Sunday, 23 December 2012

Happy Christmas Rushmere residents

As 2012 draws to a close, I would like to wish everyone in Rushmere Ward, Ipswich a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

I would also like to thank all our local community leaders, groups and organisations who I have worked with this year. I am particularly grateful to Sidegate Primary School and the 6th Form pupils at Copleston High school, whom have really shown Ipswich at its best, during both my visits to their schools and when the Copleston pupils came to speak to the North East Area Committee.

I hope to continue to work with them next year and to forge closer ties with Northgate High School, Rushmere Hall Primary School, St John’s Primary School and other local community groups.

Beyond Rushmere and Ipswich I have continued to campaign on behalf of our Armed Forces and Service veterans, it was a great pleasure to see Ipswich join the County Council and sign the Military Covenant.

There is no doubt that there is a far better relationship now between local communities and the Armed Forces than when I first joined the army and we saw that here in Ipswich quite recently when we hosted the Royal Anglian Homecoming parade.

In 2013 I will continue to campaign for our Armed Forces and veterans so with that in mind I have attached a Christmas picture from my former regiment, The Royal Green Jackets showing an earlier time when the local community and the Armed Forces got on well.

Supprt Ipswich Labour's campaign to re-open Rope Walk

Suffolk County Council wants to stop rat running through Kings Avenue, Oxford Road and Milner Street by installing speed bumps, Ipswich Labour thinks this doesn’t go far enough.

Your North East Ipswich Labour team is calling for Rope Walk to be re-opened to traffic bound for the town centre, that’s the only way to stop rat running and put a stop to St Helen’s Street traffic jams.

It’s time for the Tory-run Suffolk County council to admit they were wrong to shut Rope Walk to inbound traffic and end the farce of traffic jams along St Helen’s Street.
We surveyed residents in the past on the last Tory bright idea to make St Helen’s Street one way. We want to hear what North East Ipswich residents think so we can let the County Council know.

We think Rope Walk could be used to relieve the intolerable congestion in St Helen’s Street.

But what do you think? Should Suffolk County Council:

a) Open Rope Walk to ALL traffic and close Milner Street to traffic to stop it being used as a rat run.

b) Open Rope Walk to BUSES ONLY so that the bus lane between Rope Walk and St Helen’s Street could be closed – making it a two-lane road for cars.

c) Leave things as they are so that Rope Walk is only open for cyclists and cars using the car parks in Rope Walk.

Please let us know what you think. Please send in your thoughts to Ipswich Labour.

33 Silent Street,

Sunday, 16 December 2012

My week ahead 17 - 23 December 2012

Monday 17 December, 8pm – Labour Group, Christmas Dinner

Tuesday 18 December, 9am – Finance meeting with Head at Sidegate Primary School

Wednesday 19 December, 9.30am – Planning Meeting
5pm – Meeting about Murray Rd Recreation Ground

Thursday 20 December, 6pm – East Housing Meeting

This week I have had a number of meetings about providing youth activities on Rushmere Estate in 2013, I hope to be able to announce some good news about this in January.

Friday, I joined local community campaigners in Whitby Road. Gemma Farrow a local resident hopes to have Whitby Rd declared a ‘no cold call zone’. I went out with her on Friday to ask residents what they thought we were joined by local police, Suffolk trading standards plus Sandra Gage. Sandra is a ‘community champion’ who was the force behind Meadowvale Close becoming a ‘no cold call zone’.

The good news for Rushmere Residents is that Sandra will be joining Tracy Grant, I and the local North East Ipswich Labour team in 2013, campaigning on a number of issues that affect Rushmere residents.

On Thursday, I have my last meeting before Christmas, the East Ipswich Housing meeting, interesting to see if the Tory and Lib Dems councillors turn up ( they have failed to attend the last two meetings) always a good meeting as we have a great group of residents covering the whole of the east of Ipswich on the committee with us.

Friday, 14 December 2012

Suffolk Schools failing but who do Tories blame - parents?

Tory run Suffolk County Council should be holding its head in shame today after primary schools in the county performed badly in the league tables, with only Kingston Upon Tyne and the Medway Towns producing lower results. Too many Suffolk schools are failing our pupils. Some of our Primary schools are outstanding, but many need improvement. There is a desperate need to invest in improving many of our schools in Suffolk, and in many areas such as North East Ipswich schools are full and new primary schools are needed. The Conservative-led government’s insistence on diverting much-needed investment into building new Free Schools which nobody wants or needs, in places such as Beccles, just looks even more crazy and damaging in the light of these results.

Ipswich Spy has put up a post about this issue, which included the accusation that I had slurred County Officers. I had commented that many in education thought that the county were happy for primary schools to fail as this would see many become academies – meaning the county would be in charge of fewer schools. Only yesterday a former head of a primary school spoke to me about this issue.

But if that did happen, it would mean that the County Education Department could be reduced in manpower – so Officers would lose their jobs. So it become obvious that if there is no real desire to save failing schools – it is a Tory councillor decision not Officers.

I agreed with Tory councillors when they decided to go for a two tier system, but now find it strange that some of those same Tories are now supporting a 3 tier system that includes middle schools replaced by ‘Free’ Schools.

One positive outcome to the scrapping of the 3 tier system would be that schools no longer used could have been sold off and the money used by the County council (We hoped for education) but instead we see Middle school sites being given away for free to ‘Free’ schools.

It also seems that the County Tory Cabinet are not as one on ‘Free’ schools – and it seems that at least one Tory MP has attempted to influence the promotion of ‘Free’ schools.

‘Free’ Schools seem here to stay, but the County need to up their game, if Suffolk schools are third from bottom in a national league table they are failing, and as the Tory run county is responsible for those schools, they are also failing.

What has been quite noticeable is that our Tory MP’s have been silent over the results, imagine if Labour run Ipswich Borough council had come third from bottom in a national league table – Mr Gummer would have been on BBC Radio Suffolk, Town FM and on every page of every local paper- but all we have had today is …. Silence!

Footnote - Apologies to Mr Gummer - he has just been on BBC Radio Suffolk and is blaaming the Local authority, but states that they have been failing for many years. Will Mr Gummer be asking the County now to spend more on education? Will he ask them to stop supporting 'Free' schools and get on with looking after their own? Don't hold your breath!

Last night a local tory supporter on twitter did blame someone - the parents! Thats good as long as it is not the fault of a badly run Suffolk Cpounty Council.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Tories call Ipswich a 'poor' town

Yesterday we had the last Full Ipswich Borough Council meeting of the year, as in previous meetings we had further questions on the wind turbines proposed for an area South west of Ipswich but not surprisingly the Ipswich Tories or Lib Dems were less keen to ask questions, knowing that the answers would highlight their involvement in the original deal to being turbines to the town.

The main focus of the meeting should have been the two motions that were to be debated, the first was one put forward by Labour to support the fight to save the Postal Sorting Office in Commercial Road. The Tories (no surprise) put forward an amendment, what was surprising was that their amendment did not include the name of Ben Gummer the local Tory MP.

Much of what Cllr Carnall proposedin his amendment was very acceptable to all and you wonder why he did not discuss it with the administration first, but he seemed to prefer to score some cheap political point. The good news was that a newly worded motion was agreed and that it gained unanimous support. Wonder why the Tories did not include Ben Gummers name in their amendment? Possibly because in his local paper column he seems happy for the market to decide if a sorting office is needed in Ipswich. The very opposite to when he was trying to win the Ipswich seat, then it was petitions in the town and sacks of signatures placed outside Number 10 when fighting to save a local Post office, don’t hold your breath if you expect Gummer and local Tories to be collecting signatures on the Cornhill this Saturday to save the Sorting Office.

The Tory motion was centered around the Ipswich Labour plan to start building council houses, the Tories wanted us to write a letter to the Housing Minister to thank them for the changes to housing revenue that have enabled us to start building again. What the Tories forgot was that changes to Housing Revenue had been started under the Labour Government and was just one of the very few plans from the previous government that the Tories and Lib Dems had not scrapped. It does seem strange to hear Tory councilors attempt to lecture us on social housing. Of course Ben Gummer our MP thought it was better that the new housing we were building should be run by a Housing association rather than the council, not even sure many Tory councilors would agree with him on that point.

The other main issue of the meeting was the Council Tax Support Localisation report being presented by Cllr Martin Cook – which included the effects on those in receipt of Council Tax benefit. A conservative estimate is that the changes will effect up to 9,000 families in Ipswich. So there would be less money coming to the town. Well that is what most people thought but we had Tory Cllrs queuing to say how much better the new scheme will be. Cllr Stewart even declared that we would be better off financially in the long run! Cllr Cenci also had her usual pop at those on benefit. But then Cllr Stewart came out with the comment that Ipswich was a ‘poor’ town, not sure that is a valid description of our town. I tweeted my anger and agreed with my Labour colleague who said Ipswich was not a ‘poor’ town but a town living with ‘low wages’ in what is a ‘low wage’ county.

I received a reply from a leading Ipswich Tory telling me that if I was not happy living in a low wage town, I should move. I love this town and love living here, I probably could earn far more in many other places in the world but I would rather live in my home town and fight to improve life for all Ipswich residents.

Roger Fern also angered by Tory comments, then informed us of just one center for homeless people in Ipswich had 20 of its 25 beds full last night and demand for these beds would only increase under these Tory (and Lib Dem) proposals to benefit changes.

Many residents you speak to on the doorstep mention that all political groups are the same. Last night showed quite clearly that the Ipswich Labour Party is on the side of all Ipswich residents whilst the Tories are just interested in themselves and their rich friends.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

My week ahead 10 - 15 December

Monday 10 December, 4pm – Culture Portfolio meeting
6pm – Labour Group meeting

Tuesday 11 December, 10am – Duke of Edinburgh Award presentation, St James Palace

Wednesday 12 December, 10am – Meeting about Youth activity provision in North East Ipswich
6pm – Ipswich Borough Full Council meeting

Thursday 13 December, 6pm – Scrutiny meeting

Friday 14 December, 9am – Canvassing for a ‘No Cold Call Zone’ in Whitby Road
10.15am – Coffee with staff at Sidegate Primary School

Saturday 15 December, 10am – Labour Campaigning in East Ipswich
7pm – North East Ipswich, Labour get together, Golden Key

Forget a slow down as we approach Christmas, the coming week looks like the busiest week so far this year. But the good news is that a number of those meetings are focused on improving our own part of North East Ipswich.

We also have Full Council on Wednesday and the Tories have proposed a motion that is centred on our plan to start building council houses again in Ipswich. This week I attended councillor training on Housing, and there is no doubt that the Tory/Lib Dems plans to cut housing benefits plus other changes to the benefit system are going to cause problems for may Ipswich residents and not just those living in social housing, The pilot schemes in Wakefield have seen residents who have never before been in debt find it hard to keep up with their renal payments.

The Housing department at Ipswich are going to find there services and skills are needed more than ever as people find they become homeless.

It seems strange that the Tories in Government are so willing to penalise those who may have one bedroom more than they think they should have but at the same time ask rich donors for large sums to fight against any proposals for a ‘Mansion’ tax.

We have over the last day a leading Ipswich Tory state that it is right to reduce housing benefit as we all have to share the pain – have not heard her say we should have a ‘mansion’ tax and that the rich should share the pain. It was also a concern to me that the local Tory lead on Housing was not able or did not feel he needed to attend the councillor training on housing this week.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Caught peddling a lie - so lie again

Yesterday the UK Statistics Authority rebuked Tory ministers for lies about NHS spending. The watchdog has called on ministers to correct claims the coalition has increased NHS spending in England.

The UK Statistics Authority upheld a complaint about government claims the NHS budget had increased in real-terms in the past two years.

The watchdog found the best-available Treasury data suggested real-terms health spending was lower in 2011-12 than in 2009-10.
The full story is here

So have Cameron or Hunt apologised? Not heard anything yet and to make matters worse, the Conservative website is still printing the same lies here.

It seems peddling a lie comes easy for Tories- Cameron and Hunt on NHS spending and even in Ipswich we have a local Tory activist attempting to tell the blogosphere that a prominent Ipswich blog: Ipswich Spy is Labour supporting even though the main blogger from that site is a former Tory County Councillor and still close to the leadership of the Ipswich Tory Party.

So the lesson to be learnt is you can’t believe anything on a Tory website or blog!

Sunday, 2 December 2012

My week ahead 3 - 9 December 2012

Monday 3 December, 6pm – Labour campaigning

Tuesday 4 December, 5.30pm – Governor training – Sidegate Primary School

Friday 7 December, 7pm – Labour Christmas Party – Westgate Ward Club

Saturday 8 December, 10am – Labour campaigning in South East Ipswich

Sunday 9 December, 10am – Fore Street Christmas Market

Our full Governing Body meeting at Sidegate Primary school was cancelled this week as the school found out late Tuesday that it was about to be inspected by OFSTED – we as yet do not know the result of the inspection but I have no doubt that we have the right head Teacher and staff in place to make sure Sidegate provides a fantastic environment for our children to be educated in.

One of our Governors did make an interesting observation, after he was interviewed by the OFSTED team; he declared that it was certainly more grilling than anything he had experienced in 20 years of private sector life. So for those who always knock the public sector, maybe they should take note of that.

The other big story this week was Leveson, the Prime Minister has set himself up for a fall after he declared that he would implement Leveson unless it was ‘bonkers’. Well it was far from ‘bonkers’ but Cameron seems happy to give the press (and their owners) yet one more drink in the ‘last chance’ saloon.

The public may buy the papers but as over 100,000 people have already signed the ‘hacked off petition it seems that most of the public agree with Leveson. Cameron will not be helped as each of the victims of press abuse queues up to have a pot at Cameron. JK Rowling was one of the first to comment and stated on Friday:

"I thought long and hard about the possible consequences to my family of giving evidence and finally decided to do so because I have made every possible attempt to protect my children’s privacy under the present system, and failed. If I, who can afford the very best lawyers, cannot guarantee the privacy of those dearest to me, what hope did the Dowlers, the McCanns and the Watsons ever have of protecting their own children and their own good names?"

So I hope that you may wish to sign the ‘hacked off’ petition here – so Cameron gets the message –listen to the millions not just Rupert!