East Ipswich Waste Transfer Station

Waste Transfer StationOn Thursday I attended a meeting of Suffolk County Council’s Development Committee where the main item on the agenda was consideration and approval (or otherwise) of the proposed Waste Transfer Station in East Ipswich. An existing landfill site a few miles up the road is scheduled to be full (and therefore closed) in 2021. The Waste Transfer Station will be one of three within the County that will receive waste from the kerbside collections and Household Waste Recycling Centres and transfer the waste onto larger lorries for onward transportation to a Materials Recycling Facility, In-vessel Composting facility or the Great Blakenham Energy from Waste facility. There were a number of objection letters from local residents, adjacent businesses, and the developer of Ransomes Europark.  Concerns raised included the potential for increased traffic congestion on the highway and compatibility with other businesses. The Officers advised that the proposed development complied with national and local planning policies.  It was considered to be appropriately located and would not give rise to unacceptable impacts upon commercial and residential amenity. The development would not detract from the special characteristics of the Suffolk Coasts and Heaths Area of Outstanding Beauty, and would protect and enhance habitats for biodiversity including Protected and Priority species.
So there we are Ipswich will get a new Waste Transfer Station. I visited the site earlier in the month and saw little to complain about. Among the objectors was Ransomes still produce a variety of grass cutting equipment. From professional high quality turf machines to more industrial gang mowers for use on wider areas such as public parks etc. Their complaint was that the Waste Transfer Station could cause an increase of vermin on their site (more than 100 yards away). Upon questioning they indicated that they categorised seagulls as vermin! The chutzpah prize goes to the neighbouring Nacton parish council who thought that a location to the west of Ipswich would be preferable (definitely contestants for the NIMBY Council of the year).

Suffolk Leadership Contest

Suffolk Crest FullMy colleague Jenny Antill has written on her blog as follows:
“I feel I should probably write something about last week’s ‘leadership contest’ at the County Council.  If nothing else it will serve to record what was for me and my colleagues an important event in the growing chronicle that is represented by this website.  It also might clarify one or two things for people confused by the press coverage. Many people of course don’t follow, or care about, the to-ings and fro-ings at Endeavour House (Suffolk County Council’s Headquarters in Ipswich).  The majority of Suffolk residents don’t know or care who the Leader of the County Council is, and furthermore don’t know any of the members of his Cabinet.  This is not altogether surprising…councils only get onto people’s radar when something goes wrong, and they feel that ‘something should be done about it’ by ‘someone’. So for those of you who are unaware, last week the Conservative Group was obliged to hold a ballot to decide who should continue as our Leader.  Since we are the largest party in the Council, this was probably also a decision about who will be the Leader of the Council as a whole.  A leadership challenge is always a possibility at all levels of political life….remember Mrs Thatcher’s demise shortly after she had promised to go ‘on and on and on….’? Our contest was brought about by a challenge for the Leader’s position, held by Mark Bee from Waveney from the Cabinet Member for Finance, Colin Noble, who comes from Forest Heath. The fact that the rivals came from different ends of the county led some press commentators to suggest that the reason for the party split was due to some sort of East/West rivalry.  I do not think that this lay at heart of the matter.  While it is true that many of the supporters of both candidates did come from their respective areas, this was only natural.  There are plenty of us in between! At bottom I think that the issue was a conflict between a steady, gradualist approach to policy (Bee) and a more radical and aggressive stance (Noble).   Bee, it must be remembered took over after some damage was caused to the council’s reputation by fall out from the dramatic root and branch changes initiated by the colourful former chief executive, Andrea Hill, with the support of the previous leader, Jeremy Pembroke.     Three years have passed since that time.  Many councillors were only elected a year ago, and some among them, along with more long standing members who understood that not all that was done in the Hill years turned out badly, have perhaps been disappointed by what might be seen as a rather pedestrian, low key approach to the challenges faced by the council today. I will leave it to readers of the blog to decide whether, at a time when the Conservatives have a majority of three rather than the double digit margin enjoyed during the last council, a more cautious, conservative, consensual approach is the appropriate one to adopt.  Taking on more risk may prove more politically attractive, and win us more votes in 2017, but it is of course, well….more risky.  The key of course is to get the balance right, and this needs constant reappraisal. I do not agree with those who say that the contest was an unnecessary distraction. Although Colin Noble’s challenge did not succeed, the result was thought to be close and the Bee administration will clearly now embrace some positive changes. Political groups need to respond to internal demands for change and debate is healthy.  Perhaps however it would have been better to have the discussion, and the at times quite fierce conflict, in a less public manner.  Now it is all over, I know we will all get behind Mark Bee, both sides having learned a few useful lessons along the way”.
We are of course all behind Mark Bee. That is the nature of these conflicts – the political equivalent of Schumpeter’s “destructive capitalism”. The voting was thought to be 21-18 which means that a number of people said yes (to both parties) but voted for the other side when push came to shove. Colin Noble is now out of the Cabinet and we wait to see who his replacement will be and whether it represents a nuance in our perceived ways forward.
Jennys’ blog can be found on http://jennyantillsblog.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/reflections-on-last-weeks-leadership.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed:+JennyAntillsBlog+(Jenny+Antill’s+blog.

Budgets

ImageSuffolk County Council  have approved their budget for 2014/2015. Whilst there are considerable savings being made, some reserves are being run down and the overall effect is a zero increase in the Council Tax. The vote was 45 to 20 with one abstention. The Conservatives had some support from the Liberal-Democrats and whole hearted support from UKIP. The Labour Party voted against claiming that the reserves should be run down further – forgetting the reason why reserves are needed. They are for planned future capital spending and for emergencies. We can no longer claim that they are for rainy days since in the current fiscal climate all days are rainy days.
Surprisingly, the approval was not unanimous, which suggests that there are still representatives of the public who think that all problems can be solved by throwing money at them.
Many years ago when studying the Theory & Practice of Foreign Exchange I learned that Money has three functions. It is unit of account, a medium of exchange and a store of value. Listening to my Labour colleagues at County I realised that money has a fourth function – it is there to be spent. Let’s all be afraid for the future because this is the thinking that got us into trouble in the first place!
Earlier this week the Police & Crime Commissioner (PCC) got his budget approved by Suffolk’s Police and Crime Panel. Again a zero increase. The PCC explained to the Panel his rationale for recommending that there be no increase in the precept, helping financially stretched citizens in the county, and receiving the government’s 1% freeze grant. There would be an underspend in the Constabulary budget this year in the region of £800k, an amount which equated to around 2% of the precept. Funding grants had been received very recently for implementing automatic number plate recognition and enterprise resource projects collaboratively with Norfolk. There were some specific areas within the Constabulary where efficiency savings could be made, and which the Chief Constable is looking to address. The PCC was not willing to put up the precept for citizens when there were still significant efficiency savings that could be realised.
At District level we are once again going for the zero increase option.
Meanwhile, my Town Council is balancing its budgets by outing up its precept. Which is a fancy way of saying that we shall be paying more for our very local services.

Chihuahua of Doom

ImageOn Thursday I attended a full Council meeting at Endeavour House, Ipswich. The day started at 10 a.m. when the political group meets and chews over the bones in the documentation and discusses best ways of answering the questions and motions put and proposed by the other parties. We look not only at the questions and the motions but also at the minefields which might come from the follow up discussions.
So it was seemingly innocuous in the afternoon to hear Motion No. 1 – proposed by Councillor Julian Flood and seconded by Councillor Tony Brown “That Suffolk County Council supports the Leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition in his aim of freezing energy prices, and  will work towards the same goal.”
Julian turned his opportunity to speak into an attack against green taxes. Claiming that they did little to counter adverse climate change but instead penalised the consumer and those businesses who had to compete in a world where effective green policies were not always in evidence. And then it went pear shaped. Julian was trying to highlight the effect of carbon in the U.K. It was the equivalent of six thousandths of a degree of temperature change. As you usually have to ascend or descend a thousand feet to see a change of one degree – this was the equivalent of six feet of vertical movement. Suffolk’s carbon emissions were the equivalent of less than one part per thousandth of a degree or about ten inches of vertical movement – the height of a Chihuahua.
And then it went surreal as we were cautioned against the Chihuahua of Doom which was threatening our economic survival and the richness of our countryside through unnecessary wind and solar panel farms.
There were enough votes in the Conservative Group and their friends to defeat the motion.
Best entertainment of the day was the way in which the Leader of the Labour Group tried to endorse the motion but distance himself from the idea that green policies were overdone.
More details can be viewed on http://www.eadt.co.uk/news/politics/suffolk_chihuahua_of_doom_stalks_the_council_chamber_1_3132304

Internships up for grabs

Suffolk CrestOver 20 internship placements are available in councils across Suffolk starting in the summer of 2014, but interested parties need to get their applications in by Tuesday 28 January 2014.
There is also an information session to which interested candidates are invited to learn more about the application process, meet members and heads of departments and hear what past interns got out of the experience. The session is being held at Endeavour House, Ipswich between 11am and 1pm tomorrow. Anyone interested in attending should email risinghigh@suffolk.gov.uk
The internship programme is designed to encourage young people to take up careers in the public sector and to provide paid opportunities for undergraduates (or graduates)  to experience working for us during their summer break from university. It consists of a 12 week paid work placement supported by group development opportunities.
A paid 12 month Industrial Placement is also available at Suffolk County Council which will  put the successful candidate at the forefront of innovative and exciting developments in economic development and skills policy. This placement must form part of the applicant’s university course.
Details of the internship opportunities can be found on the Rising High website via: www.risinghighsuffolk.org.uk

High Street Loyalty Card Powers On

???????????????????????????????Yesterday I had the pleasant task of allocating £500 from the Community Locality Budget provided by Suffolk County Council for whom I represent Hadleigh.
The focus was on the Hadleigh’s Loyalty Card shopping scheme set up by the town’s Chamber of Commerce which has been such a success that it’s been difficult keeping up  with demand for the cards.
Two print runs have been exhausted and cards were in short supply. So it was a timely intervention to finance the printing of 25,000 more cards with an allocation of £500 from the Community Locality Budget.
Jane Haylock of Hadleigh Chamber of Commerce received the cheque at the Chamber’s summer party at Priory Hall in Hadleigh.
Hadleigh Chamber of Commerce President, Tony Addison, welcomed the cheque and said how pleased he was to see such a commitment to Hadleigh’s future and the recognition that market towns are worth supporting.
The Loyalty Card, which was Jane’s project, encourages people to shop locally. Shoppers collect stars on the card each time they spend money in participating shops, pubs and restaurants.  When all 10 stars are collected the cards are handed in to take part in a monthly prize draw.
“We now have 1,700 handed in each month which represents 17,000 sales in Hadleigh shops,” said Jane.  About 75 percent of the cards handed in come from Hadleigh residents with the rest from neighbouring villages and some from people who have stayed in the town as tourists.

Polling Day Eve

Vote for BrianTomorrow is polling day for the Suffolk County Council election. My family and friends have worked tirelessly to cover Hadleigh with leaflets and letters designed to remind my supporters that I am the right choice and I need their votes.
Hadleigh needs someone who can ensure that the town gets its fair share of the County’s budgets and who can make a positive contribution to the town’s well being.
The Council is responsible for the following major services:
Transport and streets: maintaining and improving Suffolk’s roads, footpaths and public rights of way, road safety, public transport co-ordination.
Social care: care for older people who are physically or mentally infirm, or have a mental health problem, those with physical or learning disabilities and children and families who need protection and support.
Education and learning: schools, evening classes for adults, youth clubs and higher education grants.
Environment: conservation of the countryside and public access to it, waste disposal and archaeological services.
Business and trading standards: enforcing fair trading laws, protecting consumers and giving advice.
Leisure and culture: library services, archives and support for arts and museums.
Public safety: fire fighting, rescue and emergency services, safety advice.
Registration: births, marriages and deaths.

So, all in all, it’s an incredible job to suggest to the electorate that I am the right choice.
The work has been done, only time will tell whether I have worked hard enough and have been deemed worthy.

Promoted by Brian Riley of Baskwood House, 4, Benton Street, Hadleigh, Suffolk IP7 5AT

On the Buses (contd)

Hadleigh Bus Station d

Last May I reported how together with three “partners in crime” we had persuaded Suffolk County Council to reinstate the evening and Sunday bus service between Hadleigh and Ipswich.
The service was restored on a pilot basis on the 20th August and since then we have encouraged everyone to use the service whether it be for the cinema, shopping, education or participating in the evening economy. On Friday we learned that the pilot has been successful and that the service will be reinstated until February 2014.
For the time being we can rest easy about the people of Hadleigh being connected to Ipswich and beyond. The service still needs to be used because as always it’s a case of use it or lose it.
Success can be seen in many ways. In addition to the “official purposes” the bus service enhances people’s lives in unexpected ways. One Sunday user told me that “…it lets me visit my mum in her Ipswich nursing home.” And one bus driver told recently that romance blooms as young swains can now get back from courting their  inamoratas.
The late evening and week end bus service is a success at so many levels.