I have agreed with Guy McGregor that the County will review traffic issues in the Gt. Blakenham area including Station Road, Gipping Road, Bramford Road, Chapel Lane, the B1113 and Pound Lane. The reduction in the speed limit at the Pound Lane junction to 40mph will be part of the review.
Economies of Waste Recycling
Some interesting figures emerged at our scrutiny of the economies of waste recycling. The County makes a contribution of £54.76 per tonne collected to district councils to offset the cost of collection and sorting of recyclable materials and districts receive a share of the money from the sale of the material collected.
The approximate costs per tonne of black bin waste collection are Collection, £40, Landfill Cost £32, Tax £64 a total of £136. The green bin costs are Collection £53 to £113 (you don’t get as much in a lorry), Sorting £20, Material disposal £64 cost to £300 value, average £6 cost for a total of £79 to £139. For individual materials the totals range from a significant cost to substantial profit.
Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service
Work continues on a full business case for an increase in collaboration or voluntary combination between the Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service and the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Fire Authority. The Government needs to know by February 2013 what is intended and the public’s views on the proposals. A consultation has been launched but the tight schedule means that the full business case will not be available to you before you give your views.
Police and Crime Commissioner
You will know who was elected as your Police and Crime Commissioner by the time you read this. We have always supported increased transparency and accountability in policing but Liberal Democrats are not happy that this will be a political rather than a fully independent post and declined to put up a candidate.
However, the County Council will be the host of the Police and Crime Panel, which is made up of Councillors from the County, Districts and two co-opted members, to scrutinise and support the PCC. Cllr David Wood is the Liberal Democrat member.
Scrutiny of Budget Proposals
I received the initial budget proposals as I wrote this. The background is of substantially reduced government grant, frozen levels of council tax and some increases in fees and charges.
This year the council is under spending by approximately £3 million on a total budget of some £1,040 million. Adult and Community Services, who commission social care, are overspending by some £2 million as a result of the increased payments to care home providers. Children and Young People are under-spending due largely to a number of vacancies in the integrated teams that have been set up. There is clearly a concern here: either these are vacancies for staff who are not required or there are children whose needs are not being met. Graham Newman suggested that he does not want to fill vacancies then face making people redundant as government cuts bite in future years.
Earlier this year Julia Truelove raised Liberal Democrat concerns about the high costs of out of county placements for some looked after children. Despite the high cost the placements are not necessarily the best solution for the children as they are far from their relations. The county is now concentrating on this issue and has achieved some worthwhile cost reductions linked to better care.
In an all day exercise on the 26th of November we will scrutinise the administration’s proposals for the major savings necessary next year and suggest improvements. The need to meet the reductions the Government has placed on Local Government to contribute to the control of the deficit must be reconciled with the desire to maintain front line services and protect vulnerable people.
We still need radical process re-engineering to reduce operating costs and I am pleased the proposals show a total of £12.5 million savings of this type. Targeting resources in children’s services to reduce demand (2.5 million saving) and Adult Care in Depth Review (7.0 million saving) require close examination. They could be actions to match people’s needs at reduced cost or just reductions in support to vulnerable people. That can hurt quality of life and have expensive consequences elsewhere. I will let you know what scrutiny decide.