Category Archives: Suffolk County Council

Woodbridge Caterpillar Children’s Centre threatened with closure


Suffolk County Council seems to be proposing to close our Caterpillar Children’s Centre, without option.

At least, there will be a consultation in September. But county Cabinet papers for our centre have approved  3 options for consultation – and each is the same: ‘Closure’.

Remarkably, the first time I heard of this – despite the Caterpillar being a County Council-run operation, and I being the County Councillor for Woodbridge – was when I read it in the East Anglian Daily Times. How disrespectful to Woodbridge and its residents.

I asked the relevant Suffolk county Cabinet Member – face to face – why this was the case, but have yet to receive  a satisfactory answer.

Maybe he is unaware that the Caterpillar Centre is a much valued resource for Woodbridge and district young families . It provides a safe space where parents can talk through their concerns with other parents and a range of professionals while their young children (0-5 years) can participate in a wide range of activities.  As the County Council’s leaflet (you can find it here) points out, as well as many other  programmes a great deal of important work is done with young children with special educational needs and disabilities.

This early intervention saves money AND unhappiness later on, and supports future social cohesion with benefits for everyone.

Woodbridge Resident Ashley Meyer and County Councillor Caroline Page are deeply concerned about the threatened closure of Woodbridge’s Caterpillar Children’s centre

Ashley Meyer, Woodbridge resident, and a long-term nursery school governor says, “County Councillor Gordon Jones  states that some of this work can be done by parents making contact with professionals through Facebook.  I believe this thinking shows a misunderstanding of how Children’s Centres work.   It is the ability to attend the Children’s Centres over a prolonged period of time and to meet other parents and professionals face- to- face that is so valuable for parents who are isolated and vulnerable. This proposed closure is therefore an attack on the future of our community!”

Ashley Meyer is URGENTLY organizing a non party-political campaign to fight closure. I am strongly supporting this as County Councillor.

Please contact Ashley asap on
07960 923125

Please note there will be a  March against Children’s Centres closures and cuts across Suffolk Coastal on  Saturday 14th September, 2019, starting Elmhurst Park, 11am

Woodbridge: What’s been happening – July

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

What’s been happening 2018-19 Woodbridge & Suffolk

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