Sonia Barker leader of Waveney Labour Group looks back at an ‘eventful’ 2016
- Credit: Archant
2016 has been a very eventful year politically both at local and national level.
For example the Devolution deal for Suffolk is still under negotiation with the government as are Brexit negotiations. At a local level the Waveney Labour Group (WLG) continues to be an effective opposition that regularly asks the WDC Conservative administration questions and proposes motions to hold them to account at full council and cabinet meetings (www.eastsuffolk.gov.uk).
In March a Labour motion on the Future of the Town Hall Artefacts led to the setting up of a cross party Town Hall Artefacts Group to look into the artefacts' destination.
The Labour WASPI Motion in September asked why women of a certain age had been so harshly treated by the government in respect of their pensions (supported by the whole Council).
In July a cross party #Against Suffolk Hate Motion was supported by the entire council.
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On November 16 the WLG voted against the proposed Lowestoft Town Council and the Oulton Broad Parish Council on the grounds that the Conservative administration refused to agree to a Local Advisory Referendum for Lowestoft residents.
The WLG also questioned how the new town council would deal with the transfer of assets which are in need of tlc or are loss making. During the year some members of the WLG decided to become Independent councillors.
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The WLG were pleased that the Wrentham Fire Station and a fire appliance were saved as opposition to the cuts to the Fire and Rescue Service had been one of our key campaign messages during the Wrentham by election in May.
Looking forward to 2017 there are a number of challenges ahead for WDC. Firstly, the proposed merger with Suffolk Coastal District Council which will mean the creation of an East Suffolk District Council (the largest in England) resulting in what the WLG believes, in a weakening of local democracy and an increase in travel costs as councillors commute between Lowestoft and Woodbridge.
A key vote in the next stage of the process towards full Merger takes place on January 25, 2017.
The next stage of the government's Universal Credit policy will be rolled out to Beccles which will be a challenge as the evidence suggests (an increase in Food Banks use) that the policy is causing real hardship to some of the most vulnerable in our community (despite the best efforts of staff at the Marina Centre and the CAB to advise claimants).
The WLG will continue to hold the Conservative administration to account particularly over the progress of the third crossing during 2017.