Thursday 29 December 2011

Olympic Year - but will the drug cheats win?

I can’t wait till 2012 and getting closer to the Olympics coming to London. I have my tickets and I hope and believe it will be one of the greatest games ever – and that there will be a sporting legacy left behind.

I was disappointed not to get tickets for cycling, as it is a sport that I love to watch and one that Britain has come to dominate but not only on the track as we now are a force in road racing.

I also expect GB to collect medals in a number of sports and for all our athletes to preform to their highest level but I do have one worry and that these games are again overshadowed by the use of performance enhancing drugs.

I have just finished reading the fantastic, ‘Racing through the Dark’ by GB cyclist David Millar. Not only is it a fantastic book on cycling but it gets you close to the seedy world of the sports doper.

We keep coming up with new drug tests, but the chemists keep coming up with new drugs. We catch cyclist, athletes but they appeal and come back but we need to do more.

The reason why Millar’s book is so readable is that he admits he took drugs and in most cases names to doctors, trainers and managers who either advised him to take the drugs or turned a blind eye to the doping.

People will always cheat, always dope but we need to not just catch them and ban but it is those who supply both the drugs and the knowledge of how to use them who need to be caught then both banned for life and if a criminal offence has been undertaken – jailed.

As a young soldier I was on a mountaineering trip in the Italian Alps – one of our climbers had been a promising female hurdler, she was in the top 3 in the UK in the early 80’s but she gave up. I asked her why, she said her coach told her she had reached her ceiling and that if she wanted to go further she needed to use chemicals and he could supply. At that time she was at one of the leading Athletic clubs in the UK, I believed her and remembered what she had told me after a leading British female was caught at a later Commonwealth games – she was a member of the same club!

When an athlete is caught in particular a young g one, we need to find out who supplied him and whilst he is banned his coach should be banned at the same time.
David Millar could soon be allowed to appeal against his Olympic ban alongside Dwaine Chambers. Millar would have far more support than Dwaine because of his honesty but I believe they should stay banned. Millar does not ride for the Sky team as they have a nil doping policy but he was welcomed back by the GB and Scotland teams for the World Cycling Championship and the Commonwealth Games but even so the Olympic ban should stay and all countries should follow the GB lead.

We need to catch not only the athletes but the coaches and managers who pedal this filth – there is a pressure to win, even more so as the host nation. This has been highlighted by the recent bans placed on Indian athletes are the Commonwealth Games.
Let us just hope London 2012 are the games where the cheats do not win – and that will only be achieved if other competitors who do cheat come clean and tell us of those who helped them. A certain Lance Armstrong is one ex cyclist who could help so much – did he cheat?

Saturday 24 December 2011

Happy Christmas

I would just like to wish all the readers of this blog and Rushmere residents a 'Happy Christmas'

2012 will be a difficult year for all of us and I with my Labour colleagues in Ipswich will be trying our hardest to do the best for the people of Ipswich.

But this Christmas I will also be thinking about my friends and comrades serving in Afghanistan, both 2 and 5 Rifles will be away from their families this Christmas. I remember the Christmases I had to spend away from my family and to be honest it is easier for the troops than those who are left behind.

So this Christmas if you wish to help our troops away from home visit the Care 4Casulaties website or Labour Friends of the Forces.


Sunday 18 December 2011

My week ahead- 19- 25 December

Monday 19 December 2pm - North East Ipswich Partnership Meeting
4pm - Culture Portfolio meeting
6pm - Political debate on ICR Radio
7.30pm - Labour Group Xmas dinner

Seem to be packing in all my work into one day!

Last week we had the last Full Council meeting of the year, we did wonder how the Tories and Lib Dems would vote when it came to adopting the Council Core Strategy and Policies Development Plan. I was quite amazed that they voted with Labour! But there was far more to this agenda item that the unanimous vote. Lib Dem Cllr Richard Atkins attacked the Tories for the NIMBY attitude that had plagued the writing of the plan. Cllr Goldsmith the Tory Cllr from Castle Hill did not rise to the bait but did speak on behalf of the Northern Fringe Group. Lib Dem Inga Lockington also spoke and maybe Richard Atkins should have also attacked some of his own party who have acted in a NIMBY way towards the development of the Northern Fringe including Cllr Lockington.

Even now the plan has been approved; I am sure that when planning permission is being sought for the area North of Valley Road we will still have a number of Tories and Lib Dems looking to refuse permission to build in this part of town.
Will be interesting to read Tory/Lib Dem leaflets over the next few months (if they deliver any!) as they both seemed to be anti any development on the Northern Fringe in their leaflets in the St Margaret’s by-election.

The Council meeting also looked at changes to Polling stations in Ipswich, the Tories tried to keep a polling district in Bixley that is not only the smallest in the town but the polling station is situated outside the Borough. As no Tories had turned up for the two Working group meetings on polling stations there was not much sympathy for them.

We also debated setting up Area Committee’s, all seemed to agree that Forums were not working but the Tories were also not keen on area committees, and in the end the Tories and Lib Dem Ken Bates, abstained - the Tories seem to becoming the abstain party - something that Tory Gavin Maclure is not happy about.

After all the debating and arguing the most significant statement of the meeting was when Cllr John Mowles, our Housing spokesman declared that Labour run Ipswich Borough Council is planning to start building council houses again in Ipswich. This development should help a number of young families as they seek their first home in the town.

Saturday 17 December 2011

Street lighting in Ipswich over the holiday period

As you know over the last few months the lights in Rushmere have been turned off between midnight and 5.30 in the morning. In some parts of the town there has been some concern over this.

The vast majority of the lights in the Ward are owned by the County Council. The Borough and the County are working together over the holiday period to change the lighting system times over this busy period, I thought you would be interested in those changes:


Suffolk County Council and Ipswich Borough Council over that last few months have been introducing an Intelligent Lighting system.
All street lights managed by both Authorities that are six metres in height and below are in the process of being switched off between the hours of midnight and 5:30am. In many areas of Ipswich this system is already up and running.

Both Suffolk County Council and Ipswich Borough Council have recognised that there is always and increase in activity over the festive period. With this in mind, street lights in Ipswich will follow the following regime over this period

Friday 23rd December - On all night (from dusk till dawn)
Saturday 24th December - On all night (from dusk till dawn)
Sunday 25th December - On all night (from dusk till dawn)
Monday 26th December to Friday 30th December - street lights will be left on until 1am.
Saturday 31st December - On all night (from dusk till dawn)

Outside of the dates detailed above, the street lights in Ipswich will continue to operate the normal switching off regime

I hope that is of some use to you, it just leaves me to wish you all a 'Happy Christmas'

Sunday 11 December 2011

My week ahead 12- 17 December

Monday 12 December 6pm - Ipswich Labour Group meeting

Wednesday 14 December 6pm - Ipswich Borough Council - Full Council Meeting

Saturday 17 December 10.30am - Campaigning in South West Ipswich

This week has yet again highlighted that the Tory Group is slightly confused on what to campaign on or even debate at council meetings.

This week at Scrutiny they seemed more concerned in working out how much the 'State of Ipswich' report costs to compile rather than discuss what we can use the report for. They kept going on about "how much does it cost?" They have even asked that when we review the report in 12 months time the cost of the report is looked at. It is only logical and right that we do look at the cost of the report but what the Tories seem to have forgot is that the idea to create this report was theirs! We mentioned this to the Tories but they said they never knew anything about the report which is slightly worrying when one of the Tory members on Scrutiny was also on their executive.

So when the likes of Cenci and Harsant go on about us keeping the public in the dark over such issues as the future of forums, they should remember that they made decisions that they did not even tell their fellow executive members. So who was the Tory who came up with the idea of 'The State of Ipswich' report, any idea Cllr Cenci?

Wednesday gave me a chance to listen to fellow Labour members discuss 'The Purple Book' a book put together by those in Progress, a group within the party. Now Labour has always had a number of different groups within it's ranks and we currently have Purple, Black, Red and Blue books!

But what I do like about Progress is that it is just not about talking, they also get out and campaign not just within the party but also out on the street and always have a big turnout at by-elections. It was great to meet Richard Angell from Progress but also to hear the thoughts of David Ellesmere, Chris Mole and Carina O'Reilly. I had met Carina at the launch of 'Labour Friends of the Forces' and hope to do some work with her on that issue over the next year. Not sure I support all that is in the Purple Book but at least in the Labour Party we have people who are thinking about how we can help improve this country in the future. After what Cameron did this week in Europe it is obvious we have a Tory Party still stuck in the 1980's.

Saturday 10 December 2011

Gummer, interns and knives!

Ipswich Spy led in the local blogging world with a story that first came to prominence in The Daily Mail (so even though it seemed like a story attacking the Tories - I had to check the facts as it came from the Daily Fail).

The story was about a former intern of Ben Gummer who was caught with 2 knives in his bag as he went to hand in a petition to Nick Clegg as part of a delegation from the Oxford University Conservative Association.

The post by Ipswich Spy - here - concentrated on the fact that Henry Evans had escaped with a caution and that Ben Gummer had made a number of statements both in the Evening Star and in Parliament on stiffer sentences for those caught with knives.

Ipswich Spy then declares they are then surprised that Mr Evans escaped with a caution after what Mr Gummer had said. But of course whatever Mr Gummer or any politician tells us it is the police and the legal system who should decide what happens. Reading further into the story it becomes obvious that Mr Gummer employed Henry as an intern after he had been caught with the knives.

I decided to ask Mr Gummer his thoughts on the matter and also asked him did he know of the caution before he employed Mr Evans. Mr Gummer said he would not discuss Mr Evans as it was improper to comment on someone who he had employed as it would be improper for me to comment on a pupil who may have come under my charge. I understand that but as Mr Evans was over 18 not sure that argument adds up. Mr Gummer is only being asked the same questions as Mr Cameron is over Mr Coulson. Like Mr Cameron, Ben believes in giving people a second chance.

I agree with Ben that the sentencing should be left for the Police and the judiciary but politicians need to remember when they are quoted on sentencing or punishments for knife crime that it will then surprise the public when someone who seems to have treated quite leniently by the police is then employed by Mr Gummer, let alone allowed to work in Parliament.

But what interested me about the story is the use of interns, now after asking Mr Gummer it seems Mr Evans was employed on more of a work experience type scheme than as an intern and possibly would have received expenses from Ben.

But I feel it is wrong that MP's uses interns, they should employ and pay people a decent wage or possibly offer apprenticeships. Interns seem to be only those who can afford to live and work in London and therefore come from a more privileged background. Labour and Lib Dem MP's are also as guilty as the Tories for employing interns. But it seems the Tory Party leads on the number of interns employed.

Guido Fawkes - the Tory blogger is running a campaign against such misuse of the system and states the case of Tory minister Jeremy Hunt as Guido puts it; Multi-millionaire Jeremy Hunt, Cabinet minister's salary £134,565, paid himself £2 million bonus last year. Total pay to 7 interns: £0.00.

The Tories are recorded to have employed at least 125 unpaid interns in the last year. A number will do this so they can say to their constituents “look how low my expenses are?”

Mr Gummer informs me he has employed a number if interns and as he has not got a huge budget, he only pays expenses to those who if they did not have that money would find themselves excluded from looking at how an MP works.

Mr Gummer states he also gives priority to those from Ipswich, I am pleased to hear this as the ‘Evans – knife’ story concerned me because it seems that Mr Evans is an ‘old boy’ of Ben’s former Public School in Kent. Now I expect this last sentence will be seized on by the Tory bloggers, highlighting the fact that I work in a Public School. I understand how the ‘old boy’ network operates but possibly Ben should have put a good word in for Mr Evans with a Kent MP and offered the place to an Ipswich resident – whether they went to Ipswich School or Chantry.

Now Ben may state that he chose the best candidate! I hope not as the Chair of the Oxford University Conservatives stated that Mr Evans was probably saved from jail because he is stupid! You do wonder why someone at one the best universities in the world goes to London to see the Deputy PM, with 2 knifes in his bag, that he had put in there on a school trip to France a number of years ago!

In conclusion, I accept that people should have a second chance and am not concerned that Mr Gummer employed Mr Evans, It does emphasize the point though that when a politician issues a quote in a paper that he must remember that it could come back to bite them.

I am also happy that Ben allows young people to work with him in Westminster to get work experience, but let’s call it that then – rather than an internship.
Interns should be stopped, it should be an apprenticeship (paid) at least.

Choosing those for work experience, where possible they should come from your own constituency but if not they should be at least someone who is going to offer something to Ipswich residents rather than the class clown from your old school.

Sunday 4 December 2011

Do Ipswich Tories talk to each other?

Today the former Tory leader of Ipswich Borough Council, Liz Harsant has blogged about some bollards being placed in Gladstone Road. She was so pleased she even said 'Thank you' to the council - Read more here about Gladstone Road

Liz Harsant mentions that residents have complained about indiscriminate parking - did Liz Harsant ask for the bollards?

The reason why I ask, is that former Tory Councillor Gavin Maclure has also put up a post about the same issue here. Now Gavin lives in Gladstone Road along with his wife who is also a Tory councillor and former portfolio holder for transport in the Borough. He seems to have a slightly different opinion about the bollards, he states; "However, the Council has still found time to put up five bollards on a pavement on my road, supposedly to stop cars parking on the pavement (although I only ever saw one car), but it is totally unnecessary as there are already double yellow lines...pure incompetence and waste!"

So are the bollards a good idea like ex Tory leader Lz Harsant states or "pure incompetence and waste"? The senior Tories in Ipswich can't seem to make their mind up!

Also on Liz Harsant's blog she mentions that she is happy that the council may put a stop to their new grass management plan, as the residents were against it. What surprises me is that at no stage has Liz Harsant mentioned that the new Grass Management idea was one her administration (when she was leader) came up with. Plus the savings this new scheme would make were already included in her budget! So it seems the Tories were happy to come up with all these schemes to help cut Council Tax by 1 % and then once they lost power say how stupid the schemes were. Double standards?

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.

Sunday 27 November 2011

300 Suffolk Police jobs axed

This week it was sad to see Inspector Mark Lewis leave his role as head of the North East Ipswich Safer Neighbourhood Team. Mark was one of those who has been heavily involved in the implementation of the SNT's in Ipswich from the start. They have been a resounding success.

Mark will continue to run the South East Team and we will be joined in the North East by Inspector Coe.

We have been promised by the Tory Government that there will be no front line cuts to the police service, but in Ipswich we are going down to 5 inspectors from 9 - according to the Tories, inspectors are not front line policeman. How can running a SNT not be front line?

We also hear that members of the SNT will now be doing some of the work formerly done by the transport division, this may possibly mean that the SNT will be less effective than they previously were.

The Labour Party in Ipswich will continue to campaign to try and stop the Government destroying our police force

My week ahead 28 November - 3 December

My week ahead 28 November - 3 December

Monday 28 November 9am - Radio interview ICR

Tuesday 29 November 5pm - School Governors Meeting, Sidegate Primary School
7.30pm - Suffolk Fabians Meeting, Citizens Advice Bureau

Thursday 1 December 6pm - Councillor training, Grafton House

Saturday 3 December 10.30am - Campaigning in North Ipswich

The highlight of my week was on Tuesday when I attended the launch of 'Labour Friends of the Forces' at the House of Commons and it was an honour to be chosen to be the advocate for the Eastern Region. I have already had some good conversations with Labour colleagues from Cambridge and Colchester about the way ahead.

This week we have had a number of senior Tories (with support from Lib Dem Cllr Ken Bates) moaning about the possible loss of the area forums - possibly to be replaced by area committees. These committees would have real power and also possibly a small budget. So strange the Tories so against it when they were so keen on locality budgets. The Tories talk about there being no consultation, in the North East of Ipswich we had a partnership meeting where the Area committees were discussed - guess what? None of the five Tory councillors turned up!

Wednesday 23 November 2011

Labour 'Friends of the Forces'

There has probably been no time since the Korean War that the Labour Party needs to align itself with the Armed Forces. I write this listening to Prime Ministers question time and as often over the last few years it starts with a tribute to the fallen.

Dan Jarvis MP, Alasdair Ross and Jim Murphy MP - 'Forces can join for £1'

For far too long the Conservatives were seen as the party of the Forces, I for a long time saw this was a myth and if anyone else was in doubt the cuts to our armed forces and the future cuts show that the Tories can no longer describe themselves as the forces friends.

So once I heard that Jim Murphy MP, the shadow defence minister was helping set up the ‘Labour Friends of the Forces’ I quickly volunteered to join and have since become an advocate for the group in the East of England.

Last night I was invited to the shadow Cabinet room at the House of Commons for the official launch of the group. It was an honour to be invited to the launch and to enter this famous building but what was more humbling was meeting some of the other veterans who have joined the group including a number of ex Ghurkha soldiers. One of these brave warriors from Nepal has even become a Labour councillor. If anyone has a doubt that this group is not being taken seriously then you only had to see the number and quality of the Labour MP’s present, all keen to sing the praises of our armed forces and also to offer their support.

Dan Jarvis MP, tell us why he joined the party, with Jim Murphy and Gurkha veterans listening intently

But it was not only MP’s and veterans who were present there were other Labour activists at the event and it was great that both Colchester and Cambridge were represented at the event.

Superb speeches were given by Jim Murphy and also Lord Robertson and Dan Jarvis, ex Par Major and now the MP for Barnsley.

The evening flew by and I managed to have quite a long chat with both Lord Rosser and Gemma Doyle MP, both who work with Jim as members of the shadow defence team. Gemma seems to be an MP with a bright future at Westminster.

So what next? Well as the groups advocate in the East, I want to visit troops, speak to them and their families not just to tell them of our vision for the future of the Armed Forces but also to hear their fears and get their thoughts.

Lord Robertson launches the group

We also want to see those who support our forces to join the group, you do not need to have been a member of the armed forces to join but just someone who is a Labour supporter and has a empathy with the armed forces. Join here.

On top of that members of the armed forces and veterans can join the Labour Party for £1.

Sunday 20 November 2011

My week ahead 21- 27 November

Monday 21 November 2pm North East Ipswich Partnership Meeting
4pm - Culture and Leisure Portfolio Meeting
6pm - Campaigning

Tuesday 22 November 7.30am - Breakfast briefing with TA and Reservist soldiers - Bury St Edmunds
7pm - Launch of Labour 'Friends of the Forces' - House of Parliament

Saturday 26 November 10.30am - Labour campaigning, North West Ipswich

This week I have been the target of a number of personal attacks, some would say if you 'live by the sword, you die by sword'. I understand and enjoy the rough and tumble of politics, I understand that when you say (or write, or tweet) something it may be used against you in the future. But when it is just out and out lies it can make you angry. I was accused this week of having my mind set on being the Mayor of Ipswich - rubbish!

More serious were the accusations made about how I have acted as a Governor at Sidegate School - this was most hurtful.

Even more strange was the timing of theses attacks, they came in the same week that the Tories in Ipswich were up in arms after Ipswich Spy had published a post highlighting the current in-fighting in the Ipswich Conservative Constituency party. Maybe they should look at the posts they publish themselves first.

A true friend of the Armed Forces

I am looking forward to Tuesday when I am the launch of the Labour 'Friends of the Forces' at the Houses of Parliament, it will be an honour to walk into that building and then meet and talk to Dan Jarvis, Jim Murray and Lord Robertson - men who really care about our Armed Forces - unlike a certain Liam Fox.

Liberals leaving a sinking ship

Whilst looking at recent local election results came across this interesting set of statistics.

Since the May 2011 local elections there have been 28 instances where councillors have defected from one party to another:

Labour have had 9 councilors Join them from other political parties and had one member defect to another group.

The Tories, have lost 3 to defections but gained seven from other groups, but it is no surprise to us involved in local politics that it is the Lib Dems who have seen the most defections since May. they have gained one councillor from another political group but have had 16 of their councillors leave for other groups.

Liberals leaving a sinking ship?

Have edited this post after a Lib Dem complained- I was just using a common English term used when anyone flees what has become a lost cause . Apologies for any offence caused.

Sunday 13 November 2011

Knives out For Cameron

Under two years in Government and certain Tory MP's have already got the knives out for their leader and Prime Minister, David Cameron.

There will always be politicians in any party that do not like their leader and even at times let the public/press know they are not happy. But I am sure many of us are surprised how quick his own party has turned against Cameron.

I don't think Cameron is either a great leader or Prime Minister but the Tory MP's are not rebelling because they are concerned about the state of the country it seems that most are just bitter as the junior minister posts they were expecting have ended up in the hands of Lib Dems. So many posts that at times it seems that the Lib Dem MP for Portsmouth and Bob Russell at Colchester are the only Lib Dems still on the backbench.

The latest attack by a Tory MP came this weekend with Patrick Mercer accused of calling the Tory leader an 'arse' it makes interesting reading - more here

Cameron would have expected a small rebellion on the Europe referendum but he would have still been surprised by the size of the mutiny, the Tories still confused on where they exactly stand on Europe. Some of those who rebelled will be well known Euro sceptics, others would have been in 'disgruntled because Lib Dems got my job' band and a third group would be those who will state that they rebelled because their local association members expected them to vote for a referendum. Note 'what their association expected' rather than their constituents.

Where does this leave Gummer and his fellow Suffolk Tory MP's? All voted with the Government and all are seen as ultra Cameron loyalists and it could also be said that they voted for what is best for their constituents. We must remember that 60% East of England trade is with EU, one-third more than other UK regions.

I expect our Tory MP's to stay loyal to Cameron, Coffey is allegedly rated highly and may be close to a junior minister post, Dan Poulter seems to be in the Evening Star every day and has taken the role of 'saviour of Ipswich Hospital' from Ben Gummer. But Gummer does seem to have a problem with his own association and in particular the Tory activists.

Gavin Maclure makes it quite clear that he has fell out of love with Cameron and some of his posts have more of a UKIP feel than Tory Party but he at least states that they knew Ben Gummer's view on Europe before they elected him but will Ben find it hard to get people to campaign for him when so many seem anti - Europe? James Spencer their habitual Bridge Ward candidate has made a number of attacks on Ben Gummer and as usual his 'follower' Kevin Algar also seems keen to join the anti Europe brigade. Ben Gummer was probably not surprised that may of his association are so anti Europe but I am sure that he is disappointed that at one of their flagship lectures they have invited Mr Campbell Bannerman MEP to be the guest speaker. Now Gavin describes Bannerman as a Conservative MEP, but in fact he was elected as a UKIP MEP and that there is a call for him to resign as we elect political groups as MEP's rather than individuals - more on this at the Ipswich Spy site.

So what does Ben Gummer do? Turn up to the lecture to confront Mr Campbell Bannerman, to tell the association members the benefits of being part of the European Union, or does he just keep a low profile, and hope that come the next General Election, the activists will forget his pro Europe stance and get behind him in his fight to keep Ipswich as a Tory seat?

The good thing about so many Tory activists now tweeting or using blogs - we will soon find out.

The Tory MP's, the Tory activists and the Tories in Ipswich- all falling out of love with David Cameron, Gavin Maclure even suggested that putting Cameron on their leaflets in St Margaret's Ward may have been a contributing factor to their defeat last Thursday.

Saturday 12 November 2011

My week ahead 14 -21 November

Monday 14 November 6pm - Labour Group meeting

Wednesday 16 November 11am - North East Ipswich Forum, Ransomes Sports and Social Club - Sidegate Avenue

4pm - Polling Stations Working Group, Grafton House

Thursday 17 November 5pm - Sidegate Primary School, Finance Meeting

A number of reminders of my schooldays this week, Monday I was at Fore Street Swimming Pool for the launch of our free i-card for members of HM Forces residing in the town, this was where I learnt to swim when I was at St Helens School. Then on Thursday at the St Margaret's by-election I found myself knocking up voters in Devereaux Court off Bolton Lane. Before becoming luxury housing this was once part of Tower Ramparts School.

Talking of the by-election at first it seems a disappointing result as we worked tirelessly to increase our vote. But it was not to be and it became obvious during the day that many of our voters were returning to tactical voting as they would rather have a Lib Dem Cllr than a Tory. But all our good work will not go to waste and it will be of enormous benefit to us when we come to getting David Ellesmere elected as our MP at the next General Election.

Wednesday gave me the opportunity to represent residents at the Planning Committee. The good news was that the planning proposal for the Golden Key pub site was turned down. More strange was the Tory decision to all abstain.

Today (Saturday) I was provisionally selected to stand again as the Labour candidate in the Borough election for Rushmere Ward next May.

North East Ipswich Forum - 16th November

The North East Ipswich Forum will be held next week, the 16th November. The forum is normally held in the evening but this is our annual daytime forum.

The event starts at 11am on the 16th and the location is the Ransomes Sports and Social Club in Sidegate Avenue.

Topics up for discussion include the Suffolk County Council budget and we will also get an update on police priorities for North East Ipswich.

I will be attending the forum and hope some of you can join us on Thursday morning.

Wednesday 9 November 2011

Golden Key - planning application refused

Good news for Rushmere residents – the planning application to build a supermarket on the Golden Key site on Woodbridge Road was refused by the planning committee in Ipswich this morning.

Greene King has stated that the retailer was not Tesco and that they may still open a shop in the existing building.

I was allowed to speak for 7 minutes at the meeting, I emphasised the traffic issue and also the detrimental effect that a supermarket may have on our small independent shops.

Greene King may appeal, in my conclusion I stated that if they wished to build a shop then a joined up plan with the BP garage would be a better option as that would put less pressure on the traffic as they could share entry and access. We will see what happens next.

It was disappointing that the Tories and Lib Dems spent much of the meeting having a go at myself and the local Labour Party for delivering our leaflet about the plan for the Woodbridge Road site. I thought this was because they were for the proposal but only the Lib Dem councillor eventually voted for the plan. The Tories all abstained, (including our own Tory councillor for Rushmere – Judy Terry) so we are not really sure where the local Tories stand on this issue.

I am sure this was not be the last we will hear about this plan but at least for now we will not see a large supermarket on the site.

I must thank all those who supported our campaign; it was an honour to represent the views of Rushmere residents this morning.

Tuesday 8 November 2011

Everest - every mountaineers dream

As a young soldier I was fortunate enough to visit the Himalaya's as part of a mountaineering expedition. A team of 20 including 12 soldiers who were under 18 climbed Mera Peak. The young soldiers also visited Everest Base Camp whilst a smaller team (including myself) climbed Lobuje Peak.

I had read some books about climbing in the High Ranges, by the likes of Bonnington but I also took two books with me about the successful 1953 expedition. One by the leader John Hunt and one by a former Officer in my Regiment, Wilfrid Noyce. Reading those two books whilst following their long walk in was an unforgettable experience.

Made even better when I found out that they climbed Lobuje as a training peak for Everest. It is amazing how they climbed it with ease in 53 when we had difficulty in 1989 even with all the latest equipment. I even came close to death after falling on the decent.

I have not been back to Nepal but after today I am determined to return. I visited the Hooper Gallery in Clerkenwell, London. They currently have (till November 25th) on show a number of photographs from the early Everest expeditions right up to the 53 trip. The faces of those mountaineers seem to have so much to tell, Hunt, Hillary, Shipton, Mallory and Tenzing Norgay, each picture has so much much detail. So if in London get along and visit and just a couple of doors down is the pub, the 3 Kings - try the French sausage sandwich - completes a great day out.

Saturday 5 November 2011

My week ahead 7- 13 November

Monday 7 November 11am - Launch of i-card for HM Forces, Fore Street Swimming pool

6pm - Campaigning in St Margaret's Ward

Tuesday 8 November 9.15am - St James Palace, Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award presentation.

Wednesday 9 November 9am - Planning committee, speaking on behalf of residents.

Thursday 10 November 7am - St Margaret's by-election

Saturday 11 November 10.30am - Campaigning in East Ipswich

Sunday 12 November 11am - Armistice Parade, Christchurch Park.

Seemed to find myself spending every spare minute this week talking to residents in St Margaret's Ward. There is no doubt that speaking to residents is the best way to find out what people care and worry about in this great town. I am sure all three political groups would agree that talking to residents is the best and right thing to do, but even if they do agree the Tories seem to be carrying on from the Borough election in May and only attempting to talk to their own supporters.

The other big event this week for me was representing the council at a conference looking at building closer links between the military and civilian communities - more on that here.

Thursday 3 November 2011

Tory Veterans Minister- out of touch with Armed Forces

David Ellesmere , soldiers and tickets to watch Jools

Tory Veterans Minister - out of touch with Armed Forces? - Some would say no surprise that a Minister is out of touch with those who he is meant to represent, but I was surprised how much Tory Minister, Andrew Robathan was out of touch with not only veterans but serving members of our Armed Forces. Why surprised? Mr Robathan is a veteran himself. Without being seen to be playing the class card it may be as an ex Guards Officer he does not understand the pressures that both serving soldiers and veterans are living under.

Andrew Robathan - out of touch?

I attended the Local Government Association sponsored conference in London on Tuesday. It was attended by councillors and council officers from all over England plus representatives from the Ministry of Defence, serving soldiers plus representatives from Service charities.

Most of the councils represented were County Councils and the idea of the conference was to get councils to sign up for the Community Covenant Scheme. Hampshire, Oxfordshire and North Yorkshire have led the way. By signing up you are able to access grants from the MOD to help both the local and Military communities.

Disappointingly Suffolk County Council did not attend but I represented Ipswich Borough Council and we will be looking at joining the Community Covenant Scheme. We have already started working closely with our local military units. On Saturday a number of troops from Wattisham received free tickets to see Jools Holland at the Regent and next week those who reside in Ipswich will get access to our sports facilities. Most of the troops residing in Suffolk live in our more rural districts and the County Council would be best placed to set up a scheme with the military. But as Suffolk seem more keen on getting rid of the services it is already responsible for it seems unlikely they will want to commit to the scheme.

I was fortunate to be able to ask the Veterans Minister a question and then get into a discussion with General Rollo, the senior soldier presentm both my questions led to further debate.

General Rollo, waiting for my question?

Most of the councils were Tory run, and I expect that Mr Robathan expected an easy ride but that did not happen. Mr Robathan was quick to boast about how the Tory Government had doubled the Operational Allowance, a Tory councillor from Huntingdon (and a veteran) was quick to tell the Minister that this increase had come at the same time that many other military allowances were being cut, including Disturbance Allowance and grants for education.

The Minister was then warned by Dawn McCafferty, chairman of the RAF Families Federation, about the impact of redundancies and cuts to allowances on service personnel.

She told the Local Government Association conference on the covenant that many were "keeping their heads down" in an attempt to avoid the next rounds of job cuts.

"Families are hurting and actually the covenant doesn't mean a great deal to those who have just received a redundancy notice," she said.

This was disappointing to hear and I hope the Minister took note but as he did not stay for the afternoon session, I am not sure he understood how many in the military and those working for military charities feel totally let down by the Tory Government.

What was good, is that many in the Ministry of Defence are keen to work with local councils to improve the lives of those in the military, veterans and their families.

You can be certain that Ipswich Borough council will be playing it's part.

Sunday 30 October 2011

My week ahead 31 October - 6 November

Monday 31 October 6pm - Labour Group meeting

Tuesday 1 November 9am - Communities supporting our Armed Forces … our Armed Forces supporting their communities - conference in London

Saturday 5 November 10.30am - Campaigning in East Ipswich

Sunday 6 November 7pm - Labour Bonfire Night - Fund raiser

This week has seen further campaigning in St Margaret's, seen the occasional Tory out delivering leaflets but the Lib Dems seem to have given up or are very confident.

On Thursday I attended a meeting of the licensing committee at Ipswich Borough Council, one of our more important meetings this year as it gave us an opportunity to discuss the new Governments proposals for licensing (in short, it looks like it will be self regulation and only one of the committee thought this was an improvement on current legislation)

As it was such an important meeting it was very disappointing that 3 Tory councillors failed to turn up and did not even send in their apologies, now they are not in power seems that some of the Ipswich Tories have lost interest in attending meetings (and representing their constituents).

I was in London on Saturday so missed the Jools Holland concert at the Regent. Not only was it disappointing to miss Jools but this was the event where we launched Ipswich Borough Council's partnership with 'Tickets for Troops'. This will enable members of our Armed Forces to enjoy free tickets for events at the Regent and the Corn Exchange. A number of soldiers and their partners from the Army Air Corps at Wattisham were the first recipients of tickets from this scheme.

Wednesday 26 October 2011

Glen Chisholm - The man for St Margaret's Ward - Ipswich

GLEN CHISHOLM WANTS TO BE AN IPSWICH BOROUGH COUNCILLOR. This may seem obvious. Why else would he stand for election in St Margaret's ward on 10th November?

But when you know how this by election came about, perhaps it is not so strange that this is an issue in this election. Back in May, St Margaret's ward elected a Tory councillor for the first time since 1998. Within four months she had resigned from the Council.

Local Tories tried to hide the reason she had resigned, citing "personal reasons", but Mrs Stokes was prepared to go on the record. She has told the Evening Star that she was misled into standing by Ipswich Conservatives, who did not make her aware of the commitment involved, told her she would not win and left her almost completely unsupported as both a candidate and a councillor. Ipswich Tories have cost the Council Taxpayers of Ipswich £10,000 through this unnecessary by election. They do not deserve your support.

The Tory candidate is Stephen Ion - now the Tories will make a big deal of Stephen living in the ward, but after losing there in 2010, he jumped ship to Rushmere ward (where he lost again) and the Tory leaflets kept going on about how he has been working tirelessly for Rushmere residents - so where does his loyalty lie?

Labour's Glen Chisholm has done his research. He attended a non-partizan training event organised earlier in the year, and after deciding that he has something to offer, he spoke to Labour councillors about his next steps. He actively campaigned in Whitehouse and Whitton wards earlier in the year, helping Stephen Connelly win Whitton for Labour, for the first time since 2002, and Martin Goonan to massively increase Labour's share of the vote in a ward the Conservatives had hoped to win. He has been an active campaigner against Tory cuts to school crossing patrols, libraries and legal aid.

Glen was born and brought up in Ipswich attending local schools and Suffolk College, before working for a local insurance company. He previously served our community as a Special Constable for five years. Glen will not let you down.

I was one of 4 councillors from different political groups who spoke to members of the public interested in being councillors at an event held in the town, I am glad that I never put Glen off and that he thought the Ipswich Labour Party best represented the views of someone born and bred and living and working in this great town - Vote Gen Chisholm on the 10th November

Monday 24 October 2011

Taking Decision Making Closer to the People

The Tory/Lib Dem coalition talk about their 'localism' agenda, but in reality all we have seen is Eric Pickles telling councils when they must empty their bins, or on the other hand we are told 'localism' will mean more say for communities but in reality again it means we will allow developers able to build what they want, where they want.

In Ipswich we have for a number of years tried to enable the local community to have more say in local decisions, we currently have area forums, these have had success in getting information over to local residents but they have not had any real power. Councillors have attended but not been put in a position where they can answer to the public for the deeds they have carried out. There has been money available to each forum area but both local councillors or residents have had no real say in how that is spent. Ipswich Labour had seen the influence of the forums wane under the last Tory administration where it seemed the power just sat in the hands of one person- not even the leader but John Carnall.

We have now started changing that, we have already seen the all party working groups have their first meetings, the one I attended worked well. It gave backbench councillors an opportunity to have a say in policy, and that was backbench councillors from all 3 party's. It was then slightly disappointing that the Tories did not attend two of the working groups.

Labour are keen to hear what local residents think about these new proposals, including area forums being replaced by area committees -Here is the statement from IBC.

Ipswich Borough Council is looking at ways of moving power closer to the people through an ambitious programme to give communities a real say.

"We are looking at options for devolving decision-making to the local level," says the Leader of the Council, Councillor David Ellesmere.

"This would involve ward councillors working with community groups, businesses and residents on a wide range of services, based geographically on the five existing forum areas.

"In order to deliver this, we have published for consultation a paper entitled 'Taking decision-making closer to the people'."
Among its key proposals are:

Developing local Area Committees to devolve specific powers to ward councillors.
Giving councillors more opportunities to be informed by residents and users on how services can be improved through Panels.
Giving backbench councillors a role in developing policies and advising the Executive on its forward plans through active Working Groups.
Making better use of new technology including websites, social networking and Twitter; to reach and engage new people and improve services.
Reducing the number of other meetings that take place, as we seek to focus decision and policy making in these new and cost effective bodies.

Councillor Ellesmere added: "I believe these changes could make a real difference to how Ipswich is run. They would enable councillors of all political parties to take a more active part in the running of the council and better able to represent their constituents."
More information is available in the report Taking Decision Making Closer to the People. Comments must be received by 11th November 2011 and should be submitted by email to or by post to:

Councillor David Ellesmere
Ipswich Borough Council
Grafton House
15-17 Russell Road

Sunday 23 October 2011

My week ahead 24 - 30 October

Monday 24 October 4pm - Meeting with officers, discussing culture in Ipswich
Thursday 27 October 9am - Licensing meeting - Grafton House

Not many meetings this week but that leaves plenty of time to join residents in their campaign to stop the Golden Key becoming a supermarket and also helping with the Labour campaign in St Margaret's Ward.

The week just gone has also seen plenty of time spent campaigning in St Margaret's but also time to work on issues concerning Rushmere Residents,on Sunday the 16th October, I met local residents outside the Candy Box in Woodbridge Road as they handed over a petition against the planning proposal that would see the Golden Key pub becoming a site for a supermarket. An hour later along with Labour colleagues we met an even larger group of residents who are very concerned that a supermarket may be built next to what is a major road junction.

The evening was spent at a Labour fundraising 'Harvest Supper' - great food, good company but no quiz!

Monday saw North East Ipswich councillors meet the local police to talk about police priorities for the area.

Wednesday was meeting day - 3 of them - starting with planning, the committee turned down a proposal for a building development in Levington Road - more here. In the afternoon I met the manager of the Regent Theatre to discuss 'Tickets for Troops' and then the day finished off with a meeting of the Leisure and Culture Working Group where we discussed the savings we will have to make next year. It was good that both Tory and Lib Dem councillors contributed towards the discussions, something that was not even permitted under the last Tory/Lib Dem administration. It is far more democratic to allow all councillors to have an input, slightly disappointing that no Tory Councilor was able/or could be bothered to attend a similar working group about housing.

Saturday 22 October 2011

Thatcher and friends!

Those in the Tory supporting media and even Tories closer to home have enjoyed going on about Tony Blair and Gordon Brown meeting Gaddafi, or as they put it being friends of Gaddafi. An example here from Tory supporting blog 'A Riverside View'.

But I was surprised that our local Tory MP, Ben Gummer even linked Blair, Brown and Gaddafi in one of his tweets,

Now all national leaders often have to meet, shake hands and discuss issues with people they would rather not even have to spend 10 seconds with. As an ex soldier I still find it hard to see politicians of all sides having to meet and talk with the likes of Gerry Adams and Gerry Kelly. But I also know by doing that it has helped cement peace in Northern Ireland.

Mrs Thatcher and General Pinochet - actually forget that she probably enjoyed meeting him (as many other Tories would) but even Ipswich Tories and Ben Gummer may not be so happy to be reminded of this photograph.

Thursday 20 October 2011

The Levington Road problem

Planning issues have been the topic of a number of posts on various Ipswich political blogs recently, a number of these posts have been about the proposal to turn the Golden Key into a supermarket but two of the Tory supporting blogs have had an identical post about a planning application to build a bungalow in Levington Road.

Nothing wrong with that you may think? That is what political activists should do, inform residents of local issues that they may be interested in. But what has annoyed me with these two Tory posts is the assumptions, some may even say accusations made by a senior Tory councillor- someone who should know better.

The same post by Cllr Liz Harsant is published on both the Ipswich Politics and A Riverside View blogs. The post is a copy of her Evening Star column that was in the paper this Tuesday (18th October) but this is where it starts to go wrong. It seems after sending her column to the local paper she handed it over to one of her Tory colleagues to place on their blog, the post went up on the two Tory supporting blogs a week before it appeared in the paper. You would have thought they would have at least waited till the article had been printed, especially as the post is date sensitive, referring to a planning meeting that will take place tomorrow (the 19th). It makes you wonder if Nadia Cenci or Kevin Algar even read it before putting it up on their blog.

But the Evening Star decided not to publish all Cllr Harsant’s article and though it has the item about the bus shelter on Nacton Road, the ‘Star’ decided not to print the item about the Levingon Road planning application. I am not sure if that was because there was not enough room on the page or if they thought the article may be not what was expected from a senior councillor.

I have printed below the article so you can read it:
So tomorrow we will know the outcome of another application which has been submitted to the Planning Department for a bungalow at the rear of 34 to 40 Levington Road and using part of 36 and 38 Levington Road. A precedent was set back in June this year when an application for a bungalow was approved further up Levington Road towards Felixstowe Road in spite of the residents fighting against this for over 6 years – can you imagine their dismay when this was agreed. So my prediction that this would happen again is about to come true – we shall soon have another street between Levington and Salisbury Road! The site in question had some lovely trees on it and suddenly overnight the developer cut them all down. The residents are very distressed by this as many of them saw what they believed to be a bat roost in there. I am told by the Planning Officers that it is the Wildlife and Countryside Act that offers protection to any protected species and any offences under the Act are criminal offences to be dealt with by the police rather than the local planning authority. So we shall see but it is strange that biodiversity is important along the greensward on Nacton and Clapgate Lane but not important at the rear of these properties. Let’s hope the Planning Committee listen to the residents’ concerns this time. The application will be heard tomorrow Wednesday October 19th at Grafton House.

Now from the tone of the article it seems to me that Cllr Harsant is implying that she thought a decision had already been agreed on before the planning application had been heard by the committee, now as a senior councillor she should know better than most that planning decisions should not be political and certainly not decided on before the meeting. That has certainly been the way it works since I have been a substitute on planning and quite often we find ourselves as Labour Councillors not always voting together. Cllr Harsant repeated again that she thought the decision had already been made when she gave her comments at the planning meeting. Now I am sure many of the public think that planning is dealt with behind closed doors but it is not, I have never heard of a planning decision being made by a group before the meeting, certainly not by the Labour Group. She also implied that many of the residents, especially some of the more elderly were not happy with the way the property company had behaved – that should be a police matter not something that the planning committee should or could deal with. Cllr Harsant was also concerned about a possible bat living in one of the trees, I am glad she seems to be now caring about our local wildlife as she certainly did not seem to display the same passion for protecting wildlife when she gave the reasons behind the last Tory administration’s plan to sell off Kiln Meadow.

Anyway for all of Cllr Harsants predictions, on Wednesday the application was refused by the planning committee. (However, Christchurch can appeal against our decision, in which case an Inspector will investigate the case and make a final decision.)
But the posts by Cllr Harsant all seem to be part of a tactic to blame the Labour administration for building on back gardens and any small available space in East Ipswich.

We need to correct that misleading impression that Labour committee members have supported building on backland plots in Levington Road. This was not the case on Wednesday. Nor was it the case on any of the occasions where Christchurch Property applied to build on a similar backland plots behind 8-18 Levington Road.

In reality, Labour have consistently led the arguments against every application (and in every case, against the council officers’ recommendations.) The planning committee won two appeals against Christchurch Property. In the end the committee were left with no planning reasons for refusal, and planning committee members of all political parties voted for the single bungalow behind 34-40. Nobody was happy about this, but it was better than Christchurch’s first application – a row of terraced houses and chalet bungalow.

However, Labour members were so worried by this attempt by a developer to build what amounted to another, unplanned street in between two roads, Levington and Salisbury, that in 2009 we added a proposal into the Council’s Local Development Planning Framework. We wanted to give the local authority the power to refuse applications like Christchurch’s. We actually called it the ‘Levington Road problem’ because this was the place where we had found ourselves, in the end, without strong enough planning reasons to refuse an application nobody wanted except the developer.

We are also very worried by the government’s new National Policy Planning Framework (which has been described as a ‘developer’s charter’), and by local Tory MP Dan Poulter’s comments – he thinks there should be more building in places like East Ipswich because he doesn’t want any building on North Ipswich. As we know, this means more houses crammed into places like Levington Road – which already have enough houses and people and traffic.

Purple Book Tour - comes to Ipswich

Good news for Labour members in Ipswich - Progress have chosen Ipswich as one f their locations for their Purple Book Tour, it seems we are the only political party in Ipswich that is interested in political debate.

With the launch of The Purple Book, Progress are going round the country to debate the ideas it contains. These events will give local members a chance to hear from authors of The Purple Book about their chapter and discuss the wider theme of the book, redistributing power. In particular, the event will explore, whether or not Labour should get back in touch with its decentralising tradition and if so how it should achieve this.

Progress will be in Ipswich between 7:30-9pm on the 7 December 2011 in Ipswich Library Lecture Hall (Northgate Street IP1 3DE)


•Author: John Woodcock MP
•Author: Richard Angell (Progress)
•Speaker: Cllr David Ellesmere (Ipswich PPC)
•Speaker: Cllr Carina O’Reilly (Cambridge)
•Chair: TBC
Sign up for the event here
Buy your advance copy of The Purple Book here:

Sunday 16 October 2011

Not another supermarket

Today I joined local residents and other Labour colleagues at the Golden Key pub in Woodbridge Road, Ipswich.
Not in the pub for a lunchtime drink or a Sunday campaigning session but to join residents in protesting against the plan to turn the Golden Key pub into yet another supermarket. Rumours abound that Tesco are the supermarket chain who wish to buy the site from Greene King.

If you wish to know more about the planning application visit the Ipswich Borough Council website here and the application reference is 11/00740/FUL

Time is running out and submissions have to be in by the 17th October (tomorrow)

Cllr Alasdair Ross, speaking to residents

But this is only the start of our campaign to stop this development. we are not just against supermarkets or Tesco, but we are fortunate in Rushmere, Bixley and St John's that we have such a variety of small shops in our wards. This development could see the end of our little row of shops on Woodbridge Road

Friday 14 October 2011

Portman Road- safer under IBC rather than in the hands of club owner.


The last generation has seen a common theme amongst a number of football clubs – a new owner arrives, acquires the ground from the local authority (if they need to), and then looks to sell the land for a significant profit, while either not building an alternative, or being financially assisted by multinational companies to build a replacement on greenbelt land, in an out of town location, in order for the multinational companies to capitalize on the land losing its greenbelt status.

This summer, Brighton & Hove Albion finally moved into their new ground, fourteen years after their owners sold the Goldstone Ground, without buying a replacement (the site is now a retail park), instead agreeing a deal to ground-share with Gillingham FC, over seventy miles away.

The last decade at Wrexham has seen a number of property developers look to acquire the club, purely with a view to being able to sell the well located Racecourse Ground. It has only been in the last month that their fans have been able to engineer a deal to buy their club in order to secure their future.

If we look at the current financial turmoil at Plymouth Argyle, we see a club that just two seasons ago were preparing to host Ipswich in a Championship fixture, yet today sit at the bottom of the football league, in administration, with the future of their Home Park ground as key as the future of the club itself. The Pilgrim’s largest debt is that owed to the mortgage company that funded the recent improvements of the ground, and attempts to sell the club have revolved around the future of the ground, with the original preferred bidder seemingly intent on passing the club on (but not the ground) for a nominal fee, as soon as they purchased the club.

Ipswich Town have always been a fortunate Club in terms that they own all of the buildings on the land that the ground is situated on, yet the land itself is owned by Ipswich Borough Council. Such a situation has always protected the club from property developers and asset strippers, because the value is in the land, and not the fixtures and fittings situated on that land. However, over the last 24 hours, news has surfaced that Simon Clegg has again confirmed that the club had offered to purchase the land that the Club is situated on. Such a deal would put us in the same situation as those other clubs who have been forced out of their homes in the past.

These words may seem alarming, but with an owner who has talked to the fans on just a handful of occasions since he acquired the club four years ago, it is impossible for us to know his intentions – and those of his successors. Marcus Evans may be looking out for the best interests of the Club, in light of the current disagreement between the club and Ipswich Borough Council, but having seen so many clubs lose their homes through the actions of an unaccountable owner, we have to consider all options, even if those options may not come to pass for years, or even decades. However, if the Club buys the land, any attempt to stop a future sale of the land for personal profit will be at best difficult - which is why we have to speak up while the land is still owned by the Council.

Instead of changing the ownership or freehold status, we instead call on the Club, having resolved the current rent dispute, to look to the long term future and withdraw from attempting to buy the ground. Moreover should the Club continue to pursue this avenue, we call on the Council to stand firm and refuse all offers, regardless the temptations to cash in on such an asset at a time of austerity.

In amongst this story, the comments we find most disappointing are those from Simon Clegg regarding the suggestion that he may need to increase the cost of season tickets to cover the extra rent. The Club already has one of the most expensive ticket policies within the division, and for a Club that has an annual turnover of around £15million, £111,000 per year rent is not excessive (we are aware of higher private rents for much smaller buildings on the edge of town), and is less than 0.7% of the staff costs for the last year of annual accounts. In the current climate, Ipswich Borough Council, like most councils up and down the country has reduced funding from central government, and at a time when local public services and jobs are at risk, the Council and local taxpayers should not be subsidising private business activities.

The Committee

Ipswich Town Independent Supporters Trust

13th October 2011

Sunday 9 October 2011

Suffolk Mobile Library Service

Suffolk Mobile Library Service - last chance for you to have your say on the future of the service.

Consultation ends on October 16th 2011, just under a week to go.

Suffolk County Council are now consulting the public on the Mobile Library service, and how savings can be made.

More information can be found on the consultation and the consultation paper can be found online here, or in paper in any public library.

In the 2010 Modernisation Review of Public Libraries, Suffolk’s mobile service was shown as an example of best practice in the ‘Stronger Communities’ section, noting that the mobile service

“has longer stops for community activities allowing other advisers and services to reach rural communities. New satellite dishes on the vans provide full online use of the internet and the library catalogue’.

Will leave the last line to those great campaigners from Rosehill Library:

Mobile libraries are a lifeline to those who can’t easily make it to a public library, hopefully the Council will carry out this consultation with more grace and intelligence than the full library consultation.

My week ahead 10 - 16 October

Monday 10 October 4pm - Meeting about Ipswich Museum
6pm - Labour Group Meeting

Thursday 13 October 6pm - Scrutiny meeting - Ipswich waterfront

Saturday 15 October 10.30am - Campaigning North Ipswich

Only one council meeting this week, a scrutiny meeting that just seemed to be an opportunity for certain Tory councillors to make political statements, seems all the good work carried out by scrutiny under the chairmanship of Gavin Maclure will be forgotten as the Tories just see scrutiny as a way of making cheap political shots. More about the meeting here.

Spent a couple of mornings campaigning in St Margaret's Ward, we may not have won the seat since 1919! But there was a positive reaction from most residents we spoke to, the Lib Dems will find it hard to get back to the level of support they used to have in the ward.

Thursday was a meeting of the Suffolk Fabians, a debate on what history can teach us about the future of Europe. Not sure I agreed that we needed a system based on Athenian democracy but an interesting debate never less. Great to see a large attendance and such a vast spread in age of those participating. The Fabians in Suffolk have a bright future.

Friday 7 October 2011

Scrutiny call - in - Locality budgets

Ever since I was elected to be Rushmere Ward councillor, I have sat on Overview and Scrutiny. The first three years were as a member of the opposition. The first two years were wasted as the chair of Scrutiny used the committee for his own personal reasons. Then along with most of the Tory/Lib Dem Executive failed to turn up for training. Scrutiny improved in 2010 under the chair of Gavin Maclure. We saw the use of task and finish groups and we managed to achieve results and even undertook joint scrutiny with the County Council.Gavin even seemed as critical of the Tory executive as we were at times.

But much of scrutiny was taken up with call-ins. We, the Ipswich Labour Party Group found the call-in procedure the only way to get our message over as we were refused a seat on the executive (even though we were the largest party).

This week we had our first taste of a call-in by the Tory opposition, some may say time we learnt how it felt to have a decision called in, the difference of course is that the Tories were offered a seat on the executive but refused to take it up.

There is also another difference with Scrutiny under Labour, as is recognised 'best practice', we have given the chair of scrutiny to the opposition.

This call-in was about the Labour decision to stop the implementation of locality budgets for Borough councillors.

Tory councillor Nadia Cenci called in the decision and gave her reasons on her blog. Though they may no longer be in a coalition in Ipswich, she seemed to be supported by the Ipswich Lib Dems - here.

There main argument seems to be now they feel Libraries in Ipswich are safe and that we have also been told that we will retain all our school crossing patrols, the money Ipswich Labour put aside is not needed. They even got Tory County Leader Mark Bee and Ben Gummer to meet the press at Rosehill Library and plead for the locality money to be introduced as they never meant to close any libraries.

Well first off Mark Bee would have been better off using his talk with the press to call on his fellow Waveney Tory councillor Andrew Draper to resign after assaulting a police officer. But we still wait to hear him mention that but what Cllr Bee also forgot to mention is that we are still waiting for the re-introduction of school crossing patrols at Alan Road and also near Sprites School.

We will also not even know till November, when the Tory County Cabinet sits that the libraries have been saved.

But let's say that they are safe, of the £240,000 saved by not introducing locality budgets, £186,000 was to go into IBC reserves. That money is still needed as we have found gaps in the last Tory budget including not receiving as much money from the Tory Government in the form of the 'New Homes Bonus' as the Tory budget had us down to receive. So it is only sensible to keep that money in reserve.

Cllr Cenci gives her view of the meeting here, not so much a report on the meeting but just her opening statement. After she and Cllr David Ellesmere had given their views it was then a question and answer session. Big difference to Tory run scrutiny is that the questions came from both sides. Under the Tories only Cllr Debman used to ask questions with the remainder of the Tories sitting still then voting against Labour at the end.

Paul Geater from the Evening Star was at the meeting so Tories, Liz Harsant and Kim Stroet decided instead of asking questions to make prepared political statements. We did eventually get down to some serious questioning with Cllr Cenci creating some laughter with her answers about council reserves and Labour propaganda.

Then when that part of the meeting was over, and the press had left. We should have then debated the decision and there is a debate needed. For example, should even County Councillors still have locality budgets when the County is about to shut care homes and close Youth clubs?

But there was no debate, the Tories put it straight to a vote- with Liz Harsant stating, 'now the press has gone let's just get on with it'.

This statement more than any showed that the whole meeting had been a charade, they had no interest in debating the decision. The vote was lost and locality budgets will not be introduced this financial year.

There was also a sub plot - big hitting Tory, Judy Terry is a member of scrutiny but a sub replaced her. Instead we expected to see Judy Terry be called to give evidence as a County Cabinet member with the responsibility for libraries. But she never turned up - I asked Cllr Cenci, why? The answer given was that she had been advised not to turn up. 'By whom?' I asked. Cllr Cenci said she did not know who by.

So Ipswich Conservative group, two questions:

1. Who advised Cllr Terry not to turn up?

2. Why did she take that advice, has she something to hide?

Sunday 2 October 2011

My week ahead 3 - 8 October

Monday 3 October 6pm - Campaigning in North East Ipswich

Wednesday 5 October 6pm - Scrutiny, Call in of decision to delay paying of locality budgets

Thursday 6 October 7pm - Fabians meeting - Debate on Europe

Saturday 8 October 10.30am - Campaigning all over Ipswich, focus on Tory plans for NHS

Only one meeting this week but an important one as we looked at the plan to manage the refurbishment of Crown Pools, making sure that we look after those who have used Crown Pools regularly over the last few years.

We have also started campaigning hard in St Margaret's Ward, Ipswich. Maybe not our most fertile area for votes but have had some excellent contacts with local residents. Many seem to be keen to vote for us as they feel they have been badly let down by the Lib Dems, issues such as tuition fees are important to many in St Margaret's and they are not willing to allow the local Lib Dems to distance themselves from the decision that Clegg and his colleagues made to vote for Tuition fees at Westminster. Even Tory voters were keen to talk to us, as they are confused what the Tory policy is on building on the Northern Fringe. The Tory Government seem to be saying developers can build anywhere, Dr Poulter said it does not mean this and even the local Tory Cllrs seem split one what should happen. We still wait for Ben Gummer to make a public statement on the issue.

One thing for certain is that most residents have not got a clue what the Tories plan is for developing this part of the town and maybe the Tories are not even sure themselves!

Thursday 29 September 2011

Ben Gummer - an apology

A short post just to enable myself to apologise to our MP - Ben Gummer. A week ago I posted an article that was based on a story broken by the 'Morning Star'. The post is here. Though Ben was 'told off' by the chair for talking during a meeting I have no doubt that he meant no disrespect to those who suffer from mesothelioma and that he did indeed listen carefully to Labour MP Kate Green's speech on Legal Aid and cases of mesothelioma.

I have always found Ben Gummer polite and I know that he is a conscientious and hard working MP, due to his interest in penal reform I know he was keen to be involved in the committee looking at Legal Aid. I do not agree with his views on the changes to the Legal Aid system (posted here) and it seems from the comments to Ben's article that many others are also concerned where the government are going with Legal Aid.

I unreservedly apologise to Ben and will make sure that I ask for his view before printing any story on him in the future.

Sunday 25 September 2011

Total Politics Blog Awards

The results have just come out for the Total Politics blog awards - and I was hoping I might sneak in at the bottom of a list but I ended up doing far better than expected.

Thank you for those who voted for me.

237th in the Top UK political blogs category

34th in the Top 100 Labour Blogs

and 15th in the Top 35 Councillor blogs