The bestofhaverhill held their monthly business meeting at Days Inn Haverhill recently and welcomed guest speaker Chris Bally, Assistant Director Business Development, Suffolk County Council.
Continuing the theme of ‘Wanting the best for Haverhill’ Chris had been invited to speak about Suffolk County Council’s current thinking on public services and the Council’s desire to develop new and innovative ways of working with businesses both locally and countywide.
Chris explained how the Council had faced a major upheaval over the last three months. The appointment of Mark Bee as the new Leader of the County Council saw the end of the controversial New Strategic Direction initiative because “it didn’t connect with the people of Suffolk”.
Chris explained that the Council had learnt a number of lessons from the way the New Strategic Direction was introduced. These lessons centred on clarity of communication, the speed of change and the translation of ideas into practice.
He went on to talk about the Open Public Services Whitepaper, published for consultation in July, setting out the Government’s approach to public services. The White Paper sets out the Government’s intention to increase choice wherever possible, creating opportunities for alternative providers including, the voluntary and community sector, independent providers and companies in the private sector.
The White paper also talks about decentralising power to the lowest appropriate level. This is intended to develop more locally tailored services. Chris emphasised that what people want in Haverhill is not necessary what people want in other areas of the county.
The consultation on business rate retention was a further issue raised by Chris who encouraged the Haverhill business community to look at the proposals and leave their views on the Department for Communities and Local Government (CLG) website. With the current system business rates from Haverhill go to central government and there is no direct relationship as to what goes centrally and what comes back to the local area. The rationale behind retaining business rates in the local area was to provide an incentive for local councils to do more to stimulate business growth.
Chris has responsibility within Suffolk County Council for Superfast Broadband and was able to provide an update on what is happening in Suffolk. The County Council have committed funding of £10 million, which has been matched with a further £11.7 million from the Government and Suffolk’s Local Broadband Plan has been approved by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. By 2015 85% of Suffolk will be covered by Superfast Broadband, which will help to boost communities and the economy.
In talking about what these initiatives mean for Haverhill, Chris spoke about 2 initiatives, the One Haverhill partnership and rationalising property assets. One Haverhill is a new partnership brought together with the objective of developing joint initiatives and projects to benefit Haverhill. One such project is the creation of a new public and voluntary sector service hub at the Lower Downs Slade Office in the Town Centre.
Photograph courtesy of David Doughty @ The Gallery