Home to School Transport
Suffolk Norse delivered a 12-month termination of agreement notice in August 2020 as they believed they could no longer sustain the losses they were incurring. SCC will end the joint venture partnership and move the service to its wholly-owned company, Vertas.
The 40 home-to-school transport routes and school swimming service will be delivered by Vertas from September onwards. The contract was not put out to tender due to the limited timescales, the legal requirement to deliver these services continuously, and the risk of redundancies if a provider able to deliver both swimming and home-to-school transport could not be found. There will be additional costs depending on the state of the vehicle fleet.
District Council Budget
The district council budget with a 1.66% increase in council tax, a council rents increase of CPI plus one per cent and a sheltered housing charge increase of two per cent was approved by 17 votes to 16. Lib Dem and Green Councillors voted against as the council has a £7m budget surplus in a year when family finances are challenged.
Suffolk County Council, working with their wholly-owned company, Concertus, has gained £3m from government to promote energy efficiency and non-fossil fuel heat sources within buildings used for public services. Improvements costing £1,566,000 will be undertaken at Endeavour House in Ipswich, four rural fire stations, Beacon House in Ipswich, the Waterloo Centre in Leiston, and Leiston Children’s Centre. Nine schools will be improved at a cost of £1,546,000.
Work will vary from building to building but will include the fitting of solar panels and battery storage, as well as improvements to wall or roof insulation and installation of ground or air-source heat pumps to move away from the use of fossil fuels for heating.
Planning: Solar Farms and Power Lines
Councillors have met with National Grid to be briefed on the reinforcement of the Bramford to Twinsted Tee power line. The need they are trying to meet is for an export capability of 15GWatt from Suffolk towards London.
That would support the 30GWatt of offshore wind targeted for 2030 but not the 100GWatt ambition for 2050.
The scheme as in 2012 proposes two lines of 400kv pylons but would be short on the capacity required and further lines will be necessary. The offshore solution, a series of DC connections linking windfarms together and to London, does not appear to be progressing.
Undersea connections are being used to bypass restrictions and one would be between Sizewell and Kent, but we need more so that our countryside can be protected.
The freeport application by Felixstowe and Harwich has been agreed. It covers a 40km radius just out to Stowmarket and Gateway 14 and Port One at Great Blakenham is covered.
There are business rate benefits. Companies will get five years’ relief and councils will get 100% business rates retention for 25 years. There are also National Insurance reliefs, tariff benefits, tax incentives and regeneration funding for companies who invest in production and logistics.
The hope is that there will be a massive impetus for investment and some 13,000 new jobs created in high-value industries. The risk is that jobs will just move for taxation and grant benefits.
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