Every Full Council, elected members have the opportunity to put questions to the Cabinet members at Suffolk County Council.
These are the questions Lib Dem county councillors are asking this September. I will post the replies after the meeting
Inga Lockington to Cabinet member for Adult Care & Health Allan Murray
How many residents assessed as needing care support and living alone in Suffolk receive Homecare visits of no longer than 15min within their care package?
Penny Otton to Cabinet Member for Education, Skills and Young People Lisa Chambers
Following the interview I did with Sally Chidzoy on BBC LOOK EAST in July I am pleased to discover that the EAOTAS centre in Lowestoft has NOW closed . Why did this take so long??
Caroline Page to Mark Bee, Leader of the Council
Cllr Bee, as you have made it a council commitment that Suffolk should be ” the greenest county” and that we should “strive to improve the health, life chance and life expectancy of our residents”, will you now commit to a reduction of the extremely generous mileage allowance Suffolk County councillors get if they use their own cars for transport on county council business – and instead to incentivise county councillors to set a good example to the residents of Suffolk by travelling by public transport or bicycle?
A fascinating new interactive map will show you exactly how much extra funding your local school has been able to claim via Pupil Premium
An extra £25,000? £75,000? £242,000?
Woodbridge county councillor Caroline Page is delighted to point out that ” this school year, Woodbridge’s excellent and inclusive Farlingaye High School has been able to claim nearly a quarter of a million pounds to provide additional support to pupils from hard-pressed homes. This is thanks to the Liberal Democrats in the Coalition government.”
The Pupil Premium – which is additional to main school funding – is an initiative introduced by the Liberal Democrats in government which intends to address the current underlying inequalities between children eligible for free school meals and their peer. It is doing this very practically by ensuring that funding to tackle disadvantage reaches the pupils who need it most.
You can click here to seach the map for yourself and find out for yourself what your school has been able to claim.
However, getting the funding is only the start. “Its quite a revelation to see how much money is going into Suffolk schools. We now have to see what they are doing with it, ” points out Suffolk Lib Dem schools spokesperson, Penny Otton
Faced with the major collapse of rural bus ‘services’ in Suffolk, Woodbridge Councillor and Lib Dem Spokesman for Transport Caroline Page, has long been calling on both Suffolk County Council and the government to look at re-regulation of rural bus services.
“The response of both institutions has been largely negative,” she says “despite clear evidence that ‘competition’ and ‘market forces’ have done absolutely nothing to benefit rural users over the last decades .”
Yet re-regulation is not impossible.
Last Friday the five Tyne and Wear councils voted to start the consultation necessary to re-regulate their buses . It will be the first region to take the plunge since deregulation of bus non-London services in the 1980s. Re-regulation will allow the region to aim once again for the efficiency, coverage and price which is standard for bus services in regulated London by giving bus companies franchises to run all local services, instead of letting them cherry-pick the ones on which they can make the most money. This is why there are ‘bus wars’ on popular routes in towns and no service at all in many rural areas.
Tyne and Wear was warned that without change, all local school buses would go; a further 200 bus routes would likely disappear, and concessionary child fares would vanish. However, if the councils take over the bus routes, they could use the current subsidy and profits to grow the service to make it meet the needs of all residents.
“Tyne and Wear’s problems are not dissimilar to those we are facing in Suffolk,” says Caroline.
Buses are Britain’s main form of public transport, and in the old days the concept of bus ‘services’ meant service: popular routes would fund socially necessary but less income-generating services elsewhere. De-regulation was heralded by the Thatcher administration as providing competition, but in fact since the 80s some big bus companies have clearly used their size to see off other competitors creating local monopolies which do not benefit passengers at all . According to the FT “Bus companies earn higher margins outside London.. Stagecoach makes an average of 17 per cent outside London, while the figure for Go-Ahead is 10 per cent.” The FT says that average London operators make between 4 and 5 %.
“Bus companies should be forced to compete with each other to provide proper services rather than to maximise profits. I once again call upon Suffolk County Council to do everything they can to make this possible,” says Caroline.