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Suffolk Bitesize: Our weekly council round-up including a petition on potholes, Suffolk’s SEND plans and Council Tax increases





Here’s some of what your representatives across the county have been up to since Monday, February 26.

A petition asking for comprehensive repairs on existing Suffolk roadways as well as the implementation of suitable drainage systems has reached over 2,000 signatures.

The petition was launched Phil Robson, who stated poorly maintained roads and inadequary drainage were resulting in damaged cars.

The pothole petition has been signed by more than 2,000 signatures. Picture: Camille Berriman
The pothole petition has been signed by more than 2,000 signatures. Picture: Camille Berriman

He said: “Suffolk’s road network is vital for our daily lives – for commuting to work or school, visiting family and friends, or accessing healthcare and other services.

“It is unacceptable that we should face such issues due to lack of proper maintenance.”

Addressing the various comments left on the petition, a county council spokesperson said the council recognised the need to do more but said pothole repairs had doubled in two months.

“We encourage residents to report any issues to Suffolk Highways, so they can be inspected and repaired if needed,” the spokesperson added.

The county council’s new SEND leader, Cllr Andrew Reid, has promised to hire 60 new staff to deal with systemic failings in the service.

The council will use £4.4m in extra money to bring the full-time staff total to 357, up from 311.

Cllr Reid said he aims to make sure Education, Care, and Health Plans (ECHPs) are delivered within the 20-week statutory period above the national average of 49.2 per cent of times — as opposed to Suffolk’s 21 per cent current compliance.

Andrew Reid, Conservative cabinet member for public health, public protection and communities at Suffolk County Council. Picture: SUFFOLK COUNTY COUNCIL
Andrew Reid, Conservative cabinet member for public health, public protection and communities at Suffolk County Council. Picture: SUFFOLK COUNTY COUNCIL

He said: “We remain steadfast and determined to improve timeliness, but not at the cost of the quality of the plans we send out — this quality must improve and remain high.”

This will include a £1m investment into hiring educational psychilogists and over £450,000 to increase the family services team.

A Council Tax increase has been approved as part of a Suffolk council’s budget proposals – the last authority in the county to do so this year.

Neil MacDonald, portfolio holder for housing at Ipswich Borough Council. Picture: IPSWICH BOROUGH COUNCIL
Neil MacDonald, portfolio holder for housing at Ipswich Borough Council. Picture: IPSWICH BOROUGH COUNCIL

The agreed budget included a Council Tax hike of 2.98 per cent, just below the maximum allowed, equivalent to £11.79 extra for a Band D resident — on top of the £74.61 increase approved by the county council.

To fill the £4.1m budget gap, however, the council will also be identifying over £4m in savings as well as dipping into its reserves for £900,000.

Council leader, Neil MacDonald, said: “This has nothing to do with the management of councils locally and everything to do with Government funding.

“Difficult decisions will be needed to balance the books in future years.”

Criticisms were shared by opposing groups but no amendments to the proposed budget were suggested.

More than 27,000 Suffolk pupils have missed school due to severe flooding in the past year, new data shows.

The figures were obtained by a Freedom of Information request and show 124 school days, across 99 different Suffolk schools, were lost due to closures between January 1, 2023, and January 31, 2024.

Out of these, 110 were directly related to weather events, including storms, snow, and flooding.

Graham White, from the National Education Union, said despite the county council’s efforts to lessen the impact of floods, more needs to be done by the Government.

A council spokesperson said: “Highway teams carry out routine clearance of drains across Suffolk all year round and have been working tirelessly to continue this during the recent bad weather to keep our county moving.”

Bad weather and an increase in efforts are behing a recent durge in damp and mould across Mid Suffolk and Babergh.

This comes after aroung three months of decline in the number of overdue damp and mould inquires.

Council figures, to be presented to both cabinets next week, show an increase since mid-December — these numbers are still lower when compared to September.

A spokesperson for both councils said: “Although the recent rainfall and cold weather has not helped, the main reason for the increase in damp and mould cases we have seen over recent months is the proactive approach we are now taking to tackle this issue.

“The Regulator for Social Housing is pleased with our work to date in this area – and our efforts will continue.”