Sunday, 26 February 2012

My week ahead 27 February - 4 March 2012

Monday 27th February 4pm - Culture Portfolio meeting at Grafton House
6pm - Labour Group meeting

Wednesday 29th February 6pm - Ipswich Borough Council, Full Council Meeting

Thursday 1st March 5pm - Rushmere Youth Club - planning meeting

Friday 2nd March 7pm - St Helens School quiz night

Saturday 3rd March 10.30am - Labour campaigning in East Ipswich

This week will see our budget discussed and voted on at the Full Council meeting, we hope that this budget will lead to Ipswich Borough Council starting to build council homes again. It will also see money put into helping get more investment and jobs in the town. We have managed to put these initiatives into the budget whilst still freezing Council Tax.

But do not expect the Ipswich Tories to congratulate us, instead expect some stupid stunt and claims that they would have reduced council tax ( by cutting more services, selling anything they can off and making more staff redundant)

Wednesday night could see an interesting debate in the Council Chamber.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

My week ahead 20 - 26 February 2012

Monday 20 February 1pm - Meeting at Sidegate Primary School
6pm - Labour Group meeting

Tuesday 21 February 5.30pm - Tony McNulty talk at UCS

Saturday 25 February 10.30am - Labour campaigning in South East Ipswich

This week we finished setting the budget for Ipswich that we will put to Full Council at the end of the month. I believe Ipswich residents will see that we have managed to put forward a progressive budget even with the limitations placed on us by the Tory/Lib Dem Government. More information on the budget here.

Over the next few days I will be continuing to talk to residents about the proposal to build a shop on the site of the Golden Key.

Friday, 17 February 2012

Labour run Ipswich Borough Council - a budget for jobs and growth

At the end of the month, Ipswich Borough Council will vote on the first Labour budget for 8 years, certain Tory and Lib Dem commentators were already stating that they thought we would raise Council tax, but even with the cut in grants from the Tory/Lib Dem national government we have managed to freeze council tax.

But we have also manged to produce a budget for jobs and growth, these are the key points;

1. First Labour budget for 8 years
2. A Budget For Jobs and Growth
a) Major investment in jobs and skills
b) First new council houses in over 20 years
3. No cuts to frontline services
4. A freeze in council tax

The establishment of a £1.5million Jobs and Skills Investment Fund. A report to the March Executive will set out how this Fund will focus on:

Up-front and one-off investment in initiatives that will support jobs and skills issues in the next year

Initiatives that would provide a return and enable the creation of a revolving fund

Initiatives that the Council would support over a number of years;

A £5 million a year programme for the provision of new affordable housing – mainly via the construction of the first new council houses in Ipswich in 20 years.

A £1 million revolving fund to bring empty homes back into use;

Reintroduction of renovation grants to support improvements to homes in the private sector.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Golden Key - second planning application

Back in October I helped local residents in their campaign to stop Greene King building a supermarket on the site of the Golden Key pub in Woodbridge Road.

The application was turned down but Greene King have now put in a second application - more details here.

Please contact me with your views on the planning proposal to put a supermarket on the site, I have heard from residents both for and against the proposal, but even those in favour of a store are concerned about the traffic congestion that may be created at what is already a busy junction.

Other than two more windows on the side of the building, there seems to have been very few changes to the original application. I am disappointed that Greene King have not used the last few months to enter into a full consultation with their neighbours. A missed opportunity.

E mail your views by the 20th February -

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Tuition fee increase bad for fledgling university

I do not usually re print my Evening Star column in my blog, but as the two recent 'Star' stories have an interest to people beyond Rushmere Estate, I thought I would

Portsmouth and University Campus Suffolk

A half term football match enables me to combine a visit to my daughter at Portsmouth University and a chance to watch Ipswich on the South coast. Now Portsmouth may be struggling as a football club financially but as a university city it is thriving and both Pompey and Southsea are destinations that many of our young Ipswich residents head for.

As you walk along the Southsea Common you will pass hundreds of students going between the campus and their rented houses in Southsea, we hope that in a few years’ time as we walk along the Waterfront in Ipswich we will pass hundreds of students moving between the UCS Campus and the town centre but there are doubts and the reduction in the number of young people applying for university places is a worry. Even more so with UCS reporting a drop in figures as we know many of their prospective students would be Suffolk residents who have chosen UCS – not only because it is a good university but also so they can keep the cost of studying at university as low as possible by living at home.

Back in December 2010, Ben Gummer spoke in Parliament in favour of raising university tuition fees. Rather paradoxically, he is on record in this debate as saying “the continuation of university campus Suffolk is critical to my voting in favour of these proposals” . How could increased tuition fees improve the financial chances of a fledgling university in the early stages of developing a reputation worthy of such high tuition fees?

Perhaps concerned at their ability to attract student applications, UCS (University College Suffolk) did not utilise the full potential of the tuition fee increase that most universities adopted. In March 2011 they announced tuition fees for UK and European Union full-time undergraduates for 2012 entry at £7,500 for Foundation degrees and £8,000 for Bachelor degrees .

So it seems many of us have been proved right and Ben Gummer wrong, the raising of tuition fees has not helped those who wish to go to university and is certainly harming new universities like UCS as they attempt to follow Portsmouth and become a town that attracts students in their thousands rather than hundreds.

Support talent of the future

I do not usually re print my Evening Star column in my blog, but as the two recent 'Star' stories have an interest to people beyond Rushmere Estate, I thought I would.

Makes you proud

As an Ipswich supporter I always feel even more proud when a Town teams wins with products of our famed Academy in the side. You may wonder what this has to do with North east Ipswich, but currently one of those players who has us feeling good about our football is Luke Hyam a product of Northgate High School. He is not the only Northgate old boy playing in the Championship, with Liam Trotter who was in my daughters class at school not only playing for Millwall but also captaining the side – another Ipswich academy product.

But in the future we may see ex pupils from Northgate, St Albans and Copleston plying their trade up the road in Norwich.

Currently the FA are looking at changing the Academy system and Ipswich town have to decide if they wish to apply for Category 1 Status or Category 2, many Football League clubs will end up only having Category 3 or 4 and some will not bother having an academy at all.

With the money made from the sales of Wickham, Dyer, Bent and others it would seem a no brainer but the Football Club say they have still not decided and that the cost of Category 1 could force them back into administration.

Norwich will go for Category 1 as will some Championship clubs like Watford – I feel we should go for it and make it work, the Ipswich Town Independent Supporters Trust are pushing for Category 1 and over 5,000 signatures on a petition that they will hand into the club asking for us to seek Category 1. I back them fully and not just because I am a football fan but also for the sake of our kids and parents. I want them to be trained and nurtured at Ipswich not up the road in Norwich. Just think of the cost in petrol alone as Ipswich parents traipse up to Norwich or even south to East London.

So if you see Trust members outside the ground at the next few home games, sign the petition. It has been backed by ex-Town players like James Scowcroft and even top football journalists like Henry Winter. If we want to see more Northgate pupils follow in the footsteps of Liam Trotter and Luke Hyam we need to have Category 1 Academy status.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

NHS only safe under Labour

The You Gov poll today shows that few people trust the Tories with the running of the NHS - not a great result for Cameron who spent most of his days in opposition trying to persuade the public that the Tories could now be trusted to look after our health service. He may have persuaded some but the Tory failure to win a majority in May 2010, tell us that he could not persuade everyone.

There was no mention of the current NHS Bill in the Tory manifesto or in the Coalition agreement but within weeks of Cameron moving into Number 10, Lansley was bringing out a detailed document outlining major changes to the NHS.

No surprise to many of us, for all Cameron's attempts the Tories have never been great supporters of the NHS - In the 1940s, the Tories voted against the NHS. Not once, but on the 1st, the 2nd, and 3rd reading of the bill. The Tories FULLY opposed the NHS.

Now some Tories are calling for the NHS Bill to be dropped, this is not because they love the NHS but they see the bill as political suicide, so we have ConservativeHome plus three Tory Ministers calling for the bill to be dropped. Even here in Ipswich, leading Tory Gavin Maclure has called for the bill to be dropped but if you read his comments you can see he has little respect for those who work in the health service, his view on Doctors: "I think GPs are the worst people to be given more power over my health: they are generally rude, arrogant and many are patently incompetent" and he does not care much for our nurses either: "is better performance management of nurses who leave our elderly grandmothers to wallow in their own faeces, and thirsty because they don't provide drinking water"

Now our MP, Ben Gummer has been very silent about the NHS Bill, surprising as when he was trying to be elected he seemed to be at the hospital every other week and you just had to mention the words 'Heath Road' and he would have a comment in the Evening Star. So what does Ben think about the bill? Does he have the same opinion of Doctors and Nurses as his friend Gavin Maclure has?

Should he not tell the Ipswich public why he is supporting the NHS Bill?

Now the local Lib Dems have also been silent, even though one of their leading members is a local Doctor. Daisy Cooper a leading Suffolk Lib Dem has shown her support for the bill to be dropped on twitter but what does she think of her Lib Dem MP's and Ministers? It is three Tory Ministers who are calling for the bill to be dropped, the Lib Dem Ministers remain silent. Simon Hughes has called for Andrew Lansley to be sacked - but only AFTER he has got the bill through.

So it seems the public are right the NHS is not safe under a Tory Government, even one that is propped up by Lib Dems

All I can ask is that you sign the 'Drop the Bill' petition here.

My week ahead 13 - 19 February 2012

Monday 13 February 4pm - Culture Portfolio Meeting
5.30pm - Scrutiny working group on committee reports

Wednesday 15 February 10am - 4pm Suffolk Police Pod, at Selkirk Rd Shops - seeking the views of youngsters about their neighbourhood

Thursday 16 February 6pm - Scrutiny meeting
7.30pm - Ipswich labour Party AGM

Saturday 18 February 10.30am - Labour campaigning in South East Ipswich and Holywells

Snow has not stopped local activists from getting out in Rushmere Ward, currently we are seeking the views of residents about the second planning application to turn the Golden Key into a supermarket.

This week I will be visiting the local SNT Police as they have the Police Pod at Selkirk Road shops this Wednesday. What we hope to find out is what local teenagers would like to see in the area, this will help us continue with our plans to open a new youth club on the Rushmere Estate.

What now seems like a regular weekly event, I have come under yet another attack by a local Tory - if you wish to read his opinion of me you can here. What is surprising is that rumour has it that the Ipswich Tories have selected Kevin to be one of their candidates in the local elections in May. Will be interesting to see what Ipswich residents make of his attacks on other local politicians.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Ipswich suffragettes who refused to be counted in 1911 census

On Friday night I attended a lecture organised by Ipswich Labour on the subject of the suffragette movement in Suffolk.

I first of all was not aiming to blog on the lecture but I found it so interesting I changed my mind but I must apologise if I get some of the facts wrong

Joy Bounds gave the lecture and she had been asked after a number of Labour members had attended an anniversary dinner in Arlington’s in Ipswich last year.

Joy started my showing that Suffolk was a hotbed of women militancy, in 1866 women organised a national petition to ask Parliament to give women the vote- there no signatures on the petition from Norfolk or Cambridgeshire and just 5 from Essex bit in Suffolk 48 women signed the petition.

Many have heard of the Pankhurst family and their involvement in the suffragette movement but Suffolk had their own family of well-known women activists, the Garrett family. The most famous of the sisters was Elizabeth who became the first woman Doctor in England and whose family home was Aldeburgh. The new building at Heath Road Hospital in Ipswich is named after her. She was key supporter of the suffragette movement but decided to keep a low profile so it would not damage her medical career. The suffragette cause was then taken on by her younger sister, Millicent Garrett who went onto marry the blind radical Liberal MP, Henry Fawcett. She went onto become the leader of the National Union of Woman’s Suffrage Societies.
This would lead Millicent to spend much time in London but Ipswich was home to its own branch of the NUWSS, with an office in Arcade Street. The local leader was Constance Andrews who spent a week in the Ipswich jail after refusing to pay her dog license! On her release she was met by large crowds who then followed her to Arcade Street for a celebration breakfast.

In 1911, the socialist MP John Burns had come up the idea of a national census this he hoped would highlight the level of infant mortality. Many of the suffragettes agreed with what Mr Burns wanted to achieve so it was surprising that they went forward with the plan to boycott the census. They could do this by refusing to answer any questions on the census or to be away from home on the night of the census. Though many agreed with the census they were also annoyed by the Liberal Prime Minister, Asquith who was a fierce opponent of the vote for women.

So in 1911 a number of Ipswich women suffragettes met at the old Museum which by then had become an auctioneers and spent the night there (now the location of Arlingtons in Museum Street). The census records that 21 women and 5 men spent the night there but the local paper reported that figure of 30 suffragettes spent the night in the old Museum, debating and singing protest songs.

The failure of Asquith to support the suffragette movement led to the suffragettes backing Labour candidates in the election in 1912.

This is not the last tale of the suffragette fight in Suffolk, in 1914 tow suffragettes burnt down the Bath Hotel in Felixstowe, leading both women being sent to jail. Many of the suffragettes who were jailed then went on hunger strike, but they were then force fed and it even caused the Liberal Government to bring in the ‘Cat and Mouse’ Law, this would come into force when a suffragette was force fed, when she became very ill she would be sent home only to be sent back to jail once she had recovered her health so she could finish her sentence.

So Ipswich and Suffolk should be very proud of these brave women who made Suffolk such a stronghold for the suffragette movement. Thinking of my late Mother and those women who served on the council with her and the current female Ipswich Councillors, it is obvious that we still have the same strong willed women in the Labour movement.

More information on local suffragettes can be found here and here.

Libraries still under threat

Yesterday was National Library Day and the staff at Rosehill Library put on another great day of events, there were similar activities over in west Ipswich at Westbourne Library.

But there are still many concerns about how our libraries in Ipswich will survive, the Tory County Council have pushed through their plans to run the service as an Industrial Provident Service. Now you would think as a Labour member,I would be right behind a co-operative type movement running the service. But there are so many un-answered questions about how exactly they will run. The appointment of Clive Fox and other board members by Judy Terry will not help as Fox and others have been very critical of the groups that were set up to help save the library service.

But is is not just in Suffolk that we have problems, it seems the Tories nationally are running down every library service. This has led to The children's laureate's Julia Donaldson writing a poem protesting against planned library closures across the UK.

The Gruffalo author wrote a 22-line rhyming couplet which includes the lines like "Read that book, and if you're bitten, you can borrow all the other ones the author's written".

Donaldson, 62, said she wanted to make a serious point in a fun way.

Campaigners say hundreds of libraries face closure due to funding cuts, with some local groups taking legal action.

The author's poem, released to mark National Libraries Day, describes them as places to "meet your heroes, old and new, from William the Conqueror to Winnie the Pooh".

She finishes by saying: "Yes, come to the library! Browse and borrow, and help make sure it'll still be here tomorrow."

Donaldson said it was more interesting to write a poem about her love of libraries than write "an earnest article" about it.

"If we lose libraries, we would lose readers and we would become a less literate country," she said.

My week ahead 6 - 12 February 2012

Monday 6th February 6pm - Labour Group meeting

Saturday 11th February 10.30am - Labour campaigning, East Ipswich

This week the Labour Group will continue to look at out planned budget for 2012/13 - we understand that these are hard times for Ipswich residents but also know that we can't rely on this Tory/Lib Dem Government to help with kick starting our local economy. We aim to help the Ipswich economy plus follow through with our plans to start building new council houses in Ipswich.

Good news this week for Rushmere Ward, with a good first meeting of the new management committee for the proposed Youth Club for Rushmere Estate behind us. we now want to hear what the teenagers want. The local police team will have their info pod set up by the Selkirk Road shops on Wednesday the 15th February, so we can ask teenagers what they want from their youth club.

Not so good news is that Greene King have put in a second planning application to turn the Golden Key on Woodbridge Road into a shop, other than a couple of extra windows there seems little change to the original plan that was thrown out last year. No thought seems to have been put into solving the congestion problems that a store would produce.

I will be asking local residents for their views on the subject.