LibDems win Hadleigh by-election

After the Hadleigh by -election the Suffolk County Lib Dems have a new  County Councillor. Congratulations, Cllr Trevor Sheldrick!

Hadleigh  by-election figures showed a large LibDem gain, a smaller Labour one, with losses for the Conservative and UKIP vote. The votes cast and percentage vote for each party:

LibDem: 642    – 36.2%  (+12.0)
CON: 460   – 25.9% (-5.6)
LAB: 397   – 22.4% (+5.8)
UKIP: 204   -11.5% (-11.3)
GRN: 70   – 3.9% (-0.9)

LibDem GAIN from Con.

This mean that the Conservatives have finally lost control of Suffolk County Council. The balance is now: 37 Con, 15 Lab, 10 UKIP, 8 LibDem, 3 Ind, 2 Grn

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Lib Dems – giving Hadleigh a voice!

IMG_20160903_104759 blog
Cllrs Dave Busby and Caroline Page kickstarting the Hadleigh by-election campaign this weekend

Following  the long-overdue resignation of Suffolk’s most shameless county councillor -the non-resident Brian Riley – Suffolk Lib Dems are campaigning to give back to Hadleigh residents  the  quality representation they enjoyed with their previous County  Councillor, Lib Dem David Grutchfield.

So what exactly has Brian Riley cost us,  the people of Suffolk?

“Well, since he moved to America eighteen months ago, he’s continued to claim his County Councillor’s  allowance . Then there’s the cost of this by-election forced on the county by him failing to attend even  one  council meeting every six months and so  being obliged to stand down. That’s about £25,000, and for what?  To represent his residents? To represent the great town of Hadleigh?  It doesn’t looks like it!   And in addition he has helped keep this service-cutting Tory county council in power,”  says  David Busby, County Councillor of neighbouring Belstead division.

“You just have to compare Mr Riley’s lackadaisical performance  with that of the previous incumbent – David Grutchfield, ‘Mr Hadleigh,’ – who gave 24 years of his life to help the people and town of Hadleigh.  It’s clear that Lib Dem councillors  step up to the plate, take their responsibilities to their constituents seriously, and are not obsessed by the power drug.”

The LibDem candidate for this by-election is Trevor Sheldrick , who has already shown a long track-record of dedication and service to Hadleigh  and its residents. Trevor has been 10 years on the town council and is currently the Mayor of Hadleigh. As well as  a community speedwatch volunteer,  he’s a First Responder- one of that band of amazing volunteer paramedics who arrive before the ambulance to keep you alive.

Its time to get back to having a ‘real’ councillor representing Hadleigh – you deserve it!

Dave Busby
Caroline Page

Published and promoted by D Busby on behalf of T Sheldrick (Liberal Democrats) both at 16 Two Acres, Capel St. Mary, Ipswich IP9 2XP

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Suffolk Devolution

At the Suffolk Devolution debate this month, councillors broke party lines to speak and vote their mind. The Suffolk Lib Dem group were among 20 county councillors who – after much thought -opposed  the offered Devolution deal (despite personal support for the concept of Devolution). While we approve of giving local authorities more control over spending,  this proposal leaves much  of the crucial decision-making with the government.

However a 2/3 majority  decided that Suffolk should now move to public consultation. Councillors and Officers see this as an opportunity to take control of a wider range of services including aspects of health and social care integration.

Combined Authority & Mayor A “Combined Authority” headed by a locally elected Mayor would be in control, supported by the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership ( incorporating unelected business leaders) to deliver the devolved services in Suffolk and Norfolk ( in effect a fourth tier of Local Government) The Mayor would have a deputy and a small but senior officer group. The Mayor would work with the leaders of the constituent authorities, the County, District and Borough Councils.

Many of us are concerned that the Mayor, elected by around 15% of the population working with leaders, or representatives from just the largest parties in constituent authorities would represent only some 30% of the population.  The very real fear is that people’s belief that they are not represented and that their views don’t count will be confirmed.

Concerns: Our concerns were:

  • the clear democratic deficit  this devolution deal will offer – an overarching authority will consist of one member from every council (probably the leader);
  • the thorny question of an elected Mayor for each county (and all the extra bureaucracy that would go with that post);
  • the relative smallness of the sums offered to Suffolk ( a single pot of £750m -£25m a year for 30 years – for Norfolk and Suffolk to invest in infrastructure, economic growth and jobs) ;
    the fact that  the Government  will still  oversee everything it wishes to oversee, but just without the responsibility, thus making the county the ‘fall guy’ for its more unpopular decisions
  • – and possibly most of all – the government’s target for Norfolk and Suffolk to build an additional 200,000  (some figures quote 240000) houses in Suffolk and Norfolk by 2031.  In Suffolk, this is the equivalent of creating 4 extra towns the size of Ipswich, or increasing every town and village by 35%. Such a magnitude of growth is not needed to satisfy local demand

The Housing Problem Suffolk badly needs specific types of housing and it is not being built. We specifically need starter homes, disability-specific housing, and accommodation for older people wanting to downsize – all for a population already living in Suffolk. (And whose needs are not being catered for). Do we need 100,000 houses(or more – the Norfolk/Suffolk split is not mentioned) and where will they go? WHo would they be fore? Our towns, roads and commuter rail are  already congested. How will our county cope with growth of this magnitude?

Having said which, Norfolk and Suffolk would at least receive £100m to invest in shared ownership housing and could use up to 15% of it for houses for social rent.  Finally, £30m to Norwich and Ipswich over five years, that is £3m a year each -about 30 houses – will be useful but hardly game changing for these two towns.

Transport The Combined Authority would also receive a single budget for public transport guaranteed for four years, replacing the numerous annual budgets that Government currently provides. This would provide certainty on funding that is currently not possible but is still just a small portion of the funding needed.  The downside is that the impact of local decisions on things like concessionary fares are difficult to predict.

Despite such reservations voiced by many, devolution was voted in by a resounding majority (40 for, 20 against, 3 abstentions, and a couple of hurried departures just before the vote…).

A public consultation including a MORI telephone poll and an online survey has opened and will remain open over the summer only. You can find it at www.eastangliadevo.co.uk/consultation/ .  It will be open for responses until 23 August.

Caroline Page
John Field

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Community Transport – a Continuing Story

cropped-Dave-Wood1.jpgAt the last County Council meeting (14th July) during the debate on the Annual Equalities and Inclusion Report 2016, leader David Wood asked for the following to be clarified, on his own behalf and on that of Cllrs Penny Otton and Caroline Page :-

Referring to point 3 of the report – ” Empower more people with protected characteristics to live safe, healthy and independent lives”. Could the proposer please tell me how the recently awarded Community Transport Contracts fits in with this report – especially its equality objectives.

For instance I know in Mid Suffolk one cannot use a bus pass to access these services – yet in other areas of Suffolk you can.

In my own area I am receiving complaints regarding these new services: these come from a young person with Downs Syndrome; a person with visual impairment; and a wheelchair user –  all have been told they cannot access services they have come to rely on and have become an important part of their lives. In one case a person’s job is at risk; another is seriously considering moving away from the village she has lived in all her life.

My question is, how does this fit in with our equality and inclusion objectives?

Cllr Goldson could not provide an answer during the debate but has assured me he will look into this and will be replying to the question raised.

The Portfolio holder for Highways and Transport was strangely silent during the debate.

David Wood
Group Leader

 

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