We store cookies on your device to make sure we give you the best experience on this website. I'm fine with this - Turn cookies off
Switch to an accessible version of this website which is easier to read. (requires cookies)

Dave Busby (BDC)

Government Interference in Housing

August 3, 2022 10:23 AM
By Councillor Dave Busby

key

Imagine you own your house, with no mortgage, and then the Government says that it really owns the house but they will give you a loan for the full value so that you can buy it back! Not good news so far, but if you are renting it out then it is going to get a whole lot worse. They legislate to allow the tenant to buy it off you but at a discount in the region of £70,000.

This is what life is like for councils who own their housing stock. Obviously, this 'Right-to-Buy' (R-T-B) scheme is popular with tenants so that, each year the number of houses that councils own reduces despite demand going up. But the Government haven't finished yet, they take a chunk of the sales receipts and tell the council to build a replacement house with what is left - often less than 50% of the cost of a new building.

"Ah but" I hear you say, the Government give councils grants such as the Affordable Housing Programme, however these funds cannot be combined with R-T-B receipts. Is it any wonder that councils have only been able to replace about a third of the houses sold under this scheme.

Councils are urgently trying to reduce the number of people on council house waiting lists and those in temporary accommodation but the Government's policies are pushing more and more families into the private rented sector which drives up housing benefit demands.

At best this process could have been designed by Hacker's civil service team from 'Yes Minister' but maybe, just maybe, it is designed to help Tory supporters who make up the majority of the private rented sector - though being a landlord isn't as attractive as it once was.

Babergh (South Suffolk) Liberal Democrats welcome the membership and active involvement of anyone holding liberal views and values, irrespective of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation.

To Eat or To Heat

June 7, 2022 9:43 AM
By Councillor Dave Busby

hy660Following on from the recent article on the power lines ( see To Sea or Not To Sea (Babergh South Suffolk Liberal Democrats) (southsuffolklibdems.org.uk)) and their under-the-sea alternative, the mass of energy infrastructure projects up for consideration at the moment throws up another dilemma. Should we be favouring food production or green energy generation?

There are seven solar farm applications currently live across Babergh and Mid-Suffolk. Three, in particular, give me the greatest cause for concern as they will dominate much of the villages of Flowton, Somersham, Burstall and Bramford. The landscape will be 'industrialised' for a couple of generations. There are many popular walks around and through the fields that will be affected. Gone will be the green and rolling views for people who have taken them for a significant benefit of living in the countryside.

However, the Ukraine conflict has not only taught us that our energy supplies are precarious but food as well. There are many locations more suitable for solar panels than high grade agricultural fields. Why should we allow the fields to be overrun with these panels when we wouldn't give permission for housing on the same fields? Plus, we learnt last week of the massive solar project in Morocco that would render these sites as mere blots on the landscape.

Surely common sense will prevail and we will retain the fields for their original purpose - enabling the population to eat rather than have heat.

To Sea or Not To Sea

May 28, 2022 10:46 AM
By Councillor Dave Busby

hy77There are a number of energy consultations on the go at the moment - two sets of power lines, 4 or 5 solar farms, battery storage, etc. In them, we have been given an opportunity to comment on preferred routes (for the power lines) as this appears to be the only option. BUT there is another choice and yes okay it may cost a little more and need a little more technical ingenuity but it IS an option and a logical one.

Most of the power that they are planning on moving onto London is generated offshore so why on earth would you bring it onshore to transmit it? There are already a number of 'under-the-sea' power lines and more in the pipeline - sorry! I will be calling on Babergh to press for this option and to reject anymore power lines slashing across our beautiful countryside.

Interestingly this project would pale into insignificance when compared with the undersea line planned from Morocco - details below.

Article from en:former

Electricity can be generated cleanly and travel along wires for hundreds, if not thousands, of kilometres, thanks to long-distance High-Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) cables. Clean power can be brought from countries rich in renewable energy resources to areas of high demand such as Europe, creating energy transition employment in both.

Moreover, this prospect would allow two countries with inversely-related weather systems to be connected, strengthening the security of supply provided by renewable energy sources with variable, but overlapping generation profiles.

Morocco-UK Power Project

This is one of the central ideas behind the Morocco-UK Power Project, which envisages subsea HVDC cables running an enormous 3,800 km from Morocco to the UK, further even than the longest existing overland HVDC cables. Four cables would make up twin 1.8 GW interconnectors for a total of 3.6 GW capacity.

The longest subsea electricity interconnector built to date is the 724 km, €1.6 billion North Sea Link, which started operating in October. It is designed to bring hydro-electrically-generated power from Norway to the UK and send surplus UK wind power back in the other direction.

But there are no real technical limitations to how long an HVDC cable can be, although power losses do rise over longer distances. HVDC systems lose about 3% of the power transmitted for each 1,000 km. In addition, they lose about 0.7-1.0% of the power in the converters placed at each end to convert the power from alternating current (AC) to direct current (DC) and back again for use in national electricity grids.

Nonetheless, HVDC systems have the capacity to transmit large amounts of power over long distances economically, and, because of the buffer created by the converters, can connect two electricity systems which are not synchronised, while at the same time helping to stabilise the two linked grids individually.

The proposed cable route would follow shallow waters, hugging the coastline of northern Morocco, Portugal, and northern Spain before crossing the Bay of Biscay to land eventually in the south of England. XLinks, the company behind the Morocco-UK Power Project, will use voltage source converters and has an agreement with the UK's National Grid ESO for two 1.8 GW connections to the UK grid at Alverdiscott in Devon.

The interconnector would be point-to-point, dedicated solely to supplying the UK.

Powering up the cable

Big cables need a big power source. The cables will be powered by a combination of wind and solar, which would benefit both from Morocco's high levels of solar radiation and trade winds, which blow very consistently throughout the year. In total, XLinks plans 10.5 GW of renewable energy capacity, which is almost five times the amount of wind and solar power installed in Morocco at the end of 2020.

The proposed wind and solar farm will cover 1,500 km2 in Morocco's Guelmim Oued Noun region. Of this, 200 km2 will be devoted to solar panels. These are expected, from January to March, to generate five times as much electricity as if the panels were sited in the UK.

Morocco lies south of Portugal, which until very recently held the record for the cheapest solar power bid in the world, so there are good reasons to think a large-scale development will deliver very low-cost power. Moreover, Lazard Bank's most recent Levelised Cost of Energy Analysis, published in October, shows that the Morocco-UK Power Project would be drawing on what are now unequivocally the two cheapest sources of electricity generation - onshore wind and solar.

The generating capacity would be backed by a huge 20GWh/5GW battery storage facility, primarily made up of lithium-ion batteries. This would smooth the solar and wind power generation and allow the provision of power for more than 20 hours a day, making efficient use of the subsea cable capacity.

The whole project could be up and running by the end of the decade, according to the project developers, in time to make a significant contribution to the UK's 2030 climate targets. If realised, it can be fairly sure of holding the title of world's longest subsea interconnector for some time.

Why should YOU become a District Councillor? Part 9

March 25, 2022 1:34 PM

i844sAs part of our attempt to widen interest in becoming a coucillor we are continuing with our look at the Council's objectives and what is being done to deliver them so that you can see the sorts of issues councillors can influence

Environment

Objective 2 - Improve the biodiversity of the district, consistent with the biodiversity pledge adopted by the Council

Progress:

What we plan to do next quarter:

If you would like to talk about becoming a district councillor then please contact me.

Dave Busby District Councillor for Copdock & Washbrook, Bentley, Chattisham & Hintlesham, Burstall and the Wenhams

07855 777147 dave.busby@babergh.gov.uk

Why you should consider becoming a councillor - Part 8

March 19, 2022 11:14 AM

greCouncillor Dave Busby continues his review of what the council is up to and how councillors can impact their local community

Environment

Objective 1 - To achieve the Councils' ambition to become carbon neutral by 2030, following the adoption of the Carbon Reduction Management Plan.

Progress:

What we plan to do next quarter:

If you would like to talk about becoming a district councillor then please contact me.

Dave Busby District Councillor for Copdock, Bentley, Hintlesham, Burstall and the Wenhams

07855 777147 dave.busby@babergh.gov.uk

Why should YOU become a District Councillor? Part 7

March 16, 2022 10:33 AM

rr20 (Photo by Steve Houghton-Burnett on Unsplash)The latest in our series of articles on the work of a District councillor and why you should consider standing

Continuing with our look at the Council's objectives and what is being done to deliver them.

Economy continued

Objective 3 - Successful and Skilled: We will raise levels of aspiration and ambition in our districts and recognise and celebrate our success

Progress:

What we plan to do next quarter:

If you would like to talk about becoming a district councillor then please contact me.

Dave Busby District Councillor for Copdock, Bentley, Hintlesham, Burstall and the Wenhams

07855 777147 dave.busby@babergh.gov.uk

You can read Dave's full series of articles here

Why should YOU become a District Councillor? Part 6

March 11, 2022 10:04 AM

vtesContinuing with our look at the Council's objectives and what is being done to deliver them.

Economy continued

Objective 2 - Connected and Sustainable: To be one of the best-connected places in the East of England and be a testbed for new innovation in clean growth industries.

Progress:

What we plan to do next quarter:

If you would like to talk about becoming a district councillor then please contact me.

Dave Busby District Councillor for Copdock, Bentley, Hintlesham, Burstall and the Wenhams

07855 777147 dave.busby@babergh.gov.uk

You can see Daves full series of articles below

Why should YOU become a District Councillor? Part 5

March 9, 2022 12:16 PM

mt6z (Photo by Science in HD on Unsplash)Economy

For this and the next few parts I am going to use our Performance reporting to give you a flavour of the things that we (and you) could be involved in - we don't just do bins.

Objective 1 - Connected and Sustainable: To be one of the best-connected places in the East of England and be a testbed for new innovation in clean growth industries.

Progress:

What we plan to do next quarter:

If you would like to talk about becoming a district councillor then please contact me.

Dave Busby

District Councillor for Copdock, Bentley, Hintlesham, Burstall and the Wenhams

07855 777147 dave.busby@babergh.gov.uk

This is one of a seriesof articles from Dave.

Why should YOU become a District Councillor? Part 4

March 7, 2022 1:38 PM

key

Housing

I think we all recognise the need for more houses - no matter how many we build they seem to get snapped up pretty quickly. However, a housing strategy needs to cover both new and existing. Climate change has added to our problems, with the need to make our houses more energy efficient and less harmful to the atmosphere being more problematic with our existing stock.

The decisions that you will be able to influence are:

New housing

Existing housing

If you would like to talk about becoming a district councillor then please contact me.

Dave Busby

District Councillor for Copdock, Bentley, Hintlesham, Burstall and the Wenhams

07855 777147 dave.busby@babergh.gov.uk

Why should YOU become a District Councillor? Part 3

March 5, 2022 10:54 AM

nysPlanning

Ah planning! Perhaps the most controversial, visible, interesting and important role a councillor can do. Every councillor has the chance to comment on applications in their ward but only the committee decide on the large or controversial ones (95% are delegated to planning officers).

Like all council work it is up to you to determine how involved you get with an application - most are fairly straightforward but there are some where you feel the need to put your point of view across. I am involved in one at the moment, concerning Hintlesham Golf Club, where my views are so strong that I will have to stand down from the planning committee because my decision would deem to be pre-determined (i.e. my views could not be influenced by debate).

Whilst the Local Plan will often specify where a development is being sited, we will get the opportunity to influence the design, layout and mix of houses; the energy efficiency; the landscaping and the green areas. My approach is that we should be able to go back to the development in 10 years' time and feel proud of what has been delivered.

If development has occurred in your area, what did you do about it? Put a comment on the planning website? Express an opinion to your parish council? Form an 'anti-group'? Nothing?

We have some very controversial applications coming up - Belle Vue; Bramford to Twinstead power lines; numerous huge solar panel farms and large developments in some of our villages that will totally change their character. Then there is the next iteration of the Local Plan where sites will be identified to provide houses for the next 20 years.

If you value the place where you live then there is only one way to really influence it and that is to become a district councillor. Join me and the other LibDems and design the future. We will help you every step of the way and, help you to find the right time balance.

If you would like to talk about it then please contact me.

Dave Busby

District Councillor for Copdock, Bentley, Hintlesham, Burstall and the Wenhams

07855 777147

dave.busby@babergh.gov.uk

Why should YOU become a District Councillor? Part 2

March 1, 2022 1:37 PM

ppde (By Tr00st This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.)Sudbury

If you live in, or around, the town of Sudbury then you will be seeing a great deal of change over the next few years. Already approved is the new, world class, health facility to be located alongside the Leisure Centre. Then there is the ongoing saga of Belle Vue House and the park. Not long ago, Babergh decided that the house was to be demolished and replaced by a hotel and restaurant (I was the only one against this). Once CoVid hit the hotel plans were scrapped and the site put up for sale.

A retirement home, on the front of the site, was selected with the house renovated and converted into houses. With the proceeds of the sale, Babergh would build a small café and new park entrance. We are waiting for these plans to come forward to planning. I have never been overly impressed by these plans and it may be that they don't get through the planning stage. So, it would be back to square one.

This site is crying out for something more exciting than a hotel or a block of retirement apartments. I am sure you have a view so why aren't you coming forward to stand as a district councillor - who knows, your ideas may be accepted and will be on show for all to see.

Opposite Belle Vue Park there is Borehamgate, bought by the council a few years back and the Hamilton Road site, again largely owned by the council. A number of regeneration ideas have been presented but what are your thoughts on how to redevelop this area?

What will all of these plans do for the traffic in the area? It is already one of the busiest junctions in Sudbury. Do you complain when you get stuck in traffic here? Do ask why can't the council sort it out? Don't be a complainer be a fixer. These are the kind of issues you would be involved in if you get elected and to do that first you must put yourself forward as a candidate. As I have said before you don't have to be a genius to contribute just care about people and places. We will help you every step of the way, help you to find the right time balance and you will be rewarded for your efforts with an allowance of about £5,000 p.a.

It is an exciting time here in Babergh as we determine the future of all of those things you have been complaining about. Join me and the other LibDems and design the future. If you would like to talk about it then please contact me.

Dave Busby

District Councillor for Copdock, Bentley, Hintlesham, Burstall and the Wenhams

07855 777147

dave.busby@babergh.gov.uk

Why should YOU become a District Councillor? Part 1

February 26, 2022 10:36 AM

mrrs (Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash)How much time do you spend moaning about new housing developments, public transport, traffic jams, speeding motorists, what is going on in our town centres, the incursion of urban sprawl into our countryside …….? What does all of this talk achieve? Why not do something about it, something positive, something different - if you keep doing the same thing expect the same result.

If you became a district councillor, instead of just complaining about things you could change them, influence outcomes. Many of you rushed to volunteer during the CoVid crisis, wanting to help, make a difference, well now it is time to take that energy and invest it in local 'politics'.

You don't have to be a rocket scientist, just care about people and places. We will help you every step of the way, help you to find the right time balance - it can be as little as a couple of rewarding hours a week.

It is an exciting time here in Babergh as we determine the future of all of those things you have been complaining about. Join me and the other LibDems and design the future. If you would like to talk about it then please contact me.

Dave Busby

District Councillor for Copdock, Bentley, Hintlesham, Burstall and the Wenhams

07855 777147

dave.busby@babergh.gov.uk

Planning Decisions Are Easy ………. Aren't They?

November 1, 2021 10:37 AM
By Councillor Dave Busby

h72xz

By the time you read this COP26 will have come and gone but the debate will rumble on. Of course, we are all behind saving the planet and therefore will do whatever it takes to keep temperature rise to no more than 1.5 degrees. Or are we? We hear the arguments, that all countries put forward as to why they should be excluded or allowed more time, but we dismiss them - it is for the greater good after all. But what if our County Council discovered huge reserves of oil under their land and promised a much-enhanced bus service to all villages and a new, state-of-the-art hospital from the proceeds of drilling? Do we still support climate change whatever the loss of benefits to us?

This is part of the dilemma that Lincolnshire County Council face as millions of barrels of oil is believed to lie beneath an area of natural beauty in the Lincolnshire Wolds. The promises of buses and hospitals haven't been made so of course there are objectors, action groups and petitions trying to get it stopped.

The point of this article is not to highlight the issue of cost v benefits and the balance that planners and committees have to make on every application. No, it is show how councils have their hands tied by central Government. Lincolnshire Council planning officials said that they were unable to consider climate change when assessing the development.

Despite being challenged, no ordered, by Government to become carbon neutral by 2030 we are not allowed to refuse applications because of climate change, energy inefficiencies or insufficient attention to biodiversity. We know that our refusals will be overturned in court at great expense to the taxpayer. How can we possibly achieve our goals with this level of joined up thinking?

The decision on this controversial application was …………………

Is Bigger Always Better?

September 11, 2021 9:49 AM
By Councillor Dave Busby

For the supply chain the combination of Brexit and CoVid has generated the perfect storm. The news reports on the shortage of lorry drivers and the resulting shortages in goods. During CoVid, many smaller businesses struggled and had to sell out to larger companies. Councils have exacerbated the situation by approving applications for massive warehouses.

So, what are the consequences of this? Let's take an example of a local hotel chain who prior to CoVid had many contracts with smaller local suppliers - an approach encouraged by councils. With their suppliers now under the control of huge national companies the hotel chain is now in direct competition with much larger, prestigious outlets in the larger cities. Given the pressures on deliveries the suppliers focus on honouring their larger clients leaving our hotel short of laundry, food and drink.

In the 'old' days the hotel could go to their supplier and collect the goods but now these are transported to the large distribution centres before onward delivery. This has added an extra journey into the process - not desirable when there is a shortage of drivers. The hotel has had to resort to shopping locally when deliveries don't materialise but this is frowned upon by the supermarkets who find shelves stripped of certain products.

The alternative - which is happening - is for the hotel to shut for a number of days and to cancel big events where supplies cannot be guaranteed. Weddings, parties and Christmas lunches are all under threat. Housekeeping staff have to work much longer hours as laundry is not delivered until the middle of the afternoon, if at all. The hotel sector does not operate on large margins and short-term problem-solving eats into these margins.

We can expect the situation to get worse before getting better. However, difficulties create opportunities and as a council we need to be aware of this and work much closer with our local companies to ensure the health of the local economy.

Post CoVid - The New Normal?

As we hopefully come out of CoVid restrictions will you be reverting back to life as was or have you moved to a new 'normal'. Working from home, shopping on line, avoiding public transport, visiting smaller towns & villages, making more use of outside space for exercise and socialising and becoming more I.T. savvy. These all have a significant impact on service providers especially local government and its planning team.

Should we, for example, be providing 'hubs and clubs' - part-time virtual office space with meeting rooms closer to where people live? If this kind of space was provided locally, would you use it?

When seeking exercise do you just make use of the many footpaths across the village and would you like to see some kind of outside exercise equipment? If you are a cyclist, would you make use of a dedicated cycle route to Ipswich or a circular route around the Shotley peninsular?

With more remote working will we see people working for more than one employer? If you are an employer, are you finding it difficult to recruit people with the right sort of skills? Should we be offering apprenticeships to people of all ages?

At Babergh District Council we are keen to hear your views on the questions above and any other topic you feel relevant - please feel free to e-mail me (your district councillor) at the address below.

dave.busby@babergh.gov.uk

A day in the life ... of cllr. Dave Busby

Necessity is the mother of invention, so it is hardly surprising that many working practices have changed beyond that imaginable twelve months ago. At the beginning of the year office workers may have said that they could work from home on the odd day but now those same people have reversed their position completely i.e. will only go into the office if absolutely essential. The switch in location has also brought about a change in working attire, hours and content.

Getting up at 6.00 after 5 or 6 hours of troubled sleep - is it the book I'm reading, the stimulating tv programmes or just the general activity of an ageing brain and lack of activity of an equally ageing body. A quick check of my diary shows that I have a planning meeting (that I have prepared for), a briefing (that I haven't) and a Parish Council meeting (which I need to).

Are we all suffering from topic staleness? As a BDC (Babergh District Council) cabinet member I receive weekly CoVid briefings from the chief executive, another one from the council leaders; daily bulletins from the Local Government Information Unit and monthly magazines from the Local Government Association. This is on top of the usual tv news cycle - morning, lunch, tea-time and evening). Is any of it actually 'news'? We have been hearing the same lines from the same presenters for 9 months and far from guaranteeing a 100% understanding we still get "I wasn't sure of the rules".

Anyway, I digress, time to grab some breakfast - I believe it is the most important meal of the day so it is substantial(ish) - fish fingers and baked beans on toast or eggs and bacon, porridge, etc. I eat it watching GMB and the 'smooth' talking Piers Morgan. There is the first change, pre-CoVid I would have been on the road to Ipswich at 7.30 to avoid the traffic and guarantee being on time for my 9.30 Planning Committee.

Planning is a tough bag - the decisions we take can make or break people's lives and often both at the same time. There are many policies to guide us into making the right call but I see planning as an art not a science and as a result it is as much about opinions. If you build a house 200metres from a listed building how much harm will it cause. Is it more important to protect a 'view' from the middle ages or provide much needed housing? Often the 'right' decision cannot be delivered because of our policies, Government guidelines and precedents. After much discussion the committee makes its decision and, yes, it's close 6 - 4. Could I have done better? Why did I not manage to persuade more people? Were my views correct? What will the public reaction be to the decision?

A quick lunch whilst catching the end of Bargain Hunt - don't you just love it when a £20 oddity sells for £200 - then into 3 hours of Joint Cabinet briefing on a whole array of issues. This also done virtually via Microsoft Teams which has the benefit of being able to switch off your camera and mike. I know men are not supposed to be able to multitask but I find it an ideal time to get stuck into a jigsaw. Normally we finish in time so that I can catch the evening news.

The last meeting of the day is a parish council meeting over Zoom. I have forwarded on any centrally issued briefings on CoVid, etc so my spot is more of a Q&A session. I normally listen to the rest of the meeting and interject if I can be of help.

Not all days are as full as this but we do seem to be a lot busier since we moved to virtual meetings.

July Report

busbydathome@aol.com

Climate Change

Babergh and MS Cabinets have approved a raft of environmental measures to help the councils achieve their ambitions of becoming carbon neutral by 2030. This decision will now form the councils' first Carbon Reduction Management Plan, setting out how it aims to fulfil the ambition of becoming carbon neutral within the next ten years.

These are the first steps in achieving the long-term objective to reduce the councils' current emissions of 5,452 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per year to net zero. The climate change task force took advice on the areas to target first to achieve the greatest impact.

Headline actions include:

CCTV

Councillors have today agreed to an £180,000 upgrade in CCTV provision to ensure that Hadleigh and Sudbury remain safe towns.

Babergh worked with Suffolk Police, Hadleigh and Sudbury Town Councils and neighbouring authorities on proposals for a fully compliant, updated CCTV system.

CCTV coverage helps to reducing crime and disorder - in addition to assisting police with finding missing people. The current CCTV system installed twenty years ago has become outdated.

Both Town Councils will make financial contributions to the ongoing costs.

Pending approval, future Community Infrastructure Levy contributions will provide funding to upgrade the CCTV to a fully digital wireless system.

Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

The Secretary of State confirmed the extension to the Suffolk Coast & Heaths AONB to include additional areas along the southern edge of the Stour estuary in Tendring, Essex and two beautiful small river valleys, the Samford Valley and the Freston Brook in Babergh District, Suffolk. In total there is now 38 square kilometers (about 10%) more protected landscape as a result of the announcement.

Suffolk's Delivery of the Local Outbreak Control Plan

Suffolk has put in place a model to deliver the plan which is centrally co-ordinated by the Suffolk COVID-19 Coordination Centre (SC19CC). All information (including outbreak notifications) and national guidance is received into the SC19CC. This enables a complete system overview and a co-ordinated response allowing tasks to be allocated to the most appropriate partners.

A number of enabler workstreams, including data, testing and contract tracing, have been identified which feed into the SC19CC to provide critical information to enable a timely response to an outbreak or key information to support preventive actions.

A number of delivery work programmes have also been established to identify complex settings, complex groups and complex individuals, complete risk assessments and develop preventative tools. They have also identified the most suitable Outbreak Manager and developed clear pathways, action cards and process to allow the SC19CC to provide a robust and resilient response to both prevention of outbreaks and management of outbreaks.

The main objectives of the SC19CC are:

March 2020 Report FROM COUNCILLOR DAVE BUSBY

• Planning officers for Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils are in the running for a national award… having paved the way for technological advances as part of 21st century planning.


The Development Management team, which looks after planning matters for both councils, is shortlisted in the Best Use of Digital and Technology category at the annual iESE - Public Sector Transformation Awards 2020.
The category recognises the innovative use of digital tools and technology in order to improve services for residents.
Judges were impressed by how the team had streamlined the planning application process for residents across the districts, bringing teams and systems together in order to become one of the top performing authorities for timely planning decisions. The team has also introduced electronic case management and a mobile app in order to put vital information at the fingertips of officers and the public - with public searches of information leaping from 600K in 2017 to 1.3m in 2018. And, although not yet in use, they have started to pave the way for future technological advances, such as the possible use of drones and augmented reality as part of the 21st century planning process.

• Babergh District Council tonight approved its budget for 2020/21, including an increase in council tax that will see £5 a year added to the bill of a Band D property.


Headlines include:
• A proposed increase of 3.1% to council tax - equivalent to just 10p a week or £5 over the course of a year for a Band D property (increases range from 6p per week for the smallest Band A property to 19p per week for the largest Band H property).
• No change in the Council Tax Reduction Scheme that sees poorest residents pay just 5% of their bill.
• A change to empty property discount, reducing the period that unoccupied and unfurnished properties pay discounted council tax from three months to 28 days, in order to bring empty properties in the district back into use.
• Continued investment in CIFCO - the council's property investment company, as agreed in last year's budget. CIFCO makes a significant contribution to the money required to run the councils' services, without which residents would face either a substantial hike in council tax bills to fund the shortfall, or cuts to services.
• An increase in long-stay car parking charges from £2 to £3. However, short-stay parking for up to three hours will remain free at all of our town centre car parks.
After four years of reductions, the council is also proposing putting up council house rents by 2.7% meaning a £2.38 per week increase for tenants - although, even with this increase, rents are still lower than in 2015/6. Sheltered housing tenants also face an increase of £2 a week on their bills, but their utility payments remain static for another year.

• A number of shops in Suffolk are offering refills for a host of household items in a bid to cut down on the amount of plastic and packaging we use.


The Suffolk Waste Partnership has launched a handy online directory which lists the shops, businesses or charities that host refill points for items such as cleaning products, toiletries and dried foods, such as rice or oats and even loose-leaf tea and chocolate. At the moment there are 22 organisations which stock refills, but the partnership is encouraging other businesses to consider introducing similar schemes.

• Now Mid Suffolk and Babergh District Councils' cabinets are set to discuss proposals to ensure the councils are poised to provide a discretionary retail discount, local newspaper discount and pub discount to support ratepayers across the districts as quickly as possible.


The Government pledged to:
• increase the retail discount from one third to 50% and include cinemas and music venues within the scheme
• extend the duration of the existing newspapers discount
• and introduce an additional discount for pubs