July 2013 update

by Christopher Hudson

  • Raising the Bar in education

Where we have got to. A report, commissioned by SCC, has produced a series of recommendations aimed at driving up educational standards in Suffolk.

The report was produced by the RSA, under the auspices of the county council’s ‘Raising the Bar’ initiative. Raising the Bar was launched last year, as a major project to improve attainment levels and build a stronger aspirational culture around education in Suffolk. The RSA’s report, ‘No School is an Island’, contains 20 recommendations. Among these is the idea that small rural schools with fewer than 100 pupils should enter a federation with others to maximise resources. Other suggestions include: for Suffolk to form a partnership with a London Borough with a record of improvement in educational standards, to learn from the huge progress they have made; for every school to establish a Parents’ Council to ensure voices are heard, and also for all Suffolk schools to join together to form a new county-wide, school-led Suffolk Partnership for Excellence in Learning.

Why we care. Driving up educational standards in Suffolk is our number one priority. A wide range of people play an important role in a young person’s education, from parents through to head teachers. We are determined to leave no stone unturned in helping everyone play their part in giving young people in Suffolk the best possible start in life.

  • Funding confirmed for A14 improvements

What has happened: The government has confirmed that funding will be available to upgrade the A14 between Cambridge and Huntingdon.

The work to upgrade the A14 will go ahead at a cost estimated at being close to £1.5billion. It is proposed that this will be funded in part by local authority contributions, together with tolling of the road when completed. SCC’s Cabinet will be discussing the issue at its cabinet meeting on 9th July, with a view to confirming a commitment to provide around £1million to the project over a 25-year period. With the current restrictions on public funds, the likelihood is that the tolling of roads will become more commonplace as a means of funding projects, as well as being a means of attracting private investment.

Why we are doing this: We are strongly committed to supporting the Suffolk economy and helping generate jobs and growth. The A14 is a vital economic lifeline for the Suffolk economy in general, and particularly for links to and from the Port of Felixstowe.

  • Government devolves £39million of transport money to local projects

What's happening: People across Norfolk and Suffolk will be invited to express their views on which proposed transport schemes should benefit from the £39million being delegated by the government to improve local transport.

The money will be allocated by the new Norfolk and Suffolk Local Transport Body (LTB), which comprises of the New Anglia LEP, and representatives from Norfolk and Suffolk County Councils. The LTB will receive around £39million over the next four years and has published a long-list of proposals, upon which people can have their say. The long-list includes many familiar proposals, such as improvements to the A12, the four-villages by-pass, and a third crossing over Lake Lothing. It also contains rail improvements and other transport schemes. More details about this, including the long-list, can be seen on this website: http://www.norfolkandsuffolkltb.org.uk/

Why it matters: We recognise the value of sound transport infrastructure in the local economy and in the quality of life for people in Suffolk. We will continue to fight for the investment that Suffolk needs to allow us to compete with counties across the country, as well as internationally.

  • Launch of Broadband website

What's happened: A new website has been launched with information on Suffolk’s project to deliver high-speed broadband across Suffolk.

Suffolk is among the first counties in England to benefit from the installation of high-speed broadband across every home and business in the county. All properties will have benefitted from broadband by 2015, and the new website (www.betterbroadbandsuffolk.com) contains not only lots of information about the development of the project, but also, crucially, a map, showing the timescale for the roll-out of broadband across each part of the county.

Why we care: The importance of high-speed broadband to Suffolk is vast. As an infrastructure project is compares with the building of the railways over 150 years ago. The benefits are not just economic, but will also be seen in improvements to people’s quality of life, the speed they can access information, and in the accessibility and use of public services.

  • Suffolk Flexi-care Conference

What's happened: Suffolk’s second Flexi-Care Conference took place in Newmarket last month.

The Conference, sponsored by the county council, brought together representatives from local authorities, care-home providers, social workers and all those interested in making a difference to the housing provision of our ageing residents in Suffolk. The conference explored the way that older people can be supported in their homes to live healthier, happier and, crucially, independent, lives.

How we can help: Good housing is absolutely essential for the good health and well-being of people in Suffolk. We are committed to working with partners across the county, to support a £10million investment in each of Suffolk’s districts and boroughs each year for the next four years, to help older people live independent lives in quality accommodation.

Suffolk Trading Standards carry out “Check It Tuesday”

What's happening: Every Tuesday, Suffolk’s Trading Standards team will post a list of product recalls on their blog page.

The initiative comes as a survey shows that one person is killed every seven days by an electrical accident, partly because they haven’t picked up the fact that the product in question has been recalled by the manufacturer. In one survey, the average success rate of a product recall was found to be just between 10 and 20%.

Every Tuesday trading standards officers will be posting recalls on their blog page and sending the information to all those already signed up via social media , encouraging everyone to find five minutes to check if they have a recalled product. Most recalls only require the product to be returned to the store for a refund. Large domestic products will be collected or made safe by the manufacturer, often with a simple repair that can be completed without needing to take the product away.

How you can help: Our Trading Standards team play a vital role in supporting consumers and providing the information that can save lives. We would urge everyone to use Check it Tuesday to check the items in their home and help keep their family and home safe.