Cllr Colin Noble is the Leader of Suffolk County Council.
Our campaign for the Suffolk County Council election is in full swing and I find myself reflecting on what we have achieved in Suffolk over the past four years and the story that we can tell on the doorsteps.
Since 2013, Suffolk Conservatives have lived up to our pledge of freezing the base Council tax meaning that the residents of Suffolk are not paying a penny more than they did in 2010. That’s a seven-year freeze and something we are immensely proud of.
At the same time, we have been clear that we will protect and prioritise frontline services and this year we are paying our residential care providers an additional 20 per cent and our home care providers ten per cent.
In 2016, we renewed more than 300 miles of roads across the county after an investment of an additional £10 million. This is something that always comes top of our annual resident’s survey and therefore is one of our top priorities.
Caring for Suffolk’s elderly and vulnerable residents has remained one of our highest priorities. With an aging population, we have supported residents to live active and fulfilling lives. To honour Suffolk Conservative’s commitment to adult social care we have taken the opportunities presented to us to invest in frontline services, for two consecutive years (2016/17 and 2017/18) we have introduced the adult social care precept at two per cent and three per cent respectively. This is something we had to consider carefully but ultimately it was vital that this additional ring-fenced money be put towards supporting the National Living Wage and resulted in £12.3m (in 17/18) being invested in full in front line services and to those hardworking people who care for our elderly population.
Suffolk schools are another area which, as I look back, we have some excellent news to tell. Since 2013 our schools have gone from 60 per cent ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’ rating by OFSTED to an amazing 90 per cent. This means that nine out of ten children in Suffolk now have access to the highest standards of education. This is something we set our minds to and we will now be looking for that 100 per cent ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’ over the next four years.
Another area where we have certainly achieved great things is waste – with landfill going from 44 per cent to… wait for it… one per cent! That is just four years after the construction of our energy from waste plant which also powers 33,000 homes to boot.
Looking to our largest town – Ipswich; through working closely with our MP, Ben Gummer, we have managed to commission Foster and Partners to construct our three-bridge Upper Orwell Crossing over the waterfront. This is not just an amazing achievement for the people of Suffolk but it will be an internationally inspiring structure.
So, as our candidates continue to pound the pavements, deliver literature, and most importantly, talk to the residents of Suffolk I am feeling confident that in 2013 they elected the right people for the job and hopefully they will do so once again on May 4th.