In Suffolk, some think that our St Edmund should be England’s patron saint. Let’s remember what Aelfric said of Edmund, that he held to the maxim “Gif pu eart to heafodmen geset, ne ahefe pu de, ac beo betwux mannum swa swa an man of him“ (‘If you are placed in a position of authority, don’t become puffed up, but continue to behave like one of the people’ – Sirach 32:1).Seems to me there are a lot of people – in Suffolk and out – who could benefit from this counsel!
Woodbridge Lib Dems – we get things done AND we tell you that we’ve done them! Not just at election time but all the year round…
This is just to confirm that I am standing for re-election as your Woodbridge County Councillor in the forthcoming Suffolk County Council elections.
Voting takes place on May 4th.
This searchable blog gives a fair picture of my many activities on your behalf over the last 9 years. I will be uploading more Woodbridge-specific information over the month. I hope it will encourage you to trust me with the future of our beautiful and special town for a fourth term.
What is the larger political picture within Suffolk? Well, the Conservatives have run the County Council since 2005, and have consistently reduced services, instead of looking after the real needs of the local people they were elected to represent. They’ve prided themselves on providing a 7 year council tax freeze, but you get what you pay for – and the horrible state of our roads and pavements, of adult social care, the fragility of our libraries, the loss of bus services (and – in parts of Suffolk – even of the capacity to use your disabled or older person’s bus pass) are all mute testimony to their short-sighted policies.The administration is now sitting on a knife edge, as it reaps the predictable results of seven years of underfunding – all in the name of ideology.
Suffolk Lib Dems believe there is a better way . We need urgent action in some important areas:
SUFFOLK Liberal Democrats’ SIX top priorities for local people
- Provide a £5m boost to adult social care
- Invest in Suffolk’s infrastructure to support planning of new housing – investment in roads, schools and doctors’ surgeries
- Fund a county-wide mental health programme in schools
- Fix our roads and pavements
- Invest in local bus services and make park & ride buses more frequent
- Protect our libraries
You can find full details of our manifesto here
Last year Suffolk’s Tory administration made extra payments (Special Responsibility Allowances or SRAs) to 48 out of 75 Suffolk county councillors. So, not very special then.
And with 82% (32 of 39) Tory county councillors getting a SRA, it seems a (Conservative) councillor had to be rather special NOT to get one.
In December’s full council meeting, I tabled a question asking the Leader of Suffolk County Council how he could justify this sharp rise in allowance payments to members of his group at a time of continuing belt-tightening? I didn’t get a very clear answer except that the councillors in question ‘worked very hard’. No doubt. As do many other colleagues, without extra reward.
Coincidentally, in April, Suffolk County Council stopped printing individual bus timetables to save money.
Or as Cllr Finch, Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport put it succinctly:
"we have been actively promoting digital methods of accessing bus times using on-line journey planning, mobile apps and Real Time Passenger Information. We have now reached the point where we will no longer be printing the twenty different timetables to give to customers. The final print run will be in April. After this time we will be signposting customers to www.suffolkonboard.com where they will be able to download or print their own timetables and use the comprehensive journey planner"
Cllr Finch and his advisers seem to live in a world where everybody has easy access to libraries , computers, smartphones, printers, apps. Sadly not all bus users live in this world.
Unsurprisingly, his decision has had a bad effect on a lot of people, but particularly on the elderly, including many Woodbridge residents. I have been passing on their comments – often in video form – to Cllr Finch ever since.
Very coincidentally, Suffolk’s Conservative administration expected to save £50,000 this year by not printing bus timetables for people who really needed them – the same amount of money that they spent on additional special responsibility allowances for Conservative councillors.
Don’t you think its time the Tories on Suffolk County Council reviewed their priorities?
The Saturday after next I will be spending my usual morning at Woodbridge library, running my regular open-access surgery for Woodbridge residents. I’ve run this surgery every month for the last five years. It is supposed to be two hours long, but these days it’s closer to three, as the surgery is generally well-attended and I don’t leave until the last person has been seen.
In August, Rightmove published its annual report on the ‘happiest place’ to live in Britain – as identified by the residents *. Woodbridge scored 10th place nationwide – an amazing accolade for a town as small as ours.
Now, I don’t want to labour the point, but if your elected representative makes the effort to be available and to listen to your problems and ideas and tries to help with them, it must have a positive effect on the town’s happiness!
This weekend, I was in Hadleigh, whose County Councillor, Brian Riley (elected 2013) moved to North Carolina in early 2015 – but kept claiming his allowance and shamelessly told his constituents that he could be as good a Suffolk county councillor from the USA.
Mr Riley has now finally resigned shortly before being removed. He couldn’t even manage to maintain the minimum council attendance requirement for a councillor (one meeting every six months) and having left his constituents voiceless and without adequate county representation for 18 months. A private communication I had from him by email last month suggests he thinks this all a very fine state of affairs.
Before Brian Riley won the seat for the Conservatives (who have been strangely reluctant to criticise their former colleague’s shoddy behaviour to those he was elected to represent), Hadleigh was held for 24 years by LibDem David Grutchfield, who worked tirelessly for the town, and only stood down through extreme ill-health.
Maybe Hadleigh residents should ponder what it is that makes a town happy when they vote at the forthcoming by-election? They deserve so much more and better than what they have had in recent years
* The 12 factors that Rightmove looked at were:
- Community Spirit
- Sense of belonging
- I can be myself
- I feel safe
- Essential local services e.g. doctors, schools
- Non-essential amenities e.g. restaurants, pubs
- Opportunities to develop skills
- I earn enough to live comfortably
- The people are friendly and polite
- Sports and recreational activities
- Arts and culture
- Nature and green spaces