Parties make pledges ahead of Suffolk County Council election

Suffolk County Council's headquarters at Endeavour House, Ipswich
Suffolk County Council's headquarters at Endeavour House, Ipswich

The list of candidates has been published for the Suffolk County Council elections taking place on March 4.

The major parties have set out their manifestos, with focus on budgets, reserves, education, roads and services.

Currently the Conservatives hold a majority and the party has set out a 10-point plan promising to increase council tax by only the barest minimum, being “effective and efficient”.

There are also promises to invest £250million on roads maintenance and infrastructure and pledges to spend £60million to develop 10 new care homes.

They party points to improvements in education and aims to improve health and wellbeing, including the development of new cycle routes.

Travel, transport and infrastructure are also in the party’s manifesto, pointing to investments in the Upper Orwell crossing and a third crossing in Lowestoft, while in Babergh there is focus on a western relief road for Sudbury.

The Labour Party accuses the Conservatives of committing a “massive act of vandalism against every town” by storing millions in reserves.

Sandy Martin, Suffolk Labour group leader said: “By cutting care for the elderly, children’s centres, fire services, buses and road maintenance the Conservatives are actually costing Suffolk people more in wasted time and ruined lives.”

If elected, the party says it will not squander this money, but invest in helping older people to be more independent, restoring the fire service to a safe level, ensuring all schools perform well and maintaining roads properly.

The Liberal Democrats have identified six priorities.

These include providing a £5million boost to adult social care; investment in infrastructure to support new housing, including roads, schools and doctor’s surgeries, and funding for a county-wide mental health programme in schools.

It also lists repairs to roads and pavements, investment in local bus services and making park-and-ride services more frequent and protection of the county’s libraries.

In its manifesto, the Green Party targets the reduction of car dependency, by investing more in public transport rather than building new roads like the proposed Sudbury bypass.

It plans to lower speed limits where people want them, suggesting Sudbury, Lavenham and Bildeston.

Providing more road space for pedestrians and cyclists is also a key ambition.

It also says it would look to pull out of the “disastrous” road maintenance contract with Kier. The party says it would encourage landowners to rent farmland for local food production, rather than selling it for development.

The UK Independence Party (UKIP) promises to target improving the county’s economy, with attention on infrastructure, saying it will “create an environment where organisations both private and public sector can thrive”.

It says adequate roads, not filled-in potholes, are essential.

It also concentrates on preserving library services, addressing provision of high-speed broadband and full mobile phone coverage.

The party says it will also look to reform the current cabinet system of decision-making at county hall and look to use some of the council’s reserves.

For the full list of candidates see this week’s Suffolk Free Press.