SUFFOLK LIBERAL DEMOCRATS COUNTY COUNCIL POLICY 2013

Election 2013: Suffolk Deserves Better!

What the LibDems want for Suffolk

Over the last eight years the Conservatives at Suffolk County Council have made massive increases to care charges, whilst cutting many services. Schools, care homes, public transport and libraries have all suffered.  Costs have still increased and efficiency has stagnated. 

At the same time they have built up the County’s reserves to a massive £150m – a THIRD of their annual budget –  stashing our cash despite historically low interest rates and falling confidence in the banking sector.

The Lib Dems say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH – Suffolk deserves better! We want Suffolk to have:

      1. Excellent education
      2. Improved health and welfare
      3. Good public transport
      4. The environment of our unique County protected and improved
      5. A thriving economy
      6. A democratic and efficient council

Not a big ask, surely? But the Tories haven’t managed it!

1.       Bring back Quality Education

Eight years ago, Suffolk had an enviable education system.  After eight years of Tory mismanagement the County is almost bottom of the English league table.                    ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!

Liberal Democrats will:

  • Get Suffolk back again into the top 50 Local Education Authorities , by increasing support to struggling schools and helping teachers to succeed
  • Ensure any free schools are fit for purpose and appropriately sited
  • Stop Bed and Breakfast Accommodation for children in the care of the council
  • Avoid the need for expensive out-of-County placements for children in care by developing in-county services
  • Meet the needs of children in care after they reach 16
  • Support youth services and walk-in youth clubs

2.       Appropriate Care provision, for all who need it

‘Care’ has been the Cinderella service of this Tory council .  ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!

Liberal Democrats will:

  • Make sure the Tory divestment of our Care Homes does not produce a worse service
  • Support Family Carers with fast, targeted, assistance, recognising they are the bedrock on which the county depends!
  • Scrutinise the impact of the Suffolk Circle and, work with local organisations to develop new ways to help vulnerable people
  • Improve public health by recognising and using the links between education, transport, nutrition and health
  • Deliver on the new public health responsibility of the Council

3.       Transport recognised as a human right

Neither Labour nor Tory party has had any great interest in supporting the public transport network – particularly in rural areas.  Yet reliable travel  is essential for work, health, socialising and education.         ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!

Liberal Democrats will:

  • Lobby for better, more integrated Public Transport, especially for rural areas
  • Reinstate important evening and weekend bus services that provide essential community links and benefit the economy
  • Begin investment in  efficient cycle infrastructures round schools
  • Encourage use of Park and Ride and assess the impact of the new fare structure
  • Ensure that the re-introduced youth discount travel card can be used on all buses and allow disability pass holders to travel for free 24/7
  • Ensure that action on speeding, parking, and road maintenance meets local needs
  • Where communities request it, consider 20mph speed limits

4.       More and better-focused environmental action

‘Greenest County?  What a lot of Greenwash! The Tories have Talked the Talk – but don’t Walk the Walk. (And they are only seen near a cycle if its a photo-opportunity).         ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!

Liberal Democrats will save money and cut greenhouse gas emissions by:

  • Cutting non- essential County business mileage
  • Promoting LED lighting, insulation and natural source heating in domestic housing, County and commercial buildings
  • Encouraging use of the waste heat output from the Great Blakenham incinerator for district heating
  • Introduce a weekly kitchen waste collection service

5.       Safety for all our Library service

Under the Tories the situation of Suffolk Libraries has been perilous.          ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!

Liberal Democrats will:

  • Support ALL our libraries to meet current needs and satisfy foreseeable trends
  • Enable mobile libraries to continue to provide a service in rural areas
  • Ensure that the new business structure for libraries is stable and that long term finance is guaranteed

6.       Create a thriving local economy

More and more local businesses are feeling the crunch – or even closing.  Our high streets  are becoming less vibrant. The Tories have failed to drive economic development and oppose much of the green economy         ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!

Liberal Democrats will:

  • Give local businesses equal opportunity to supply the County Council and ensure contracts do not penalise local companies
  • Help local shops and businesses find loans and investment
  • Educate for local employment
  • Lobby Government to allow local plans to be developed and changed in realistic timescales
  • Promote the development of the green economy and the growth of local green jobs
  • Support and encourage sustainable local travel and tourism
  • Use the Council’s substantial level of reserves as a temporary cushion against funding reductions that cause significant harm to frontline services and the economy

7. More streamlined services

Under the Tories services have been “externalised” and service efficiency has stagnated – yet contract management has been woefully inadequate.         ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!

Liberal Democrats will:

  • Ensure contracts to provide services like ICT to the Council are thoroughly scrutinised and that new contracts are flexible, efficient, transparent and value for money
  • Ensure there is a continual drive to reduce service complexity and drive up efficiency, investing where appropriate
  • Slim the senior management team

 

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