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

 

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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.

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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

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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

 

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Swift to Serve!!! ‘Severest cut’ to Suffolk’s Fire Services?

Now we know it- the Conservative administration are planning to cut £1.3m from the Fire Service budget of £21m!

This means they are proposing the severest cut ever seen to the Suffolk Fire Service, whose proud motto is Swift to Serve . With these proposed cuts, will they be able to live up to it , one wonders!

They are proposing to reduce the whole time establishment at Prnces Street Ipswich from 48 to 28, removing the On Call firefighters and two fire engines. At Ipswich East they are removing one fire engine and several On Call firefighters; the same is happening at Lowestoft South and Bury St Edmunds. At Wrentham they are closing the Fire Station altogether, whilst at Sudbury – the scene of a major fire recently -they are removing one fire engine and replacing it with a rapid response vehicle  (whatever that might be). One Senior Officer post is also going as well as three civlian posts.

What does this mean to you the public of Suffolk?

Today, when the cuts were announced, there were at least 7 Fire Stations unable to provide cover:  Framlingham, Aldeburgh, Wrentham, Eye, Needham Market, Nayland & Brandon with Princes Street “On Call Firefighters” unavailable at sometime during the day. Last Monday, 26th October, there were 20 Fire Stations out of a total of 35 unavailable for some part of the day! Where does the cover come from to fill in these holes in our Fire Cover? mainly from the wholetime firefighters based at Princes Street. However, with these proposed cuts this will no longer be able to happen.

With the population of Ipswich due to increase and several more high rise accomodation blocks planned the Fire Service will struggle to meet its agreed pre determined attendance to these properties, is it a risk you are prepared to take.

One simple solution:  a rise of less than 1% in the council tax could prevent these cuts (its up to you)  – or  of course they could go back and look for cuts elsewhere.

Ahead of this action, Suffolk County Council will now undertake a 14 week consultation period to allow you, the public of Suffolk, to have your say. If you value your Emergancy Service I urge you to have your say and say No to these drastic cuts.

It is rumoured that the Cabinet Member for Public Protection is prepared to take what he calls” these acceptable risks”.

To you the people of Suffolk, I ask:  “Are these RISKS ACCEPTABLE TO YOUR LIVES, YOUR PROPERTY & YOUR LIVELIHOODS?” I think not. We are already one of the lowest costing Fire Services in the country .

Enough is enough. Please have your say in this public consultation and help save our Fire Service.

David Wood

Leader Lib Dem Group.

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Fire Cuts – Enough is Enough

Suffolk already has the leanest and meanest Fire Service in the Country and following yesterdays announcement the Council are proposing to take a further £1m from an already stretched budget.

The Chief Fire Officer Mark Hardingham and the new Portfolio Holder Cllr Matthew Hicks are proposing a public consultation exercise to gain the views of the Suffolk public. I urge you to take part in this consultation and say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. We have already seen Felixstowe Fire Station cease to have any wholetime Firefighters, Haverhills wholetime establishment cut and a cut in the number of wholetime Firefighters across the county.

Only today June 24th at 11:30 there were 10 Fire Stations off the run, including such stations as Hadleigh, Debenham, Framlingham and Adleburgh to name but 4. A further station was short crewed meaning it could not attend property fires and a further 2 had appliances off the run. So you can see further cut to our already stretched service would impact further on the safety of the residents of Suffolk.

So now is the chance for you to have your say –  details here -and I urge you to say NO MORE CUTS.

David Wood

Leader Suffolk Lib Dems

Spokesperson Fire & Public Protection

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Charles Kennedy

Charles Kennedy 1959 -2015

It is indeed very sad news to hear of the sudden death of Charles Kennedy.

He led our party to some amazing successes and will always be remembered for his stand against the invasion/war in Iraq. Charles Kennedy was the one UK party leader to oppose the 2003 war in Iraq

Charles was a very committed family man and our thoughts go out to Charles’ family at this very sad time.

David Wood
Leader SCC Lib Dems

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Don’t forget – Suffolk also has District, Town and Parish elections on May 7th

BannerDon’t forget there are also District, Town and Parish elections taking place across Suffolk this coming Thursday May 7th.

Local elections matter!

Support your local Lib Dem Councillors. These are the people you meet in the street, at local events,  the ones who listen to your concerns about the areas in which we all live. We are the ones who act and try to make things better for us all. We don’t grab the headlines, but go about our business thoughtfully and diligently to the best of our ability. We are the ones who live in the areas we represent – we might even be your neighbour – we care passionately about our areas and want to do the best we can to maintain them.

“Just local elections”? No way! When you are casting your vote for the national picture this coming Thursday don’t forget to remember to vote for your local councillors  as well. And make sure you vote for the person you can rely on to work for you.

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The Conservatives – Suffolk’s Divided Party

A Game of Tug of War with the County in the middle?
A Game of Tug of War with the County in the middle?

Just what is going on with the Conservatives on Suffolk County Council?

First of all we have the Brian Riley fiasco – yes Hadleigh,  sadly he still is your representative. Now we have the news that Council Leader Mark Bee is standing down. Was he pushed or has he left of his own free will?  Regardless of one’s political beliefs, Mark came in and steadied a very rocky boat in the wake of the Andrea Hill episode.

Clearly with all the turmoil within the administrative party one has to ask oneself are they the right party to be leading Suffolk at this moment in time.

Asked by the EADT to comment on Mark’s resignation, Group Leader David Wood said ” I am shocked and disappointed to hear the news. Mark has always been fair to all parties. He’s always listened to what we have had to say. He’s always recognised that whatever our political backgrounds we are all keen to do what we see as best for the people of Suffolk. I know he has problems within his own group, and that might be because he’s been prepared to talk to us – but this is sad news for the county as a whole”.

Today’s (2nd April 2015) EADT  states that some Conservatives had feared that whilst Mark Bee would have been re-elected unopposed at their AGM next week there would have been a vote of no confidence in the Leadership immediately before May’s annual council meeting. Oh boy! Conservative Democracy at work!!! We have seen how one of your Councillors operates –  we have to ask ourselves is it spreading?

David Wood

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