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.