Category Archives: Uncategorized

Radio Suffolk: Cllr Sandra Gage on Labour’s call for better managed roadworks

“These are the things that the people of Suffolk have been complaining about with the Roadworks for some time and that’s why I wanted to put this Motion forward today”

Labour Spokesperson for Transport, Sandra Gage, on Labour call for a new Permit Scheme to improve roadworks

(from 1hr 7mins)


Mandy Gaylard’s Speech on Libraries during Budget debate

I am speaking in support of the amendment.

Suffolk County Council (SCC) is the legal Library Authority required to “provide a comprehensive and efficient library service”. Suffolk’s Labour Councillors consider that the County Council acted unreasonably in pushing through its unnecessary divestment policies in 2011. In response to a ‘Consultation’ about the library service in 2011, 83% of respondents said that the libraries in Suffolk should be funded, managed and wholly run by the County Council as required by law. SCC, who still claim to listen to the people of Suffolk, ignored these respondents.

In December 2011 the library service was divested to Suffolk Libraries IPS (Industrial and Provident Society).

We still believe SCC should provide the Libraries as a public service, but we recognise the hard work that the IPS has done to provide a continuing library service under difficult circumstances.

However, we fear for the long term future. Each year we have opposed the cuts to the library service funding only to be ignored by the Conservatives. But they cannot afford to ignore the Suffolk Libraries IPS which is providing the service. The Suffolk Libraries board have designed a scheme which will save the County money and continue with the excellent services which our Libraries provide. But the County Council has not listened – the £200,000 cut in funding for Suffolk Libraries proposed by the Conservatives for next year is completely unsustainable without seriously damaging the service that is being offered.

I am struck by the utter hypocrisy of the Conservative administration. Over the past 4 years I have heard Conservative Councillors boast about what a good decision they made, and praise Suffolk Libraries IPS for their excellent service. And yet now they totally ignore the advice that is given to them by the people who have the best interests of the Library Service and the people of Suffolk as their guiding principle. The Conservatives have shown complete disregard for the Suffolk Libraries board, the hardworking library staff, the volunteers, and the people of Suffolk.

The Library service is valued and held in high regard, both by Suffolk people and nationally. “In terms of relative cost – for every £1 spent by the Council, less than 1 penny is spent on the library service.”

35,000 Suffolk residents campaigned in 2011 to save the Libraries Service.

Now the Conservatives will not listen to the Suffolk Libraries IPS Board, nor to the 44 library community groups, 1400 volunteers, 170 thousand people who attend events and a further 140 thousand regular users of the library service. The people of Suffolk will be able to decide in May through the ballot box whether they are fed up with being told by the Conservatives that they listen to them when obviously they do not.

Rosehill Library

Labour Councillors provide over £2,500 for Ipswich night shelter

Since 2010, the Selig Trust has been running the Ipswich Winter Night Shelter (IWNS), which provides an overnight shelter during the three coldest months of the year, hosted each night by one of seven town centre churches.

Throughout the coldest months of the year, the shelter provides 12 guests with a hot nourishing evening meal, a warm and safe place with friendly company, a clean and comfortable bed and a good breakfast in the morning. The shelter runs 7 days a week, including Christmas and New Year.

For the first time, Selig are employing a full time, year-round Support Worker to help their guests rebuild their lives. The Support Worker will work to identify suitable Night Shelter guests, provide signposting and follow-up for each individual case, and liaise with other key agencies that also work with the homeless.

As part of the continuing process of maintaining and improving the Night Shelter, Labour County Councillors have provided the charity with £2,500 of their Locality Budget funds to buy bedding, laptops, desks, chairs and first aid equipment.

Julia Hancock, the Night Shelter’s Manager said, “The IWNS was formed 6 years ago by a group of people who wanted to meet the needs of those people who are homeless. This group included a social worker, a vicar and a school registrar. Since then, our organisation has grown. We now have 7 trustees and over 300 active volunteers from across the whole of Suffolk.”

Miss Hancock continued, “We work to ensure that people who are homeless have somewhere warm and safe to stay throughout the winter months. And we work to help them to get off the street and rebuild their lives.”

Mandy Gaylard, Labour Spokesperson for Communities said, “The number of people sleeping rough in Ipswich has hit its highest level for at least five years and the funding for important charities that provide relief for this problem – be it from Government or the County Council – is only getting lower. The dedicated volunteers at the Night Shelter provide a vital service, supplying shelter and comfort during the harshest months of the year. More than that, by helping their guests to get off the streets, they work to lower the numbers sleeping rough in Ipswich.”

Cllr Gaylard concluded, “Councillor Adams, Armitage, Clements, Gage, Gardiner, Martin, Quinton and myself are delighted to have been able to support this charity and hope that it continues to deliver the services and support that are so important to many people across Ipswich and the County.”


(Photo caption Councillors Mandy Gaylard, Helen Armitage and Sandy Martin with volunteers at night shelter)

How Can We Help Our NHS?

There are a few political decisions which virtually every person in our country now supports – Council Houses, the Minimum Wage, Pensions, and above all the National Health Service.

In 1948, Nye Bevan said “Despite our financial and economic anxieties we are still able to do the most civilised thing in the world – put the welfare of the sick in front of every other consideration.”

There were people then who said the NHS would bankrupt the nation and would not produce better health.  Well, the NHS is not cheap, but it costs us a lot less than the insurance based system in the USA and (for the average person) it keeps us healthier than the Americans too.

Some bad decisions have been taken recently – in particular, reducing the training places and bursaries for young people to become doctors and nurses.  And although the Government claims to have increased funding for the Health Service, in many cases that money has actually been taken from another part of the health and care system, or absorbed in the top-down reorganisations the government has imposed.

We now need to do two things to help our health service and make ourselves healthier at the same time.

First, we must reduce the number of people going into A&E.  The County Council can help here, promoting health education especially through Children’s Centres, ensuring Care Homes take measures to avoid injuries, and supporting charities dealing with mental health, drink and drug addiction.

And then we need to make sure that as soon as people are ready to leave hospital, they have somewhere safe and healthy to go.

It is absurd that someone who no longer requires hospital treatment should be stuck in a hospital bed, at risk of picking up infections from the other patients and gradually losing the ability and motivation to do things for themselves.  And of course it doesn’t help anyone else either, costing the NHS thousands, using valuable nursing resources, preventing serious medical conditions from being treated because there aren’t enough beds.

We need more home carers, more residential care homes, more care home staff.  We need more support and help for families who want to care for their relatives at home, but need respite care time, and day-care centres, and adaptations at home.

There has been a lot of unhelpful argument about exactly what is being paid to whom.  The fact is, we all know that people are being stuck in hospital beds, we can see it with our own eyes, and no amount of clever statistics are going to cover that up.

And we know that Care Homes are closing because they can’t afford the trained staff, and we know that Age UK Suffolk and others are closing Day Care Centres because the County Council has slashed their grants.

After 1948 this country picked itself up, went back to work, paid off its debts, and became the sixth biggest economy in the world, partly because we were also one of the healthiest nations in the world.

People need the security of knowing that, if they do become sick, they will get the treatment they need.  They also need to know that, if they need care in their old age, that will be available too, and it will be safe and supportive.

I don’t believe that we have to make a choice between enabling people to get the most out of life and saving money.

If the people of Suffolk are secure and healthy and can get the education they need and can travel to work or college on good roads or decent public transport, then our County will thrive and the County Council will get the money it needs.

If the Council cuts away the support people need to pursue their lives, then I don’t think the residents will forgive them.

Labour Leader, Sandy Martin


Helen Armitage’s Speech on Children’s Service during Budget debate

In July last year, a DfE report looked into cost effectiveness and value for money of children’s centres and showed the link between the services offered and reductions in public spending on truancy, school exclusions, special educational needs, youth and adult crime, mental health problems, and welfare benefits.

The report also highlighted the link between use of children’s centres and higher educational attainment and higher future earnings for the children and their parents.

Children’s centres have the potential to make a massive difference to the lives of children and their families, yet across Suffolk there are areas where families simply can’t access these highly valuable services.

The DfE report clearly states that ‘the benefit of children’s centres in monetary terms has the greatest impact on the public purse in terms of future savings to required spending’.

Children’s centres are a resource that should be increased and built upon to save the council money in the future, we need to invest in them and the children that use them as one of the most cost efficient services that we can offer.

In December, we brought you evidence showing how respite care and a ‘Short Breaks’ service for families with children on the edge of care can and is saving councils millions of pounds a year through reducing the number of children in care, not to mention helping to improve the futures of countless children and their families.

We, as a council, agreed that it would be investigated as a measure to bring down demand for Children & Young People services and to make savings, but this doesn’t appear to be included on the budget.

I hope that I’m wrong and there is a ring-fenced amount of reserves to operate this service if it is proved suitable and cost effective for Suffolk.

As it stands, the Family Assessment Support Team is our only service dedicated to reducing the number of children in care, yet in January this year it was reported that the team is attempting to operate with half of its social worker posts vacant.

We understand the difficulties in recruiting social workers and that we have about 30 social worker vacancies across Suffolk, but it is hard for us to believe that you are serious about reducing demand for children’s services when the early intervention services that we have to do this are simply not working properly.

The budget that the administration has presented to us seems far too concerned with short term cuts and goals, when we need to be thinking long term in order to make the services sustainable.

There is overwhelming evidence produced by independent and government groups showing how preventative and early intervention services are more cost effective in the long run, but we seem to be stuck in a cycle of short term measures and short sighted cuts.

We need to stop thinking in terms of 2-3 years down the line and invest now in preventative and early intervention services to save the County Council money in the longer term future.


Letter on the Cattlemarket Bus Station Toilets from Cllr Sandra Gage

I am writing to bring your readers up to date on the subject of the Ipswich Cattlemarket bus station toilets.

On 9 February, Suffolk County Council set out and approved its revenue budget for 2017/18 and its capital budget for 2017-2020. And it is in its Capital budget – the council medium term planned new works – that funding for the new toilets should have been listed. But this Tory County Council has stubbornly refused for three years to agree to put a sum of money aside to build the toilets, so we should not be surprised to see that funding has not been included in the 2017-20 budget plans.

Even though providing public toilets at the bus station, where all the out of town bus journeys terminate, was part of the original Travel Ipswich plans, and after promises made to Cllr David Ellesmere and the East Suffolk Federation of Women’s Institute in January this year to  put a sum aside in the budget to build the toilets.

So despite my repeated questioning at Council, and by email, the Tory Cabinet members Richard Smith for Finance and James Finch for Transport have both refused to respond to the overwhelming public request for what is the most basic of needs.

But then, as we know, none of the Tory County Councillors travel into Ipswich by bus so haven’t any idea of how important this is to the many hundreds who use public transport to travel into Ipswich every week.

In my statement, at the 9 February County Council meeting, supporting the County Labour Councillors alternative budget proposal, I made it clear that if Labour gains control of Suffolk County Council in May we will allocate funds to install the toilets, to accept Ipswich Borough Council generous offer to maintain them, and in doing so respond, as a responsible council should do, to significant and justified public demand.


Peter Gardiner’s Speech on the Fire Service and Trading Standards during Budget debate

Mr Chairman,

I would like to speak on the Labour Amendment’s plans to reverse cuts made to the Fire Service.

Pushed through by the administration as a result of the IRMP and in the face of serious and genuine concerns of both Fire Service personnel and equally the general public, it will be no surprise that we would wish to reverse these cuts – in terms of the number of appliances and indeed the fire crews, both full time and on-call.

This would mean re-instating the full time crews and, in addition, to fund new full time day crews in Sudbury and Felixstowe.

This would help in the ‘prevent work’ inspections that are so important in preventing emergencies from occurring, and would also support the on-call teams in those areas – improving coverage and safety.

The administration also proposes cuts in the funding of Trading Standards, as well as Suffolk’s Citizen’s Advice Bureau.

Both of these areas deal in particular with the more vulnerable in our society. Trading Standards, for example, has a vital role in trying to keep people aware of scams and cybercrime.

So cutting their support is a backwards step, bearing in mind the very good reputation the Suffolk Trading Standards team has locally and nationally.

Regarding cuts to the Citizens Advice Bureau, I can think of no action more regressive and backwards looking than cutting a service that provides advice to the public, advice that helps prevent financial difficulty, family breakdown and other serious issues, all of which have a very real impact on our communities – and many that have repercussions on the Council in terms of more expensive statutory costs.

SetWidth160-2013-05-14 Peter Gardiner informal WS