by Christopher Hudson
Now the elections are over we can get back to keeping you informed about what we have been doing for the people of Suffolk.
(selected news snippets from the last seven days)
The Maths Challenge - a project aimed at helping Suffolk’s schoolchildren improve their maths skills - is now underway for a second year. Jointly led by the county council and the East Anglian Daily Times, it was initially launched last year in response to disappointing Key Stage Two results. Children taking part in the challenge have to solve mathematical tasks, working through a special workbook, where maths puzzles are presented in a fun way. The project won an international award last month.
The project to provide high-speed broadband to every home and business in Suffolk has reached another milestone with the launch of the Better Broadband for Suffolk website (www.betterbroadbandsuffolk.com). The website contains lots of information about the development of the project and, crucially, includes a map, showing the timescale for the roll-out of broadband in each part of county.
Lowestoft Spine Road
The completion of the vital northern spine road in Lowestoft is now within site following the confirmation of £4.63million of funding from the government. The money will support the building of the final 1.1km stretch of the road, including a shared walk and cycleway, and will drastically cut congestion in the local residential area, as well as on the A12.
Suffolk Coast and Heaths
A report going to next week’s cabinet meeting, details the importance of the Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) to Suffolk and provides a strategy for protecting it over the next five years. It considers that the AONB, which covers an area from Felixstowe up past Dunwich and Walberswick, helps support tourism to the value of £230million. The area is recognised as being visually beautiful and hugely important to wildlife. This report makes clear the economic importance that it also holds, and the proposed management plan is designed to ensure that it is protected and able to thrive in the years ahead.
SCC Employee Numbers fall again
The number of people employed directly by the county council has continued to fall over the last year. Having reached a high of 11,000 (excluding teachers and other school staff), the number is now 4,500, a reduction of 60% in three years. The reduction may seem dramatic, much of this is due to employees transferring away from direct control, whether in care homes or libraries, for example, or by their setting up a social enterprise, and so providing the service externally, and with much smaller overheads. The figures come from the Annual Governance Statement, which will be discussed by the council’s Audit Committee next week.
Cry ‘God, for Harry, England and St Edmund’
The county council has pledged its full support to the campaign to reinstate St Edmund as the patron saint of England. Edmund was King of East Anglia in the ninth century and, as an Anglo Saxon Christian, he was martyred resisting the invading Vikings and refusing to denounce Christianity. St George, by comparison, has little actual connection to England, and, as well as being patron saint of England – a title bestowed on him by Edward III – is also the patron saint of 16 other countries and a further 25 cities. Edmund, it would seem, not only has the prior claim, but perhaps also the more valid one. For more information on this campaign, visit: www.edmundforengland.co.uk