All posts by davewood

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

 

Fire Cuts – You Have Spoken

During the recent debate on the proposed cuts to the Fire Service the Conservative administration continually referred to the fact they could not support our motion as the results of the consultation were not known, hence we lost the motion by one vote

Well now the results of the consultation are known and have been published. What you the public are saying is a resounding NO to the proposed cuts.

What you said:-
Bury St Edmunds proposal
78% disagree
13% agree
Ipswich proposal
85% disagree
9% agree
Lowestoft proposal
76% disagree
15% agree
Sudbury proposal
60% disagree
19% agree
Wrentham proposal
72% disagree
15% agree

With the results now known it will be up to the Cabinet to make the final decision on the cuts at their meeting on the 17th May. So to all of those Conservative Councillors who were waiting for the results of the consultation before they made up their minds about which way they would vote what are you going to do now?

We gave you a chance to represent your voters the residents of Suffolk but you decided to sit on your hands and wait until you heard what the people of Suffolk had to say. Well they have had their say and it is a great big loud NO so how are you going to influence the gang of 9.

When we put our motion forward we were told by the administration that we had jumped the gun and should wait for the results of the consultation. What they did not say is that the whole Council is the Fire Authority and this was the only chance we had to have our say, as they had decided it would be the cabinet that would make the final decision and NOT the COUNCIL.

All of the way through we have been assured that this is a meaningful consultation and it will inform the final decision. Well we await with baited breath to see if they meant what they said. Because if they did and they take on board what the people of Suffolk have said then they only have one option open to them and that is to REJECT THE PROPOSED CUTS TO OUR FIRE SERVICE.

I thank you the people of Suffolk for taking your time to respond to the consultation and attending the various meetings.
73% of you disagreed (53% strongly disagreed) to the cuts.

NOW I HOPE THAT YOU ARE LISTENED TO.

David Wood
Leader Lib Dem & Ind. Group

The findings of the consultation can be found on the Suffolk County Council Web Site.

Fire Cuts Still On The Agenda

Despite the best efforts of the Opposition Parties at the Suffolk County Council meeting of 17th March 2016 life threatening cuts  to the Fire and Rescue Services  are still on the Conservative administration’s agenda.

The motion to rule out these changes – put forward by Lib Dem Leader David Wood and seconded by the Leader of the Labour Group – was narrowly defeated by 36 votes to 35 at yesterdays Council Meeting.

Earlier, the Portfolio Holder Cllr Matthew Hicks had refused the FBU petition calling for the cuts to be the subject of a decision and debate by full council, despite a impassioned speech by the Fire Brigades Union rep Steve Hayward. (A speech that bought a standing ovation from opposition councillors ; sadly the Conservatives sat on their hands).

In a debate lasting 2 hours many worthwhile and important points were raised by opposition councillors as to why these cuts should not take place and why the safety of the people of Suffolk should come first. Time and time again, the Conservatives kept insisting that they were waiting for the results of the consultation to be made public before any decision is made.

But who will make that decision – the Cabinet and to quote the Public Protection Portfolio Holder Cllr Matthew Hicks “It Is important for the council to balance its books so the Fire Service must play its part”. Hence the reason for our motion, to let all of the elected representatives have their say on your Fire Service and its future.

During a passionate summing up Cllr David Wood referred to the extra money the council had been granted from the government from its rural sparsity fund ( a nice round £6.8m over the next 2 years), asking “Instead of putting it into reserves, shouldn’t a proportion of that be used to save these cuts? after all it does belong to the taxpayers of Suffolk!

(Apropos  of this, Cllr Wood was  asked to withdraw his description of senior Conservative Cllr Guy McGregor stating “lets not waste money“. In the interests of keeping the  meeting going he did so –   however, if you listen to the Suffolk County Webcast   do be sure to listen carefully to the Councillor, and especially his closing words.)

We may have lost the first round but the fight will continue to make sure the residents have a Fire Service that is fit for purpose.

Cllr David
Leader Lib Dem & Independent Party

Suffolk Fire & Rescue: Cuts Could Cost Lives

Suffolk Lib Dems are joining forces with the County Council Labour Group at the County Council meeting this coming Thursday (17th March) in a joint motion to try and overturn the proposed cuts to the Suffolk Fire & Rescue Service .
The motion:-

“This Council believes that the reductions in fire appliances and crews as recommended in the Suffolk Fire Service Risk Management Plan 2015 – 18 would pose a serious threat to the safety of the residents of Suffolk, their homes and their businesses.

The Council therefore calls upon the Cabinet to approve and IRMP which excludes the following proposals:-

Bury St Edmunds proposal:  To remove one on- call fire engine from Bury St Edmunds Fire Station, and make consequent reduction to associated on -call firefighter posts.

Ipswich proposal:  To remove two fire engines from Princes Street Fire Station and one fire engine from Ipswich East Fire Station, and make consequent reductions to associated whole-time and on-call firefighter posts.

25102013254 (2)Lowestoft proposal:  To remove one on-call fire engine from the Lowestoft South Fire Station, and make consequent reductions to associated on-call posts.

Sudbury proposal:  To replace one of the fire engines at Sudbury with a rapid response type firefighting vehicle, and make consequent reductions to associated on-call firefighter posts.

Wrentham proposal:  To close Wrentham Fire Station and remove the fire engine, and make consequent reductions to associated on-call firefighter posts.

By proposing this motion to the  Full Council this will give everybody a chance to debate in full the devastating effect these cuts will have on the County of Suffolk. We have cast political differences aside to enable this debate to take place, something that would have been denied if just left to the Cabinet.

We firmly believe that the safety of the residents of Suffolk should come first which is why we are saying NO to these proposed cuts. Hopefully a majority of YOUR COUNCILLORS will agree with us and support this motion.

David Wood
Leader Lib Dem & Ind. Group