6.1 Councillor Morley, the Leader made her announcements and said that throughout the year and especially over the past 6 months of COVID-19, she would like to recognise all the staff as the ‘unsung heroes’ of local government. The Council’s staff had worked through, sometimes, difficult personal circumstances, always with the best interests of Mid Suffolk residents at the forefront of their minds. Members recognised what had been achieved in managing, and helping to mitigate, the spread of COVID-19 in addition to maintaining vital services to residents and communities. Mid Suffolk remained one of the safest places to live, with only two new confirmed cases within the last week, the lowest number across the whole of Suffolk. So “Stick with It Suffolk” – we can do this! She also wanted to pay tribute to Councillors, who have continued to represent their residents and helped share important public messages. “Working Together” are achieving good outcomes for the people who live or work in Mid Suffolk.
6.2 Councillor Morley then highlighted some of the Council’s achievements:
· Paddock House redevelopment received the go ahead – creating 16 affordable homes in Eye.
· The Council had received £800,000 Government funding for electricity micro generation and solar storage car ports, as part of the Climate Change initiatives.
· Great progress had been made on the Regal Theatre refurbishment and extension as part of the Stowmarket visioning work.
· Gateway 14 consultation was underway. This was an opportunity for the community to be heard and would help to support our economic recovery.
· A £200k investment in Stradbroke Pool & Fitness Centre had been completed and a £2.2m upgrade and extension to Mid Suffolk Leisure Centre in Stowmarket was now underway, including a new gym, poolside features and changing rooms.
· CIL awards – eg improvements to Thurston Railway Station, new electrical vehicle charging points in Stowmarket, improvements to the Moors Lane children’s play area in Eye, a new car park in Debenham and conversion of the Granary in Wingfield into a children’s nursery. Each of these were creating communities with bright and healthy futures.
· “Working Together “with Babergh, the Council had secured £100,000 to provide safe and warm accommodation for homeless people and rough sleepers this winter.
· Inaugural Innovation Awards 2020 had been launched – this was recognising forward thinking businesses large and small (27th Sept closing date for nominations, held virtually on 3rd Nov).
6.3 The Leader then thanked Councillor Hadingham who had approached the role of Chair with energy and enthusiasm, both within the Chamber and as part of her Civic functions. It was a shame that the last 6 months had curtailed some of her duties out and about in our Communities, however her chosen charities had benefited from her endeavours to the tune of £1244.78. Councillor Hadingham had been, perhaps, an unconventional Chair with her somewhat irreverent style and she had kept Members on their toes throughout. She was determined that Councillor Hadingham’s talents would not go to waste and she would like to take this opportunity to announce that Councillor Hadingham would join the Cabinet as the Portfolio Holder for Housing with immediate effect, where her abilities would be put to good use.
6.4 Councillor Eburne also thanked staff for their hard work during the challenging circumstances of recent months.