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October 2017 Report from Cllr Penny Otton

1 November 2017

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I and 4 members of the Lib Dem, Green and Independent group called this into the Scrutiny committee on 28th September.
Thurston Community College could lose over 800 pupils if they are forced to move to Stowmarket to get free school transport. This could jeopardise the viability of the college. Helen Wilson has been very active and has put her case to the council along with 4 members of the public that this should not happen and has been trying to find an alternative arrangement that would still save money.
I put forward the argument that this would disrupt children’s education if they are forced to move schools, increase the number of cars at start and end of school days, split some villages if half are forced to go to different high schools. Whilst disappointed that the scrutiny committee did not recommend putting a halt to this they have referred it back to cabinet (possibly November 7th) who I suspect will agree to go ahead with the consultation despite there being many questions still un- answered. Interesting email from Cllr Gordon Jones saying they are looking at some of the issues!!

HGV SIGNS FOR BIRDS GREEN; again I have asked Charlie Mitson why this has not been done!!

PCC will not pursue plans to take control of Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service

Suffolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Tim Passmore, has announced that he will not be pursuing plans to take control of Suffolk Fire and Rescue Services.

Earlier this year the PCC commissioned PA Consulting to undertake an options appraisal to consider the future governance of the Fire and Rescue Service and a potential shift of governance from the County Council to the PCC. This review concluded that there is insufficient evidence to suggest that a governance change would be clearly in the interests of economy, efficiency, and effectiveness; or public safety.

Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service launches ‘escape plan’ campaign

The Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service has launched a new safety campaign and website highlighting the importance of fire escape plans. The campaign addresses the fact that every year there are 40,000 accidental house fires in the UK. Having an escape plan will allow Suffolk residents to escape the fire quickly and safely.

Visitors to the campaign website will be able to:
Take a quiz to test how prepared they are to escape a fire
Create their own escape plan for everyone in their household

The 'escape plan' fire campaign will run until 31 October 2017. More information can be found at fire.suffolk.gov.uk

MID SUFFOLK; has appointed ICENI HOMES as a housing development partner. ICENI are experienced in developing social housing, part -ownership etc.

BORROWING FROM THE PUBLIC LOANS BOARD; I have again questioned the ethics of this where the council is using PWLB money to invest in commercial enterprises to raise income.

BOUNDARY REVIEW OF CONSTITUENCY BOUNDARIES; The Boundary Commission appears to have accepted our view that we do not go into South Suffolk.

BOUNDARY REVIEW OF DISTRICT WARDS. You should now have the response from the Boundary Commission. I am pleased their suggestion for Rattlesden ward is in line with much of ours!! However, considering the issue below all this could change!

MERGER OF MID SUFFOLK AND BABERGH. This went to a simultaneous meeting of the 2 council, s cabinets on 13th October (when I was away!!) us opposition groups were given a briefing by the CEX without any papers!! The cabinets approved this will go out for public “engagement” until Dec.2017. However, councillors at Babergh have called it into scrutiny, despite councillors at Mid Suffolk being told it could not be. How can the monitoring officer give different advice to each council?? Because some of us critised this it will now go to a joint scrutiny committee. Unlike last time there is no obligation to hold a referendum, although there are moves to try to force the councils to do so.
If this merger goes ahead this could mean elections to a new council!