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Confused? If councillors are, what hope for the rest of us?

The Evening Star’s Paul Geater reporting on documents made public before Suffolk County Council meeting next Thursday, March 17, writes:

“Confusing messages” about the New Strategic direction are are making it difficult for both the public and councillors to understand what it is all about.

That’s the verdict today from the opposition at Suffolk County Council as it prepares for another debate on the authority’s flagship policy.

The county council is to debate a 25-page, 139 paragraph, report entitled: “Update on the implementation of the New Strategic Direction” at next week’s meeting of the full council.

A senior member of the administration said that councillors had debated the policy many times before and were quite capable of understanding the issues due to be discussed.

The key recommendation is that the county should use a principle dubbed “Your Place” to discuss changes to the way services are delivered.

That means it would talk to groups in towns or communities about taking over a number of services currently run by the county council – like libraries, country parks, school crossing patrols, and youth clubs – rather than discussing each separately.

I can only agree that it is all confusing. This is the recommendation that will be before the council (papers here):

That ‘Your Place’ divestment decisions should be made through conversations in a place, not on a service by service basis and that, where possible, the Council will work with local communities to come up with a preferred local solution, but if that’s not possible the Council will make a decision between proposals based on clear and communicated criteria.

And the reason for the recommendation:

Based on the views and information gathered as part of the ongoing engagement on the development of the New Strategic Direction and work with partners including the Suffolk Association of Local Councils and The Suffolk Congress, there is a need to look at service delivery from a community, rather than organisational perspective. To ensure that we are

clear with communities about our approach, we need to recognise that it may not always be possible to come up with a single proposal in each area for all services and communicate how decisions will be made.

The remainder of the document is similarly obscure. All I can suggest is that some of the money spent on training for Chief Executive Andrea Hill and council leader Jeremy Pembroke would have been better spent with the Plain English Campaign. They will provide in house courses for up to 10 people for £1,425 + VAT a day.

Saturday:

I have just seen this report on jargon at North Tyneside Council when Simon Higgins, now head of communications at Suffolk CC, was there.

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