Saturday, 29 June 2013

My week ahead - 1 - 7 July 2013

Monday 1 July – 4pm, Culture Portfolio meeting
6pm, Labour campaigning

Wednesday 3 July – 10am – Meeting residents at Dundee House
7pm – Ip-art, ‘Sherlock Holmes’ play, outside Christchurch Mansion

This week I missed the Full Council meeting as I was on the LGA Leadership Academy – Transforming the delivery of sport in local communities. Learnt plenty, the majority of the councillors were Conservative and it was surprise to see what little respect they have for Eric Pickles. His quick agreement with the Chancellor that means a £10 million cut to Local Government. Wonder what they think today when they hear Pickles department has been fined because of an illegal over draft!

What I did miss at council was Tory Cllr Cenci asking a couple of questions – a surprise as she has plenty to say on her blog about wind turbines but never then ask a question at Full council. But she did take to the floor (as did her partner) to ask question about the Ipswich Bus Service. As I was not present at the meeting I have had to gain my information from Ipswich Spy or two of the Tory blogs. Now Cllr Cenci informed us that she was inviting local residents to hear her question the portfolio holder on transport. She does not say how many turned up but on someone else’s blog she informs us not many as residents already knew the bus route was safe (they knew this thanks to Labour leaflets?) Cllr Cenci also copies a post from Ipswich spy but leaves out the last paragraph- I wonder why? She informed me that she also left out the first paragraph – but that is not the point – what she does miss out is the final summary on the questions >

Where Labour did score a big hit on the Tory position was by reminding people, courtesy of a Tory question, that the Tories had voted against last years budget, without which bus subsidies would be reliant on the county council, who had already indicated they couldn’t, or wouldn’t, afford to support the buses in Ipswich that IBC are currently subsidising. It the Tories had had their way last year, these buses would have stopped entirely come 20th July.

From reading that you would believe that Labour got the best of the questions, no wonder Cllr Cenci did not re-post this paragraph

Sunday, 23 June 2013

My week ahead 24 - 30 June 2013

Monday 24 June – 10am, 'Raising the Flag' at Grafton House, for Armed Forces Day
6pm, Labour Group meeting

Tuesday 25 June – 5pm, Sidegate School, Full Governing Body Meeting

Wednesday 26 June – 9am – LGA Leadership Academy – Transforming the delivery of sport in local communities

Thursday 27 June – 9am – LGA Leadership Academy course continues
7pm, Meeting to discuss rise of fascism in this country and what we can do in Ipswich to stop it

Friday 28 June – 10am, Meeting with County Council officers about the expansion of Rushmere Hall Primary School

Saturday 29 June - 10am, Labour campaigning, North West Ipswich

Another busy week and it also includes two days away from home. I am privileged to have been invited to attend a Local Government Association Leadership Academy, which is looking at the delivery of sport into local communities. As a big fan of all sports and knowing what sport can offer participants – health, teamwork, self-confidence – I am keen that Ipswich continues to provide sports opportunities for all our community. This task is made even harder as we face savage cuts from the Tory Government. This was highlighted even further this week with Eric Pickles seeming to very keen to make a quick settlement with the chancellor – a further 10% cut to LGA funding!

The key to providing great sports facilities and events is working with the national sporting bodies and other partners such as Suffolk County Council. This is what has happened when it comes to being able to host elite cycling events in the town. How keen the Tory County will be to help in the future will be a worry as they face a 10% cut to their funding and having already promised residents that there will be no council tax rise for the next 4 years.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

State of Play: Euro 2013, Football and Palestine

In the autumn of 2011 Philosophy Football met Honey Thalijeh, then captain of the Palestine Women’s Football team. Inspired by what she told them about what football meant to her country they promised that when Euro 2013 opened in Israel they would return to be in Palestine.

This June Israel have hosted the second biggest international team tournament in European football, the Euro 2013 Under 21′s Championship. Its the biggest international sporting event ever held in Israel. And England were thought to have a decent chance of winning. We know since they had a nightmare and many words have been written by some of our top sports journalists like Henry Winter about our pathetic displays - but little if anything was written about what was happening just a few miles from the stadiums where the tournament is being held.

But on the other side of the wall Israel built football is played and watched in Palestine under the most abnormal of conditions. Massive restrictions of movement, 24 hour surveillance and illegal settlements and land grabs, yet on the football pitch, as recognised by FIFA, Palestine plays football as a nation.

Throughout the tournament Israel has done everything it can to keep attention away from football on the Palestinian side of the wall. Philosophy Football had returned and made a film, the film, shot at the start of June will help to break this silence. The film was premiered in Ramallah at the HQ of the Palestine Olympic Association and simultaneously released on YouTube.

I was fortunate enough to be invited to the British Premier, held at the Electric Film Palace in Harwich. You can view it here on 'You tube' - it will be shown tomorrow in Soho and then tour Film Festivals over the UK and Europe.

I t interested me as football can help break down barriers and borders - as a young soldier we used football coaching to build up friendship with local Bosnian children then helped organise a tournament between Serb and Bosnian Muslim children.

Last week in Turkey, supporters of the three Turkish football teams joined together to protest about the current Turkish leader.

In Italy clubs have their 'Ultra' fans - often associated with a political group- some on the 'far right' but others like Vitus Verona on the 'left'.

In England, organisations like 'Philosophy Football' have shown that supporters can join together to make a difference- you can't separate politics from sport. In the past the English Far Right have believed they have had the monopoly when it comes to attracting football supporters - but this has always been a myth it us just that organisations like the National Front and the BNP have been more vocal about their links with football groups. But it is important that those in the centre and on the left speak out. With the EDL gathering support since the murder of a soldier in Woolwich it is important that fans groups stand up and be counted and do not allow all football fans to be tarnished with the 'Far Right' EDL tag as often happened in the 70's when all fans were seen as NF foot soldiers.

The 2013/14 season will be an important one politically for football, clubs, the FA and fans from Palestine to Italy, Russia to Turkey and Sweden to Britain.

My week ahead 17 - 23 June 2013

Monday 17 June – 4pm, Culture Portfolio meeting
6pm, Labour Group meeting

Tuesday 18 June – 5pm, Sidegate School, Finance meeting

Wednesday 19 June – 9am – Ipswich Borough Council, Planning meeting – Grafton House

Thursday 20 June – 7pm, ‘Refugee Week’ Quiz with a twist! PJ McGinty and Sons Pub

Friday 21 June – 7pm, Launch of Ip-Art, Ipswich Waterfront

Saturday 22 June - 10am, Labour campaigning, North West Ipswich

Many people moan about the town we live in, but Ipswich has far more going on in it than most towns of a similar size and certainly far more than when I was growing up in the town. The best bit is much of it is free and there is something for all ages to see or participate in.

This week we had the final of the ‘Tour Series’ cycle races and it was without doubt a great success and more pleasing was the organisers stating it was the best event of the whole series. The trick now is in conjunction with the County Council to work towards hosting an even bigger cycling event. Manchester may have the velodrome but when it comes to road events, Ipswich (and Suffolk) is certainly becoming a second home for British Cycling.

This week we launch Ip-Art in the town, again a vast range of events and many aimed at our younger residents and many free. The Sherlock Homes play by the Pantaloons, to be staged outside Christchurch Mansion is the one event that I have pencilled in to attend. But I am sure that even the biggest ‘moaner’ will find something they like happening over the next few weeks.

A number of meetings to attend over the next week, planning will see the thorny subject of yet another application for another bookmakers to be opened in the town. The Government and our local Tory MP keep implying that we (the local council) can do something but this is case, similar to phone masts where the Government needs to give more direction.

I also have a further meeting at Sidegate Primary School, the staff – and the pupils are working so hard to improve standards but often it seems the Tory Government just want to pull the rug from underneath them with the Tory County Council not helping but just saying “how hard to you want the rug pulled?”

Any spare time will be spent campaigning in the five wards that are under threat of seeing a bus route removed or reduced. The Tories seem to have just focussed on one ward and spent most of the time scaremongering rather than looking for a solution. Fortunately Labour run Ipswich Borough council has a fund of £140,000 that can be used to help subsidise bus routes- a fund the Tories did not want us to have!

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Latest Ipswich Tory leaflet - ‘50% inaccurate, 100% hypocrisy’

Yesterday Ipswich Tories pushed out a leaflet in Stoke Park which is one the most inaccurate I have ever seen put out by the local Conservatives – and that is saying something.

Not sure our local MP, Ben Gummer will be too impressed that his name has been added to it. Not only is it inaccurate but is also scaremongering and as it intended target audience is some of our more senior residents that is scandalous.

But for me more shocking than the inaccuracies is the sheer hypocrisy of the leaflet. Cllr Cenci – who seems to be the author of the leaflet even repeated the inaccuracies on a post on her blog. She has since altered her blog but do not expect her to put out a second leaflet apologising!

Now let's put down the correct facts about the Number 16 bus route, before we highlight both the inaccuracies of the leaflet and the sheer hypocrisy of Cllr Cenci.

Labour are not axing the No 16 bus service, Ipswich Buses are De-registering the service which is not the same and does not mean the service will cease.

As Ipswich Buses no longer intend to run the service on a commercial basis there is a legal process they have to follow. They have to notify VOSA (Dept for Transport) of their intention to cease running these COMMERCIALLY.

Ipswich Borough Council are able to enter into an agreement with Ipswich Buses to continue to run these services with financial support if required.

Ipswich Borough Council has a budget which purpose is to support local bus services.
That is the facts on the Number 16, and members of Stoke Park Residents Association have been consulted on this. Now the 16 is not the only route that was under threat. In the North East we have both the 22 and 31 being axed by the Tory run County Council, part of the route will now be replaced by a new route- the 39 – but Ipswich Hospital will no longer be served by this bus.

All over Suffolk, the County are looking to reduce their subsidies to bus services- a direct result of the County declaring that for the next 4 years there will be no rise in council tax.
Now onto the claims of Cllr Cenci –

The leaflet (and her original blog post) indicated that Labour Cllr Smart is a member of the Board of Ipswich Bus Company – he is not – she since has indicated that her leaflet does not say he is a board member! The leaflet states; “why he (Cllr Smart) and other Ipswich Bus board members” seems pretty obvious to me if I read that and did not know any better that it was implying Cllr Smart is a bus board member. She should have known that Cllr Smart was not on the board of the bus company as she was party to the nasty act of taking him off the Bus Board in March 2007.

She also needs to remember that every time she puts up a blog post another certain Ipswich Tory will have re-posted it on his site- so the lie/inaccuracy is on here even after she changes her post. (Bet Ben Gummer is glad his name is both on the post and the leaflet – Tory Chair Grant Shapps would not have been so bothered by the inaccuracies!)

Now she is also claims that she has never voted against anything to do with Ipswich Buses – she voted for the Tory alternative budget in 2012 that would have taken away the proposed grant to help subsidise bus services in Ipswich - £140,000 – and now just over a year later she wishes us to spend that money on maintaining the number 16. That is hypocrisy.

She also asks why Ipswich Buses didn’t – or does she mean Ipswich Borough Council? (she seems to forget that the Bus Company is owned but not controlled by the Borough) send her a letter telling of the changes – well as a Rushmere Councillor I am still waiting to be told by the Tory run County that they are to axe the 22 and 31 where in her ward the 16 is set to continue.

She then goes on to list a number of points and the best example of her hypocrisy:

She wants the Borough to fund Ipswich Buses to run the route NOT (her use of capitals) a private company. Shock, horror a Tory wants public transport to be run by the state!! Former Tory Cllr and part time UKIP cheerleader – Gavin Maclure, would want her thrown out of the Tory Party for that statement alone.

Then to even suggest we should use public money to subside public transport – they will think whilst some of her party are thinking of jumping to UKIP she is on her way to join the Far Left!

Now I would welcome her sudden conversion to socialist ideals, but this is the same councillor who voted for a budget that would have stopped IBC giving the bus company money to run routes, the same Cllr who was part of a Tory executive that not long ago wanted to sell the buses off to a private company!

If that is not enough hypocrisy for you to top it off Cllr Cenci stood as a candidate for the County Elections whose only real manifesto promise was 0% council tax rise- the same proposal that is seeing bus routes cut. On her blog post she states she is concerned mainly about the bus route as it is used by many of our senior residents- she did not seem bothered about them when the County agreed to sell off all the Care Homes – to a private company.

So Cllr Cenci, I can’t believe you have seen the light and are now a great believer in Public Transport not only being provided by a council but subsidised by the tax payer.

When I had only been on the council a short while(January 2010) I attended a Borough scrutiny meeting – where a leading Ipswich Tory councillor told us he would never travel on an Ipswich bus as it was like ‘hell on wheels’, last year the Tory transport spokesman did not even know how much is cost on the bus for a trip to town. Public Transport is not and never will be safe under a Tory administration.

My week ahead 10 - 17 June 2013

Monday 10 June – 6pm, Labour campaigning- East Ipswich

Tuesday 11 June – 6pm, East Ipswich Housing Panel

Thursday 13 June – 4pm, Meeting at SCC about proposals for Rushmere Hall School
6pm – Ipswich Borough Council Scrutiny meeting

Friday 14 June – 4pm, Pearl Izumi Cycle Tour series, Ipswich town centre

Saturday 16 June - 10am, Labour campaigning, North West Ipswich

This week has been both satisfying and difficult – the good part was being able to inform residents that their bus service (22 and 31) were not to be lost. The first cuts by the Tory run Suffolk County Council are starting to leak out (no mention in any Tory election leaflet) and subsidies to bus routes are one of the first cuts to hit Ipswich. The good news is that the 22 and 31 will be replaced by a new service – the 39 – though it does cease working earlier in the afternoon as it then moves to the County run school bus service later in the afternoon. I will continue to both fight with residents against these Tory cuts and also work with the Borough Council and Ipswich Buses to try and help in areas where a bus service is lost.

The frustrating part has been dealing with residents’ concerns about the building of the new supermarket on the ‘Golden Key’ site on Woodbridge Rd. Chaos is the best way to describe what Rushmere residents woke to on Monday morning. The traffic jams and chaos were not acceptable. Fortunately our new Labour County Councillor was onto the task straight away and managed to get the County Council to change part of the road layout.

We now have a further 6 weeks of this chaos on one of the town’s main arterial routes! We (Ipswich Borough Council) did turn down the planning application because of traffic concerns – Monday was just yet one more example of where we (and residents) were right. Pity the Government Inspector did not listen – or visit the site during term time!

But to finish on a positive note, was a pleasure to visit the Beverley/Whitby Rd Community 'Front garden' sale today - after the success of the 'Big Lunch' held on Brunswick Recreation Ground last week, it is nice to know that we live in a ward with a real community feel.

Sunday, 2 June 2013

The EDL, the military and the aftermath of the savage murder of Drummer Rigby

I am sure that most of this country were appalled and shocked by the murder of Drummer Rigby 10 days ago. As an ex-soldier it was reminder of the threat from Irish extremism that we lived under for the majority of my time in the army. The way Drummer Rigby was murdered and the callous way the two murderers asked people to photograph them and then call the police was something we have never witnessed in this country before. But members of the IRA and INLA murdered many soldiers, police members, innocent civilians, and children but maybe as we never had 24/7 news coverage and those murders were carried out by people who did not want to get caught and quickly sneaked away into the background we did not have the same revulsion we feel today about the murder of Drummer Rigby.

Some good may come out of his despicable act, the military will be reminded again that unlike the 70’s and 80’s they are much loved and respected by the British public and more importantly the Muslim community has quickly condemned the actions of the two murderers and not only that have opened up their Mosques to the general public and in some places like York, even invited members of the Far Right EDL into the mosque to talk and share tea and biscuits.

Even here in Ipswich some members of the Muslim community joined EDL members on their march through the town, though I for one feel this was step too far and gave the EDL some form of legitimacy they do not warrant.

But where does that leave us now both in the UK and closer to home in Ipswich?

There has been more dialogue between faiths and communities, we do not want people to just retreat into their own groups and areas. But I do fear about the growth of the Far Right over the next two years. This country is tolerant and has always welcomed immigrants, refugees and visitors into this country- in most cases with open arms. But mistakes have been made and some communities have found it harder to feel this is their home. Some like the Somalian community have seen many of their younger members find themselves drawn into gang culture in parts of London and even small towns. But this country has shown that Right Wing extremism isn’t wanted here, the rise of the BNP was a concern over the last few years but their failure to win seats at the May County Council elections indicated that their day was over. Partly due to the in-fighting and the incompetence of their leaders like Griffin. But many from the Far Right have just looked for a new vehicle for their racism, some have joined UKIP and attempted to gain from the anti-Europe bandwagon and others have found themselves in the EDL. Not really a political group but a hotch potch of football hooligans and others on the edge of society. Many who are more interested in a having a few beers, a punch up and a row with the police than discussing politics.

The murder of Drummer Rigby, and the natural anger this country felt about that event has led more people to feel that the EDL are in the right, seeming willing to overlook the criminal records of their leadership and the previous EDL marches that have mainly ended up in a pub and clashes with the police.

As an ex solder, I am concerned that soldiers and veterans are not drawn into the EDL. The right will use their support as a sign of legitimacy and those soldiers will suddenly find themselves thrown out of the army- reports today in the press state that at least 15 soldiers are under investigation for posting messages showing support for the EDL on social media. Both the family of Drummer Rigby and his Regiment asked the EDL not to march on Saturday but they were ignored.

I remember as a young soldier many of my colleagues who spent many months in fighting the IRA in West Belfast and South Armagh talking of their support for loyalist groups like the UVF and the UDA, but for many of us who spent longer in the province that the UDA, UVF were as cowardly and murderous as the IRA and INLA. I hope that Commanding Officers and Regimental Serjeant Majors are reminding soldiers of the pitfalls of getting involved in far right groups. Dan Jarvis MP, a former officer in the Parachute Regiment has informed that he will ask a question to the Armed Forces Minister to ask what steps are being taken to protect young soldiers who could easily be influenced.

In Ipswich, I have spoken to the British Legion and a number of veteran’s organisations warning them that the EDL may attempt to draw them into protests by pretending they are organising charity events or a march to support our troops.

But I am concerned about the rise of the Far Right those who are fascists, Nazis who will use events like last week to gain members and support – we must remember the past, I was undecided if I should write this post or at least the next part of it, but the rise of nationalism does remind me of the events of 30’s Germany and the rise of Nazism- I have just finished the book ‘Dominion’ by C J Sansom, and it portrays a Britain that made peace with Germany but then saw the likes of Mosley lead us to the right eventually sending British Jews to Germany and death. It may only be a book but at the end of it C J Sansom speaks of is own fears as nationalism takes hold in Europe using the rise of the SNP in Scotland as an example. We can't just shut our eyes and think things will be all right. we need to stand up and be counted and do all we can to help our community to continue to live in peace.

UKIP had amazing success in the May elections, taking votes off all the main political groups and there is no doubt that their support covers the whole political spectrum, but they will attract ex BNP members and current EDL members, they admit themselves that they do not have the vetting procedures in place to keep those extremists out. The number of those elected in May who are now under investigation is an example where they have grown too fast.

But UKIP may say they are not of the Far Right but they have been quick to play the immigration card to gain support and locally that seemed to be the topic they discussed most rather than Europe. The leadership at the top of UKIP are mainly ex Tory, but UKIP support as I have said comes from left and right but the concern is now that the Far Right will see UKIP as their natural home as the BNP is in its death throes.

Next week, ‘Hope not Hate’ the organisation that did do much to defeat the BNP is holding a meeting in Ipswich to discuss how we must work together to defeat the EDL plus those from the Fra Right who find their way into the UKIP, I am afraid that UKIP has shown it can’t control who joins or even stands for election under a UKIP banner currently.

But the left has also got to control elements of groups within the UAF that just see fighting the EDL as the only way to protest, ‘Hope not Hate’ has shown there is another way. The Labour Party and the Government also has to continue to work with Muslim communities to stop the rise of extreme Islam.

The way ahead is difficult, we must be prepared to discuss immigration the fears of all communities but more importantly we must be prepared to stand up against extremism- from the right or the left.

Another Ipswich Lib Dem lie

We are used to suspect Lib Dem leaflets - they seem the same all over the country- dodgy bar graphs and accusations that 'only the Lib Dems can beat the Tories/Labour here' - (delete which ever party your trying to fool the voters of)

As the Lib Dems in Ipswich are now only in evidence in one ward in the town - St Margaret's, we saw the Lib Dem lies appear on leaflets as they attempted to keep a foothold in the town, - the classic one being 'Labour can't win here' well after the votes were counted we had won and not only that we had only just failed to take the second Lib Dem seat by 16 votes. What made the win for Sarah Adams more pleasing was the fact that St Margaret's seemed to be the Tories number one target and they only managed 4th and 5th!

So now St Margaret's has its first Labour Councillor since the 19th Century - Joseph Robinson winning the seat in 1891 under a Labour banner though a Cooperative candidate, Sidney Foulger won in 1919 with Labour support.

So to 2014, when we hope to also have a Labour Borough councillor elected in the Ward.

The demise of the Lib Dems in Ipswich has been so rapid that now the Ipswich Lib Dem website is full of news from Bob Russell - the Lib Dem MP for Colchester!

My week ahead 2 - 9 June 2013

Monday 3 June – 4pm, Culture Portfolio meeting
6pm, Labour Group meeting

Tuesday 4 June – 5pm, Sidegate School, Full Governing Body

Wednesday 5 June – 6pm, ‘Hope not Hate’ meeting

Saturday 8 June - 10am, Labour campaigning, South East Ipswich

Last week was quite positive with a meeting of the Ipswich Town Independent Supporters Trust, where I was honoured to be made Chair. We will be launching a number of campaigns that we feel will be supported by most Ipswich Town fans over the coming season.

On Thursday we had our regular councillor training session, this time the topic was the use of social media. Disappointingly not one Tory or Lib Dem turned up- I will give them the benefit of the doubt and believe they will be attending the second session on this topic.

They both obviously need training on the use of social media, as both the Lib Dem and Tory websites and twitter feeds are so out of date. The Lib Dem website now just features posts about the Lib Dem MP for Colchester! Not even in the same county.
Whilst the Tory twitter feed has not been updated for over a month!

I was disappointed to see an EDL March take place in the town over the weekend, at least it went by peacefully. But both the Army and more importantly the family of the murdered soldier had asked for the EDL not to march- their wishes were ignored by the Far Right group. Only 50 turned up in Ipswich some would say that is still 50 too many! This week I will be attending a ‘Hope not Hate’ meeting in Ipswich as we look at ways to campaign against the menace of far right extremists groups. It is hard to understand why anyone would support the EDL but we have at least one local Tory supporter willing to use twitter to pass on the EDL message and even act as an apologist for their leader. She also seems to like to re-tweet supporters of UKIP!

On a far more positive note, I write this post just after returning from the Brunswick Road residents ‘Big Lunch’ or better described as ‘Big Picnic’ – all were having a great time in the park, with a larger attendance than the EDL had in the town yesterday – this says far more about how great our town is to live in than a far right march.

May Day celebration causes Tory bloggers to fall out!

It has been amusing this week as Ipswich Tory bloggers and Ipswich Spy ‘fall out’ over May day!
Maybe I should describe the group as Ipswich Tory bloggers (but some thinking of joining UKIP) – The Three Tory bloggers all seem to be attempting to take the credit for the increase in fees now charged to the organisers of the annual ‘May Day’ event held in Alexandra Park.

Sorry to disappoint them all but as the Deputy Portfolio holder for parks, no one has ever mentioned their blogs- fees are constantly being looked at as we suffer from savage cuts to the local government grant from this Tory/Lib Dem Government.

But they also seem to be annoyed that Ipswich Spy keeps reminding them they said nothing when the Tories/Lib Dems were in power in Ipswich and they hired the park to the same ‘May Day’ organisers at the same low community rent that the current council does.

This is where the Tory blogs sudden and rare show of unity falls apart, Gavin Maclure informs us that backbenchers’ never know what is going on whilst Kevin Algar states it is because he was not a backbencher and if he had he would have kicked a fuss up about it.

So is Kevin telling us the Tory backbenchers are not up to the job? Many are still there- Goldsmith, Vickery, Terry – if they are not up to it why does he keep campaigning to get them re-elected? But more interesting is the comment that the backbenchers on the Tory Group are not informed of what their executive were up to – even funnier as Mrs Maclure was a member of that same executive! Or is the truth that actually the executive were also kept in the dark and that John Carnall and a smaller group of senior Tories ran the show?

As a Labour Group, we discuss all policy and our executive are left in no doubt about our feelings on certain matters and our views are always taken in to account. It seems that was not happening when the Tories were in power in Ipswich.

On a separate matter but one linked to the ‘May Day’ story – is the use of ‘Freedom of Information’ requests – FOI’s. I think they are an important piece of legislation that keeps Governments, councils and public bodies on their toes. But there is a cost to them both in time and money – and often they are just used by lazy journalists when they are short of a story - such as how many biscuits have been purchased for council meetings! Also as a council the public already have the ability to ask questions both at Full Council and now Area Committees – and in particular on the issue about the cost of the May Day celebration – why haven’t Algar, Spencer or Maclure asked a question at Full Council? Or even more importantly why hasn’t a Tory Cllr asked about the costs? The answer is they know the reply would have mentioned that the Tories charged the same community rent the whole time they were in power.

Who pays for these FOI requests? Us – the Ipswich Council Tax payer!