Wednesday 29 June 2011

Ipswich supports our Armed Forces

Monday night (27th June 2011) was a good day for politics in Ipswich. The Tory group on Ipswich Borough Council had put forward a proposal that if passed would have allowed members of our Armed Forces who live in the Borough free entry to Borough owned sports facilities such as Crown Pools and also free entry to events held at 'The Regent' and the 'Corn Exchange'.

The ruling Labour group put forward an amendment that I was proud to second, our amendment was to remove the original target date of August 1st. This was not done out of spite, this was so that we could make sure that when the scheme is implemented, we would have ensured that serving members of our Armed Forces living in the town would have received their free i-card and were aware of the benefits that ownership of that card entitled them to.

Though it would be great to offer free 'Regent' tickets to all our Armed Forces living in the town this would have been hard to implement, we are looking at joining in with the military charity - 'Tickets for Troops', by working with them it would not only enable soldiers who are resident in the town to apply for free tickets but also those who call Ipswich their home but are based in other parts of the UK or even abroad.

This seems to be the way ahead, and after this was mentioned in the 'Evening Star' on Tuesday, I have already had a mother of a local soldier approach me and tell me how excited he was that he would now be able to use the Borough owned gyms in the town.

Many councils and private firms have offered troops similar benefits but I aim to use my links with the military community to help Council Officers introduce a scheme that will see the soldiers and their families use our swimming pools and gyms and that members of our forces come to Ipswich to watch shows both at the ‘Regent’ or the ‘Corn Exchange’.
Why was it good for politics in Ipswich? The amendment was voted through unanimously and with an obvious desire on all three sides to make it work.

Sunday 26 June 2011

My week ahead 27 June - 2 July

Monday 27 June - 6pm Full Council meeting, I will be speaking on the motion to allow members of HM Forces to use Ipswich sports and leisure facilities for free.

Tuesday 28 June - 7pm - Sidegate Primary School Full Governing Body meeting

Saturday 2 July - 10.30am Campaigning in North Ipswich
2pm Attending the Broomhill Trust fete.

Last Monday was a busy day, starting at Grafton House as we unfurled the Armed Forces Day flag, in the afternoon it was a meeting at the local Police SNT HQ at Heath Rd and then it was straight to meeting looking at the plans for the arrival of the Olympic torch in Ipswich. Finally it was the Labour Group meeting.

Tuesday I was at Sidegate Primary School where we are looking at ways to help pupils achieve as much as they can academically at the school.

I then spent two days in the west country at a funeral of a former military comrade. Saturday was campaigning day and I joined a team of Labour Party activists in Castle Hill Ward. what was noticeable was that many houses have kept their 'Save our Libraries' posters up- obviously still do not trust the Tory County Council - even with Pembroke gone, NSD dead and Ms Hill away.

The sun came out today and I was joined by my daughter at the St Peters Street Summer market, a fantastic little event that I am sure we as a council can help improve. On the way home I stopped at the 'Goals' centre at the New Suffolk College, not sure the footballers appreciated the arrival of the heatwave! 20 teams were taking part in a community football tournament organised by the North East Ipswich SNT Police team. I will be hoping to get a team up next year!

Tuesday 21 June 2011

Not all it seems!

I have blogged about how the Tory supporting 'A Riverside View' was not being factually correct when trying to say that the Labour run Ipswich Borough Council were responsible for the plan to turn off street lights in Ipswich from midnight till dawn.

I was not surprised that Kevin was not being factually correct but I am surprised today that the Official Ipswich Tory website seems to be forgetting who is responsible for a number of policies.

Cutting grass- or not cutting it!

The Tories say: Tuesday, 21 June, 2011
The council are proposing not to cut the grass on Clapgate Lane and Nacton Road. We think this will not maintain our community to a decent standard and may leave the streets looking unkempt and untidy.

The truth, this plan was hatched up by the last Tory run administration and the savings to be made are part of the Carnall/Tory budget.

Lights off!

The Tories say: Tuesday, 21 June, 2011
There is fury at the decision to switch off the street lights in parts of the Holywell ward from midnight to 5.30am. We believe that this could be a dangerous decision which could have safety implications for local residents and drivers.

Now what they don't say is that the plan to turn off 94% of the lights in Ipswich is a Tory run Suffolk County council plan and that it was approved by the County Council who included Tory Borough councillors Terry (also a Cabinet member) West, Debman, Harsant, Young and Vickery. They even put out a leaflet in Holywells- but Cllr Debman is their County Cllr, who must have agreed to it!

Then you have a planning issue, now planning should not be political but the Tory website accuses Labour of being political about a planning decision

The Tories say: The council's Planning and Development Committee, which is majority Labour, have unanimously voted for a backland development on Levington Road. The Conservatives are very unhappy at this as many local residents opposed this development and there was a six year protest against it. It is hoped by the Conservatives that there will be no more backlands developments without the full support of local residents.

Now if the decision was unanimously voted for (as the post states) does that mean all the Tory Cllrs also voted for it?

I have a feeling the Ipswich Tories will campaign on a number of issues that when looked at in more detail we will be find to be projects that were thought up by the previous Tory/Lib Dem administration and that money saved by these schemes have already been included in the budget that they left us with!

Sunday 19 June 2011

My week ahead 20 - 26 June 2011

Monday 20 June - 10am Armed Forces Day - Town Hall and Grafton House
2pm North East Ipswich Partnership meeting
6pm Labour Group meeting

Armed Forces Day - my first one - Sangin, Afghanistan 2009

Tuesday 21 June - 5pm Sidegate Primary School, Steering Committee meeting

Wednesday 22 June - 7pm North East Ipswich Forum meeting, St John's Baptist Church, Cauldwell Hall Road - come along to hear about Neighbourhood Watch and a Policing Priority update

Thursday 23 June - 10.30am - Military Funeral, Weston Super Mare

Last week gave me an opportunity to meet a number of local community groups, starting with local Scout Groups on Monday and finishing with attending the Colchester Road Allotment Open Day.

Thursday saw the first Scrutiny meeting of the Municipal year and it looks like all those present seem keen to make scrutiny work. This should benefit all Ipswich residents.

Friday was a day I would wish to forget, I was at the opening of the new Profiles Gym at Northgate High School. the equipment (and the enthusiasm to use it by the pupils) should have made me leave the opening with a smile but after I was beaten in a sporting challenge by the Northgate Head Teacher, I left knowing that I needed to start to work on my fitness!

I started my new fitness campaign on Saturday by campaigning in South East Ipswich - Ascot Road is quite hilly!

Saturday 18 June 2011

Needs to check his facts- again!

The Tory supporting blog - 'A Riverside View' seems to have decided that when it comes to blogging - it's quantity not quality that counts. The loser in all this? The true facts!

I and others seemed to spend most of our time commenting on his posts, not just trying to put the Labour view across but also just to inform Kevin that he had got his facts wrong. But once it was obvious he had lost the argument he would just revert to abuse. I have decided just not to bother with commenting on his blog anymore, so what does he do? He now actually has a post named 'The Stupid things Alasdair Ross has said this week'

Now again, some would say best just to ignore him but the trouble is, Ipswich residents may come across his blog and believe his posts are factual, (I am not on about the posts about me - they are just make me laugh)but the posts on serious matters - Ipswich Mosques, Street Lights are just two posts recently that are full of misleading statements and seem based more on rumours that the truth.

We have his usual practice of copying his mentor at 'Bridge Ward News' so going from saying how good the Sky Ride was, he then joins Mr Spencer in criticising the date of the event. Now, sorry to disappoint you Kevin, it takes more than a few weeks to plan the Sky Ride. Now I would like to take the credit for the event but it was planned under the Tory administration. We will try and improve the event in the future and more notice of the road closures is one improvement we aim to pursue next year. We are now aware that certain dates are better than other but if you want to moan about why that date was chosen- speak to your own Tory Cllrs. They chose the date.

Then we come to the post where he really is trying to fool the Ipswich public. The plan to switch off some of the street lights in the town between midnight and dawn. Kevin seems to think it is up to us the Labour administration - wrong.
There are over 16.000 street lights in Ipswich and over 15,000 are owned by the Tory County Council. Last October the Tory Cabinet decided to implement a plan to turn off lights. the scheme will start in Ipswich then spread out all over Suffolk. Now Ipswich Borough Council do manage the lights for Suffolk County Council but we have no say about when they turn the lights off (or on).

Now I actually think the dimming of some lights or turning certain streets off is a good idea - as long as local residents can make their views known. Ipswich Borough council will now decide later this month what they will do with the 790 lights we own.

The good thing is that the system that is being used will enable changes to be made with a flick of a switch. If residents are concerned about the lighting in their roads, get in touch and we will chase it up with the County Council.


Today Kevin has accused me of lying about the County planning to turn the street lights off last October:

Maybe this extract from the County Papers last October may make him even admit he is wrong! Don't hold your breath.

Meeting Date: 12 October 2010Lead Councillor/s: Councillor Guy McGregor, Portfolio Holder for Roads, Transport
and Planning
2. All Suffolk residents and visitors.
3. The key issues to consider are:
a) the relationship to the ‘Greenest County’ aspirations. By 2025 Suffolk
aims to achieve a 60% reduction in CO2. The Intelligent Lighting
System Project has the potential to deliver significant street lighting
energy savings and a CO2 reduction of 4,150 tonnes by April 2013,
1. The Cabinet is being asked to:
a) adopt the policy as detailed in Appendix A of this report for the
implementation of part-night lighting and dimming delivered through the
application of an Intelligent Lighting System;

Time to scare those crows!

Today I joined Cllr Judy Terry at the Colchester Road allotment site, we had two roles to undertake. First we had to judge the scarecrow competition and then after that officially open the new toilet block.

One of the winning Scarecrows - taking it easy!

Myself and Cllr Smith had gained a grant from the North East Forum for the toilet block and Judy Terry also added a contribution from her locality budget.

It was a great day, and we only got hit by one shower, the scarecrows all made us smile, we even found a tardis and then we had to taste the fantastic cakes! I was joined by youngest (Labour member) daughter and we managed to eat two cakes, a burger, some cherries and nearly win the raffle!

We were even given the opportunity to plant a tree by the new toilet block.

They have a fantastic community feel at the allotment site, my daughter now wants one!

Wednesday 15 June 2011

Same old Judy Terry, same old Tory County Council, same old NSD

So Mark Bee the new Leader of the Tories on Suffolk County Council declared 'New Strategic Direction' as dead.

The name maybe dead but the rest of NSD lives on, here is a quote from the non aligned Suffolk blog- Wordblog:

'One concern among campaigners is that Judy Terry, the cabinet member responsible for libraries sometimes gives the impression that she wants to get through a policy as close as it can be to the old New Strategic Direction idea.

It seems that we are still no closer to getting an answer to what exactly is going to happen to our libraries than we were when Mark Bee took power, it also seems to me that even though Mark Bee has stated that the new administration (but same leaders) will start to listen to the public, they are not - it is all a sham, even after the Tory chair of scrutiny remarked that: “We [the council] have got ourselves in a hole. Will you help us get out of it?”

Sunday 12 June 2011

My Week Ahead 13 - 19 June 2011

Ross Edgar - Olympic cycling star in Ipswich

Monday 13 June - 8pm Meeting with local Scout Groups

Tuesday 14 June - Sidegate School

Wednesday 15 June - 2pm Army Air Corps homecoming parade, Christchurch Park

Thursday 16 June - 6pm Scrutiny meeting

Friday 17 June - 12.30pm Opening of new gym at Northgate School

Saturday 18 June 10.30am Campaigning in North West Ipswich

Last week started with a meeting with the Culture and Leisure portfolio holder - a number of great schemes are being planned for the town, to help mark the Olympics.

Wednesday was a sad day as I attended the funeral of C/Sjt Fortuna in Colchester.

Sunday was a fantastic day as thousands turned up for the Sky Ride in the town centre. I even managed to get a ride on a tandem and meet Olympic cycling star Ross Edgar.

Cllr Rudkin on a penny farthing - almost!

Saturday 11 June 2011

Please switch the lights off!

Yet again the Tory supporting blog 'A Riverside View' has got his facts wrong, as usual he takes half a story from his mate at 'Bridge Ward News' then adds some of his own made up facts.

Today we have these gems:

Another area where Ipswich Labour are taking from us is their plan to switch off or dim street lights. Street lights are used by everybody but they don’t employ anybody so they are a service Labour are willing to cut. If the crime rate goes up as a result they would then probably blame it on coalition cuts. They would probably believe this being so blinded by their sanctimonious views.

There’s people wanting to get away from the towns image of being a sleepy little market town advertising it as a vibrant city, while Ipswich Labour are planning on switching the lights off. How many cities have the street lights switched off?

Now it is true that there is a plan to dim some lights and even turn some off after midnight, but this is Suffolk County Council plan - forgot to say- Tory run Suffolk County Council! Ipswich Borough Council acts as a contractor for the county, and I have asked what is the procedure for the public to make a complaint if they think a street should stay lit up- the answer? The Tory county have not yet come up with a procedure. I then stated it is a pity as most residents will see our vehicles and employees working on the lights and we will then be the residents first port of call if they do have a complaint.
I have seen a map of the streets that will see lights turned off and I think the plan will work and that most people will see it as a good idea. All main roads will stay lit, the main transit routes that pedestrians use on their way home at night will also remain lit up, if residents are unhappy with their road being unlit, I will take the matter up for them with the County Council. So yet again a Tory blog has got his facts wrong, funny thing he had the cheek to call Labour liars in the post!

Tuesday 7 June 2011

'Our War - 10 Years in Afghanistan'

Tonight the BBC will start showing a three part series looking at the life of a British soldier on operations in Afghanistan. The series is on BBC3 but I am sure it will eventually get an airing on BBC1. The significant feature of this series is that most of the footage will come from Helmet cameras that the soldiers carried themselves. I am sure it will be an eye opening experience for anyone watching it - more on it here.

Tonight at 5.20pm, I will be talking on BBC Radio Suffolk about the programme, from the media interest and the trailers on TV, this will be a programme that many will want to watch. The footage includes the incident that leads to a soldier from our local regiment,Private Chris Gray of The Royal Anglians getting fatally shot. We must remember this is not a Hollywood War Film, people get hurt and die. On Thursday, I will be at the Military Funeral of a solder from my own Regiment. How many more will die in Helmand? Is their an end plan?
The title is also misleading, it is not 'Our War'. The pain and fear we felt was also felt by those we left at home, there cannot be many people in the UK who do not know someone who is either serving or has served in Afghanistan - it is 'All Our War'

Monday 6 June 2011

My Week ahead, 6 - 12 June 2011

Monday 6 June - Afternoon meeting at Grafton House looking at a number of Culture and Leisure matters, including the 2012 Olympic legacy.
6pm Ipswich Labour Group meeting, reports from portfolio holders.

Thursday 9 June - 2pm Attending the funeral of C/Sjt KC Fortuna at St Peters Church, Colchester.

A sad occasion as I pay my respects to a fellow Rifleman, killed in Afghanistan on the 23rd May.

Saturday 11 June - 1030am Labour campaigning in North West Ipswich

Sunday 12 June - 10am Ipswich Sky Ride. I will be attending (and joining in!) with the cycle events in the town, the event is being jointly run by Ipswich Borough Council, Sky and British Cycling.

Last week I campaigned in Rushmere and Whitton Wards in Ipswich and attended the Ipswich Labour Party Victory Celebration, sadly (even with a special quiz hat)my team failed to come close to wining the quiz.

I have also been dealing with casework from constituents, issued dealt with this week have included housing, planning disputes, bus shelters and parking.

Friday 3 June 2011

Getting the (nasty) message across.

Getting the (nasty) message across

It did seem that those in politics in Ipswich were starting to use blogs and websites to get their message across but once the local election finished a number of website’s went back into hibernation – to be woken again next April?
The Ipswich labour Party site is kept updated (maybe not as much as we would wish) but the Tory, Lib Dem and even the Green Party sites have not been updated at all since the election finished.

It is disappointing that both the Tories and Lib Dems do not think it is important to keep the Ipswich public informed on what they are doing or propose to do. To be fair (after a long wait) Ben Gummer our local Tory MP has now got a website up and running, it is both informative and easy to use.

The vacuum of political information and debate has been filled by various blogs. The trouble is that one of these blogs has just become a home to attacks on local politicians. They call it humour, but it is more school playground humour rather than political satire (and Primary School at that.)
I am sure my blog upsets people at times (I know Ben Gummer was unhappy about a few comments) and other blogs can sometimes, infuriate, anger and occasionally make you laugh. But at least they did give the residents of Ipswich a flavour of what the local parties are thinking.

The Tory ‘Bridge Ward News’ disappoints me when it has to revert to calling councillors stupid names and the inability to leave comments seems strange but even taking all that it into consideration, a number of James’ posts are both informative and thought provoking. I also find the ‘neutral’ political sites of ‘Ipswich Spy’ and ‘Suffolk Word Blog’ very readable and I hope Gavin Maclure keeps posting on his new Tory blog. If you search hard enough you can even find a blog for a UKIP supporter and a poster from the ‘Far Left’. I am afraid to get the Lib Dem view you can stay in Suffolk but you have to leave the confines of Ipswich. To be honest, I believe James’ blog has opinions far more in tune with Labour than the Lib Dems.

Blogs are a useful tool to help get your message across, along with local radio, local press and your our own leaflets. Some political groups have a slight advantage, the leading (Rushmere) Tory – Judy Terry has her own column in the Ipswich Flyer. This leads me neatly back to why I find a certain Tory blog so disgusting.

Just as the election finished, Cllr Terry used her column in the Flyer to attack Labour – “what a vicious contest it was, with Labour’s malignant personal attacks on candidates and councillors who weren’t even standing for re-election! Leaflets, blogs and verbal assaults were the order of the day”

This comment was repeated in the Tory supporting blog - ‘A Riverside View’ – Fair enough to repeat the views of Cllr Terry you may say if you agree with them, but only 10 days later, Kevin (the Tory behind the blog) insults two Labour councillors in both words and pictures, using his own version of the SexyMP website. It is just a nasty attack on two hard working councillors, not attacking their political views or their work but on how they look.

The post is the height of hypocrisy, how can you print Cllr Terry’s words then publish this post. It is just nasty, spiteful and does not add anything to the political debate in Ipswich.

Now, I know the best thing to do, will be just to ignore his blog. Harder than you think, as a number of his other posts have been about immigration and the posts and comments are just full of the sort of gossip and lies that may be at home in the Daily Mail but do nothing to help bring communities together in Ipswich. Some of the comments are so bad you would have thought a senior Ipswich Tory may have advised him to delete some of his posts or at least moderate his language. But it seems they either don’t care or worse still agree with some of his views. To be fair to them, I am not sure he would take much notice of them. He seems to enjoy the attention his ill thought out views brings to his site.

One positive his blog leads to, it makes me even more determined to make sure people like him are never able to get into a position where they can put their warped views into practice. So rather than be like him and sit behind a computer writing rubbish and then adding even stupider comments, tomorrow I will be delivering Labour leaflets in Whitton ward. Ipswich.