District Councillor Report: February 2020
Councillors Rachel Eburne and Keith Welham, Haughley, Wetherden and Stowupland Ward
Budget and Council Tax
The budget and financial strategy was discussed at the council meeting on 27 February. A Council Tax increase of 1.66 percent was agreed; this equates to a £2.76 pa, 5p per week, increase for a Band D property. Some of our group’s proposals to make Mid Suffolk more sustainable – from housing to transport to biodiversity – were accepted by the Conservative administration but some were not. Among those rejected were suggestions to make Stowmarket more accessible by providing much improved bus services from nearby villages and offering free parking one afternoon per week. Our group’s suggestion to borrow in order to build low energy council homes and the proposal to run a house design competition were also rejected by just one vote.
Mid Suffolk Leisure Centre
Mid Suffolk Leisure Centre and Stradbroke Swim and Fitness Centre have recently been named as some of the country’s best following a national industry assessment. Their GP exercise referral scheme was assessed by Quest and awarded the status of ‘excellent’. The assessment looked at all aspects of performance and the final report praised the high level of coordination and effort that goes into the exercise referral schemes at both centres.
Needham Market Rail Station Improvements
Needham Market railway station is set to receive £380,000 in government funding to improve accessibility including an access for wheelchairs to the Ipswich-bound platform. The funding from the Department of Transport Access for All programme will benefit Needham Market, giving a further boost to plans to regenerate Needham Market station and providing access for all to both platforms.
Council and Cabinet
The leader of the council has cancelled a number of council meetings in the coming months, reducing the opportunities for councillors to hold the administration to account. Also, portfolio holders’ reports will in future be presented to cabinet rather than to full council; this will mean that any councillor wishing to put questions to a portfolio holder will need to make an extra trip to Ipswich.
The payment of grants from our locality budgets should now have been completed. In Stowupland we allocated funds towards equipment for the short mat bowls club, a glass washer for the sports and social club, Telstar magazine, football kit for Falcons Under-14s, a noticeboard to be sited at the village hall, Freeman School Sensory Garden, equipment for the baby and toddler group and fencing at the bowls club.
Public Realm Green Spaces
We were given a tour around the four parishes by Peter Garrett, Corporate Manager of Public Realm. He suggested that the crown of the tree at the junction of Hornbeam Road and Sycamore Road should be lifted and that there may be opportunities for tree planting on grassed areas in Oak Road, Reeds Way and Barley Close. A wildlife corridor alongside FP38 from the green to the football pitches could be considered – perhaps this could be a project involving students from the high school. Trees and funding for stakes could be sought from MSDC