District Councillor’s report for Snape 2016

Snape Annual Meeting Ward Report – 2015/16

Overview of Suffolk Coastal District Council key challenges and achievements 2015/1 as presented at Snape Annual Parish meeting, May 2016

As always, planning keeps us very busy, if you have a planning matter (or any other matter) that we can help you with please do get in touch. I was lucky enough to attend two awards evening last week where the restored gardens in Felixstowe won awards. I will also be attending the official re-opening of our customer services this week in Woodbridge Library on Thursday.

May we take this opportunity to thank you all for your ongoing help & support; special thanks to all of the parish councillors, parish clerk and everyone in the community for everything they do as well, it really is appreciated and is what makes this a special place to live, work and visit.

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This report provides a brief overview of Suffolk Coastal District Council key challenges and achievements 2015/16.

Some interesting Suffolk Coastal District statistics: figures: population of 124,600 (Children 16%, 16-64 59% over 65 25%, there are 58,600 dwellings – includes 6280 housing assoc, large rural district – 88,938 hectares, 76km of coastline, 5730 businesses – energy, telecoms, port, tourism, food, art, small business.

Council Tax 2016/17

We have agreed to put up Council Tax bill for this coming year (2016/17) by just under 2 per cent (1.99% to be exact).

This is disappointing, as we have kept Council Tax frozen at 2010 levels, but it needs to be put into context – the increase will be less the £3 (or about 25p a month) for a Band D property, with their Council Tax rising from £149.40 to £152.37 a year.

This is the first time we have done so since 2010 and it is important that we explain the reasons for this increase – and the fact we are investing in building a strong and vibrant economy.

The reality is that our funding from central Government has been cut by 40 per cent in the last five years. In the same period Suffolk Coastal also froze its portion of the Council Tax, leading to a reduction in our net budget of £3.7 million.

Now Government is removing the Revenue Support Grant, significantly reducing our core funding by over £2.5 million by the end of this Parliament. Another essential part of our funding, the New Homes Bonus is also likely to be cut. Taken together, funding from these sources reduce from over £3.6m in 2015/16 to around £500,000 in 2019/20.

We recognise that Government is doing this as part of the drive to reduce the national deficit, but on a local level we need to properly fund our services.

Further Transformation in East Suffolk

The Simultaneous Cabinet Meeting in mid-March attracted considerable public and media interest. It resulted in the Cabinets of both Councils agreeing that the officers should develop a Business Case to explore the possible benefits of Suffolk Coastal and Waveney formally merging.

We were the first councils in Suffolk – and among the first in the country – to go down the partnership working route, appointing a joint Chief Executive in 2008. The success of this partnership working has been central to our ability to make £16million efficiency savings since then.

Although we have a strong track record of partnership working with Waveney, it is important to stress that this is not a fait accompli and we are at the start of a long process. These proposals are still at a very early stage.

But, in the current economic climate, when Councils are being forced to put up Council tax for the first time in six years, we have a duty to continue to explore new and innovative ways of making savings.

As such, we need to look closely at the benefits of a merger, but we will only take this forward if we feel it will help us to deliver better services and value for money. However, before any merger could take place, it would have to be agreed by both Full Councils, as well as there being public consultation and the Boundary Commission being involved.

Any such proposal would be subject to a lengthy and full democratic process, which would be in the public domain over a period of years and would not be implemented before the 2019 elections.

Business Plan

At a time of great challenge for local authorities across the country, Suffolk Coastal and Waveney District Councils have published their vision for the delivery of services to communities across the two districts. The East Suffolk Business Plan presents the Councils’ key priorities and ambitions between now and 2023 and details how they will seek to improve the lives and opportunities of all local communities. This is the first time the Councils’ have ever produced a joint Business Plan and, as one of the most progressive local government partnerships in the country, it is a natural progression following many years of innovation. To read our Business Plan, visit: www.suffolkcoastal.gov.uk/east-suffolk-means-business-business-plan

Devolution

Following the announcement by the Chancellor, George Osborne, about the Devolution proposals for East Anglia (Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire), Suffolk’s Leaders and Chief Executives met on Wednesday, 23 March, to begin discussions on the detail which needs to be worked through before all councils vote on a proposed deal later in the year.

Ahead of any decisions being taken, we are all agreed that we must engage with communities and other key groups to make sure they both understand what is and isn’t part of the proposed deal but also to hear what their views on it are.

We will keep you updated, as this engagement process develops but for the latest Devolution information see: www.suffolkcoastal.gov.uk/yourcouncil/a-devolution-proposal-for-suffolk/

Homes

We are investing £1.68million in creating more affordable homes to ensure people can stay within the communities where they are raised and work.

This money has come through Section 106 money we have built up over the years into unlocking the development potential in the District to provide more affordable homes.

We are now looking to bring in new specialist staff to help us decide the best ways of using this money, but it may be that Suffolk Coastal may effectively become a developer, buying land to build affordable homes on, getting them built and then selling them to the people that need them.

We will obviously have to work closely with colleagues on the Town and Parish Councils, as well as developers, to get this moving, but this is an exciting new innovation for Suffolk Coastal and shows our commitment to making things happen in this area.

Housing

A total of 175 affordable homes have been completed in the District since 2010/11. Of these 58 were completed in the last year, including 14 homes developed by demolishing existing homes no longer fit for occupation;

Sale of Melton Hill

At the end of January, we selected a preferred bidder for Melton Hill, subject to contract, ahead of our move to the new building in Melton.

The selected preferred bidder, Active Urban Property Group (AUPG), is also in the process of launching its Community Planning process. The group is holding a Community Planning Weekend on Friday and Saturday, 15 & 16 April (from 2pm-5pm on 15 and 11am-4pm on 16 April), to develop the vision for the new development, then stage a Report Back Presentation on Tuesday, 19 April (at 6:30pm). All these events will be held at Woodbridge Primary School in Wilkinson Way.

The Community Planning Weekend gives local people the opportunity to contribute to the planning through workshops and hands-on planning groups. Attendance is on a ‘drop-in’ basis, with people welcome to pop in to see the exhibition and chat for a few minutes or stay for the entire event.

New Offices

The work to build Suffolk Coastal’s new headquarters, opposite Melton Railway Station, is progressing well.

The move will reduce our running costs, saving £8million of tax payers’ money over 20 years.

We will be taking over the building to fit it out to our requirements with the intention of moving into it during the autumn.

The building will officially be named ‘East Suffolk House’ after Councillors and members of staff came up with suggestions.

Customer Services in local libraries

Work to develop and upgrade Suffolk Coastal District Council’s Customer Services in Woodbridge Library is due to be completed in March.

The development is part of the Council’s plan to provide more services in the heart of the community at our current shared facility within Woodbridge Library and supports our move to new council offices.

The development is part of our work to take services out into the heart of communities, working in partnership with Suffolk Libraries in Woodbridge and Felixstowe offering customer services, tourist information and benefits advice in central locations.

Enabling Communities

We’ve had another successful year supporting our communities through our councillors Community Enabling Budgets. This year, each councillor had £5,500 to spend on supporting community projects, local organisations and initiatives. In total they have spent over £200,000 on over _ projects across the district.

Projects this year have included supporting a number of charities, activities for young people, helping care for older people and helping to support local events.

Brown bins

Brown bins will continue to be collected for free in Suffolk Coastal following a decision in November.

The issue was prompted in response to Suffolk County Council’s decision to reduce funding of recycling credits in this area.

This is an important issue for Suffolk Coastal. We have an excellent track record on recycling. In 2013/14 we were in the top 10% of local authorities in the country (coming 19th out of 352 authorities) with a recycling rate of 57.44%.

Although we recognise that there will be financial implications for this Council, the decision to not charge for this service was taken to allow us to build on this good recycling performance.

New website

Our website is currently being updated – look out for a new look and feel later in the spring.

The www.eastsuffolk.gov.uk website will incorporate both Suffolk Coastal and Waveney websites onto one platform and aims to be clearer and more accessible through smartphone devices and tablets.

Part Night Street and Footway Lighting

Work to install an ‘intelligent lighting system’ to all our street and footpath lights has now been completed.

This allows us to move to part night lighting (effectively switching off the majority of street and footpath lighting between midnight and 5.30am), in line with the current Suffolk County Council and other District and Boroughs in the county.

The Town and Parish Councils, among others, were informed of this work and consulted about the plan to introduce part night lighting in 2014. However, we intend to send round further detailed information about the plans ahead of any move to implement part night lighting during the summer months (after the clocks go forward), as well as issuing a press release and putting information on the website.

Local Economy

Suffolk Coastal has the strongest economy in the County with 5730 businesses and our unemployment rate is a very low .7%.

Other news

Nominate Your Local Heroes:

The Suffolk Coastal Business & Community Awards are now open for nominations. There are thirteen awards designed to recognise the contributions, initiatives and successes of businesses, groups and individuals within the Suffolk Coastal District over the past 18 months.

People can enter the awards online at www.scbca.co.uk or request an entry form from Sarah Shinnie at Suffolk Coastal District Council on 01394 444652. The deadline for entries is 30th June, with the winners announced at a black tie dinner in September.

The Business and Community Awards give local people a unique opportunity to celebrate what is great about Suffolk Coastal and to recognise those people who hard work and dedication makes this such a fantastic place to live and work. We all know businesses, clubs and individuals who just go that extra mile to make a difference in the community. Now is your chance to say ‘thank you’ by ensuring their commitment is recognised by nominating them for an award on www.scbca.co.uk

Roads Number One Concern

A recent survey, presenting a snapshot of rural services available throughout Suffolk, reveals that roads and road issues are the main concerns for Suffolk’s parishes.

The survey, carried out by Community Action Suffolk (CAS), asked respondents to rank the top concerns for their area. Following roads, these include transport / bus services and technology / broadband.

The survey highlights some positive developments, such as an increase in the recorded number of community buildings, community-run pubs and over a quarter of parishes surveyed are pursuing plans for affordable housing.

Get walking in Suffolk Coastal

It’s now less than three weeks until the Suffolk Walking Festival kicks off in the county, and already we’re seeing places on a number of walks filling up fast.

The festival returns for its 9th year, running from the 14 May to 5 June and features a programme of over 70 walks, from one mile to sixty.

So far, over 1,100 tickets have been sold, with 17 walks already fully booked.

The programme includes a range of ‘challenge walks’ for both experienced and novice walkers, which emphasise the benefits of walking for mental and physical health.

The Classic Challenge Walk returns by popular demand on Sunday 15 May. The walk gives people the chance to follow the coastal path between Lowestoft and Felixstowe over five days.

To view the full Walking Festival programme and to book tickets, visit: www.suffolkwalkingfestival.co.uk

Further information:

The Suffolk Walking Festival will be launched at the beautiful RSPB Minsmere on Saturday 14 May, with a selection of refreshments, music, special guests and four launch walks led by RSPB volunteers.

The event will also be the launch of Suffolk’s Year of Walking 2016/17  which celebrates walking in Suffolk, raise awareness of walking activities and events, encourage new walking opportunities and ultimately encourage more people to walk more regularly.

For more information, visit: www.suffolkyearofwalking.co.uk

Clear allergen information is good for business

Food businesses in east Suffolk are being reminded of allergen labelling rules which require customers to be made aware about allergens in their food.

To mark Allergy Awareness Week 2016, Waveney and Suffolk Coastal District Councils are reminding food businesses in east Suffolk about allergen labelling rules which were introduced in 2014. The rules require that all food businesses must verbally explain and/or signpost to where allergen information can be found.

The top 14 allergens are peanuts, tree nuts, milk, cereals containing gluten, eggs, crustaceans, molluscs, fish, soya, sesame, sulphur dioxide/sulphites, celery, mustard and lupin.

The new rules mean that all food businesses need to inform customers when any of the 14 specific allergenic ingredients are present in the food they make or serve.

Food allergies can cause life-threatening reactions and the numbers of people with this condition are growing. The primary cause of food allergy deaths in the UK is due to allergic reactions caused when food is prepared and consumed outside of the home where allergenic ingredients have been used and not declared.

A recent joint Food Standard Agency (FSA) and Allergy UK survey of consumers has shown the situation is improving for those with allergies. Around a third of people with a food allergy surveyed have suffered a reaction in the last year when eating out of the home. The vast majority of these (25%) took place in a restaurant or cafe, with 9% being a result of takeaway food.

For more information, visit www.food.gov.uk/allergy

Register once to take part in June

The EU referendum on 23 June. (as before please note the polling station location)

If you aren’t already registered to vote, you must register by 7 June to vote in the EU referendum on 23 June.

Stephen Baker, Suffolk Police Area Returning Officer, said:

“You only need to register once to vote in elections and referendums.

Once you have registered, you will be able to vote in all elections and referendums that you are eligible for.  You should not need to register again, unless your circumstances change.

Anyone looking for more information will be able to find the answer to their questions at: www.aboutmyvote.co.uk.

Future50 now open for 2016 applications

Businesses across Suffolk and Norfolk can now apply to join the Future50 which provides a unique platform to help achieve faster growth and become recognised as one of the region’s top 50 enterprises.

Supported again this year by Archant and Nwes along with Barclays, Birketts, Lovewell Blake and the University of East Anglia, membership is free and brings with it a wide ranging package of support that includes:

  • Flexible and professional business consultancy to help develop and achieve business plans and growth.
  • Access to several multimedia platforms to share news and achievements and increase PR.
  • A dedicated grant scheme to help fund a wide range of revenue and capital costs associated with growth and new jobs.
  • Informal “peer to peer” evenings to network with other members.
  • Special themed masterclass events designed to increase knowledge.
  • Professional support from all the business partners supporting the scheme.

Applying is easy and free! Apply on line or download an application form at http://www.future50.org/become-a-member/apply-now/.

If you’d like to find out more either visit the website or contact Paul Gardner on 07920 780042 or emailpaul.gardner@nwes.org.uk

Apply today to ensure you don’t miss out on this exclusive programme of valuable support.

Applications close: 22 May 2016.

May we also take this opportunity to thank all of you for your continued help and support, special thanks to the town councillors, Ruth and Lori for their continued hard work for our town.

Thanks

TJ & Maureen

Posted in Parish Council Highlights.