This month my report is principally to do with bus passes and libraries. SCC’s county-wide consultation on further cuts is also covered
Interim Chief Executive
Lucy Robinson, Director for Economy, Skills and Environment has been appointed interim chief executive at Suffolk County Council. She had been covering the role of Chief Executive since the previous Chief Executive was put on “gardening leave”. The role is initially for six months, during which time the recruitment of a permanent Chief Executive will take place. Mrs Robinson has been appointed on a salary of £150,000 pro rata which is apparently the kind of figure Suffolk might expect to be paying for our new Chief Executive’s salary.
Concessionary Travel: Explore, over-60 and disabled persons passes
After the success of the recent petition, the Explore card cut (together with other obstacles to young persons travel is currently being investigated by a SCC scrutiny task and finish group. I am a member of this three-person group, and urge anyone who wishes to give evidence to do so. The committee is taking evidence till half term; the contact is Teresa Harden at SCC.
At the last Full Council meeting the Liberal Democrat Group submitted a motion recommending that concessionary bus pass holders should be allowed to travel from 9am instead of 9:30am whilethose who hold concessionary bus passes due to a disability should have all time restrictions removed. The motion was passed with a single amendment , so this decision will be now referred to Cabinet. In the meantime I have set up a petition to highlight public support. You can find the epetition on the SCC epetition website http://petitions.web-labs.co.uk/suffolkcc/public/Bus-Passes—we-need-to-travel-before-9-30- , while a paper version of the petition can be downloaded from: http://carolinepage.blog.suffolk.libdems.org/2011/07/15/bus-passes-new-hope-for-the-elderly-and-disabled-of-suffolk/
Future: the administration has put forward a number of different options for the future structure of the service, and the options below will go through a ‘best value’ evaluation. I asked for the parameters of ‘best value’ to be made very explicit;
- A Council Business Unit
- A Council owned company/enterprise
- Independent Company/Enterprise
This will be reported back to Cabinet on the 8th of November. The Council has also moved to set up pilots for community run libraries at:
- Eye, Debenham and Stradbroke
- Wickham Market
- Gainsborough, Chantry, Ipswich, Stoke, Rosehill and Westbourne – working together.
These projects will begin in April 2012, and will look to increase the amount of local decision making, fundraising and activities and look to include more public services under one roof.
Local news: I am funding the children’s writer and illustrator Jonathan Allen to come and cartoon at the Woodbridge Library on Sunday – the day of the Reading Scheme presentation awards.
Mobile libraries: theres a consultation running until 14 October on plans to move from fortnightly to monthly or four-weekly stops and to remove all stops in communities that are served by a static library. We are told this would would save an estimated £225,000 a year, while maintaining the mobile library service to those communities that do not have a static library.
SCC Consultation on further budget cuts
As suggested by the Lib Dems last October, SCC has decided to undertake a major budget consultation exercise with Suffolk residents, businesses, partners, the voluntary sector and other stakeholders. The idea is to get people to tell us which services matter most to them and to share their ideas and suggestions on how the Council could save money or improve services. I urge everyone to make their opinions known. This is the only democratic way to arrive at necessary cuts www.suffolk.gov.uk/WeAreListening
Public Questions at Full Council & Cabinet
As usual members of the public can ask questions to the administration at both Full Council and at Cabinet. Your question must be submitted by 12 midday, four days prior to the meeting. This means that questions to Full Council, which takes place on the 22nd of September, have to be submitted by the 16th http://www.suffolk.gov.uk/CouncilAndDemocracy/DecisionMaking/PublicQuestionTimeatMeetingsoftheCountyCouncilandCabinet.htm
I am wanting to fund more bike racks in the Market Square, outside the Community Hall, and down by Cafe Nero. Hoefully this will encourage greater bike use – essential in a town where parking is so short
I spent my leave backpacking through Yunnan, a southwestern province in China, travelling by train and bus and foot and bicycle. Yunnan is very rural, very mountainous – and bigger than two Frances joined together. Despite this they are working hard on improving transport links, building huge railways and roads in tandem through the ancient paddy fields and up, round and through the mountains.
Although more and more people have more and more expensive cars, most people still travel by bus – and these buses are not always motorised:
The other very noticeable thing was that when towns have paved old streets like we do in Woodbridge, only the very foolish or the incredibly pigheaded use a car at all, because its clearly so impractical.
There were plenty of Dragon mothers, but not one was in a car. Something to learn, maybe?
I was going to tell you some very interesting things about the trains – but unfortunately I’ve got to negotiate for more space on this blog for pictures so I can’t show any photoes of the lovely crowded trains on which we travelled in great comfort for up to 26 hours at a time, gorging on meals cooked on the spot over flaming burners for the thousands of travellers. From fresh ingredients. Oh, and when we were once 10 minutes late (over 26 hours) the embarrassment and apologies were immense..
On second thoughts, maybe you won’t want to hear about this. It might break your hearts.. and anyway, 山 高 皇 帝 远
Great: I got some more blog memory and so here’s the train pic..