Suffolk County Council: Bosmere By-Election

Due to the untimely death of Cllr Ann Whybrow, a by-election will be held on Thursday, October 25th for Suffolk’s Bosmere division.

Our candidate is Steve Phillips.

Steve will aim to carry on the active and successful record of representing you, set by Ros Scott and Julia Truelove, your previous Liberal Democrat Councillors.  We  hope to meet your needs again with a hard working Liberal Democrat.

Steve’s Background

Steve says:  ‘I am looking forward to serving you in Bosmere as a County Councillor and hope you will elect me on the 25th.

I have been a Town Councillor for 20 years and have served as Town Mayor/Chairman of Needham Market Town Council on two occasions. During that time, I have regularly fought for issues within the Town, for example improved facilities for Crowley Park playing field, so I have a good track record.

I have listened and responded to individuals’ concerns and helped promote local community projects.  I have helped to run the young persons’ football club in Ringshall and got to know many of the residents and their children.

I take a keen interest in our surrounding villages and getting things done. I have attended Parish meetings, visited local community shops and attended coffee mornings, as a member of the public.  If you choose to elect me I will regularly attend Parish Council meetings as your County Councillor to ensure I keep closely in touch with your needs and views.

I will also keep in touch via email and social media, our www site and by producing regular “Focus” leaflets

As a family man with 5 children, now grown up, I have maintained a continuing interest in education and this will  be of special interest if elected as your County Councillor.

Above all, I have tried to treat people fairly and hope to continue the trust placed in me.’

Current Issues

Every year the County Council is cutting back our vital services, shifting the burden onto voluntary groups and increasing charges without weighing up the impact on vulnerable people.  They are responding to cuts in government funding but for several years have made “savings” sufficient to add to the reserves, which in total are over £150 million.

Health and adult social care is in crisis and many elderly people in the UK are not receiving the care and support they need. This has a severe impact on the NHS.
We believe cuts to health and adult social care, public transport, libraries, affordable housing, schools, road maintenance and the necessary infrastructure to support housing growth have gone too far.

Steve says  “If these are things that you feel as passionate about as I do, please give me your vote so that I can challenge this Tory Council on your behalf. Your vote is important not only to you but to shape your Town or Village –  so please vote for me on Thursday 25th October and together we can make a difference.”

Suffolk Conservatives: Modified Support only for Green/LibDem Cycling Plans

The Conservative administration at Suffolk County Council  agreed yesterday to a motion proposed by the Liberal Democrat, Green and Independent Group to develop a strategic costed cycling plan.  The motion, seconded by LibDem leader Caroline Page, and proposed by Green Robert Lindsay  first asked for a strategic, costed five-year cycling plan to be drawn up for Suffolk.  It secondly asked  for a commitment of 5% of the annual Integrated Transport Block (the equivalent of £160,000) to be spent on cycling infrastructure.
Both motions were vital: without a  commitment of funding, it will be impossible to implement a cycling plan. However, the Conservatives refused to commit any funding whatsoever  to cycling infrastructure – thus managing to have their fiscal cake and eat it.
In the past SCC used to have a cycling team and  a costed cycling infrastructure plan – which was allocated funds from the Transport budget every year.
Back in 1995 the then Country Councillors voted to fully support plans to develop the Sustrans’  National Cycle Network routes in Suffolk and steady progress was made with this for several years.
A cycling budgets also benefits other modes of travel:
1) Most off-carriageway cycle infrastructure is designed to be of equal benefit to pedestrians e.g. shared use cycle paths; Toucan crossing; bridges  – therefore ‘Safe Routes to School’ (for both cycling and walking).
2) More cycle commuters means less traffic on roads, leading to better journey times for those who really need their vehicles.
Since 2011, Suffolk and Ipswich were eligible for six sustainable travel grants from the Department for Transport, yet did not win a single one of these. By failing to commit a minimal amount of funding, it is likely that any future bids for funding will likewise fail.

What’s been happening, July 2018

Opposition’s “call in” of Suffolk County Council school transport cuts unsuccessful   On Tuesday 19 June, Suffolk County Council’s Cabinet voted to change the Home to School Transport policy so that only children travelling to their nearest school would receive free transport. The changes are due to be phased in from September 2019.

As you may be aware,  LibDem Councillors and their Green and Independent colleagues  have been opposed to this policy change since it was announced in September 2018. As was the Labour group. There has also been very vocal opposition from schools, parents, carers and parish councils across Suffolk.

All the opposition cross-party worked collaboratively to call in the decision to Suffolk’s Scrutiny, with Cllrs Otton and Page as the Lib Dem signatories.

The “call-in” was successful on three fronts:
1. Concern at the quality and reliability of the financial modelling;
2. Whether the Cabinet were fully informed of the role of the Consultation Institute;
3. Whether there was enough analysis of the experience of Essex County Council, who implemented a similar policy in 2013.

Unfortunately despite the considered opinions of really competent and well-qualified members of the public, the Conservative administration failed to recognise their own financial forecasts were flawed. The decision will therefore go ahead.

Major review of Suffolk Highways announced The new Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Highways, Cllr Mary Evans, has launched a major review of the way highways in Suffolk are maintained.

Areas due to be reviewed include:
• Existing policy which determines how resources are deployed, known as the Suffolk Highway Maintenance Operational Plan (HMOP);
• How the location of potholes on the road is considered alongside the width and depth, recognising the impact they can have on cyclists and motorcyclists;
• How utility companies coordinate roadworks and are held to account for their actions;
• How residents, councillors and businesses are informed about road repairs and how they can access information;
• Financial control and contract management;
• How town and parish councils can work closer with Suffolk Highways to make the best use of their local knowledge, skills, money and time.

Consultation launched on future commissioning of specialist education services  Suffolk County Council have launched a consultation into the commissioning strategy for the development of Suffolk’s specialist educational provision.

Demand for specialist education places in Suffolk for children with SEND continues to grow, and currently the county council has a much lower number of specialist education places than other similar authorities. This means that many children in Suffolk are forced to travel out of county to access the education provision they need – and often Suffolk County Council foots the bill.

At a time when the Council wishes to reduce the amount of free home-to-school transport it provides citing fears of escalating costs, it is vital that we begin to provide more SEND provision within Suffolk.

The 6 week consultation will look at three options for meeting the additional demand for specialist provision. More information and a link to the consultation can be found online at: http://www.suffolk.gov.uk/SENDsufficiencyeducation