Proposals to reduce eligibility for free school transport in Suffolk will adversely affect students 5-18 -and their families. The changes have the potential to bring hardship -especially in rural areas: loss of choice; a postcode lottery for places and courses; potentially the splitting of siblings between schools. It will also put a lot more cars on the roads round our schools -with preductable effects on speed, safety, airquality, and quality of life. Continue reading Reduction to free school transport entitlement: respond, or have no say
Update: To ensure that the people of Suffolk have had every opportunity to give their views on the devolution of the county ahead of Suffolk County Council’s meeting at the start of November, you can continue to send comments and/or questions regarding devolution up to the beginning of November via
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Letter – write to: East Anglia Devolution, Norfolk County Council, Ground floor – South Wing, County Hall, Martineau Lane, NR1 2DH
- Phone: 0345 6031842
Alternatively, people can get in touch with Suffolk County Council directly by
- Email: email@example.com
- Letter addressed to : Suffolk County Council Endeavour House 8 Russell Road, Ipswich Suffolk IP1 2BX
Read my account of my, and other LibDem councillors’ reservations , here
- Do you want a Mayor for Suffolk? or do you think a Mayor for Suffolk is a waste of money?
- Is loosening links with goverment a good idea or will it just create a fourth tier of government and a lot of extra bureaucracy?
- Will it provide more welcome development or is it just concreting over our beauty spots?
Whatever your views on the Suffolk/Norfolk DEVOLUTION deal, they won’t be taken into account unless you respond to the consultation.
You can do this online or download and send in a paper version (here via a websit which gives you the positive points; my reservations can be found here), or email your views to: HaveYourSay@norfolk.gov.uk
CLOSING DATE: 23 AUGUST
Suffolk County Council are currently consulting widely and with a completely open mind about the future of specialist education provision in Suffolk.
Opposition councillors were naturally sceptical that this was cover for money-saving, but very clear and open answers to our questions from officers have reassured us that this is not a cost-cutting exercise (the money is ring-fenced) but about spending it to best advantage and with better outcomes.
At the moment, Suffolk has 256 young people sent out of county at the cost of £11m a year for educational provision that Suffolk has not been able or willing to provide in county; some of our PRUs ‘require improvement’ (one is in special measures) and are more expensive and produce worse outcomes than Norfolk’s (which are rated outstanding), and all the SSCs (specialist support centres) are located in one quadrant of the county because historically they were only sited in schools that declared themselves willing to house them. This means there is no provision in the north and west of the county and some children are making two 75-minute journeys a day to reach them.
Suffolk is is now wanting your input to find the best way to address these issues and others.
From 11 January – 7 February 2016 people have the opportunity to give your views on a range of options Suffolk are looking at, and you can also suggest other ideas for Suffolk to consider. (We have been assured that nothing has been predetermined or decided. This is genuinely a consultation )
After this, 14 March – 24 April 2016 there will be a formal consultation on the proposed changes: a 6 week formal consultation period where you can make representations to the Council – both expressions of support or objections to the proposals.
So, whether you are concerned or worried, or simply want to add your voice to the debate – please respond and add your views! They will be valued You can find the documents here
Suffolk County Councillors rather uncharacteristically reached unanimous agreement today – that the Ministry of Justice’s proposed closure of Suffolk law courts (Bury St Edmunds and Lowestoft) leaving us with just the facilities in Ipswich, are a bad thing and should be opposed.
In brief, it is proposed that:
a) Lowestoft Magistrates’ Court, County Court and Family Court is closed and the civil hearing work move to Great Yarmouth (Magistrates’ Court and Family Court), the family hearing work to Ipswich (Magistrates’ Court and Family Court)., and the criminal work move to Great Yarmouth (Magistrates’ Court and Family Court) and Norwich (Magistrates’ Court and Family Court).
b) that Bury St Edmunds Magistrates’ Court and Family Court and Bury St Edmunds Crown Court are closed, and the existing magistrates’ and family workload be moved to Ipswich (Magistrates’ Court and Family Court) and Norwich (Magistrates’ Court and Family Court). It is also proposed that victim and witness facilities will be installed at Bury St. Edmunds County Court and Tribunals which would enable court users, in suitable matters, to give evidence by video link!
All to save £600,000 a year. Truly this government knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.
It is 800 years exactly since the rights of the common people in England were asserted through Magna Carta. The 39th clause of which , still part of British law today, says:
“No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any other way, nor will we proceed with force against him, or send others to do so, except by the lawful judgement of his equals or by the law of the land.”
Putting aside anxieties about ‘trial by video’ , it would seem particularly ironic that Suffolk’s legal representation is in danger of being reduced to one single court with all the difficulties of access from the west , mid-Suffolk and the north of the county, in this iconic anniversary year . (I was going to speak to this motion on these lines) when Cllr Joanna Spicer took the very words out of my mouth, quote and all. Two minds with but a single thought and all that..)
You may not know of this consultation – although it has been going on since July. This is because the Ministry of Justice in its wisdom has classified Suffolk as part of the South East. However, here is the link (tip- don’t wade through all the pages, search in document for ‘Suffolk’ and it will tell you about the two proposals that affect us) – do please respond to the consultation and give your thoughts. Oddly enough, the one bit of the whole document that is squeezed for space is the one that asks for your views. But please don’t let it stop you!
Proposed Woodbridge Fire and Police station merger Woodbridge residents were invited to a drop in session on Thursday to view proposals to extend and merge the existing fire station with the police station. Plans and information were unveiled at the event and representatives from both services – together with myself – were on hand to discuss the proposals.
Suffolk already has four shared stations at Ixworth, Elmswell, Debenham and Framlingham. The aim of the Woodbridge plans is for the services to become even more cost effective, allowing the services to work much more closely together .The funding for the Woodbridge project will be shared between the two services and it is hoped that the government will provide grant funding for the building works
Although there were concerns – mainly about parking and increased transport – response to the consultation was broadly favourable.
The design includes:
- An extension to the front of the fire station, which would provide new office accommodation for Suffolk Constabulary.
- Provision for five new car parking spaces for police use and cycle parking to the rear of the site.
- A new garage to the rear of the station to accommodate an emergency vehicle, and
- Much improved facilities for staff and the community and better access for the public
If approved, the work would commence in summer 2014 and will be completed for March 2015. There would be no disruption to fire and police services during the building works
People can continue to provide feedback via email: Fire.BusinessSupport@suffolk.gov.uk, quoting ‘Woodbridge Consultation’.
End of CSD – Customer Service Direct On 1 June SCC moved CSD – Customer Service Direct – back in-house. CSD, in which BT had a majority stake alongside the county and Mid Suffolk councils, handled SCC’s financial administration, IT, and personnel functions. The councils’ call centres were also operated by CSD
The cost of the contract was initially £301 million, but this increased to £427 million over 10 years as more functions were added to the service.
A hard lesson has been learned here. Proof, if proof was needed, that outsourcing services doesn’t always make savings and is not always best.
The PCC – and Thoroughfare Parking At the Suffolk County Council AGM in May, the Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore presented details of his year, saying “ My role is to ensure the policing needs of our communities are met as effectively as possible, bringing communities closer to the police and building confidence in the system. My job is to listen and respond to the needs of the people of Suffolk; bringing more of a public voice to policing. If you have an issue that you would like to raise, please contact me via the website, www.suffolk-pcc.gov.uk or call 01473 782777 .”
I took him at his word, and, meeting him shortly afterwards I raised the issue of police enforcement of parking in the Woodbridge Thoroughfare. He promised to look into this urgently.
Suffolk Reading Scheme This year’s reading scheme will be on the theme of the Mysterious Maze. As ever, the Woodbridge Library is on the lookout for volunteers to help local children read their books over the summer holidays.
Suffolk Records Office consultation Suffolk County Council received over 500 responses to a recent consultation to improve Suffolk Records Office opening hours.
The consultation was on proposals to reducing weekday opening hours, improving the service on a Saturday and developing a key online presence.66% of respondents felt the proposals would bring a positive improvement to the service.
There was a majority of support for closing the office one day a week to allow improvements to the online accessibility of information and digitised materials. Respondents also showed great support for an improved Saturday service and later opening times, although some felt not opening until 10am was too late. In consequence SCC will bev blooking to open each record office branch for 35 hours a week: 9.30am – 4.30pm, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Let’s Look Out for Each Other Cycle-Drive campaign SCC has launched Let’s Look Out for Each Other – an educational campaign that encourages both cyclists and drivers to share Suffolk’s roads. Each week approximately four cyclists are injured in Suffolk with almost three cyclists killed or seriously injured every month.
4% of adults in Suffolk cycle at least five times a week – as opposed to the national average of 3%; and 20% of adults in Suffolk cycle at least once a month -5% above the national average of 15%
Driver error has been attributed to 68% of all collisions in Suffolk. In 77% of cyclist casualties at or at or near a junction, the cyclist have not been culpable; however, in 2 of the 3 recently recorded fatalities the cyclist was at fault.
Roadsafe top tips for drivers and cyclists when using the road are:
- Ride positively, decisively and well clear of the kerb – look and signal to show drivers what you plan to do and make eye contact where possible so you know drivers have seen you
- Avoid riding up the inside of large vehicles, like lorries or buses, where you might not be seen
- Always use lights after dark or when visibility is poor
- Wearing light coloured or reflective clothing during the day and reflective clothing and/or accessories in the dark increases your visibility
- Look out for cyclists, especially when turning – make eye contact if possible so they know you’ve seen them
- Use your indicators – signal your intentions so that cyclists can react
- Give cyclists space – If there isn’t sufficient space to pass, hold back. Remember that cyclists may need to manoeuvre suddenly if the road is poor, it’s windy or if a car door is opened
- Always check for cyclists when you open your car door
- Avoid driving over advanced stop lines – these allow cyclists to get to the front and increase their visibility
Further information can be found at http://www.suffolkroadsafe.net/cyclists/ or http://www.suffolkroadsafe.net/drivers/
County Councillor’s Surgery My surgery dates for the next few months are: Saturday 21 June, and Saturday 19 July. There will be no surgery in August. Surgeries are at Woodbridge Library 10-12 as ever. All welcome