Wednesday 24 December 2014

Happy Christmas

From my former Regiment- The Royal Green Jackets - thought it would be poignant as this year we remember the centenary of the start of the First World War

Happy Christmas to Rushmere residents and all readers of this blog!

Sunday 21 December 2014

Plenty of hot wind - where is that turbine when you need it?

This week our neighbouring council, Babergh turned down a planning application for a wind turbine. The application was originally meant for two turbines one of which would have been on IBC owned land. That plan was dropped so the application was just for one turbine on farmland owned by a well known Suffolk family (who included amongst their clan, a Suffolk Tory MP)

The Tory leader in Ipswich, Cllr Cenci was quick to take to social media to tell everyone that the application had been turned down and was also quick to mention that no South West Ipswich Labour councillors had attended.

Cllr Cenci has campaigned for more than a year to see the turbines not built but she was never that keen to mention that she was part of the executive that had signed the deal with the turbine company originally. She was keen for the council to renege on the contract even if it meant that the council would be then liable for costs and a possible compensation claim.

With family living in an area that would have been able to see the turbine from their houses I know that some residents were actually keen to see the turbine but the Tory leader was keen to see the turbine rejected. Where this desire sits with Mr Cameron and his ‘Green’ credentials, I am not sure.

But even forgetting that Cllr Cenci had been a member of the executive that had signed the contract with the turbine company what annoyed me was her tweeting about the non attendance of Labour councillors at the Babergh planning meeting. What she seemed to forget was that on the same day was the Ipswich Planning meeting where 4 South West Labour councillors were attending, but she seemed to think they could miss the meeting (the one they are elected to serve on) as it was just ‘a run of the mill’ planning meeting. Not sure the residents of Brunswick Road would agree as the committee examined an application to build a house in what many would call a ‘back yard’ development.

Now I myself have tweeted about the absence of opposition councillors at meetings – but these were at our own councils meetings – the meetings that we are elected to serve on not those in another District. I mentioned this to Cllr Cenci as she had failed to attend a housing panel the week before, she had a valid excuse as she was working – but maybe the other Labour councillors who were not at our own planning committee were also working. But if Cllr Cenci is now going to be checking the attendance at meetings I hope we may see a Tory at the next East Housing panel, as not one of the 6 Tories in East Ipswich could attend, we did receive belated apologies from one but you would have thought one of the other 5 could have substituted. So maybe Cllr Cenci needs to make sure her own group turn up for meetings before she highlights the lack of Labour councillors at a meeting that they did not even have to attend!

Sunday 14 December 2014

My week ahead, 15 - 20 December 2014

Monday 15 December, 4pm – Culture and Leisure portfolio meeting
7pm – Labour Group

Wednesday 1t December, 20m – Visit to Military Charity at Imperial War Museum

Thursday 18 December, 6pm – Borough Scrutiny meeting

Saturday 20 December, 10am – Labour campaigning in East Ipswich

Last week I mentioned that the meetings I was planning to attend during the week have been poorly supported by the Lib Dems and the Tories in the past. Well, the pattern of non-attendance continued.

The first meeting on Monday was the Culture and Leisure working group – an important meeting as we were discussing the budget but the Lib Dem member failed to turn up or send their apologies but I am sure that will not stop the Lib Dems commenting on the budget in the New Year. At least the Tories did turn up if at times it was embarrassing for them when discussing having to cut spending on items that should in truth be funded by the Tory run County Council.

By Thursday the non - attendance bug had spread as we had our final Housing Panel meetings of the year, the East Panel saw both the Tories and the Lib Dems fail to turn up or tend their apologies and the South West Panel was also devoid of opposition councillors. At least the Tories from the North West did turn up for the panel meeting but it was disappointing that not one opposition councillor was in attendance later in the evening for the 2014 Tenant Awards.

The panel meetings were also the first opportunity for both councillors and tenants to discuss the planned council rents for next year, even know there was a lack of Tory councillors at the panel meetings I am sure it will not stop them criticising us when the subject of council rents comes to full council.

Interesting to see if the Lib Dems turn up for Scrutiny this week!

On a more positive note, it was good to join 6th Formers from Northgate School on Saturday as they planted fruit trees on a piece of land near Sidegate Lane. The pupils with help and funding from the Borough Council and the Area Committee have turned a piece of waste land into a small community garden.

Sunday 7 December 2014

My week ahead, 8 - 14 December 2014

Monday 8 December, 7pm – Culture and Leisure Working Group

Wednesday 10 December, 6pm – East Ipswich Housing group

Thursday 11 December, 6pm – Area Committee Chair meeting

Saturday 13 December, 11am – Tree planting at community allotment, Inverness Rd with Northgate pupils

Christmas is getting closer but the fast pace of life continues and it is still meeting after meeting as this is the time of year when we become focused on setting next year’s budget.

I hope the opposition groups decided to become involved in the budget setting procedure; we have offered them the opportunity to contribute over the last three years with differing results. Some working groups have seen the two opposition groups fully contribute but other budget setting meetings have seen little contribution.

We were never offered the opportunity to contribute when the Tories/Lib Dems were in power but we felt from the start that it was important to involve all councillors.

Which make the comments from the Tories about secret deals and behind closed door meetings so unbelievable. From talking to a number of Tories, when they were in power their own group were not even informed of what was going on, all the power sat in the laps of a only three councillors.

We also have an East Housing Panel meeting this week and it has been noticeable that in the last 18 months the opposition groups have started to attend. Maybe they were given a hint that attending maybe a good idea after their former Housing spokesman made a comment at Full Council that indicated he did not even know that certain Tory councillors were members of the Housing panels.

Wednesday 3 December 2014

Suffolk SAY

Tonight I joined colleague Sandy Martin in attending and youth community event at Northgate School - was brilliant to hear what our young residents think and was so impressed in their view that mental health should be an issue given much more consideration by both schools and councils.

I look forward to further meetings and also for those young people to get more involved in the North East Area Committee.

We are lucky to have such passionate young residents in this town - thanks to @SuffolkSAY for their involvement.

Rhetoric - something Cameron is good at

Failed promises from 2010, the deficit target, immigration target but it is OK as the Ipswich Tory leader tells me she thinks it is OK to make these promises and not keep them as they are just 'aspirational' aims.

That is OK then, just promise what you want in your manifesto as it does not matter if you can't deliver it!

Sunday 30 November 2014

My week ahead, 1 - 7 December 2014

Monday 1 December, 4pm – Culture portfolio meeting
5pm – North East Area Committee agenda setting meeting
6pm – Labour campaigning

Wednesday 3 December, 5pm – Students Question Time, Northgate School

Saturday 6 December, 10am – Labour campaigning in South East Ipswich

This week all eyes will be on Westminster and the chancellor making his Autumn statement and it seems it will be full of election bribes, after 4 years of telling us there is no money in the pot it seems billions have been found. Starting with money for the NHS, which they will hope will get them through the winter with A & E Departments expected to be at crisis level.

Money will also be found for infrastructure projects, with Norfolk expected to get further money for A11 improvements, where here in Suffolk we are unlikely to hear of any funding for a Northern by-pass as Poulter and Gummer would rather have excuses for not building much needed family homes when they should be lobbying for funding for a Northern Link Road.

Disappointingly the Green Party in Suffolk also seem keen to join the NIMBY brigade and see no built in the north of the town. They seem to have no alternative sites in mind.

What I am looking forward to this week is the Student Question Time being held at Northgate School, I do believe all elected representatives have a duty to try and increase the number of people who are both interested in politics and also who will then vote – and there is no better way to start than with our younger residents.

Sunday 23 November 2014

Why do the Tories hate the young so much?

At the Ipswich Full Council meeting last week the Labour run council proposed to raise the pay of council employed apprentices. Recently we had become a living wage employer a fact we were proud of but by raising wages of all our staff so they earn at least the living wage it seemed right to also raise our apprentices pay.

The wage rise had been looked at in depth, supported by a (all party) council working group and the figures had been checked to make sure we could pay the rise from our budget.

Not sure anyone thought this would be contentious and all thought the proposal would fly through with all party support, but before we could vote we were suddenly handed out (a badly worded) Tory amendment.

We aimed to raise our apprentice pay from £2.73 to £3.82 in the first year and then from £5.13 to £7.18 in the second and in Year 3 from £6.50 to £7.85.

The badly Tory written amendment proposed a first year rise from £2.73 to £3.79 but unless you had the pay table in your hands could have been easily misconstrued to think there were no further rises in Yr 2 and 3 and actually a pay cut from existing pay rates.

But once you found table 2.11 you could see there were further wage increases in Year 2 and 3 but far below what Labour were proposing.

So why? Tory leader Cllr Cenci was concerned that the Borough would now have the best pick of all apprentices and that other firms would now be forced to increase their rates of pay, she informed us she understood this as her own partner, a local plumber employs apprentices – but I still could not detect any good reason from her for not paying the rise.

She had young Tory Councillor Eddie Phillips second her amendment and he spoke in support of it, he made a hash of it to say the least and seemed to imply that young Ipswich residents would be happy to get any job and would not be worried about the rate of pay.

Now Cllr Phillips is a Union rep at AXA, and I believe they employ apprentices, not sure those young apprentices will now be totally confident that Eddie Phillips is standing up for them as their union representative rather than supporting the employer!

So why do Ipswich Tories like their leaders in Westminster hate the young so much?? Maybe because unlike our senior residents, they don’t vote?


Cllr Cenci is not happy with this post and has asked me to add her own comments to the post- which I am happy to do:

What I actually was stating is that I didn't understand why we had so many vacancies when I know that employers are inundated with requests for apprenticeships. In other words it's not money that is the reason for our vacancies in my opinion. I asked the question of how are we proactively seeking young people and are we partnering the job centre. No reply.
Just because some, like my husband, can afford to pay above minimum apprenticeship wages, doesn't mean all businesses can and my concern is that if we send out the message that this is the right thing, less apprenticeship positions will be available.

My week ahead, 24 - 30 November 2014

Monday 24 November, 10am – Planning visit to Ravenswood
7pm – Labour curry night

Wednesday – 26 November, 9am –- Ipswich Borough Council – Planning meeting

Thursday 27 November, 10am – Labour campaigning
7pm - ‘Your Army’ presentation at Wattisham Flying Station

Sunday 30 November, 11am - Labour campaigning in North West Ipswich

Still slightly in shock from the actions of the Tory Group at the last council meeting, and slightly puzzled that one local blogger thought the Tories asked good questions!

Some were also critical that Labour backbenchers did not contribute to the item about the local plan, but we need to remember this meeting was just approving the sending of the plan to consultation. When the plan comes back to council to be adopted that will be the time for councillors to discuss the issue.

But not surprised that some local commentators were confused as the Lib Dems also did not seem to understand the process as they voted against sending the plan to local consultation. The Tories were also concerned about the consultation process asking for it to be longer but it is already twice the length of time recommended by the Government – so why are they against it? A combination of Nimbyisim and the desperate attempt to seek votes. The Tory and Lib Dem Government rightfully tells us there is a shortage of housing in this country but both the Ipswich Tories and the local Lib Dems seems to be hell bent on stopping or delaying any plan to build new homes in the Borough. Add this to same neighbouring Tory Districts reluctance to build (unless they can stick the houses right on the edge of the town) houses it just makes the housing situation more difficult for Ipswich residents in particular the younger members of our community but as I will mention later the local Tories seems as keen as the Tory Government to inflict pain on our younger residents.

We then had a question on Sunday car parking, slightly strange when again as a Labour Group we have done more to improve car parking the town that the Tories ever did – ‘Quids in’ promotion and the new Regent Car Park as two examples. Plus as Cllr Smart informed the Tory questioner, on a Sunday on street parking is available.

Then we had the latest Tory ‘youngster bashing’ as the Tories put forward an amendment to our proposed pay rise for council employed apprentices, for some very strange reasoning the local Tories were not happy for our young constituents to get a much deserved pay rise!

Sunday 16 November 2014

Ransomes the truth not Tory lies!

For some reason the Tories continue to peddle lies about the future of Ransomes Sports Ground – you would think by now they would admit that they were barking up the wrong tree and support the council in the future plans for the site. But instead we continue to get lies and deliberate misinformation promoted via leaflets, blog posts and comments from prominent Ipswich Tories about the future of Ransomes.

The latest tirade of untruths come (no surprise) from the former Tory councillor for the ward, Judy Terry. Now I am sure that a number of Ipswich Tories know that Mrs Terry is being very economical with the truth but their leader informs me that she can’t stop former Cllr Terry from giving her ‘opinion’ but you would think she would possibly ask her candidates for the council next year not to repeat the accusations as she is well aware that a new pavilion is being built on the site and that we have (and never did) have any intention of building a council estate on Ransomes Sports field.. But she seems to think it is OK for Tory activists to give Mrs Terry a platform to continue her campaign of misinformation as by posting her version of events it does not mean they agree with her!

Last month, Mrs Terry used her ‘Flyer’ column to be very critical of politicians – so you may understand my anger when she continues to be very economical herself with the truth in her latest rant about Ransomes.

Let us look at some of her comments;

First of you may wonder how much Mrs Terry knows about Ransomes as she sates it is in Sidegate lane – in fact it is in Sidegate Avenue.

She then states IBC had a fierce legal battle with the clubs management – fact is we had a legal dispute with one person – the site manager.

She is right in stating the clubhouse has been condemned and is now being demolished but forgets to mention that the various sports clubs are very happy with the new changing rooms – temporary but far better that what they had before.

She also mentions we will not talk to local football club Ipswich Valley Rangers, who were interested in the site – wrong again, we have and still are talking to Ipswich Valley Rangers, and helped facilitate their move back to the town from their former ground in Melton and they now play on IBC owned pitch at Gainsborough. As Ransomes FC play in the same league not as easy as Mrs Terry would think – moving one club in and asking another club to leave.

She also states there has been no consultation with residents – the residents of the three closest roads have had regular newsletter delivered to them to keep them informed of what is actually happening rather than them having to listen to Tory canvassers inform them we were planning to build a council estate on the site!

Then we have yet further proof to show that she has little knowledge of what actually happens at Ransomes or the local sports scene ( disappointing as that used to be her portfolio!)

Judy Terry comments (Ransomes) has thrived, with hundreds of youngsters, as well as adults, coaching and playing sport every evening and at weekends – and all day in the school holidays. Now, this level of activity is just a distant memory; a great loss to the community

Distant memory? I called in today, a packed car park and youth and adult football matches being played side by side. School holidays – football courses were run by ex ITFC player Jason Dozzell before we took the club back over and guess what? Every holiday since Jason has continued to run his football courses at Ransomes .

Ransomes this morning - still thriving

I attended Ransomes on a Sunday at the end of last season, and there were hundreds of children playing football with their parents and families watching – As Ransomes successfully hosted the end of season local youth football league finals.

She mentions a Labour leaflet where we accuse the Tories of wanting to build houses on the sports ground – as I have delivered 90% of the leaflets in that area, I can’t remember one! Best bit is she then states she did want to build houses on the site! (The Tory candidate who blogged this misinformation is not sure if that is still Tory policy)

What Tory Judy Terry forgets to tell readers is as telling as the information she does give out.

One sports club has left the site, the Bowls Club, who were forced out by the old club management, they were soon followed by the sequence dancing club – even though they had raised much of the money needed to keep the hall up to standard. IBC has since found a new home for the dancing club at Gainsborough.

The cricket ground had already stopped being used by the County after the old groundsman was forced out by the club management.

She gives IBC no credit for planning to build a new pavilion or restoring the memorial gates. She talks about making the club a community social enterprise – does she not read local papers? St Clement’s, John Player (Bourne Vale) all local sports clubs having problems. Multi sports clubs are hard to run, football and cricket seasons now overlap, very few players play both sports their is always friction between sections and that friction is where probably Ransomes went wrong with the bowls club being the first victims of that inability to work together.

As both a local councillor and a sports fans I will continue to campaign hard for the future of Ransomes, I look forward to the new pavilion opening, the newly restored Memorial Gates being placed back on Sidegate Avenue and the continued success of Ransomes Football Club, Ransomes Youth FC, St Margaret’s Cricket Club.

But none of that will be made easier by the local Tories continuing to spread rumours and scare residents with talk of housing estates being built on the site.

Cllr Cenci the Tory leader seems happy for one of candidates to continue to help spread lies about the future of Ransomes - he seems to do it every year. A post he did last year upset a member of the cricket club so much that he wrote to Mr Algar who maybe not surprisingly did not post this sportsman's view of what is really happening at Ransomes, and the writer is not only a member of Ransomes but also lives in a house that backs onto the site!

Worth posting his reply to Mr Algar again , maybe Cllr Cenci and Mrs Terry should read it!

Dear Mr Alger

I have recently read your blog dated 25th April 2014, concerning Ransomes Social Club and the apparent labour agenda under the leadership of David Ellesmere as the parliamentary candidates to eventual use the land as a building site.

I feel compelled to email you to express at first hand the inaccuracies of your article and politely request you retract elements of your blog. As a member of St Margaret's Cricket club for over 10 years we had witnessed at first hand the unfortunate decline of standards and facilities over recent years. In the 2013 season, we did not have hot water at times, electrics were in a dangerous state of repair and asbestos was rife throughout the building (to name but a few). Financially, one could argue, the club was being mismanaged and no longer financially viable.

When the Ipswich Borough Council took over the grounds with a labour run local government we (along with the other sports teams) had some real reservations about political interference initially. As a resident, with my property backing onto the land, I was concerned. However, we had consultation meetings, our committee members met with the council and labour representatives regularly and we have continued with these dialogues. Slowly my worries have somewhat eased.

Let's examine how things look in late April 2014. The Ipswich Borough Council under the labour leadership of David Ellesmere with councillor Mr Ross, Ms Rudkin &Mr Grant have done the following within the past few months.

1. Rightly condemned the building due to safety reasons to protect the public
2. Hired the correct equipment for maintaining the ground
3. Improved facilities by adding quality temporary facilities with showers and toilets
4. Improved the electricity and water supplies
5. Improved our meeting room with new kitchen equipment
6. Cutting the ground regularly
7. Ensured that cleaning is done regularly of the changing rooms and to a high standard

I could not be happier with the progress and could not have asked for more from the council. I have had letters reassuring me the council have no plans to build on this land. The money being spent on this and the time and effort seems to overwhelmingly support these statements. The futures, is looking brighter with the community rightly taking a more active role within collaborative with all parities.

Your comments in my opinion are unsubstantiated with a lack of primary evidence and personal experience. I urge you to readdress the blog at your earliest opportunity. In my opinion, Ransomes Sports & Social Club as a community sports area should not be used as a political football, particularly as in my opinion on this occasion Mr Alger you have scored an own goal!

Yours sincerely

Carl Fitch

If the Tory leader is happy for lies to be spread about Ransomes by one of her council candiadtescan we trust what her councilors and candidates say about the Northern Fringe of any other issue that involves the residents of Ipswich?

Then again Tory candidate Mr Algar also once posted about his own Tory Group " Then you have the Tory ‘opposition’ - utterly shambolic and pathetically weak. One of the reasons Ipswich Conservatives abstain in votes so often is the fact that they have no policies and don’t believe there is a need for any" - so maybe he gets his facts right some time!

My week ahead, 17 - 22 November 2014

Wednesday – 19 November, 2pm – Labour campaigning in East Ipswich
6pm - Ipswich Borough Council – Full Council meeting

Thursday 20 November, 10am – Suffolk Labour media training

Saturday 22 November, 10am - Labour campaigning in South East Ipswich

On Friday I attended the first Military Veterans event organised by the councils involved with the Suffolk Military Community Covenant, and the event seemed to me to be a great success with a good turnout of veterans, regular and reserve troops and various charities and agencies that work with or on behalf of veterans and the military community.

Much of the success was down to the work of Jim Brown, a County Officer (and a veteran in his own right) who had not only got the right people on board but also made sure veterans knew about the event.

Veterans do not want something for nothing just what they deserve with the recognition that many of their needs are different to the rest of the population, but we are not just after a hand out. Many of those representing charities and agencies were veterans themselves or family members. As I arrived as Trinity Park I was met on reception by a former member of my regiment who had taken a day’s holiday from his job to help man the reception. Ex soldiers will always be the first to help former soldiers.

We will hope to repeat the event in 2015, next time in the west of the county. I felt privileged to attend and to have been able to secure some funding from the Mayor of Ipswich towards hosting the day.

Sunday 9 November 2014

My week ahead, 10 - 16 November 2014

Monday – 10 November, 6pm – Labour campaigning

Wednesday – 12 November, 6pm – North East Area Partnership Group meeting
7pm – North East Area Committee, St John’s URC Church, Cowper Street

Thursday 13 November, 7pm – Lecture on poetry of the First World War

Friday 14 November, 10am Armed Forces Veterans Event, Trinity Park

Today has always been important to my family, as a small child we always joined my dad at Christchurch Park for the Remembrance Day service, later we would watch with pride as he carried the Korean Veterans standard to the cenotaph.

Since I left the army it has also become important to me to attend and remember those from my own regiment who have lost their lives on active service and in particular some very close friends.

This morning as the last post was played I thought of Paul Harding who lost his life in Basra, Iraq – not only a friend but also a role model and one of the most professional soldiers I have served with. Taff Addison was also in my thoughts, an ex soldier who was murdered by the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Paul Harding - Green Jacket legend

But for many, it is not only today that they remember those who died or were wounded; they have to live every day with reminders of conflicts. So I am pleased that as a council we will be supporting the county council as they hold their first veterans event at Trinity Park on Friday. I am looking forward to joining the Mayor as we share a cup of tea and chat about military life. But this is not just a social event as we will be joined by agencies and charities as we join together to offer veterans advice and help.

Kohima Epitaph

"When You Go Home, Tell Them Of Us And Say,
For Their Tomorrow, We Gave Our Today"

Sunday 26 October 2014

My week ahead, 27 October - 1 November 2014

Monday – 27 October, 2pm – Meeting about car parking outside schools in East Ipswich
4pm – Labour campaigning in East Ipswich
6pm – Labour Group

Tuesday – 28 October, 10am – Social Media training with Labour County Group

Wednesday – 29 October, 10am and 2pm – Labour campaigning in Rushmere Ward, Ipswich

Another week of campaigning ahead as we get our message over to the residents of Ipswich. We know we have to work hard as unlike the Tories we do not have national newspapers willing able to print propaganda, thinly disguised as a new story. The recent serialisation by the Mail of news (?) items about the NHS in Wales is just one example. Fortunately the local paper here in Ipswich is far more neutral and thankfully did not go overboard with coverage of Gummer Island.

Talking of Gummer Island, it reminded of another farfetched scheme – Boris Island, the idea of an airport on reclaimed land in the Thames estuary, that seemed at the time to be just a plan to get news coverage (and votes) but with little chance of it ever happening – very similar to Gummer Island.

What would be more beneficial for Ipswich is if our two Tory MPs put pressure on the Government and the Tory County Council to build a northern by-pass – but as that would mean Poulter doing something for Ipswich residents it is unlikely ever to happen.

Saturday 18 October 2014

My week ahead, 20 - 26 October 2014

Monday – 20 - 24 October, North Wales, walking expedition

Saturday – 25 October, 10am - Labour campaigning, South West Ipswich

Sunday - 26 October, 11am - Labour campaigning, North West Ipswich

I have a few days away in Wales, near Cader Idris, a good opportunity to re-charge batteries before continuing the fight against the Tories.

Our Tory MP seems to be keeping a low profile, a number of strange leaflets coming from his activists, on transport and education both boasting of achievements but not all those seem correct.

Other than the leaflets, we have not seen much of Mr Gummer, maybe something to do with the problems facing the new care home in Chantry, the one that only a few months ago he was stating was the ‘best he had ever seen’ – seems he may not be the best judge of care homes in the county.

Wednesday 15 October 2014

More reasons why we need a Labour Government

Tory councilor comments "I have a number of mentally damaged individuals, who to be quite frank aren’t worth the Minimum Wage,"

We then have a Tory Minister stating that the Tory councillor is raising good point!!

Whilst here in Suffolk we have a Tory councilor light heartedly stating that a current Children's Centre (under threat of Tory closure) would make a nice wine bar!!

Sunday 12 October 2014

My week ahead, 13 - 19 October 2014

Monday – 13 October, 2pm - Campaigning on road safety in Rushmere Ward
6pm – Labour Group campaigning, South West Ipswich

Wednesday – 15 October, 2pm – Visit to youth activities at Copleston School

Thursday – 16 October, 10am – Labour campaigning, South East Ipswich
6pm – Scrutiny meeting

Saturday – 18 October, 10am - Labour campaigning, South East Ipswich

Sunday - 19 October, 11am - Labour campaigning, North West Ipswich

The results in Clacton and Manchester has lead many locally as well as nationally to focus on UKIP – Some on our side have even suggested that we mimic UKIP with a more anti immigration stance but I do not believe that is the way ahead – like Yvette Cooper we do not need to mimic them (leave that to the Tories) we need to fight them.

The UKIP support of most Tory policies at Suffolk County Council just highlights that UKIP are just the far right wing of the Tory Party. We need to show voters in Ipswich that they have supported the majority of Tory actions both on education and health.

We must also continue to fight the Tories and here in Ipswich (and Suffolk ) one area where the Tories have let down residents is the way they have handled education – their only project ‘Raising the Bar’ is a total failure and this week we have had the embarrassing (for Tory run Suffolk) state of affairs of Primary School Head teachers writing to the county to inform them they have no confidence in the Tory run education system – and the response from the Tories?

Almost total silence, no comments from the Tory Cabinet in Suffolk, a few anti teacher comment from local MPs and in Ipswich the Tory leader took to twitter to highlight issues in Dorset and Devon!!!

'Heads in the sand' attitude by the Tories, and at the same time as the letter from Head Teachers, Labour County Councillor, Mandy Gaylard was organising a pram push from Quayside Children’s centre to the Chatterbox Children’s centre, the Tories are planning to close a children’s cenre but are dressing it up as a merger. It took us 45 minutes to walk between the tow and we had to cross a umber of roads including the busy Foxhall Rd and it included a steep hill! The question I would like to ask has any Tory attempted to walk between the two – maybe Ben Gummer should push his own new baby in a pram between the two centres – he would then see how stupid the Tory plan is!

Sunday 5 October 2014

My week ahead, 6 - 12 October 2014

Monday – 6 October, 4pm – Culture Portfolio briefing
6pm – Labour Group campaigning, South West Ipswich

Thursday – 9 October, 10am – Labour campaigning, South East Ipswich
6pm – Area Committee Chairs meeting

Friday – 10 October, 10am – Pram Push – from Quayside to Chatterbox Children’s Centre

Saturday – 11 October, 10am - Labour campaigning, North East Ipswich

The usual mix of meeting and campaigning but also i have my first organised ‘Pram Push’ where I will join parents of the Quayside and Chatterbox Children’s Centres as they push their prams between the two centres. I am sure there are many ‘Pram Push’ events all over the country, often to raise much needed funds or to support some other charity. But this ‘Pram Push’ is to highlight the distance between the two locations as the Tory run County Council look to merge both centres and has been organised by parents and Mandy Gaylard the hard working County Councillor for the Waterfront area.

Now we all understand that the County Council needs to save money as they face further funding cuts from their fellow Tories at Westminster but what sticks in the throat about this cut/saving is that in 2010, Mr Gummer pulled a schoolboy type protest prank when he and fellow young Tory activists (where are they now??) ambushed Harriet Harman as she visited Ipswich. He was unhappy as nationally Labour were telling voters that the Tories would close Children’s Centres and as we have seen all over the country we have been proven right. Here in Ipswich we have already had one closure, but somehow Mr Gummer has dressed this up as not a closure but just the re-location of services from a purpose built Children’s Centre to a small room in a library.

Not sure parents are going to fall for the line’ this is not a closure, just a merger’ this time – but then again his paternity leave must be nearly over now or he could even bring his own pram along and see how difficult it is to push a/his pram from the Waterfront to the top of Foxhall Rd (hills included)

Sunday 28 September 2014

Should we have ordered air strikes on Iraq?

Ben Gummer (our Tory MP) has a regular column in or local paper, the Ipswich Star – some have been informative, some interesting and some poor but I would describe this week’s offering as both atrocious and pompous.

He started his column telling us about the birth of his son but then seemed to used most of the time making excuses for his son not being born in Ipswich, quite sad that he feels he has to do this I am positive no one in Ipswich Labour would have made any sort of issue about his wife giving birth in London, in fact most of us would not have been surprised by the news as we would expect Mr Gummer to spend more time in London than he does in Ipswich and as his wife is also from London not sure his son not being born in Ipswich is any sort of a story at all, but I am not being critical of Mr Gummer explaining why his son was not born in Ipswich I am just disappointed that the way modern politics is going that he thought he needed to explain the details of the birth of his son.

But what made me angry was the second part of his column – Ben Gummer used the second half of his column explaining why he was going to vote for air strikes in Iraq, he even went further to say that he believed we should also be bombing ISIS in Syria. Now I do believe Mr Gummer was right to use his column to tell Ipswich residents of why he was going to vote to allow our forces to enter the conflict though I was surprised that he was willing to state how he was going to vote before he listened and joined in the debate at Westminster.

I like Mr Gummer would have voted for Britain to join the coalition so him voting for us to join the US and others in bombing Northern Iraq but it was the pompous manner he put over his view and how he then used the column to not only attack Putin and Farage but also the Labour leader Ed Miliband,

The pomposity of his column was highlighted to me by what seemed him showing off, by describing the theatre of operations as Northern Mesopotamia. Now I may expect someone with an Oxbridge history degree to know what this part of Iraq was formally called and maybe even use that knowledge to understand some of the tribal and territorial issues that make this such a volatile region to live in but you would have just thought he would have called the area Northern Iraq rather than Mesopotamia.

To me it came over pompous and showing off and that is the last sort of reaction you should be after when explaining why you have voted to commit our Armed forces to combat.

Then after getting over his pomposity we had the attack on Ed Miliband, stating that the situation in the region now and the rise of ISIS is down to Ed and Labour MPs not voting to order air strikes on Iraq last year. What rubbish and he also seems to forget that a large number of Tory MPs also voted not to go to war in Syria and they were not your usual ‘little Englander’ Tory rebels.

Many including me actually believe that ISIS would have even been stronger if we had attacked Assad, the trouble is the Syrian rebels have never been united and ISIS was already attacking other Syrian rebel groups at the time of that last vote. My view is shared by many and a Labour MP asked Ed Miliband a leading question that indicated he had the same view but instead of Ed using his answer as an excuse to attack Cameron, instead he said the debate was about ordering air strikes on Iraq now not debating what would have happened if we had voted for action last year. The answer of Ed Miliband was statesmanlike, the sort of answer you would expect from a politician when such a grave matter as sending British planes into action was the subject of the debate. I am afraid our own Tory MP decided to use the vote as an opportunity to score cheap political points.

What Mr Gummers column does come over is one of desperation as he knows the tide is against him in Ipswich

I did state earlier that I, like Mr Gummer would have voted for air strikes in Iraq and like Mr Gummer agree that the RAF should be able to follow and then bomb targets into Syria but that is not to say that I applaud Mr Cameron for the stance he has taken in fact he has just failed to show any sort of leadership over the matter.

The coalition has been in action for a number of weeks but Mr Cameron did not see fit to recall Parliament earlier.

Like Mr Gummer and myself, I believe Mr Cameron believes we should also take action in Syria but he does not have the confidence to be even sure that he can persuade his own party to support him let along persuade his coalition colleagues or Labour or any other smaller political groups, a fact that Mr Hauge seemed to admit on the BBC this morning.

Former Generals and Air Commanders have been critical of Cameron, with one stating that to defeat ISIS it will need ‘boots on the ground’ and another senior ex British General with a former NATO command also being very critical of Cameron, the General disappointed in the way we have left others to lead not only in the battle against ISIS but also in the Ukraine conflict but that is the direct consequence of the drastic cuts to our Armed Forces by the Tories.

We have committed 6 planes to the mission over Iraq, less than Denmark and Australia. Mr Cameron does needs to learn that once you reduce the size of your armed forces you will find that you can no longer expect to be seen as one of the key decision makers in NATO, Europe or the UN.

It does not mean that just deploying armed forces is the only thing we can do as a country to help the situation in Iraq/Syria, we should be proud of the help we have given in overseas aid, something we would not be able to do in the future if Tory right wingers get their way and our aid budget is reduced but there is even more we can do – we are helping the refugees on the ground in both Turkey and Iraq but what I found both surprising but then more embarrassing is that by June this year only 43 Syrian refugees have been allowed to enter this country!

In the late 30’s many politicians did not cover themselves in glory with their willingness to appease Hitler (you can also add the Daily Mail to that list) but many of the British public did not just sit and do nothing, and I am sure many of us have been through Liverpool Street station and have looked at the statues that were erected to remember the Jewish children rescued by the Kindertransport’ – when you lean the story of those children, the contribution to British life by those children rescued it does make a total of 43 Syrian refugees accepted seem quite pathetic.

My week ahead, 29 September - 4 October 2014

Monday – 29 September, 6pm – Labour Group campaigning, South West Ipswich

Wednesday – 1 October, 2pm – Labour campaigning in East Ipswich

Thursday – 2 October, 6pm – Ipswich Borough Scrutiny meeting

Saturday – 4 October, 10am - Labour campaigning, North West Ipswich

This week we see a further ‘call in’ at our Scrutiny meeting, quite a surprise after a number of years of Tory Opposition where we saw little interest in scrutinising anything.

Disappointing is that issues they seem to be calling in all could be seen as electioneering stunts, but lets hope that this Thursday they bring some valid arguments to the committee.

We continue to campaign hard, our conference is now over, not sure why the Lib Dems are having one and then finding it hard to differentiate between the UKIP and Tory conferences it seems that the part conferences take in politics seems to be ever changing. But our delegates and attendees at Labour 14 have come back invigorated with 4 of them joining us out on the doorstep this weekend. Now to keep it going till May (and beyond)

Sunday 21 September 2014

My week ahead, 22 - 27 September 2014

Monday – 22 September, 8am – Ipswich Angle editorial meeting
6pm – Labour campaigning in West Ipswich

Wednesday 24 September, 2pm – Labour campaigning in East Ipswich
6pm – East Ipswich Area Housing meeting

Saturday 27 September, 10am – Labour campaigning in East Ipswich

The big news (and good news) story this week was Scotland voting to remain part of Britain, as someone with Scottish roots I was both happy and proud when the result came through.

More of a shock was the way Alex Salmond quit so soon after the result came through, he did not seem that gracious in defeat, implying that the leaders of the 3 main political parties would renege on their last minute promises (of more power for the Scottish people). I was not impressed with his resignation speech and am glad to see that Ed Miliband is stating that the plan put forward days before the election must be kept to. I think and hope it will.

But people may believe Salmond when they see the way the Tories in Westminster are behaving, rather than getting behind their leader a sizable group of Tory MPs with John Redwood at the front (though a cabinet minister – Chris Grayling is also happy to join in) are using this opportunity to put the boot in to David Cameron, as they see he is in a currently weak position. With friends like this.......

Here in Ipswich we had the debate at full council on the Northern Fringe, not surprising the Tories attempted to put more barriers in to try and delay the start of the much needed development whist the Lib Dems seem to have forgotten how they voted when they were part of the administration!

One amusing part of the week was via twitter watching another episode of Ipswich Tory in-fighting, the latest spat took place not here but on the streets of Clacton! The current Tory Gipping Ward candidate spotted the former Tory Bridge Ward candidate campaigning for UKIP! He greeted his former colleague and possibly (still) a fellow Ipswich Tory member with the cry of ‘Traitor’!

Sunday 14 September 2014

Oh we do like to be beside the seaside

Today I spent the day in Clacton campaigning for our Labour candidate, Tim Young. For many reasons I was pleased to spend a day by the sea in Essex. First of all I like Tim, made easier because as well as being a sound Labour man he is also an Ipswich Town fans – so what is there not to like?

I also wanted to experience how a campaign is run at a by-election and also to compare the real feelings of residents on the streets of Clacton compared to what was reported in the first few days of media frenzy when Carswell jumped ship. A media frenzy that soon died away when the real story was found to be a few hundred miles north and over the border in Scotland.

What I found was a buzzing campaign centre with many volunteers who were boosted in number today by our large Ipswich contingent. We were also joined by the Suffolk Labour Rural Express – 3 more of our Suffolk PCC’s and other members who had spent the weekend touring Suffolk before arriving in Essex. Of course I expected to find a well organised office and was told that UKIP had a busy centre close by but the Tories were still in a state of shock from the defection of not only their MP but also a number of their members.

What did not expect to find was the reaction we got whilst canvassing on the street in the Rush Green Ward, we found residents that did not even know about the by-election, the lack of posters from any party- 2 Labour and 1 UKIP, and also a feeling of residents not knowing who to vote for. We found Labour and UKIP voters but I only met 2 Tories but the real significant find was the number of ‘don’t knows’ we found, in general many of these were planning to vote UKIP. They told us they had felt let down or ignored by both Labour and the Tories so they felt drawn to UKIP, there was also the issue of immigration, it seems to me that in many coastal towns in the east from Ramsgate to Hull. Immigration is a much bigger issue to them than it is when you move further inland. UKIP would have expected to have taken most of their votes but for these voters they now feel confused, they would never vote Tory and Carswell is still seen as a Tory and not many had a good word to say about him, many agreed with his anti Europe stance but it was obvious from talking to residents that Carswell has never seen as an MP who would spend much time talking to and looking after the interests of residents in Rush Green, Jaywick or some of the older parts of the town.

Not the sort of view you would have had of Carswell if you had watched or read the first media reports from Clacton, from those first reports you would have thought he was ‘Mr Clacton’ but from talking to voters today he is more ‘Mr Frinton’ or Mr Holland on Sea’ than ‘Mr Clacton’.

My guesstimate of the Clacton election result – a win for UKIP but with Labour also increasing their vote even pushing the Tories for second and the Lib Dems? I would expect the Lib Dems to lose their deposit – again.

I hope to get to Clacton again, there are certainly many voters who planned tp vote UKIP that now feel betrayed by having Carswell forced upon them. This gives us in Labour a great opportunity to talk to these voters, to show we have not forgotten them and that we are the best party to fight for them.

Vote Tim Young

My week ahead, 15 - 21 September 2014

Monday – 15 September, 6pm – Labour Group meeting

Wednesday 17 September, 2pm – Labour campaigning in East Ipswich
6pm – Ipswich Borough Full Council meeting

Thursday – 18 September, 5pm – North East Partnership Group meeting
6pm – North East Area Committee meeting – St John’s Church

Another busy week ahead not only with meetings and campaigning but also spending as much time as possible watching the last few days of the Scottish Independence referendum campaign. It has been a long campaign but one that has overtaken all other news in the last 3 weeks as the opinion polls seem to indicate it will be a close run thing.

For all leaders the result on Friday will have a lasting effect, a ‘Yes’ vote will make it harder for Labour to win a General Election, Lib Dems will lose even more MP’s and Cameron will be known as the Prime Minister who presided over the break up of the union.

If it is a ‘Yes’ result there will still be some winners – Salmond (and his ego) Boris Johnson and all those Tories who are ‘little’ Englanders at heart.

Losers will be Cameron, Clegg and Ed Miliband but the biggest losers will be the people of Scotland (and also the rest of us in the United Kingdom)

Wednesday 10 September 2014

Time for Labour to say they will scrap Police and Crime Commissioners

Over the last few months the position of Police and Crime Commissioner has sunk to a new low. The low turnout for the election in the West Midlands, the refusal of the South Yorkshire PCC to resign over his involvement with the Rotherham scandal (though in that case he should be joined in resigning by a number of South Yorkshire Senior Police Officers) the suspension from the Labour Party of the Bedfordshire PCC, the Norfolk PCC attempting to suspend himself and the walking PR disasters who are the PCC’s in Kent and Surrey. All these are recent examples of why the next Labour Government should make one of their first jobs stating that the post of PCC will cease after they have completed their four year term.

That is not to say we should go back to the way the police was run before, the Police Authority were toothless and though they were made up of elected members they were able to raise the police part of the council tax without any fear of being held responsible for the rise by the public.

This week Labour have announced that they are close to laying out plans for their vision of what will replace the role of PCC. Tories not surprisingly are pushing us to declare now what we plan, forgetting that they had plenty of time in opposition to come up with their answers. The trouble was they decided on the role of PCC, they had plenty of time to decide on legislation and implementation but still came up with (supported by the Lib Dems) a plan that allows a PCC to stay in post even if found guilty for a criminal offence (as long as the crime does not lead to a 2 year jail sentence) they also failed to place in any form of recall or even to give the Home Secretary (or the local Police panel) the power to get rid of poorly preforming PCC’s. Then again they have failed to implement a plan for recall of MP’s though they had promised to do so. This week The Home Secretary said there should be a way that they could recall PCC’s – well pity she never thought of that when they set up the post.

The local political gossip column has reported a number of my tweets and posts about the role of the PCC and attempted to use those posts to cause friction with my fellow ward Councillor Tracy Grant (a civilian employed by the police). Stating that at least the Tory PCC, Mr Passmore had saved the Suffolk Control room. As I was a member of the scrutiny committee who listened to Mr Passmore who when speaking to us made it quite clear that at the time he thought the control room merger was in the best interests of Suffolk, I do not take what he says that seriously because it seemed to me that the closure was a ‘done’ deal and that only the threat of an orchestrated campaign by the EASDT pushed him into a sudden change of plan (where he had no Plan B.)

What Ipswich Spy seems to fail to report is other than the control room, most of the police force in both Suffolk and Norfolk has already merged, just a few days after attacking me ‘Spy’ ran another story about Suffolk Police in which they themselves quoted, Chief Inspector Chris Spinks, head of the Norfolk and Suffolk Roads Policing Unit. Just another example how much of the two police forces are already merged. Some could say that the only parts of the police that both Suffolk and Norfolk still have that are not merged are the posts of PCC, Chief Constable and the two control centres!

Now I am not advocating the merger of the control rooms, as someone who ran the Operations Room in Sangin in 2009 I do have some understanding of how a control room works. In Sangin I ran a control room that controlled over 1000 troops but underneath us we had 5 other control rooms including 2 in the same location as us. We then reported up to a further control/Operations Room in Lashkagar who then reported up to three separate Operation Rooms in Kadahar, Kabul and West London! I could envisage a full merger of Suffolk and Norfolk police still needing more than one control room – maybe one in Ipswich, one in Waveney covering both Lowestoft and Yarmouth and then a further one in Kings Lynn all reporting into a joint control room in Norwich.

I do wish that the last Labour Government had implemented the plan that Ronnie Flanagan devised which would have seen forces merger, it may have been the opposition of the police themselves that had stopped Labour from pressing forward. But it seems even the police have now changed their thoughts - The number of constabularies in England and Wales should be cut to save money that was the view of Police Superintendents' Association president Irene Curtis who went onto say there were "too many chief constables and too many police and crime commissioners". And that the 43-force structure wasted millions of pounds and had not been reformed for 40 years.

But one starting figure last week did indicate how badly we were being served by the Suffolk Police, as we have many of the police departments already merged you would have thought Suffolk and Norfolk residents would have been treated equally but in Norfolk police attended 98% of recorded crimes in the year to November 2013 but Suffolk police attended just 66% - below the average of 79% across England and Wales. So we are not being treated the same even though a number of our senior officers are running joint Suffolk and Norfolk teams.

Mr Passmore has done some good work with the police as part of his role as PCC and has not seen to have made the same mistakes as some of the other PCC’s but he has made some serious errors. One was remaining as a District Councilor in Mid Suffolk, this error was highlighted this week when he was critical of Suffolk Police for not commenting on a licensing proposal that Mid Suffolk had asked the police to comment on. Now I understand where Mr Passmore is coming from, I have been critical of the police at both planning and licensing committees for not submitting anything when asked for their thoughts but the difference is I am not the PCC. What will happen the next time Mid Suffolk ask the police to submit evidence on a licensing application- it would seem to be that Mr Passmore publically being critical of the police this time will put undue pressure on them to say something next time.

I will iterate my view that the next Labour Government should get rid of the post of PCC, but replace it with something better and more accountable than the previous Police Authority. I would go further and state that forces should be merged. The situation in Suffolk and Norfolk already highlights that in most cases the forces are already working as one even if one county seems to be getting a better service. NHS organisation never seems to get a good press but having a health authority that controlled the health service in both Lowestoft and Yarmouth was one good idea. A merger of Suffolk, Norfolk and maybe Cambridgeshire would not have to cause control rooms to close- but it would make more sense (in solving crime and serving the public) if a control room in Cambridge also looked after Haverhill and Newmarket.

Then we have cost – Police cost should be removed from Council tax – it should be from direct government with a set figure worked out by the Home office. Not sure many MPs would be happy about that!

Sunday 7 September 2014

My week ahead, 8 - 14 September 2014

Monday – 8 September, 4pm – Culture portfolio meeting
6pm – Labour campaigning West Ipswich

Thursday – 11 September, 10am Labour campaigning in NW Ipswich
6pm – Scrutiny meeting

Saturday 13 September, 10am – Labour campaigning in East Ipswich

Sunday 14 September, 11am – Labour campaigning in Clacton

We continue to campaign hard in Ipswich as we get closer to the General Election but this week we will also take a trip to Essex to campaign for our Labour candidate in Clacton.. The Labour candidate, Tim Young is well known to us in Ipswich, a Colchester councillor but raised in Clacton and also an Ipswich Town fan.
The Clacton campaign does seem like no other campaign seen at a by-election before.

Tory MP now the UKIP candidate, the former UKIP candidate now giving up his County Council seat and declaring his support for the (pro Europe) Lib Dems, and just to muddy the water the right wing press willing to attack all candidates other than Carswell as they seem determined to get the story they are after which is a UKIP win (on Camerons birthday!)

Funny old game, politics! But I am sure we will have a good day on the doorstep when we head off to Essex to support Tim.

Sunday 31 August 2014

My week ahead, 1 - 7 September 2014

Monday – 1 September, 6pm – Labour campaigning Central Ipswich

Wednesday – 3 September, 9an – Planning committee

Thursday – 4 September, 10am Labour campaigning in NW Ipswich

Slightly less campaigning this week as I concentrate on catching up with all the case work I have gathered over the last month – and over 90% of that case work involves the state of the roads in Rushmere.

The Suffolk County Council seems to have just given up on Ipswich. It takes a considerable effort by our Labour County Councillors to get any work done and when they finally get a job to be done it then takes many hours of both councillor and Officer time to make sure the job is completed satisfactorily.

I pin most of the blame for these failings on the Tory run County Council and there insistence to farm out the responsibility for highways to a private firm.

Currently in Brunswick Rd, we are having work carried out to repair both the road and verges, the go ahead for this work was only made possible after constant lobbying by Sandra Gage our Labour County Councillor. The work required the road to closed but the County would only send letters to the residents right next to the closure. After further discussions it was agreed to leaflet the adjoining roads who would be part of the detour route. The County printed the leaflets but we had to deliver them.

Residents are now informing us that the road is closed but little work seems to be going on, after checking myself I have doubts the work will be completed by the planned finishing date at the end of week. This could mean the road remaining closed with pupils back at local schools.

The Tory Cabinet on Suffolk County Council seem to have regular meeting with Tory MPs, often leading to a quick change in policy or as with the location of a traveller site- dropped before the consultation even starts, so maybe at one of these meetings Mr Gummer and Poulter should be asking if the same issues we are having over highways are also happening throughout the county. I for one have a feeling that others parts of the county do not suffer like Ipswich residents do when it comes to the service they receive when it comes to highway maintenance.

Saturday 30 August 2014

What a week in politics - exciting, sad and even depressing

What a week in politics – at times it has been exciting, sad, depressing has made me angry and also made me want to keep fighting. And still over 8 months to the General Election!

My thoughts on a few of the topics that have popped up this week and quite often you can see a link in all of them – from the independence debate in Scotland, to Islamic extremism here in the UK and in the Middle East, the rise of UKIP, how the child exploitation scandal was handled in Rotherham, the failure of the PCC and lastly the increase in the terrorist threat – is it real?

I have taken a great interest in the Scottish independence election, not surprising with so much Scottish blood in me but also because I believe in the United Kingdom and as a Labour supporter it is important for us to stay as one. On my travels in the army in particular in the Balkans – I have seen how bloody and also pointless have been some of these fights for independence/separation, I never thought we would have that same sort of battle in Scotland but it seems the campaign has got very nasty and social media seems to have been the weapon of choice, something I can see repeating itself in the election here next May.

Jim Murphy who i like and have met has been touring Scotland on his ‘100 streets tour’ but that has to be curtailed as over the last two weeks there has been a noticeable campaign by the SNP/ ‘Yes’ group to make sure that wherever Jim turns up he is met by ‘Yes’ supporters. Nothing wrong with that even here in Ipswich we had Mr Gummer turning up at a sure start centre to tell Mrs Harman she was lying over Tory plans to close children’s centres (bet he wish he had stayed at home now!!!) but in Scotland it has been more sinister, with a journalist threatened with violence, eggs thrown and ‘no’ supporters intimidated this was made worse by a quite pathetic apology from the SNP. You can see the SNP/No campaign type activity going down quite well with a few of the ‘name calling’ Tory activists in Ipswich.

This leads on how do we deal with Islamic extremism in the UK, It is about working closer with all our different community groups but also not being afraid to comment and act if we thinks something is going wrong- this did not happen in Rotherham. But we also need to look closer at the people who are going off to fight in Syria and also the sort of men involved in the crimes in Rotherham. Young, isolated, feel picked on, pressure from their own community not to forget their own culture, widespread gang culture- drink and drugs, poor housing, fee job prospects – all these factors are causes of what can lead young men and women to head off to Syria but also to get involved in gangs in Rotherham, Rochdale or Oxford.

But the failure of the police and councils to act in places like Rotherham helps fuel the rise of far right groups like the EDL but also groups like UKIP. There is no doubt that UKIP will take votes off Labour in the north and Mr Farage will go on about this and how they are the ‘peoples party’ whilst we will try and convince the voters that they are just Tories in different suits, and that case was certainly helped by the defection of Tory and Clacton MP, Douglas Carswell to UKIP this week. It was at first a great success for Farage but the coup soon unravelled as the former UKIP candidate refused to vanish and has even said he will now fight for the Tories. We now find out that UKIP have little electoral data on Clacton as there was some sort of pact with Carswell in 2010! Farage also called Carswell ‘honourable’ for resigning his seat – so all the previous defectors to UKIP were ‘dishonourable’? last night a leading Tory in Sevenoaks followed Carswell into UKIP but he will not resign his seat as the by-election would be a waste of tax payers money – how much does he think the election in Clacton will cost? So from being a big coup the defection of Carswell has just highlighted that at the top of UKIP you still just have a bunch of euro sceptic Tories.

Going back to crimes in Rotherham, it is only right that those in authority at the time stand down –elected councillors plus Council officers and police. We have seen some Labour councillors’ resign, a few officers but some hang on and even worse have other jobs involved in child protection both here in the UK and even in places like Australia.

The South Yorkshire PCC has refused to stand down not only over the failings of his police force but also because before he was PCC he was the councillor responsible for children’s services in Rotherham. He has left the Labour Party but clings on to his (well paid) PCC job.

This yet again highlights how ill thought out the whole post of PCC was, you can even be jailed and still keep the job! This was not some rushed in act to elect PCCs, this was a policy the Tories had worked on in opposition. We do not want to go back to the almost invisible ‘Police Authorities’ but I think Labour should announce soon that as of May 2016 the PCC post will be replace with a far better system of running the police force.

South Yorkshire Police may also need to be placed into ‘special measures’ the same force that failed in Rotherham, the same force so badly implicated in the Hillsborough disaster – time for big changes in that force.

Finally we have the raising of the terrorist threat state, is this needed? I am afraid even though I am involved in politics (at a low level) i wonder if the threat has been raised by Cameron, Clegg and May for political reasons. Is the threat any higher now in the UK say compared to the height of the troubles in Ireland? We have talk of removing passports from suspects- is that so difficult- the police have been taking passports off football fans for over 20 years. I am afraid it seems more a case of political posturing rather than acting on any form of intelligence.

Let us hope next week is slightly more peaceful so we can concentrate on local issues, on building houses, developing the Northern Fringe and campaigning to keep children’s centres open in Suffolk.

Saturday 23 August 2014

My week ahead - 25 - 30 August 2014

Tuesday – 26 August, 2pm – Labour campaigning in NE Ipswich
5pm – Culture Portfolio meeting
6pm – Labour Group meeting

Thursday – 28 August, 10am Labour campaigning in SW Ipswich

Saturday – 30 August, 10am – Labour campaigning in South East Ipswich

Sunday – 24 August, 10am – Labour campaigning in South West Ipswich

Another week of campaigning planned as we continue to ‘raise our game’ as we head towards the next General Election.

We are now also beginning to see the national party release details of policies that will be part of our manifesto. I hope that we make an announcement quite soon that we will be getting rid of the post of Police and Crime Commissioner. The poor turnout at last week’s election for the West Midlands PCC was yet another example of public apathy over the role. What was more shocking is that the cost of the by-election was in in the region of £3.5 million!

The whole concept of PCC was rushed through, no thought was given to how do you replace a PCC mid - term or as in the case in Norfolk if the PCC finds himself suspended.

I do not think we should go back to the old Police Authority model but I hope the cost of and the poor turnout at the PCC election last week will convince the Shadow Home Office team that we need to be quite radical in our proposals of how our police force is run. Possibly using some of the ideas that were suggested by Ronnie Flanagan (former Head of the RUC) when he produced a report for the last Labour Government.

Our own Suffolk PCC can then concentrate on his ‘other’ job – a councillor on Mid Suffolk District Council.

Sunday 17 August 2014

My week ahead 18 - 24 August 2014

Monday – 18 August, 9am – Ipswich Angle Board meeting
6pm –Labour Group campaigning session

Tuesday – 19 August, 2pm – Labour campaigning in NE Ipswich

Thursday – 21 August, 10am Labour campaigning in SW Ipswich
2pm – NE Area Committee agenda setting meeting

Saturday – 23 August, 10am – Labour campaigning in South East Ipswich

Sunday – 24 August, 10am – Labour campaigning in South West Ipswich

Most of next week will be spent campaigning in Ipswich and after reading some of the latest comment from our Tory MP, it seems even more important to me that we replace the Tory Ben Gummer with David Ellesmere.

I do agree with Mr Gummer that Ipswich needs to gain unitary status but I do not believe we need (as Mr Gummer seems to think) that we need an elected Mayor. Even more amazingly (and yet again highlights how out of touch our MP is) Mr Gummer believes we only need a handful of councillors in the town. I will admit that I already struggle at time to take care of all my case work and hold down a full time job and I have two other ward councillors to share the load with!

The only way ( and they would still struggle) to cope with all the casework that would come your way with the town divided into just 6 wards would be to become a full time politician – the last thing that is needed at councillor level.

It would be interesting to cmpare how much case work Mr Gummer delas with compared to the former Labour MP for the town, Mr Gummer did say he would be bvery transparent with what he claims and what he does but as his websitre is so out of date it seems from reading that he does very little.

Plus how would we deal with planning and licensing plus scrutiny with just a handful of councillors? If Mr Gummer wants to save mone and get rid of politicians that are not needed, tell Mr Cameron to get rid of the House of Lords – oh, I forgot the PM has just made a a number of Tory donors members of that House! Worry about that Mr Gummer before preaching to us how many councillors we need.

Tonight I witnessed the climax of yet another great Ipswich Maritime festival – the climax being a great (and free) firework display. I watched it from the packed beer festival whilst drinking a nice pint of Kiwi!

I did find it strange that the lead blogger on an Ipswich political website seemed to have a quick pop at myself for not attending the beer festival before tonight! I must have missed his tweets that asked why our Tory MP did not turn up to the event Ipswich held to commemorate the start of World War One or a tweet wondering why the Lib Dems failed to attend the latest culture working group. He may think attendance at a beer festival is more important that turning up at the cenotaph to remember the events of 1914!

Sunday 10 August 2014

My week ahead 10 - 16 August 2014

Monday – 11 August, 9am – Rushmere Ward Councillors meeting, Woodbridge Road
6pm –Labour Group campaigning session

Tuesday – 12 August, 2pm – Labour campaigning in SW Ipswich

Wednesday – 13 August, 2pm – Labour campaigning in NW Ipswich

Thursday – 14 August, 7pm – Culture Working Group

Saturday – 16 August, 10am – Labour campaigning in North East Ipswich

Back from India and also a short break at the Commonwealth Games and it is straight into full time campaigning. Some see August as a non-political activity month with many at the council on holiday and Westminster also away on one of their many long breaks but with the General Election now under 12 months away many will use August to campaign hard.

Even Ministers are making official visits, with the Tory Minister for Coastal Protection in the region this week, even the local news programme indicated that it was rare to have a ministerial visit in August, also indicating that they believed the visit may have been official and not a campaigning visit but it was only taking place because of the time of the General Election now getting closer.

The local political blog even indicated that they would be concentrating on national issues in their ‘Diary’ column this week as August was always a slow month – I thought possibly the non appearance of any of our local MPs at two recent civic events – a medal ceremony for local Reservists and the Monday night event in Christchurch Park to commemorate the centenary of the start of the First World War would have been a newsworthy story. In particular after the clumsy way Tory spin doctors and the Right wing press attempted to make Ed Miliband and the Lib Dem leader look uncaring after they were handed wreaths that had already been labelled, but the labels looked the work of a small child.

What that action by the Tories did show is that as we get closer to the General Election they will get more and more desperate.

It has not been a great week for the Tories and in particular David Cameron, Baroness Warsi storming out and then Boris telling us all he was coming back and that he had suddenly become slightly Euro sceptic! Many may have hoped that Boris announcing that he was coming back to save the Tory Party may have knocked Warsi off the front pages – it did for a day but many papers this Sunday have carried further interviews with the Baroness, none of which will make good reading for Mr Cameron and his (Boris’s ) party.

On international issues, I do think that Westminster and in particular MPs can get a bad press that is underserved at times but I do wonder that with the Gaza crisis, the situation in Iraq (that now has the RAF involved) plus the public health issues caused by the Ebola epidemic that there seems to be little mention of a recall of Parliament!

Tuesday 5 August 2014

Ipswich remembers - those who fought in World War One - and more recent conflicts

Over the last few days Ipswich has commemorated the centenary of the start of World War One, last night a poignant event was held at Christchurch Park and it was an honour to hear the stories of those who served in that time, not just soldiers but also the woman munitions worker from Ransomes, the Red Cross volunteer from Woodbridge.

On Sunday Ipswich honoured those who have served in a more recent conflict- hosting a medal parade for local reservists who have just returned from Afghanistan. The event was held at the Mansion, the sun shone, the Mayor spoke to every single reservists and it was a pleasure to see the visible pride in the faces of the relatives who attended to see their sons and daughters receive their medals.

Two very different events, but it emphasised the point that World War One was not the war to end all wars that many thought it would be. The current hostilities in Gaza, Syria, Iraq, India, Pakistan, Somalia, Kenya and the Ukraine show that many of the world still live in a state of conflict. The major concern to many should be the similarities between the conflicts in Syria and Ukraine to those conflicts and arguments that caused the outbreak of war in 1914.

I think it is very important that we do commemorate the First World War and hopefully learn lessons from studying that conflict, it is essential that we include as many young people in events over the next 4 years. As civic leaders I also feel it is important that we play our part and on that note I was very disappointed that none of our local MPs attended the event in Christchurch Park to commemorate the start of World War One or the medals parade on Sunday for our reservists, most of the local MPs were able to attend the event at Bury Cathedral on Sunday afternoon but I do not think it is too much to expect at least some of them to attend events in Ipswich. I must admit last night at first I felt anger in their non-appearance but that soon changed to disappointment and I hope that though they may not have been at Ipswich they may have attended another local or even national event.

Even more important than involving our your people in events it is important that the centenary of World War One is used to remind politicians on the horrors that war can bring to all our communities.

Friday 1 August 2014

World War One - Ipswich commemorates the centenary of the start of the war.

The Mayor of Ipswich, Bill Quinton, will lead the town as it commemorates the centenary of the start of World War One this weekend.I have been involved in the steering group for these events and for further events over the next 4 years.

It is important that this is not seen a celebration, it is important taht the correct tone is set. it is to commemorate, to remember those who paid the ultimate sacrifice but also to remember the part Ipswich played in Worl War One, from the Suffolk Regiment soldiers to the Zepplin attack on Ipswich. Every familiy in Ipswich wil have a connection to events taht took place between 1914 and 1919.

My own grandfather lost his leg towards the end of 1918, and the training that he undertook after the ward was the raeson that he chose to settle in Ipswich.

There will be an exhibition at the Town Hall, which will include Ipswich hero Sam Harvey’s Victoria Cross dress medals, items from Ipswich Museum, Ipswich School, Suffolk Records Office, maps and old photographs. The event will open at noon on Friday 1st August and will be open on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I will be attending this event this morning.

On Sunday 3rd August there will be a march through the town centre as the Reservist Regiment 202 Transport Squadron, 158 R.A Transport Regiment, Royal Logistic Corps, exercise their right of “Freedom of the Borough”. The march will begin at 10.30am and will be followed by a medal presentation on the lawn in front of Christchurch Mansion at 11am.

Also on Sunday 3rd, there will be a commemoration service at St Matthew’s Church at 5pm to which all residents and visitors are invited.

On Monday 4th August, Ipswich people are invited to attend a civic parade at the Cenotaph in Christchurch Park where a candlelight event will be held with readings, hymns, poetry and music to mark the beginning of the war. Veterans, cadets and civic leaders will process from the Town Hall at 8pm for the hour-long service. Guests from Arras in northern France will travel to Ipswich to stand shoulder to shoulder as we remember the terrible conflict that engulfed so many nations. Arras suffered terrible damage during the war.

The Mayor said: "We reflect and we commemorate; we do not celebrate. And we remember the sacrifice of so many from so many nations. This is not just about the British Tommy; it is about former allies from 26 other countries and former enemies – and now friends – from across the globe. Like us they, too, believed in the justice of their cause. I am not an historian. I am not here to argue who was right, who was wrong or whether our generals and politicians took good or bad decisions. I am here to lead Ipswich in commemoration … to remember those who paid the ultimate sacrifice."

Meanwhile, Ipswich Borough Council has joined towns up and down the country to take part in the LIGHTS OUT programme. LIGHTS OUT is an invitation to everyone in the UK to turn off their lights from 10pm until 11pm on 4th August, leaving on a single light or candle for this shared moment of reflection. A single light will be lit in the Town Hall. The campaign has been inspired by the words spoken by British Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey as war was about to start: “The lamps are going out all over Europe, we shall not see them lit again in our life-time.”

LIGHTS OUT info is here

There is also an "Ipswich and Suffolk in the First World War" display within the existing “Ipswich at War” gallery in Ipswich Museum showing the different ways local people contributed to the war effort. This includes archives of photographs, documents and objects that belonged to men from Suffolk who went off to war. Some of the kit and other objects they took to equip, protect and comfort them are also on display.

Brunswick Road repairs on verge of completion

Rushmere resodents are celebrating success after the date for works to improve the state of the verges and repair the footways in Brunswick Road have been confirmed to take place in August.

Kier MG has confirmed that the works will take place between Monday the 18th and Friday 29th August. A diversion for traffic will be in place, via Whitby Road, Sidegate Lane, Colchester Road and Kingsgate Drive. The project includes the reinstatement of several sections of grass verge, with over-run areas for some off-road parking, and all footways between Beverly Road and Somerset Road to be repaired too.

Our County and Borough Councillor for Rushmere Sandra Gage has been working hard over the last year to get this much needed works undertaken, as part of a programme of verge improvements. Further work that she is lobbying for includes improved verges and footways in Inverness Road, and verge improvements in Renfrew Road. She said; “It is fantastic that the work is going ahead, I have consulted with the residents and pressurised the County Council to undertake this much needed work. The verges in much of Rushmere are in dire need of repair and I am obviously delighted that I have been able to use my Councillor locality funding to secure additional County highway funding to get these improvements for Brunswick Road. She added “residents across Ipswich regularly complain about the state of the roads and footways in their streets. These works should be done as a matter of course and should not take almost a year of pressure from the local Councillor to get on the county councils radar”.

Monday 7 July 2014

Off to Leh

Today I set off on a 20 day trip to Northern India, trekking on the Stok Kangri circuit and also helping on a community project along with 30 Suffolk teenagers.

It will be a a great challenge for them and I will also hope to come back refreshed and ready for a new football season and more importantly a busy 10 months as we campaign hard to make sure a Labour MP is elected for Ipswich.

Whilst I am away, Sandra Gage and Tracy Grant will still be working hard in Rushmere as we look to improve road safety throughout the ward.

See you all in August

Friday 27 June 2014

A Socialist and a Patriot

No ‘my week ahead’ for a few weeks as i will be spending most of the next 30 days either climbing in Wales or Northern India – where I am taking a group of teenagers to trek near to the city of Leh and work on a community project in a small settlement close to the Tibetan border.

This week I was very fortunate to be invited to attend a ‘Labour Friends of the Forces’ reception in London.

Those at the event included most of the Shadow Defence team and Ed Miliband also we had three Potential Parliamentary candidates, all ex members of the Armed Forces.

As soon as I arrived I was approached by another ex- Greenjacket – 1 rather than 3 RGJ and slightly older than me as he was a Borneo veteran, but we had a good laugh as we discussed how the ‘Black Mafia’ were once again running the army.

I then had a long conversation with two serving soldiers both had served in Afghanistan and it was informative to hear what had changed since I was in Sangin in 2009.

Then I met Frankie Caldwell, ex tankie who had taken a short break for campaigning for a ‘No’ vote in the up and coming Scottish independence vote to come to London to support the event. It was nice to catch up with someone who I had corresponded with via twitter.

Then the two highlights of the night, first to meet an ex RAF Officer but one with a number of tales to tell. As a young Sergeant he had been in the same Prisoner of War camp as those who had taken part in the ‘Great Escape’ and he himself had endured a long march across Poland as the Germans closed the camp with the Russians approaching. A real British hero.

Then I met Lord West, not only a former Ist Sea Lord but who had also been Captain of a ship that was sunk in the Falklands War.

I had a long conversation with him and asked him about a quote that had appeared in the papers this week that was attributed to him, I asked him if it was true he smiled and then confirmed it was.

The quote? It was true he informed me that he had asked Michael Gove if he wished to discuss the accusation (that Gove had made) that you can’t be a socialist and patriot. Lord West is happy to be described both as a socialist and a patriot and he did tell Mr Gove that he was willing to discuss the issue either inside or outside the boxing ring!

Not surprisingly Mr Gove had not yet responded; maybe he was till busy arguing with Mrs ‘no passports’ May.

With our new candidates and a shadow Minister like ex Para, Dan Jarvis – we are now ready to be the party of the Armed Forces.

Sunday 22 June 2014

Tory MPs and Ministers may be arrogant and out of touch but at least they have their passports!

This week I watched with interest the debate over the passport chaos we are currently witnessing. There were so many interruptions during the speeches of Tory Home Secretary, Theresa May and her Labour opposite, Yvette Cooper that after they had both finished, other MPs were limited to a speech of 6 minutes and even then not all who wanted to speak would be able to.

The current backlog of passports is of interest to me as in 2 weeks time I am leading 30 school pupils on a trek in Northern India and our Mountain Guide is currently still waiting for his passport as he had to send it to the passport office as he had run out of pages. He has now been told he has to drive to Durham for an appointment where they will try and deal with it. Not the service you would expect.

The chaos seems to have been caused by a number of issues but taking over a service previously provided by consulates overseas certainly did not help and whatever the coalition would like us to think, job cuts and the downgrading of certain passport offices seems to be the main contributing factor.

Remember this is a service that makes a profit! Last year it was believed that each passport application made the Government £13.

Now the whole episode has been a PR disaster for Theresa May, whilst she was spending her time arguing with Michael Gove and losing the services of her trusted assistant the problem with passports was becoming known to most MPs as residents contacted them for help.

At first she said there was no problem and no backlog, the next day the Prime Minister indicated there was a backlog of 30,000 applications. This quickly reminded me of the chaos caused by the recent floods where the PM, Pickles and the Environment Minister could not seem to agree on how much money was needed and how much would be promised.

This week Mrs May did say sorry but was still loathe to admit there was a problem but she did seem to indicate there was possibly a backlog of 40,000 passports (on Saturday we were officially told there is now a backlog of 53,000 passports).

But after Theresa May and Yvette Cooper had finished we then had the spectacle that yet again how much contempt for voters that this Tory Government has.

First of all the Home Secretary, Mrs May only listened to the first two MPs speak – one from either side before she scuttled out of the chamber. How will she know what MPs think or maybe the solutions they suggest if leaves as quickly as she can?

But possibly she left because she knew already what the Tory MPs were going to say!

The third speaker was former Labour Minister, Gerald Kaufman who then rightly criticised Mrs May for not even staying to listen to the debate – so angry was Mr Kaufman that he declared Theresa May to be the worst Home Secretary that he has seen in during his 44 years in house, he then went onto describe her as one of the most arrogant politicians he had ever met.

A Tory did spring up to her defence before then repeating the Tory Party line when it comes to explain the passport chaos – and what is that reason? There is a backlog of passports as now the economy is doing so well more people are going on holiday overseas!

An answer that I would compare with one attempted by many 11 year old school children – my dog has eaten my homework – an excuse not believed by anyone and I am not sure anyone is going to believe the Tory Party reasoning for the passport chaos.

But the Tories are now so out of touch and arrogant they must think we will believe anything because just two days later we had a Tory MP explain that we have more potholes as now more people have jobs we have more people driving!

What other bad news story can the Tories blame on so called good news about an improved economy?

So we have an issue that we already know is affecting over 50,000 people, an issue that was enough to lead to an emergency debate and all the Tories could do was get a number of puppet MPs to trot out the hardly believable party line. No wonder many voters have little faith in some of our elected representatives.

But if we did not believe that excuse we had some more good advice from a Tory Minister, Helen Grant who indicated that the passport chaos may be a good reason to decide to have a holiday in the UK. Trouble is she decided to tweet this advice to us from Brazil, where she is currently watching England play in the World Cup (on a free trip)

Tory MPs and Ministers may be arrogant and out of touch but at least they have their passports!