Sunday, 22 June 2014

My week ahead 23 - 29 June 2014

Monday – 23 June, 8am – Ipswich ‘Angle’ Board meeting
6pm –Labour Group campaigning session

Wednesday – 25 June, 6pm – North East Ipswich Partnership Group meeting
7pm – North East Ipswich Area committee, St John’s Church, Cauldwell Hall Rd

Thursday - 27 June, 7pm – Labour ‘Friends of the Forces’ reception in London with Ed Miliband

‘No anger is worse than a jilted woman’ – or should it now be ‘ no bitchiness is worse than a criticised blog’?

In a post I wrote last week, I criticised local blog ‘Ipswich Spy’ over what I thought was lazy journalism over his comments about attendance of councillors at the Queens Commonwealth Baton event.

So it seems one of their two writers has waited just one week to strike back but it seems to many that it just another sign that as we get closer to the General Election of 2015 that the blog has become an unofficial cheer leader for Tory MP Ben Gummer and would be better if titled ‘Tory Spy’ rather than ‘Ipswich Spy’.

Rather than admitting he had made a mistake or thinking maybe best to not mention it again, he decides to attack my article on the baton at the same time defending the County Council. I indicated that local County Councillors had not been invited to the events though there seemed to be a heavy Tory attendance at the Lowestoft event.

I was also critical of the county as there seemed to have been a lack of publicity about the event. He defended the county, informing us that they had sent out at least a dozen press releases and it was not their fault that the local media had ignored them. Maybe rather than just sending out numerous emails they should have arranged a closer tie up with local media over the event. Ipswich Borough Council certainly did their bit, I did a BBC Suffolk radio interview along with our baton carriers and David Ellesmere did a piece in the local paper.

He excused the County for not inviting their own County Councillors by stating they should have read at least one of their own twelve press releases! I can imagine that the number of emails that a County Councillor receives that reading numerous press releases is not one of their top priorities where a short email from the Council leader or Portfolio holder asking them to support the local events would have achieved a far better attendance.

‘Tory Spy’ then has yet another pop at me for my use of twitter and at the same time acting as an unpaid Press Officer/Social media outlet for Tory MP Ben Gummer. (If you have had the misfortune to look at Mr Gummers website you will see that he does need some help on the use of social media).

During the week a large number of Ipswich residents had a nightmare of a journey either from or to London and I tweeted that Mr Gummer was notable by his silence on the subject as he is often quick to tweet with (what he perceives is) good news about our local rail service. ‘Spy’ praised Mr Gummer for not rushing to twitter, though I think commuters would have been pleased to hear that he was going to take up their concerns immediately with the executives of the franchise and Railtrack. But then ‘Spy’ added when Mr Gummer does take to twitter at least he can communicate with over 5,000 followers rather than the 279 who follow Mr Ellesmere. But what ‘Spy’ forgets/decides not to mention is that Mr Gummer himself only follows 265 as with many Tory MPs they see twitter as just a one way line of communication but at least those who follow Mr Gummer can now read the apology he has gathered from the rail franchise over the events of last week. As a tweet today links to his blog which now has an apology from the franchise (making that post his 9th of the year).

But Mr Gummer was quick to take to twitter this week to inform us of potential good news for rail users – we will be getting an Ipswich to Bristol rail route. Emphasising in his tweet that it will happen, this tweet was picked up quickly by many – was their a timescale – no answer, so like the ‘new trains’ mention on his recent leaflet no real detail. I would appreciate a good East/West link but find it hard to envisage when the current Ipswich to Cambridge/Peterborough lines are so slow. Mr Gummer did indicate then that this development would include electrification of the Cambridge route – good news there but it was then indicated that this had not been confirmed. So once you get to Cambridge you would then get on the re-opened ‘Varsity Line’ between Cambridge and Oxford then change at Oxford for Bristol. Sounds great?

Is a ‘Varsity line’ needed? I am sure there are far more routes that are in need of funding, and would this trip to Bristol (with at least one and maybe two changes) be any quicker than taking the current journey via London. It may be cheaper as many routes to the Midlands via Peterborough are but currently few of those routes are quicker/reliable or of any use for those who wish to use the route for business reasons and wish to be be at a meeting and back the same day.

Then we have ‘Cross Rail’ with a change at Stratford, and a final destination of Maidenhead – will that not make a trip to Bristol easier than it currently is?

So maybe Mr Gummer should have followed his own advice and not rushed to twitter to inform us of this great news when it reality we will not probaly see an Ipswich - Bristol line for over 10 years - if ever!

Mr Gummer did take to twitter yesterday to have his picture taken at Cherry Lane Recreation ground alongside two local Tory councillors with the tweet indicating that two councillors had secured a new play area for the rec. I myself have thought carefully how we use the good news of the new play area, because it certainly was not secured by just politicians- it was mainly down to the work of a team of dedicated local residents and then supported by councillors both Labour and Tory and also Borough and County. The key funding had come from the Labour dominated North East Area committee with additional funding from Labour and Tory County Councillors. The final piece of the jigsaw was funding from the Viridor Landfill Communities Fund and our success in gaining a grant was down to local residents and Labour County Councillor Sandy Martin who helped complete the application.

It certainly was not just the work of the two Tory councillors pictured, in fact one of them had no involvement at all in the project as it was planned, paid for and built before he was even elected but then as Mr Gummer is keen to tell me (via Tory Spy) we should not always rush to twitter – instead he could have spoken to the Chair of the North East Area committee (he has my email)!

But back to this week – it will be great to get back to the North East Area committee as we have a busy year attempting to work with local partners within our ‘action plan’ to improve the lives of local residents.

Then Thursday it is off to London to meet Ed Miliband and the Labour ‘Friends of the Forces’ reception – speaking only this week i know that the morale of the army is the lowest it has been for many years – hopefully the last forced redundancies are over and the army can now get back to what it does best- serving this country. I will certainly be lobby the Labour Defence team to have a plan in place to replace the coalition plan of dependence of a large Reserve force, current recruitment of reservists already indicates that this plan is failing miserably.


Ben Redsell said...

Quite amusing Alasdair. I come back from a weekend away, to discover that you can no longer count - me, Andrew, Sally, Hawkster, Ken, three of whom blog more than once a week - because you seem to think has just two writers.

You also seem to think that if there is any criticism of Labour at all, it is instantly Tory Spy. Given the previous week there was only one line out of nearly 1000 words that wasn't critical of the Tories, and they were just as quick to privately complain, I suspect we're probably more balanced than anyone else.

Alasdair Ross said...

Seems that when your blog comes under any sort of criticism even if valid you can't accept it.

You made a mistake about the number of elected representatives at the baton event and rather than putting your hand up and admitting your error you have resorted to petty attacks.

You have been critical of certain Tories but in my opinion you have become an unpaid cheerleader/mouthpiece for Ben Gummer