The following is the text of an email I have just sent to Leader of Suffolk County Council, Jeremy Pembroke. I will also publish his response (assuming one is received)
In relation to Suffolk County Council’s New Strategic Direction you have recently been quoted in the East Anglian Daily Times as saying, “Our intention is to encourage a diverse range of mutuals, co-operatives, social enterprises, charities, community groups, town and parish councils, or – in some cases – Suffolk-based businesses.”
I am assuming, therefore, that there is some substance that underpins this intention, in at least the form of figures which represent an estimate or even target for the percentage of services or expenditure that will be divested to these 3rd sector or community organisations. Alternatively I would imagine that some work must have been done to determine, in broad terms, what sort of organisations are likely to be appropriate for delivering which types of services.
I notice that that no such information is given in the documentation produced for public discussion to date, but I am assuming that this is simply an oversight, because to have proceeded thus far with the New Strategic Direction, without any such basic consideration would, in any normal process of management or planning, be considered highly irregular.
Could you either point me to where such information exists or let me know when the people of Suffolk (not to say the said “diverse range of mutuals etc…) can expect to see it.
I should warn you that I am asking this question in my capacity as running the blog Big Society Suffolk https://bigsocietysuffolk.wordpress.com. This is a blog specifically set up to create digital discussion amongst those people who are concerned about the New Strategic Direction and that I will be publishing this email, and any response, on this blog. I hope this will not dissuade you from responding.
As expected, Suffolk County Council yesterday gave its final endorsement to the plan to outsource itself (know as the New Strategic Direction but perhaps more accurately described as No Specific Detail). As reported in today’s East Anglian Daily Times, council leader, Jeremy Pembroke has declared that “there is no blueprint under the table” and that it is too early to “come up with any firm details of how services would be transferred to other providers”. I am not sure if we are meant to feel reassured by this. Suffolk County Council has launched itself into the most radical transformation imaginable without a blueprint or having thought through the details.
What this really means, for the Council (obviously) and everyone else with an interest in this is that the real work starts now. Continue reading ‘Now the real work begins’
Green Party Councillor, Mark Ereira-Guyer, is organising a public meeting in Bury St. Edmunds this coming Tuesday (30 November) at 6.30pm in the Friends Meeting House, St. Johns Street (I think it is actually in Church Row, near St Johns Street).
The purpose of the meeting is to collect views and opinions, and the views expressed will be recorded and circulated to the County Council, which makes attendance at this meeting a good idea if you have something you want to say to the Council.
More details from firstname.lastname@example.org
Here is the latest version of the report on the implementation of the New Strategic Direction. committee_xml This is the document which will be presented to the Council on 2 December. I haven’t read it in detail – but the major change from the the previous version appears to be inclusion of the results from the engagement (not consultation) process the Council has been rather hurriedly engaged upon (page 51).
It is interesting to note that the Council is now calling this process a consultation, despite the fact, as I understand it, that it was initially adamant to ensure that the amendment introduced at the previous Council meeting that prompted this process did not refer to consultation, only engagement. This being because consultation implies to ability to change an outcome, whereas engagement implies only providing information on an outcome that has been already determined.
The results of the ‘not-consultation’ as they have been presented in the report identify the extent to which people understand the NSD and also their concerns. Crucially, it doesn’t present any evidence of the extent to which people support the idea, despite the fact that this could be easily derived from the information the Council has been collecting.
I think it is the democratic responsibility of the Council to reveal information on the level of support for the NSD – in fact I would urge the Council to make available all of the information they have gathered, so that everyone can see what people think, rather than having to rely on the Council’s interpretation of what they have found. It will thus become clear the extent to which the Council is pursuing this idea without the support of the people who elected them.
Here is a report from the BBC, prompted by the Roadshows.
In response to a request for information on times and places, I have had the following from Sara Blake at SCC
It is difficult for me to provide you with exact locations as these are not fixed events but ‘days of acction’ where we go out and distribute the information and draw peoples attention to the survey. The strategy for each location varies and is fluid in that we will move to venues were there are the most people and if somewhere isint working we’ll move on. The idea is that we adapt our approach to reach the maximum number of people.
For example on Monday in Newmarket we focussed on the local supermarket, high street and leisure centre and in Bury St Edmunds most of the activity was in the Arc shopping centre.
In terms of timing most of the activity is being delivered between 10am-2pm apart from in Lowestoft which is 12-4pm.
Here are two more Facebook groups / pages that have been set up. Thanks to Margaret Nelson for pointing me to these.
Save Suffolk Services
Don’t privatise Suffolk County Council