by Christopher Hudson
SCC News Update – July 2014
New school improvement leader appointed
The story: Suffolk’s programme of improving educational attainment in schools took a further step forward this month with the appointment of a new assistant director.
Nikki Edwards, who joins the council from Ofsted’s school inspection contractor, Serco, on 21st July, will lead the team which helps schools to drive up standards. Nikki is currently a managing inspector responsible for 180 inspectors working across the midlands and eastern England. Formerly a teacher and head teacher, Nikki has 22 years’ experience of working in education and improving standards. As executive head teacher at Berrybrook Primary School in Wolverhampton, she led the school from special measures to being rated good, with outstanding features, by Ofsted. She has been a head teacher at a small rural primary school in Shropshire and also worked for a number of education trusts, where she was responsible for school improvement. This new role will bring together leadership of the council teams responsible for education - including school improvement, school infrastructure, special educational needs and inclusion. This role will be central to continuing the county council’s drive to improve school standards.
Key message: Raising attainment levels in our schools is our number-one priority, and with this new appointment, we will be well-placed to press ahead with our mission to drive up standards across Suffolk’s schools.
Lowestoft: Consultation on Lake Lothing crossing options underway
The story: As part of an ongoing consultation about options for a new Lake Lothing crossing in Lowestoft, three revised options are now on display.
Following earlier engagement events with local stakeholders and councillors, the three options have been refined by urban planning and engineering experts WSP and will now form the next part of the consultation which includes a public display in the town. The options for the new crossing were originally detailed in the Lowestoft Transport and Infrastructure Prospectus (LTIP) which was launched in 2012. A final report expected by the end of the year. The options are available to view online, and are now also on public display at the Marina Customer Service Centre where people will be able to take a look at the proposals for the next two weeks. Meanwhile, the campaign to upgrade the A47 has taken a further step forward with the visit of Robert Goodwill, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport, to see the road’s shortcomings for himself. The Minister was due to travel the entire length of the A47 trunk road, including the A12 from Lowestoft to Great Yarmouth, through to the A1 in Peterborough. This visit is one of a small number that the Minister will make to trunk roads that are in the vanguard of improvement feasibility studies ordered by the Government to inform spending decisions in time for the Autumn Statement.*
Key message: Extending the A47 from Great Yarmouth to Lowestoft has been recognised by the prime minister himself as being of vital importance to the economic prosperity of the town and surrounding area. Investment in a new crossing of Lake Lothing would unlock significant housing growth and, more importantly, employment opportunities in the port and energy industries. We will continue to work hard with all our partners to secure the commitment and investment that will see this ambition realised.
Seamless transfer of back-office paves way for savings
The story: £9million annual savings have been achieved through the restructuring of many of SCC’s back-office services.
On 1st June this year, SCC took back direct management of finance, ICT, human resources and customer services. These back-office services involved the transfer of over 6,000 managed computers, 110 contracts for services, and nearly 300 public-access phonelines were transferred to the council on this date. Thorough preparation paid off and all the services were moved from Customer Service Direct (CSD) to SCC seamlessly with no break in service. Significant staff restructuring has seen the pay bill reduced sizably. The focus now moves to service transformation, to enable delivery of further operating cost savings amounting to 32%.
Key message: We are committed to exploring every possible means of reducing our costs. By transferring these back-office services so seamlessly, we have not only made significant savings, but are also better placed to oversee the major transformation programmes the council is pursuing in the months and years ahead. New £6m care home to open doors
The story: A ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the official opening of a new £6 million state-of-the-art care home in Mildenhall took place last month.
Members of the community along with representatives from SCC and Forest Heath District Council joined officials from Care UK for the grand opening of Mildenhall Lodge. The new 60-bed care home is the first of ten across the county which is being rolled out by Care UK, as part of their £60million investment in care facilities in Suffolk. Among the first people set to move into the new home will be those at the town’s existing care home in Wamil Court, which will close up on the transfer of all the existing residents at the site, where it will be handed back to SCC. Following the official opening ceremony, conducted by Alan Murray, SCC’s cabinet member for health and adult care, members of the public were able to take tours around the site, with further tours around the new home being staged the following day as part of an official open day.
Key message: The £60million investment we have secured from CareUK will deliver the next generation of care homes for people in Suffolk, and it is great news that the first of these has now opened.
New team to safeguard Suffolk people
The story: Organisations responsible for safeguarding vulnerable adults and children in Suffolk are to form a new, single, team. This will make sure information needed to keep people safe is held, and immediately accessible, in one place.
By the end of the summer, the organisations, including SCC, the police, health services, district and borough council housing services, education, Probation and the Youth Offending Service, will have come together to create Suffolk’s Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH). The MASH is being implemented in stages to make sure that the high standards of safeguarding already in place in Suffolk don’t suffer during the transition from current arrangements. Once fully operational, the MASH will be made up of approximately 60 professionals from across the county. The majority of these staff will be located at Landmark House in Ipswich. Members of the public who are concerned that a child, young person or adult is at risk of abuse, harm or neglect, should still contact Customer First on 0808 800 4005 (free from landlines and most mobiles). Further information about the Suffolk MASH is available at www.suffolk.gov.uk/MASH.
Key message: Supporting those most vulnerable is a fundamental priority for us. It is by working in partnership with other agencies that we can do this most effectively, and the setting up of the new, single team, is a major step forward in achieving our aims.
Views needed for consultation on changes to parking
The story: A consultation, seeking views on changes to parking guidance, has been launched.
Revised and updated, the county-wide technical guidance provides policy advice for new developments. It also sets out advisory levels and characteristics of parking for particular types of schemes such as gyms, restaurants, care homes and residential dwellings. A key difference to the parking guidance is that the new document sets out minimum standards for residential developments as opposed to maximum. So, the new guidance sets a minimum of two car-parking spaces per three bedroom dwelling. This change occurred due to research showing that restrictions on parking for residential developments can lead to issues including unsafe on-street parking congestion. The guidance can be viewed via this link: Read the guidance (PDF, 1.1Mb), while a hard copy will also be available at libraries across Suffolk. Comments should be sent via e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org or via post by 4 August 2014 to: Planning & Development, Endeavour House, 8 Russell Road, Ipswich IP1 2BX. Local planning authorities will make reference to this parking guidance each time planning permission is sought for new development in order to make sure that the correct amount of parking is supplied
Key message: It’s always important that any such guidance is shaped with the views of the public very much in mind. Therefore, this is an important opportunity for people to have their say.
Let’s make food waste history
The story: A new campaign encouraging people to reduce the amount of food they throw away has been launched today by the Suffolk Waste Partnership.
The “Making food waste history” campaign aims to show people how much money they can save by following four simple steps: Plan ahead; Store correctly; Cook what you need; and, Recycle what you can’t eat. The campaign highlights the fact that around 20% of all the food bought by Suffolk residents gets thrown away. This wasted food is costing the average family a massive £700 per year! To tackle this huge problem and help people cut their household food bills, the Suffolk Waste Partnership will be delivering an eye-catching food waste leaflet to all homes countywide. The leaflet has lots of hints and tips on making the most of food we buy as well as information on how to compost any food waste left over. Suffolk Recycling officers will also be hitting the road with “Making Food Waste History’ events at locations such as Lowestoft, Mildenhall, Bury St Edmunds, Ipswich, Stowmarket and Felixstowe. Please visit www.suffolkrecycling.org.uk to find out more.
Key message: Cutting food waste is a ‘win-win’ situation. It helps people cut their household bills, and also reduces the amount of waste in our bins. This new campaign is a great way to help people achieve these twin goals, and we urge everyone to take advantage of the campaign, and the information being provided.