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Big questions for Suffolk County Council

PUBLISHED: 09:14 27 October 2010

Andrea Hill, chief executive of Suffolk County Council

Andrea Hill, chief executive of Suffolk County Council

Archant

THE EADT today puts questions about eight important issues to the leaders of Suffolk County Council on behalf of the community.

In response to the public spending cuts, the county council is planning to divest itself of many of the services which is traditionally provides. This huge change will affect each and every one of us in some way.

At the moment, there is a blank canvass, with very few details. Inevitably, with a lack of detailed information, there is a great deal of uncertainty and concern about what the future holds in many areas of life. In recent weeks, our letters pages have been dominated by this topic, with many of the correspondents seeking clarity. We believe these letters reflect the concerns of the wider community.

Given the tight timescale for the first of these changes to be introduced, we believe it is imperative that we start receiving some detailed answers from county council leader Jeremy Pembroke, chief executive Andrea Hill, and other decision-makers at Endeavour House.

The eight questions we have compiled on this page address what we believe to be the most important issues. We know that some people at the county council believe that the EADT is opposing their New Strategic Direction. This is not the case. We remain neutral. We know there are some very difficult decisions to be made. But we believe it is our role to challenge, and to ask the questions which we believe the people of Suffolk need to have answered.

Yesterday, I personally gave Andrea Hill a copy of the questions which we publish today. I have asked her and her senior colleagues to provide answers within the next week. We will, of course, publish the responses in full.

THE QUESTIONS

1. Impact on vulnerable people.

Has Suffolk County Council thought through all the implications of its new strategic direction, especially for the most vulnerable people?

 children at risk and families in need

• adults with disabilities, older people and carers

Has it anticipated the impacts?

What does Suffolk County Council think these impacts will be?

2. Local government’s moral and legal responsibilities.

Has Suffolk County Council thought through its (1) moral and (2) legal responsibilities to the most vulnerable people in the county?

Has it done this in the context also of other impacts over the next two/three years – e.g. reduced personal income, loss of employment, reduced welfare and housing benefits?

Does Suffolk County Council think that people will realistically be able to make the ‘choices’ and ‘take control’ of their circumstances in the way it proposes?

3. Linking things together.

Has Suffolk County Council a clear plan for linking together the changes proposed and their timescales?

• order of changes to specific services

• reduced budget spend on these services

• reduced Suffolk County Council workforce for these services

• development of potential new providers and transfer of services

When will we see evidence of such a plan?

4. Leadership capacity.

Does Suffolk County Council have the general leadership knowledge, experience and capacity for the scale and pace of changes proposed - and their implications, including unanticipated events?

Is there leadership knowledge, experience and capacity in Suffolk County Council to work through all the detail of the changes in a partnership way with council staff, service users, voluntary organisations and potential service providers?

How will the council build support for what is proposed?

5. Suffolk’s local economy.

What quantity of services does Suffolk County Council anticipate being provided by organisations which are not currently part of the Suffolk local economy?

What might be the loss to the Suffolk local economy?

Will Suffolk County Council prevent any net loss?

6. Suffolk County Council and the NHS.

Given the scale of parallel changes to the NHS in Suffolk which may impact on the same people, is there a joint plan about what will be the combined impacts on vulnerable people?

What might be the unintended consequences of unilateral action by either Suffolk County Council or the NHS?

How will this be prevented?

7. External advice and feedback.

What advice is SCC taking from others nationally or regionally about the changes proposed?

What has been the feedback received so far?

What is the risk that Suffolk County Council will prove unable to do successfully what it has said?

What then would be the reputation damage to Suffolk - as well as to Suffolk County Council?

8. ‘Pro-active and wide-ranging engagement’

On 23 September Suffolk County Council agreed formally that there ‘should be pro-active and wide-ranging engagement across Suffolk to establish whether the key new strategic direction proposals find favour with the communities we all represent before moving forward to implementation; and the findings from this engagement be reported back to full council at its meeting on 2 December.’

What pro-active and wide-ranging engagement has there been so far with:

 service users – children, parents, adults with disabilities, older people, carers?

 voluntary organisations – large and small; county-wide and local?

 local communities?

 Suffolk public generally?

 public media?

 staff of Suffolk County Council?

How widely are opportunities for this engagement being advertised?

How will the results be analysed?

11 comments

  • Good questions indeed. I am starting to get a digital community together to discuss this issue. See http:bigsocietysuffolk.wordpress.com and also http:www.facebook.compagesBigSocietySuffolk133991093316937 The more people scrutinise the proposals and question the Council the better.

    Report this comment

    Richard Stacy

    Wednesday, October 27, 2010

  • Far from taking the Conservative line that your paper has been too vocal in opposing these proposed measures, in my view there has not been anywhere near enough criticism. Do not forget that neither national nor local governments were elected on the basis that such devastating cuts and "restructuring" would be made to public services. Indeed, if these policies had been part of the Conservatives' or Lib Dems' election manifestos, I'm sure that far fewer people would have voted for them. Instead, what we are seeing is the structural deficit being used by this government as an excuse to instigate ideologically-driven, free-market reforms which every independent economic analysis has shown will impact hardest on the poorest and most vulnerable in society. This region may be home to some of the wealthiest people in the country, but it also has more than its fair share of social deprivation and unemployment. Maybe you should reassess your paper's editorial policies and decide where your own loyalties lie.

    Report this comment

    Steve Smedley

    Wednesday, October 27, 2010

  • Well done EADT! Something had to be done! No real mention of the impact to businesses, but then us in the Private sector have already suffered. Lets hope for some sensible answers with no corporate flannel!

    Report this comment

    David White

    Wednesday, October 27, 2010

  • Thank you. I look forward to the answers to your questions and hope that Andrea herself will answer as I for one am fed up with the non answers and waffle which we have seen so far.

    Report this comment

    Dee G

    Wednesday, October 27, 2010

  • I haven't seen anyone other than the EADT trying to get information about this, so thankyou EADT, particularly Terry Hunt and Paul Geater. The SCC 'plans' have the potential to wreak devastation on the people of Suffolk, and with no mandate.

    Report this comment

    caroline green

    Wednesday, October 27, 2010

  • We were born with 2 ears and 1 mouth..... good leaders listen twice as much as they shout.... Why then does a 'consultation' mean 'we will talk to you and give you information that says nothing about our real plans that we've discussed at council meetings and already plan to agree and implement regardless of what the public honestly think'. If we as 'the public' all turned around and asked the chief excutive to take a pay cut that would help offset the inevitable job losses would she? If we as 'the public' asked the chief executive why she took her £60K bonus instead of re-investing this into 'The Big Society' would she? Why then does the County Councillors treat us as stupid and uneducated individuals and not tell the voting public how it is, straight up...perhaps then we would truely be able to work together to find a solution as opposed to what basically is a dictatorship going through the motions of a 'democracy'... people of Suffolk unite for truth and justice....read the information with care and make up your own minds whether it is an honest answer or just more politcal side stepping and half truths.

    Report this comment

    Truth Justice

    Tuesday, November 2, 2010

  • Just to let you know it's a 'blank canvas, not canvass'. Yet again EADT and Evening Star journalists forget how to spell before publishing stories... Spellcheck anyone?

    Report this comment

    Mister Cynical

    Wednesday, October 27, 2010

  • Dee G - I couldn't agree more. It is great to see the EADT holding our elected representatives to account - well done ! Lets hope they actually answer the questions for once...

    Report this comment

    bettycoltrane

    Wednesday, October 27, 2010

  • This is really good from EADT. I just doubt you will receive any responses that will be either logical or substantive. The SCC is rapidly becoming a laughing stock.

    Report this comment

    Red Robbo

    Wednesday, October 27, 2010

  • I'll be surprised if you get full answers to all your questions. It's all been very vague so far.

    Report this comment

    Margaret Nelson

    Wednesday, October 27, 2010

  • Still no response?

    Report this comment

    caroline green

    Monday, November 1, 2010

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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