West Suffolk Council – full council meeting

Last night we had full council. It starts with a group meeting at 1730 followed by council starting at 1900. I think I got home at 2200hrs!

Full council is governed by protocols, tradition and regulations. Whilst the Leader of the Council leads the council it is the Chairman of the Council who presides over the council meeting. He gets to select speakers, limit speaking time to prevent members waffling on and keep us all in line. He is assisted by a legal officer and the councils Chief Exec.

Last night was a busy council. It started with the public participation slot which was filled with one speaker. This slot is open to anyone who has something to raise about anything that is on the agenda.

We debated Licensing policy, the budget, the Western Way project, a Tax reduction scheme to help the poorest in society, members allowances amongst other things. This was then finished with a motion reducing the use of harmful weed killers.

I spoke on the Western Way project. I was pleased to see that it had been cut significantly in scope and budget. The new plan makes a lot more sense and is much more affordable. I include my speech below:

“It is pleasing to see the western way project before us tonight. It is even more pleasing to see the cost of the project plummeting. Capital expenditure has an impact on revenue spending just like a mortgage.

From the initial £140m for a complex full integration with the NHS and commercial office space to a more modest £61m.

So what do we get for our £61m? A replacement leisure center at £40m, and that’s what they cost, with £6m for a complimentary health facility, storage and meeting spaces, loosely described as hub facilities and of course the fantastic opportunity to create a solar farm on the roof for £10m and we know what a healthy investment that will be.

Adding a further £5m to provide an archive for the county is a no cost option as it would be fully funded by the country if this goes ahead.

Whilst the original project might have been considered grand, by some, this paper sets out a sensible, pragmatic asset management proposal to replace the existing ageing leisure center with an improved, modern facility fit to serve our residents for the next 40 years. This is not a nice to have but an essential facility to encourage fitness and well-being amongst the population and to provide recuperation facilities for many who need it.

Our residents expect us to provide excellent leisure facilities. This council sees promoting healthy minds and bodies as a priority. It is up to members, here today, to step up to their responsibility to serve those they represent and join me in voting to approve this paper so that this project can be delivered. Thank you.”

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