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Saxmundham: synopsis of the Council’s Work


Saxmundham has continued to grow over the last few years, and there is no reason to think expansion of


all our Suffolk Coastal towns


will diminish over the coming years, given the national shortage of new domestic properties. I think we also have to realise that to continue the economic sustainability and viability


of


Saxmundham we need to make parallel progress in building on infrastructure to accommodate this growing population. To enable this the Town Council has to take some, sometimes unpalatable decisions. One such decision taken was to raise the precept, not to everyone’s taste however, that kind of decision is never taken lightly, and on this occasion it has meant we can undertake infrastructure projects that will benefit the residents and the next generation long-term; it is impossible for Saxmundham to stand still, physical growth without infrastructure growth will never deliver real sustainability. During the last three year period we have embarked on a series of notable projects using that additional precept money wisely, and will continue to do so in the foreseeable future. The first major long-term project was the preservation and purchase of the redundant Saxmundham Police Station, important given that this valuable building’s location is central to Saxmundham’s future growth. It would undoubtedly have been demolished and turned into domestic housing.


The future long-term


plans for this importantly placed building as an information centre, offices, meeting rooms, and miscellaneous projects (i.e. men in sheds) for the community are well under way. The Memorial Field has been a long-term, well used, but empty space that required a more universal purpose. Our first, very expensive project was to undertake a vastly overdue maintenance programme of drainage (last undertaken in the 1930’s) to enable use of the amenity year round. This has proved very successful.


Our next project was a consultation around young people, and how best to ensure a long- term structured provision, that hadn’t existed in Saxmundham for a long time. We engaged the Ormiston Trust to conduct a survey throughout Saxmundham on the needs and aspirations of our young people and parents.


That youth


consultation was transposed into positive action by building a Youth Club on the Memorial Field, along with a Service Level Agreement, over a two year period from an independent youth provider, to delivering a structured sustainable young people’s provision to Saxmundham. The Town Council has also recognised that the feel good factor in the High Street is also important in encouraging a vibrant and commercial Saxmundham marketplace, particularly at Christmas. The previous system of providing ad hoc illuminations, with all the problems of individual property ownership and regulations regarding temporary structures had unfortunately become unsustainable. We have therefore let a three year contract for the erection, dismantling and storage of Christmas Lights with a commercial Christmas Lights company, and obtained a ‘way-leave’ from the local authority to use the street lights as a power source. The ongoing, more difficult provision of dog bins, and other fixed assets are an aspect of maintaining a safe, and viable town that most don’t see, and are perhaps the more unrewarding, but essential part of the TC’s work that everyone is concerned about. It required great effort from the Councillors involved. We have also managed to obtain planning permission for the long awaited Skatepark on the Memorial Field, and engaged a contractor to carry out the work - we are waiting a start date. In finishing, it is important to note that the Town Council are continuing to engage with Kelsale to develop a Neighbourhood Plan. This essential piece of work will enable us to use the Localism Act to Saxmundham’s benefit, future development, and maximise our share of the future Community Infrastructure Levy as it becomes available.


Roger Plant Chairman


3


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