Saturday, 31 August 2013

Come and help promote your neighbourhood

East Ipswich Council tenants needed - if you can't make this date but would like to get involved, phone the Tenant Participation Team

Sunday, 25 August 2013

My week ahead, 25 - 31 August 2013

Tuesday 27 August 2pm - Labour campaigning, Rushmere Ward

Thursday 29 August, 11am - Agenda setting meeting, North East Area Committee - Grafton House

Saturday 31 August, 10am - Labour campaigning, South West Ipswich

Plenty of campaigning in the week ahead as we make the most of the late Summer weather and the break from regular meeting.

No surprise this week that Ben Gummer was re-selected to stand for the Tories in the next General Ele3ction - I am sure he will fight hard to try and hold the seat. I expect him to try and bring outside support as the local Tory group seem far from united and with the possibility of them losing further council seats next May it will make it harder for Gummer. the trouble is, that once it gets harder, Ben Gummer resorts to ill thought out attacks on the Labour run council.

I have recently been elected Chair of the Ipswich Town Independent Supporters Trust, the trust will be hoping to more visible (and vocal) over the next few months. there are still concerns about the plan for the club that the owner has (or if there is a plan) and a big concern is about ticket prices and the difficulty of purchasing ticket on the day of the match.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Ben Gummer - car parking and unwarranted attacks

Quids In

Last Friday Ben Gummer used his ‘Star’ column to explain that he believes one of the reasons Ipswich is behind Norwich as a shopping location(his view – not mine) is because of our car parks – both location and price, Ben believes they are too expensive.

To many the article seemed to be yet one more attack on the Labour run Borough council by Ben Gummer. Now some may say, that is what Labour politicians would think – but the main contributor to Ipswich Spy, a former Tory agent and councillor seemed to think the same and even wrote a post informing Mr Gummer he was wrong with his views on IBC and car parks.

Then 3 days later, Ipswich Central alongside the Borough Council, the County Council and NCP announce that car parking after 3pm will now only cost a total of £1 plus there would be deals on both buses and park and rides into the town.

This announcement quickly saw Ben Gummer inform Ipswich Spy they were wrong in their post and that he was not being critical of the Labour run council but was just offering advice. He even informed me that I was wrong by twitter – I could not reply as he has blocked me. Some of his tweets may even give one the impression that he was taking credit for the idea!

Ipswich Spy (unsurprisingly because of their Tory links) accepted that they had misinterpreted Ben’s column and that he was not being critical of IBC. The point is that on first reading, Ipswich Spy did think he was being critical – so what did Ipswich residents/voters think?

In my opinion the launch of ‘Quids in’ on Monday made Ben Gummer look even more stupid as it showed that the council had been working for some considerable time on a scheme to reduce car park prices and attract more people to the town centre.

But within hours of a Ben Gummer stating that he not been critical of the council, another Tory ‘Blue Ed’ was supporting Mr Gummer, but gave himself away as a troll as he mentions that the column of Mr Gummer that mentioned car parks was two weeks ago, but there was no column two weeks ago and the ‘car park’ column was only 3 days previously.

Some might think that the timing of the column was the problem – was it meant to have been published a week earlier? ‘Blue Ed’ seems to think so.

So did Mr Gummer k now about ‘quids in’ before he wrote his column? You would have thought the Tory run County Council may have mentioned it to him – then again Tory Mr Newman and his Officers do not have a great record of telling anyone what they are planning as we have seen to the recent road traffic schemes.

Even if Mr Gummer did not know about ‘quids in’, he could have still praised Ipswich Council for what they were doing to attract shoppers into the town, we had already reduced car park prices to just £1 an hour in a number of our car parks. He could have also asked why the County Council – Tory run – had stopped the Bury Rd ‘Park and Ride’?

So for all Mr Gummers tweets and comments, to myself and many others his column last Friday was yet one more attack on the Labour run council –in hard times – with our grant from his Government reduced, we are doing all we can to help business in the town – to attract shoppers and visitors.

I hope Mr Gummer is in Ipswich this weekend, and manages to visit the Maritime festival and he will see yet one more successful event that IBC is supporting and managing with the aim of attracting more visitors to the town.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

My week ahead, 19 - 25 August 2013

Monday 19 August – 2pm, Labour Campaigning, Bixley Ward, Ipswich

Thursday 22 August – 1pm, Launch of Ipswich Maritime Festival – and Ipswich Beer Festival - Ipswich Waterfront

Saturday 24 August – 10am, Labour campaigning South West Ipswich

5.15pm – AGM of Ipswich Town Independent Supporters Trust, Drum and Monkey

Highlight of the week or is it lowlight, Tim Yeo the MP for South Suffolk, being interviewed by BBC Radio Suffolk and showing that he is totally out of touch with not only his constituents or the ‘real’ world.

Knowing where to buy quail eggs in Hadleigh but not knowing there was food bank in Sudbury. Then he displayed his arrogance, refusing to see the conflict of interests between being chair of a select committee and the links between himself and green energy firms. He has also stated that he will stand again in 2015, Labour this weekend have chosen Jane Basham to stand against him in South Suffolk.

Jane showed in the 2012 PCC elections that she is a great campaigner – let’s hope the residents of South Suffolk use this election in 2015 to get rid of Tim ‘quail eggs’ Yeo.

Save our Royal Mail

Prices will go up

Business will be squeezed

The countryside will be isolated

Heritage will be lost - and the real shocker -

Free post to HM Armed Forces will be stopped

Friday, 16 August 2013

Quail eggs or food banks? - Tim Yeo only knows about quail eggs!

This morning, the Tory MP for South Suffolk was the guest on BBC Radio Suffolk – I decided to listen in as expected him to be questioned about the building of two wind turbines outside Ipswich. The turbines have become an issue that certain Tories have campaigned about in South West Ipswich. One reason is that the turbines will be seen from Ipswich and secondly the land that one of the turbines will be built on is owned by Ipswich Borough Council. Trouble is the Tories seem to forget they signed the deal with the turbine company and that the land that the other turbine will be built on is owned by the family of another Suffolk Tory MP.

Ben Gummer our own Tory MP has spoken about the issue and his picture is on the Tory leaflets but he states that he can’t say much about the issue as it is outside his constituency (this did not stop him recently talking about the hospital in Colchester!)
So I tuned in to hear what Tim Yeo, the Tory MP for South Suffolk would say about the turbines. The issue being complicated further by his involvement in a number of green energy companies.

First of all Mr Yeo was late for the interview and only one question was asked about the wind turbines, Mr Yeo said it was up to Babergh District Council and that as no planning application has been submitted, he could not do much else at the moment (a similar explanation given by Labour councillors in Ipswich that did not seem to be accepted by Tories protesting against the turbines.) Tim Yeo did promise to hold a public meeting once or if the application is submitted.

Tim Yeo also answered questions on other planning issues, he was also asked about Cox’s Park in Hadleigh, he said he would meet the group trying to save the park but did not seem to know much about the issue though in the past he has told residents that he has written to Babergh Council detailing concerns of residents - maybe he should make the answers he received from Babergh (if he has received any) public?

But where Tim Yeo highlighted the fact that he is a Tory MP totally out of touch with his residents and the ‘real’ world was an answer he gave about supporting local shops then a further question about food banks.

Tim Yeo said that he himself used local shops and recently purchased some quail eggs in Hadleigh, at first this remark sounded quite amusing but then he was asked about food banks. The lady with the question was from North Suffolk, and Tim replied that it was shame that food banks were needed but then stated that there were none in his constituency and he believed that not one family in his constituency depended on food banks. Within seconds of this statement a number of listeners (and the BBC) had googled food banks in South Suffolk and found that there was one in Sudbury. One that had been running a number of years and in the biggest town in his constituency! Tim was quickly informed that there was a food bank in his constituency- Tim answered, that they must have been keeping it quiet!

Well Mr Yeo they have not been keeping it quiet and have been working with the Sudbury branch of Waitrose to help families and during Christmas 2011 supplied food hampers to 43 families in crisis and expected to give out more last Christmas.

You would have thought a local MP would have researched the number of food banks and how many people were using them when it is such a national talking point and I would have thought any decent MP would like to know if any families are now in crisis due to changes to the benefits system. But it seems Mr Yeo has not bothered to find out about food banks or even just ask a member of his staff to put Sudbury Food bank in google! Well Mr Yeo to save you the time just check this link to Sudbury Food Bank.

So we have in South Suffolk a Tory MP who knows where you can buy quail eggs but not where to go if you need a food bank! Out of touch.

The bad news for South Suffolk constituents is that Yeo also told BBC Suffolk that he hopes to be standing again in 2015. He was then asked about the corruption claims against him, he said he would be found innocent and once he had he would again take the chair of the Energy and Climate Change Committee, seems he still can’t see that being the chair of that committee and at the same time working for green energy firms causes any conflict of interests!

First of all will local Tories still want him as their candidate? I am afraid the answer will be ‘yes –so it will be up to the constituents of South Suffolk to get rid of an MP who today managed yet again to show us that he is completely out of touch with the real world.

Do they have quail eggs at the food bank?

Sunday, 11 August 2013

My week ahead, 12 - 18 August 2013

Monday 12 August – 4pm, Culture Portfolio meeting
6pm, Labour Campaigning, Bixley Ward, Ipswich

Friday 16 August – 2pm, Ipswich Labour daytime campaigning, West Ipswich

Start of a quiet two weeks (political wise) as August tends to be the month with least council meetings but as I am involved with the Culture portfolio, there are always briefings and updates as we deal with topics like Ransomes, Town hall, regent and our next cycling event.

Meetings may have reduced in number but we are using that as an opportunity to do even more campaigning – we had yet another big team out in Ipswich yesterday morning with one new member attending his first canvass session. The camaraderie, the social side afterwards and the knowledge that we need to do this seems to dive our volunteers and great to see big numbers out each week. At the sa e time we are stepping up our campaigning and we have an influx of new members to help the Tories both nationally and in Ipswich are struggling both for members and activists.

Tory Chair, Grant Shapps seems to be taking most of the flak (but David Cameron seems the main cause of the drop in membership). Shapps has come under a constant daily attack from Tory donor, Lord Ashcroft, who continues to ask for both the membership total and the number who voted in their MEP elections. He has now been joined by Essex Tory MP, Douglas Carswell, whose constituency – Clacton is one of the few who have seen a rise in Tory membership – Carswell attacks Cameron and Shapps but keeps the Tory whip? They must be worried that he would just jump to UKIP and take most of the Clacton members with him.

Ed Miliband has seen a rise in national membership and one thing that Labour has always been better at is helping neighbouring constituencies and this was seen with the great result in Thetford two weeks ago and the Labour win in Waveney this week.

Roll on May!

Footnote: Lib Dems in Ipswich – membership total?? My guess is lower than 20!

Friday, 9 August 2013

Another sign of the dis-unity in the Suffolk Tory Party?

Yesterday Len Jacklin achieved a great win in Oulton Ward in Waveney (Lowestoft). Winning the seat with a majority of over a 100 from the Tories and UKIP coming a distant third.

I was able to get up to Oulton last week with the Suffolk Labour leader, Sandy Martin and was very impressed with the campaigning – most days they had three sessions and must have spoken to the majority of Oulton. At the time of my visit they had seen little of the Tory team but a number of UKIP leaflets had appeared. They did not even have the legal imprint on them so does make me wonder about their electoral ability, especially when after they lost in Thetford they said it was because Oulton was their target seat!

The day we were in Oulton, the Tory leaflet was also distributed and showed the Tory candidate talking to local residents in two pictures - well not really local residents, one was a picture of her talking to her husband and the other to her agent!

Yesterday, leading Suffolk Tory Colin Noble was tweeting that he was out campaigning; getting the Tory vote out and I also heard that a number of other Suffolk County Councillors were drafted in. This last minute effort was probably helped by the fact that their leader, Mark Bee was also the Tory agent.

But it seems that help was to no avail and was probably swamped by the help Len gained from Labour teams from all over the region. Sandy Martin made a number of trips up the A12 to help and Rushmere Councillor Sandra Gage was there on Election Day which brings me to the thrust of the post – did Mark Bee manage to get any help from the Ipswich Tories?

Alan Murray the only Tory County Councillor (and a Cabinet member) may have visited but I am sure that no Borough councillor or Tory activist managed to get past Kesgrave!

It shows one of the fundamental differences between the local Labour Party in Ipswich and the Tory Party. We are not only united in Ipswich behind David Ellesmere but also believe it is only right that we go out and help our Labour colleagues in Suffolk, from Lowestoft to Cornard, Hadleigh to Sudbury and even beyond the county borders to Thetford and Colchester.

This lack of unity in Suffolk Tory circles does affect the way the the County treat Ipswich and its residents, the PR disaster that the Bishops Hill lights scheme is, just one example. So we have County Tories not interested in what happens in Ipswich- policy wise and Ipswich Tories not willing to go beyond Copdock or Kesgrave to help their Tory friends.

No wonder a leading Essex Tory MP warns that their party is haemorrhaging members, only this week I bumped into a former senior Ipswich Tory councillor who informed me that they had left the party after all the in-fighting – and hinted that if Judy Terry has stayed on as the Chair of the local Tories they would have probably seen membership go down to their lowest ever total!

So low that they may even have to ask Kevin Algar to be a candidate again?

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Ask William Hague to Protect all Afghan interpreters

As a local politician, you often receive requests to sign and promote petitions- often I agree with the cause and sign but when I received this request I felt the need to not only sign but promote as much as I can.

I spent 2009 in Sangin, Afghanistan in what the bloodiest year for the British Army but every day soldiers went out and risked their lives they had alongside then local interpreters - by helping the British they put their lives in danger and if we pull out in the numbers the Government says we will next year - then their lives become even more at risk - please sign the petition and ask your friends to do so as well.

Petition is here.

This is the original request from former British soldier - Anthony Perkins:

I served in Afghanistan in 2008-2009 and then again in 2010. These were tough days in Afghanistan for all that were there. We relied on the help of local Afghan interpreters who were with us on every patrol and an integral part of our platoon.

The interpreters took great risks to help us, putting not only their lives but the lives of their families in danger of Taliban reprisals -- but now the UK Government has turned its back on the interpreters. It is refusing to give support or resettlement to interpreters who completed their duties between 2006 and 2011.

My great-grandfather Winston Churchill, who spent a large part of his career in the army, would have been shocked by the way our government is treating men who risked their lives to help British forces. By denying our interpreters entry into the UK the government is condemning them to persecution and almost certain death at the hands of the Taliban.

That's why I've started this petition on calling on Foreign Secretary William Hague to review the British policy for Afghan interpreters.

The interpreter I remember most was Barri. For all sense and purposes he was one of the lads. When we left Afghanistan Barri's father and brother were killed by the Taliban but the UK government didn't help him. His mother and sister died whilst trying to get to western Europe when their boat sank in Mediterranean. For two years Barri and his last remaining brother have been held in a detention centre until they were eventually granted asylum in Germany. Other interpreters are not even as lucky. They have been forced into hiding in Afghanistan or are locked in foreign detention centres, their lives in limbo.

There are certain codes we uphold in the military. Two of those are: "loyalty & honour." So I am appealing to Rt Hon William Hague and Rt Hon David Cameron - do the honourable thing and remain loyal to those who stood shoulder to shoulder with British Forces.

It is morally reprehensible to force these men to stay in a country that we are counting down the days to finally leaving. By leaving them in Afghanistan the only thing they can look forward to is a life of looking over their shoulders.

Huge public pressure convinced the Government to offer resettlement or support to some Afghan interpreters. We need the same pressure to extend the policy and make sure no interpreter is forgotten.

Please sign my petition and make sure all Afghan interpreters get the support they need.

Anthony Perkins:

Sign the petition here.

Vote Len Jacklin - getting the best deal for Oulton

This Thursday - August 8 - if you live in Oulton Ward, Lowestoft -

Go out and vote for Len Jacklin - Getting the best deal for Oulton

Vote Len, Vote Labour

Sunday, 4 August 2013

My week ahead 5 - 11 August 2013

Monday 5 August - 6pm, Labour campaigning, South East Ipswich

Thursday 8 August – 4pm, Area Committee Chair’s meeting

Saturday 10 August - 10am, Labour campaigning, North West Ipswich

August always has slightly less meetings than other months but this will allow more time to get out campaigning and more importantly, meeting residents.

This week I attended the South East Area Committee meeting at Ravenswood School, a large attendance due to the fact that Tory Transport chief, Graham Newman was to address the meeting. He was invited to speak about general transport issues but by the time the meeting came round the only real topic was the proposed installation of traffic lights on Bishops Hill.

It was hard to find any resident keen on the idea and Tory Cllr Newman would not have been happy that another Tory Cllr, Liz Harsant insisted that longer was given for residents to question Mr Newman.

At the end of the meeting Mr Newman agreed to a further meeting some would say consultation! But I have a feeling a second meeting may take place but there will be no consultation it will be more of an information meeting to just say why and when the lights are going in. From the meeting it seems obvious that there is little contact let alone discussion of policies between the Ipswich and Suffolk Tory Groups.

In the Holywells ward the Tories seem to be using the St Margaret’s Lib Dem Modus Operandi – just saying whatever residents want – even if it is the opposite to Tory policy or even the opposite of what you said last week.

It seems we have a certain Holywells Tory councillor against the proposed Holywells Park upgrade (due to Heritage Lottery Fund grant) because of the parking issues in Cliff Lane and surrounding streets, even though a few weeks earlier all the Holywells Tory councillors had been mentioned on a Tory leaflet along with Ben Gummer celebrating the grant.

Even a St Margaret’s; Lib Dem would have been proud of the ability to say one thing and then a week later say the complete opposite.

Just so all residents are clear the idea to place lights on Bishops Hill and remove the Norwich Road mini-roundabouts is a TORY plan, which they could not tell residents about as the timing of the proposals clashed with the County Council elections (a date they had known about for 4 years)

According to Ipswich Spy, I was cycling on the pavement in Ipswich on Tuesday, funny as I was in Oulton all day campaigning for Len Jacklin and then at the SE Area committee meeting - Tories should worry - two of me!

Friday, 2 August 2013

The 'link' to a good press

This week we had our local (only) Rushmere Tory making the front page of the local paper, claiming that the Labour run council had no planned 'vision' for the town.

Now Judy Terry and the local Tories know something about vision -the party that sold the old Civic Centre site to one developer and then not long after give planning permission to a rival development (Tesco) on a site at Grafton Way.

No wonder the first developer took the Council to court. Since then Tesco have down sized and it is possible that may never develop the Grafton Way site. But their achievement in gaining planning permission for Grafton Way did stop the development on Civic Drive.

Cllr Judy Terry has had a number of 'visions' in the past - an art gallery to be built near Christchurch Mansion and more recently her 'vision' for Rushmere involved knocking down the pre-fabs on Inverness Road and building a care home!

But more interestingly to me is how did Judy Terry make the front page of the local paper with her accusations of 'no vision'?

It seems simple, mention the 'link'. For the last 20 to 30 years we have constantly heard plans to build on the car parks behind the old Co-op building or as it is known by developers (if not residents) the 'Mint' quarter. But NCP own the car parks and seem in no hurry to do anything as they rake in some of the highest car park tariffs in the town. But the Mint Quarter has had it's day it is all now about the 'link'.

You may ask where is the 'link' - well it's a development to be built on the site of the local papers office in Lower Brook Street. the aim of the development would be to link the town centre and the waterfront. The paper have realised that there is little chance of them selling the 'link' project until the empty sites on the Waterfront are sorted out.

So it seems any chance they now get the Evening Star (and EADT) urges our MP and local council to work together to sort out the waterfront, I am sure it is because it will help Ipswich in the long term but of course it will also help Archant sell their own site to be the new 'link' development.

So we have had Cameron visit the Archant office to look at the plans, Gummer push the Irish banks over the 'winerack' site and now Mrs Terry gets the front page (and did her mentioning the 'link' help?) Will leave it to you to decide!

Just waiting for Mick McCarthy to say he could attract better players to Ipswich Town if the 'link' development went ahead!

Holywells Park - the hidden gem of Ipswich

On Wednesday I was present when Holywells Park received it's Green Flag for 2013, but what made the day even more brilliant it was the second of six family fun days, these are held each Wednesday of the summer holiday and this Wednesday it included donkey rides and a Punch and Judy show.