Sunday, 16 March 2014

My week ahead, 17 - 23 March 2014

Monday – 17 March, 6pm Labour Group

Tuesday – 18 March, 5pm Sidegate Primary School Finance meeting
6pm East Area Housing Panel

Wednesday – 19 March, 6pm Ipswich Borough Council – Full Council meeting, Town Hall

Saturday 22 March, 10am – Labour campaigning – South East Ipswich

This week we have seen Mr Gummer our MP visit the Suffolk Police Control room – expect to see in the paper soon ‘Suffolk Police Control room saved after Tory PCC is lobbied by Tory MP Gummer’ – similar to ‘Bishop Hill lights will not now happen after Tory cabinet member is lobbied by Tory MP Gummer’

Now I am sure that lobbying by Ben Gummer and Tory Cllrs did help persuade Graham Newman to shelve the plan to put traffic lights on Bishops Hill but I have no doubt from meetings held with Mr Newman that he still thinks lights should be placed on the approach from Felixstowe Rd, but has been persuaded to halt the work as it is seen as a vote loser in the marginal ward of Holywells.

The Police Control room issue is slightly different as the Tory PCC seems to have decided himself that it is political suicide to close the control room, do not be fooled by the story about the ‘business case does not stack up’ – when he spoke to the IBC Scrutiny meeting last month he made it quite clear that the control room would probably close with other back office jobs coming to Suffolk in return. You would have thought when he spoke to Scrutiny he would have already known of the business case and details of the closure, weeks late he was happy to send every house in Suffolk a letter detailing the savings he has already made and the savings of close to £6 million he will be making in the future – was the closing of the control room in his savings – or has he no idea of where the savings will be made?

In reading that letter you would get the impression that he is in full control of the budget and has a full understanding of the business plan, but now we seem to get the impression (from Mr Passmore) that he had no prior visibility of the business plan.

I am sure Mr Passmore was surprised by the large attendance of staff and union members at the meeting held to rubber stamp the merger of control rooms with Norfolk, he would not have felt comfortable with the presence of two Labour PPCs in the room and I am sure he would have been slightly surprised by the anger shown by those who were likely to lose their job. But I believe his main reason for the sudden change in plan was when the local paper the EADT, announced they were against the plan.

What had been noticeable up to his announcement of his ‘change of mind’ was the total silence of the seven Suffolk Tory MPs – and even after the sudden change of plan, only Mr Gummer has commented on the issue- possibly due to small majority he holds in Ipswich.

Suffolk MPs do seem loathe to comment on any cuts being imposed by the Tory run County Council or the Tory PCC, maybe they know that the Tory Cllrs would not be happy to be lectured to by MPs when they are just carrying out Tory policies!

So do not expect to hear Mr Gummer making too much of a fuss over the closure of the Felixstowe Rd Children’s Centre, just expect him to repeat the County Council line of ‘services will be maintained but at other locations’ – the question is what locations?

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