mid Samford parishes

Sue Carpendale and Kathy Pollard, Babergh District Councillors

Here is May’s report – a bit late and the next one will be posted shortly.

New Constitution

Council agreed to adopt its new constitution at a special meeting in April, which will see increased joint working between Babergh and Mid Suffolk.  There will be some joint committees including Scrutiny and Audit, but they will both have separate committees so that each council can address its own issues.  The structures mirror each other in order to facilitate the servicing of both councils by one officer team.

The extent to which Babergh and Mid Suffolk are working together has attracted attention from Westminster and from the local government press.  Lobbying of the Minister by our two leaders very probably contributed to some extra grant this year to help us develop our transformation agendas.  We also made the short list of the Municipal Journal’s award system recently and on Friday 10th May a deputation from the two councils attended a presentation event in London to put our case for an award.  The results of this will be announced in June, but whatever the outcome, this is significant recognition of the work done here in Suffolk.

Transformation enquiry groups

Early in May members of Babergh’s Strategy Committee and Mid Suffolk’s Executive held a joint workshop to consider the next step towards achieving transformation in the ways the two councils deliver services.  There will be six working groups comprising officers and councillors and also representatives from outside agencies and organisations together with individuals with expertise and interests as we investigate new ideas, best practice from elsewhere and more effective and different ways of operating.  These enquiry groups will not be looking at specific service areas, but at overall themes and how service areas feed into achieving prioritised outcomes.  The themes, in essence, focus on growth and the local economy; the environment; housing; health, wellbeing and communities; “front office” issues such as customer and services access; and “back office” functions such as ICT, HR, financial and legal services.  There is already a lot of work in progress on this last grouping.

These enquiries are directed towards finding further savings which could be as high as $4.2m over the next three years – or between 14% and 18% of the budget requirement each year.  This is not only a huge challenge in a very practical sense but we are likely to find ourselves challenged culturally and facing very different ways of doing things.

 

Role of Independents on Babergh

There have been a number of letters in the press recently about the role of the independent (no description) Babergh member, Clive Arthey and the fact that he had been denied a committee place. Colleagues in Mid Suffolk and Babergh have been asked questions and we thought it would be helpful if we explained what has happened.

Firstly, as we have previously reported, the council has been reviewing its committee structures. Under the legislation brought in by the previous government committee places are allocated proportionately, dependent on the number of members in each group. On Babergh District Council there are four groups (group numbers in brackets): Conservative (18), Liberal Democrat (12), Independent (9) and Labour (3). Clive Arthey is not a member of any of these groups. He is a truly independent Independent, refuses to group even with the other independents, and as such he would not automatically get a place on any committee.

At the council meeting on April 9th this year members had the option of allowing Clive a committee place, but, due to the legislation, if just one person voted against, then he would be denied a committee place. A number of councillors spoke in favour of Clive continuing to serve on the planning committee. Many of us felt that it was a denial of democracy to exclude him from any committee and that all councillors should be able to play a role in the council, no matter what their politics.

There was a recorded vote and all but one Conservatives plus one Independent voted against. Eleven of the 12 members of the Lib Dem group voted for him to have a committee place, with one abstention. The other Independents and the two Labour members present also voted in favour. At the most recent council meeting on April 23rd the Independent group decided to give up one of their places on the Strategy committee for Clive. So democracy triumphed in the end, thanks to the generosity of the Independent group.

Good luck to my Lib Dem colleagues

As I draw to the end of my 20 year term of office on Suffolk County Council I thank all those who have voted for, and supported me, over that time. I have enjoyed working with my parish councils in Belstead Brook. They have been a great bunch of people. I have also enjoyed working with campaign groups, including “Bury not Blight”, who want to stop new electricity pylons, and recently “SIT”, who are campaigning against two giant 430 foot wind turbines on land between Belstead, Wherstead and Pinewood. Both groups are trying to stop further unsightly clutter in our beautiful Suffolk countryside.We have been quite clear from the start that we don’t want any more pylons or giant wind turbines. Other parties have been rather shy about making their views known – apart from the Greens, who are backing the wind turbines.

In 1993 we ended 104 years of Conservative rule in Suffolk. For 12 years we prioritised education and social care, and made our streets safer with 30mph village speed limits – the initiative of my Lib Dem colleague, Peter Monk. Education in Suffolk was widely admired. We were in the top 30 councils in England – unlike now, after eight years of Conservative rule, when we are close to the bottom of the league table.

It is with great sadness that I’ve watched the decline and closure of services under the Conservatives. Household waste sites have closed, as have youth clubs. Bus services have been cut, with no services on Sundays and Bank Holidays and very few evening services. Conservative Guy McGregor closed the Bury Road Park and Ride service two years ago and passenger numbers on the two remaining Park and Ride services have plummeted from just over one million to half that. The introduction of a charge for over 60s and disabled pass holders and the increased fares for families has clearly discouraged many people from using the service – coupled with the Countywide ban on using bus passes before 9.30am – even for hospital appointments. So much for the Greenest County!

Although we still have all our libraries, they are no longer run by the County Council. Suffolk Libraries have been outsourced and their future funding is uncertain. They’ve been told that they must raise £100,000 from local communities this year. So, whilst council tax is frozen, the public will still have to stump up if we want to retain our much cherished library service.

I attach a copy of the Conservatives’ end of term report (School Report web) which gives a much fuller picture of their record in office. I and my Lib Dem colleagues have worked extremely hard over the last eight years to hold them to account. We joined the public in the campaign to keep all our libraries open, fought against the closure of Middle Schools, household waste sites, youth clubs, the Bury Road Park and Ride service and the eXplore student discount card (which we introduced in 2005 and they axed in the middle of the 2011 academic year). They have failed to keep contract costs under control, having abolished the committee where councillors monitored such contracts.

We have exposed some of the excesses of their spending – £500,000 in one year alone on gagging orders for departing staff; £20m – a £6m overspend – on new offices at Landmark House next to the A14 in the North West of Ipswich. On the other side of the road lies the derelict Bury Road Park and Ride terminus. Ironically the spend on Landmark House would have kept that Park and Ride service running for nearly 40 years! Heaven only knows that Ipswich Town centre needs all the support it can get right now. The continuing road works are a further discouragement to shoppers.

We also exposed a rise of £10m in salaries paid to top earners at Suffolk County Council in just 5 years – including the £218,000 a year paid to the former Chief Executive, Andrea Hill. The list goes on. And whilst they have been cutting services, they have amassed reserves of £152m. Whose money is this? Shouldn’t it be spent on services?

It is easy when in power to forget that the principle role of councillors  is to provide the best possible services within the resources available. There is no room for arrogance and egotism, which can easily blind those in power to the needs of the people they are there to serve. I won’t miss the Conservative front bench, who regularly treat opposition councillors – and the public – with contempt. “How do you put up with that behaviour?” people ask. Well there’s only so long that you can tolerate being treated in that way. In my case my health – and my family – have dictated that I stand down.

The public will decide tomorrow who runs Suffolk County Council for the next four years. The last eight years of Conservative rule in the County have been disastrous. Democracy is officially dead. Eight Conservative councillors make all the decisions and the backbenchers are just voting fodder.

Suffolk deserves better.

For a list of Lib Dem candidates go to our website

Published and promoted by D. Busby, on behalf of the Liberal Democrats, all at 16 Two Acres, Capel St. Mary, Ipswich IP9 2XP

 

Suffolk’s Education Results – a question of political priorities?

When Conservatives at Suffolk County Council started on the process of abolishing Middle Schools 7 years ago, we warned that there would be major problems ahead. We knew that at some point the then Labour government would run out of money for new school buildings and that the council would be left to foot the bill.

We were also extremely suspicious that the figures they produced, comparing results from 3 tier with 2 tier schooling, did not take deprivation into account. We were concerned that the focus on re-organisation would take resources away from 2 tier areas. The position of Suffolk in the national GCSE league table tells its own story:

Primary school SATS show a similar picture. When we jointly ran the council the education of our children and young people was our top priority. We always made sure that any shortfall in government funding for education was made up from local resources. The Conservatives clearly did not feel the need to prioritise education in the same way. The budget for school improvement has almost halved. Our amendment to the Conservative budget this year and last included additional resources for school improvement. The amendment was rejected.

The latest phase of reorganisation will result in more split site schools. More than 1500 pupils are now being taught in temporary classrooms. The Conservatives have let down children and young people in Suffolk in a major way. It will damage both their future employment and health prospects. I wonder how they sleep at night?

REPORT TO PARISHES, Mid-Samford Ward: March 2013

From Babergh District Councillors Sue Carpendale and Kathy Pollard

Council Tax

Council met on 26 February 2013 to set this year’s budget and council tax. As predicted, there is no increase for Babergh. Overall, the total Council Tax amounts for parishes in the Mid Samford Ward will be: Capel St Mary £1508.54; Great Wenham and Little Wenham £1437.16; Holton St Mary £1485.24; Stratford St Mary £1484.24.

Housing Revenue account, rents and charges

Housing rents are increased by 5.17% – the average will be £90.12 per week; sheltered communal service charges are increased by 5%; sheltered utilities charges are decreased by 2.88%.

Council will be creating a new “build/acquisitions pot” from existing capital programme levels and anticipated right to buy receipts..The housing register currently has 1725 applicants; each year there are some 250 vacancies. There is a requirement for additional affordable homes in the District to meet this need. The financial climate is creating a new group of people who are finding it increasingly difficult to secure housing, leading to an increase in the number of privately rented homes.

Gypsy and Traveller Strategy for Norfolk and Suffolk

Babergh approved this strategy for the years up to 2014 at the February Council. Predominantly it sets out a framework for support combining improved relationships, and understanding, along with more tangible proposals about encampments, welfare, discrimination, education and health inequalities. The action plan includes specific undertakings to address the needs for residential accommodation and locations for transit provision across both counties

Village of the Year 2013

The 2013 village of the year event was launched last month – there are seven villages that qualify to enter this year from Babergh (electoral roll of between 1251 and 2250): Acton, Brantham, East Bergholt, Great Waldingfield, Holbrook, Lavenham and Shotley.  All the relevant parish clerks have received email copies of the brochure and application form and entries close on 20th May.  

Vision and priorities for Babergh

In March Strategy will be hoping to propose the following.

  • To create an environment where individuals, families, communities and businesses can thrive and flourish. 
  • Shape, influence and provide the leadership to enable growth whilst protecting and enhancing our environment. 
  • Shape, influence and provide the leadership to achieve the right mix and supply of housing. 
  • Shape, influence and provide the leadership to support and facilitate active, healthy and safe communities.

 Hughes Corner central reservation closure is delayed

Work on the closure of the central reservation gap on the A12 at the Hughes Corner junction (B1068 Stoke by Nayland turning) is now scheduled for early April. Traffic counts have been taken on both the A12 and local roads prior to the changes in order to monitor traffic patterns before and after.

As we mentioned last time there are particular concerns around the inappropriate use of School Lane in Stratford St. Mary. All advance signing to Higham will be removed and the road will be labelled as “Single track with passing places”.

 What happens to your recycling?

The Suffolk Waste Partnership has produced a very interesting document, which highlights what happens to the waste that we recycle here in Suffolk. This includes information about how many tonnes of waste are recycled in each category, where the waste ends up, and the fact that as a County we recycle 53.2% of our waste. Here is the link to the document.

 Inquiry into development plans begins

The Inquiry into Babergh’s “Local Development Framework” began on Tuesday 5th March. This will become the basis for housing and business/industrial development over the next 20 years. It is taking place in the council chamber at the Hadleigh offices and is expected to run for two weeks.

Demand responsive transport

We thought it would be helpful to publicise the two demand responsive transport services which cover this area. Both services will provide connections with other bus services. More details on the website

Suffolk Links Buzabout:

This service operates from 0700 to 1900 Monday to Saturday (except Public Holidays). The bus will take you to the railway stations at Ipswich or Manningtree, the London Road Park & Ride site at Copdock or any of the villages within the area shown on the map in leaflets and on the website. Connections can be made for onwards travel to places further afield such as Ipswich town centre, Lowestoft or Norwich.

  • You can call 0845 458 1920 up to a week before you wish to travel and book your journey. 
  • The booking service is open from 0900 to 1600, Monday to Friday (except Public Holidays).

 Suffolk Links Brett:

This service operates from 0700 to 1900, Mondays to Saturdays. The bus will take you to Hadleigh or any of the villages within the area shown on the map on the website and in leaflets. Connections can be made for onwards travel to places further afield such as Ipswich, Sudbury or Colchester.

  • Call 01473 828202 up to a week before you wish to travel and book your journey.
  • The booking service is open from 0900 to 1200, Monday to Friday.

 The area served covers Bildeston, Hadleigh, Capel St Mary, Stratford St Mary, Stoke-by-Nayland and Brent Eleigh, Holton St. Mary and villages in between.

Out of Hours Provider is changing – Stafford and rural homes (SARH)

As from the 1st April 2013, the provider of Out Of Hours (OOH) services for both Babergh and Mid Suffolk is changing. A full and robust joint procurement exercise was undertaken by the commissioning team and a range of officers. The successful providers are SARH who already provide similar services for a range of organisations, including local authorities and housing associations. The five-year contract, will be delivered by SARH’s ‘You First’ service which provides independent living accommodation, extra care housing, Telecare and Lifeline services and a 24 hour customer call centre. The new contact number for Babergh will be 01473 826622. For more information click here

March County Council report

Full Council Budget Meeting

 The Full Council budget meeting took place on the 14th of February..

 As I have mentioned in the past, the administration submitted their budget aiming to cut £24.9m for this financial year.  This included £7m from Adult and Community Services, and £2.5m from remodelling Children’s services.  The council’s reserves currently stand at £152m, which is just under one third of its total budget .

 The Liberal Democrat Group submitted an amendment to the budget aiming to improve services in a number of different areas. This would have been funded from the contingency reserve.

  • £650,000 to School Improvement Services – to employ additional advisors that go into schools to provide guidance to help schools improve their level of attainment, which drastically needs improving in Suffolk.
  • £475,000 for providing an additional 1900 days of supply work providing it is matched by school funds. This would allow time for teachers from well performing schools to partner with those who are not doing as well. This approach has been very successful in Hackney.
  • £300,000 to help Suffolk County Council commit to a pilot scheme that would increase the number of foster carers for the most vulnerable children in Suffolk.
  • £300,000 to respond to local community requests for 20mph zones in Suffolk towns and villages.

This additional funding we believe would have helped to improve attainment in Suffolk, care for those vulnerable children and to improve the response to new speed limits, following the disbanding of the speed management team at the County Council.

 The school improvement budget has been cut substantially over the last few years and this has coincided with a dramatic fall in the performance of Suffolk schools, so we were very disappointed that our amendment was defeated..

February Cabinet

 The February Cabinet, which took place on the 26th, contained a number of significant issues for residents across the County.   The main issues that were discussed and agreed are below;

  • As mentioned below, the Cabinet agreed to abolish middle schools in the Stowmarket and Stowupland areas.
  • Review of the outcomes of school attainment in Suffolk
  • East Anglia ONE Offshore windfarm – a response to the consultation of this application which will see a significant section of the power cables from the offshore windfarm buried underground. This includes the section from Felixstowe to Bramford.
  • Ipswich Northern Fringe Supplementary Planning Document – this is a response to Ipswich Borough Council’s report on the potential housing development to the north of Ipswich.
  • Procurement of Highways Services – the Cabinet agreed to allow officers to negotiate extensions to the current highways contract, (until the 30th September), and proceed with awarding a new highways contract to the joint venture between May Gurney & WSP UK Ltd which will commence on the 1st of October.
  • Suffolk Customer Services Model:  Post 2014 – agree to bring the Council’s customer service function back into the Council (from CSD) as of May 2014.  This includes public access and Customer First functions.
  • Suffolk Growth Strategy – the Cabinet was asked to endorse the Suffolk Growth Strategy, which is a joint economic growth strategy developed by the county, district and borough councils in Suffolk.

 For all the items and more information on each of these papers, please click here

Abolition of Middle Schools in Stowmarket and Stowupland

You will be aware that the County Council’s Cabinet made the decision on Tuesday the 26th of February to abolish the middle schools in Stowmarket and Stowupland.

 However, the Liberal Democrats attempted to get the decision discussed again by the Scrutiny Committee under the call in procedure. We felt the justification for making this decision was flawed.  Of particular issue was the lack of funding to provide top class schools in this area, as the plans will see a split site school created in Stowmarket.   We also highlighted the contrasting statistics provided by the Council and the campaign group, as well as issues over safety.

 The call in was rejected on the grounds that the Cabinet had all the required information to hand, which means the decision has now been approved.   The Lib Dem group are disappointed that there will be no further opportunity to re-examine the decision as many parents and pupils feel very passionately about Middle School closures.

What happens to your recycled items?

 The Suffolk Waste Partnership has produced a very interesting document, which highlights what happens to the waste that we recycle here in Suffolk.   This PDF includes information about how many tonnes of waste are recycled in each category, where the waste ends up, and the fact that as a County we recycle 53.2% of our waste.

Click here for more information

 School Meals in Suffolk

 The catering provider to schools in Suffolk, EATS, has provided assurance that the meat provided in the schools it supplies does not contain any horsemeat.

 The vast majority of meals provided for children in Suffolk schools, are created in house, and beef used by EATS is of assured food standard (Red Tractor accredited).   The red tractor logo is a guarantee of both quality and origin.

Scrutiny Committee to look at Raising the Bar and support for young people

 The council’s Scrutiny committee on March 11th will be focusing on two items this month – the Raising the Bar initiative on improving school results and the progress of the divestment of youth services and subsequent closure of open access youth clubs, which took place as part of the 2011 budget cuts.

The Scrutiny Papers can be found here

Our natural Suffolk heritage v wind turbines?

The Daily Telegraph has reported on a landmark legal case brought by East Northants District Council. Plans for four 300ft wind turbines on the Duke of Gloucester’s Barnham estate, were passed by an inspector in April last year. This decision is now being contested by the council in court.

The plans were put forward by West Coast Energy. The report from the Planning Inspectorate states:

The inspectorate had concluded the presence of the turbines “would not erode a reasonable observer’s understanding or appreciation of the significance of the designated heritage assets – and they would therefore have no harmful impact on their settings”.

What concerns me most is that current planning law affords little or no protection from either wind turbines or new rows of electricity pylons. The major debating point in this court case will be whether the requirement to produce renewable energy is allowed to outweigh our natural and built environment.

So here’s the question – why is it that giant wind turbines (or pylons) can be erected in the middle of the countryside when the same planning inspectorate would not allow a 30 storey office or apartment block in the same location? 

The two 430 ft high turbines planned by Partnership for Renewables will dwarf the Orwell Bridge. The company has refused to put up a blimp which would allow local people to assess the impact of the proposals. The photomontages provided at their recent exhibitions were completely inadequate. Photographs were carefully massaged so that large trees close to the camera conveniently hid the scale of the turbines. And there was no photomontage with a high viewpoint, looking down from Pinewood or Belstead Hills.

I have previously stated that I am not against wind turbines per se – but they have to be in the right place. In my opinion on fields between Ipswich and Belstead/Wherstead is not the right place. They are far too close to housing. Also there are other means of generating electricity from renewables. Let’s investigate those. Otherwise we will see a further industrialisation of the countryside in Suffolk – in addition to the new row of pylons planned by National Grid.

The contribution of these two wind turbines is miniscule in comparison with the output from the offshore Greater Gabbard windfarm. Each of the turbines will produce 2.5MW of electricity. Greater Gabbard turbines produce a total of 504MW. Are they worth the expense and anguish? PfR’s November newsletter gives details of proposed locations.

February Report to parishes in Belstead Brook

Suffolk Health and Wellbeing Strategy

This strategy is a ten-year plan to improve the well being and lifestyle of everyone in the county. There are four central priorities for Suffolk:

Priority one: Every child in Suffolk has the best start in life

Priority two: Suffolk residents have access to a healthy environment and take responsibility for their own health and wellbeing

Priority three: Older people in Suffolk have a good quality of life

Priority four: People in Suffolk have the opportunity to improve their mental health and wellbeing

  • >65’s will increase by 56% in next 20 years
  • Up to 12 years’ difference in life expectancy between some areas (worst: Kirkley in Lowestoft and best: Rougham near Bury St Eds)
  • 1 in 6 children living in poverty
  • General affluence masks pockets of deprivation
  • Only 52% of children start school ready to learn
  • Improvement in rates of early death from cancer of 34% despite growth in incidence/diagnosis
  • 66,109 “family carers” – 3,414 are aged between five and 24 – their health and wellbeing is essential.
  • Overall educational attainment is below national average – but with huge variations in achievement

 “Prevention” is seen as key to success – so the plan is to:

  • take action in early years
  • improve access to suitable housing
  • address fuel poverty
  • lessen problems of older age with lifestyle changes and home adaptations

 Sizewell C

The County Council Cabinet has confirmed its response to the Sizewell C proposed Nuclear Power Station.  Whilst this is only stage one, the Cabinet indicated that they supported the nuclear power plant, but made a significant number of comments about the proposals.  This included the lack of information provided by EDF, the locations for workers campuses, and the need for the four village by-pass on the A12.

 For more information and a copy of the reports that are set to be discussed, pleased head to –

http://committeeminutes.suffolkcc.gov.uk/meeting.aspx?d=29/Jan/2013&c=The%20Cabinet

 

Highways Procurement          

 You will recall that in previous Parish Reports I stated that the County Council had agreed a contract with Balfour Beatty to provide the highways services across Suffolk.  However they have had to go back to the drawing board on this, as the agreement appears to have fallen through. They are re-entering negotiations with all the original bidders – including Balfour Beatty.

They state that their key objective is to achieve a saving of £2m per year on the highways service. These savings are now in doubt and we are unclear about what will happen when the current contracts expire on the 31st of March.  The Lib Dem group have asked a number of questions on this subject and we are still waiting to hear what exactly the consequences of this will be.

 

Wind turbines exhibition

 I attended the exhibition organised by Partnership for Renewables at the end of January, which showed their proposals for the two wind turbines. One is on land owned by Ipswich Borough council and one is on private land owned by the Aldous family. They will be 130m high – which is 3 times as high as the Orwell bridge.

National planning guidance has not kept up with current developments or wind turbine sizes. I have previously written about the proposals on my blog. 

Suffolk drops down national GCSE rankings table

 After the release of the GCSE grades across the Country, Suffolk has now dropped to 141 out of 152 authorities for GCSE results.  The County’s primary school test results have  already placed it 3rd from the bottom of English authorities. However I am very pleased to see that the three primary schools in my own Division are amongst the best performing in the County and can be very proud of their achievements.

 We have warned for some years that the school re-organisation in Suffolk would be a major distraction. This has involved the closure of middle schools and has resulted in a number of schools working on split sites, with many temporary classrooms. The budget which supports school improvement has been greatly reduced over the last few years. Prior to 2005 ie before the Conservatives took over the running of the council, the County was highly regarded in the academic world and was in the top 3rd of all English authorities.

Ipswich wind turbines exhibition

The plans for the proposed two wind turbines in the Belstead/Wherstead area were on view today at Belstead Brook Manor Hotel in Ipswich. They will be at Belstead Village Hall tomorrow (Tuesday 29th Jan) from 1pm to 7pm.

I previously posted on this issue back in October. My views have not changed. The proposed turbines are far too close to residential areas. Not only will they be visible from Belstead and Wherstead villages, but they will also be seen from large parts of Ipswich and Pinewood – and even from villages like Copdock and Washbrook.

The turbine towers, at 80 metres high will themselves be higher than the Orwell Bridge. Add to that the rotor blade span of 50 metres to give a total height of 130 metres. The proposals, along with the map can be found on the Partnership for Renewables website

Latest estimates suggest the planning application will be submitted in late Spring/early Summer. Babergh District Council will decide on the application. Whilst national guidance is out of date and fairly weak, councils like Milton Keynes have produced their own planning guidance, which states that turbines over 100 metres in height must be at least 1km from the nearest properties. This is being challenged in court and we await the outcome with more than a little interest! An article here gives more detail.

The Stop Ipswich Turbines website is an excellent source of up to date information.