Report to Gipping Valley–August 2014

Children’s Centres

The county is determined to save some £2.9M from its budget for Children’s Centres, £1.25M from recurrent underspends and the rest from a rationalisation of buildings in use and associated “realignment” of services and staff.  Cuts might be another description.  There is a consultation under way, which will end in October.  You can find it on Suffolk’s WWW site or at

Children’s Centres are vital to our efforts to help families with the difficult task of being parents.  We would all like to believe it comes naturally but I still remember the challenges and the need for clear help and advice.

In Gipping Valley, these services are provided by outreach from centres in Ipswich or from Robins in Needham Market.  The Meredith Road centre, which is in a leased building, is likely to close.  Its large number of users will have to attend Highfield, Bramford Lane or Wellington centres.  This may be of some concern to you: if so, do let me know.


The building and site roads are now clearly nearing completion.  The change in ownership of Lodge Lane has solved the lorry parking issues but there has been a major problem.  The three feed pumps for cooling water failed during commissioning and has set the programme back, hopefully not beyond its contracted delivery date.

The liaison committee will ensure it examines the failure report thoroughly.  I will let you know the cause and any actions to prevent repetition that the contractors or the Environmental Agency find necessary.

Pensions Investment

At the County Council meeting last month the Labour group proposed that the pension fund cease to invest in tobacco companies.  The effects of their products are directly contrary to many of our policies, harming health and increasing council spend.

It was good to see wide cross party support during the debate.  The pension committee was instructed to consider the matter in depth.  It will I hope find action possible, despite the complexities of our investments.


At Scrutiny, we looked at the County’s purchasing, commissioning and contract management activities that control a £468M spend.  We concluded that the county is getting smarter, with some areas of very good practice, but an effective training programme was necessary to increase the level of commercial knowledge.

Changes to EU Procurement Regulations to be introduced as soon as possible, will encourage new processes and electronic methods.

Zebra Crossing

I have now received the estimate for a zebra crossing in Gt Blakenham outside the parish rooms at Mill Lane.  At £45,000, it is a lot higher than I expected and will make the necessary fundraising even more difficult.

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Gipping Valley News from John Field