Sunday, 17 June 2018

Time for Ipswich to stay strong

"We must all share our responsibility to stop the knife violence- parents, schools, police, councils. Young people need to know that carrying a knife makes them MORE likely to be a victim- we need zero tolerance of knives and maximum support for vulnerable young people"

This was a tweet from our Labour MP for Ipswich, Sandy Martin after the fatal stabbing of Tavis, a young lad from the Racecourse Estate in Ipswich.

Just over 2 weeks ago Tavis was murdered in South East Ipswich and since then the town has seen two further stabbings with the latest incident also in South East Ipswich when a young lad was stabbed in front of diners at a McDonald's.

We have known for a while that we had young people involved in the drug trade that was helping fuel a gang war between at least two groups of teenagers, we had seen the warning signs and we knew action was needed to be taken. Some may say we must have failed after the murder of Tavis and the two further stabbings but the plan we have put into practice is no short term fix, it will take more than a few months to solve the drug fuelled problems that our town is experiencing. It may take years.

The problems we suffer from are not just an Ipswich problem, towns all over the county are experiencing the same issues, villages to cities, all over the UK are seeing an increase in youth violence related to the selling of drugs.

That does not mean Tavis and his friends have not been let down by many of us, education standards in Suffolk are not good enough, aspiration seems a dirty word for many of our younger residents. Academies have worked in some places and failed in others however what is certain is the increase in the amount of academies has seen the County Council lose any close links they had with many in he education system.

But we can't just turn this into a blame game, that wail not help the people of Ipswich, as Sandy stated we all have a responsibility and it has been good to see the Police, the County Council and ourselves at the Borough work together to help in the short term make our residents feel safer but also to put into action plans that will see our communities build up their own resilience and enable them to run schemes that they want which will help them, their children and their neighbours.

Some will see this as an opportunity to score cheap political points or push forward their own agendas, every day I hear people calling for the scrapping of 'Stop and search' whilst others are calling for an increase in it, both should leave the operational decisions on the use of 'Stop and search' to the police, they know more than any of us that in the past it has not worked and that it can alienate a community and that if you do need to use it, must be backed up by very good intelligence.

I am the portfolio holder for community safety so I am very concerned with the situation , I have been working hard to push forward our action plan to combat gang violence however I do ask myself if I could have done more, was I taking it for granted that the problem would not escalate out of control? One local Tory did accuse me of being in control of a 'crumbling' portfolio, the comment was not unexpected, but I was disappointed for our Council staff who have been working hard for a long time to improve community safety and for the last two weeks have been putting in very long hours to help our communities. Most of them are Ipswich residents, fellow parents who are also worried about their own families and friends. I have total faith in them to continue their good work, which will help make our residents safer. they certainly are no part of a crumbling 'portfolio'.

I of course wonder how we have got into a position where young people feel they have no future, I remember joining the army and watching a lad from Priory winning  the Army boxing championship, in the seventies many young lads (and to a lesser extent girls) left Ipswich to join the forces, spending from 3 to 22 years away from the town but returning in most cases a better person and in most cases then setting a great example to their friends and siblings  of what you can do if you get the chance and if you put your mind to it. Unfortunately the forces recruiting is down, the process is too long and minimum educational requirement's means that many of our young people who would most benefit from time in the army will never get that opportunity.

The last two weeks have been hard for our town, but we must stay strong, for each other and for all Ipswich residents, there is an obvious desire for all groups to work together, to regain the trust of our constituents and make sure we ensure Ipswich is a safe place to live a place where aspiration should be something all our youngsters have rather than a word to describe others.

Monday, 7 May 2018

What has happened to our great Party, how have we let it become a home to anti-Semitism

Even some on the left, such as Owen Jones are now admitting that our party, the Labour Party has an anti-Semitism problem and as Owen sates maybe a bigger problem is that many on the left will accuse those of standing up to the anti-Semites as 'exaggerating' the problem, 'making it up' or it is being weaponised as a tool to defeat Corbyn.

2 weeks before the election, I accompanied over 200 young people from the East of England on a one day trip to Poland, to visit Auschwitz.

The visit is moving, emotional, thought provoking - but it also made me very angry - anger at that our party has become a safe haven for holocaust deniers and Jew haters. It was sad that I could not even write this post till after the local election as I would have been accused by some in my own party of harming our election chances, of making a slur against the peace loving, friendly uncle Jeremy Corbyn.

In Poland, it was also interesting to visit the town of Oswiecim, to learn how the non Jews of the town reacted when their neighbours and friends were rounded up by the  Germans in 1939, and also to see how the Poles are dealing with their party in the holocaust - and I would say, they are not dealing with it very well. Auschwitz is the name that we may remember but the camp of that name was the place that many Poles were murdered, priests, homosexuals, communists, freedom fighters as well as Jews. Our Polish guide made sure we learnt that but of course most of the Jews killed in that camp were also Polish, but it was shocking to see that Poles and Polish Jews were spoken about as two different sets of victims.

Many visiting Auschwitz, often with relatives who were murdered here are also not ahppy that the Polish Government charge for entry to the camp and that a tourist trade has grown up around the site. However the same could be said of the 'Killing Field's' in Cambodia or even the 9/11 site.

It was in the next village in the camp of Birkenau that the worst crimes against the Jewish population occurred, the murder of millions of innocent people, their only crime in being they were different to others. To visit with so many young people was moving but also gives one hope, and to be selfish, I hope some of those young people become members of our party as I am sure they will have little time for the likes of Livingstone or Walker.

What has this to do with Corbyn, you may ask? Because it is under his leadership that we have become a home for some of those anti- Semites. I am no fan of the current Israeli Government, their treatment of the Palestine people can not be excused, but we seem to have a large number of members whose belief in the Palestine cause makes them unable to accept we have an anti-Semitism problem in the party. Corbyn has always been a supporter of the Palestine people and that is not a problem, however his willingness to listen to those in Hamas at times will always make some feel unhappy with his leadership and as with his other friends at 'Stop the War', support of Palestine and being anti-Israel is just another way of being anti-west, anti-America.

Corbyn is the one person who can put a stop to this problem, not for one second do I believe Jeremy is anti-Semitic , but it his silence that is damaging the party, Marc Wadsworth, in my opinion was rightfully thrown out of the party, but we have had no comment from our leader. It understandable that it will be hard for him as he ahs known Marc for may years. But just a short statement supporting the panel decision to expel him would have sent a clear message to both members and to the Jewish community but instead we have nothing from him and then we have one of his cronies, Chris Williamson promoting a campaign to raise funds so Wadsworth can sue his own party.

Corbyn could also be truthful in saying where the blame really lies with the delay in implementing the Chakrabarti report - instead of blaming the former General Secretary, admit the delay lies in his own office.

Our European MEPs organise and run trips to the European Parliament, might be an idea with a similar scheme from the party, subsidised trips to Auschwitz - each one accompanied by MPs, members of the Front Bench - a reminder (one that should not be needed) of what happens when you let people in your own party turn against others, just because they are different.

I am not a fan of Corbyn and do worry if he would be an effective Prime Minister, but I will still be out campaigning every weekend for a future Labour Government but I will also call him and his supporters out if they do nothing about the growing problem of anti-Semitism in our great party.

Abuse of moderate MPs, threats of de-selection, attacks on Jewish members, trolling by so called left win news sites - all could be stopped straight away if he spoke up - was forceful but by his silence it makes many think this about turning the party into a cult, becoming a middle class protest party not a party wishing to govern for all.

It would be easy to walk away but that is not what I an many others will do, we need to stay in this party and act as a voice of reason or we could be stuck with a Tory Government for ever.

" we are far more united and have far more in common than that which divides us" Jo Cox MP

Sunday, 6 May 2018

Pride in our town

We're on the march with Robson's army,
We're all going to Wembley,
And we're really shake them up,
When we win the FA Cup,
Cause Ipswich are the greatest football team!!

Sunday, 29 April 2018

Vote for Sandra Gage - Thursday 3rd May 2018

If you want a hard working councillor who sticks up for her residents - then Vote Sandra Gage on Thursday  3rd May

Rushmere Ward, Ipswich

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!