SCC News Update – September 2014
Suffolk sees rise in GCSE results
The story: More of Suffolk’s 16 year-olds achieved expected levels of GCSE attainment this year.
Provisional results collated from four out of five secondary schools suggest a 1% rise in the number of students getting five or more A*-C grades, including English and maths. It means 56 per cent of Suffolk’s year 11s got the expected level of attainment. In 2013, it was 55 per cent. Some schools have made significant gains on last year. For example, at Hadleigh High School, 69% of students achieved five or more A*-C grades (including English and maths), up 25 per cent on last year. At St Benedict’s Catholic School, 71% achieved five or more A*-C grades (including English and maths), up 18% on last year. Meanwhile, at Westbourne Academy, 52% achieved five or more A*-C grades (including English and maths). This is up from 31 per cent last year.
Key message: This improvement is testament to the hard work and dedication of teachers, heads, governors, parents and, most importantly, students. We will continue to work with, and challenge, schools to drive up educational attainment. That is the direction we set with our Raising the Bar agenda and is now what education professionals across the county are united around.
Cashless payments now available with the Endeavour Card
The story: Young people aged 16–19 can now use cashless payments with their Endeavour Card when they pay for a single or return fare on Ipswich Buses.
To get started cardholders are asked to register their card first on the Endeavour Card website. Please have your 18 digit card number and postcode available. After they have registered they can start to top-up their card in a similar way to the Oyster Card used in London. The Endeavour Card, launched in 2013, is for any person aged 16-19. It is valid for any single or return adult journey, 7 days a week, on participating bus operators. Cardholders receive a minimum discount of 25% off full price adult bus fares only. Young people can apply up to 1 month before your 16th birthday and no less than 1 month before your 20th birthday. There is no fee.
Key message: We are determined to help young people negotiate the barriers to further education, training and employment. The difficulties in travelling to and from education and training opportunities can be significant. The Endeavour Card is our way of helping them over this barrier, and so enable them to pursue the opportunities that will help them to build a successful career.
Gypsy and Traveller sites consultation stopped
The story: A public consultation seeking people’s views on where to create three official Gypsy and Traveller stopping sites in Suffolk has been stopped.
The consultation, launched earlier in August, identified seven potential sites - with the aim of selecting three in the areas where unauthorised encampments usually occur. However, following a number of landowners coming forward with other potential sites and early feedback from councillors and residents, Suffolk’s council and policing leaders have decided to halt the current process to enable it to be reconsidered. It means the seven sites previously identified have therefore been dropped and a fresh list of sites will be worked on prior to public consultation. No timescales have been set for when a new consultation will be launched.
Key message: Whatever we do, it is vitally important that we listen to the people of Suffolk before coming to a decision. The case for creating short stay stopping sites has been well established and we’ve found a great deal of general support for what we, as public sector bodies in Suffolk, are trying to do to help solve the issue of unauthorised encampments in Suffolk. What’s most important is making sure we have the right sites on which to consult the public.
Suffolk Armed Forces Community Covenant website goes live for centenary
The story: The Suffolk Armed Forces Community Covenant goes from strength to strength through the launch of a new website.
The launch of www.suffolkmilitarycovenant.org.uk, which ties into the commemoration of the World War One centenary, aims to reflect the partnership activity that’s taken place since the Suffolk Armed Forces Community Covenant was signed in October 2012. The website highlights projects that have been delivered and the key issues where the partnership looks to influence action. These projects include looking at and improving veterans’ support needs, supporting armed forces’ families by linking them into community service provision or with new partners, and improving information services so soldiers and their families can better enjoy what Suffolk has to offer.
Key message: Suffolk has a strong and proud link with the armed forces, and we were proud to sign up to the military covenant and the commitment it entails. We will continue to work with our partners to provide the support to members of our armed forces and their families that they deserve.
Missed the green deal? Suffolk Energy Action is open for business
The story: The Home Improvement Fund may be closed to new applications but if you are a Suffolk resident you can still get up to £6000 of funding for home improvements.
The government's Green Deal Home Improvement Fund, which offered grants to make homes more energy-efficient, closed last month after the £120m allocated for it ran out in six week due to a surge of applications. But, Suffolk residents can still get funding for home improvements thanks to a successful bid to the government of £5.7million for the Suffolk Energy Action scheme. This scheme will provide funding and advice for the installation of energy efficiency improvements to help Suffolk homeowners and private-renting tenants save money. Roadshows to help raise awareness about the scheme are taking place as follows: 8 and 15 September, Lowestoft Asda am/ Library pm; 26 September Haverhill Market 08.30-15.00; 30 September Newmarket Market 08.30-14.30; 8 October Debenham, outside Neaves Butchers 0900-16.30; 16 October Sudbury Market 08.30 – 1600; 24 October Haverhill Market 09.00-16.00. The Suffolk Energy Action team will spend a week in different areas on a rolling programme which started back in July and runs until 17th November. For more information about funding go to www.suffolkenergyaction.org , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0800 840 90 90.
Key message: Suffolk Energy Action is part of our ambition to create the Greenest County and support the growth of a green economy in Suffolk. Insulating your home could save you hundreds of pounds each year in reduced energy bills, and as summer is nearly over, now is the time to start planning.
Trading Standards campaign given boost this summer
The story: This summer has seen the biggest recruitment campaign yet for the Suffolk Trading Standards Consumer Champion Network to date, with 270 volunteers now pledging to help fight rogues and scammers in their communities. The scheme is funded by money seized from criminals.
‘Join the Fight’ campaign posters in the guise of classified adverts, identifying what scammers are looking for in a victim, can be seen on 41 First Suffolk buses, in GP surgeries, libraries, children’s centres and hospitals across the County. The Proceeds Of Crime Act helps tackle criminals by hitting them where it hurts - by taking away their money and properties. A proportion of the money seized from criminals' financial assets can go to local authorities where it can be used to fund additional work in the battle against crime. Started in 2011, the Consumer Champion network aims to make it easier for people to access information about consumer rights, protecting themselves and their community in the process.
Key message: We are committed to working with our partners to keep Suffolk safe. The network offers people a real opportunity to help stamp out rogue trading, expose scams and raise awareness of product recalls across Suffolk, which often affect the most vulnerable people in our society.”
New rail link represents a fantastic opportunity for Suffolk
The story: The East-West Rail Consortium has published a report that shows that extending the East-West Rail line from Oxford to Cambridge has real potential.
The report shows that the delivery of attractive new rail services between key locations could deliver substantial economic benefits and support significant growth in the East-West rail corridor. The aim is to establish a scheme with a robust and convincing business case that can be submitted to Government in 2016 to secure inclusion of the scheme, subject to funding availability, in the 2019-24 investment plans for the rail industry. It has been a long term aim of the East-West Rail Consortium to improve rail connections within the region by re-instating the former ‘Varsity Line’ between Cambridge and Oxford. This would provide the rail infrastructure for train services to run from East Anglia to Oxfordshire and beyond, with connections to all national mainline services to the north, west and south of England.
Key message: We are committed to working with partners across East Anglia to help secure the infrastructure that we need. The proposed East West Rail link represents a fantastic opportunity for Suffolk’s residents and economic growth. Suffolk’s businesses already have strong links to the Cambridgeshire economy, and the rail link will enable the county to extend its markets wider to West Anglia, central southern and south-west England.
12 months for on-line fraudster caught selling fake One Direction clothing
The story: A fraudster who made over £220,000 selling fake JLS, Justin Bieber and One Direction clothes through eBay has been sentenced to 12 months in prison.
John Young, of Sotterley Road, Hulver, in Beccles, was sentenced at Ipswich Crown Court following a 16-month investigation brought by SCC’s Trading Standards team. He pleaded guilty to 13 counts of fraud and breaching trade marks and consumer protection from ‘unfair trading’ regulations. Speaking after the sentencing, Nousha Meek, the senior trading standards officer who investigated the case, said: “Our advice to consumers is to use the Brand-i shopping directory to find items such as designer or branded clothing, perfumes, shoes, music and sunglasses. You can trust the online stores listed as they have been provided with the consent of the brands themselves. Anyone who suspects they have been sold counterfeit goods can report it to Trading Standards on 03454 040506.”
Key message: Our trading standards team is committed to keeping counterfeit goods off the streets, and this case should act as a stark warning to other rogue businesses and individuals selling through eBay or other online methods such as Facebook. Counterfeit goods undermine legitimate businesses and their sale will not be tolerated in Suffolk.