Posts Tagged 'Green Party'



Local banking for the public interest

Wouldn’t it be good to have a network of truly local banks that acted in the public interest, served local communities and helped small businesses?  The New Economics Foundation (www.neweconomics.org) has just produced a report showing how this can be done – by building on the current level of public ownership of Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and transforming it into a network of local, publicly accountable banks.  This type of approach already exists in countries such as Germany and Switzerland but here, in the UK, Government still seems to think that big is best.  I  will be asking David Ruffley what is being done on this and hope national politicians read this report and have the common sense to act on it before selling RBS off.

Budgets and transparency

Mid Suffolk District Council’s  budget for 2015/16 is due to be approved at the Council meeting at the end of February.  The core budget (of approximately £10 million) is very similar to last year – and the year before.  However – there is an additional £2 million, plus over £3 million underspent from previous years, allocated to “delivery plan projects”.  This is money for projects intended to “transform” how the Council works and make the Council more sustainable – yet there is no clear overall plan of how this money will be spent and therefore very little transparency or accountability to the public.

In addition the Council is asking councillors to agree potential borrowing of £25 million for future Council projects – again with no detail.

I would like to see far greater transparency and accountability in explaining the Council’s budgets to the general public – and getting the public’s opinion on how the money should be spent.

Potential closure of level crossings threatens local communities

Network Rail have released a consultation on their plans for 2019 to 2024 – the Anglia Route Study www.networkrail.co.uk/long-term-planning-process/anglia-area-route-study-draft-for-consultation.pdf The consultation ends on 3rd February 2015 and responses should be sent to AngliaRouteStudy@networkrail.co.uk

Prior to the timeframe this Study covers, a number of schemes are expected to be delivered including “safety improvements, particularly involving level crossings” (including closing 500 more level crossings across the country). Within the Study itself the key project affecting us is “Norwich in Ninety”. This project aims to cut journey times between Norwich and London to 90 minutes where they are currently between 104 and 115 minutes. The fear, locally, is that Network Rail will use this opportunity to save money by closing lots of level crossings whether road or footpath.

Closure of any crossings will have a devastating impact locally – villages cut off from each other (how to travel from Haughley to Old Newton for example); footpaths closed with access to the countryside completely limited; not to mention the damage to local businesses and general community cohesion.

Network Rail is not intending to confirm which crossings will be affected until after the consultation. If we don’t make our voices heard now – we may be too late. Please respond to the consultation and write to your MP.

For information on a local group set up to combat this, please see www.suffolkcrossings.co.uk

 

More items to be recycled

As from 3rd November, residents in Mid Suffolk District can recycle even more items – “tetrapak” cartons, aerosol cans, books, and metal pots, pans and trays. This is in addition to paper, card, cans, foil plus plastic bottles, tubs and trays. http://www.suffolkrecycle.info/

Suffolk’s recycling rate is about 53% and much that can be recycled is still thrown away.

I’d still like to see a waste food recycling scheme but apparently this is not being looked at currently.

Routes to better public health?

At last week’s Mid Suffolk and Babergh Joint Scrutiny Committee (that I chair) we looked at how district councils can make a positive impact on the public health of residents in our areas. We heard from council representatives on the Suffolk-wide Health & Wellbeing Board, Suffolk County Council’s Health Scrutiny Committee and also the Chief Executive of Healthwatch – the organisation that puts forward the views of the public on how health and social care services are delivered in order to improve those experiences.

bbFour key points were raised as areas for action – using councillors influence to drive change; working with troubled families; local dementia and isolation; and rural transport. The latter cut across many of the health issues – from travel to GPs, hospital etc at different times of day and night to general rural isolation issues that meant residents can’t access the services they need to improve their lifestyles. We do need to get some solutions for this and Councillors will be looking into what can be done to improve this at future meetings.b

Development incentives?

Haughley field and housesMid Suffolk District Council has launched a public consultation on the first stage of setting it’s Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL). This is effectively a charge placed on development which will be levied sometimes instead of, and sometimes in conjunction with, S106 agreements. (S106 is the current system when a developer makes a payment to mitigate the impact of the development so called as it is detailed under Section 106 of the Town & Country Planning Act 1990)

The CIL charge is levied per square metre of building and monies collected go towards infrastructure both locally and across the district that would be needed with any new development. Parishes will receive 15% of this to spend within their Parish and 25% if they have a Neighbourhood Plan. They are being encouraged to agree a “list” of items on which they would expect to spend CIL monies. Despite this percentage figure, the funding will still be relatively small (for one house built, the Parish may receive £750 for example.)

Planning Policy at Mid Suffolk expect that the charge will have two levels, high and low. Broadly speaking low will cover areas where development is currently being encouraged (such as Stowmarket and areas along the A14 particularly towards Needham) and high will cover elsewhere. Note that developments already with planning permission are not affected and strategic sites will be covered separately.

Further consultations will follow with the CIL expected to be adopted by April 2015: although given the amount of centralised planning policy changes in the last few years, this may still be changed again.

 

Broadband developments for Haughley Green

Displaying Broadband cabinet (600x800).jpgOn Friday I received an important update from the Better Broadband team at Suffolk County Council and there are some significant developments regarding broadband in our area.  This is, in part, due to the overwhelming pressure placed on the Council, BT and others by members of the public.

 The major issue for our area has been that we were told BT would include us in their commercial upgrade but the reality is that for most of us this has not happened (as many suspected at the time).  Additionally some areas in Suffolk were not covered either by a commercial upgrade or the publicly-funded intervention area.

These two areas are now being addressed by a new procurement process which starts today.  The public consultation for this will be in the Spring with the new contract being signed in the Summer and work commencing before the end of 2014.  I will do all I can to help bring these dates forward (as much as the procurement rules allow) but, in the meantime, will advise you when the public consultation is open.

Say “No” to A14 toll

With the news that Suffolk County Council are planning to provide £1m in subsidies towards a tolling scheme for the A14, the Green Party believe far more should be done for public transport and safer roads.

http://midsuffolk.greenparty.org.uk/news/a14-subsidy-should-be-spent-on-public-transport-and-safer-roads-say-greens.html

 

Why do people drop litter?

This month there were community litter picks in Haughley and Wetherden – volunteers targeted roads leading into the village centres to give them an annual tidy up. Thanks to everyone who came and helped but why do people drop litter? One young volunteer helped pick up rubbish from the edge of Haughley playing field and from that alone 2013-03-16 12.07.35403002405five bin-bags were collected including one just of plastic bottles and one just of glass. And this is on a site with two waste bins nearby. Still it all looks tidier – for a while.

Broadband – fibre optic cabling…

Many of you will have noticed various vans along the roads installing cabling.  The current installation is of fibre optic cable, running from Stowmarket, to Haughley and then via Haughley Green to Bacton.   For the next stage, this needs to be connected up to the cabinets for improvements in line speed.

 A planning application has been made to install a new cabinet just round the corner from the existing cabinet next to the bus shelter in Haughley (next to 2 Station Road).  This cabinet serves most of Haughley and Haughley Green.  I understand that that this cabinet will be fibre-enabled and, once in place and “live”, will greatly enhance broadband services in the area.

There is no date for this work (the application goes before Haughley Parish Council next week) and in a similar situation it was some months between installation of the cabinet and the fibre becoming operational – however a step in the right direction!

With regards to the Suffolk-wide Better Broadband project, I have raised our concerns that properties on the edge of Haughley and in Haughley Green may be at risk from not being part of the project nor benefit from the BT investment.  I’ve been told that these concerns have been “taken on board” and will be included in the contract discussions.  In the meantime I understand Suffolk County Council is still waiting on the EU decision as to how the public funds can be used.


Contact me

rachel.eburne@midsuffolk.gov.uk tel: 01449 673311 or 07768 460 108

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