Saturday, 2 March 2013

Fly(er)ing off the handle

Last Wednesday was the budget setting meeting of the Full Council in Ipswich. After savage cuts forced on us by Erick Pickles and the Tories – with Lib Dem support (though Eric seems to be ignoring his own 50 top tips!) we had to increase Council tax – this will help save frontline services and the cost to most residents will just be 9p a week.

The Tories had to withdraw their own alternative budget – as they only handed it in a few hours before the deadline! Now one Tory blogger has commented that Labour never presented an alternative budget in 7 years – forgetting that when the Tories/Lib Dems were in charge we were not able to see the accounts till the last minute whilst the Tories and Lib Dems have been involved in the budget making process through working groups and Scrutiny.

So no Tory budget but they did use the meeting to say where they would save money – scrap area committees seemed to be their number one plan – or it seemed their only plan.

But after their leader said scrap the committees and in particular the pay the chairs of those committees get it all started to unravel quickly. Cllr Vickery forgot it was the Tory leader who was the first to claim the Chair’s allowance. Cllr Cenci then also attacked the area Committee (but only a day later was tweeting how good the last SW Area Committee was) but then mentioned bringing back Area Forums (cost?) and then said it would be better to give Cllrs locality money – so no saving just moving money to a different pot!

The whole of the Tory response was turning into a farce, only saved by their former leader – Cllr Harsant making a speech that displayed any passion for this town.

When you thought it could get no worse for the Tories – Judy Terry rose to speak – she did not get off to a great start, quoting from confidential papers but then she mentioned her great money saving idea – only hold elections every four years – what price democracy? Many other types of council do hold elections every four years but it can lead to Cllrs being invisible for the first three years then suddenly appear at election time. With elections every year, it forces political groups to campaign all year long – of course with very few members the Lib Dems struggle to leave St Margaret’s and the Tories seem to have lost a large number of members and more importantly- activists, so in Rushmere we have only seen one leaflet in the 10 months since the last election and some wards have not seen anything for over a year. Maybe she thinks it will mean we will cancel next year’s election? Probably the only way she will save her seat!

So after we had heard all the great Tory money saving ideas – well the two of them – scrap area Committees and hold election every 4 years – David Ellesmere the Labour Leader took to his feet and indicated that Judy Terry had forgot to mention her plans to spend more money – a referendum on the Northern Fringe!

Straight away, I thought how strange – she wants to reduce democracy and have elections every 4 years then on the other hand she wants to hold an expensive referendum on a plan that originally had all party support! I also wondered why she had not proposed referendums on the sale of Kiln Meadow, the Wind Turbine contract or the sale of the Ipswich Bus Company.

When did Judy Terry suddenly become anti-development on the Northern Fringe? She was on the executive that put the original plan forward and voted for it – how do the 6 Tory Cllrs from the North West feel (well the 4 who are left) one of their members even gave up his front bench role over the plan. I guess her sudden change of heart is caused by realisation that she is in great danger of losing her seat in the May election – she even seems to have persuaded the County Council cabinet to suddenly become anti Northern Fringe development.

Now when David Ellesmere mentioned the referendum, Judy Terry quickly jumped to her feet to say she had not said that- Cllr Ellesmere told her she had put in her column in the Ipswich Flyer- she said she never wrote that (allegedly she thought David said her column in Ipswich Spy!) The Mayor eventually got her to stop behaving like Boris Johnson and to sit down. After the meeting David showed her the Flyer column. Still not happy she said she could not remember writing it and may have written it last year! Funny as she has a column each month and in the infamous column she mentions attending a meeting on the Northern fringe at the end of January! So much for last year!! She got caught out and instead of putting her hand up she has continued to keep digging- Cllr Cenci offered me some advice last week about engaging brain before writing- maybe she should phone her Tory colleague up before we read the April Ipswich Flyer- unless she wrote that column last year as well!

So let’s get this Northern Fringe debate straight – Judy Terry would rather see more houses built on brown field sites in the town rather than the Northern Fringe, so every spare space off Foxhall Road? St Clements? – So her own Rushmere residents will see more traffic and congested routes into town- Woodbridge Rd, Spring Rd and Foxhall Rd whilst her Lib Dem NIMBY friends on Westerfield Rd will have the occasional car? I hope Cllr Terry gets that message over to the residents of Rushmere, St Johns and Bixley at the next Area Committee!


Ben Redsell said...

I don't think you can claim that Judy Terry has persuaded the SCC Cabinet to object to Northern Fringe. SCC has long had an objection to plans to build on that land - stretching back before the Tories retook the council in 2005.

The concerns about the Northern Fringe are that the plans being put forward by the current IBC administration do not adequately deal with the transport issues. It certainly isn't just the SCC Cabinet who have these concerns. They are shared by thousands of voters in Northern Ipswich, but also by others, even those outside Ipswich.

One resident of a village to the north of Ipswich (no, not Westerfield!) suggested that, if these proposals go through as they are, they will go shopping in Bury or even bypass Ipswich entirely and go to Colchester, rather than try and fight their way through North Ipswich. 3500 extra homes all pouring out onto Valley Road is a nightmare and the only people that don't appear to see that are the Labour Borough councillors.

Alasdair Ross said...

Judy Terry was once for the development as were the Lib Dems - we have to have a plan, if not the Tory/ Lib Dem Govt will just allow developers to do their own thing.

Terry and the Tories are playing an election card - the reason for a change of mind whilst Inga Lockington and the Lib Dems just pretend they have amnesia

The traffic will be a problem but not as bad as the Tories and you make out. All those houses in Martlesham and Kesgrave but Woodbridge Road still flows - Some from Kesgrave use Foxhall Rd but we have had a new development at Bull Motors and plans to build on St Clements - plenty more traffic but Judy Terry wants more brownfirld sites built on- so busy Foxhall, Woodbridge , Spring and Felixstowe Rd will get more traffic.

What about the extra houses planned for Kesgrave, Trimley and possibly Sproughton?

Will all the new residents on the Northern Fringe work in town? No - BT, the Army at Wattisham, London so stop scare mongering

Ben Redsell said...

How do you propose to get to either BT or the Army at Wattisham without going onto Valley Road?

I won't make the obvious suggestion that here we have a Labour councillor acknowledging that his leader's plan to attract high value jobs to the town so that people who live here, work here, isn't working.

Brownfield sites, like maybe Grafton Way, currently blocked by a planning blight application that I predict will never be built, or Cliff Lane that will take 17% of the footfall out of the town centre, killing yet more businesses?

Brownfield sites like maybe the old bakery site on Norwich Road (although yes, this has traffic implications as well).

And yes, with new houses at Kesgrave, Martlesham, Sproughton, and Trimley, is there still a need for so much housing on that land?

You know as well as I do that the previous administration put that through because they had to hit an artificial housing target made by the Government. Since these artificial targets are scrapped, why don't we look at what we actually need?

Yes the Tories are playing an election card, as are the Lib Dems. But guess what, it is a popular one. People do not want this development without significant improvements to the transport network.

A forward thinking and truly radical council, led by councillors not officers, would be trying to work out how to deal with the transport issues, and wouldn't have had to be dragged kicking and screaming into having public meetings near the application.

Yes you have to have a plan. Nobody is saying you shouldn't. It is the contents of that plan that concern people. Or rather the things that are missing.