What I’ve been up to as your West Suffolk District Councillor in the last few weeks

Doesn’t time fly! My last update post was last year! Since then I have been involved in a wide range of things on your behalf. I get alerted to an issue in a range of ways – email, phone, Facebook, messenger, LinkedIn and of course just bumping into people as I wander around the patch. I try to respond the same day but sometimes I just can’t keep up🤭

In no particular order and without naming anyone to protect the innocent and the guilty here are a few of the things I have been working on.

The big one has been the plans to expand Highpoint prison. This is complex and involves a significant number of people. I have met with local residents a number of times, two parish councils (Highpoint is spread over a number of parishes) our local MP Matt Hancock, West Suffolk Council Officers, the prison Governor and his deputy and a civil servant from the MoJ. I have also met with a number of other councillors on the matter. On Saturday we held a public meeting for Highpoint Estate residents which I shall be blogging about later. I won’t rehearse the issues as I have covered them in other blog posts.

Sometimes I am delighted to be able to sort something out for someone when the system is failing them. One resident got in touch with a heartbreaking story of not having had any heating for three months except for a borrowed electric fire. The bills had gone through the roof just trying to keep warm. The housing association responsible was duly awarded a kick up the rear from me and now it seems heating is to be restored and financial compensation made to offset the higher bills. Why could they not have done that in the first place?

I have met with a number of residents who have had planning issues. Some want planning to go through, some oppose, some just want the plans modifying. Each one takes time to go through and is very personal to the individuals affected. I don’t have a magic wand but do try to explain the art of the possible and how to go about achieving it.

I met with a group of businesses from Clare to better understand the challenges they face. Footfall and car parks are near the top of the list.

Of course, I have attended a number of Parish Council meetings and spoken to parish clerks outside the formal meetings on a range of subjects.

I sit on West Suffolk Councils Health and Safety Committee. It is pleasing to see that the council is a safe place to work. Less pleasing is the abuse some of our staff receive. Totally unnecessary.

I also sit on the performance and audit committee which scrutinises the finances of the council, amongst other things. This gave me a head start for our recent full council meeting to approve the budget.

It was great to pop into the Kedington Community Cafe for a delicious piece of cake and a drink. Not really work this one😉. Well done to Ann Naylor and her team for a great community facility.

I objected to the plan to build two 3 bedroom houses in the carpark of the Swan Pub in Clare. Wrong place, wrong houses, wrong use of the land. And it’s in a conservation area. Tenant doesn’t want them. Let’s hope common sense is the victor.

It was great to visit the Hundon school to discuss pupil numbers and to be reminded what a lovely village school it is. We must not lose these wonderful schools.

It was interesting to visit the Toggam solar farm. Anything that brings in revenue to the council to save rate payers gets my vote. The land used to be contaminated with maggots and is now viable. The solar farm name Toggam is of course maggot spelt backwards🧐

I remain concerned about Clare Town Council. It is supposed to have 9 councillors but is currently down to 5. I am spending time trying to encourage folk to stand. It is important.

I continue to attend briefings on a range of subjects from across West Suffolk.

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