Sunday 31 July 2011

My week ahead 31 July - 7 August

August is the month with few meetings but I will be spending the first few days of the week catching up on case work and then a short city break to Lisbon

This week started with campaigning in Great Cornard and the hard work paid off as Tracey Welsh won the parish seat for Labour on Thursday. This could help make Cornard a winnable seat when it comes to the Suffolk County Council election in 2013.

Yesterday we were campaigning in Holywells and Alexandra Ward in Ipswich. Informing residents the good news that their support has helped our campaign to get Tory led Suffolk County Council to recruit a new lollipop person for Foxhall Road.

Like Rosehill Library, the local Tories have always stated that the crossing patrols are safe now Hill/Pembroke have gone. But we have had mixed messages from the County.

First Cllr Bee told us that all crossings would continue (where there is a need) but no mention of Sidegate Lane, Hawthorn Drive or Foxhall Road where the crossings had not been replaced (County imposed recruitment ban). then we were told that all would be saved with the County paying for them, that soon changed again to be told that the County would undertake assessments to see how many children crossed unaccompanied and that some patrols could be scrapped.

We were then told that the Hawthorn Drive crossing would not be replaced and that it was unlikely that the Foxhall Road crossinmg would see someone appointed as no youngsters were seen crossing the road. Then we got the good news - they would recruit a new patrol for Foxhall Road.

Ipswich Tories accuse us of misleading residents about the Library and Crossing patrol situation but they should ask their County colleagues why so many mixed messages are being sent out. We are told this week by Ipswich Tories that Rosehill Library is now safe, implying that it was not safe before??

Back to crossing patrols, we hope that the County can recruit a new patrol before September, if you are interested in the post or know someone who is- contact Mary Jarrett on 01473 265006 or email:

Sunday 24 July 2011

My week ahead 25 - 31 July 2011

This week, I will be In Mid Wales, supporting some young Ipswich residents as they tray to gain their Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award.

Saturday 30 July 10.30am Campaigning in North Ipswich

This week started with 3 meetings on Monday, the first was spent looking how we can get more local residents involved in the North East Ipswich forum, the second was a meeting with Council Officers as we looked at the plan for the Olympic torch arriving in Ipswich. The day finished off with the Labour Group meeting.

On Wednesday, I joined fellow Labour councillors, Bryony Rudkin and Peter Gardiner at Crown Pools in Ipswich as we met users of the pool to discuss the next stage of the pool refurbishment. the users seemed impressed (and surprised) that we were keen to hear their views.

The council meeting that night saw unanimous support for the motion that will see Ipswich form closer links with Nettuno in Italy, what should have just been a formality was slightly soured by Tory leader John Carnall trying to make a fuss about why the meeting was being held. But from the speakers on the night, it seems he was a lone voice and the comments by Lib Dem Richard Atkins and even some of Carnall's own group also indicated that the opposition had wished to form a link with Nettuno during their time in power but for some reason (Carnall?) it never happened.

On Thursday I was at the Colchester Road Fire Station to see the handover of the Needham Market Fire engine and then I finished the week by spending Saturday campaigning for Tracey Welsh in Great Cornard.

Rural Parish elections - important for Labour

On Saturday, I joined a number of other members from the Ipswich Labour Party as we made our way towards the Essex border. Great Cornard was our final destination as we joined local members in campaigning for Tracey Welsh.

Tracey is standing for Labour this Thursday in a local parish by-election. I feel it is important that we have a Labour candidate in every election, County, District, town or parish - all part of our Labour fight back in the South and East of England. Now the Lib Dems have shown their real (Tory) face it is even more important that residents have a Labour candidate to vote for.

There is always much talk of how Parish Councils should not be political and that candidates should be Independents. But the reason for this election is that an Independent won this seat in May but then decided not to take up the seat. Money could have been saved as the Parish Council could have just co-opted another candidate from the election in May but the Tory Party wanted an election. So in the last 4 years, the council has had to spend almost £10,000 on elections caused by internal squabbling between Independents (and Tories).

From talking to residents on Saturday, Tracey has a good chance of winning. Many voters state that we were the only party they had call on them, plus the Lib Dems could not even find a candidate (remember this is part of Babergh - a seat the Lib Dems see themselves as the official opposition). The Independent candidate has distributed a leaflet but strangely with a drawing of a can of beer on the back of it!!

So if you live in Cornard, or know friends and family who live in the town, tell them to get out and vote for Tracey on Thursday the 28th July.

Saturday 23 July 2011

Needham Market Steamer Fire Engine

On 20th November 1962 The Fire Authority for Ipswich opened a new fire station in Colchester Road. In readiness for the opening event the Service installed the 1911 Shand Mason steam pump as a static display in a cabinet at the front of the station.

The pump was originally purchased by Needham Market Town Council. The Council passed a resolution on 2nd October 1911 to purchase the new steam fire engine from Messrs. Shand Mason and Co and the pump was delivered to them on 1st June 1912.

The pump was drawn by one or two horses but in the event that no horses were available, it was pulled by an old Model T Ford. It required six or eight fire-fighters to operate the pump. The wheels were originally of solid metal but later they were covered by a rudimentary rubber tyre.

The pump attended its last fire on 30th July 1940 at Gt Finborough. This was the last steam fire engine to attend a fire in the UK.

The pump was on display at the National Fire Service College in Saltdean, Brighton from 1942-1948. After a nomadic few years, it was offered on indefinite loan to Ipswich Fire Service.

In advance of the upcoming closure of the Colchester Road fire station, which is being superseded by the new Ipswich east fire station, the pump is being officially handed over to Needham Market Town Council, which has decided that it should be displayed at the Museum of East Anglian Life in Stowmarket.

This official handover marks the latest chapter in the long and illustrious history of the steam pumper and Colchester Road fire station.

I was honoured to be invited to attend the handover, surprisingly the occasion was quite moving, with a lady whose father had manned a similar type of alliance present at the event, she even had her photograph taken with one of the Colchester Road fire crews.

With the handover of the appliance we get closer to the closure of the station, it seems most local residents are happy that the Council's preferred development is 50 plus houses rather than flats or a large superstore. But since that plan was announced the local paper has informed us that M & S would be keen to include a smaller store in the development.

Speaking to a number of residents, it seems many would be in favour of a Small convenience store within the housing development. I can see that a small food store is needed in this part of town, we will now have to wait and see what the developer comes up with.

Thursday 21 July 2011

Soldiers on the cheap

My interview on British Forces Broadcasting Station TV (BFBS), that was shown in Germany on Tuesday night.

Tuesday 19 July 2011

Dr Fox - 'Big Society Army' - soldiers on the cheap

Dr Fox, the Dr Beeching of the Armed Forces

Yesterday I was interviewed on BBC Radio Suffolk about the latest Tory plan for the Armed Forces, and I followed that up today by being interviewed by the British Forces Broadcasting Service (BFBS) for their TV channel. The more I spoke about Dr Fox and his plans for defence the angrier I got.

It just adds up to an Army on the cheap, Dr Fox will destroy the Army like Dr Beeching destroyed the railways. The Territorial Army cannot replace the Regular Army, you can not model our Armed Forces on what they do in the USA or Australia.

Changes are needed, we do need to make cut backs, the Heads of the three services need to look at the bigger picture, rather than just look at it from what they think is best for their own service.

The territorials can do more, they need to create closer links with the Regular Army- the 'One army' concept.

The Tories state that a smaller Armed Forces is needed as we are pulling out of Afghanistan and that we will no longer try and 'police' the world. So where does our deployment to Libya, or the 'Arab Spring' come into their thinking.

Who will deploy on the streets, when their is a fireman strike, the bins are not being emptied in Glasgow, the Rive Trent bursts it's banks, we suffer a further foot and mouth crisis?

Morale is the lowest I have ever know it in the forces, troops in Germany are warned that they be moving back to the UK, somewhere in Scotland but no land has been found to train on yet.

Most of these troop movements will happen after the next General Election, Labour will be left with the mess that Cameron, Osborne and Fox are creating. So much for the Tories promising extra troops before the last election- we now have plans for 19,000 less troops.

Yesterday on Radio Suffolk an angry mother phoned in, her son was injured in Afghanistan and has just been told he is being made redundant, not sure he would be keen to be told the TA will replace him. She called Dr Fox an idiot, I am sure many members of the Armed Forces would have stronger words for him.

In East Suffolk, we have small towns and villages that still feel cut off by Dr Beeching and his cuts to to the Railway network that he forced through in the 1960's now We have another Doctor trying to implement similar drastic, ill thought out cuts to the Armed Forces. you do not cut the Army when you are at war- Dr Fox , a fellow Rifleman from my Regiment was killed this week in Afghanistan - we are at war Dr Fox.

Sunday 17 July 2011

My week ahead 18 - 24 July 2011

Monday 18 July 2pm North East Partnership Meeting
4pm Meeting Portfolio Holder for Culture and Leisure and Officers
6pm Ipswich Labour Group Meeting

Tuesday 19 July 1pm Meeting with Crown Street Swimming Pool users

Wednesday 20 July 9am Meeting with Crown Street Swimming Pool users
6pm Ipswich Borough Full Council Meeting

Thursday 21 July 10am Handover of the Needham Market Steam Pump, Colchester Road Fire Station

Saturday 23 July 10.30am Campaigning in Ipswich

Friday 8 July 2011

Change their tune?

This week we have heard the Tory MP for Suffolk Coastal, Therese Coffey actually defend Rebekah Brooks, stating that the campaign against Rebekah was 'a developing witch hunt'. Not sure I heard her defend Andrea Hill in the same way when she was under attack from her fellow Suffolk MP's.

24 hours later and Therese Coffey MP is involved in a number of arguments on twitter as she attempts to distance herself from her earlier comment.

This is what she said in the House of Commons - "Therese Coffey, Con: “News International has not helped themselves… but they did finally act”. Calls the campaign against Rebekah Brooks “a developing witch hunt”

Seems like a defence of News International to me- a view that I seem to share with Helen Goodman MP and many others on twitter.

Now Therese, I would not worry too much, your fellow Tory, Boris Johnson has no problem attacking News International this week but only last year he had this to say on phone hacking (probably after being briefed by the friend of the PM- Andy Coulson)
Boris Johnson dismissed continuing concerns over the News of the World's use of phone hacking as "codswallop" that "looks like a politically motivated put-up job by the Labour party".

My week ahead 9- 16 July 2011

This week I will be away with the Military on a camp in North Yorkshire

Last week started with a meeting looking at the provision of sports facilities in the town, a very important matter to many. plenty of forward thinking needs to be done, we held a second meeting on this important matter on Thursday evening.

On Wednesday I found myself at Grafton House on a Planning meeting, good news for many in Rushmere Ward as planning permission for a phone mast close to Rushmere Hall school was refused for the second time.

Seen a bit of rain this week but it has not managed to spoil what has been a fantastic Ip-art festival- next year should even be more fantastic as we also have the Olympic torch coming to town.

Monday 4 July 2011

Over the Hill?

Andrea Hill has gone- Suffolk is happy, but at what cost?

£218,592 pay off

Amount to be paid to recruit a new Chief Executive £??,???

Fee to be paid to the Legal firm, Wragge & Co investigating the accusations by the whistle blower £???,??? (Doncaster paid Wragge £100,000 plus)

All the Freedom of Information requests the Council will have to deal with after placing gagging orders on Ms Hill and asking Cllrs to say nothing on the matter.

And to top it all, most of the Cabinet who supported NSD and the way Ms Hill was leading on it, are still in positions of power.

NSD may be dead but we seem still to have a Council determined to press on with divesting services.

Sunday 3 July 2011

My week ahead 4 - 10 July

Monday 5 July - 4pm Meeting with IBC Culture and Leisure team

Wednesday 7 July - 9.30am Planning and Development meeting

Saturday 10 July - Depart for week long Military Training camp

This week the highlight was the Full Council meeting where I was proud to speak on the motion to give members of HM Forces free entry to Ipswich leisure facilities.

On Friday I was interviewed by both BBC Radio Suffolk and Heart FM, both interviews were to help promote the brilliant 'Music in the Park' day.

Saturday found me in St Margarets Ward, where I found myself delivering Finchley road for the first time ! Straight afterwards I was off to Sherrington Road, where I attended the Broomhill Pool Summer Fete. The week was finished off with a sausage and a kebab at the Ipswich Labour Party Summer BBQ.

Broomhill Swimming Pool

On Saturday I attended the Broomhill Summer Fete, organised by the Broomhill Pool Trust but now with the assistance of the 'Friends of Westbourne Library' and the Access to Nature group.

I have fond memories of the pool, spending many a summer day running, diving, jumping and swimming in the pool. As a kid they did look like the highest diving boards in the world - like something more at home in an Elvis film from Hawaii in the late 60's.

There has been plenty of political rhetoric, from all sides on the future of the pool. As the area was once the site of the first home of Ipswich Town, you could say the pool has become a political football. But now it has to be about action not talking. I would expect this year that we see an operator being chosen to run the pool and then a timeline set in place to get the pool up an running. But in times of austerity we need to be very firm that if the time frame does not hold we do not continue just to leave the pool as it is, costing money to be kept secure.

But back to yesterday, it was a well organised event, attended mainly by local residents (plus politicians from all sides) showing that both the pool and the library are well loved by those who live closest. The planned destruction of the Suffolk Library service by the Tories may actually help the Pool Trust as the future of the Library could now be included in any planned proposal for the future of the pool.