Chloe Smith, MP for Norwich North, today responded formally to Norfolk County Council’s ‘Big Conversation’ consultation, which closes on 10th January.
She has provided a portfolio of views on behalf of constituents who have contacted her on the County Council’s proposed budget changes. Issues raised include: transport, adult social care, children’s services and the fire and rescue service.
Chloe comments: “It is very important to me as a local MP that I represent people’s views to the County Council as well as to Westminster. Councils and MPs should work together in this difficult financial situation to try to get the best for local people. Now the consultation is drawing to its close, I have made sure to lobby for people’s views as they have been told to me, including on services for older people, youth services including transport and Connexions, the Fire and Rescue Service and more.
“On the whole I think the Big Conversation consultation process has been a sensible way to approach the financial problem and I hope that the Council considers what people have said.”
Chloe writes in a letter to Cllr Derrick Murphy:
“I hope that your council will be able in particular to consider further options that relieve the burden of change upon the following, cross-referenced to your consultation items:
Community meal provision (A10). I support the sourcing of cheaper and higher quality food options, but know that many people highly value their general interaction with the ‘meals on wheels’ service.
Day services provision (A11). As you will already know from previous communication regarding the Silver Rooms in my constituency, I am keen that provision for elderly users of such services is not affected before proper alternatives are in place. It is important that existing groups such as the users of the Silver Rooms can be helped to stay together and stay local, as well as getting access to decent buildings.
Eligibility criteria (A14). I share constituents’ fears that raising the criteria to only ‘critical’ could mean that too few people who need help would get it. This measure could create a serious burden on carers, who already struggle very often, and could put unworkable pressure on the statutory and non-statutory systems of preventative care in the county, which are already liable for financial impact in the same proposals (A22).
The sensory support service (A15). I respect the arguments made by NNAB, a well known local institution serving Norwich North, and others about this service.
The school transport service (B3, B4), including for disabled children as well as the broader question of post-16 transport, which I know your council is working hard on with local colleges.
The school crossing patrol service (B5). This service is highly valued by communities around schools, and represents a relatively low saving as specified in your document.The system for Special Educational Needs assessments (B6), which constituents tell me is already slow, complicated and in some cases inaccurate.
Youth services (B11) and Connexions (B12). I share the council’s view that many of these services are already well “provided by a vibrant community sector” in our county, but it is important that any transition is responsibly planned to safeguard services as much as possible while alternatives are identified and developed.
Support for looked after children (B16). I would be grateful to be kept informed of your review and impact assessment in this area.”