What’s happening in Suffolk

Here you can find the material of the monthly reports I give as County Councillor to  town and parish councils to keep them – and you – informed about County Council decisions etc that may be of local interest.

The most recent monthly report,  for October 2013, is largely connected with issues to do with  with a number of different forms of transport: rail, road, bus AND cycle – and also has a sentence in Anglo-Saxon embedded in it. Maybe a first for a county council – certainly a first for my council reports

September 2013  has a lot to do with transport in one way and another – Public health wants us on our bikes, but Greater Anglia would rather we didn’t take them on the train, and county council expenses support councillors remaining in their cars anyway. Operation of  highways services were transferred to MGWSP on 1 October – with so far unknown consequences – except that my Transport budget will go very much less far than previously.

June 2013  tells about changes to the dynamics of the counci after the electionl; an offer of help from Hackney schools to improve Suffolk attainment, more devastating losses to the ever-diminishing rural bus routes, welcome news on my Locality budget, and news of the next Woodbridge cycling festival

My annual report for Suffolk 2012-13 given in May 2013   mentions the plummet of Suffolk Schools down the national league table, the loss of bus services, the Conservatives’ covert concession that they had messed up big time in abolishing Suffolk’s Youth Travel card, though they were never big enough to apologise to the young people, and various other things before finishing with the grand finale of many unexpected UKIP gains in the recent election

March 2013 covers the last few weeks before the upcoming electoral moratorium:  at home, underground cables are coming close to Woodbridge and destroying all the trees in its 55m wide path, Woodbridge Youth Centre has been saved and my Locality and Quality of Life budgets  have been spent.At county level  – the SCC 2013-14 budget is finalised and various cabinet decisions have been made. Scc has a new  candidate to take over Highways maintenance. And finally – and most satisfactorily – the meat served in Suffolk schools has been found to be free of equine DNA .

Feb 2013  Disgraceful league table results for Suffolk schools, Son of Explore card returns, negotiations with the ‘preferred bidder’ for SCC’s highways procurement falls through 10 weeks before d-day…

…and Woodbridge Library needs Friends!

December 2012 Preparing for winter – gritbins again, the new hourly service on the whole of the East Suffolk line, concessionary fares

October 2012 various exciting things are mentioned! On a county-wide stage I  managed to get Suffolk to recognise that its decisions about Concessionary bus passes (that is, those for the disabled and the elderly) were made without adequate consultation and need revisiting (again!). On a local level, I’ve managed to turn around the current situation regarding the Just 42 youth club. From having been offered no lease whatsoever at the  Woodbridge Youth Club  since August last year – and well-grounded concerns as to its future, Just 42 have now been offered a ten-year lease on the whole building  (- and watch this space. More to come)

For my last few monthly reports  of those Suffolk County council activities that most affect us in Woodbridge  click below:

September 2012 there is a lot about transport: notably slight improvements to Woodbridge bus services, the shortlist for the outsourced Highways services and the Scrutiny of Cabinet’s cheeseparing and undemocratic decision to keep Concessionary bus fares for the elderly and disabled at an unacceptable minimum. Not to forget the Tour of Britain’s brief but momentous trip through town

July 2012. (Apologies. I have just realised I have not posted this so if I do so now it will be out of sequence. If anyone wants to see this tell me and I will put it up).

 June 2012   everyone has been concerned with celebrating the Queen’s Jubilee. In particular,  Suffolk County Council held a party on 4th June  to celebrate the  SCC Jubilee beacon being lit,  clearly oblivious that any County Councillor worth their salt would  be on their own home patch enjoying local celebrations, and  the lighting of their own local beacon.  At least I was.

April 12,  you’ll discover how SCC revealed details of pay throughout the council, and found that the differential between top and botton salaries has diminished significantly since the days of the last Chief Executive. Also in April, Scrutiny will be examining Suffolk Circle, and has launched a survey to see how effective their favourite Demand Responsive Transport is in real life. Follow the link and tell them like it is before 20 April

March 2012  you can discover how Cabinet have decided to ‘remodel’ Suffolk’s Adult and Community services – and seem once again to be relying on that good old standby – the volunteer – to sort out the inevitable gap in provision. Truly extraordinary that a mindset  that blandly declares that  ‘ you have to pay to get the best,’  and  ‘there is no such thing as society’  should also be the one that is so keen to rely on others’ free labour and ‘the community’  for the really important things in life (like caring for the elderly and running public libraries). This month too SCC started looking at the  proposed Suffolk Heritage organisation, which is set be run by the Museum of East Anglian Life  for the compelling reason that ‘they were the only organisation to tender for it’. Thank goodness it was a museum, eh?

In February 2012 , you can read about SCC’s budget 2012-13, and the amendments which the Lib Dems proposed and costed . These could have brought back the Explore card, restored local evening and weekend bus services, supported young people in NEET via apprenticeships, and generally made provision for the future in these current tough times. Sadly these were turned down flat by the Conservative majority, without thought or consideration, on grounds that could have been – and probably were – written on the back of a fag packet. No suggestion crossed their minds that in this case, the Lib Dem’s fag packet was clearly doing a much better job than their own spread sheet…

January 2012   deals mainly with the future of Suffolk Libraries and my concerns about what this might mean, but also mentions the official arrival of the new Chief Executive, potential changes to Suffolk’s schools admissions policies, the forthcoming Budget for 2012-13 and  the dangers of heavy objects being thrown onto the A12/A14

November ’11 has a number of details covered elewhere in my blog (New Chief Executive, Olympic torch), but also contains interesting – potentially disturbing – information  about proposals for Highways, Transport and Archives/Archaeology, being decided at Cabinet level. Some of these definitely need keeping an eye on.

October 11, heralds the appointment of a new Chief Executive although details were announced too late to go into this report itself. Other points of interests are links to the Young People’s  Travel inquiry, the Mobile Library consultation and a reminder to respond to the budget consultation.

September 13 is mostly to do with fights to restore various travel passes to past levels (Explore, over-60s and Disabled persons’) and an update on the library situation throughout Suffolk. The new consultation on furhter budget cuts is also covered

July 11 deals with the long-anticipated  departure of Suffolk’s Chief Executive, the Library scrutiny, my proposed amendment at next full council to improve the conditions for concessionary travel passes  and a few words about a telecom mast…

June 11 is heralding the chance of a new era at SCC, with a change of leader and the possibility of other changes. However it becomes clear that SCC having created e-petitions had developed or considered no strategy to deal with these once presented. An extraordinary Cabinet grants £10m for broadband from reserves, although the very same people had been deeply snitty only a month or two back, when the Lib Dems  suggested the interim funding of vital frontline services via a much smaller sum from reserves.  One rule for them, and another for us – the same old mantra as ever.

April 11 – mentions the significant number of personnel changes in SCC senior management, and the sheeplike way in which all  Conservative councillors – both front- and back-benchers – agreed the NSD, justifying by this one act the cutting of the lollipop patrols, the divestment of the libraries and the abolition of the essential post-16 Explore card

March 2011 – deals with the legitimisation of  various appalling cuts by the administration (who at the same time are letting money flow through their fingers on such essential front line services as extremely expensive consultants training them to ‘listen’ (hah!) and ‘gagging’ payments – £520,000 last year alone) to stop the mouths of ex-staff members

February 2011: is largely about various – very worrying – proposed cuts and divestments that the forthcoming SCC 2010-11 budget intends to legitimise. Specific reference to Libraries, Road Crossing Patrols, Bus Services (especially the 62a/b evening, Sunday and bank holiday service) and the young persons’ eXplore card, together with links to petitions to try and help save these.

Jan 2011 – click here to read is largely alerting you to  individual decisions and proposals by Suffolk County Council – fuelled by their New Strategic Direction – which are likely to have a bad effect on the residents of Suffolk.

December  2010, click here to read is mostly about continuing anxieties and the complete lack of accountability and consultation involved in Suffolk County Council’s New Strategic Direction – a rudderless ideological mess that is worrying the bulk of Suffolk residents at the moment!

“..… SCC’s consultation of the people of Suffolk took seven weeks to anticipate (and indeed according to the Leader, this was a YEAR in the planning) and leaves us just three weeks to make a comment. And nd then only if you are computer literate. This shows the respect our administration have for the views of the people who elect them.”
“.. the conservative-run Suffolk CountyCouncil administration believes ‘outsourcing’ will significantly reduce a predicted 30% funding gap expected to hit the County Council over the coming years. We Lib Dems believe it may more closely approximate to selling off the family silver..”
“…I currently have about five to six thousand left to spend and would like it to go on things that will have some lasting concrete benefit to the town, just in case there is little forthcoming next year….”

“Locally, I was re-elected as your County Councillor in June. This year I have been interested in Woodbridge transport in the widest sense: roads, buses, trains, parking, cycling…”

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Caroline Page, County Councillor for Woodbridge