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Listed below is the attendance record for the main Council meetings for the last year out of a possible 12 meetings the number attended was as follows:

Cllr Mrs M. Andrews 82%
Cllr Sir P Batho 91%
Cllr G Cooke 55%
Cllr Mrs R Damiral -White 100%
Cllr J Fisher 100%
Cllr K Howe 91%
Cllr B Jones 82%
Cllr G Moye 82%
Cllr M Palman 100%
Cllr Miss B Peall 91%
Cllr Mrs D Sculley 73%
Cllr Ms C Trotter-Langlois 91%
Cllr Col R Warren 73%
Cllr D Willett 91%

Some absences were unavoidable due to representing the Town Council at other meetings, hospitalisation or illness.

Our Planning Committee considered over twenty four applications during the last year and would like to make clear at this point that they looked solely at the Reef Estates development in Church Street. At no stage were the Planning Committee, the Town Council or Suffolk Coastal District Council asked for, nor gave, any comment upon who the ensuing occupiers would be. They purely commented on the plans for the rejuvenation of a derelict eyesore. Any rumours to the contrary are not based upon fact.

The Market Hall has been redecorated together with the railings outside but the hall window needs replacing. Various kitchen equipment has been purchased and when finances permit the kitchen needs complete refurbishment. Bookings are steadily increasing and we are negotiating a long term booking for a local group.

We strive to seek ownership of Fromus Square that was agreed in principle by the then owners many years ago. We continue to promote the local businesses by organising various events such as the St. George’s weekend , the Christmas Grotto and by continued support of Saxmundham in the Anglia in Bloom competition.

The Town Council have also supported Saxmundham and Villages Voluntary outh (SAVVY) who are in the process of rejuvenating the Seaman Avenue play area. The young people identified the need for the project to benefit the whole community from young children to senior citizens and to cover all abilities.

The Town Council always donate all monies from the recycling and the commission from the Market to various charities. This year we have given monies to the following:- Saxmundham Adventure Playground, Citizens Advice Bureau, Coastal Accessible Transport Services, 1st Responders, Saxmundham Museum, Saxmundham Football Club, Suffolk Accident Rescue Service and the East Anglian Air Ambulance.

We initially recommended support for the Middle School in its endeavour to resist the closure, and this was passed unanimously at a subsequent Town Council meeting. The school’s Governors recently decided not to continue the fight against closure in the interests of a smooth transition, and as a result, we have begun to work more closely with the Saxmundham and District Community Interest Company (SADCIC) in their quest to set up a community centre on the site, which will provide an essential resource for the entire population of the town. SADCIC have already invested a great deal of time and effort into this scheme, and I look forward to the Town Council working much closer together with the Community Interest Company in the coming year to achieve this aim.

In terms of District and County Council matters affecting Saxmundham, the largest areas of consideration during the year have involved reviews of the Local Development Framework and the Unitary Authority proposals respectively. With regard to the Suffolk Coastal Local Development Framework, Sir Peter Batho, advised that this was the third review of the proposals, and provided excellent information on the history and current situation regarding the plan which, he felt, would not impact too greatly on this, and surrounding Market Towns. However, in our previous response to the Local Development Framework, we noted that the real problem is that local infrastructure is not planned in accordance with the growth in housing and population. Sir Peter informed the committee that this was still the case, and we therefore agreed to repeat our previous comments to the District Council, as nothing had changed in the latest review to make us alter that position.

The Unitary Authority proposals from the Boundary Committee for England consisted of two options, a single Unitary Authority covering the existing county boundary of Suffolk and a two Unitary plan, one combining Ipswich and Felixstowe (the North Haven Unitary) with the other making up the rest of mainly rural Suffolk. We felt that of the two options, the single unitary plan was preferable, as the two unitary authority scheme had the potential to leave the rural authority as a stagnant backwater to the vibrant North Haven authority which contained the bulk of commerce and industry within the county. However, the one drawback of the single unitary authority was its geographical size, which could potentially leave rural communities isolated. This was addressed in the plan by proposals to set up a number of community boards as the liaison between parishes and the Unitary Authority headquarters. However, as the proposed make up of these boards, which were to be given decision making powers over their local towns and parishes, involved a number of unelected plan by proposals to set up a number of community boards as the liaison between parishes and the Unitary Authority headquarters. However, as the proposed make up of these boards, which were to be given decision making powers over their local towns and parishes, involved a number of unelected representatives, we felt we could not support this plan either. Our decision to reject both plans and opt for the retention of the current system of local government was sent to the Boundary Committee. It appeared that we were right to do so, as when the matter was rushed through Westminster prior to the end of this Parliament, the Secretary of State turned down both options and requested that the matter be discussed further by the local authorities of Suffolk.

It is the duty of the Policy & Resources Committee to look at the budgeted income and expenditure, and to put forward a draft budget to the Town Council for approval. As with the financial affairs of all organisations, it’s fair to say that the budget is far and away the most emotive issue to come before the Town Council, and this year was certainly more emotive than most. Given the current state of the economy, we were extremely concerned that we did not want to place much of a greater financial burden on the residents of Saxmundham by raising the Town Council precept any more than was necessary, but this had to be balanced out by ensuring this also did not adversely affect the Town Council’s ability to carry out its responsibilities. Review of the budget took place over three months, whilst we looked at every area of expenditure in fine detail to determine the balance between lowest possible funding and effectiveness for each cost centre to function. This was, without doubt, the most stringent budget review in recent years, and I fully expect next year to be just as daunting, as the almost certain cuts in Central Government expenditure and grants filters its way down to the grass roots of local government.

The Town Council remains stalwart in their efforts to assist residents and improve our Town at all times and the Town Clerk is always happy to hear from you.

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© Saxmundham Town Council, 2014.