Thursday, 26 February 2009

Ipswich in Distress!

Empty shops, credit crunch and a "do - nothing" Tory council - even the art world has noticed all the empty shops in Ipswich.

Local art photographer Anna Duncan has produced a set of 68 photographs depicting "Ipswich in distress". Take a look:

Tories say "put it in the bank"

Last night saw Ipswich Borough Council debate the budget plan, I say debate but what I mean it was just an opportunity for the tories to blame the whole worldwide recession on Labour and Gordon Brown in particular.

We had put forward 10 amendment's to the budget, which would have led to an £8 million boost to the Ipswich economy and still keeping the Council Tax at the same level as the Tories/Lib Dems have set. All the amendment's were thrown out by what became the Carnall and Cenci show! Just like a music hall act but one with little laughter. Actually that is wrong John Carnall spent most of the time laughing- obviously he has not met many constituents in Bixley who have been hit by the current economic meltdown.

The Tory answer to the problems we face is to leave the money in the bank- till a rainy day, well its seems to be pouring at the moment. What Carnall means, is they want to save money so they can set a low Council Tax rate in election year!

A number of our amendment's would not have cost much money- an example was the £7,000 proposed to employ a member of Council staff to help with Ipswich to keep their Fairtrade status, this was thrown out and what was quite amazing was the attack on those who want Fairtrade, by certain Lib Dem members. I wonder how those who vote Lib Dem would have felt?

I was so annoyed by the Carnall/Cenci show that I even left before the end of the meeting - I thought that I would rather spend time with my family in my last week here before I depart for my final training before I deploy to Afghanistan. I even felt like giving up politics.

But fortunately this morning a visit to the Dundee House sheltered Housing scheme, has made me more even determined to not only return a Labour Council to Ipswich but even more importantly help Labour win a fourth term in government.

For those who feel the Tories have changed- and that Cameron is now moving to the centre- forget it- Carnall and Cenci showed that in Town Halls all over the county, the same Thatcher Tories are still running the show.

Monday, 23 February 2009

£8 Million boost for Ipswich economy

As I blogged a week ago, the Ipswich Tories-like Cameron and his cronies are sticking to their "Do nothing" principles. My Labour colleagues and myself have proposed a budget that will see an £8 million boost to the local Ipswich economy. We will be putting forward our budget plan at the Full Council meeting this Wednesday.

Wonder who the Lib Dems will support- and 8 million pound boost to the Ipswich economy (that will not see a rise in council tax) or -as we all expect - they will support the Tory "Do nothing" plan. Maybe they like seeing more empty shops in Ipswich

The Ipswich economy could receive an £8m boost if proposals put forward by Labour councillors are agreed at the meeting on Wednesday.

Highlights of Labour’s “Budget for Jobs” include:

• a large-scale home energy efficiency programme

• doubling the size of the council’s affordable housing programme

• reversing the cuts in grants to good causes

• a freeze on bus fares

• an investment fund to bring empty properties back into use

• ensuring Ipswich residents and businesses claim the grants and benefits they are entitled to.

The measures put forward would be paid for by reducing the amount of money the council keeps in the bank for a rainy day, bringing forward spending from future years and borrowing at extremely low rates of interest. There would be no increase in council tax and no cuts in services. The council’s Chief Finance Officer, as required by law, has stated that figures are correct and that the council’s remaining reserves (£1.8million) are adequate.Labour Leader David Ellesmere said: “Councils should be at the forefront of protecting their residents from the worst of the economic downturn. Our programme will save jobs, save residents money and help to save the planet. It is just the boost that Ipswich needs.”

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Now a Twitter!

I now have fully arrived in the 21st Century! A Blog, Facebook and now I have joined the Twitter world. You will see a link on the right hand side of the blog.
It is all a bit new, but I like the feel of it so far.
To those who have only heard rumours about the spread of Twitter, basically you have a site where you can send 'what your doing' in less than 140 characters - have a feeling it will be a better communication tool for politics than Facebook.
A good link for blogs, so not a replacement, I am following the tweets of John Prescott, Alastair Campbell, No 10 Downing Street plus away from politics, BBC News, BBC Sport, BBC Football, Ipswich Town, Billy Bragg and also a link to news on Afghanistan.
I would recommend trying it.
Local councils are now looking to use blogs, Twitter and social network sites as a means of getting their message over to the public. a number of councils used such sites to pass on highway and school closure information over during the recent cold spell.
According to a local government publication, there are at least 20 councils using Twitter and 40 individual councilors. Well make that 41!
Will be interesting to see how many followers I get to my Twitter site over the next few weeks, not sure I will be as popular as Stephen Fry or even Jon Prescott!
Try it and join me on Twitter!

Friday, 13 February 2009

Ipswich 'Til I Die

This week saw the launch of a football book featuring stories from Ipswich supporters, nothing new there you may think, but you would be wrong this is a book which is not only a great read but does far more than that. It is a great example why many of us are so hooked on not only following football but supporting our local team. The book is also a great advert for the Supporters Trust movement. This production was put together by the Ipswich Town Independent Supporters Trust working with football club and also with the aim of assisting local schools. 600 free copies were given to schools thanks to the involvement of the National Literacy Trust.

The launch was on Wednesday night and the evening saw contributor's mix with Town players and also pupils from local schools. The picture below is of pupils from chantry School with the oldest contributor to the book.

The whole project showed that the Trust and the Football club can work together and also that the trust is a very professional organisation.

But it as a Town fan that I love this book, forgetting that it is done by the trust and that is for a good cause of improving school literacy the book stands on it's own as a great football book. You would think as it is by Town fans that it would be full of 1978 or 1981 and maybe 1962 and 2000 but I found the best bits were about the likes of Dammo Green a Town star of the 30's and the piece by Kath Parker the wife of Towns 1950's captain Tommy Parker. there are also heart warming stories from pupils from Ipswich schools, a story from a youngster helped by the Club's link with The Princes Trust, plus two very diverse articles, one from an American Army Officer who seemed to clothe a whole Iraqi village in Ipswich Town shirts and a fan who was helped out of a coma by listening to messages from Town players.

Now go and buy a copy of 'Ipswich 'Till I Die', it will be on sale outside the ground this Saturday and hopefully the club shop. you can also buy by post from 'Those Were The days'.

Do nothing from the 'Do nothing' party

Not only are Cameron and his cronies doing nothing but even here in Ipswich the Tories (with help from their Lib Dem puppets) are also intending on doing nothing to help Ipswich during this recession.Now you may think that it is easy for us to say as we are in opposition, but we have produced our own budget proposals and there is no doubt that these proposals would do far more for the people of Ipswich and the businesses who employ them.

Ipswich Borough Council’s 2009 budget does the bare minimum to help people struggling to cope with the economic down and is a “massive missed opportunity”.
Labour councillors had called for a “Budget for Jobs” and published a list of 27 measures they wished the council to introduce in its budget.
While the council has introduced some measures that Labour called for, such as investing in the University, most of the help for Ipswich residents and businesses has been ignored such as:
1. An expanded programme of home insulation
2. Waiving Business Rates to bring empty shops back into use
3. Introducing “local labour clauses” into council contracts to give work to local people
4. A freeze on bus fares
5. Passing on the Government’s VAT cut
6. More help to keep people struggling with mortgages in their homes

Labour councillors believe that the council is pursuing completely the wrong strategy for trying to boost the local economy. Instead of bringing forward spending to support local businesses the council is actually planning to increase the money it keeps in the bank by £800,000.
The council is also being criticised for trying to sneak through the cuts it is planning to bring in such as:

· Cutting grants to voluntary organisations by £30,000
· Hitting Ipswich Town FC’s finances by increasing football parking charges
· Cutting the opening hours at Sports Centres and the Corn Exchange
· Cutting help to reduce abandoned vehicles at a time when scrap metal prices have plummeted which will lead to more abandoned vehicles
· Putting people’s health at risk by increasing charges to remove asbestos

Labour Leader David Ellesmere said: “The council has turned its back on its responsibilities to Ipswich businesses and residents who are struggling in the economic downturn. It is worse than ‘do nothing’ - some of what the council is planning will actually make things harder for the people of Ipswich.”

Monday, 9 February 2009

Desert issue!

Not blogged for a while as I have been involved in pre Afghanistan deployment training- training for a hot summer in Afghanistan with a freezing two weeks in Wiltshire!

But today in Northern Ireland we were issued our desert clothing and equipment. The reason I mention this is that there has been much criticism in certain papers about the lack of equipment our troops are issued with. Well in all my time in the army I have never been issued with so much equipment and of such good quality. Of course our troops in both Iraq and Afghanistan deserve the best equipment but the papers (and the Tories) should say well done when the MOD and the Government get it right.