REPORT TO GIPPING VALLEY:  SEPTEMBER 2018

Road Works

The road at Hackneys Corner is usable but not to a good standard.  The footways have still to be finished.  The county is fully aware of the issues and doing what it can to move the work by the developers forward.

Last month saw a great deal of poor communication and confusion and for some reason Anglian Water were allowed to re-start work in Claydon before the Bramford Road work was complete.  Utilities and developers MUST do better and so must the county.

Mary Evans, cabinet member for Highways, will be visiting Great Blakenham Parish Council to be informed of their and your views directly.

On a more positive note, the persistent flooding just the Claydon side of the A14 bridge will be fixed this month by a new pipe and soakaways.  The work is planned to start on the 10 September 2018 and continue for 3 weeks.  The County believe the flooding was due to damage done when the A14 was constructed.  I have been trying to get it solved for some years, so it is good to have Highways finally realise they need to finance a solution.

I have written to Highways asking for information on the issues on Chapel Lane and should get an update on the bus gate proposals which I can pass to you next month.

I have a letter from the County to MSDC pointing out County reservation about the cumulative effect of development in the area and proposing a meeting involving the county council, the applicants and Mid Suffolk to discuss options.

I have been asking for months for a professional attempt to propose actions that would address the problems we all believe the developments will cause.  I hope we are getting somewhere at last.

Suffolk County Council’s budget challenge

Last week, the council released its view of the scale of the financial challenge it is facing this year. They are projecting an overspend of £8.6 million this year.  Based on the first quarter results 1.7%.  of its £501 million budget.

Children and Young People’s Services, account for £5 million of the total.  This includes services for looked-after children, specialist social care for children and home-to-school transport.

Work is in progress to reduce spending and find new sources of income, including:

  • Adult and Community Services is strengthening its contract management
  • The Children and Young People department is cutting budgets that have historically underspent
  • The Passenger Transport team is optimising routes and renegotiating transport contracts which transport hundreds of children to school
  • Corporate Services are reviewing budgets line-by-line
  • Suffolk’s ten Transformation Programmes are continuing to develop savings through reducing demand and changing the way we work
  • Suffolk Fire and Rescue has begun a project to improve levels of staff absence
  • The council’s major projects programme is being reviewed
  • The council continues to lobby Central Government for more funding as part of its Fairer Funding Review.

These are actions long necessary and reflect issues we have examined in Scrutiny and recommended for action.   The crucial issue will be as always to produce real increases in efficiency not just service cuts to the most vulnerable, particularly where cuts produce increases in the budgets of other public bodies, such as the health service.

“Staying Close” scheme launched

The Department of Education is funding a three-year pilot “Staying Close” scheme to support young people leaving care in Suffolk.

The aim is to help young people at 15 to start planning for independent living with the assistance and support of residential care workers. This planning too often occurs close to the time a young person is due to move to independent living, causing unnecessary anxiety and distress.

Young people will also continue to receive emotional and practical support from their children’s home and residential workers after they have moved out.

District Council Issues

This month we looked at the programme to reduce the delay between a council house becoming vacant or “void” and the time it has been refurbished and is again occupied.

The delay, that has been up to 71 days, costs the council rent and people a home.  It is now down to about 20 days and should improve further.

Gipping Valley News from John Field