Parish Report Barham March 2012

Warm Homes, Healthy People

The County Council has received £265,000 from the Government to help those who may struggle with fuel payments in the remaining winter months. This money will fund actions that will help those in need cope with the colder weather:

Borough and district councils will offer advice to anyone struggling to keep warm this winter

Independent energy advisors will visit households struggling to pay their energy bills to offer advice and install measures to save money and energy

Suffolk Acre will run road shows to promote their good neighbour and community oil buying schemes

Match funding for Suffolk Foundation’s ‘Surviving Winter’ Appeal to allow other groups to benefit, including children and young people with learning disabilities

Installation of FREE extreme temperature sensors in vulnerable people’s homes

A befriending service

A central telephone number (Winter Wellbeing Helpline) people can call for information, advice and support. Tel: 08456 037 686

For information see http://www.suffolk.gov.uk/PolicingAndPublicSafety/warmhomes.htm

Full Council

At the Council meeting on 9th February the administration budget for the next financial year, 2012-13 was accepted. We submitted an amendment in an attempt to get the Administration to change their budget plans to incorporate the following;

  • Re-opening the Bury Road Park and Ride
  • Returning those bus services cut at last year’s budget including evening and weekend services.
  • Bringing the eXplore card back – with a £25 admin fee
  • Funding apprenticeships for 50 NEET’s at the County Council
  • Providing £1m to the Looked after Children budget, to try and reduce the number of children currently looked after outside the County
  • Unlimited travel to Concessionary Bus Pass holders eligible due to disability.
  • Improving support to Schools to increase the levels of attainment

This would have been have been paid for through a series of cost reductions in;

  • Business miles
  • External Room Hire
  • The CSD contract
  • Reduction of the Road management and maintenance budget

Although there appeared to be a backbench view that such changes would support the local economy, were not particularly costly, could be funded easily and addressed issues important to tax payers, when it came to the vote, our views were not supported. One item where there was unanimous agreement was Councillors allowances. These will be frozen for the financial year and not increased in line with inflation

Cabinet Update

At the Cabinet meeting on the 21st of February at the Babergh District Council offices in Hadleigh the items agreed were:

Developers guide to infrastructure contributions (106 agreements) in Suffolk

This lays down the approach all Suffolk councils will take, providing certainty for developers. The hope is that this will not increase house prices, but will be used by developers to extract the substantial cost of investment in infrastructure from the value of land to be developed.

Adult and Community Services New operating model

This proposes investment in preventative measures to avoid the cost of crisis response in the care of the elderly and disabled and re-design of services to meet people’s needs in a better way at lower cost. It is an exciting move but there is substantial risk that the ideas will not be deliverable. Our difficulty will be to measure performance so we can be sure if performance and efficiency are being improved or the quantity and quality of care reduced.

Fire and Rescue National Framework for England

This is the county response to consultation on a new framework that is less prescriptive and hands responsibility and decisions to local management and people.

As usual the public were welcome to attend and ask questions that had been submitted in advance but there were no questions asked.

Director Posts

The process to recruit two directors for the important Children and Young People (CYP) and Adults and Community Services (ACS) roles has at last begun. The County has had temporary people in place for some 18 months, in the case of CYP at considerable cost.

The interview panels involve all major parties so I hope I will be able to report success to you shortly.

Suffolk Broadband Residents Survey

The campaign Better Broadband for Suffolk continues with the launch of a survey for residents, aiming to gather support, information about the current level of internet provision and the desired speed.

If you wish to complete the survey, and you have access to the internet, head to http://www.suffolk.gov.uk/broadband. For those without internet access, surveys are being distributed to parishes and libraries. In addition to the residential survey, the business survey is still up and running at http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/SuffolkBusinessBroadbandSurvey

I would encourage you to respond to the survey to ensure that areas that have poor broadband connections are identified and we can all benefit from faster internet speeds in the future.

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