Report to Gipping Valley–July 2014

Highways

The various design works I reported last month are wending their way slowly forward.  There has been an objection to the Claydon Church Lane proposals so they will suffer a delay as they go to committee.

Energy from Waste Plant

The incinerator start up programme is progressing rapidly.  The first Mid Suffolk and Babergh Waste Collection vehicles deposited waste for test purposes at the plant in June.  By now the two burner lines will be in full operation on waste.

Residents have reported noticeable odours, which it was suggested might have been associated with trips when the line shuts down after initial instrumentation warning level settings are exceeded.  The plant record was investigated but no clear cause was found.

The liaison group has asked that the reporting processes, particularly phone numbers and email or www addresses be publicised.

Local schools

Ofsted inspected Claydon High and Claydon Primary Schools at end of June and early in July.  The judgment for the High School is that it has moved from “Requires Improvement” to “Good”, a just reward for all the hard work that Sarah Skinner, her staff and students have put in.

The results for the primary school had not been released when I wrote this.  They too have been working flat out to achieve the improvement they are judged to require and raise achievement and improve progress for all pupils.

Nick Clegg’s extra pupil premium and sports funding has been helping, allowing extra teaching for those students that need a boost.  All local schools have been working together in a “School Improvement Partnership” to inspire each other, showing what works and what does not.

Government Funding via the Local Enterprise Partnership

The County works closely with the New Anglia LEP, a business driven but largely local authority staffed organisation.  It gives strategic direction to economic development in Norfolk and Suffolk and the County provides much of the office and research effort it needs to make progress.

In April, the LEP submitted a bid for £76m for 2015/16 and a total of £500m for the full six- year period of the Government’s £2bn per year Local Growth Fund.

The LEP received full funding for 15 of 30 projects and financial support for another 4 and a further £20.35m loan finance for infrastructure and the Growth Hub.

£10m support for the Norfolk and Suffolk Better Broadband Programmes, enabling extension of broadband coverage to 95% of premises by 2017 may be the element we in Gipping Valley see most clearly.

Scrutiny

In June we looked at the Adult and Community Services Strategy “Supporting Lives Connecting Communities”.  This is a new approach across health and social care which aims to give supported people live active and independent lives.  We decided the approach was what people want and was making good progress in trial areas.

We also examined progress of the new Care UK residential care homes and community wellbeing centres.  We were concerned that delays caused by a number of issues, including planning delays, might compromise initial savings.

Mid Suffolk House Building

Mid Suffolk is intending to build some 38 new houses to replace those lost under right to buy.

These properties will be let on “affordable rents”, (80% of market rent), and to help finance the build, 31 other council properties will move from social rent,(60% of market rent) to affordable rent as they become vacant and are re-let to new tenants.

Via this mechanism, the district will be adding £3,000 per house to the funds from right to buy sales, borrowing and government grants of £17,500 per dwelling to get to the total funding required.

Joint Strategic Plan

Babergh and Mid Suffolk have adopted a joint strategic plan.  It is too lengthy to summarise here but the strap line is “Smaller Smarter Swifter”.

Staff and councillors are already working in new ways.  The workforce is now a single delivery organisation across the two local authorities.  A saving of about £1.8m has been achieved by reducing the management team by nearly 40% and the workforce has seen a 10% reduction in the last 3 years.

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