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.

Locality Budgets

Each year I have the great pleasure to be able to help support various projects and community groups across Row Heath with my Suffolk County Council Locality Budget and in Lakenheath village with my Forest Heath District Council budget.

With both I try to work with community groups to build the capacity of our communities to get things done for themselves and support the network of groups who great volunteers’ commitment significant time to make them a success.

Wherever I go and whenever I speak about Local Government I speak of the great community sprint that existing in my Division and my home village, and how this impacts the lives of residents as much formal services provided by Councils.

For me this is more than just words, as I have in the past sat on the Think Local Act Personal National Board and represented Local Government on its Building Community Capacity Subgroup, which worked to share what community capacity is all about and how to enhance it.  I instigated the Suffolk County Council programme called Supporting Lives and Connecting Communities which at its heart is about understanding how communities are able to do things for themselves and how SCC can support them better. Councillor locality budgets should be a integral part of that stratergy and I work for mine to be.

Here is a list of those groups I have supported in the past year.  In the majority of cases my locality funding has been matched funding with the groups own fund raising efforts.

Current commitments:

  • Lakenheath Parish Council – matched funding for Speed Indicator device – £1,890.00
  • Cavenham Parish Committee – Post for play equipment – £320.00

In the past year I have been able to provide funding to the following groups:

  • Friends of Lakenheath Library – Let’s Read Campaign – purchase of IT equipment – £247.50
  • Lakenheath Community Speedwatch – Purchase of speedwatch equipment – £400.00
  • Lakenheath Silver Band – Community Event – £350.00
  • Brendan Fulham Centre – Assistance with disabled adaptations – £1,300.00
  • Lakenheath Sunshine Corner – Toy Bank – £300.00
  • West Row School PFA – Folding tables, cool boxes, etc for garden party event -£250.00
  • Bury St. Edmunds Scout District – Scoutfest 2016 – £2,000.00
  • West Row Primary School PFA – Static bus to be used as a library and learning resource by the school and community (Committed 2015-2016) – £5,000.00
  • West Row The Shed Wellbeing project – £350.00.00
  • Cancer Campaign in Suffolk – Sun Awareness Programme for Schools – £1,280.00
  • West Row Village Hall & Playing Fields Association – Renovation of the Tennis courts – £3,000.00
  • Lakenheath Angling Club – Otter-proof fencing around club waters – £1,000.00
  • Lakenheath Cricket Club – Contribution to new Roller – £1,500.00
  • Rural Coffee Caravan – Contribution to new Vehicle – £1,000.00
  • Beck Row Methodist Church contribution towards heating in the Church Hall – £500.00
  • West Row Village Hall and Playing Field Association a contribution towards the new kitchen equipment – £2,000.00
  • Beck Row Parish Council with a contribution towards outdoor exercise equipment – £2,000.00
  • Friends of Beck Row Primary School with a contribution towards outdoor playground equipment – £4,500.00
  • Newmarket Town Band contribution towards charity concert – £200.00

Suffolk County Council Conservatives – End of Term Report

29.03.2013 SCC campaign 2013 0%, 0%, 0%, 0% Council tax pledge

Our promise 4 years ago – Kept

Suffolk Conservatives are proud to have led Suffolk County Council for the last four-year term, ensuring that vital services are retained and keeping tax as low as possible.

Suffolk Conservatives have lived up to their pledge of freezing base Council tax since the last election, meaning that the residents of Suffolk are not paying a penny more than they did in 2010.  That’s a 7- year freeze!  We are committed to running a low-tax county council and maintaining services by being more effective and efficient with our resources rather than making the residents pay more.

In 2016 Suffolk Conservatives renewed more than 300 miles of roads across the county after an investment of an additional £10 million.  We implemented an online reporting system for potholes which has seen over 70% of customers move online where they can receive updates on works, greatly decreasing the response time.

Caring for Suffolk’s elderly and vulnerable residents has remained one of our highest priorities.  With an aging population, we have supported residents to live active and fulfilling lives.  To honour Suffolk Conservative’s commitment to adult social care, this administration has taken all opportunities presented to it to invest in front line services, for two consecutive years (2016/17 & 2017/18) we introduced the adult social care precept at 2% and 3% respectively.  This money is ring-fenced and goes directly to front line services.  In the 2017/18 budget the Conservative administration will be investing £12.3m in full to front line services and to those hardworking people who care for our elderly population.  We will target this money into the care sector to provide a sustainability and safe, high quality care.

Since the last election in May 2013 Suffolk Schools have gone from 60% ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’ rating by OFSTED to an amazing 90%.  This means that 9/10 children in Suffolk now have access to the highest standards of education thanks to the tireless work of Suffolk’s Conservatives.  We are now ranked in the top half of all authorities in the country for GSCE results.

Suffolk Conservatives are dedicated to keeping the residents of Suffolk healthy. We have established sporting events across the county, which have inspired thousands of people, including “Park Runs”, almost 150 walks, the Women’s Tour of Britain and the inaugural Great East Run.  We continue to work closely with the NHS Mental Health Trust and with other services and charities to help support the most fragile.

Over the past four years we have managed to work with partners to secure millions of pounds of improvement to the rail network, with brand new rolling stock and reduced journey times under the new rail franchise with Greater Anglia.  Our continued investment in community transport through our Connecting Communities scheme has extended services in rural areas, allowing everyone to access public transport no matter how remote their location.

Suffolk Conservatives have worked closely with our MPs to secure money for two large bridge projects in Ipswich and Lowestoft.  These nationally significant pieces of infrastructure will help to ease congestion and attract economic investment.  The Upper Orwell crossing will be a bridge of international architectural significance after the announcement of Norman Foster + Partners designing it.  This will truly be a legacy bridge for all the residents of Suffolk to be proud of.

Suffolk is a beautiful county of rich green countryside and breath-taking coastlines and the Conservatives are proud to protect our county’s environment. We have invested in our historic market towns and the re-generation of Ipswich waterfront. The county’s energy from waste plant has enabled us to save money on landfill tax, generate electricity and earn income.  The plant was built to budget and on time. It takes all Suffolk’s domestic waste for incineration and powers 30,000 homes. As a result, waste going into landfill in Suffolk has been cut from 44% to just 1%!

Over the past four years of Conservative Administration at Suffolk County Council services have been not only maintained but in many cases improved.  We have greatly improved Suffolk’s schools and protected those most vulnerable in our society. We have invested heavily in our road and transport network, ensuring that they are fit for purpose for growth in the future.  We have protected all of our libraries, secured nationally significant infrastructure projects and taken huge steps in preventing damage to our environment.  We have achieved all of this without raising our base Council tax by a single percent.  Suffolk Conservatives remain dedicated to serving the people of Suffolk and providing the services, prioritising our spending on protecting the frail, elderly and young who are at risk.

Conservative leadership delivers.  We are proud of our strong stewardship of Suffolk. If we form the administration in May 2017 we will continue to work in the best interests of all who live and work in our county.

Fiveways Bypass?

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On Friday, the Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling MP visited Suffolk where I met with him to talk primarily as Leader of the County Council and as Holder of the Economic Development brief, about the rail upgrades needed for the Port of Felixstowe to move more freight off the A14 and onto Rail and what increased traffic on the rail line they would mean for communities up and down the line.  More freight on the railways and we can open up the A14 route for economic growth and higher value jobs – all part of the Economic Growth Strategy for Suffolk.

I also took the opportunity to introduce my fellow Candidate Louis Busuttil for Mildenhall in 4th May elections, together we thanked him for the £400,000 to install Traffic Lights at Fiveways but stressed that this must be a stop gap to a new bypass to keep the traffic moving at this, the busiest spot in West Suffolk.  He entirely took on board what we were saying and said he has discussed this with Matt Hancock MP and was aware that Suffolk County Council, FHDC, the New Anglia LEP and our local communities have and will present a strong case to Government for the investment we need for the works.

In my role as Local Councillor and more recently as Leader of Suffolk County Council I have sat in many, many, meetings with Highways England about the dualling and the roundabout.  And have lobbied successive Transport Ministers about the importance of the investment in Fiveways and the need for that to continue. Thinking back, I have, in one form or another, been involved in the lobbying for the A11 dualling since 2005, firstly alongside the then MP Richard Spring, now Lord Risby, in that time we have seen it pushed back in favour of the Cambridge guided bus system winning £100M investment pot from the old East of England Regional Assembly.  Then we saw it scaled back from a grade separation junction, that’s a fly over to you and me, to what was eventually built and I have in that time argued and lost to see far more spending on it than was eventually achieved.  I use the roundabout just about twice a day almost every day of my life and always argued that if we could not have the grade separation then Traffic Lights would very quickly be needed.  Highways England disagreed but by working with the SCC Cabinet member for Highways and our Highways team at the County Council alongside James Waters the Leader of FHDC and Matt Hancock our MP we put pressure on Highways England to install the piping for Traffic Lights with SCC data that showed the lights would be needed far sooner than HE was predicting, glad we did as the installation will be a lot quicker and easier than if they had to dig up the roads.  The £400,000 for the next phase being Traffic lights, is a step in the right direction. But as I said to Chris Grayling it’s a ‘stop-gap’ not the long or medium term solution.

I also lobbied hard for the eventual changes in the Tuddenham cross over which again, I, like many others use almost daily.  I even arranged for the County Council to agree to pay for a speed camera to keep the speed of traffic going past the petrol station at 50 mph to give us all a safer crossing but Highways England have thus far refused.  Before, during and since the dualling of the last section to Thetford I lobbied for a grade separation at Fiveways and promised that once it was built I would lobby firstly for traffic lights which contrary to some people’s opinion are how you make sure that traffic is regulated onto a busy junction. And now lobby for the by-passing, this will take time, but with the County Council, FHDC, our MP and local community groups all pulling in the same direction we create a strong unified position to put to Ministers. And I did just that Friday, saying thank you to Chris Grayling for getting the traffic lights into the latest round of upgrades but stressing how important it was to now get a by-pass.

How important are these upgrades to Fiveways? – please take my survey.

http://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/RowHeath

SCC Conservative Manifesto 2017

SCCCG Campaign 2017 - Manifesto Front PageToday Suffolk Conservative’s launch our Manifesto for the Suffolk County Council elections on 4th May.

It’s been 12 months in the planning and every single pledge is costed and has been debates by our candidates going back across a series of meetings starting last September.

Its build on literally thousands of doorstep conversations and online surveys where people have over the past couple of years told us their priorities for Suffolk and what they want us to continue to do and build on.

  • Residents tell us they want us to continue to keep the Council tax as low as possible building on our outstanding 7 years of delivering a 0% rise in the base Council Tax.
  • Residents tell us they want us to spend more of our roads, investing to prevent pot holes from happening and where they inevitably do, be quicker about repairing them.
  • Residents tell us they want us to continue to look after the vulnerable adults and children in our communities and protect the budgets for doing so, just as we have been.
  • Residents tell us that we need to put Suffolk at the forefront of infrastructure spending and I hope last week’s announcements on the two new bridges for Suffolk show that we are.
  • Residents tell us we need to work with Business across Suffolk to provide higher paying Jobs and new homes at the same time as protecting our unique countryside that makes Suffolk such a wonderful place to live, work, raise our families and have a long and enjoyable life in.

Our Manifesto sets this vision out.

https://www.suffolkconservatives.org.uk/news/suffolk-conservatives-launch-may-2017-manifesto

Vote Conservative on May 4th.

 

“Homes have to be built for people”

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I have lived in the village of Lakenheath for most of my life and as I am now 52, no that can’t be right 2017 minus 1965 is…oh I am.  I have seen many of the fields I played in as a child built on, some by my family. I recall complaining bitterly when the company my father worked for brought a field where me and my friends used to play in and on the roof of the two barns on it. He said “homes have to be built for people”, if only we accepted this theory of life today, and “I told you to stop running along the roof of the barn one of you will get killed” so he brought the field and pulled down the barns – we did not speak for days!  Thinking about it, it was extremely dangerous as they were quite high.

Lots of new homes are proposed for our village over the next 10-year period and 250 to 300 of those will be given to Affordable Housing Providers who will rent them not sell them at below market rents to our young people and families not able to afford the rocketing cost of homes.  I have watched our village grow over 50 years but have despaired that in the past 18 years there has not be one major new estate built since an estate called Biscoe Way and hardly any socially rented homes built.  And in my time as a Councillor countless young people have complained to me they can’t afford to rent a home here and have moved away against their wishes or been forced to live at home with their parents for years after they want to leave home.  Shockingly the average age of the first-time buyer in this country and in my lifetime, has risen from 21 to 37.

Last week I had the chance to look at the Housing White Paper with the Prime Minster Theresa May and whilst a quick chat as she is an extremely busy person I thanked her for what she is doing and how her government is setting about tackling some of the biggest problems our country faces and one of those is housing.

There are those that simply don’t want new housing near them, they cite traffic congestion, they talk about the difficulty of getting a Doctor’s appointment and that housing changes a place.  All of these are important and we must work hard to address the infrastructure needs of our communities.  In my home village, I have secured the funding to build a much need second Primary school some £6M but we await the outcome of planning decisions to decide where it will be built.  We work hard to ensure development brings road improvement and engage with the NHS to improve primary care provision, that’s more Doctors to you and me.

The planning process is complex and the local Councils are blamed for its complexity yet it is laid down by government statue and it would be sheer folly for any Council not to follow it to the letter of the law, as they would lose Appeal after Appeal in the courts. It’s a long running process where numbers and allocation of numbers of homes is one part of the process that rarely, despite efforts by councils, engages many residents, but once the sites are proposed and applications start coming in people react.  The challenge for councils and Councillors is to listen to everyone from the vocal and angry about new homes being built in ‘their’ community to those residents struggling to afford a private rent or get on the property ladder or worse still have been made homeless for various reasons and are trying to get their lives back together in a bed sit accommodation. Across this country, here in Suffolk and in the communities I represent, far too many people are struggling to get a decent home and we have to address this.

This country has to build more homes, this county has to build more homes, this District has to build more homes, my Division has to built more homes and so does my home village of Lakenheath, it simply is not a solution to these serious problems to then say ‘ah yes but obviously not here’.  Do new homes bring challenges, of course they do, but what my dear old father said to me 45 years ago still rings true “homes have to be built for people.”

Please take my survey www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/RowHeath

 

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