Report to Claydon September 2010

Incinerator decision due September

On the 7th of September the Cabinet will decide whether to award the contract for an incinerator to be built at Great Blakenham to the preferred bidder Sita UK Ltd, who operates a number of different waste facilities across the UK.

This PFI contract will be awarded to cover 29 years during which time the total cost will be £1108million, part funded by PFI grants totalling £199m.  You can view the report, as well as the final business case for the incinerator on the County’s web pages;

http://apps2.suffolk.gov.uk/cgi-bin/committee_xml.cgi?p=detail&id=1_14605

The report is comprehensive and covers the proposals thoroughly.  Although there will be many changes over 29 years, the council officers have made every attempt to ensure the contract covers all eventualities, ensuring that risks related to waste volumes and other foreseeable hazards particular financial ones are fully covered.

About 400,000 tonnes of municipal waste is collected of which 28.7 % is re-cycled and 20% composted leaving 230,000 tonnes to be incinerated.  As re-cycling rises to 35.7% and composting to 24.7% the remaining waste quantity may rise or fall as the total waste generated varies.  It can fall to 170,000 tonnes before the county has to pay for capacity it can’t use.  In this case Sita would seek to burn commercial waste, or waste from other areas to fill the capacity.

I will put the local view at the Cabinet meeting and at the Full Council meeting on 23 September, should the decision be called in.  I will be emphasising that this is not the only technology that could be used and that others have lower potential health risks.  I will also highlight the damage this facility will do to Gt Blakenham, Barham and Claydon.  However, realistically, the majority Conservative group will do as they wish.

If you object to this proposal you can now submit questions to Cabinet or to full council.  They have to be entered to the Committee Services Manager by 12 noon on the fourth working day before the meeting.

Consultation Paper on Local Referenda to Veto Excessive Council Tax Increases

A further item which will be going to the Cabinet on the 7th of September is the Consultation on the holding of referenda on excessive Council Tax increases.  The consultation suggests that in order for a referendum to take place, two criteria must be transgressed:

  1. The amount calculated by the authority as its budget requirement for a financial year is more than 3.5% greater than the authority’s budget requirement for the previous financial year and
  2. The amount calculated by the authority as its band D council tax for a financial year is more than 4.5% greater than the authority’s band D council tax for the previous financial year.

An authority must exceed both the budget requirement principle and the council tax principle to be subject to the action.

Along with the consultation document, there were a number of questions released to gain the County’s thoughts on certain issues.  Of particular interest to Parish Councils the first question states;

“Do you agree that local precepting authorities, such as town and parish councils, should be included within the provisions for council tax referendums?  If so:

  • Are there details about the budget setting process for local precepting authorities that need to be taken into account?
  • Will the ‘double lock’ mechanism work to protect the majority of town and parish councils?”

The County Council’s response:

The inclusion of smaller councils in the process could complicate the process.  We consider that parish councils should remain outside these rules and they should only be applied to town councils.  Many of these would be excluded under the Government’s “Double Lock” mechanism.

This paper will be discussed at the upcoming Cabinet meeting next week, with the opportunities for councillors to provide feedback over the proposals and the response from the Council.  If there is anything you wish me to pass on, I will be able to do so.

To view greater detail of the Council’s response to the Consultation please head to;

http://apps2.suffolk.gov.uk/cgi-bin/committee_xml.cgi?p=doc&id=1_14614&format=doc

New Strategic Direction

The Council is currently holding a number of workshops developing the way in which the council will operate in future.

There will be a total of 3 workshops involving councillors, with the conclusion to these meetings being put into a final decision to go to Full Council on the 23rd of September.  The original paper outlining the possibilities within the New Strategic Direction went to the Cabinet on the 20th of July.  The link to this is be: http://apps2.suffolk.gov.uk/cgi-bin/committee_xml.cgi?p=doc&id=1_14516&format=doc

County Council Funding Cuts

At the July Cabinet meeting, the Council met to discuss the savings required to cope with the reduced level of funding for Local Government as a result of the Emergency Budget in June

Below is a table representing some of the reduction in funding for Local Government over the next year, and how the Council plans to implement them.  These are only an example of the savings, and if you wish to see the entire list (which contains 16 grant reductions) please head to:

http://apps2.suffolk.gov.uk/cgi-bin/committee_xml.cgi?p=doc&id=1_14515&format=doc

Capital Grants £’000  
Integrated TransportRoad Safety 1,690260 Reduce, delete or defer various programmes and projects across Suffolk including programmes for enhancing transport networks in Suffolk’s towns and reducing by £0.1m the Quality of Life budget allocated to localities.
Revenue Grants    
Road Safety Grant 315 Reprioritisation of revenue spending across transport budgets.
Waste 3,000 Reduced levels of waste and lower contract costs.
Street Lighting and Passenger Transport 500 Energy saving and cut some subsidised bus services returning to commercial operation (one off).

In addition to these savings, the Government Spending Review in October is widely expected to result in dramatic change and the need for the “new Strategic Direction mentioned above.

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