'Stub out smoking' say Suffolk residents

A GROWING number of people believe smoking should be stubbed out in Suffolk, a major new survey reveals.More than 60% of people in the county want to see smoke-free restaurants, while 80% say it should be banned in all workplaces.

A GROWING number of people believe smoking should be stubbed out in Suffolk, a major new survey reveals.

More than 60% of people in the county want to see smoke-free restaurants, while 80% say it should be banned in all workplaces.

The figures are revealed in the Suffolk Speaks 2004 report - the biggest and most comprehensive survey conducted to find out what residents think of life in the county.

The study, carried out by MORI for Suffolk County Council, saw more than 1,000 people give their views on a huge range of issues.


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And, while 83% of people said they are happy with life in the county, the report also revealed a rising concern about the scourge of anti-social behaviour in Suffolk.

Over 75% of correspondents said they want to see less loutish behaviour, while better hospitals, more visible policing and less crime also featured high on the wish list.

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Commenting on the survey's findings, Suffolk County Council leader Bryony Rudkin highlighted the strength of feeling against smoking - and called for a ban on the habit in the workplace.

She added: "I think it's really interesting - it's very pertinent because of the national debate, so it's great to have this hard evidence about what people think in Suffolk.

"I personally would not want to work in an environment where people were smoking and I don't like smoking in restaurants at all.

"Of course, there are people who smoke and it's very difficult saying overnight that you can't do that anymore.

"There have to be ways to accommodate it. I'm really pleased that we've got this sort of evidence now so that we can take part in national discussions."

Cllr Rudkin continued: "I would like to see smoking banned in public places in Suffolk - but I think there would have to be some flexibility or at least some proper discussion.

"It needs to be an intelligent ban. I'm pleased to see this and I think it's the start of a debate."

Of the survey as a whole, she added: "I think it's really fascinating. The value of a document like this is that it gives you a snapshot of what people are thinking.

"It's immensely useful and it then gives you a factual basis on which to speak. We do use it - it is very helpful to see things which you are talking about reflected in this."

While anti-social behaviour was the major fear for people questioned in the survey, those who said they feel safe where they live jumped from 80% in 2003 to 88% this year.

And there was also a leap in the amount of people saying they felt very safe in their community - 34% of residents gave that answer in 2004, compared to 23% last year.

Mike Nunn, a spokesman for Suffolk police, said: "Suffolk Speaks plays an important role in our consultation with members of the public.

"Information from this survey is passed to the Police Authority to help police shape their priorities to meet the needs of the public.

"The results from the survey have been encouraging and the fact that more people feel safe in the community is excellent news and a reflection on the success of our Suffolk First Campaign to make Suffolk the safest county in England.

"I am pleased to say that we have now reached this target and have recently been rated as one of the top performing forces in the country.

"However, we are far from complacent. As part of the Suffolk First programme we have recruited an additional 200 police officers and are working hard to increase the visibility of police on the streets.

"We are also committed to tackling issues such as violence in a public place and antisocial behaviour.

"These are issues that can have an extremely negative effect on feelings of safety within our community.

"As part of our commitment to tackle such behaviour we have recently launched a Nightsafe campaign that will, amongst other things, see an increase in police patrols in key areas at key times across the county."

SUFFOLK SPEAKS - OTHER KEY FINDINGS

n 63% of people felt that there were not enough things for youngsters to do after school.

n Just under 60% of people said school children do not get enough exercise because their parents are afraid of letting them out alone.

n More than 70% of residents called for more affordable housing, while over 80% stated local young people could not afford to buy property in the area.

n Just 14% of people called the county's road maintenance and building programme good, with 55% saying it needed improvement and 23% highlighting it as a top priority for spending.

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