Agenda item

Responses to Public Questions Received and Open Discussion on Local Issues


10.1.    Councillor Darwin reported that if a question was received by 10am on the Tuesday 2 days before the meeting, a response would be provided by the Officers.  Councillor Darwin reported that 7 questions had been received ahead of the meeting and copies of the questions were available at the meeting.

10.2.    Councillor Darwin reported that as the questioner for the first 6 questions was not present, a written response from Officers would be provided; however, as question 3 was directed to the Area Committee and question 6 was directed to SCC Councillors, these questions would be considered at the meeting.

10.3.    Question 3:  Possible closure of children/family centres. We have been told that austerity has ended but the future of the remaining 38 centres in Suffolk is being reviewed. These centres provide valuable support to the most vulnerable families/children in our society. Will all our councillors lobby SCC to ensure these centres remain open?

10.4.    Councillor Darwin, as a parent of young children and a user of Children’s Centres, expressed concern about the potential loss of this vital service.  Children’s Centres provided a lifeline to parents of young children and toddlers, especially for single parents, helping to prevent social isolation.  These centres also acted as information hubs and provided one-stop access to a range of services with the ability to refer and signpost onto other services.  Councillor Darwin highlighted that the Children Centre she attended had identified a hearing impediment in one of her children at an early stage and was able to refer them onto the appropriate service.  Councillor Darwin commented that what was under review was children’s futures and she would lobby SCC as part of a campaign.

10.5.    Councillor Ross commented that he would also campaign against the closure of Children’s Centres for the reasons outlined by Councillor Darwin.

10.6.    County Councillor West reported that a Panel had been set up to review how Children’s Centres operated and the results were due to be presented to Cabinet at the end of the summer. County Councillor West commented that there should be better all-round provision, with more people engaging with Children’s Centres. The new model could provide an opportunity for family hubs, but the outcomes of the review were not yet known; more information would be known by the time of the next meeting.

10.7.    Councillor Phillips commented that he had not seen the questions prior to the meeting and asked if they could be made available to Area Committee members by 10am on the day of the meeting in future to allow time to consider responses.

10.8.    Question 6: Is the Rushmere Speech and Language Centre going to close? If so, how can this be allowed to happen when it is so important for the children it helps? Extra support for children is required, not less.

10.9.    County Councillor West reported that the outcome of the consultation was due to be considered by SCC Cabinet in July; the consultation sought views on the proposal to phase out the Speech and Language Units based in 3 schools in Suffolk (including the Rushmere unit) and provide a Specialist Education Outreach Service for Key Stage 1 pupils in mainstream primary schools.  County Councillor West commented that the proposed model would be able to provide services for more children.

10.10.Councillor Ross provided the following response on behalf County Councillor Adams: the consultation had been disappointing as it was badly communicated both to Councillors and the public.  Last week, SCC made a U-turn of sorts in relation to using early intervention hubs and funding for outreach services, but there has been no clarification on the admissions policy; if this service was to be available to many more children with any sort of communication issue, then it could be more difficult for those with severe speech and language needs to access the 45 places available.  Additionally, how much specialist provision would each child receive – one hour a week would not be enough.

10.11. County Councillor West commented that details of the admissions policy was not yet known and acknowledged that the consultation could have been better managed, but it was the outcome that was important; the proposals aimed to increase the service in order to reach many more young people than currently in order to meet the growing need.

10.12. Question 7: What will the Ipswich Borough Council North East Committee be doing to support Clean Air Day on June 20th as in the news item on the IBC website:
as there is an increase interest in Air Quality in the press, such as the recent item: “
Air pollution may be damaging every organ and virtually every cell in the human body, according to a comprehensive new global review.”

10.13.Seven Primary Schools have signed up to the Air Quality workshops as part of this year’s Clean Air Day campaign: Rushmere Hall, St Mary’s, St Margaret’s, St Pancras, St Mark’s, Whitehouse and Cliff Lane.  As detailed on the website page, every school the Council visits would also get the opportunity to participate in a five-day walking challenge between 17th – 21st June that would see each pupil who walked to school every day get a free 10-day pass at one of the Council’s sports facilities.

One of the Environmental Health Officers would be delivering a talk in Le Tour Cycle Café’ on air quality. Independent cycle shops across Ipswich (with the exception of Elmy’s Cycles) were also offering 10% across their stores during the week of Clean Air Day.

The Council would continue to promote Clean Air Day via social media, including promoting the schools workshops, and posts would highlight the Council’s commitment to improving air quality and show examples, such as the schools campaign above, a new pool car fleet, charging points in our car parks etc. A Facebook event was being produced on the Council’s page and the public would be encouraged to pledge what they would be doing on the day.

Officers have also been working on internal staff communications, including a blog to be launched this week to encourage staff to come into work on Clean Air Day via sustainable methods. A news story would be placed on the Intranet to encourage staff to pledge, and a poll was going to be launched asking staff how they were going to travel into work. The results of the pledges/poll would be promoted on social media to further show our commitment to improving air quality.

10.14. Councillor Ross commented that a parent had heard about the air quality initiative of Rushmere Hall School children walking to school as a way of addressing the parking issue outside schools during the school run and asked why their child’s school hadn’t taken part.  The school admitted it had missed the deadline to participate, but was keen to get involved next time.  Councillor Ross added that the Council was working with Radio Suffolk to publicise Clean Air Day and was also pursuing its own actions to improve air quality through introduction of its own electric vehicle fleet and charging points, changing the taxi licensing policy to reduce emissions of the town’s licensed taxi fleet and providing loans to improve emissions of bus fleets. Furthermore, the Leader and the Portfolio Holder for Environment and Climate Change would talk to SCC to see what could be done to prevent vehicle engines idling whilst stationary.