Blog: Let’s go forward together

At times like these it can be very difficult to have an optimistic view of the future. The latest restrictions announced by the Prime Minister, as we head into the darker and cooler days of the year, almost seem to be reinforcing that feeling.
Striking the correct balance between maintaining a healthy population whilst trying to limit the economic damage is exceedingly difficult, so for everyone’s sake we really must follow the regulations. As always, our police force will do their level best to ensure compliance and will only use enforcement as a last resort – but make no mistake enforcement action will be taken if required. That said, I don’t believe Suffolk should be downcast and full of doom and gloom as I’m convinced there are good signs of hope and encouragement.
Whilst infection levels in Suffolk have increased, they are very low in comparison to many other parts of the country. We have coped very well since lockdown started in March and there’s no reason why that should not continue. Our track record of joint working across the county and provision of mutual aid is second to none and we must not jeopardise those hard-won gains over the pandemic. One of most powerful strengths of Suffolk’s character is our ability to roll up our shirtsleeves and get on with the task in hand.
The county has faced far greater challenges in the last century – two world wars and other conflicts are obvious examples. I attended the Battle of Britain memorial and thanksgiving service on September 20th – a poignant reminder of the ultimate sacrifice of so many young people who, against huge odds, were successful in delivering the country from the evil tyranny of Hitler. For me, this clearly demonstrates that we will succeed in defeating this dreadful pandemic by harnessing the benefit of joint working, determination and perseverance.
So what are some of these positive signals? Firstly, the economy is showing signs of recovery. More people are back at work and there are more schemes to assist those who have sadly lost their jobs through no fault of their own. In my office we have recommenced our commissioning and grant aid which is assisting organisations who are finding it difficult to provide support for victims during this time, mainly because their ability to fundraise has been affected.
The schemes to support local businesses are also making a difference and you can also help with this by buying local and where possible from Suffolk organisations. Elsewhere, up to the point when the new regulations were announced in mid-September, the Constabulary had not issued any fixed penalty notices in the previous two months for those who have deliberately ignored the government guidelines. This demonstrates, despite the frustration and inconvenience, most Suffolk residents are being compliant and not placing an extra burden of the police who, frankly, have more than enough to deal with in preventing crime and capturing criminals.
I mentioned the young people who fought in the Battle of Britain and recently, I was privileged to attend the world premiere of “Life of Lowestoft.” This powerful film documentary was created by Joshua Freemantle (a local seventeen year old), and it was his idea to focus on Lowestoft’s fascinating history and its future potential as a great place to live, work and visit. It was truly an uplifting moment and adds to my cautious optimism for the future. The project was supported so strongly by Lowestoft Rising – a pioneering multi-agency organisation which I helped to establish soon after I became Suffolk’s PCC. The film also captivates the collective approach of joint working from business to public agencies and volunteers and if you have the opportunity to watch the documentary you will not be disappointed. I’m sure you will find it uplifting. It reinforced one of Churchill’s profound comments all those years ago – “Let us go forward together” and that’s exactly what we are doing in Suffolk!
For more detail about Lowestoft Rising please take a look at

Published in the East Anglian Daily Times  September 2020