Monday, 21 June 2010

Armed Forces Day

Today I was very proud to attend an event at Grafton House in Ipswich to launch Armed Forces Day. the actual day is at the end of the week, but councils all over the country raised the Armed Forces Day flag at 10.30am this morning. In Ipswich the Mayor along with veterans raised a flag at the Town Hall and I joined other councillors and council employees as we raised a flag at Grafton House.

I think armed Forces Day is a great idea, as it gives the general public an opportunity to show their support for our Armed Forces. I could never have seen that happening in the early 80's, when myself and other soldiers often felt we were being treated like third class citizens. to be honest the Armed Forces get far more support every day of the year now than we ever got, but it is still good to have a dedicated day on which we can thank every member of our Armed Forces.

Today also marked the loss of the 300th serviceman in Afghanistan, this may lead to even more of a clamour for our withdrawal. I for one think that would be a major mistake, if we left Afghanistan, within weeks the Taliban would take over that country and Pakistan would not last much longer. The situation could lead to another India - Pakistan war. We will lose further soldiers in the conflict but we are doing a good job and we are winning. Last Armed Forces Day I spent in Sangin, in 50 degree heat but I knew then we were there for the right reasons and I still believe that now.

How we marked Armed Forces Day in Sangin in 2009, the only cool place to hold the flag, in the Helmand River

Thursday, 3 June 2010

We can learn from Europe - Transport and housing

I love this country and as Eddie Izzard would say we live in - "Brilliant Britain" but we can still learn plenty from Europe, this weekend I found myself in Vienna and I came away even more determined to campaign for better public transport in Ipswich. Vienna of course is a capital city and I am not planning to campaign for an Ipswich Underground, but there is plenty we could learn from the Viennese, the ticketing system, the signposts, bus lanes, route planning. There is a possibility we may get this quite soon if the proposed investment on public transport in Ipswich is not scrapped by the new Tory Government.

The trouble is that the Tory run Borough Council have run down public transport in Ipswich over the last 5 years, that if we do not get the investment it could see the end of public transport in the town.

We understand that the new Government has to make cuts to reduce the national debt, but if the investment in transport is cut, it will be so shortsighted as it will lead to further traffic congestion and make it even harder to instigate further improvements in Public transport in the future. It will also play into the hands of many Tory Councillors who did not want to see any Public transport at all let alone an improvement in it.

We also could learn from Europe when it comes to building new affordable homes, if you get a chance to visit Vienna, get along to Kegelgasse, a fantastic social housing development built by artist come architect - Friedensreich Hundertwasser, it is hard to describe but it is somewhere that people want to live and also to become part of a community. the sort of development that could have been placed on the Ipswich Waterfront rather than just blocks and blocks of flats, see here for more of Friedensreich Hundertwasse's work

Best hotel in the world?

Never expected this blog to start advertising items or services but I just have to give this hotel a plug.

Hotel Altstadt - Kirchengasse 41, A - 1070, Vienna, Austria

My wife and myself spent the bank holiday weekend in Vienna, (plus a day in Graz to see the England - Japan game) and we really enjoyed the city, the sights, the friendly Viennese and superb beer. But the highlight of the weekend was the Hotel Altstadt and their staff. It is luxury but with also a feel of being in your own home, the superb pieces of art on the wall, the fantastic furniture, modern lighting and on top of that free cake and tea every afternoon at 4!

There was a slight cock up with our reservation, but the friendly staff sorted it out quickly and even gave us a bottle of champagne!

If you get a chance, visit Vienna and there is only one place you can think of staying - Hotel Altstadt - the best hotel in the world.