Pinewood and Stour Valley Branch Gathering October 2016


We held our first branch meeting of the Pinewood & Stour Valley Labour Party since the ban on meetings duirng the leadership contest. The enthusiasm for the event was shown by the fact that we had 28 attendees, including a possee of sixth formers from a local school! Typically we have between 10 and 15. We had an insightful, if a tad depressing, presentation by fab Labour woman Councillor Sarah Adams on the Tories destruction of our Health & Social care system. Then David Plowman spoke with passion about Education and the Grammar School issue, which is the main National campaign theme.There were energetic table discussions and a real appetite for getting out there & doing something. Many people signed up to attend the Jo Ellen training day on 5th November in readiness for Suffolk County Council 2017 election campaign.

Report of the Pinewood and Stour Valley Branch Meeting held at Pinewood Community Hall on 3 October 2016 – 19:30


Present: Phil Dunnett (Minutes Sec); Judith Khan (Vice Chair); Jenny Morris; Frances Blackwell; Susan Hemmings; Carol Tilbury; David Plowman (South Suffolk CLP Chair); Liz Cooper; Daniel Potter; Helen Caston; Joseph Caston; Dolores Caston-Hawkes; Nancy Caston Hawkes; Keith Wade; Brian Wales; Mary Gillet; James Clarke; Cecily Cullen.

Hadleigh Branch: Sue Monks; Sue Corp; Rickaby Shears-Sanders; Jane Basham.

Ipswich Branch: Dylan Lewis; Niamh O’Sullivan; Sean Leggat-Bulaitis.

Guest Speaker: Sarah Adams – Suffolk County Councillor

Branch Officers and AGM

Two of our officers have stepped back from their roles, i.e. Branch Chair Graham Manuel and Secretary Sue Thomas.

In 2014 Graham Manuel agreed to help the branch by taking on the role of chair. Graham has worked for the Labour party locally and nationally for over 30 years and wishes to step back from an ongoing active role. Graham played a big role in rejuvenating the branch during the last two years, changing the style of our branch meetings from somewhat dreary formal affairs to more interactive and engaging sessions. He and his wife Ann also launched a local branch Newsletter that we now use to advertise the meetings, events and other items of interest.

Sue Thomas is another long term Labour Party activist and has been our Branch Secretary for many years. Recently Sue has taken in the role of South Suffolk CLP Branch Secretary and, therefore, wishes to stand down from the Branch Role.

Many thanks are due to Graham and Sue for their sterling work for the party.

The remaining Branch Officers are:

  • Vice Chair: Judith Khan;
  • Minutes Secretary: Phil Dunnett
    • Treasurer: Liz Dunnett

We are now looking for other people to get involved with running the Branch, operating as an effective team to lead the branch forward. We would particularly like someone strong publicity skills to join us and coordinate that area of activity. Please get in touch if you are interested in getting involved.

The provisional date for the AGM is Monday 23rd January 2017 7:30pm at Pinewood Community Hall.

Social Care – Sarah Adams

Sarah is the Suffolk County Councillor for St Margaret's and Westgate Division in Ipswich, and is both Deputy Leader of the Labour Group and Spokesperson for Health and Adult Care.

Sarah spoke passionately about the sad state of Social Care and care in community in general. The failure of the privatised care homes operated by Care UK and the like has left the county with an acute shortage of places for people in need. With Social Services also under extreme pressure the alternative of good quality home care is also becoming a big issue. This is causing bed blocking in Hospitals in cases when patients could be moved out if there were care beds available.

Sarah presented Labour Party proposals for addressing the above issues and more that appear to be easily affordable given the level of Reserves, currently £220 million, with £10 million added in 2015/16. These proposals are included as appendix 1.



David Plowman gave a rallying cry for support of the national campaign on Education, especially the proposal for more Grammar Schools. The arguments are not new. The division and segregation that selection in education causes may be an even greater issue now given the divisions stemming from other causes, e.g. Brexit. There will be leaflets to deliver and campaign days on this issue. David’s weekly ‘Blast’ will be a good source of information on this.

Suffolk County Council Elections May 2017

This is the main focus for the Branch for the next 6 months. There are plenty of issues to campaign. In addition to Social Care, and Education as mentioned above, we also have cuts to rural local transport, fire service and police. We have an opportunity to make a significant change in the balance of power on the SCC with the promise that strong Labour representation would take action to address the issues mentioned above.

Jo Ellen Training Day

The effectiveness of our campaigning will be key to our performance in the 2017 SCC elections. Many members find the thought of canvassing door to door and campaigning in general a bit uncomfortable.

Jo Ellen runs a Communications company and is a Labour Party member. She has offered her services to the Party to help improve the effectiveness of Labour Party campaigning and canvassing. We had a trial workshop with Jo Ellen several months ago and it was a very enjoyable and motivating experience.

We have now confirmed a date, time and venue  for this workshop, i.e. 5th Nov, 10:00-16:00 and the venue is Pinewood Community Hall. Several people expressed an interest in attending this session and we now have 18 people on the list for the day.

Meeting Venues

Although the Pinewood venue is a good central venue for meetings, we do have a wide geographical spread from Shotley through to Strafford St Mary. It would be good if we could hold the occasional meeting nearer to the east and west of the Branch. Capel Library is a venue we have used in the past. Other suggestions were:

  • Woolvestone Hall – Joe Caston to investigate
  • Stutton Village Hall – Jenny Morris or Carol Tulbury to investiagte

Treasurer Report

At the last meeting the treasurer reported that the bank balance plus cash in hand totalled approx £480. Since then we held a fund raising summer social on 2nd July. That raised over £130 and money is still trickling in as we are getting ongoing donations in exchange for the CDs, DVDs and books. The branch can use this to help fund the SCC campaign, e.g. print our own leaflets.

Christmas Social

Prior to the meeting we had pencilled in the eve 9th or 10 Dec for a branch Christmas social. At the meeting we agreed to make this a CLP wide event. Hadleigh members agreed to check out the availability of the Ansell Centre as it a good central location for the whole South Suffolk branch. There is the possibility of live music being on offer and some members agreed to check out contacts.



Article from   Public Sector Executive Online 06.10.16

Councils falling behind on ‘desperately needed’ Care Act reviews

Councils in England have been failing to provide social care clients and their carers with “desperately needed” assessment reviews, despite there being an expectation to do so under the Care Act, new figures from NHS Digital reveal.

The figures show that in England in April 2015 – March 2016, just over half (55%) of social care clients who had been accessing long-term support for over a year received any review.

Of those that took place, 51% of planned reviews (147,000) and 49% of unplanned reviews (50,000) led to a change in care. In 13,000 planned reviews, the assessment led to the client being moved to residential or nursing care.

Vicky McDermott, chair of the Care and Support Alliance, said the figures showed “that fewer and fewer people are receiving the care and support they desperately need”.

“This is yet another indicator of the impact that chronic underfunding of social care in England is having,” she added. “Because of a lack of funds, cuts to care budgets mean that vulnerable older people, disabled people and their carers are being forced out of the system. ADASS figures from earlier this year show that an extra £1billion per year is needed just to ‘stand still’.

“The prime minister will be judged by her actions, not her words. If Theresa May is serious about creating a ‘country that works for everyone’,  she must address the growing crisis in social care funding, and we urge her to make it a priority in the autumn statement.”

Social care is facing a £3.5bn deficit by 2020, and a recent report from the King’s Fund and Nuffield Trust warned that older people may have to primarily rely on private care in the future.

Carers are also supposed to receive an assessment of their needs under the 2014 Care Act.

The new figures showed that there are 387,000 carers currently in contact with their councils. However, a third of these carers (131,000) did not receive an assessment.

The data did reveal, though that 81% of carers (314,000) receive support, in addition to 57,000 instances of respite or other support for their cared-for person.

In a recent Carers Trust survey, 65% of respondents said they had not had an assessment since the Act was introduced, which the charity linked to cuts to the social care system.

Furthermore, it was much harder for new clients to access support. Councils received 1.8 million new requests for support, 72% of which were from clients aged 65 or over.

However, 57% did not result in direct support from the council. For 524,000 of these, clients were referred to other services, and for 515,000, their needs were found to be below the eligibility threshold.

Cllr Izzi Seccombe, chair of the LGA's community wellbeing board, said: “Not every person requesting or receiving a care assessment necessarily needs the direct support of adult social care services. In many cases, signposting someone to an alternative type of support, such as in the voluntary sector, could be more suitable, and should enable people to live more independently in their community for longer.

“But we can only provide care and support to those who are assessed as needing direct support if social care is properly funded.”

A Department of Health spokesperson said: "We understand the social care system is under pressure, and this Government is committed to ensuring those in old age throughout the country can get affordable and dignified care."

They said that the Care Act had given "new rights" to carers and the government was introducing "landmark reforms" to social care funding.


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