Sunday, 23 December 2012

Happy Christmas Rushmere residents

As 2012 draws to a close, I would like to wish everyone in Rushmere Ward, Ipswich a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

I would also like to thank all our local community leaders, groups and organisations who I have worked with this year. I am particularly grateful to Sidegate Primary School and the 6th Form pupils at Copleston High school, whom have really shown Ipswich at its best, during both my visits to their schools and when the Copleston pupils came to speak to the North East Area Committee.

I hope to continue to work with them next year and to forge closer ties with Northgate High School, Rushmere Hall Primary School, St John’s Primary School and other local community groups.

Beyond Rushmere and Ipswich I have continued to campaign on behalf of our Armed Forces and Service veterans, it was a great pleasure to see Ipswich join the County Council and sign the Military Covenant.

There is no doubt that there is a far better relationship now between local communities and the Armed Forces than when I first joined the army and we saw that here in Ipswich quite recently when we hosted the Royal Anglian Homecoming parade.

In 2013 I will continue to campaign for our Armed Forces and veterans so with that in mind I have attached a Christmas picture from my former regiment, The Royal Green Jackets showing an earlier time when the local community and the Armed Forces got on well.

Supprt Ipswich Labour's campaign to re-open Rope Walk

Suffolk County Council wants to stop rat running through Kings Avenue, Oxford Road and Milner Street by installing speed bumps, Ipswich Labour thinks this doesn’t go far enough.

Your North East Ipswich Labour team is calling for Rope Walk to be re-opened to traffic bound for the town centre, that’s the only way to stop rat running and put a stop to St Helen’s Street traffic jams.

It’s time for the Tory-run Suffolk County council to admit they were wrong to shut Rope Walk to inbound traffic and end the farce of traffic jams along St Helen’s Street.
We surveyed residents in the past on the last Tory bright idea to make St Helen’s Street one way. We want to hear what North East Ipswich residents think so we can let the County Council know.

We think Rope Walk could be used to relieve the intolerable congestion in St Helen’s Street.

But what do you think? Should Suffolk County Council:

a) Open Rope Walk to ALL traffic and close Milner Street to traffic to stop it being used as a rat run.

b) Open Rope Walk to BUSES ONLY so that the bus lane between Rope Walk and St Helen’s Street could be closed – making it a two-lane road for cars.

c) Leave things as they are so that Rope Walk is only open for cyclists and cars using the car parks in Rope Walk.

Please let us know what you think. Please send in your thoughts to Ipswich Labour.

33 Silent Street,

Sunday, 16 December 2012

My week ahead 17 - 23 December 2012

Monday 17 December, 8pm – Labour Group, Christmas Dinner

Tuesday 18 December, 9am – Finance meeting with Head at Sidegate Primary School

Wednesday 19 December, 9.30am – Planning Meeting
5pm – Meeting about Murray Rd Recreation Ground

Thursday 20 December, 6pm – East Housing Meeting

This week I have had a number of meetings about providing youth activities on Rushmere Estate in 2013, I hope to be able to announce some good news about this in January.

Friday, I joined local community campaigners in Whitby Road. Gemma Farrow a local resident hopes to have Whitby Rd declared a ‘no cold call zone’. I went out with her on Friday to ask residents what they thought we were joined by local police, Suffolk trading standards plus Sandra Gage. Sandra is a ‘community champion’ who was the force behind Meadowvale Close becoming a ‘no cold call zone’.

The good news for Rushmere Residents is that Sandra will be joining Tracy Grant, I and the local North East Ipswich Labour team in 2013, campaigning on a number of issues that affect Rushmere residents.

On Thursday, I have my last meeting before Christmas, the East Ipswich Housing meeting, interesting to see if the Tory and Lib Dems councillors turn up ( they have failed to attend the last two meetings) always a good meeting as we have a great group of residents covering the whole of the east of Ipswich on the committee with us.

Friday, 14 December 2012

Suffolk Schools failing but who do Tories blame - parents?

Tory run Suffolk County Council should be holding its head in shame today after primary schools in the county performed badly in the league tables, with only Kingston Upon Tyne and the Medway Towns producing lower results. Too many Suffolk schools are failing our pupils. Some of our Primary schools are outstanding, but many need improvement. There is a desperate need to invest in improving many of our schools in Suffolk, and in many areas such as North East Ipswich schools are full and new primary schools are needed. The Conservative-led government’s insistence on diverting much-needed investment into building new Free Schools which nobody wants or needs, in places such as Beccles, just looks even more crazy and damaging in the light of these results.

Ipswich Spy has put up a post about this issue, which included the accusation that I had slurred County Officers. I had commented that many in education thought that the county were happy for primary schools to fail as this would see many become academies – meaning the county would be in charge of fewer schools. Only yesterday a former head of a primary school spoke to me about this issue.

But if that did happen, it would mean that the County Education Department could be reduced in manpower – so Officers would lose their jobs. So it become obvious that if there is no real desire to save failing schools – it is a Tory councillor decision not Officers.

I agreed with Tory councillors when they decided to go for a two tier system, but now find it strange that some of those same Tories are now supporting a 3 tier system that includes middle schools replaced by ‘Free’ Schools.

One positive outcome to the scrapping of the 3 tier system would be that schools no longer used could have been sold off and the money used by the County council (We hoped for education) but instead we see Middle school sites being given away for free to ‘Free’ schools.

It also seems that the County Tory Cabinet are not as one on ‘Free’ schools – and it seems that at least one Tory MP has attempted to influence the promotion of ‘Free’ schools.

‘Free’ Schools seem here to stay, but the County need to up their game, if Suffolk schools are third from bottom in a national league table they are failing, and as the Tory run county is responsible for those schools, they are also failing.

What has been quite noticeable is that our Tory MP’s have been silent over the results, imagine if Labour run Ipswich Borough council had come third from bottom in a national league table – Mr Gummer would have been on BBC Radio Suffolk, Town FM and on every page of every local paper- but all we have had today is …. Silence!

Footnote - Apologies to Mr Gummer - he has just been on BBC Radio Suffolk and is blaaming the Local authority, but states that they have been failing for many years. Will Mr Gummer be asking the County now to spend more on education? Will he ask them to stop supporting 'Free' schools and get on with looking after their own? Don't hold your breath!

Last night a local tory supporter on twitter did blame someone - the parents! Thats good as long as it is not the fault of a badly run Suffolk Cpounty Council.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Tories call Ipswich a 'poor' town

Yesterday we had the last Full Ipswich Borough Council meeting of the year, as in previous meetings we had further questions on the wind turbines proposed for an area South west of Ipswich but not surprisingly the Ipswich Tories or Lib Dems were less keen to ask questions, knowing that the answers would highlight their involvement in the original deal to being turbines to the town.

The main focus of the meeting should have been the two motions that were to be debated, the first was one put forward by Labour to support the fight to save the Postal Sorting Office in Commercial Road. The Tories (no surprise) put forward an amendment, what was surprising was that their amendment did not include the name of Ben Gummer the local Tory MP.

Much of what Cllr Carnall proposedin his amendment was very acceptable to all and you wonder why he did not discuss it with the administration first, but he seemed to prefer to score some cheap political point. The good news was that a newly worded motion was agreed and that it gained unanimous support. Wonder why the Tories did not include Ben Gummers name in their amendment? Possibly because in his local paper column he seems happy for the market to decide if a sorting office is needed in Ipswich. The very opposite to when he was trying to win the Ipswich seat, then it was petitions in the town and sacks of signatures placed outside Number 10 when fighting to save a local Post office, don’t hold your breath if you expect Gummer and local Tories to be collecting signatures on the Cornhill this Saturday to save the Sorting Office.

The Tory motion was centered around the Ipswich Labour plan to start building council houses, the Tories wanted us to write a letter to the Housing Minister to thank them for the changes to housing revenue that have enabled us to start building again. What the Tories forgot was that changes to Housing Revenue had been started under the Labour Government and was just one of the very few plans from the previous government that the Tories and Lib Dems had not scrapped. It does seem strange to hear Tory councilors attempt to lecture us on social housing. Of course Ben Gummer our MP thought it was better that the new housing we were building should be run by a Housing association rather than the council, not even sure many Tory councilors would agree with him on that point.

The other main issue of the meeting was the Council Tax Support Localisation report being presented by Cllr Martin Cook – which included the effects on those in receipt of Council Tax benefit. A conservative estimate is that the changes will effect up to 9,000 families in Ipswich. So there would be less money coming to the town. Well that is what most people thought but we had Tory Cllrs queuing to say how much better the new scheme will be. Cllr Stewart even declared that we would be better off financially in the long run! Cllr Cenci also had her usual pop at those on benefit. But then Cllr Stewart came out with the comment that Ipswich was a ‘poor’ town, not sure that is a valid description of our town. I tweeted my anger and agreed with my Labour colleague who said Ipswich was not a ‘poor’ town but a town living with ‘low wages’ in what is a ‘low wage’ county.

I received a reply from a leading Ipswich Tory telling me that if I was not happy living in a low wage town, I should move. I love this town and love living here, I probably could earn far more in many other places in the world but I would rather live in my home town and fight to improve life for all Ipswich residents.

Roger Fern also angered by Tory comments, then informed us of just one center for homeless people in Ipswich had 20 of its 25 beds full last night and demand for these beds would only increase under these Tory (and Lib Dem) proposals to benefit changes.

Many residents you speak to on the doorstep mention that all political groups are the same. Last night showed quite clearly that the Ipswich Labour Party is on the side of all Ipswich residents whilst the Tories are just interested in themselves and their rich friends.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

My week ahead 10 - 15 December

Monday 10 December, 4pm – Culture Portfolio meeting
6pm – Labour Group meeting

Tuesday 11 December, 10am – Duke of Edinburgh Award presentation, St James Palace

Wednesday 12 December, 10am – Meeting about Youth activity provision in North East Ipswich
6pm – Ipswich Borough Full Council meeting

Thursday 13 December, 6pm – Scrutiny meeting

Friday 14 December, 9am – Canvassing for a ‘No Cold Call Zone’ in Whitby Road
10.15am – Coffee with staff at Sidegate Primary School

Saturday 15 December, 10am – Labour Campaigning in East Ipswich
7pm – North East Ipswich, Labour get together, Golden Key

Forget a slow down as we approach Christmas, the coming week looks like the busiest week so far this year. But the good news is that a number of those meetings are focused on improving our own part of North East Ipswich.

We also have Full Council on Wednesday and the Tories have proposed a motion that is centred on our plan to start building council houses again in Ipswich. This week I attended councillor training on Housing, and there is no doubt that the Tory/Lib Dems plans to cut housing benefits plus other changes to the benefit system are going to cause problems for may Ipswich residents and not just those living in social housing, The pilot schemes in Wakefield have seen residents who have never before been in debt find it hard to keep up with their renal payments.

The Housing department at Ipswich are going to find there services and skills are needed more than ever as people find they become homeless.

It seems strange that the Tories in Government are so willing to penalise those who may have one bedroom more than they think they should have but at the same time ask rich donors for large sums to fight against any proposals for a ‘Mansion’ tax.

We have over the last day a leading Ipswich Tory state that it is right to reduce housing benefit as we all have to share the pain – have not heard her say we should have a ‘mansion’ tax and that the rich should share the pain. It was also a concern to me that the local Tory lead on Housing was not able or did not feel he needed to attend the councillor training on housing this week.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Caught peddling a lie - so lie again

Yesterday the UK Statistics Authority rebuked Tory ministers for lies about NHS spending. The watchdog has called on ministers to correct claims the coalition has increased NHS spending in England.

The UK Statistics Authority upheld a complaint about government claims the NHS budget had increased in real-terms in the past two years.

The watchdog found the best-available Treasury data suggested real-terms health spending was lower in 2011-12 than in 2009-10.
The full story is here

So have Cameron or Hunt apologised? Not heard anything yet and to make matters worse, the Conservative website is still printing the same lies here.

It seems peddling a lie comes easy for Tories- Cameron and Hunt on NHS spending and even in Ipswich we have a local Tory activist attempting to tell the blogosphere that a prominent Ipswich blog: Ipswich Spy is Labour supporting even though the main blogger from that site is a former Tory County Councillor and still close to the leadership of the Ipswich Tory Party.

So the lesson to be learnt is you can’t believe anything on a Tory website or blog!

Sunday, 2 December 2012

My week ahead 3 - 9 December 2012

Monday 3 December, 6pm – Labour campaigning

Tuesday 4 December, 5.30pm – Governor training – Sidegate Primary School

Friday 7 December, 7pm – Labour Christmas Party – Westgate Ward Club

Saturday 8 December, 10am – Labour campaigning in South East Ipswich

Sunday 9 December, 10am – Fore Street Christmas Market

Our full Governing Body meeting at Sidegate Primary school was cancelled this week as the school found out late Tuesday that it was about to be inspected by OFSTED – we as yet do not know the result of the inspection but I have no doubt that we have the right head Teacher and staff in place to make sure Sidegate provides a fantastic environment for our children to be educated in.

One of our Governors did make an interesting observation, after he was interviewed by the OFSTED team; he declared that it was certainly more grilling than anything he had experienced in 20 years of private sector life. So for those who always knock the public sector, maybe they should take note of that.

The other big story this week was Leveson, the Prime Minister has set himself up for a fall after he declared that he would implement Leveson unless it was ‘bonkers’. Well it was far from ‘bonkers’ but Cameron seems happy to give the press (and their owners) yet one more drink in the ‘last chance’ saloon.

The public may buy the papers but as over 100,000 people have already signed the ‘hacked off petition it seems that most of the public agree with Leveson. Cameron will not be helped as each of the victims of press abuse queues up to have a pot at Cameron. JK Rowling was one of the first to comment and stated on Friday:

"I thought long and hard about the possible consequences to my family of giving evidence and finally decided to do so because I have made every possible attempt to protect my children’s privacy under the present system, and failed. If I, who can afford the very best lawyers, cannot guarantee the privacy of those dearest to me, what hope did the Dowlers, the McCanns and the Watsons ever have of protecting their own children and their own good names?"

So I hope that you may wish to sign the ‘hacked off’ petition here – so Cameron gets the message –listen to the millions not just Rupert!

Monday, 26 November 2012

Is Lord Ashdown right and is it time to leave Afghanistan?

I missed the interview with Lib Dem (and ex Royal Marine) Lord Paddy Ashdown about his opinion on the present conflict in Afghanistan.

His opinions are listened to by many- understandably due to his previous roles in the Balkans and his past as both a leading politician and ex-servicemen. But his opinions have not been appreciated by senior Military leaders.

In ‘The Times’ today, General Richard Shirreff is critical of Lord Ashdown and believes we should stand firm in Afghanistan as we are winning. As he states, Lord Ashdown is wrong to say we have lost the war, and now we must finish the job.
General Shirreff is a very senior General currently holding a senior post in NATO. He should be listened to. I agree with him, we are making a difference and we can bring some form of peace and stability to the region.

Ex-servicemen may have a better understanding on what is happening in a conflict, but you do have to be there to really understand what is happening. So why should I be listened to rather than Paddy Ashdown? The longer you are out of the forces the less you know what is currently going on, sometimes a little knowledge can be dangerous and lead you to the wrong opinion. I left the forces many years after Lord Ashdown left and then went back in 2009 to serve in Afghanistan, so I feel I have a better understanding of what is going on and what soldiers think. I still have friends serving and my younger brother is an apache pilot who has also served in Afghanistan.

General Shirreff, highlights the success we have had in Nad-e-Ali, there has almost been no violence there this year and it was only in 2010 we suffered significant casualties in that area and we only really started operating in the area in 2009.

I am often asked by BBC Radio Suffolk and the local paper for my views on the conflict in Afghanistan. My opinion has not changed – we need to stay and finish the job. Often I sound like a lone voice, it is understandable that families of our servicemen and the British public in general wish to see our brave soldiers home, they do now want to see or hear of anymore more bodies being repatriated. But we rarely hear from serving soldiers- they have an opinion but tend to stay quiet

So I welcome the interview that Richard Shirreff has given and I agree with him. But I am concerned that Mr Hammond the Defence minister, or William Hague or even the Prime Minister have not commented on Lord Ashdown’s views. So what do the Tory Ministers think? Do they have a plan? More serious maybe should be the question- are the views of the Generals the same as the Ministers?

My concern is that when we get near the General Election, the Government will announce a withdrawal of British troops and this will be welcomed by the British public (and become a vote winner) but it will leave Afghanistan in a state of turmoil and violence will return to all parts of this poor country. Once our departure is announced, the Taliban will increase their attacks, we may even see a rise in British casualties.
If we do leave without the job complete, what will those 300 soldiers who have lost their lives died for then?

General Shirreff is right and Paddy Ashdown wrong – but the biggest worry for me is what do Cameron, Hague and Hammond think?

Sunday, 25 November 2012

My week ahead 26 November - 1 December 2012

Monday 26 November, 4pm – Culture Portfolio meeting

Tuesday 27 November, 5pm – Sidegate Primary School Full Governing Body meeting

Wednesday 28 November, 6pm – Culture and Leisure Working Group

Thursday 29 November, 6pm – Area Committee Chairs meeting

Saturday 1 December, 10am – Labour campaigning in South West Ipswich

A busy week ahead, with a meeting most nights – it is hard work running the administration but you hope the public see signs of the good work we are doing – starting building council houses again, improving the town centre- the Christmas market, new Christmas lights, defending council services. Compare that with the Tory run Suffolk County Council – street lights off (with no consultation), selling off the County Care Homes, not only supporting but aiding the setting up of Free Schools all over the county.

A sign of how much the County have run down their services (just to set 0% Council tax rise- and keep their seats) was seen at the last North East Area Committee where the young residents who spoke to the committee and the residents indicated they had not heard of the Suffolk Connections service or the careers info bar they run in Fore Street, good news for residents is that the PCC elections have shown people that the Tories can be beaten all over Suffolk.

Yesterday we selected our Labour candidate for Rushmere Ward, Ipswich – she lives in the ward, is a strong community campaigner and will take the fight to the Tories. The current Tory Councillor is Judy Terry, a cabinet member and has been heavily involved in the library fiasco. So there will few tears from Ipswich or Suffolk residents if she lost her seat.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Rusty submarines?

The Tory Government promised to repair the Military Covenant at the last General Election - no mention of forced redundancies, low morale and rusty submarines!

The Labour Government did not do enough for our Armed Forces but they were far better than this shower and since in opposition we have started 'Labour Friends of the Forces' that plus the positive steps to recruit former servicemen as Parliamentary candidates will ensure we are the party that will put the Armed Forces first.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

My week ahead 19 - 24 November 2012

Monday 19 November, 6pm – Labour Group meeting

Thursday 22 November, 4pm – Sidegate Primary School, Finance meeting
6pm – Scrutiny meeting – looking at budget for 13/14

Saturday 24 November 10am – Labour campaigning in North East Ipswich

The main event this week was the Police and Crime Commissioner election, we knew we had the best candidate in Jane Basham and we knew we had fought the best campaign but we also knew that Suffolk was supposedly the 6th safest Tory seat in the country. But as we now know, Jane came top after the counting of the first preference votes.
So with Tim Passmore only winning after the counting of the second preference votes and the very low turnout (repeated all over the country) he seems to have little mandate to run the police in Suffolk.

More disappointing he still seems determined not to give up his council seat on Mid Suffolk District Council – and we now wait to see if he will appoint a deputy with at least one Ipswich Tory hoping to secure the (well paid) post.

In Ipswich we had a great result, securing over 50% of the vote and hardly any change was seen in the figures after the counting of the second preference votes. We now need to keep working for Ipswich residents to ensure we maintain our Labour vote and also appeal to those who feel let down by Mr Gummer and this Tory/Lib Dem Government.
The number of spoilt papers was much higher than a normal election – but spoilt may give you the wrong impression – on a General Election a spoilt paper often consists of a number of swear words or the elector showing a desire to vote for a party not standing (or in the case of the BNP, you also have the swearing) but on this election the spoilt papers often consisted of very rational thoughts and some were almost mini essays. One voter even attached a pink postit with an apology on for spoiling her paper.

Both the Tories and Lib Dems need to ask themselves why this election was so poorly supported. Failure of Lib Deems to stand, Lib Dem insistence that the election was not held last May, the Tory Government refusal to give a free posting to all candidates.
I just wonder how low the turnout would have been if Suffolk Labour had not campaigned so hard and taken our message to the every corner of the county.

We have already seen the knee jerk responses to the PCC Elections and the Corby result – The Tories are now talking about the EU and stating that the new Commissioners do have a mandate (they seem to have separate rules when it comes to Unions and strike ballots) and the Lib Dem MP’s are now looking to save their own skins/seats and stating they are against a number of Government policies- even though they voted for most of them.

So far we have had silence from the local Tories and Mr Gummer – I think if Ben wants to hold Ipswich he needs to do more than invite residents to Westminster – but even this plan seems to have been hit by inflation – last month Stoke Park residents were charged £15 to visit Parliament but my letter from Ben yesterday offered me a seat for £20 – high inflation or the extra 4 miles we have to travel? The count on Friday and the Corby result should indicate to Mr Gummer that Ipswich residents are not happy with his party. Local Tories have also been silent – no blog posts and little chat on twitter- no mention of the Bixley Polling station they ‘saved’ maybe because only 17 people used it – wonder how much per vote that cost Ipswich residents? Then again they can just blame their own Government for the whole badly organised election and stupid concept of PCC.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Vote Jane Basham for Suffolk PCC

Message from Jane Basham

The election on Thursday 15th November brings a big change to how Suffolk’s police service is run. I am asking for your support because I have the skills to make the new job of Police and Crime Commissioner work for all of our communities.

I have worked for organisations large and small, including Tesco, Harrods and Mothercare, and in the public sector too. I was Chief Executive of a charity working with vulnerable victims of crime. I have also worked within our prisons and with ex-offenders. Alone amongst the candidates I have worked at top management level for Suffolk Police.

I have a reputation as an achiever and independent thinker, working at a strategic level, managing large scale budgets, making far reaching and difficult decisions based on strong analysis of information. All are vital skills and capabilities essential to the role of Commissioner in today’s tough times.

As well as indispensible business skills, I have unique first hand experience of our Police service. I also have direct insight into the lives, impacts and journeys of victims and witnesses through our criminal justice system. I understand too the priceless contribution of the voluntary and community sector to the quality of our lives.

I am hugely supportive of the Police. They do an incredible job, sometimes under the most difficult of circumstances. I know this because I have worked with them and been out on patrol. Watching them deal with intense provocation with skill and humour cannot fail to command respect.

We all know the Police are affected by cuts to public services. Hard choices are being made; services reduced, merged, or, in some cases, abolished. Weighing those decisions, gauging their impact and tough questioning is a crucial part of the Commissioners job and so is ensuring the public have a full chance to ‘have their say’.

The Commissioner needs to lead a full and open debate on ranking priorities, how tight resources are best used and how we can jointly fight to win the best deal for Suffolk. Without a willingness to question, challenge and evaluate police effectiveness, the role will be a waste of money – an expensive rubber-stamp.

My vision is based on many months spent listening to local people in towns and villages right across the county and many years working within criminal justice. You have told me you want a safer county and a Police service that is open, accountable, forward looking and takes onboard the views of those it serves – you, the people of Suffolk.

· I will defend visible local policing in rural and urban areas. I support maintaining and, if possible, increasing front line operational policing roles including the Special Constabulary and PCSO’s.

· I will also defend less visible policing – especially those units that protect our young people and children from internet crime and sexual abuse.

· I want to put victims first – including swift and effective responses to anti-social behaviour. I also believe recent cuts to compensation for those whose lives are permanently damaged by violent crime are disgraceful.

· Restorative justice works but it needs developing to succeed more widely.

· In too many instances privatisation has failed - from the debacle of G4s at the Olympics to non-stop rises in fuel costs. That’s why I’m squarely opposed to handing police functions to private firms to run. Suffolk Constabulary is already taking back previously ‘outsourced’ work where expectations or promised savings have not been delivered. Improved efficiency and effectiveness is achievable, without outsourcing.

· I will work with any and all organisations, communities and individuals who are committed to cut crime, reduce reoffending and promote rehabilitation. Public services under pressure need to cooperate more than ever. The closure of acute hospital beds for those with severe mental illness for example can simply shift a health problem onto the police, courts and prisons.

Restoring a clear link between the public and their Police can bring real benefits. People have told me they want their Police service to be more accountable to them. Commissioners bring with them increased flexibility to manage policing activities in response to the needs and priorities of local communities.

The Commissioner job is an enormous challenge that will put whoever is elected on a steep learning curve. It’s a new and radical departure without a blueprint to follow. I am no stranger to the hard work or the learning needed to meet that challenge. I believe my background will serve me well. My solemn undertaking to the people of Suffolk is to give my total commitment to the role.

I look forward to working with you all to help make Suffolk a safer place to live, work and visit for everyone.

Anybody wanting to contact me can do so on or 01473 255131


Twitter @jane_basham

Facebook JaneBasham92

Sunday, 11 November 2012

The Vikings come home to Ipswich

On Monday the 5th of November, soldiers from 1st Battalion the Royal Anglians, also known as the Vikings paraded through the streets of Ipswich.

a-vision Ipswich did a video of the parade and I am interviewed (near the start)

You can watch the video here

We will remember

Kohima Epitaph

When you go home
Tell them of us and say
For your tomorrow
We gave our today

The people of Ipswich came out in their thousands today to remember those from this town who have sacrificed their lives so that we can live in peace. I probably felt more emotional today than at any previous Remembrance Day. Not sure exactly why? Maybe when Mrs McClure laid a wreath to remember all those from the town who have died in conflict since 1945 or when the Apache helicopter flew over, reminding me of a daily occurrence in Sangin, Afghanistan.

Sangin - warmer than Christchurch Park

Not sure but it was pleasing to see the thousands of Ipswich people there to remember those who had fallen and in particular the large number of young people who attended.

We will remember.

My week ahead 12 - 18 November 2012

Monday 12 November, 4pm - Culture portfolio meeting
6pm - Labour campaigning

Thursday 15 November – Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioners Election

Saturday 17 November, 10am – Labour campaigning in South West Ipswich

This Week we had our latest North east area Committee and I believe it was productive meeting aided by the contributions of some of our younger residents.

Today was Remembrance Sunday, and it seemed to be the largest crowd in attendance for a long time in Christchurch Park, seemed strange to have Apache helicopters fly over at 11am. The last time I had an apache helicopter fly over my head it was a lot lower, faster and it was firing from its chain gun!

Thursday we see a country wide election as have a chance to vote for the first Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner, like many in this country I think the post is not needed and is a waste of money. But the Tory Government were keen to push the role through and though the Lib Dems are not putting candidates up for some reason it was their party who was keen on a November election rat5her than waiting till next May. All this means that it is expected that Thursday will see a very low turnout. But it is important to vote the only real choice is either Jane Basham a Labour supporter but not a politician or the Tory, Mr Passmore, a farmer and a Tory politician who even if elected will stay as on as a Tory councillor in Mid Suffolk.

Jane is concerned about police staffing levels,police morale and also how victims of crime are treated. Mr Passmore seems keener on low council tax and speeding up the process for farmers to renew their shotgun licence!

So this Thursday – go out and vote and make sure that vote is for Jane Basham.

Friday, 9 November 2012

The young get involved - in a positive way.

North East Area Committee – Thursday 8th November, 2012

Last night saw our last Area Committee meeting of 2012, a good turnout of local resident were present. The evening started with our regular presentation on a local issue at 7pm. tonight in my humble opinion was the most relevant presentation so far- Year 12 pupils from Copleston High school gave a short presentation to residents and councillors on what they think of living in our part of Ipswich.

They were both eloquent and passionate – and they were not just moaning or asking for freebies. They came up with good proposals that had been well thought out. Such idea’s included a info bar/empty shop – manned by 6th Formers from all over Ipswich, giving advice on a variety of topics. To help some of our struggling pubs they would like to hold youth nights – no alcohol and a chance for young bands and comedians to perform in a safe environment.

After their presentation the young residents stayed behind to work other residents on our action plan at the end of the meeting.

The main topic of the meeting became the possible funding of improvements to Cherry tree Recreation Ground. Local resident I still attempting to raise extra funds towards the scheme, at a previous Area Meeting it had been agreed that we would put £25,000 towards the project. After a lively debate it seemed the Tory members wanted to spend the money now to purchase the play equipment and then store it till the remaining funds are raised whereas the Labour members thought it best to retain the money till the next meeting so we could then see how much outside money had been collected. The final decision was to look at the matter again in January. Good news was that Cllr Sandy Martin thought the scheme had a good chance of obtaining outside funding from Grant giving bodies such as the local Land Fill Trust.

The local SNT Inspector informed local residents that the local police priorities for the North east would be to deal with any Anti-Social behaviour on the Rushmere estate and the Bull Celestion estate and to monitor and check on speeding throughout the North east of the town with extra consideration to those streets that have become ‘rat runs’.

Though the meeting finished quite late most of the resident’s stayed behind to join the Copleston pupils and councillors to work on the North East Action plan. All the notes were taken away and will be now collated so that we can set out the North East Action plan at our next meeting. Once that is done it will help us focus our expenditure over 2013/14.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

My week ahead 5 - 11 November 2012

Monday 5 November, 12.30pm – Homecoming parade for the 1st Battalion The Royal Anglians, Ipswich Cornhill

Tuesday 6 November, 9am – Conference on the Military Covenant, Ministry of Defence, Main Building – London

Thursday 8 November, 7pm – North East area Committee, St John Church – Cauldwell Hall Road

Saturday 10 November, 10am – Labour campaigning in East Ipswich

Sunday 11 November, 11am – Remembrance Parade, Christchurch Park

This week the highlight has been attending the European Cyclo Cross Championships that were held in Chantry Park, Ipswich. There will be a few whinges about cost to the Borough and damage to the park. But for the amount of money it has bought into the town the cost was negligible. Every hotel room in town booked up was just one positive from the competition being held here. I for one would like us to try and get the World Cyclo Cross Championships in Ipswich.

The day was rounded off by Helen Wyman winning the Women’s race, the first time GB has won the Gold.

The downside to the week has yet again been a post from an Ipswich tory blogger, Kevin Algar at ‘Riverside View’. Not only does he have to continue to call myself and other Labour Councillors stupid names he also fills his post full of lies. I was tempted to write a post showing that his latest post – about ‘stupid things that Alasdair Ross has said’ was just full of lies but then I looked at my diary for this week – Homecoming of the Anglians, a Military conference that would look at how we treat veterans and then Remembrance Sunday.

Undentable - Mark Hale

All those three events are more important to me than wasting time answering his stupid comments. On Sunday Ipswich will have an opportunity to remember our Armed Forces and in particular those who lost their lives in conflict. I will be at the cenotaph and I will also remember friends and comrades of mine who have dies in Afghanistan and Iraq – and if I showed Paul Harding or Mark Hale the comments by Algar they would just laugh and ask why I was bothering to even give him the time of day. They would probably print his comments off and put them all over the Sergeants Mess and the Operations Room so that our fellow Rifleman could have a laugh (at me). The point is no one would take his comments seriously – just a pity that his fellow Ipswich Conservatives can’t see the damage it does to their credibility as a serious political group in the town.

Friday, 2 November 2012

Ipswich will remember

Ipswich will remember – this is the time of year that we all wear our poppy and remember those who have served our country.

For those of us who have served in our Armed Forces it is a time when we remember close friends who made the ultimate sacrifice.

I will be at the Cenotaph in Christchurch Park next Sunday and then afterwards I will follow the family tradition of having a pint in the ‘Woolpack’

I will then lift a glass to those who I served with both in the Green Jackets and the Rifles who lost their lives in Active service.

To those like Paul Harding who I served with in the same group of six NCO’s in Winchester in 1988. He was an inspiration then and continues to be an influence on the way I try and lead my life.

“When You Go Home, Tell Them Of Us And Say,
For Your Tomorrow, We Gave Our Today”

Kohima Epitaph

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Tories don't like to tweet!

Last night a Full Council, one of the Tory Front bench asked a question about the use of electronic devices at Full Council. Cllr Pope was the 21st Century Luddite – and his follow up question was the real crux of the matter – he wants councillors to be banned from tweeting at Full Council. In the end this caused even more tweets as Labour and Lib Dem Councillors joined the Ipswich Press in tweeting every question at the meeting. They were also joined in this tweet fest by two prominent Tory bloggers.

The Tory Group does not seem at home with the use of social media in getting information over to residents. Now there is one Tory councillor who does use twitter and blogs and that is Cllr Cenci, but she was missing from Full Council last night.
So why did Cllr Pope want to get twitter banned? Cllr Cenci seems to think that the dispute is in some strange way being used to highlight splits in the Tory Group over the use of twitter and blogs. She seems to forget it was a Tory question.

I feel the question may have come around after Labour tweets at the last council meeting. The tweets informed Ipswich residents that the Tory spokesman for Transport did not know the cost of a bus fare in Ipswich.

But I am sure there are many more reasons why the Tories would like to see the end of the use of twitter and other social media in Ipswich Council meetings. Cllr Cenci and her infamous blog may be one reason they would like to see a total news blackout but there are other reasons I can think of.

They do not want Labour Councillor’s to tweet when:

Tory councillors have failed to turn up for important budget working groups (and not even sending apologies)

Tory councillors can’t even fill all their allocated spaces at Scrutiny

Answers to questions about the Wind Turbines to be built to the South West of Ipswich, inform residents that the Tories signed the lease.

Or is it that they can’t find anyone who knows how to use twitter or even blogs. The Ipswich Tory website has not been updated for over 7 weeks and their last tweet was 5 weeks ago (though the Tory blogger at ‘A Riverside View’ would deny this). Even the Tory MP for Ipswich, Ben Gummer seems to be struggling with his website, according to his own site he has done no casework since February!

Monday, 22 October 2012

Last time the Liberals campaigned in Ipswich?

We might have seen a more recent Lib Dem leaflet in Rushmere Ward, Ipswich but I am not sure!

But it seems even then like today they are spinning lines about how they were pro our Armed Forces – Wonder if like today they were saying one thing about looking after our ‘heroes’ whilst actually making soldiers redundant

Sunday, 21 October 2012

From Fire station to houses.

On Wednesday last week (17 October 2012) Ipswich Borough Council Planning Committee gave planning co0nsent for Hopkins Homes to build on the old Fire Station site on Colchester Road.

The old fire station has already been demolished so Hopkins should start quite soon in building the first of 59 houses planned for the site.

I raised a number of issues with Hopkins Homes on behalf of local residents and they have agreed to those changes.

Ipswich Borough policy is to ask for 35% of the development be affordable homes. Hopkins Homes asked for this to be reduced to 25% as they had been informed that the County Council now required £388,000 in Section 106 money (this is the money that a council can ask for towards local amenities such as libraries) rather than the initial £106,000 they were asked for in December 2010.

As a Labour Group we are keen to see an increase in affordable homes but as a planning committee we understood that Hopkins Homes had been asked to pay considerable more that they first thought to the County Council.

It was agreed that Hopkins Homes could just build 25% in affordable homes but that now the Borough council would take control of the Section 106 money and look to use that to build other homes within the Borough.

I believe that this development will be welcomed by most Rushmere (and Ipswich ) residents.

My week ahead 22 - 28 October 2012

Monday 22 October 4pm - Culture portfolio meeting
6pm - Labour campaigning

Thursday 25 October 6pm - Scrutiny meeting, Grafton House

This week we continue to listen to the Ipswich Tories confuse the residents with their version of events on the building of Wind Turbines outside Ipswich. A Tory campaigner and former council candidate even accused me of telling lies in yet again another nasty blog post. It is disappointing that Ben Gummer and the Ipswich Tory Group seem to feel it is OK for one of their past (and probably future) candidates can continue to accuse me of telling lies and also to resort to name calling. sorry to dissapoint you Kevin, I have faced far more formidable opponents in West Belfast, Crossmaglen and Sangin. Do your worst.

Far more pleasing for myself it to see youngsters in Ipswich wanting their voices to be heard, I was invited to speak to a politics class at Copleston School this week and then today I attended an event organised by the Speakers Corners Trust – held on the Town Hall steps, in pouring rain but it did not stop the passion being shown by pupils from Copleston, Westbourne and Stoke High Schools. We are sure this will become a regular event.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Road safety in Whitby Road , Ipswich

Whitby /Beverley Road News

Over the last month a number of residents have been in contact about installing white lines at the Beverley Road/Whitby Road junction.

Give way lines are not always needed on residential streets. However, at this junction it is not as obvious who has right of way and with the proximity of the junction to Sidegate Primary School, the road safety concerns raised by residents have been considered.

Sandra Gage, one of our local campaigners, and myself approached the council highways department to ask that new give way lines were introduced at the Beverley Road/Whitby Road junction. Last week those lines were painted onto the roads. I am sure this will help improve road safety for not only residents but also the young children and their parents who walk along Whitby Road.

Sandra has also brought to my attention the need for more road safety measures at both the Khartoum/Woodbridge Rd junction and the Leopold/Rushmere Road junction. We have approached the council to see what we can do in those streets.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

My week ahead 14 - 20 October 2012

Monday 15 October, 6pm - Campaigning in Ipswich

Wednesday 17 October, 9.30am - Planning meeting, Grafton House

1pm - Talking to politics students at Copleston School

Friday 19 October 2pm - North East Area Committee, Agenda setting meeting

Saturday 20 October 10.30am - Campaigning in South East Ipswich

This week we had David Cameron moving (back) to the Right and Ben Gummer calling councillors, mediocre - would make you think that the Tories are getting worried.

We continue to campaign all over Ipswich (and Suffolk) for the upcoming Police and Crime Commissioner election - a sit is a Tory idea you would think they would also be out knocking on doors but so far we have only seen a fleeting glimpse of the Tory candidate in Ipswich.

We also have Planning committee this week where we hope that a final decision will be made on the development of the old Fire station site on Colchester Road. I will post about that after we find out what the outcome is on Wednesday morning.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

So we are mediocre

Ben Gummer has got himself into a pickle by stating many Councils consist of "self-governing oligarchies of mediocre people".

Now Mr Gummer is stating on twitter that the BBC have misquoted him and Ipswich Spy seem to believe him and have written a defence of him. The BBC themselves have no changed their headline here.

But when you read the quotes from Ben, it does not make good reading – so has he is a very junior MP, the only councillors he would know are those from Ipswich (or possibly from Suffolk Coastal) and I would say the only councillors he really knows are his own Ipswich Tory councillors – so are they mediocre Ben?

But to be fair to the Ipswich Tories it is us – Ipswich Labour he was having a go at – with this quote – his description of Labour run Ipswich Borough Council - as all too often "getting in people's way" and "frustrating ambition."

Then he comes up with his real Tory idea- businesses should have their own elected councillors! Seems to me that this is a step back to the 19th century rather than improving democracy.

Gummer then informs the meeting that some councillors can’t understand balance sheets – well I’m learning Mr Gummer as I try and make the budget work at Sidegate Primary School whilst your Government cuts how much we get to spend on education our children.

I’m not a businessman, Mr Gummer but I work hard at understanding balance sheets and business – guess bankers understand them – but would you trust them?

I do understand how soldiers work, what it is like to be shot at and mortared, not sure Mr Hammond the Defence Secretary does- so Mr Gummer- should he step down? Of course not, it does not have to be an ex-soldier to be secretary of State for Defence- and glad about that as we could end up with Tory MP Bob Stewart in charge of the army- totally out of touch when he was a soldier (at least Labour are recruiting soldiers in touch with what the army does – Dan Jarvis)

Closer to home on top of the Ipswich Spy defence, Tory activist Kevin Algar agrees with Ben and puts in a nasty attack on Labour Councillors, probably not realising that Ben may have been on about the Ipswich Tory councillors.

Further afield, Ben has upset Tory Councillors and was publicly criticised on twitter by Tory Councillors and activists from Leicestershire and Warwickshire. With the Tory Councillor from Warwick giving Ben some advice: Can I suggest Ben Gummer MP (2010) needs look beyond London & Ipswich & review his comments about Cllrs..Dont make enemies of you workers ‘

The 2010 inserted into the tweet indicates to me that not impressed by such a junior MP giving advice to councillors who may have worked for residents for years. Another Tory is not impressed by Ben’s excuse that he was misquoted- he wonders what he expected the BBC to write.

Ben does state that Swindon is a good council- maybe we can arrange a lift there for him – in 2015?

Not sure Mr Gummer’s speech will help the residents of Ipswich, maybe if he had told them his views on wind turbines that may have been more beneficial.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Soldier humour shines through

It was an honour yesterday to meet soldiers from the USA and the UK as they rode into Christchurch Park,Ipswich on route to their final destination in London. They had been set off from Norfolk by the Duke of Edinburgh.

You soon forget their disabilities as soldier humour takes over – but it is a remarkable achievement that many of these men are so able to undertake this challenge, they can because of the mix of the fantastic medical help not available right from the front line back to Selly Oak Hospital in Birmingham and the soldiers desire never to give up.

Good to see a number of Ipswich veterans there to meet them, and as usual your never far from a Green Jacket, and I met a former soldier from my own unit who was part of the BLESMA support team.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

My week ahead, 8 - 13 October 2012

Monday 7 October, 3pm – Soldier Ride UK, Christchurch Park – Soldiers who have lost limbs in combat on a charity bike ride from Sandringham to Colchester

4pm – Culture Portfolio meeting

6pm – Labour Group

Friday 12 October, 7pm – Labour fundraiser with talk by anti-fascist campaigner Ruth Smeeth, Kingfisher Pub

Saturday 13 October, 10am – Labour campaigning in North West Ipswich

Times are hard and for some almost desperate as this Government lurches from one u turn to another, whilst ministers (and Boris) just go round making statements without any policy or plans to back them up as seen with Boris on Stansted and Hunt on Abortion. Even football can’t put a smile on my face with the national game imploding thanks to the FA, Terry and Cole and even here in Ipswich Evans, Clegg and Jewell seem to have a much idea about running a football club as Osborne does about running the economy. But dark times can bring out the best in people and this week I went to Copleston School and spoke to their 6th Form Politics students – they were interested, engaged and also willing to contribute to make our town better – so the Tory Government has managed to get the youth of this country interested in politics again – and so on Saturday in the town centre we had 4 teenagers join us campaigning.

I hope to harbour their enthusiasm, anger and ideas in improving the North east of Ipswich, through working with the North east Area Committee.

On the football front the downturn in the fortunes of Ipswich Town FC has seen moaning, despondency but also supporters getting together to have their voice heard, we even saw the return of the paper fanzine, mixing humour, protest and hope. I was privileged to be part (small part) of the team who produced ‘Turnstile Blues’ – it was a hit, sold out on the day and even forcing the club to get a policeman to warn a seller he could be arrested as selling the zine may be a breach of the peace! – Clegg must be worried.

Sunday, 30 September 2012

My week ahead, 1 - 7 October 2012

Monday 1 October 1pm – Ipswich Angle, Editorial meeting
6pm – Campaigning in Central Ipswich

Tuesday 2 October – Finance meetings at Sidegate Primary School

Wednesday 3 October 6pm – Culture and Leisure working Group

Friday 5 October 10am – Launch of ‘No cold call’ zone in Roxburgh Rd, Ipswich

Saturday 6 October 10.30am – Campaigning in North Ipswich

Seems to be as almost as many meeting this week as there were last week! The highlight of last week was Full Council and I was privileged to be able to second the proposal that will see Ipswich Borough Council, join Suffolk County and our neighbouring districts in signing the Community Covenant – this is just another step in Ipswich Borough helping our servicemen, veterans and their families, a subject close to my heart. It was also humbling to receive a round of applause from my fellow councillors and as expected the motion was voted through unanimously.

The meetings saw a debate on a motion put forward by the Tories to thank Mr Gummer and Mr Poulter for their support in getting over £20 million pounds from the government towards transport in Ipswich. Even most Tories would agree that the process for getting the money from government had been started well before the Tories took power. The amended motion by the Labour Group asked for the County Council to consider re-opening the ‘Park and Ride’ on Bury Rd. The Labour amendment was passed. Not sure what the Lib Dems done (as only two turned up) as they seemed to move from abstaining to voting against and then voting for as the night went on.

We also had George Debman indicate in debate that he did not know how much bus fares cost in Ipswich. I put this comment on twitter and have since been attacked by one of Tory bloggers – now I like George and I am sure he will be the Culture working group on Wednesday – as unlike many Tories he does turn up for meetings, but the point is as Tory Transport spokesman – he should have a basic idea how much it cost to get to town on a bus (and it is not £6 to £7). Now the Tories were also against me tweeting at meetings, if I was a Tory blogger I would be more concerned about their inability to get an up-to-date twitter feed and that at many meetings they can’t even get a Tory Cllr to turn up!

We also had two questions about wind turbines being built to the south west of the town, it was a pity that Cllr Cenci missed the meeting as she would have been reminded that when she was an executive member she had supported the proposal to build the turbines and then agreed for officers to sign a lease to get the turbines up as soon as possible. Now in opposition and also possibly being able to see the turbine from her house she seems to be against the proposal – what made her change her mind? Was it the ‘Stop the turbines’ leaflet that seems to just focus on the point that the erection of the turbine will see house prices drop! Sounds a bit NIMBY to me.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

No Tory students?

My Tory opponent in May, is still campaigning hard for his party and seems to be trying to drag the local Tory party into the 21st Century by trying (in vain?) to keep their website updated and even get the local Tory party onto twitter – possibly he should offer his skills to Ben Gummer who has a website that is still stuck in February 2012.

Chris Chambers is young and keen – and we need more young people in local politics, so this week Chris was at the UCS Fresher’s Fayre attempting to get students to join the local Tories, after a few hours he left- but we do believe he did get at least one person to join. At least he attempted something the Lib Dems and Greens were at the Fayre last year but decided they had better things to do this September.

I do feel sorry for Chris as he seems to have little help from any other local Tories.
Ipswich Labour managed to recruit a number of members to the Labour Students Society and we will be inviting them to join us campaigning all over Ipswich over the next year.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Homelessness in Ipswich

Last night we had one of our regular Ipswich Councillor briefings and on this occasion it was about homelessness in the town- This is a serious problem but one that is going to get worse as this Government’s welfare changes are pushed through.

Some excellent work has been done by Demelza Penberth, the project manager is actually working out who is homeless. The difficult ones who are hard to pin down are those who ‘sofa surf’ either with family or friends. The number of ‘sofa surfers’ is likely to increase and in many cases they do not see themselves as homeless.

The way we treat homeless people is strange, as one of the slides indicated – if your mad, bad or sad you may be housed but if not covered by those 3 tags you have no right to a roof but a homeless dog is entitled to seven days in a shelter with food!

The good news in Ipswich is that we have the ‘Ipswich Housing Action Group’ – they started as a pressure group in the 70’s but they are now seen as an important partner by Ipswich Borough Council.

What they have devised is a way of getting all agencies to work together through the IpPoint, and importantly this will operate outside office hours as we were informed not many people are homeless between 9-5 on a Monday to Friday! All this will come under the work of the Ipswich Locality Homelessness Partnership.

It is believed that in Ipswich there are 144 people who are statutorily homeless and of those there were 46 single people homeless. What the partnership and IBC are aiming for is that no person will have to spend a second night out – sleeping rough. But it is not just about housing people it is also helping them deal with other problems they may have from drugs to drink.

We are lucky in Ipswich to have the Ipswich Housing Action Group and that they have such dedicated staff and volunteers. What was lightly disappointing was the poor attendance by opposition councillors. Only 1 of the 4 Lib Dems turned up and the Tories were not much better with only 5 out of their 12 councillors feeling the need to attend. One of those absent included their Shadow Housing Portfolio holder, fortunately 22 of the Labour Councillors were in attendance including our leader and most the council front bench.

The issue of homelssness will take up more of the councillors work as we see the changes to the benefits system take place, only this week we hear that Delia Smith is opening a 'food bank' in Stwomarket as more people find it hard to get by.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

My week ahead, 24 - 30 September 2012

Monday is meeting day! Some people say councillors do not work for the allowances they receive – they should spend Monday with me.

Monday 24 September, 1pm – Ipswich Angle Editorial meeting
4pm – Culture portfolio meeting
4.30pm – Electoral Working Group
6pm – Labour Group meeting

Tuesday 25 September, 6pm – Sidegate Primary Steering Group

Wednesday 26 September, 10am – North East Ageing Well meeting, St John’s Church – Cauldwell Hall Rd
6pm – Full Council

Thursday 27 September, 6pm – Area Committee Chairs meeting

So I will be spending much of the week in Grafton House, hope we can build on the good work of the Area Committee last week and get councillors of all groups working together for the benefit of Ipswich residents.

Friday, 21 September 2012

Most productive Area Committee meeting so far

Report on North East Area Committee

Last night we had a good attendance at our fifth area committee. The main part of the meeting was taken up with the committee having to make decisions about Traffic Regulation Orders (TRO’s) for North East Ipswich.

May not sound that exciting to many, but did give the opportunity for residents to see councillors making decision that will affect residents rather than just sit and discuss policy.

In Rushmere we had two TRO’s that needed to be debated and in both cases after the views of both residents and local campaigner, Sandra Gage were heard the councillors decided to alter the recommendations made by Officers. This was significant as it highlighted to residents that their views would not only be considered but that their views would be acted on.

A further TRO in St Johns Ward was passed, this TRO came around after residents got together and lobbied local councillors –a gain indication that Area Committees really can put power back in the hands of local residents. This will be even more evident next year when we hope to see work carried out by the council to improve safety in the Orwell/Pearce Road area (just off Foxhall Road) a final consultation will take place with residents within the next 3 weeks then a report will come back to the area committee. This process was started after residents came to one of our first area committees to share with us their concerns about road safety.

If the consultation supports the views of residents and officers we should see the committee approve road safety measures in the Orwell Road area and this will be seen as an outstanding success of the area committee system – giving residents the opportunity to share concerns and then work with local councillors and officers to get a result that will help improve the area we live in.

Next week (26th September) we have our first ‘Ageing Well’ event – this worthwhile event is being promoted by the North East Area Committee. This is a free event aimed at our residents who are over 60 years of age or who have retired. It will take place on Wednesday 26th at St John’s Church, Cauldwell Hall Rd – timings are 10am – 1.30pm
To book a place phone: 01473 432102

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

North East Ipswich Area Committee - 20th September

The next North East Ipswich Area Committee Meeting, will be Thursday 20th September at St John's Church Hall, Cauldwell Hall Road, Ipswich. 7.30pm start. A presentation on the Greenways Countryside Project will be held prior to the meeting at 7pm

Please follow the link to download the Agenda and Minutes of the last meeting here:

Agenda and minutes

You can also follow the Area Committees on Facebook and Twitter by searching for Ipswich Area Committees

This meeting will also be deciding if Traffic Regulation orders will be implemented in a number of locations in the North East of the town.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

My week ahead 17 - 22 September 2012

Monday 17 September 6pm – Labour campaigning in North West Ipswich
Tuesday 18 September 7pm – Meeting local residents in the Woodbridge Rd area
Thursday 20 September 7pm – North East Ipswich Area Committee, at St Johns Church Hall, Cauldwell Rd.

The next North East Ipswich Area Committee Meeting, will be Thursday 20th September at St John's Church Hall, Cauldwell Hall Road, Ipswich. 7.30pm start. A presentation on the Greenways Countryside Project will be held prior to the meeting at 7pm
Please follow the link to download the Agenda and Minutes of the last meeting here:

Agenda and Minutes

You can also follow the Area Committees on Facebook and Twitter by searching for Ipswich Area Committees

This week we saw a nasty attack on the Labour run Ipswich Borough Council by our Tory MP – Ben Gummer – Ben stated that he would not trust us to run a whelk store – he also said it was not surprising that we do not understand business as so few of us have run our own business or worked in business. Sorry to disappoint you Ben, but we have a number of Cllrs who have owned their own businesses and one Cllr who was a senior member of the largest retail firm in the town. Of course the Tories front bench is full of businessmen and women – well actually it is not, their leader was a local government officer and their deputy was a former teacher plus they have two further teachers on the front bench.

Now Ben thinks that some work experience in Ipswich shops may help Labour councillors, maybe not a bad idea and I will try and arrange some work experience for Phillip Hammond the Tory Defence Minister , a few weeks in Helmand Province may help him understand how low morale is in our Armed Forces. The soldiers would enjoy telling him face to face what they think. Then again they do not expect the Defence Minister to be an ex soldier the same as business leaders would not expect all Cllrs to have run their own enterprises. Soldiers may not think Hammond fully understands their job but they will still be far happier to have him as the Minister than the Right wing Dr Fox (and his advisor – Adam Werritty – an advisor with nil military experience)

If I want whelks or cockles, Mr Gummer – I will go to the fish stall on the Corn Hill or visit the hut at Felixstowe Ferry - and will enjoy them.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

My week ahead, 10 - 16 September 2012

Monday 10 September 3.30pm – Culture and Leisure Portfolio meeting

6pm – Campaigning in Castle Hill, Ipswich.

Thursday 13 September 6pm – East Ipswich Housing Meeting

Saturday 15 September 10.30am – Campaigning in East Ipswich.

This week we received the disappointing news that Greene King had won their appeal and will now start work on converting the Golden Key to a supermarket.

Local residents were concerned about the loss of custom to our local shops but the biggest concern is the danger of increased traffic and the problems that will cause for local residents. I am very concerned about the safety of the many children who pass their twice a day. Greene King showed themselves to be a business who had no interest in listening to the concerns of local residents.

A number of residents have contacted me since the news was broken and though they thanked me for campaigning for them they were both angry with Greene King and the planning inspectorate. All were concerned that the new planning measures rushed through this week by Eric Pickles would make it even harder for local residents to get their voices heard.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Bad news for the Golden Key

Just heard in the last hour (lunchtime - 4th September) that Greene King have won their appeal on the decision by Ipswich Borough Council to refuse them planning permission on their application to demolish part of the Golden Key pub and turn the site into a small retail outlet

This was the final decision by the Inspector:

The appeal is allowed and planning permission is granted for the part
demolition of the existing buildings, a change of use to Class A1 (Retail), the
installation of an ATM facility, the erection of an extension and alterations to
the elevations, with associated parking and servicing and other associated
works at The Golden Key, 438 Woodbridge Road, Ipswich IP4 4EN in
accordance with the terms of the application, Ref IP/12/00074/FUL, dated
20 January 2012, subject to the conditions in the appended schedule.

Even though the inspector acknowledges his visit took place outside school term he does not believe there will be increased traffic in Woodbridge Road because of the development. I am sure all of those who live near would disagree.

I also feel sorry for all the local residents who put in so much hard work to campaign against this proposal, not sure what the next step is as I have only just read the inspectors letter.

The council listened to residents and refused permission, but I am afraid that in the end it is an inspector from Bristol who has the final say.

Cllr Alasdair Ross

Sunday, 2 September 2012

My week ahead 3 - 9 September 2012

Monday 3 September 6pm – Labour campaigning in South East Ipswich

Tuesday 4 September 6.30pm – Walking tour of Ipswich – Mayors Charity

Wednesday 5 September 4pm – Attending the Public Consultation on redevelopment of St Clements Hospital
6pm – Culture and Leisure working Group – Grafton House

Thursday 6 September 6pm – Scrutiny Call in, Tories calling in the Labour decision to improve the Ipswich Angle

Friday 7 September 7.30pm – New Wolsey, Mod Rox

Saturday 8 September 10.30am – Labour campaigning in North Ipswich

A busy week ahead as all spare time is spent campaigning but now into a full week of meetings but I have still found time to attend the New Wolsey and also learn some more about the history of our town on a guided tour of the Town Centre –and also giving us an opportunity to contribute towards the Mayor’s charities.

On Wednesday we have our Culture and Leisure working group, you may be surprised to know we have thsese meetings after reading Tory Cllr Terry’s article in the ‘Ipswich Flyer’ - she seems to use every opportunity she can to attack us on Culture and Leisure – no words of praise for the Ipswich hosting the ‘Grad Depart’ of the Tour of Britain this Sunday or the outstanding success of the Maritime Festival. But what she also forgets to mention the readers of the ‘Flyer’ is the constant pressure we are under to cut spending due to the Tory Government making drastic cuts to Council funding. Just this week a leading Tory Council leader in England, Sir Merrick Cockell has informed residents that the Tory Government cuts will bleed council reserves dry within 5 years. So Maybe Mrs Terry should also praise Ipswich Borough Council when we have achieved good results and be less critical when cuts have to be made due to her own government drastically cutting council funding.

On Wednesday I will be attending the Public Consultation on the redevelopment of St Clements Hospital. The event is being held both on Wednesday and Thursday, within the pavilion at St Clements between 4-8pm on both days. This consultation is being organised by the NHS Trust. The North East Area Committee are looking at holding a further public meeting about the plans later in the year.

Though St Clements is not in our ward, the increased traffic may affect Rushmere residents. Interesting today the Mr Cameron wishes to make it easier to build on the
Green Belt – whilst in Ipswich we have both Dan Poulter and Ben Gummer keener to build on sites within Ipswich and keep the Northern Fringe clear. So we have Cameron saying one thing, our local MP’s something else, the local Tory and Lib Dem Cllrs saying we should not build on the Northern Fringe but voting for development – what do they really want? Your guess is better than mine. Seems to me they just say what they think the voters want to hear.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

My week ahead 27 August - 2 September 2012

Saturday 1 September 10.30am - Labour campaigning in North Ipswich

A short week with a bank holiday, but plenty of case work to chase up and a number of Ipswich Labour members are heading off to help in Corby with build up to the by-election.

We have had big campaign teams out all over the Summer, working with our candidate for the Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner, Jane Basham. The Tories have been critical of Jane in their blogs but seem to be doing no campaigning. Possibly they have been put off campaigning because they have found that many of their own supporters will not be voting in November as they are against elected police chiefs.

The Tory candidate is also a farmer from rural Suffolk, not sure that will be in the best interests of those of us who live in Ipswich or Lowestoft.

So whilst the Tories in Ipswich sit at home you will continue to able to speak to Ipswich Labour members as we campaign all over the town, weekends, weekdays and evenings.

I also hope to catch plenty of the Paralympics on Channel 4 over the next two weeks, and felt inspired by the disabled athletes I met at Northgate today.

We must have a Paralympic Legacy in Suffolk

Today I was able to witness the Paralympic flame arrive in Ipswich, a more intimate event compared to when the Olympic flame arrived in Christchurch Park.

But still inspirational as it also gave people an opportunity to attempt a number of sports – and as the Deputy Mayor found, they are not all easy as his partner beat him easily at the archery!

It also gave councillors the opportunity to speak to parents, families and volunteers who help provide sporting opportunities to those with disabilities.

The government has spoken at length about a sporting legacy to the 2012 Olympics, (not helped by the cuts to funding to local councils – the main provider of sporting facilities) This Wednesday we will see the Paralympics start in London and people will be inspired. We must see that the Sporting Legacy also benefits those who help or compete in disable sports.

I spoke at length to some of those who assist with the Orwell Panthers, an athletics club for the disabled – they do a brilliant job but need more assistance – I hope the Paralympics will inspire firms and businesses to help them. There also needs to be a closer co-operation between all sporting organisations, those for the able bodied and those for the disabled which will lead to a greater sharing of facilities and equipment.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

My week ahead 20 - 26 August 2012

This is the time of the year where we tend not to have many meetings but it does give us the opportunity to get out and talk to residents. This week we have also been daytime campaigning, which has been a success - Ipswich Tories commented that it was not with doing it for them as all their voters work!

We have been campaigning for Jane Basham as she seeks to be elected as the Police & Crime Commissioner for Suffolk. Not many residents were impressed that the Tories have chosen a farmer - residents worried that those of us in Ipswich will be treated as second class citizens when it comes to policing, as like Suffolk County Council we will get a rural bias.

Today we had the good news that in September we will see Bradley Wiggins - Gold medal winner, Paul Weller and Gordon Brown fan - entering the Tour of Britain race that will start in Ipswich, I am sure we will get a massive crowd at the waterfront to see the start of the race. Hopefully something similar to the attendance we have had this weekend for the second Ipswich Maritime Festival. I we nt toady and there was a real buzz amongst the crowd - I would like to say a big thanks not only to the residents who attended the event but the Ipswich Borough staff who worked so hard, the Events team, security, Fire Marshalls, and street cleaners - you did a great job.

Maritime Festival

Comedy waiters join the festival

Friday, 17 August 2012

What Tory Sporting Legacy?

What Tory sporting legacy

After a fantastic Olympics, Mr Cameron was quick to tell the public that the government will continue to fund (elite) sport – even if the promise is only to 2016.
Closer to home, Ipswich Tories (and I guess that means Cllr Terry) have also jumped on the bandwagon and told the public what a sporting legacy they have left the Ipswich public.

Not sure much of a legacy has been left – a further years of the Tories in power in Ipswich would have seen the council pull out of Maidenhall Sports Centre and seen the Whitton Sports Centre given away to an outside agency.

Ransomes Sports Centre is mentioned again, but no credit given to Ipswich labour from saving the club and sports ground from developers in the first place! But surprisingly after all the scare stories put out by the Tories they now seem keen to build some houses on the site, possible on the site of the now disused bowls green!

But Cameron and the Ipswich Tories will not persuade the public they are serious about any sporting legacy whilst Mr Gove has any sort of power.

The Primary Schools Sporting Partnership was one of the first casualties of Mr Gove becoming Education Minister but his next target is selling off school playing fields. Now I will admit Labour should have done more to protect school playing fields whilst in power and the Tories have used statistics to show that they have not closed as many as Labour – trouble is it now has come to light that those figures were wrong and to top it Mr Gove has agreed to the sale of a number of sports fields even though he was advised not to sell them. He has gone against independent advice more times in 15 months that Labour Minister’s did in 9 years.

"Quickly kids, before that nasty Mr Gove sells the field off"

Now there is plenty of money to be made out of selling off playing fields and with Mr Gove and his Free Schools experiment there will be far more fields under threat. In Ipswich we have had much written about the failure of IBC, SCC and The Ipswich Academy to come to an agreement about the building of the sports centre. Wonder if Tory run Suffolk County Council will be asking Mr Gove if they can sell off the sports fields at the Holywells site?

So Mr Cameron has now gone on holiday (Mr Gove must have taken a longer holiday, as we have not heard a peep from him – (about playing fields, teaching sport in schools or even exam results!)

Will Mr Gove now resurface? Will he reverse the decision to axe the 2 hours compulsory PE lessons in schools? If he does will he also ensure that Free Schools and academies also have to make sure their pupils also continue to be taught PE?

As Ed Miliband and Andy Burnham have stated – sporting legacy has to be all party – it has to be a long term plan – the Olympics were a success because of that – Blair, Brown, Livingstone and in particular Tessa Jowell started the whole policy and Cameron and John son carried it on – not sure what Hunt did?

In Ipswich we will continue to promote sport but as many councils find (not just Labour ones) it is hard as this Tory/Lib Dem Government continue to cut funding to local authorities )but at the same time telling the public that the sporting legacy is safe)

My final question – what is the Lib Dem views on Sporting Legacy? I ask as they seem to have had little input into the Cameron and Johnson declarations on sporting Legacy or been critical of the plans to sell off sports fields by Mr Gove. Probably concentrating on reform of the House of Lords!