Save Suffolk County Council – Scrap the New Strategic Direction
- Margaret Nelson
- Closed on
- Jeremy Pembroke, Leader of Suffolk County Council
- United Kingdom
Thank you to everyone who signed my petition. It was presented to the former leader of Suffolk County Council, Jeremy Pembroke, before the full council meeting held in February 2011, when the New Strategic Direction was on the agenda. Since then, as most of you will know, Mr Pembroke has retired, apparently under pressure from the public, the local media, and Suffolk Conservative MPs, who had a discussion with him at the House of Commons. Mr Pembroke was eventually replaced by Cllr Mark Bee, who indicated that things would be different under his leadership. At the beginning of May the Guardian reported that 'A flagship Tory local authority has halted controversial "virtual council" plans to outsource all its services, after public opposition to spending cuts and a collapse in staff morale triggered a political revolt by backbenchers.' Ms Andrea Hill, the council's controversial chief executive, has been on extended gardening leave since the beginning of May, awaiting the outcome of an inquiry into her management methods.
Although this petition was only part of a general campaign to persuade the council to think again, it contributed to an overwhelming message from the Suffolk electorate that the New Strategic Direction was not the way to solve our funding problems. There were other petitions, including one aimed at keeping our libraries open, and the local media asked a lot of questions that Cllr Pembroke and others didn't seem to have the answers to.
There is still confusion about the way forward from here, and we know that there will be cuts, but the New Strategic Direction has been abandoned, so this petition has been closed. Thank you again.
At its meeting on 23 September 2010, members of Suffolk County Council were asked:
1. to agree the recommendation from Cabinet that the future role of the Council will be an enabling one (focussing on becoming a strategic body with much less service delivery), based on the Council’s New Strategic Direction of transforming public services through collaboration and strengthening communities while reducing costs by 30%.
2. to approve the further development of a model to reshape the Council to ‘divest’ services; reduce its size, cost and bureaucracy and build community capacity to enable Suffolk citizens to take greater control of their lives.
The motion was passed with 52 members voting in favour and 11 voting against.
It has become clear that the ‘divestment’ of services involves handing almost all of them over to contractors or volunteers. This will lead to a loss of control over the quality of life for all Suffolk citizens. As an editorial in the Guardian observed,
‘Whether procuring a monstrous computer system or simply specifying that a hospital ward should be kept clean, public servants have found it singularly difficult to spell out enforceable rules that see to it that jobs get properly done. For every privately built road or prison that might have saved money, there is an overpriced hospital with a bill that stretches into a distant future in which it may not be needed.’
Services commissioned and run by volunteers and community groups lack accountability and such groups may be unable to sustain their commitment. The proposed timescale to consult Suffolk citizens and to implement the New Strategic Direction is too short and is an enormous risk when such an exercise has not been undertaken on this scale by any other council.
The New Strategic Direction is nothing more than a potentially disastrous experiment that will result in the loss of service quality and experienced professionals (who will have to be financially compensated), without any evidence that it will save money.
Note: Please do not sign the petition if you don’t have a Suffolk address.
Suffolk County Council proposes to ‘divest’ its services and reduce its size, cost and bureaucracy and build community capacity to enable Suffolk citizens to take greater control of their lives with its New Strategic Direction. Suffolk County Council does not have a mandate for such drastic changes to the way services are delivered.
As Suffolk citizens, we’re happy to retain responsibility for the control of our lives and we expect Suffolk County Council to retain control of the services it provides for us, as its members were elected to do. If any member feels that he or she is unable or unwilling to do so, we suggest that he or she should resign.
We call upon Suffolk County Council to scrap the New Strategic Direction, and to supervise the provision of council-run services as cost-effectively as possible.
The Save Suffolk County Council – Scrap the New Strategic Direction petition to Jeremy Pembroke, Leader of Suffolk County Council was written by Margaret Nelson and is in the category Politics at GoPetition.