Sunday, 4 December 2011

My week ahead 5 - 11 December

Monday 5 December - 4pm Culture and Leisure portfolio meeting
6pm Labour Group meeting

Wednesday 7 December - 7.30pm Labour Purple Book Tour, Ipswich Library

Thursday 8 December - 6pm Ipswich Borough Council Scrutiny meeting, Grafton House

Friday 9 December - 9am Sidegate Primary School Panto
7.30pm Ipswich Labour Christmas Party

Saturday 10 December - 10.30am Labour Campaigning, North Ipswich

A visit to Sidegate Primary School this week,it was good to hear how the school continues to advance , also I was able to pass on my concerns about the payment for the School Crossing patrol. The Head Teacher and the Chair were able to inform us that the sponsor had made his initial payment to the County Council. It seems the sponsorship deal was not as simple as the Tories initially made it out it to be.

On Wednesday I joined those on strike at the rally at the Cornhill, David Ellesmere and the union leaders all spoke with David empasising that this is not a Public sector v Private sector dispute, all workers should be able to benefit from good pensions.

On Thursday I attended a training session at the Borough Council, the session was centred around the proposed changes to the benefit system. Never have I left a meeting at Grafton so angry and also depressed.

The Tories (with the help of the Lib Dems) are planning the biggest attack that I have ever seen on the poor and vulnerable in this country.

We all know that changes are needed to the benefit system and that the public would also like to see those who are making illegal claims are caught and punished but of all the changes planned I could only see one that would help the public. the remainder are just attacks on the poor, disabled and to be blunt - those who are not seen as Tory voters.

The good bits? Councils will be able to levy a full council tax on second homes - but up to Councils, so do not expect to see this happen on the Suffolk Coast, more tax can also be placed on empty homes. This may be of use in Ipswich as currently we have about 800 plus empty homes in the Borough with over 70 being empty for a number of years.

The remainder of the changes were horrific, a conservative estimate is that in the first full year of the changes, Ipswich residents will lose over £3 Million in benefits.

For instance the bereavement benefit will no longer be assessed locally but you will have to phone a call centre in Scotland! The Government has been clever, most of the brunt of the anger of those who will find themselves homeless will be aimed at local councils and once the changes are complete the benefit staff will be made redundant and the payments will be made by Central Government.

The Labour Councillors in Ipswich asked the officer a number of questions whilst the Tories and Lib Dem's sat quietly, were they ashamed of what their Government is planning?

The two Lib Dems in the evening session just sat quietly, making no contribution to the exchanges. At least from the afternoon session, the Lib Dem Ken Bates seemed worried enough about the changes to say that he will write to Mr Clegg, will be interesting to hear what Nick Clegg has to say on the matter.

The two Tories at the evening session also sat in silence but if I was an Ipswich resident I would be more concerned that they were the only two Tories out of 14 who even turned up for the training - Carnall, Harsant, Cenci and Terry all failing to attend a session that highlighted changes to a system that will cause havoc for many Ipswich residents ( but maybe not many in Bixley)

Will the changes happen? Many Labour members present hope that the Tory and Lib Dem MP's will listen to the Church, CAB, Councillors and stop a number of their plans, their is also the belief that they will not even have an IT system ready in time to implement a number of them, but I fear the worse. so all I can do is campaign harder to make sure we get rid of this Government as quick as possible.


Paul Norton said...

Suffolk Coastal was amongst the first councils in the country to take advantage of the 90% levy, absolutely positive they will take up the chance to levy 100%.

What are Labour proposing to do to bring the 70 homes that have been empty for over a year into use for those who need them?

Also, isn't it unfair to attack Cllr Harsant for not attending one meeting, when you know full well he is unwell? Cllr Carnall has been on holiday to New Zealand, maybe he isn't back yet? Are you saying you NEVER miss a meeting? Your predecessor in Rushmere missed so many he was kicked off the Council.

Alasdair Ross said...

I meant Liz Harsant- but lack of front bench Tories was amazing.

I stand corrected with your answer on Suffolk Coastal, but the Govt should make sure all second hom,es are charged.

We are looking at the empty homes- I spent a considerable time in opposition talking to the council about two houses in Bixley (but next To Rushmere Ward)one is being renovated and the other is now available for rent.