More roads, less buses, millions wasted on consultants and residents deprived of vital services for want of a hundred thousand or so – despite declaring a climate emergency, County’s strangely dual attitude to money and transport continues this month..
Suffolk County Council announces funding cuts to subsidised bus routes Suffolk County Council has announced that 23 subsidised bus routes will no longer receive funding from the council, in a bid to save £340,000. This means that over a third of subsidised bus routes in the county will lose their funding. This will include the early morning 71 we can take from Woodbridge to Ipswich to get us there in time for work/college.
The decision to cut £340,000 from the subsidised buses budget was made in February, when the Council agreed on the budget for the current financial year. I spoke against this cut at the time, as well as other cuts that will affect bus users such as the decision to no longer print bus timetables. It seems that not everybody listened. Continue reading Woodbridge: What’s been happening – July
Concerns about Kier – Suffolk’s Highways Maintenance Contractor After Kier shares tumbled 41% last week concerns have been raised about the longterm viability of Suffolk’s outsourced Highways Maintenance department, whose share value is now down 85% over the last year.
As you may remember, the Council’s Conservative administration outsourced its entire roads maintenance team to Kier in a five year contract back in 2013, maintaining, despite opposition concerns ,that the private sector could do the same work more efficiently for less money. Despite significant continuing problems with the contract, they renewed it early, in 2015, for another five years. Continue reading What’s been happening, May to June 2019
2019-20 Budget and Cuts Suffolk County Council’s 2019-20 budget was agreed on Thursday 14 February. This will see an increase in council tax of 3.99%, and savings across the council’s directorates totalling £10.1m.
A particularly concerning cut was the decision to remove all grant funding from Citizens Advice. This will be phased over two years, with a 50% reduction in the 2019-20 budget (£0.184m). Fortunately, the CCGs stepped in and agreed to provide Citizens Advice with £184,000 in funding this year, to make up for the 50% funding cut from Suffolk County Council. Although this means Citizens Advice will not lose funding in 2019-20, it does not address the longer-term problem of funding in the future. The CCGs have been clear that this funding is only available for the 2019-20 financial year.
The budget also proposes staffing reductions across all directorates, totalling almost £3m. We do not currently have details of how these cuts will be distributed and which staff will be affected, but I am very concerned that this will result in less efficient services and an increase in stress amongst the remaining staff.
In terms of rural public transport, a triple whammy has occurred: the budget is saving £100,000 by not replacing any roadside timetables (catastrophic in a rural county with poor phone signal and a large elderly population); £30,000 by cutting subsidised scheduled services and providing Community Link services, while simultaneously and meretriciously “ensuring consistency of pricing through Suffolk” for Community Link provision by disallowing bus passes in all districts to save £340,000 ( a seemingly large sum till you remember the £8million they wasted on the Orwell Crossing). Previously these passes were valid on Community Link transport everywhere but MidSuffolk.
These small savings will impact on the elderly, the disabled and the transport poor, as well as more generally on tourism. I suspect they will create considerably greater costs than they save. Continue reading What’s been happening 2018-19 Woodbridge & Suffolk