Saturday, 3 March 2018

Have your say on Orwell Crossings project

As the snow started to melt a large team of Ipswich Labour activists were out today delivering an information leaflet to Bridge, Holywells and Gainsborough Ward residents.

The information was not just about the proposed Orwell Crossing but about a public information day that the Tory run County Council are hosting.

It is good news that the County are hosting such an event but you would think they would make more effort to inform residents that are holding such an event, it is as if they do not really want to hear what residents think about the crossing!

Many of us still have questions to be answered till we can fully back the scheme, questions such as:

  • What will this do for pollution and air quality?
  • Will our journey times to work, really be any quicker?
  • Without bus priority measures, what will be the effect on the reliability of bus services held up in extra traffic?
  • Will the new bridge be used by heavy vehicles?
  • Would the money be spent on bringing forward plans for a Northern link road?

I am sure you have many questions on the crossing yourself - if you do, then get along to Dance East on the Waterfront on Tuesday 6 March, the information event will run from noon to 7pm.

Our Labour candidate for Holywells Ward, Ruman Muhith has set up a facebook page for the event, where you can find out more details -

Thursday, 15 February 2018

No defence to 'ignoring defence'

Last night the Labour Party launched a brilliant Party Political Broadcast , focusing on the Tories failure to deal with crime in this country, the unacceptable cuts to police numbers. A brilliant bit of the work by the Labour team followed up with similar messages from Jeremy Corbyn and the Front Bench team.

Also this week the party have announced some policies about pets- a popular campaign issue, that all local councillors could tell you - and important to many residents , so understandable why Labour would come out with a policy that makes it easier for tenants to keep pets in their houses and flats. But I do wonder if they consulted any Labour run authorities to ask about the problems that we often have with pets and their owners.

Good to see policies coming out and often as with the campaign on police numbers with good use of newspapers, TV and social media. But there are some topics we just seem to want to ignore.

BREXIT - I wish we would be more Pro EU, or just make our position clear - but I understand why it is difficult and not just because in the past Corbyn has been seen to be anti the EU. Many of our voters, particularly in the Midlands and the North voted to leave, if we came out pushing for a second referendum we would probably lose any hope of winning back seats like Mansfield.

However, there is no excuse for the silence on defence issues from Corbyn and his Front Bench team, again, defence is a difficult issue for Jeremy, he in the past ( and a not too distant past) has been very anti NATO, critical of both defence policy and the British Army and that is without even mentioning Northern Ireland.

 But defence is a big issue, the armed Forces are facing savage cuts from this Tory Government, people are losing jobs and this country is not being protected like it should be. Defence is an Achilles heel for Corbyn, speaking up on it now may help people change their mind on if he could be a good PM - but it seems he would rather stay silent, and not upset his friends in organisations like 'Stop the War.

This is a mistake not only if he wishes to win the next General Election but if he  wants to be seen as a statesmen that people respect, trust and can get things done - not just in the UK but internationally.

Cuurently over 1,000 British troops are deployed to the Baltic states to help defend them from the Russian threat, a threat that is probably more severe now than it was during most of the Cold War. British troops are still in Iraq, helping training the Iraq armed Forces and the Kurds, so they can continue the fight against ISIS. British servicemen and women are also deployed in a number of African countries, helping those countries fight back again the rise of Islamic terrorist groups.

And if that was not enough, Afghanistan is close to losing a large percentage of it's land back to Taliban control - but what do we get from Corbyn?? A policy that will allow people in flats have the right to own a dog!

I understand that his principles and his association with certain groups make talking about defence a difficult situation but if wants to lead a Labour Government into power, he needs to start talking about defence and that does not just mean criticising American foreign policy or talking about the conflicts that Tony Blair took us into.

He rightfully attacked the Tory Government for their handling of the Carillion collapse but he could have highlighted the fact that the Tories gave Carillion control of Armed Forces housing,  so now soldiers, sailors and airmen are not even sure who their landlords are - they are more worried about who will fix a leaky pipe when they are away on operations rather than can they keep a pet budgie.

There is no defence for Corbyn not talking about 'defence'

Friday, 22 December 2017

Maybe my last walk?

Last week, I completed a 61 mile solo walk from Oakington Barracks, north of Cambridge to Ipswich  - walking solo and sleeping rough at night just south of Long Melford.

It was hard, wet, and more difficult than I thought it would be, the last 20 miles were on quiet country roads, the sun came out but my shadow was scary- do I  really limp that much? The answer is probably - yes - and now I sit here with damaged feet, this may have been my last long walk - it was all for a good cause - over £2000 raised for Walking with the Wounded and their 'Walking home for Christmas' project.

Thanks to those who sponsored me but if you missed out you still have a chance to donate here.

Just a few pictures from my trip:

My rations for the walk

Oakington Barracks - Main Gate, changed a bit since 1979!

Pub in Oakington Village

First stop, 10 miles in, by the river in Cambridge

Small horse!

Christmas village - Fenn Ditton


Tory cutbacks? Only one pole?

Dinner - pub in Clare

On my way, day 2

Only meal on day 2, coke and a Scotch Egg - meal of champions!


Sunday, 17 December 2017

Happy Christmas - and a big thank you

Just a short post to wish all Rushmere residents , friends, veterans and Labour members and supporters a happy Christmas and hope you all have a great 2018.

2018 will not be easy and the Government continues to make a mess of Brexit, but at least here is Ipswich the Labour run council continues to provide quality front line services for Ipswich residents.

The Armed Forces also face a few more years of difficult decisions as finding is further reduced, the army is already at the smallest it has been for  hundreds of years, smaller troop numbers but still required to deploy anywhere in the world at very short notice.

On a happier note - a big thank you to all those who supported me on my latest charity walk - 61 miles from Cambridge to Ipswich, with all the money going to 'Walking with the Wounded'. It was much harder than I thought but I made it and so far have raised over £2000. There is still an opportunity to donate here.

Sunday, 26 November 2017

Walking Home for Christmas - again

My last big walk- my right leg is now beyond repair! So this will be my final solo (third) walk supporting WWTW - Walking Home for Christmas. Next time , something shorter, maybe as a group of us – more of a social event.

I thought I would walk from where it started! My first posting in the army was at Oakington Barracks with 3RGJ in 1979. So I will walk from the old barrack gates to Ipswich, stopping overnight when tired, and sleeping rough in a Suffolk field and completing the walk the next day - 61 miles #Fromwhereitstarted

The walk will start at 7.30am on Wednesday 13 December – finishing (hopefully) at 4.30pm on 14 December

Why do I support this charity? - ‘Walking with the Wounded’ – many reasons, based locally in East Anglia – plus it looks at helping those with less visible injuries- PTSD –
For example they helped a Riflemen from my former regiment – Simon, moved to 3 Rifles and served in Afghanistan in 2010, he may have already been suffering PTSD after the loss of a close friend in our Battalion, he was then injured by shrapnel and left the army.
Struggle to keep down a job, turned to drink and found himself in trouble with the police.
‘Walking with the Wounded’ has helped Simon, who was set up with a placement at Starbucks, this then moved to a full time job, since then he has completed a course in property maintenance and has had help with his mental health issues.This was achieved thanks in part to the sponsor money you have donated for my last two trips.

So if you can sponsor me – it would be appreciated, because of my leg, being lazy and doing no fitness for a year – I think this will be my hardest challenge – but I think you need to do something that is challenging, it may attract more sponsorship and I feel that it should be hard, (but no fridge this time) – just walking, darkness, and sleeping rough. Rations will be 4 x cans of coke and a six pack of Toffee Crisp.

Thank you again for your support

Alasdair Ross

Sunday, 12 November 2017

The people, Trump and Kim Jong-un should speak to about war

This morning like many hundreds of other Ipswich residents I paraded at the Christchurch Park cenotaph to remember those from this town who gave their lives in the service of their country. Normally this is followed by a beer in the Woolpack, as I quietly think about the friends I have lost in Iraq and Afghanistan, however today there was no time for a beer.

A short drive and I found myself at the Ipswich Millennium Cemetery, meeting my brother, a serving soldier in the car park. We were there to see how fathers names on the new memorial stone to remember those who served in the Korean War.

My father had helped start the Korean Veterans branch in the town and sued to carry their standard, not just here in Ipswich but all over the UK and proudly took it back to South Korea and even to New York as memorials to the war were unveiled. The Korean War is often names 'the forgotten war' but to me it was part of my life, both my brother and me would follow my father into the army.

Some of the veterans remembered me, but they had changed, aged, there are now less of them. I remember they used to party hard, drink long and make us laugh when telling us about drunken nights in Hing Kong or Colombo. But they never spoke much about the conflict in Korea.

But what I did know, what that the people of South Korea will never forget the sacrifice they made for their country, a place so far from the UK that many would not even know where it is on a map.

The war finished over 60 years ago but no official peace deal has ever been signed, and today we have two idiots in Trump and Kim Jon-un attempting to push us all towards a resumption of hostilities. War is not a nice experience, it is no surprise that the veterans talk about other things rather than the conflict itself.

The chief guest today was the Naval Attache from the South Korea Embassy, the way he acted with the veterans showed me that the people of South Korea will never forget what these men did for their people. What Trump and Kim Jon-un should do is meet these veterans and let them talk about their experiences, it may be what is needed to try and get some sense into these two idiots, but it seems they would rather just exchange insults but then they will not be the ones who would have to do the fighting.

I am proud of what my father and other Korean veterans did, it is just a shame that over 60 years after that war, politicians from North Korea and the USA seemed to have learnt very little about the consequences of war.

Sunday, 29 October 2017

No Turning Back: Seven Migration Moments that Changed Britain

Yesterday was a day of sport in London, football ( no hipsters) first and then cycling at the Olympic velodrome but with brunch planned on a barge in Lambeth, I had a look to see if there was anything worth visiting for a couple of hours in the morning - and I found something and it was a real eye opener, very thought provoking. I had stumbled across the UK Migration Museum.

First the location, the museum was based in the old workshops building for the London Fire Brigade, a building that may not be there much longer, as the Fire Brigade seeks to sell the large site as part of an urban redevelopment project.

On the main workshop floor were hundreds of kids, making large items from cardboard - TVs to houses to giant robots but our destination was upstairs, it is here that the Migration Museum has found a temporary home. The museum had on display their latest exhibition - "No Turning Back: Seven Migration Moments that Changed Britain".

The exhibition was fascinating, taking 7 moments in the history of migration in Britain and then displaying them, but deliberately not placing them in chronological order.

The relevance of the exhibition should not be lost on anyone as we get closer to Brexit. The exhibition is not all about those who have chosen to or were forced to come here, it also looks at when we have forced people to leave these shores and also how those who have emigrated felt when they were forced to return to the UK. From our treatment of the Jews in the 12th Century, to those returning from India in the 40;s to 'Rock against Racism' in 1978.

The terms migrant, immigrant, ex-pat to refugee - all are terms that are frequently used, but often just to score a political point rather than factually describe the person involved.

There are not many of us in this country who do not have a direct link with migration, I only recently discovered that my father's family on his mother's side had done a midnight flit from Germany in the late 19th Century. Often it is those who have arrived in this country quite recently who are the keenest on immigration control. Many voters with an Asian heritage, voted to leave the EU in the recent referendum.

Migration, should be a subject that is covered in depth during PSHE in our schools but it is all of us who need to learn the true story of migration and our own families part in it. I would love to see this exhibition tour, you will leave it moved but I also left very hopeful for our country.