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Mid Suffolk Council celebrates “exhilarating” first year under Green leadership

A year ago, the citizens of Mid Suffolk became the first in the country to elect a Green majority local government.

Now the Green administration has produced a progress report listing its top achievements and are promising more to come.

Adrian Ramsay, national Green Party co-leader and MP candidate for Waveney Valley, which includes much of Mid Suffolk, said:

 “It’s been a delight to work with the enthusiastic and dedicated Green councillors in Mid Suffolk over the past year. All of them know their patch and are conscientious and empathetic with the needs of the people they represent. They are certainly an example and an inspiration to me.”

Andy Mellen, leader of Mid Suffolk Council, said:

 “After a historic but tiring campaign last year, and once the national media storm had died down, we always knew we’d have to get our noses to the grindstone and get cracking on initiating some improvements for the area. I’ve always been aware of the weight of responsibility, being the first Green majority council. There are a lot of eyes on us around the country, so we needed to get things right.

“The advantage of having been in opposition for so long was that we also had a good idea of what we thought we could and should be doing. Although a district council has very limited responsibilities, the climate and biodiversity crisis meant that we wanted to go beyond that and reach out to involve people in the community in behavioural change and mitigation and adaptation.”

Deputy Leader, Councillor Rachel Eburne said:

“Luckily we have a fantastic team of councillors with a wealth of expertise and experience and a willing team of officers and that’s allowed us to press on with things. I’m proud of them all. It’s been a remarkable year for all of us involved in running the council both personally and professionally. It’s been tiring, but exhilarating. I’ve always felt honoured to have this role.

“We were also delighted to see our work recognised by being named, alongside Babergh, as UK Council of the Year in the iESE public sector transformation awards.”

Landmarks in the first year:

1.    Agreed, with unanimous cross-party approval, a plan for Mid Suffolk District Council to put environmental and social responsibilities at the heart of everything we do.

2.    Getting the local plan approved by Government inspectors. Andy said: “That process had been delayed under the previous regime. Now it has been approved, we are better able to apply our own, locally-set rules to control development.” 

3.    Funding approved for unique £18m Skills and Innovation Centre in Stowmarket aiming to act as green business hub. 

4.    Launched Cosy Homes initiative to insulate leaky private-rented and owner-occupied homes.  

5.    First phase of ambitious sports complex in Stowmarket approved.

6.    £670k allocated to tackle council house repair backlog inherited from earlier administration. “This had to be done urgently,” said Andy. “The backlog built up over Covid was never dealt with.”

7.    Up to £600,000 for rural community transport grants launched to help fund new services

8.    Higher council taxes for second homes and empty homes introduced to encourage landowners to rent them out to those in need of a home.

Rachel Eburne concluded:

“We have lots more in the pipeline. For example we have now completed a consultation on making it easier for owners of listed homes to insulate their property. Depending on the responses we get, there will be decisions made on this in the near future. And we are looking ahead to a decade of Green leadership.”

Pictured: Green Party co-leader Adrian Ramsay with 17 of the 24 Green Mid Suffolk councillors. Andy Mellen is behind Adrian and to his right and Rachel Eburne is on Adrian’s immediate left.