When the Suffolk County Council LibDem Green and Independent Group was formed, Caroline Page was appointed Group Spokesperson for Women. She says:
“We are the first and only Group in this county to have this role. Interesting, because there IS no Suffolk County Cabinet member for Women for me to shadow.
So why am I spokesperson? Exactly because there is no Suffolk County Cabinet member for Women for me to shadow. And this has significant consequences for the women and girls of Suffolk.
29% (22) of Suffolk County Councillors are women – which is below the national average. But even nationally the picture is poor. Latest research shows:
- Only 33% of local councillors are women
- 28% of women councillors say childcare is a barrier, compared with 18% of men.
- 47% of women (almost double the % of men) experience clashes with other caring duties. Unsurprising, considering half of all women aged 59 are, or have been, unpaid carers. Men don’t achieve such odds till age 75.
- 38% of women councillors report sexist comments within their party, and one-third in council chamber
- 43% of women councillors have faced sexist assumptions about what they could do based on their gender rather than their career, qualifications or capacity.
- Yet women councillors are just as ambitious as their male counterparts: 45% of women and 47% of men say they want to progress to a more senior role in the council
This lack of recognition, representation and respect of women within local authorities, results in lack of local authority recognition and funding for issues that disproportionately affect women – whether it be outcomes for girls, or the plight of family carers or the funding of refuges and safe houses. We see examples of all these in Suffolk.
Seems that Suffolk – nursery of those indomitable seekers after equality, Elizabeth and Millicent Garrett – is in need of a reminder that equality is still a long way off.
We need Spokespeople for Women to ensure that gender equality in Suffolk is a fact rather than a fiction, to make sure that the best person gets the job, that the girls in our schools are wholly supported to have same aspirations and futures as their male peers.
Alongside this we need a clear understanding of the utter necessity for certain woman-specific provision. We can all dream of an equal society, but whilst 1 in 4 women experiences domestic violence, whilst one British woman is killed by a man – generally one she knows – every 2.4 days, women and children desperately need refuges, support, safe spaces for access, and the funding for all this. And everyone, whatever their gender who believes in equality realise this as truth.
But without a woman to speak up for equality in the Suffolk administration – what happens to it? It is ‘assumed’ as existing without existing. The funding gets lost because the issue has no direct relevance to those in charge – and the whole county suffers.
Sad but true.
So I am going to be here to carry on pointing it out, until the Suffolk administration realises this too.”
Yesterday saw the setting of the County Budget for 2017-18. With an election in May this was always a day when we would emphasise the difference between the parties and it did not disappoint. The was lots of Conservative emphasis on keeping spend down and how they have amassed large reserves over the past seven years. Labour wanted to spend to preserve services and give the residents of Suffolk what they need. We felt the Conservatives were cutting too hard but Labour were spending at the top limit of what would be possible.
My approach -on behalf of the LibDeb group- is below, seeking to use the resources available but not take unreasonable risks. In the end the administration carried the day and a further £30 million will be cut from services.
John Field: Deputy Leader of Suffolk Lib Dem Group & County Councillor for Gipping Valley
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!
Published and promoted by D Busby on behalf of T Sheldrick (Liberal Democrats) both at 16 Two Acres, Capel St. Mary, Ipswich IP9 2XP
Further to our report on Suffolk’s new bus franchises Thedwastre South Councillor Penny Otton reiterates: “It now turns out Suffolk county council Tory council has awarded a contract for the Mid Suffolk area where you cannot use your bus pass. You can pay or swap your bus pass for a voucher worth £100. How many trips will that cover?? Is this fair?? I don’t think so!”
BSEVC covers not only MidSuffolk, but also Ipswich. Fortunately for the rest of Suffolk these are the only two areas where this iniquitous system is currently running -though the franchises are able to change their operating terms at any time.
“We’ve been told that BSEVC is able to refuse bus passes because they are operating 9 seater transport rather than the previous 22 seaters. This allows them to operate under different rules as community car schemes and Dial-A-Ride rather than Demand Responsive Transport. SCC officers have told us this is because the 22 seater buses are ‘not economically viable’ ; that BSEVC do hold 22 seaters, and that they could bring them back into use ‘should demand increase,” explains LibDem spokesperson for Transport, Caroline Page .
“But as the voucher system allows previous bus pass holders living in remote areas to make no more than 11 return journeys a year, it is hard to see how this promise is anything other than window dressing!”