Thursday, 24 February 2011

Battle lost bur War can be won

Last night we had our annual budget debate at Ipswich Borough Council, not my favourite meeting as we normally end up having our annual attack on Gordon Brown and the last Labour Government by John Carnell and he will then be seconded by Lid Dem Cllr Atkins who will spend 10 minutes talking about local taxation, but this year it was slightly different, we still had Carnell’s attacks on the last Labour Government but Cllr Atkins did not mention local taxation (another Lib Dem promise shelved? Or yet another compromise made so they could get their ministerial posts? )

The other big change was Tory and Lib Dem Cllrs (some who I had hardly ever hear speak before) rushing to speak to distance themselves from the Tory led County Council cuts, and explaining why last week (with a big Tory majority) they felt they could vote with Labour ‘Tory rebels’ but 6 days later they were back in the fold voting to scupper the Labour amendment that would have seen all School Crossing Patrols in Ipswich saved plus the 3 libraries that are under threat.

The Lib Dems (especially those who are also County councillors) were also very quick to say why they had also found that in 6 days they had gone from voting to save crossings to voting against the Labour amendment.

Cllr Atkins also used a quote from my blog to show why ‘locality budgets’ are the way ahead, he forgot to mention that the post he quoted was over 3 years old! Also interesting was that Lib Dem Cllr Chambers abstained – maybe being up for election in May was the reason she did want to be seen voting against an amendment that could have secured the future of Rosehill Library.

So we lost the vote, but the war is far from lost, if we win the election in May we will bring to the Council again the plans to save the School Crossing Patrols and the libraries.

Now it is obvious that the Tories and Lib Dems will know that the public will not be pleased with their actions, so we now see a number of panic measures as they try and wiggle their way out of this mess. Cllr Harsant has had the Chief Executive of the Council write to Andrea Hill (half a page written yesterday afternoon) explaining that we are not happy with the proposed closure of the libraries . Not sure why she did not just tell her fellow Tory Cllr Judy Terry, who as well as being a Borough councillor is also the County Portfolio holder for libraries. She maybe could have told Judy Terry that our own Tory MP thought the Library consultation was poor. There is a meeting at Endeavour House tomorrow where Judy Terry will meet those protesting about the closure of libraries in Suffolk, not sure Ms Hill would have had time to invite Cllr Harsant as she may have only seen the letter from IBC this morning.

School Crossing Patrols – we said instead of giving each councillor a locality budget, we should just use the money to save the School Crossing Patrols, They all said ‘no’ they could save School crossing Patrols by….....using their locality budget! But as the rabbits kept appearing from the hat we were told that the Tories and the Lib Dems were close to announcing a sponsor who would save the School Crossing Patrols, trouble is by this afternoon the Evening Star was quoting Cllr Harsant in saying that ‘some’ of the School Crossing patrols may be saved.

So we lost the amendment, but we will continue to campaign with residents to save both School Crossing Patrols and the three libraries under threat.
But what upset me, and left me wondering if there was any hope left was when the Tory Cllr Cenci declared ‘that being unemployed “opens up lots of opportunities” and that “unemployment is the best thing that happened to me”.’

I was still angry over that comment this morning and that mixed with Cllr Chambers abstaining did make me think very long and hard about what I wanted to do, and after talking to those who are close to me it was obvious the only thing to do was fight even harder for what I believe in, so every spare minute between now and May will be spent fighting to get rid of this Tory and Lib Dem Council, with the cuts being forced on us by both the Condem Government and the ideologically focused Tory County Council, this town needs a Labour run Council fighting for it’s residents more than ever before.

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