Suffolk education’s long hard road to recovery

At last Suffolk is beginning to claw its way back up the education league tables according to an article in today’s East Anglian Daily Times. Well it had to, as the only way was up from a woeful 142nd place out of 151. GCSE results in the County have now climbed 5 places – not much, but movement in the right direction. For years we warned the Tories that the massive schools reorganisation programme would destabilise education in Suffolk. We also advised against the huge cuts which they made in the budget for school improvement.

When the Lib Dems jointly ran the council from 1993 to 2005, Suffolk was widely admired and our results placed the County near the top of the English league table. For twelve years we prioritised support to schools, in the face of national Government cuts to local authority budgets (plus ca change!). When the Tories took control they were hell bent on abolishing Middle Schools, whatever the cost. They must judge in hindsight how much that decision has damaged a generation of pupils in Suffolk. Ironically the County Upper school in Bury St. Edmunds (the only remaining three tier area in Suffolk) is in the top three best performing state secondary schools in the County.

Let’s hope the Tories have now realised the error of their ways and that they will at last give schools the support they deserve.

January report to Mid Samford parishes

Report to parishes January 2013

From District Councillors Sue Carpendale and Kathy Pollard

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

Increasing income from waste recycling

Babergh and Mid Suffolk have a joint contract for waste disposal. Councillors have been working with officers to look at further ways of making the necessary budget savings in the coming years. One of the suggestions has been to encourage residents to recycle more than they do at present, in order to generate extra income. Just to provide a bit of context for you, Here are a few basic facts and figures:

  • Suffolk County Council are responsible for waste disposal and currently we throw away about 135,000 tonnes of residual waste across the county a year into landfill. This costs about £100 per tonne, and equates to £13.5m per year
  • Suffolk County Council pay the Districts and Boroughs about £55 per tonne for recycling
  • All Suffolk Districts and Boroughs recycle about 55,000 tonnes of dry recyclate and 65,000 tonnes of organic waste.
  • The total waste stream is therefore 135,000 + 55,000 + 65,000 = 245,000 tonnes. 1% of the waste stream would therefore be 2,450 tonnes.
  • If we collectively improved our recycling efforts by 1%, removing 2,450 tonnes from the ‘dirty’ bin into one of the recycling bins it would produce a saving to the whole of the County of £245,000 (split between Suffolk County Council and the waste collection authorities).
  • Mid Suffolk and Babergh’s proportion of the 1% improvement would be about £30,000 – not an insignificant amount.

So you can see from the above that a 1% improvement in our collective recycling efforts across the whole of the County would result in a £245,000 saving. We want to develop a campaign across Suffolk that encourages people to recycle more, thereby allowing that saving to be used for other purposes. Just a 1% improvement seems so small but would make such a difference.  Improving the take up of textile recycling would also provide additional income.

Information about Babergh’s waste collection service

We have mentioned previously that we are trying to provide more information electronically, so that people don’t need to phone the council. Currently the waste service alone receives 8,000 calls per month.

When there are adverse weather conditions collections are sometimes disrupted and people ring to find out when their bins will be collected. The answer is always to leave your bin out and crews will collect them when they can. A new phone system is being put in place which can automatically give out this information, instead of staff having to repeat it over and over. More information on the Babergh website: www.babergh.gov.uk

Applying for benefits online

Many Babergh residents don’t realise that they can apply for council tax benefit and rent relief online.  Ipswich Borough council have been encouraging their residents to apply for benefits online and the take up is substantially higher than Babergh or Mid Suffolk. Apparently when people call in at their customer contact centre at the Corn Exchange they show them how to fill in the forms online.

E-claim forms – percentage submitted electronically in 2013.

July August September October
IBC 59% 59% 59% 55%
BDC 34% 38% 30% 35%
MSDC 42% 43% 36% 32%

 

IBC = Ipswich Borough Council

BDC = Babergh District Council

MSDC – Mid Suffolk District Council

 

Early indications re Council Tax

It is likely that Babergh will vote in favour of taking the Government’s equivalent of a 1% council tax increase, or £44,000 in order to maintain a council tax freeze again this year.

This is a more complex decision than it at first appears, because it could be storing up problems for future years.  We have been told that within four years all government rate support grant will disappear.  Over that same period, if we build new homes, there will be “incentivised” grants – i.e. both a New Homes Bonus (NHB) and a retained portion of any increases in business rates.  These will help to compensate for the loss of grant.  However, once the six years of NHB payments expire, councils will have no income other than council tax,  income from growth in business rates,  or money raised through charges.  A council tax rise now of less than 2% would cost band D householders approx 5p a week extra, and help to safeguard current and future services.

Council housing rents

These will increase in line with policy, both to ensure delivery of the revenue account business plan and to enable more social housing to be built.

November report to Mid Samford parishes (Babergh District)

From District Councillors Sue Carpendale: sue.carpendale@babergh.gov.uk and Kathy Pollard: kathy.pollard@babergh.gov.uk

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.

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

 

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.

Changes to heart attack care, mental health and community health services

Notes on Health Scrutiny meeting 17th January 2013

 Emergency heart attack care

In 2009 a new specialised service was set up in the region for patients who suffer certain types of heart attack. These are known as STEMI heart attacks. The treatment centres are in Basildon, Norwich and Cambridge.

At these centres a Stent is inserted to reinflate the collapsed artery. Prior to that ambulance staff could administer thrombolysis, or clot-busting drugs. However these only worked in 50% of patients, whereas Stents are suitable for the vast majority and have better survival rates.

From the start there were major concerns about the length of time it would take to transfer a patient from rural East Suffolk. Results have been monitored since the change and, whilst survival rates were greater than 95%, the target transfer time of 150 minutes was exceeded for a quarter of patients. This could affect the longer term survival of patients.

The report to the Health Scrutiny committee recommended:

  • A programme of continuing education for ambulance staff in the management of cardiac emergencies.
  • National and regional campaigns to educate the public about the need to dial 999 as soon as possible if someone experiences chest pain. The sooner treatment is given the better.

New Heart Treatment centre at Ipswich hospital

A new £5m centre is being built at IpswichHospital for routine heart operations, including the insertion of Stents. There will be nurse specialists, a cardiac rehabilitation service and intermediate care clinics.

Concern over “Radical redesign” of Mental Health services

The combined Norfolk and Suffolk Mental Health Trust are having to make savings of 20% to their budget over the next 4 years. They are proposing a “radical pathway redesign” of their services. This seems to involve getting rid of a third of their doctors, including senior consultants! Instead nurses are to bear far more responsibility. Hospital bed numbers will also be reduced and there was mention in the report about using “bed and breakfast places”.

Representatives of the doctors and patients are extremely worried about the effect on patient care.

Some of the changes are to be welcomed – like closer working at local level with social services and other health colleagues as well as greater support for people in their own homes. However no risk assessment was included in the report.

A joint health scrutiny committee is to be set up with Norfolk to examine the Trust’s proposals in more detail.

Job cuts by new Community Healthcare provider?

Serco took over as the provider of Suffolk Community Healthcare on October 1st 2012. This contract was let by NHS Suffolk. Services which Serco now provide include community hospitals, community nurses, physiotherapists and occupational therapists.

Anecdotal information suggested that Serco were intending to reduce the number of physiotherapists and occupational therapists. They were reluctant to give any answers on this at the Health Scrutiny committee. They did hint, however, that they were looking again at their decisions! We wait to see what changes come out of this – if any.

Future items for the committee:

  • A task and finish group is to be set up to look into patient transport to Ipswich Hospital. A shortage of parking spaces and changes to the concessionary fare scheme have led to problems getting to appointments.
  • We have asked that the committee look into the provision of Epilepsy Services in Suffolk. Press reports indicate that this is far from satisfactory.
  • East of England Ambulance Service – the committee will look at performance and other issues.

Ipswich Park and Ride consultation – ends Jan 5th

As usual the Tories are running a short consultation period for an important service. The Park and Ride contract ends in October 2013 and the tender documents are being drawn up now. The survey period has run for just a few weeks and ends on January 5th, so please act now.

The survey is online at: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/IpswichPR2012

It will ask you whether the service should continue to run straight through from the Copdock site to Martlesham and vice versa. These were originally two separate services and they both ran in a loop around the town centre. It was much easier for people to find the return bus stops and it was also easier for people with mobility difficulties, as they could get on and off at the same stop, thus limiting the amount of walking they had to do.

When the service was combined many people stopped using the service to get to work as it became less punctual – any hold up at either end of the route resulted in major delays. Many older people also stopped using the service, because they had to walk too far to the return stop.

People using the service for the first time get very confused about where to get the bus back. When there were two routes you could still transfer to get to the hospital by getting off one bus and onto the next at any of the town centre bus stops. In the reverse direction you could do the same if you wanted to get to the station.

If you want to have your say on this important service do fill in the survey. It will only take a couple of minutes.

Concessionary fares in Suffolk – no change from Tories

The Conservative Cabinet at Suffolk County Council have once more decided to ride roughshod over the needs of vulnerable people in the County. The Lib Dem group at Suffolk County Council has been fighting for the rights of disabled and older people to regain the ability to travel free of charge before 9.30am. Before Suffolk County Council took over the administration of concessionary passes in April 2011, the Borough and District councils in Suffolk had placed no time restriction on travel.

The ruling Conservatives failed to carry out a full equality impact assessment when they restricted travel and groups representing disabled people were not consulted. Understandably they are very upset. So upset that they have contacted the Equality and Human Rights Commission who have written to the council saying that their equality impact procedure is in need of considerable improvement. It even hints that the County Council’s decision making procedure may be unlawful. They have asked that the decision made today should be sent to them without delay.

The consultation launched in late October allowed only 12 days to submit responses. The Royal National Institute for the Blind pointed out that this was totally inadequate. The RNIB had previously challenged Norfolk County Council, who have now changed their policy for people with visual impairments. And what about people with learning disabilities who have to get to work before 9.30am? Numbers are small and it would surely cost very little to allow them to travel free at any time. It would make a huge difference to those who need to travel to work or training each day. The council has already allocated suffocient funds in its budget and it could trial the scheme for 6 months or a year and then review the cost. Other councils in the East of England already operate schemes for their concessionary pass holders without any time restrictions. Hertfordshire is one of those councils. Why don’t they ask them how much it costs instead of making wild and overinflated predictions?

All we asked was that over 60s pass holders be allowed to travel from 9am. In some villages buses only run every two hours and the first bus they can use free of charge is after 11am, including Copdock and Washbrook in my Division. We also asked that disabled bus pass holders be allowed to travel without restriction, as they had done prior to April last year.

There was also no specific question in the County Council’s consultation about access to medical facilities, for example, hospital and GP appointments. This is a known problem where patients have early appointments and I have no confidence that anything will be done to improve this.

The crazy thing is that the Tories are underspent on the budget for concessionary fares. They clearly lack the will to do anything about the additonal cost their inflexible policy is imposing on people on low incomes, in spite of pretending to be on the side of disadvantaged and vulnerable people. They should be ashamed of themselves.

Suffolk County Council report to Parishes October 2012

Concessionary Fares issue to be looked at again

The County Council Cabinet has been forced to look again at their decision to provide only the statutory minimum  free travel (0930-2300 weekdays, all day weekends and bank holidays), after the Liberal Democrat Group called the decision into the Scrutiny Committee at the end of September.

 The original decision had failed to take account of a number of important principles. Not only was there a lack of consultation, but the Conservative administration had also failed to take into account the negative impact their decision had had on many peoples’ lives, including those with disabilities.

 A number of public speakers were also present at the meeting highlighting the lack of consultation before the decision was made. The Committee voted by seven votes to three to send this decision back to the Cabinet to be considered again. 

 The Lib Dem group originally raised this issue back in July 2011, asking for Cabinet to reconsider its decision and provide 24/7 travel for those eligible due to disability, and to allow over 60s pass holders to travel from 0900.

 If you would like more information about the Call-in, please click here   

Proposed wind turbines in Belstead/Wherstead         

 I attended a packed public meeting on this issue on September 30th at Pinewood Community Hall. The meeting had been organised by SIT (Stop Ipswich Turbines) and heard from two residents of Kessingland who had initially not opposed the erection of two wind turbines adjacent to their village. Now they are plagued by noise and flicker and said it is causing them aggravation and depression. They said they wished they had opposed it at the time.

 No-one from Partnership for Renewables was present at the meeting. The site for the two proposed wind turbines belongs to Ipswich Borough Council, who have the power to stop the process now. SIT have started a petition which is available for signing at Pinewood Community Hall. More details of the campaign at www.stopipswichturbines.com

 The Kessingland campaign to turn off the turbines also has a website: www.turnthemoff.co.uk

The Evening Star and East Anglian Daily Times ran a recent poll asking whether these turbines should be built. I haven’t seen the results yet. The site is visible from the densely populated areas of Pinewood and Belstead Hills as well as Belstead and Wherstead villages.

 September County Council Meeting

 The County Council meeting in September had quite a light agenda, but proved relatively eventful.  A motion had been put forward, encouraging local communities to adopt 20mph speed limits in towns and villages. However, an amendment proposed by the Conservatives was such a radical change to the original text that the opposition parties, apart from the proposer and seconder of the original motion, walked out of the Council chamber. The amendment effectively proposed that only the Cabinet member for Transport would have any say on whether 20mph limits would be adopted.

 Cabinet Meetings

 In September Cabinet voted to take the Better Broadband bid for Suffolk to the next stage, increasing the level of money invested by Suffolk County Council by £1.38m.

 At the previous meeting the Cabinet also confirmed the Council’s commitment to sign up to the Suffolk Armed Forces Community Covenant on the 11th of October.

 For the Broadband report from the Cabinet meeting on the 24th of September please click here  For the reports at the previous Cabinet meeting on the 11th of September please click here  

Grand Driver Scheme

Suffolk County Council, in partnership with Suffolk Roadsafe, has launched the Grand Driver scheme which aims to provide support to the increasing numbers of elderly drivers on the road.  While there is evidence to suggest that the likelihood of crashes increases with age, older adults are generally renowned as being safety conscious and law abiding drivers.

 The scheme has been set up to help assist the continuation of safe driving, as the proportion of older drivers increases. 

The scheme is made up of 3 main elements and takes place on a demand led basis (with some element having a fee):

  • Insight and awareness of attitudes to driving and self-regulatory behaviour – via completion of the specially developed Older Driver Risk Index (psychometric questionnaire)
  • An opportunity to update and refresh knowledge and discuss driving matters at workshops arranged throughout Suffolk
  • A driving assessment and feedback in your own vehicle focusing on safe driving and coping strategies

 For more information, please contact Michelle Haward:
Tel: 01473 265256
E-mail: Michelle.haward@suffolk.gov.uk

 Scampaign – Lottery Scams   

 The latest update from the Trading Standards Scheme is a warning about lottery scams, which often claim you have won a significant amount of money on an overseas or online lottery and ask for you personal information including your bank account details.  Please find below the information released by Trading Standards in order to help protect yourself.

 Protecting yourself against lottery fraud:

  • Never respond to any communication – if you haven’t entered a lottery then you can’t have won it.
  • Any request for a fee payment is a good indication that someone is trying to defraud you – there are no official lottery operators who ask for fees to collect winnings
  • Never, ever disclose your bank details or pay fees in advance
  • If they’ve provided an email address to respond to, be very suspicious of addresses such as @hotmail.com or @yahoo.com or numbers beginning with 07
  • Genuine lotteries thrive on publicity. If they ask you to keep your win a secret it’s likely to be a fraud
  • Many fraudulent lotteries have bad spelling and grammar – see this as a warning that fraudsters are at work

 What to do if you are a victim of lottery fraud:

  • Report to Action Fraud specialists by calling 0300 123 2040
  • If you have responded to the email/letter/call, break off all contact with the fraudsters at once
  • If you have given over your bank account details, alert your bank immediately
  • Be aware that you’re now likely to be a target for other frauds. Fraudsters often share details about people they have successfully targeted or approached, using different identities to commit further frauds

Ipswich Railway Station to get facelift

I am delighted to hear that Ipswich Station is at last to get lifts. Since the barriers were installed at the station it has no longer been possible for my spouse to carry my suitcase across the footbridge for me. As I get older, and now with a dodgy hip, these issues become more important. It’s also tricky for people carrying bikes, so it will be a welcome addition.

Now all we need are some decent trains with usable toilets; trains that connect with each other; an hourly service to Peterborough, ditto Lowestoft; and shorter queues for tickets!

http://www.eadt.co.uk/news/ipswich_railway_station_to_get_facelift_1_535568