You will all be aware of the Ofsted comments this month. I hope the County corrective action will be effective and mimic the success that has been achieved locally.
The general odour complaints have been fewer this month and SITA are investigating any that are received. The Environment Agency have a 24 hour reporting line on 0800 807060 that keeps long term records on which any action they find necessary will be based.
I have had reports of appalling smells from the bulk transport lorries that bring waste from transfer stations. I have asked SITA to make it clear to the contractors that this is totally unacceptable. The decisions by the County administration to blight our area with this plant were based on a belief that odour problems would not occur.
This month we scrutinised the operation of the local highways offices that interface with Kier May Gurney on our behalf. Although the backlog that built up during last winter has been resolved, there is still a range of issues.
Councillors and communities reporting problems like potholes, finding what progress has been made and wanting action to improve safety are finding it difficult to get answers. This generates many fruitless phone calls and a lot of unproductive work.
Our recommendations included work to improve communications and reporting. It must be used to good effect and integrated into County systems providing the sort of visual interface that “FixMyStreet” has. If we could make all report faults on line and see their status clearly and accurately, it would save our time and allow officers to concentrate on getting things done.
Blakenham Fields and infrastructure
The District Council has spent months negotiating with the developer to agree the “106” contributions to local infrastructure possible in the current economic climate. By the time you read this, we expect a new planning application increasing the number of houses to 426 by using the employment and school sites and losing the roundabout.
The County will get full payments to Early Years and to schools to cover new pupils. Local people will get the village centre they want with a shop, improvements to village facilities, bus routes through the development, and major improvements to sports venues but not immediately. The new plans should come to the planning committee early in the New Year.
By the time you read this a drop in session will have been held on 24th October to let residents discuss plans with officers, councillors, Havebury Housing, and the architects. The District Council administration then hopes to take the plans to committee in the New Year and to go ahead with construction around September 2015.
At the last Executive meeting, I proposed that decisions should be delayed until the failure to deliver infrastructure in the area has been resolved but the risk to government funding was considered too high. The overall plan for MSDC new build across the district was agreed.
There are areas where houses at the end of collection rounds are being missed regularly and that is not good enough. Great Blakenham, where there has been considerable growth in housing, is suffering but so are parts of Bramford. The rounds are being revised but we need to speed this up.
The central and local government funded upgrade to Suffolk’s broadband network is ahead of schedule. BT is doing well: however, there are still a lot of us suffering at 2Mbit/sec. The County has just agreed to contribute £10 Million to £30 million public funding for another phase of the programme. This will extend coverage at 15 Mbit/sec from 85% to 95% of Suffolk premises by 2018.
Some new technology is being trialled that will serve smaller communities more easily and even micro communities of 16 premises at up to 300Mbit/Sec. The intention is to future proof the work. Detailed plans should be in place in six months and the www site will be upgraded to show in detail what we can expect.
Babergh and Suffolk Headquarters
The staff reductions that the amalgamation of the Babergh and Mid Suffolk workforce has allowed means we no longer require the current two buildings. These changes are forced by needs to address the financial crisis and efficiency.
Some services must be easily available without long journeys and to people who rely on public transport and do not use computers, but others are better served digitally, straight from your phone, tablet, or laptop.
There are eight proposals. They cover moving to Hadleigh, Needham Market, or Ipswich. Costs vary widely as do the benefits. We have agreed to explore these in more detail to make a business case to be signed off after the election. I would prefer to stay with one of the present buildings and take the savings now.