Agenda item

Leader's statement (Paper number: COU/WS/020)

Paper number: COU/WS/22/020


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/22/020.


In his introductory remarks, Councillor Griffiths:


a.       Staff awards: paid tribute to those that had been recognised during the virtual annual staff awards event, and to all staff across the organisation for their achievements as they continued to deliver for the people of West Suffolk.


b.       County Deal: updated members on the latest position regarding the signing of a formal agreement between Suffolk authorities for a ‘minded to’ County Deal (Suffolk Devolution Deal).


c.       Environment: announced that for the second time, West Suffolk had been named Regional Council of the Year in the Energy Efficient Association, East of England Energy Efficiency Awards.


d.       Helping the most vulnerable: explained that acknowledging the challenges facing communities and businesses, West Suffolk and its partners were implementing a range of initiatives to help mitigate the impact of the cost-of-living crisis and the current national economic situation.     


e.       Winter provision: with the agreement of the Chair, invited Councillor Sara Mildmay-White, Portfolio Holder for Housing and Strategic Health to update members on the Council’s winter provision for those facing homelessness or were rough sleeping. This also included an update on Havebury Housing Association’s decision to sell the flats known as Goodfellows in Bury St Edmunds and the associated implications of this.


The Leader responded to a range of questions relating to:


a.       Elected Leader of Suffolk County Council: As part of the proposed Suffolk Devolution Deal, a directly elected leader would be elected in 2024, ahead of the Suffolk County Council member elections in 2025. The previous devolution deal mooted a few years ago had pursued a model of governance that required a directly elected mayor. The Government was committed to a single figure being directly accountable to the electorate and whilst it had its own implications, if approved, the present deal would offer better governance arrangements removing a layer of bureaucracy that a directly elected mayor would bring. Under the directly elected leader model, the Suffolk partnership arrangements already in place would be largely unaltered. The new devolution deal would empower West Suffolk to be in an even stronger position, building on the work already being achieved and would help to accelerate the vision for even more prosperous, healthier and greener district.


b.       Voter ID: In the context of reading reports in the national press regarding electoral changes where it was reported that senior people in local government had apparently asked ministers to delay the introduction of Voter ID, Councillor Diane Hind asked whether the Leader or West Suffolk Council had been involved in requesting a delay in introducing Voter ID, and whether this would in fact be the case.


c.       Civil parking enforcement (CPE): In the context of quoting from paragraph 36. of the Leader’s written statement, where it states, ‘We introduced civil parking enforcement after public support to help improve safety, reduce pollution and traffic jams, grow the economy and make sure emergency services get through’, Councillor John Burns asked where the data could be found to support this statement as he felt that no data had been provided in the last 12 months.


As a supplementary question, Councillor Burns asked when the civil parking enforcement (CPE) service would be reviewed. He reported of a specific area in Haverhill which previously had parking restrictions in place under a Traffic Regulation Order but this was not now included on the CPE maps and therefore there appeared to be no means to currently enforce against inappropriate parking.


In respect of b. and c. above, written responses would be provided following the meeting by Councillor Griffiths and the relevant portfolio holders. In accordance with the Constitution, these responses would be circulated to Councillors Hind, Burns and all members and published on the Council’s website.


(Councillor Karen Soons left and Councillor Colin Noble joined the meeting during the consideration of this item.)

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