Deborah Cadman

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Deborah and I with Shaun Whiter at the Suffolk Raising the Bar Awards last night where Shaun spoke of his challenges in life and how he sets himself goals – inspirational stuff.

Today the news will be breaking that Deborah Cadman the Suffolk County Council Chief Executive is leaving us for a new role as Chief Executive of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA).

She told me last week that she was being considered and was offered the job on Friday.  I shall personally be very sad to see her leave but fully understand the exciting challenge and thus reasons for her move.

Deborah has been outstanding, leading our Staff these past 6 years, she steadied the ship when she arrived and has lead the team through major staff reductions and changes in the way they work together and with our partners across Suffolk. Her impact in her time with us cannot be underestimated. Educational attainment levels in Suffolk are now significantly higher, with 86% of schools rated good or outstanding by Ofsted. Over £200 million of essential budget savings have been delivered and staff morale is much higher than when Deborah joined us in 2011.

Today Deborah and I will present to the Cabinet and Senior officer team senior a draft paper which turns our Conservative County election manifesto into corporate priorities, her enthusiasm for this and her vision as we plan with our partners for our great county has been exceptional.  Deborah’s ability to lead partnership working will be something that WMCA will benefit from immensely as it forms its strategies for the long term as well as the short term.

I always knew this day would come.  I know she will not mind me saying that last year I managed to persuade her to remain with us when Government offered her a top job and in part that was because at the time there was the prospect of a Norfolk and Suffolk Combined Authority.  She was as disappointed as I was, that we did not manage to capture the imagination of all the councils in Norfolk to the concept.  So, her move to a Combined Authority that did form!, is no surprise to me.

She is going to the most challenging and exciting job in Local Government.  Andy Street the new Mayor of the WMCA has had a glittering career in Retail as the former CE of John Lewis but is new to the bear pit of politics which is the West Midlands.  I have undertaken work with officers in Birmingham and Sandwell and know some of the areas Leaders that make up the WMCA and if I pondered how complex the Norfolk and Suffolk CA was going to be, it has nothing on the complexity of those Councils working together with a Mayor.

I have known Deborah a long time firstly when she was CE of St. Edmunds Borough Council and in her time as CE of the East Anglian Regional Development Agency.  Funny story is that I was on the original panel who recruited her to the SCC role however for some domestic reason, she was first up and I missed her interview but at the end of the day’s other interviews I voted for her to get the job, she has and is one of this country’s stars of Local Government and blends her considerable operational skills with a deep understanding of the political ‘side of the coin’, as well.

Her personal support of me these past two years as I have started my Leadership role has been brilliant and at a very difficult time for me last summer when my father died in sudden circumstances, I shall long remember her kindness.

Suffolk’s lose is the West Midlands Combined Authority and its new Mayor’s gain.

Deborah is a Brummie and so is returning home, but I know she and Geoff will keep their Suffolk connections where she has forged much of her career and I wish her all the very best.

Deborah will be with us for much of the next three months as we careful plan her exit and together we will make arrangement with our excellent senior officer team, one of whom will cover the CE role as we go out to recruit a new CE.  I know from some of those excellent candidates who I hope will apply that we will have a rich pool of talent to pick our next Chief Executive.

Grenfell Tower

A few days ago we all witnessed on our TV screens the terrible devastation and loss of life when something goes badly wrong in our system.  Grenfell Tower fire should not have happened.  To hear the harrowing tales of those who survived and see the pictures of those who did not, your heart simply goes out to people at this time and words fail us all.  But like everyone, we want answers.

I am a builder in my blood and I was a shocked as anyone that a building could be refurbished with materials that failed so tragically in this day and age.  That should not happen.

Worse still, is that Residents have been raising concerns about other aspects of the infrastructure and fire safety of the building, and appear to have been ignored.  That should not happened.

All too often recently, we again saw our outstanding emergency services rushing into horror as people ran for their lives.  However, it appears in the aftermath, the emergency planning and response by the council was poor.  That should not have happened – one of our County Council’s guiding principles is that we are there in an emergency.

So there are lessons to be learnt and here in Suffolk we are already seeking to learn them.  The Suffolk Fire Service has been out reassuring residents giving them information about the fire safety in the few hi rise blocks we have here in Suffolk.  They, alongside District officers have been making extensive check of the fire precautions and testing of equipment has been stepped up.  There are 14 residential blocks over 8 storeys high and 13 with between over 4 & 8 storeys in Suffolk.

However, Suffolk County Council is not a housing provider and it’s a mixed picture of ownership of these buildings across Suffolk, but today I will be written to the providers of each of the blocks stressing to them, the need to make sure that they work with Residents, building control and our Fire Officers to make sure all of our residents are as safe as they can be.  Our Fire officers are not aware of any building that have the same cladding system as that of Grenfell Tower but those checks continue.

At Suffolk Public Sector Leader’s next meeting we will be reviewing our emergency plans across all of our Councils to make sure as a Suffolk family if something happens we can be sure that the system is there to help immediately to support and protect people and in the longer term should it be needed.

As the questions get answered and new advice and legislation is produced we will to make sure all advice is adhered across Suffolk make sure that residents are as safe in their homes as they can be, irrespective of living in a sheltered bungalow or a High Rise building.

Much of the work our great fire fighters do is about prevention.  So I will leave you with one simple but vitally important question.  Do you have a smoke alarm?  If you do have you checked it recently?  Test it now – just to be sure.

Vote Conservative!

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Today is a simple decision, who is best to lead this country over the Brexit negotiations.

Therese May or Jeremy Corbyn in a rag tag coalition.

The NHS and Social Care are massive issues we face and in my role as the County Council Network National Spokesperson for Health and Social Care Integration I know myself and my colleagues are working hard to find how, with a Conservative Government and our MPs, we deliver a fair and affordable system for our Ageing Population.  But the bedrock of the NHS and Social Care is our economy.  The bedrock of funding for schools is our economy.  The bedrock of every single thing we do is our economy and its success. And over the next 5 years our Brexit negotiations will determine our economy for the next 25 years.

So today vote Conservative for a strong and stable Government able to negotiate the best Brexit we can achieve.

Today is really important.

Suffolk Decided – Conservatives

The weekend after a Poll Day is always strange, as you adjust back to normal after weeks of a different regime of delivery, canvassing and talking to people on their doorsteps, ends so abruptly. As a Councillor, you do these things on a regular basis but at election time it becomes your entire focus.

In many ways, it’s been a very different campaign for me for three reasons, firstly there’s the small matter of the General election being called in the middle of the campaign, then there’s social media which for the first time starts to play a part and last but not least, I had to juggle my own campaign with leading 74 candidates as Leader of my Conservative group.

In the end we have won a massive majority and now hold 52 out of the 75 seats on the County Council.  There are of course many reasons this has happened not least the hard work we have undertaken running the Council for the past 12 years, not to mention the position of the Conservative Party nationally as Prime Minister Theresa May seeks a mandate to send a strong message to Brussels that Brexit means Brexit and we will not be pushed about.

But this blog is also about what I think is disgraceful from the other parties.  We won because we fought every single Division to win.  Not to be paper candidates but to go out across Suffolk and engage with voters and talk about the issues we face on the County Council, sadly others did not.

To watch and listen to the Labour party campaign you’d think that Suffolk consisted of Ipswich, Lowestoft and Sudbury.  Even then they got a trashing losing three of their frontline spokespersons. Holding a few seats, 9 out of the 11 in Ipswich, one in Lowestoft and one in Sudbury does not mean you can speak for Suffolk.  In my own Division, the Labour candidate’s campaign consisted of putting an A4 poster in his window!

The Lib Dems were equally pathetic and truly got their comeuppance.  The flooded their own seats with material and as far as we could see they had just 4 targets seats so even if they would have won everything they aimed at, they would have ended up with just 12 seats clearly a position to then slither up to Labour if they won enough.  But they did not achieve even that and lost 3 seats, rather busts the myth that they are such great local Councillors no own would ever pick someone else.  They did and they are reduced to just 5 seats.

So now, we campaign in the general election and support our great Candidates across Suffolk.  Then it’s back to it and to use our mandate to implement our Suffolk Conservative manifesto with Strong and Stable Leadership of Suffolk, Caring and Campaigning for all of Suffolk’s communities and tackle the challenges ahead at the County Council.

 

 

Re-elected

SCCCG Campaign 2017 - Manifesto Front PageOn Friday morning I was honoured to be re-elected for my Division of Row Heath and my home village of Lakenheath on Suffolk County Council. Representing my community is a privilege and I will continue to work hard to be a strong voice for Row Heath at the County Council. The results were:

Myself – Conservative – 1362
David Gathercole – Independent- 386
John Smith – Independent – 279
Jack Fawbert – Labour – 313
Ralph Brownie – Lib Den -164

My majority was over 50% of the vote at 979, the turn-out was 32.4% which whilst not high is about the average for Row Heath.

Thank you to all those who voted for me and I am looking forward to representing everyone in Row Heath for the next 4 year.

Across the county, Suffolk Conservative held and won 52 out of the 75 seats, there are many reasons we had such a massive victory and tomorrow I shall blog my thoughts and reflections on the election.  We now have a strong mandate to delivery our Conservative manifesto and help transform Suffolk with quality frontline services for our most vulnerable residents, protecting our wonderful place to live, delivering housing growth and growing our economy.  As our campaign slogan says Caring and Campaigning for Suffolk.

Suffolk Decides

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Tomorrow is Poll Day in our Suffolk County Council elections and in some ways, its been a strange election and in other ways a traditional one at the same time.  Of course, it’s been slightly overshadowed by the General election but that has not stopped Suffolk Conservatives getting out across Suffolk and fighting in every Division to win, each of our candidates have been involved in our campaign from last September irrespective of their seat and our election material and campaign has been a collective effort across Suffolk.  Our opponents are clearly far more tactical or cynical, in many areas across Suffolk they have simply disappeared, in some failing to put out a single leaflet or knock on one door.

In any Division, it’s a challenge to call at every single house and catch every single resident in for a conversation, but that’s the task we set our candidates across Suffolk in every single Division, to get out there and engage.  Voters appreciate the chance to meet and talk with those who would represent them.

The Lib Dems have not bothered to field a candidate in every seat and have left many of them to fend for themselves with some of the worse literature I have ever seen a party put out, yet at the same time they have flooded their existing seats with A3 glossy literature in a desperate attempt to hold them.

To watch the Labour campaign is quite pathetic, you would think Suffolk consisted of Ipswich, Lowestoft and Sudbury.  Its Leader seems more focused on fighting a Parliamentary seat than the County elections and they have a set of promises which clearly means they have learnt nothing, simply put they are as Financially Dangerous locally as they are nationally.  Promising you everything under the sun and not a clue how they are going to pay for it.  They are as financially incompetent as they were when they were kicked out of office both nationally and here in Suffolk – the Chart above says it all.

Our manifesto is about Strong and Stable Leadership of Suffolk, with Suffolk Conservatives Caring and Campaigning for all of Suffolk’s communities.  Its filled to the brim with new ideas but at the same time its fully costed.  Council are not businesses but they can be run in a business-like manner.  It’s about balancing the need to properly fund the services we provide, and for those services to find new ways of doing things that cost less, with respect for your hard-earned money.

Please Vote Conservative tomorrow.

Investment in Ipswich, Investing in Suffolk.

Really pleased that the news has been revealed that the Homes and Community Agency are helping to support the Development of the empty ‘wine rack’ building on Ipswich’s Waterfront officially it’s called Regatta Quay but its known as the wine rack for obvious reasons and is rather a symbol of the last property crash and so an important building to finally see developed.  The Agency will invest £15M and the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (NALEP) of which I am a Director as Leader of Suffolk County Council, is investing £5M from our Growing Places Fund.  These are commercial loans and will be repaid with interest but they get things moving.

The work of the NALEP and more details on the announcement can be found here

www.newanglia.co.uk

Sometimes Ipswich seems a long way for Row Heath but battling for investment and growing our economy is vitally important.  As Leader of the County Council I have been on recorded as stating there is no such thing as a Stronger Suffolk without a Stronger Ipswich, the development of this icon structure on the waterfront alongside the £100M investment being made with Foster and Partners designing the Upper Orwell Crossing there is a determination for Ipswich to become the Powerhouse of Suffolk’s economy.  This benefits us here in the west of Suffolk because the more money that is generated in Ipswich through Business rate growth, shortly, will mean more money for the County Council to spend on vital services in our community.

We want to grow our economy here in West Suffolk as well but Ipswich is uniquely placed to benefit from an overheating London economy as it’s an hour from the heart of the city and we are working to make sure we capitalise on that geography. That’s why I sort and campaigned for there to be one Board to pull together all of the many, many plans I was presented with when I became Leader of the Council two years ago.  Today there is one vision one board, its called Ipswich Vision and I have lead Suffolk’s attendance at the principle Land and Property investment exhibition in London each year called MIPIM, as we seek to put Ipswich and Suffolk on the investment map.

You can read more about the Ipswich Vision Board here

www.newanglia.co.uk/…/major-players-come-together-to-agree-a-vision-for-ipswich/

The way local government is financed is complex but it is changing, I want the economy of Suffolk to be a powerhouse of growth with high value jobs and growing companies to be based here.  In the next few years the stronger our economy, the more money we will have to spend of protecting frontline services for the most vulnerable in our society. This is what we mean by Caring and Campaigning.  Unlike the Lib Dems and Labour who would spend all the money we have earmarked for investing in our economy and growth, they would simply spend it now, not making the savings we need to make and then as they always do when the money runs out, throw their hands up and demand more of your hard-earned money in Council Tax. We believe in investing is Suffolk’s growth and this coupled with a relentless drive to make the back office of the public sector in Suffolk more efficient is how we will deliver for Suffolk over the next 10 years.  We are planning how we go about this and develop a blueprint of growth and efficiency.

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