Feb 2019 Parish Newsletter

Cllr Karen Soons


07864 601 887

Green light to develop more specialist education placements in Suffolk

On 29 January 2019, Suffolk County Council’s Cabinet agreed recommendations to move forward with creating more specialist education places in Suffolk.

Suffolk will need between 300 to 400 places for children with additional needs between now and 2020, and this figure is likely to continue to increase. The demand for specialist education places in Suffolk is rising rapidly due to the county’s population growth, advances in medicine, and the increasing complexity of specialist needs.

The recommendations include three new special schools and 36 specialist units attached to existing mainstream schools, which combined will create over 800 new specialist education places in the county. The Cabinet also agreed that a clarified education pathway for specialist provision is created to assist families in understanding what the local offer is.

Following the approval of the recommendations, the proposal to borrow up to £45.1 million to fund the new places will now go to the county council’s Capital Strategy Group to be reviewed. If agreed, the decision will go back to Cabinet in the Spring for final sign-off so the recommendations can be rolled out.  

Councillor Gordon Jones, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for children’s services, education and skills, said:

“I welcome today’s decision. Suffolk County Council is committed to ensuring all of Suffolk’s children and young people are able to attend a good local school, one that meets their individual needs and supports them to achieve their full potential regardless of the challenges they may face.

“The decision today will help to create hundreds of more specialist school places across the county, reducing our dependence on placements outside of Suffolk, which come at a high cost, and transforming the experience of education for our children and young people with SEND.”

Suffolk’s roads warming to £300,000 thermal patching technology

Suffolk Highways is celebrating road repair success following a £300,000 investment in Nu-phalt Thermal Patching technology.

The investment, which has been funded from the extra £9.67 million received from central government in the autumn, has aided the county’s Highways teams to carry out more effective, longer-lasting repairs to Suffolk’s road surface.

Over the last month, Suffolk Highways has deployed three thermal road repair machines which have repaired approximately 1,700 potholes county-wide.

The process includes an eight-minute heating cycle of the road surrounding the defect allowing for the existing road surface to be heated to 200 Celsius. The surface is then raked, topped up with bitumen binder and pre-heated material, then compacted. This all takes place within the service’s much-favoured 15-minute temporary closure.

The process does not require excavation of the highway, meaning no dust or noise, and better still, no waste material. The result also means there are no surface joints, which can be prone to faster deterioration.

Following its success, Suffolk Highways is now looking to accommodate this technology by adapting some of its own fleet to self-deliver this repair technique from March.

Beyond the investment in Nu-phalt Thermal Patching technology, the £9.67m of funding will enable a programme of work. This includes improvements and repairs to the pavements in the town centres of Stowmarket, Felixstowe and Haverhill and drainage work to solve long-term flooding problems on the A12 – Wangford bypass, the A143 – Bury St Edmunds Compiegne Way, and the A1120 – Cedars Link Stowmarket. The funding will also be used for better quality, long-lasting white lining on the:

  • A146 Lowestoft
  • A1092
  • A1021
  • A1141
  • A1095
  • A1120.

On rural roads, when preparing roads for next summer’s surface dressing, the funding will allow for work to clear drains and gullies, cut back hedges, cut grips and clean signs.

Department for Education recognises outstanding performance by Suffolk students

On 24 January 2019, the Department for Education published revised GCSE and A Level results.


Suffolk has risen in national league tables for students in the county achieving the standard GCSE pass in English and Maths.

Today’s validated figures from the Department for Education confirm that 1% more students in Suffolk are achieving the expected standards in English and Maths at GCSE compared with last year.

Since 2015 there has been a change to the way that English and Maths GCSEs are graded. Results are now graded from 9 to 1, (previously A to G) with 9 being the highest and 1 being the lowest.

The expected standard for pupils to achieve is now a grade 4 (a standard pass) and above (previously a C grade and above), with grade 5 considered a ‘strong pass’. These changes will be phased in to cover all subjects by 2020.

64% of students in Suffolk are now achieving the expected standard in English and Maths, putting Suffolk in the top half of authorities achieving this standard.

GCSE progress remains above average and Suffolk students have seen a steep increase this year with a Progress 8 score of +0.08, compared with -0.02 nationally. This figure puts Suffolk in the number 1 position in our statistical neighbour group.

Progress 8 measures how well pupils of all abilities have progressed by comparing them with students who achieved similar levels in Key Stage 2 across the country. Suffolk is in the top half of authorities for this figure, ranked 42nd out of 151.

The percentage of disadvantaged pupils in the county achieving the standard pass in English and Maths is in line with national figures. The Progress 8 figure for disadvantaged pupils is also above the national level and is in the top half of authorities, ranked 42nd out of 151 (up from 67th in 2016).

A Level

The validated A Level figures confirm that Suffolk pupils have once again performed well with the number of A*- E grades remaining above the national average figures.

The figures show that 98.1% of A Levels taken in the county have been awarded an A*-E grade, compared to 97.6% nationally. A Level attainment is measured by the Department for Education using a points system. Points are given based on the type of A Level and the grade achieved. For example, an A Level at grade A is worth 50 points, whereas an AS Level would be worth half of this.

Suffolk’s A Level average points per entry this year has risen by 0.3 to 30.3 compared with this time last year.

10,000 Suffolk homes say ‘no’ to cold callers on their doorsteps

Suffolk Trading Standards recently gave out its 10,000th No Cold Calling sticker, just four years after launching the campaign.

The stickers are placed on a homeowner’s front door to declare that the resident does not want uninvited traders to call at their property.

The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, state that traders who approach a resident after having seen the sticker, are committing an offence.

Further details on No Cold Calling zones and how to get a No Cold Calling sticker can be found at www.suffolk.gov.uk.

Energy project awards its 100th grant to help businesses be more environmentally friendly

On 2 January 2019, it was reported that 100 Norfolk and Suffolk businesses have now received a grant from The Business Energy Efficiency (BEE) Anglia project. The project provides free support to eligible organisations to help them become more energy efficient.

Screenworks Limited, one of the UK’s leading promotional textile suppliers based in Haverhill, recently received the 100th grant having successfully applied for £16,240 to help fund two new gas dryers. This new equipment will provide huge energy saving results, reduce their carbon footprint by 21 tonnes and cut costs by £5,700 every year.

The BEE Anglia project has now delivered £540,000 in similar grants, with £1.8million spent in total on green projects. Local organisations are still able to apply for these grants.

Grant funding is just one of the ways that the BEE Anglia project supports businesses to reduce their carbon footprint and save money. It also offers free energy reviews and the chance for organisations to work towards a Carbon Charter.

Businesses interested in the BEE Anglia Project can find out more and register online www.beeanglia.org or call 01473 350370.



Happy New Year one and all.  My first Parish Council meetings start on Wednesday the 9th January with a record number of 6 meetings in one night. I hope to attend them all in the following order. Whepstead, Westley, Nowton, Bradfield St George, Whelnetham and Stanningfield. If you are about to close the meeting and I am yet to arrive, please could you call me on the above number to let me know. I am pleased to report that Thingoe South’s roads, on the whole, are in a better state of repair than they were this time last year. There are a few isolated exceptions. Please continue to report any faults on www.suffolk.gov.uk/roads If the fault is not repaired by the stated time, please do email me the reference number together with a short summary and I will be happy to chase it for you. Your grit bins should be automatically inspected and re filled as needed. If they are low or empty then the above online reporting tool is the way to notify the council. 
Sport and Physical Activity worth £270m a year to the Suffolk economy A report published on 18 December 2018 has revealed the importance of the Sport and Physical Activity sector to the Suffolk economy. Undertaken by specialist economic development and regeneration consultancy Hatch Regeneris, the report shows that the sector contributes £270m a year to the Suffolk economy. This accounts for over 10,000 jobs or 3% of all employment in Suffolk and is almost double the proportion seen at national levels. The report shows that employment in the sector has grown at a faster rate than all other sectors in Suffolk - up 60% in the last 5 years. By contrast, employment in financial and professional services has grown by 10% over the same period. Patrick Ransom, Senior Consultant with Hatch Regeneris, said  “Our work highlights that the Sport and Physical Activity sectors are growing rapidly in Suffolk and there is a higher concentration of jobs in the sectors than in other 
January 2019 Monthly Parish Newsletter. Cllr Karen Soons        07864 601 887 karen.soons@suffolk.gov.uk Face Book- Karen Soons for West Suffolk  Twitter @KarenSoons 
places. Public and private sector partners should work together to unlock further growth and help the sectors reach their potential.” The report highlights the importance of continuing the drive towards increasing participation in sport and physical activity as a way of both improving productivity and reducing the spend on health and social care. It estimates that a reduction of just 10% in Suffolk employee sickness rates would give the Suffolk economy a boost of £42m annually. The report recognises both the importance of the sector in providing a stepping stone into employment as well as a gateway into higher skilled jobs. The report highlights the need for organisations in Suffolk work together to respond to the future skills needs of a growing sector. The report also acknowledges that Suffolk has a busy annual sporting calendar with potential to grow further. Events like the Great East Swim generate an estimated £¾ million to the county annually. The county’s event programme could be enhanced further to include events like an Ironman or a large-scale beach sports event. This could cement Suffolk’s reputation as a leader in the sector and attract people from different parts of the country and stimulate local economic spend.Read Suffolk Economic Assessment of Sports and Physical Activity Sectors report  
Consultation on the proposed changes to the local Citizens Advice (CAB) grant funding Suffolk County Council is carrying out a consultation to understand the equality impacts there may be as a result of proposed changes to the local Citizens Advice (CAB) grant funding which the authority currently provides.  At the Council’s Scrutiny meeting on 22 November 2018, the committee considered details of proposed savings totalling £11.2m that will enable the council to balance its budget. Amongst these savings was the proposal to remove the funding grant that the county council gives Suffolk’s CABs. Committee members recommended changing the proposal to a phased reduction – a recommendation that was later agreed by Cabinet. It is now proposed that the grant will reduce by half to £184,000 in 2019/20 before ending in 2020/21. A consultation regarding this decision started at 12 noon on Monday 17 December and will run until 5pm on Wednesday 23 January. The consultation will give residents the opportunity to say how they currently use the CAB service and how they may be impacted, specifically from an equality perspective, by any potential changes to funding. Comments made through the consultation will be used to help inform the final decision on the council budget, which is due to be made by full council on 14 February 2019. 
Further information and a link to the survey can be found here:  https://www.suffolk.gov.uk/council-and-democracy/consultations-petitions-andelections/consultations/local-citizens-advice-cab-consultation/ 
Paper copies of the survey are also available at Libraries and local Citizens Advice offices.     Support for new parents struggling with their baby’s crying On 13 December 2018, Suffolk County Council’s Public Health team launched a campaign to help new parents and carers to cope with their baby’s crying. A new resource has been developed for parents and carers, in the form of a ‘User Guide’ with hints and ideas to help them settle their babies and think about their own wellbeing in the process. The booklet also features a ‘CriPad’, where parents can write down their Parenting Hacks and share them with friends or relatives who may be looking after their baby. The campaign centres on ‘Parenting Hacks’ - ideas that parents can try to keep their babies calm and settled. A video has been produced featuring parents talking about their own Parenting Hacks. All babies are different and parents are encouraged to share their own weird and wonderful tips about how they settle their babies at www.healthysuffolk.org.uk  Parents and carers can visit www.healthysuffolk.org.uk to find out more about the support available and download the Keep Calm booklet. The Keep Calm booklet will be available via Health Visitors or local Children’s Centres, as well as some independent nurseries, charities, baby groups and other Suffolk services. If local organisations would like to order booklets for display and distribution, they can contact keepcalm@suffolk.gov.uk.  
Options assessment report for Sudbury Congestion Relief Scheme published On 5 December 2018, the options assessment report for the Sudbury congestion Relief Scheme was published. In spring 2018, Suffolk County Council commissioned independent experts from WSP to look at options to relieve traffic congestion in and around Sudbury. Schemes considered included western or southern bypasses, changes to parking and public transport and junction improvements. The report produced by WSP clearly sets out why the most cost-effective way of relieving traffic in Sudbury is to move forward with a programme to upgrade existing road junctions in Sudbury. 
It is estimated that delivery of these improvements would cost in the order of £10million. Options will now be explored in more depth to enable funding to be sought for the scheme. Whilst the option of a building a bypass would provide a lot of benefits to the town, the cost at between £50m-£70m is prohibitively high resulting in a low benefit cost ratio. Even though this means a bypass is not a feasible at this time, the option of a bypass will remain in the County’s Local Transport Plan and the District’s local plan as an aspiration for Sudbury in the future. The county council will now work with the re-instated Sudbury Steering Group and the officer Sudbury Vision group to identify and develop junction improvements. The first step will be a workshop in January to establish a list of schemes, these will be developed, following which a forward programme will be developed over the next six months. Read the options assessment report for Sudbury Congestion Relief Scheme. 
Update from the Most Active County team  Inactivity is a global public health issue. It accounts for as many deaths as smoking and costs the UK economy a staggering £7.4billion a year. Regular physical activity can help to prevent and manage over 20 chronic conditions and diseases. Suffolk County Council is spearheading efforts to address inactivity in Suffolk through the Most Active County Partnership, which brings together key agencies to work collaboratively to make a positive impact on physical activity levels in the county.  Overleaf, is a one-page infographic capturing some of the headline outcomes of the programme to date. Sitting behind these impressive statistics are some amazing stories of how physical activity has transformed people’s lives. A selection of these stories can be found at https://www.mostactivecounty.com/real-stories/.