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
The Council is going to be organising some roadshows across the region in the next couple of weeks. Details are a bit sketchy at the moment, but I have the dates and places (not yet times or locations). I think we will find that there will be some sort of presence on the high street somewhere, rather than any formal venue.
I believe the idea is not so much to give people the opportunity to ask questions, more to allow the Council to get a perspective on what people actually think. So if you have something to say, it definitely would be a good idea to turn-up.
Here are the details as I have them.
November 16 – Newmarket
November 17 – Bury St Edmunds
November 18 – Sudbury
November 19 – Ipswich
November 24 – Lowestoft
November 25 – Felixstowe and Stowmarket
November 26 – Mildenhall and Beccles
December 3 – Haverhill
Suffolk County Council has finally set up a dedicated section within its’ website concerning the New Strategic Direction (http://www.suffolk.gov.uk/newstrategicdirection). All the relevant documents can be found here as well as the ability to take part in an on-line survey. The NSD now also has a logo (see left)!
There are two things to note about this on-line survey.
First, is is positioned as part of a strategy of engagement – not consultation. Consultation implies that we have an ability to change the outcome. Engagement simply implies a process of connection to an outcome that has already been determined. This survey therefore cannot be used as evidence that Suffolk County Council has consulted with the community – it has not.
Second, this process of engagement was forced upon the Council via, as I understand it, an ammendment tabled by Green and Independent members of Suffolk County Council at the last Council meeting. It was not something that the Council was otherwise planning to do.
I have completed the survey and urge everyone to do so. It is very short (almost worryingly so) and asks to outline your concerns and understanding of opportunities. For reference, my answers to these two main points are outlined below. Continue reading ‘Better late than never’
Why is it that Suffolk has been selected for this radical experiment? Suffolk and radical are not two words that often go together, but perhaps this is the point. Suffolk is conservative, with both a small and large C. It is one of the most rural counties in England with no large urban areas within which you often find an awkward squad of politically active and questioning individuals.
The County Council also has, in Andrea Hill, a high-profile and ambitious CEO who, one would imagine, is likely to find the idea of establishing a reputation as a ‘trail-blazer’ very attractive.
Frankly, if I were looking for a place to try and push through an initiative like this, Suffolk is the place I would select.
I therefore suspect that the roots of this idea extend quite a long way back into Conservative Party central office and that this isn’t an idea created by the political leadership of Suffolk County Council is isolation. I would also suspect that there has been a significant level of consultation with the private sector organisations who are likely to to pick-up much of the work as the initiative moves forward.
I dare say we shall never know where this idea really came from – but it would be interesting if someone could find out.