Sunday, 23 February 2014

Taking deserved credit or just trying to win votes?

This week the Tory County Council announced that they had decided not to install traffic lights on Bishops Hill in Ipswich. So did Tory County Councillor Graham Newman listen to residents? Was this a victory for people power?

The Tory MP and Ipswich Tories have been quick to take credit for the u-turn with Cllr Newman himself stating that it was the work of Ben Gummer and Tory Cllr Liz Harsant that had helped him make his mind up.

There was no mention of the survey and leaflets put out by us in the Labour Party or the South East Area Committee meeting held last year where Mr Newman was asked to give his reasons for the installation of the lights. He certainly left that meeting knowing that most residents were against any further lights.

Over the last few weeks the County have held a ‘consultation’ on not only this scheme but two further schemes in the town, but we hear that very few people responded to the consultation and as Cllr Newman was already aware of the feelings of local residents from the area committee meeting and also the opposition from councillors of all political groups why has he waited till after this sham of a consultation to tell us that the lights will now not be going in?

At least one local political correspondent was critical of what he believed was squabbling between us and the Tories to claim credit for the u-turn. I for one was annoyed by the way the Tories attempted to take all the credit, helped by the statement by Mr Newman. The tweets by our MP, Ben Gummer seeking to take credit for the u-turn , when asked by myself was he implying that Graham Newman did not listen to Labour he said he was not implying it but we had done little more than deliver a few leaflets. Yes again he got his facts wrong, Our transport spokesperson Sandra Gage has been in conversation since August asking for a consultation, the South East Area committee meeting attended by Graham Newman was organised by the Labour Chair and it was the hard work of Sandra that forced the Tory run county to hold meetings with Borough councillors so we could get over to rural Tories what our residents think about some of the Travel Ipswich schemes. The Tory leaflet mentions that the Holywells Councillors have attended these meetings to get over their views- funny they mention that their candidate for the elections in May – George Debman has attended these meetings, funny because the two that I have attended he has not been present.

Then again he may have been at the public meeting organised by our Tory MP, Ben Gummer. Again I was quite surprised that we never heard about this meeting, Ben Gummer mentioned on twitter that he had organised one but when asked where and when was it held- all we got was silence? Did any of you attend it?

Now where do I stand on the lights option for Bishops Hill? To be honest I am not sure but I am certain that Mr Newman thinks we should have them, what I am certain of is nothing needs to be done till after the consultation on the Nacton Rd/Ravenswood/A12 issue is over and the scheme to solve that problem is in place, it is only then that we can see the real traffic flow results on Bishops Hill..

So did Mr Newman listen to residents? Did he take on the views of the Labour councillors – no, he did just listen to Mr Gummer and Mrs Harsant and he decided to stop the scheme because they are desperate to hold onto Holywells. As a number of residents have already worked out from listening to Mr Newman on Radio Suffolk that when traffic continues to stack up in Ipswich he will blame residents for the u-turn on the Bishops Hill lights.

He certainly did not listen to the consultation as it was just a sham, a few boards in a shopping centre, and if you could understand the boards you could then send of your view on the back of a postcard! The board which showed the details of the Argyll Street junction did not even show two existing sets of traffic lights that are within 50 metres of the proposed new lights. It was just a sham consultation.

So if Mr Newman is going to state that he did listen to residents and to local politicians – then can he tell us when he is going install toilets at the Old Cattle Market bus station? Or as I believe he is making decisions depending on how many votes the Tories can get out of it.


Ben Redsell said...

Wait, so Sandra deserves praise for getting the consultation that stopped the lights, but it wasn't a real consultation, just a sham, and it wasn't the consultation that stopped the lights but the Tories. What exactly are you saying?

I look forward to the budget line on Wednesday night that explains how, given it is an IBC responsibility to provide public toilets, IBC will be fulfilling the wishes of the public. No? You surprise me. Almost as if nobody at IBC mentioned the toilets until they realised they could get some political capital out of it for Cllr Ellesmere's Westminster ambitions. Shocking really.

Alasdair Ross said...

The point is that without Labour pressure there would have been no consultation at all, no regular meetings for IBC Cllrs - pity that like their budget consultation, SCC are not interested in what residents think.

Then again Mr Gummer did organise that public meeting!

Ben Redsell said...

But Alasdair, Labour put out just as many leaflets as the Tories did on the same subject. Did Mr Ellesmere lobby Graham Newman directly, behind the scenes? Yes Sandra and many of you were at the briefing for IBC councillors, but so was Liz and many Tory councillors as well. They had Graham Newman to their group meeting for a briefing, did you?

As I said the other day, the public think all this "we did it not you" stuff, this yah-boo politics, is a huge turn off.

Alasdair Ross said...

So was there a Gummer organised public meeting? He tweeted there was

Tory leaflets states Cllr Debman attended the briefings, the two I attended he was not present

The briefings came around after Labour asked then pressurised SCC to hold them