Category Archives: Penny Otton

Remembering Drinkstone’s fallen

Cllr Penny Otton and Robin Sharp, ViceChair of the Drinkstone War Memorial Institute unveil the Drinkstone embroidery
Cllr Penny Otton and Robin Sharp, ViceChair of the Drinkstone War Memorial Institute unveil the Drinkstone embroidery

On 1 November 1918, Private Arthur George Pryke of the 13th (Kensington) Battalion, London Regiment. was killed at Etaples, aged 27, and was buried in the military cemetary there.  He was the son of Walter and Kate Pryke, of Mead Cottage, Drinkstone near Bury St. Edmunds, and was one of  fifteen Drinkstone men to make the ultimate sacrifice in World War I.

Private Pryke’s devastated family had a commemorative embroidery made in memory of him . Nearly a century later this  has been restored and reframed and, after an official unveiling by Cllr Penny Otton, it will be on display in the Village Hall, which is Drinkstone’s official War Memorial.

” It is only a few months to the centenary of the start of WW1. So meny local men – 10,000 from the Suffolk regiment alone – died  either in France or later from their injuries. And for each family these deaths were not mere statistics, but individual tragedies. The family of Arthur Pryke had this embroidery specially made in his memory,” said Cllr Otton. “I was delighted to help with the cost of the  restoration of this powerful piece of history from my locality budget,  and was quite humbled to be asked to do the unveiling.”

The embroidery was  ‘unveiled’ in a simple ceremony at the Drinkstone Village Hall at 2pm on Saturday 2nd November 2013, 95 years and one day after Private Pryke was killed.

Drinkstone War Memorial

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What your LibDem Councillors are asking SCC, 24 October 2013

BannerAt today’s Full council meeting, your LibDem councillors are asking the SCC administration the following questions. We will post the answers and any supplementary questions and answers arising from them

From Cllr Penny Otton to Cllr Lisa Chambers

16,000 pupils in England are severely bullied and cannot face going to school.  What alternative provision does Suffolk have for these children other than pupil referral units.

From Cllr Inga Lockington to Cllr Mark Bee

Is there anything in in any Customer First Contract between SCC and CSD to stop staff talking to a customer face to face.

From Cllr Caroline Page to Cllr Alan Murray

Following Friday’s permanent closure of the Sexual Health clinic at Ipswich hospital, I am reassured that Public Health is working hard to ensure some services will continue be available in Ipswich while a future location is created. Can you please tell me what  facilities for immediate STI diagnosis (eg microscopy), for immediate on-site free dispensing of drugs (as opposed to by prescription collected from a pharmacist) and for co-ordination of contact tracing  Public Health is ensuring are put in place in the immediate aftermath of closure?

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Answers to LibDem questions: Full Council, 19 September

Questions we asked this month concerned Homecare packages, closure of Lowestoft’s  EAOTAs centre and the  disparity between amount of expenses Suffolk county councillors can claim for different forms of transport.

Below in full are the questions as tabled by your Suffolk Lib Dem Councillors at September’s Full Council on the 19th, together with a summary of  the appropriate  Cabinet member’s reply (plus supplementary question and response where appropriate).

Inga Lockington  to Cabinet member for Adult Care & Health  Allan Murray

Question: 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?

Answer:  We only commission packages that meet the needs of the patients and the basic package is for never less than 30 minutes.  However an extra package may be added in certain circumstances. This may be a 15 minute package

Penny Otton to Cabinet Member for Education, Skills and Young People Lisa Chambers

Question: 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??

Answer; EOTAS is run by external contractors – despite SCC working closely with the last company we were unable to come to an agreement, so they were given notice.  The scheduled closure is Oct 25th.

Supplementary question: How are you supporting the children?

Answer: We are working closely with the parents to ensure a smooth transition.

Caroline Page to Mark Bee, Leader of the Council

Question: 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?

Answer:    Council are committed to encouraging healthier / cheaper forms of transport.  Allowances and expenses are being reviewed by the remuneration review panel. Cllr Bee  says he will put these concerns to the panel

(you can read Caroline Page’s blog about her question here)

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Lib Dem Questions for Suffolk County Council: 19 Sept 2013

BannerEvery 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?

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Pupil Premium – a fairer society in Suffolk?

Suffolk schools pupil premiumA 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

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A Partial Victory for Thurston Community College families

Penny Otton SCCCllr Penny Otton has campaigned long and hard to get free home-to-school transport for a small number of pupils in Rattlesden, Woolpit and Elmswell who were caught between catchment areas. At the moment these villages are each split between Stowupland and Thurston High Schools’ catchments  although from 2014 they will all be in the Thurston catchment.

A few families, having chosen to send their children to Thurston Community College were faced with an unexpected  termly bill.

“It just didn’t seem fair,” says Penny Otton. “Especially as no-one in their right mind would want to send their child to Stowupland for one single year!”

” The families were very poorly informed, both as to the situation and as to their rights. I have been fighting this anomaly for months.  At least today the SCC cabinet has come round to my point of view and agreed to allow free transport to the  year 9 pupils involved. However I am very disappointed  that year 10 children will still be forced to pay when their friends just 1 street away do not. This is not equitable in the circumstances.”

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Councillor calls for action on unregistered education centres

Penny HeadA BBC Look East programme last week  highlighted  the state of education for those children in Suffolk who have been excluded from school. It claimed that many of these  are being put at risk in unregistered education centres.  Unregistered centres are neither known to – nor inspected by – Ofsted, the education watchdog.  Suffolk County Council has nine unregistered centres but denies children there are unsafe.

Liberal Democrat  County Councillor Penny Otton – who was interviewed for the programme as Spokesperson for Education, Skills, Young People and Localities – said,   “”It sounds to me like an absolutely major crisis!”

” I am shocked that these very vulnerable children are being taught in premises which are not registered, many being obviously unfit for use. Unlike other educational institutions, they are not inspected by Ofsted. This is a serious issue, which brings into question how the council is protecting and supporting these children who often have major behavioural problems.I have already brought this worrying situation up with the new Education, Children and Young People scrutiny committee and I will continue to do so.  The council must do something as a matter of urgency.”

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Replies to Lib Dem Councillors’ questions, July 2013

Below are the questions your Lib Dem Councillors tabled at July’s Full Council together with the appropriate  Cabinet member’s reply (plus supplementary question and response where appropriate). They have been transcribed from the official audio recording

Most unfortunately, John Field’s question, in relation to the Great Blakenham incinerator – although submitted correctly, and acknowledged as such by the Suffolk County Council Monitoring Officer – disappeared from the Full Council agenda and therefore was neither asked nor answered.

To remind you, it was:

1.  John Field to Cabinet Member for Environment, Waste and Economic Development  (Richard Smith)

The “Escape” study published in the Lancet Oncology journal indicated substantial increases in Lung Cancer at levels of PM2.5 and PM10 pollution significantly below the EEC recommended limits.  A second study from Nicholas Mills also in the Lancet  linked heart failure rates to PM2.5 and PM10 pollution.  These studies raise concern in the population local to the incinerator under construction in Gt Blakenham whose emissions are designed to meet European standards.  While I don’t wish to be alarmist these new studies warrant attention.

Will the Cabinet member ensure that the implications of these reports for my division and the wider area are studied thoroughly and reported to councillors and local people?

An answer to this question would be welcomed.

The other questions were:

2. Penny Otton  to Cabinet Member for Education, Skills and Young People (Lisa Chambers )  “It has been reported that many primary schools have overcrowded classrooms, i.e; there are more than 30 pupils in a class. In which schools in Suffolk does this occur?”

Cllr Chambers’ response :  “There is legislation on the size of infant classes: In infant classes there should be no more than 30 children to a single teacher. There are however permitted exceptions for example; to allow twins to be in the same class, or when a pier panel puts children in a school above the planned intake, or when the child receives a statement of special educational need which names the school. The number of infant classes where there has been more than 30 pupils is reported to the department of education by schools every January. This year there were 15 schools in Suffolk where an infant class exceeded 30. In all but one of these cases, additional pupils fell into one of the permissible categories. After changes at one school, none of its infant classes are now above 30.”

Penny Otten – Supplementary Question: “Following on from this, it seems like the Minister Michael Gove has now scrapped the automatic right for 4 year olds to be given a full-time space in school. If this happens in Suffolk, how will you react to that drastic change in school policy?”

Cllr Chambers – Supplementary Response: “This is something I will look into and will take up with the admissions team over the next few weeks. I am happy to respond to you in writing once I have established the full facts.”

Cllr Chambers’ written answer supplied as follows:  The Local Authority has had notification from the Secretary of State, of a change made or an intention to make a change to remove the entitlement to a ‘full time’ school place for  every 4 year old child.   Therefore we are continuing to work on the basis that a full time place is the entitlement.

If the Secretary of State was to remove this requirement then it could have the effect of increasing capacity in primary school places.

In Suffolk the current primary place strategy does and will continue to provide adequate places in primary schools for Suffolk children.  Cabinet has approved a number of capital projects to expand primary schools over proceeding years. The most recent being the Ipswich expansion at the last Cabinet.  Suffolk is not in the same position as some other parts of the country, particularly areas in London, where there is very considerable pressure on primary places.

The Annual School Organisation Plan which sets out how we are planning for places and the projections we use will be presented to scrutiny over the coming months when it is finalised and this will provide a further opportunity for debate.

I assume that your questions at council was generated by the press coverage that morning relating to the Bournemouth case, which has raised questions about the clarity of 2012 admissions code guidance for Local Authorities in respect of the entitlement of a full time place for every 4 year old.  This doesn’t appear at this stage, however, to be a changing government policy and the DfE are remaining quiet at the moment.

3. Inga Lockington to Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Care  (Alan Murray) : “Within the Council’s policy of maintaining dependent people in the Community, could the Portfolio Holder let us know how many assessed Suffolk residents are in receipt of high dependency care packages at home ie. at least two carer visits 4 times a day (or the equivalent Budget) and how does this compare with the same time in 2012 & 2011.”

Cllr Murray Response: “The comparative figures for June are 688, 617, and 598”

Inga Lockington Supplementary Question: “Has there been any change to the assessment criteria over these last few years?

Cllr Murray Supplementary Response: “The answer to that is quite complex, and the assessment criteria are constantly under review, and I would have to (as I am a relatively new boy here) ask for a full response from my officers, but in the complex situation we are, with new CCG’s, hospitals in crisis, ambulances in crisis, it is something we keep under a very accurate review”

Cllr Murray’s further written response  “I can confirm in writing that the assessment criteria for social care support in Suffolk have not changed over the past three years – they remain substantial and critical.”

Best regards,

Alan

4.  Caroline Page to Cabinet Member for Roads and Transport (Graham Newman): “Public transport is an essential part of supporting the welfare of the county, particularly in rural areas. It is coming under increasing pressure and is failing to meet the needs at the time when Suffolk needs it most. When is Cllr Newman going to pressure national government to alter the ridiculous ethos of so-called ‘competition’ which has caused deregulated buses to provide such a terrible service to the people of the Suffolk countryside, over the past decades?”

Cllr Newman Response: “I’m a strong supporter of public transport services in Suffolk. I wish to see more effective coordination of services. The government clearly set out its position in March 2012, in its full response to the competition commission report; ‘Local Bus Service Market Investigation’.
I believe the focus of our efforts should now be on working with the commercial sector to improve the availability and the affordability of transport, particularly to support young people to continue to learn and take their first steps into employment. I therefore welcome the cooperation of the commercial sector in developing our new ‘Endeavour Card’ for young people, and hope that we can build on this relationship to further improve services without unaffordable financial support, in this county council. As Cllr Page will know*, we are meeting with Therese Coffey MP, to discuss these very issues, and indeed I have previously discussed them informally with Dr. Coffey.”

* Caroline Page:  This was actually news to me  – though very welcome news, particularly as Dr Coffey has not so far answered the specific points I raised with her in June concerning this subject, although she has replied to my letter.

 

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Lib Dem Questions for Suffolk County Council: 18 July 2013

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 July. I will post the replies after the meeting

John Field to Cabinet Member for Environment, Waste and Economic Development  (Richard Smith)

The “Escape” study published in the Lancet Oncology journal indicated substantial increases in Lung Cancer at levels of PM2.5 and PM10 pollution significantly below the EEC recommended limits.  A second study from Nicholas Mills also in the Lancet  linked heart failure rates to PM2.5 and PM10 pollution.  These studies raise concern in the population local to the incinerator under construction in Gt Blakenham whose emissions are designed to meet European standards.  While I don’t wish to be alarmist these new studies warrant attention.

Will the Cabinet member ensure that the implications of these reports for my division and the wider area are studied thoroughly and reported to councillors and local people?

Penny Otton  to Cabinet Member for Education, Skills and Young People (Lisa Chambers )

It has been reported that many primary schools have overcrowded class rooms – ie that there are more than 30 pupils to a class.  In which primary schools in Suffolk does this occur?

 Caroline Page to Cabinet Member for Roads and Transport (Graham Newman)

Public transport is an essential part of supporting the future welfare of the county – particularly in rural areas. And yet it is coming under increasing pressure and failing to meet needs just at the time Suffolk needs it most.

I would like to ask the Cabinet member when he is going to press national government to alter the ridiculous ethos of so-called competition which has caused deregulated buses to provide such a terrible service to the people of  the Suffolk countryside over the last decades

Inga Lockington to Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Care  (Alan Murray) 

Within the Council’s policy of maintaining dependent people in the Community, could the Portfolio Holder let us know how many assessed Suffolk residents are in receipt of high dependency care packages at home ie. at least two carer visits 4 times a day (or the equivalent Budget) and how does this compare with the same time in 2012 & 2011.

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