Concerns over homes and youth facilities

AFFORDABLE housing and facilities for young people are the two main issues that most concern residents of Babergh District, councillors have learned.Babergh district councillors Bryn Hurren and Richard Kemp have just completed a week of talking to people on the streets of Hadleigh, Sudbury, Holbrook and Lavenham to find out what they want from their council.

AFFORDABLE housing and facilities for young people are the two main issues that most concern residents of Babergh District, councillors have learned.

Babergh district councillors Bryn Hurren and Richard Kemp have just completed a week of talking to people on the streets of Hadleigh, Sudbury, Holbrook and Lavenham to find out what they want from their council.

The exercise was the first step in the process of setting the budget for the next financial year.

It found that 56% of those questioned wanted the council to spend more on affordable housing and 44% wanted more to be spent on facilities and opportunities for young people.


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In other areas of the council's responsibilities, the majority of those questioned wanted spending to stay at about the same level.

These included facilities for older people (39%), leisure facilities (37%), community safety (45%), environment and conservation (50%) and refuse collection and recycling (53%).

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Between them the two talked to 78 people of all ages and found that people were generally satisfied with the way Babergh spent its money.

While acknowledging this was a small number of people and could not be taken as reflecting the views of all 83,000 Babergh residents, the two found similarities to a much larger poll carried out by the council last year.

But, said Richard Kemp, there was still a lot of confusion about which services were supplied by the district councils and which were the county's responsibility.

Mr Kemp (Independent) talked to people in Sudbury and Lavenham.

He said: "I got comments about things like the police, water hardness, all sorts of things that are nothing to do with Babergh.

"But also most people said they considered Babergh to be a reasonable authority.

"The biggest concern was the impact on their pockets of the council tax increases. While people wanted to see services stay as they are, they were very, very concerned about these increases when the average wage increase is about 2% a year."

Affordable housing was the next major priority for people, he said, but he felt there needed to be some definition of what exactly was affordable within Babergh.

He said: "National statistics put the average wage here as £20,000 a year, but a lot of younger people only earn about £15,000. There's no way they're ever going to catch up on a mortgage.

"Unless there's real intervention by the Government somewhere it will continue to be a real problem. It all goes back to the sale of council houses."

He said he was impressed by the number of older people he spoke to, who were concerned about the lack of facilities for young people.

He said: "I think there are so many restrictions brought about by such things as security fears that young people are much more restricted in what they can do.

"I also think we are less tolerant and these elements seem to rein people in from what I would call the natural process of growing up."

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