Paper number: COU/WS/22/016
Council Procedure Rules 8.1 to 8.3. The Leader will submit a report (the Leader’s Statement) summarising important developments and activities since the preceding meeting of the council.
Members may ask the Leader questions on the content of both his introductory remarks and the written statement itself.
A total of 30 minutes will be allowed for questions and responses. There will be a limit of five minutes for each question to be asked and answered. A supplementary question arising from the reply may be asked so long as the five minute limit is not exceeded.
Councillor John Griffiths, Leader of the Council, presented his Leader’s Statement as outlined in paper number: COU/WS/22/016.
In his introductory remarks, Councillor Griffiths:
a. Investment zone: drew members’ attention to the recent Government announcement that Suffolk had been named as one of the UK’s special investment zones. This recognised the opportunities contained in Suffolk for business and economic growth.
b. Mildenhall Hub: reminded Council that this month marked the first anniversary of the opening of the Mildenhall Hub. He highlighted its successes including the benefits of public services working together under one roof.
c. Mildenhall skate park: that work on the £100,000 skate park in Mildenhall was nearing completion. Funded by the Council’s Community Asset Renewal Fund, local young people had collaborated in the design process which helped enable this fit-for-purpose facility to come to fruition.
d. ‘In Bloom’ initiative: whilst special mention had been given in his written statement to ‘in Bloom’ groups in Brandon and Bury St Edmunds, Councillor Griffiths thanked all the volunteers involved across West Suffolk who took part in this initiative and other projects that encouraged a sense of pride in towns and villages across the district.
e. Cost of living: working with partners across Suffolk, Councillor Griffiths summarised the support available to those in need during the current cost of living crisis. A more detailed update would be provided to members in due course.
f. Bus routes: that West Suffolk Council was seeking reassurances that action was being undertaken by the relevant transport authorities to actively pursue, and where possible, secure replacement operators for the bus routes recently ceased by other operators. This situation had largely arisen as a result of viability challenges faced by the previous providers.
The Leader responded to a range of questions relating to:
a. Investment zones: that although much of the detail was yet to be received, the Council was working collaboratively with partners to ensure any investment zone initiatives would be for the benefit of businesses and residents, with potential environmental impacts assessed and mitigated, as appropriate. Representations relating to the potential effect of relaxing planning considerations in certain circumstances had been made with relevant civil servants and the local MPs.
b. Rural England Prosperity Fund (‘Rural Fund’): Councillor Victor Lukaniuk wished to place his thanks on record to the Operations team, and in particular the work of those in the Parks and Landscapes for their efforts in Brandon. In response to Councillor Lukaniuk’s question, Councillor Griffiths informed Council that once further detail had been received, the methods by which to allocate monies from the Rural Fund would be agreed, following which a range of initiatives would be assessed across the whole of West Suffolk, where eligible and appropriate.
c. Mildenhall Hub: Councillor Griffiths wholeheartedly agreed that by working with partners, the Mildenhall Hub had been a tremendous success in providing vital services from a single location. The benefits for the community were evident and the Hub was an excellent example for modelling future developments of this kind.
d. Mildenhall skate park: Councillor Griffiths fully supported comments that the new skate park in Mildenhall was an extremely valuable addition for the young people in Mildenhall and across the district. The involvement of the designated group of young people in the design was commendable.
e. Taxi buses: In response to a question from Councillor Don Waldron in respect of whether West Suffolk Council issued licences which enabled Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Vehicle companies to operate taxi buses of up to 15 seats. A written response would be provided following the meeting by Councillor Griffiths and Councillor Andy Drummond, Portfolio Holder for Regulatory and Environment. This response would be circulated to Councillor Waldron and all members.