Agenda item

Leader's statement (Paper number: COU/WS/23/006)

Paper number: COU/WS/23/006


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.


In the absence of Councillor John Griffiths, Leader of the Council, Councillor Joanna Rayner, one of the Deputy Leaders, presented the Leader’s Statement on Councillor Griffiths’ behalf, as outlined in paper number: COU/WS/23/006.


In her introductory remarks, Councillor Rayner:


a.       Recognition: paid tribute to all members, staff and to Councillor Griffiths for his leadership during the first four years of West Suffolk Council. Councillor Rayner placed her thanks on record for the hard work and dedication of the aforementioned in helping to deliver successes for the benefit of communities across the district despite living in challenging times.


b.       Mildenhall Hub: referenced Report number: OAS/WS/23/003, which was presented to the Overview and Scrutiny (O&S) Committee on 9 March 2023. This report provided details of a post-implementation review that had been undertaken on whether the Mildenhall Hub had met its ten objectives. Councillor Rayner emphasised that not only had the objectives been met, but all had been surpassed. She thanked members of the O&S Committee for their scrutiny of the report and for their recommendations which would be presented to Cabinet for consideration in due course. Recognition was also given to the former Forest Heath members who began the process for creating the, now nationally award winning, Mildenhall Hub.


c.       UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF): provided an update on the Council’s distribution of its share of the Government’s UKSPF. The funding provided in the first year of its three-year total allocation of £1,943,467 had been given or allocated to more than thirty initiatives across West Suffolk.


d.       Environment: congratulated winners of the West Suffolk area in Suffolk County Council’s Creating the Greenest County 2023 Awards; including how tackling climate change and making improvements to the environment required commitment from partners, organisations, businesses and individuals alike. The West Suffolk winners and the schools taking part in the anti-idling campaign were examples of where this commitment was being positively demonstrated.


e.       Holiday Activities and Food (HAF): provided details of the forthcoming Government funded HAF programme that would be taking place over the Easter holiday period.


f.       850th Anniversary of The Battle of Fornham: explained that together with The Battlefields Trust All Saints Hotel, activities would be put on at Moyse’s Hall Museum and West Stow Anglo-Saxon Village to encourage people to learn more about the national significance of this part of history.


The Deputy Leader responded to a range of questions relating to:


a.       Supplementary questions: that working within the requirements of the Council Procedure Rules contained in Part 4 of the Constitution, it was not always possible for public speakers to be given the opportunity to ask a supplementary question arising from the reply to their question. The response given depended on the level of detail required to fully answer the question. Whilst a maximum time allocation of five minutes for the question to be put and answered was a requirement of the Procedure Rules, it was at the Chair’s discretion to allow a supplementary question if the maximum time allocation had already been reached by the time the original question had been put and answered. 


b.       Recognition of fellow councillors, staff and achievements made: some members wished to place their thanks on record to fellow councillors and specifically to the Cabinet and committee Chairs for their work over the last four years, with particular recognition given to the tireless efforts made to improve the lives for the residents they represented regardless of political affiliation. Recognition was also given to the officers and staff of West Suffolk Council who continued to deliver excellent services, going above and beyond in many circumstances, especially during the pandemic. The achievements of West Suffolk Council in the last four years were also recognised.


Councillor Rayner wholeheartedly agreed with the sentiments raised and in response to a specific question in relation to the achievements of the Council, she stated that she was very proud of the achievements made to date and work was still ongoing to progress some areas as the Council moved into its new administration. It was hoped these would be taken forward with the same enthusiasm and energy as previously demonstrated.


c.       Markets: Following his own personal recognition of fellow councillors, staff, partners and volunteers, together with demonstrating his support for the additional train stops at Kennett Station, Councillor Ian Shipp asked the following two-part question in connection with the markets:


i.        That following the successes of the pilot Makers Markets and their return to Bury St Edmunds, Haverhill and Newmarket, whether there were any plans to be rolled out to the rural markets in Mildenhall, Brandon and Clare.


ii.            That following the Markets Review undertaken by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee in 2022 and the subsequent approval of the recommendations by Cabinet in July 2022, what the current position was in respect of the actions identified to be taken forward as a result of the review. 


A written response would be provided following the meeting by Councillor Rayner. In accordance with the Constitution, this response would be circulated to all members and published on the Council’s website.

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