From Councillors Sue Carpendale and Kathy Pollard
In this edition
- Village Hall roof fund gets a boost
- Capel Post Office move to Co-op store
- Babergh plans for no council tax increase
- New consultation on future plans for housing and business sites in Babergh
- Scrutinising health issues including winter stresses on local hospitals
- Message from the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) re speeding in towns and villages
Village Hall roof fund gets a boost
We are very pleased that Babergh District Council has been able to give a grant of £19,000 towards the replacement roof for Capel Village Hall.
Capel Post Office move to Co-op store
The Post Office has now confirmed the transfer of Capel Post Office branch to the Co-op supermarket in the village. They seem to have addressed people’s concerns about security and queuing. The move is likely to take place in the June.
Babergh plans for no council tax increase
Decreasing Government grants are challenging local councils who either have to innovate and reduce costs or cut services. Over the past year the council has started installing solar panels on council houses. This will give a guaranteed income as well as providing free electricity to tenants. There may also be an opportunity to extend this scheme to private homes in the future. We’d be interested to hear your views on this.
Council house rents are going up slightly. The budget for council house repairs and new council properties is “ring fenced”. This means that, for example, rental income can’t be used to subsidise other council services. The planned rent increases will be used to build new council homes as well as to maintain existing properties.
New consultation on future plans for housing and business sites in Babergh
Babergh and Mid Suffolk councils are consulting on a joint Local Plan for the two Districts. This is a chance for residents and businesses in both council areas to have their say on future planning. The recently adopted planning blueprint for Babergh has identified that 300 new homes should be built each year to fulfil demand across the District council’s area. Most of that development is scheduled to take place in the more urban areas – on the fringes of Ipswich and in Hadleigh and Sudbury, with larger villages also taking some development.
In Babergh there is an opportunity for people to comment on a range of issues including:
• The redundant Brett Works site in Hadleigh, which has been the subject of a number of unsuccessful planning applications for a supermarket. Ideas for the future of the site are now being sought.
• Unallocated land to the East of Sudbury, which is not currently part of the Chilton development plans
• New policies on renewable energy sources like solar farms and on-shore wind turbines
• Whether hamlets and small villages which are currently not permitted to have new dwellings should be allowed some small scale development where there is identified housing need.
The consultation is open until March 31st and is available at www.babergh.gov.uk/jointlocalplan
Scrutinising health issues
One of the tasks of local councils is to scrutinise health provision across Suffolk via the “Health Scrutiny Committee”. Here are a few of the issues discussed at a recent meeting.
• Hospitals under stress
Last summer plans were developed by health and social care providers in the County in order to cope with the pressure that arises in the winter due to increased levels of illness.
This year large numbers of older people are being admitted to hospital with chest infections, including pneumonia. Because of the age of the patients they frequently have other conditions as well. There can then be delays in discharging patients from hospital for a number of reasons. Over the years the number of beds in community hospitals has decreased with rooms instead being allocated in care homes for convalescence before patients return home. However these beds are not always available. In addition it is not always easy to reinstate home visits from carers after people come out of hospital. All this leads to extra time spent in acute hospitals like Ipswich and West Suffolk.
One of the problems this year is that the level of demand has led to a shortage of available convalescent beds in West Suffolk, in particular. With increasing numbers of older people should we be building more dedicated convalescent homes?
• Community Health contract out to tender
Services such as District nursing and Occupational Therapy are currently being run by Serco. They are not intending to bid for the new contract. There are bids from East and West Suffolk hospital Trusts and a rival bid from Norfolk and Suffolk Mental Health Trust.
• Care Quality Commission inspection of homes run by Care UK in Suffolk
In December 2012 Care UK took over the running of Suffolk County Council’s 16 care homes and 8 community wellbeing centres. They were required to replace these with 10 new care homes and 10 new community wellbeing centres.
Mildenhall Lodge opened in June last year. Just a few weeks later the council suspended new admission. The Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspected the home and declared that it was not complying with the required standards. This has meant that no new residents can be admitted. In July 2014 Asterbury Place opened on the Chantry estate in Ipswich. This replaced Angel Court in Hadleigh and the Hawthorn Drive care home. The council suspended new admissions to this home in October last year. The Scrutiny committee was told by Care UK that they were addressing the issues raised by the CQC and we await the outcome of subsequent inspections.
The committee was also told that only a third of the recommended number of staff had been employed by Suffolk County council to oversee the performance of the Care UK contract.
• Role of Healthwatch Suffolk
Healthwatch Suffolk is a watchdog organisation which seeks to find out the views of Suffolk people about local health providers. This includes GP services. Their recent survey found that people wanted quicker access to GP appointments. Their website is here:
If you would like to comment on local health services please contact them.
Message from the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) re speeding in towns and villages
Speeding remains a significant concern for local residents, evidence by a return of over 2000 responses to a recent survey. As a result there have been changes in speed enforcement procedures by the Police. Suffolk’s PCC Tim Passmore has asked us to publicise his wish that members of the public wanting to report speeding concerns should do so in the first instance to their local Safer Neighbourhood Team (SNT), but they can also contact the PCC via his office and their concerns will be forwarded to the Constabulary. The SNT are already the point of contact for the Community Speed Watch which is an important initiative in relation to casualty reduction in areas that would not initially warrant police enforcement due to lack of Killed or Serious Incident (KSI) data.
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